Friday, April 30, 2010


One of the first patterns I purchased after being gifted with my sewing machine was this Butterick vintage repro pattern. I was a new sewer and paid much too much for this pattern. I had absolutely no idea that this was an easily obtainable pattern. In fact, I hate to admit this now, but I don’t think I even truly understood that this was a repro pattern. I knew when I saw the pattern I would be making View C. I am always about full skirts.

Eventually, it came time to try and make up this pattern. I thought how hard can it be – a statement I still assert even though my experience would tend to make one think very hard indeed! So off I merrily went, pinning and cutting out the pattern in an interesting soft drapey cotton. This tells you it was a long time ago, before I got my pattern weights.

Now, I know that everyone and their sister has made this pattern. My pictures will not be that different. I cannot tell you the number of times I have read a review or blog posting on the net about this pattern. But never did I read of anyone have the extreme problems I had. The pattern went together nicely until it was time to sew on the facings where it gathers on the shoulder. I did not understand the direction! I stared and stared at the instructions. I played around with the fabric. I pinned and unpinned umpteen times. After a couple of days of this I started sewing…then ripping out what I had sewed. Then I would stare at the instructions and the fabric and the process would start again.

This process continued over a couple of weeks. Now, don’t think I was trying everyday. Most days I would pass by my sewing table, look at the fabric and sigh. About once a week I would give in and give it another go with resulting failure. I could not get my head around it. Finally, I gave up and put it away. For months, it went untouched.

Finally, I gave in and started the process again. I made a deal with myself, to just sit at the machine and keep trying until it went together.

To this day, I have no idea how I figured out how to put this together. When I finally got it I sat staring at the fabric, followed by some fist pumps and yelling! I know without question I could never sew up this pattern again.

Was it a learning experience…..NOPE because I have looked at the instructions and still do not get it!

When it is all said and done, I wonder if the original pattern would mystify me as much.

Soooooooo, I suppose you want to see a picture of the dress. I have worn it a lot and always receive compliments. I love the fabric.

And the dreaded bodice

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Silk Chiffon is EVIL

I love silk chiffon.  I love the way it drapes.  It is perfect for this 1931 dress.  But seriously, it is evil.

My fabric spits out pins.  Tonight I was pinning away at the sleeve, I turn my head and half of the pins had magically come out of the fabric.  What is that about?  And let’s not talk about what happened when I happened to move.  Or how about sewing in the sleeve.  I would start to sew and then a symphony of pin drops could be heard on the hardwood floor.  The pins needed to escape the terribly evil fabric is all I can think.

I also have a love hate relationship with French seams.  I really love they way the look.  However, as much as I try I always mess them up.  It takes a lot of concentration on my part to get it right.  I have a hard time getting my head around which side to sew first.  Of course, it does not help that the fabric looks the same on either side.  There were many ‘duh’ moments tonight.

I did finish off the sleeves!  The French seams helped with the ease situation so no unsightly puckers.  It did take numerous tries to get those sleeves in but there they are.  Done.  Now, I think its time to make some bias binding and start in on the neckline.

Oh…yeah, my elbow feels better….maybe 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One Armed

As you can guess, it appears that my internet is working again.  Wonder if it will work on the weekend though?

I worked on the 1931 dress, though you really can’t tell it.  I set in one sleeve perfectly with a French seam and then realized I had done it backwards.  So rip rip rip, out came the seam and did it again.  Blech….it did not look that good.  Another try or 2 and we have one sleeve half way into the bodice.

At least my elbow doesn’t hurt.

Here is a picture of the skirt trim.  I need one more row of these trims, lower down on the skirt.  

