Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Do Your Trace?

I trace all of my patterns.  I like to make changes and adjustments to the patterns so tracing is a must in my book.

The question then becomes: What do you use to trace your patterns?

I have a thick sort of tracing paper that I have no idea what it is.  It appeared magically at my office door one day and even though I told the delivery person that it was delivered to the wrong address and left it outside the office door for a week hoping the original owner would check tracking and find it….the roll of paper remained.  So after a week, I dragged it inside the office to join the two tables that had previously been misdelivered to the office.  So this tracing paper of unknown origin has been what I primarily used to trace patterns. 

The upside is that it is not too opaque that one can trace anything with it.  The downside is that it is stiff and rather hard so fitting with this paper is impossible.

I also have some  large pads of post it type paper.  I have tried using this with marginal success.  It works well on modern patterns printed on heavy paper.  It does not work well on any other patterns.

So, investigating options I wanted to give soil separator a whirl.  It is cheaper than the famed Swedish tracing paper but I had read that it is just as good still being fabric.  I considered medical exam paper which was cheaper still but really wanted that fabric so that I could try pin fitting.

The other day, I awoke with a mission.  I have free time so I will head off to Home Depot looking for soil separator.  Off I drove, through some substantial post Christmas police activity, through the gauntlet of a parking lot, weaving through those migrant day workers asking if they could assist straight to the garden center.   Lo and behold, what did I find?  Why nothing with the name “soil separator.”  Nope, nada, not a thing.  However, I did find a product called “weed blocker.”  Helpful hint here:  if you do go to Home Depot or another home improvement center ask for both soil separator AND weed blocker.
This is the roll of commercial weed blocker - it is 4 ft by 50 ft.

What the weed blocker actually looks like.
If possible it is even darker  (camera flash)
Weed blocker is made of fabric that looks like a interfacing web so I was excited.  But then I noticed the colors: black, brown and grey.  What?????  That won’t work.  After discreetly opening a corner of the grey, it being the lightest of the colorways on offer, I determined that it was not completely opaque and could work.   It was also 4 feet wide which you have to love.  So, it was purchased, dragged to the car and off home I went.

This weed blocker would be perfect if not a dark color. 

It works though I did have about an hour of problems finding a pen, marker or pencil to write on the stuff.  Once that hurdle was over, it was easy sailing.  It is just light enough to work and works fine with printed patterns.   With non-printed patterns, it is more difficult but I have found it works.

With the help of the weed blocker I have more than accomplished my December pattern tracing goal!  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Here's hoping that everyone is having a wonderful Christmas with their loved ones!!

I know I am even though there were a couple of power outages last night which left this house in utter darkness.  But candlelight added a nice ambiance to Christmas Eve!

Luckily, my computer was not fried even though I always leave it on!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Its the Shortest Day of the Year

It is the winter solstice, so let’s take a look at men with pipes wearing large shorts.

Is there not something incredibly effeminate about the man in shorts? Or is it the balloon shorts? I don’t know but something strikes me as off.

Looking at this picture and other men’s pattern renderings through my all too modern eyes, I am always amazed at the pipe smoking going on? Did men really smoke pipes that often?

The boy’s patterns seem nice enough.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Technique?

The August 1949 Butterick Fashion News’ sewing tip is how to set in sleeves. It looks like a decent method but I still prefer to pin the bejeebuz out of the sleeve and then sew it in. Works every time for me and I am not going to mess with success (it took me long enough to get to this point with sleeves).

But if you are interested in trying a different technique……here you go!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun in the Sun

No sun here just miserable rain. Blech.

However, Butterick Fashion News, August 1949 is here to supply the sun!

Take a look at these sun dresses. Though, I am curious about the thought process that determined to place fringe trim across the bustline of 4890.

My favorite is 4898. I can see making this into a strapless party dress in addition to a cotton sundress. Wow there are a number of copies of this pattern available but not for my purchase since the price is over $50 which is way out of the range of my budget. I will not even spend $40 on a pattern so more is definitely out. The fact that I can find one gives me hope, I bet I can find another with a cheaper price somewhere!

These resort ensembles are just perfect for a summer BBQ ----if only it was either summer or the sun showed its face. The crazy weather extremes are bizarre. Last weekend it was in the 80s now it is rainy and cold.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More of August 1959............

Again August 1949 Butterick Fashion Nes. I am really enjoying this issue.

Here are 5 young compliment catchers!

I love Pattern 4956. Again, I am disappointed in that my searches have failed to yield an example of this pattern out there. It is now a quest for me to find a pattern that I like from this issue! I love the yoke and I have a similar pattern from Simplicity but this one is a little more refined. I love the length of these dresses. It seems everyone, myself included, shortens vintage patterns to adhere to our modern ideas of length for dresses when the goal is to wear the outfit in our real life. Next time I make a dress from this period, I am going to leave it a little longer to adhere to the length sensibilities of the time the patter was manufactured.

I know tonight I will be dreaming of these elusive patterns.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moving on to August 1949.


 The cover of the Butterick Fashion News for August 1949

The back cover :

Wow do I like this floating panel dress. It is Butterick 4973 and I want to make this dress! My search today for the pattern has brought up many ladybug glove patterns (also Butterick 4973) but not this elegant dress that I want to own! Alas….I will have to continue searching.

What I also loved about this Fashion News is the action wear – nothing that we would really call action wear. The tennis dress I understand. I just have to keep it in context of the times. Though, I have to say I prefer this action wear to modern day action wear for daily use. Horrors of horrors, the women sitting in front of me at the opera on Saturday night were wearing work out pants ……yes …..both of them. Even a nice little dress would have looked more appropriate. Oh well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How to Sew On Lace

Still with Butterick Fashion News from June 1949 - very appropriate for the weather over the weekend, in the 80's which is just wonderful for what is supposed to be a cold Decembe.  But I digress.....

The Butterick  Fashion News has instructions on how to sew lace.

Butterick is also advocating jackets and stoles for sun dresses.

I particuarily like pattern 4898. Very elegant.

Friday, December 10, 2010

June 1949 - Butterick's Recommendations

Whew, following a to do list is really unexciting.  Trust me.  So I am not going to provide daily updates because it would put everyone who reads it to sleep...including me.  However, I think that black and white swirly dress has bad karma or maybe it's cursed!  Seriously, it took me hours upon hours to get that zipper in.  First I baste it in backwards one direction, then the next.  Then I get the right side but forgot to cut the extra bit at the top...and on and on and on.  No wonde this became an unfinished object, I almost tossed it aside for the second time!!!

But...take a look at these:

Every month Butterick, and I am assuming other pattern companies, would publish advertizing pamplets with what is "in."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Perpetual Meh

It is not done, but here it is in it's present state.  Does the fabric give you a headache or just annoy you?  I cant decide.  I will shoot an upclose picture of the fabric, it is very busy.

It needs a zipper and a hem.  I wonder where I put that zipper I bought for this dress?  This is what happens when you buy notions  a year and a half before you need them - you end up buying them again.

No Zipper, no finish
Interestingly, this pattern seems to be ever so popular and I like some of the dresses made up with the pattern.  I think the fabric is just not drapey enough for the pattern.  It is also a pain to press.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Black and White Swirls or UFO #1

UFO #1
The first item coming off of my December list is this UFO.  It has been sitting on my sewing table for about a year and a half.  It will be off of the table by the end of 2010.

A year and a half on from the point of just giving up because the bodice was inches bigger than the skirt which made putting them together seem impossible, I have learned many skills which would have prevented this from occurring.

In fact, many problems I encountered with this pattern I would not now encounter.

There are a number of reasons this dress became an UFO;

  1. I didn’t like the fabric.  This is now a no-no for me.  If I don’t like the fabric, no matter what, I do not buy the fabric.  The irony is not just that I don’t like the fabric but I spent more money for it than I normally did.  Also, it is a cotton stretch….ugh. 
  2. I did not know about FBAs at this time so I cut the bodice to fit what I thought was the correct bust size.  Wrong!  I had so many fitting issues because the bodice gaped at the arms.  Much fiddling occurred to try and fix that.  A simple FBA would have resolved that issue!
  3. I had never eased in anything.  You will note there are no sleeves in this dress because at this point in time sleeves scared me.  It wasn’t until I picked this back up today when the lightbulb went off and I figured I could just ease the bodice into the skirt.  Duh….how simple.  Never occurred to me when I was first making the dress.
  4. I didn’t know about different types of interfacing and the one I have is too heavy/thick.  This problem still exists but I if I made this up now, it wouldn’t.
  5. The ribbons on the pleats just would not press correctly.  I now know what to do to fix this and may work on this before I go to sleep tonight.
  6. Zippers scared me.  Not any more.
  7. I was making this to go to a party.  What was I thinking???   I didn’t love this outfit so why would I hurry to complete it to wear to a party?  Once the party got close and I had issues, this was tossed aside with pleasure.
  8. Hubris: I seriously thought I would be able to whip this together in a few days….right!  Now that would be a possibility but then….no way.

Current Status:  Bodice and skirt have been sewn together!  It did take a while to ease the bodice into the skirt but it was doable.   

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sewing Goals for December

December is such a busy month for me even with a week+ off from work, there is simply not enough time for everything. In an attempt to keep my sewing focused… I go making lists.

1. Under no circumstances am I permitted to purchase fabric. Notions such as thread and zippers are permitted.

2. Finish a minimum of 2 UFOs for the learning process involved. I have 4 UFOs on my sewing table and by UFOs I don’t mean the hem has not been sewn up. I mean a project that is in such an unfinished state it is unwearable. These are all over a year old, some even older (YIKES…embarrassing).

3. Fix that darn wonderful vintage coat. Last February, I bought exactly the vintage coat I was looking for: size, color, length and price: everything PERFECT, I mean the dealer reduced the price to $35 for a wool coat! I inspected it and it looked to be in pristine condition. Well, the first time I wore the beauty, I reached up to bring down the garage door and I heard a RIP..WTF? It turned out that the perfect lining had been replaced with the tags sewn back in. However, the lining was sewn back in by HUGE running stitches…lets say an inch and ½ in length. I need to resew that lining.

4. Hems: Must sew up at least 2 hems. I hate sewing hems and if I don’t do this right away, the outfit sits and sits waiting for attention.

5. 1 new skirt out of existing fabric.

6. Trace off 3 patterns so they are ready to roll in 2011.

This list is already scaring me! But these are goals – what I would like to accomplish. I do not have to accomplish not what is required….must keep that in mind at all time.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


No, unfortunately not the skirt. Rather my serger has been hobbled…maimed….destroyed…by me.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend of sewing non-stop for hours on end, a pin dropped into the serger and when I went to use it snapped off one of the burrs. Yikes!!! No more serger. I now have to figure our repairs. This all happened last Friday and since I had to finish the dress, it really isn’t until now that I have been able to stop and contemplate this turn of events.

I did not always have a serger. It was a Christmas present a few years back. However, now I cannot imagine sewing without it for edge finishing. Truth been known, I am deadly afraid of the blades and have only used the blades on a few occasions…..make that well less than 10 occasions. The upper blade is always disengaged. It is scary.

With that being said, I use my serger on everything I sew now.

This is impacting what I sew in December. My local Janome repair place is not close by and I can only take in my machine on Saturdays. Every piece of material I am picking up I am quickly putting back down for fear of shredding while sewing.

Bah…..I am victim of technology.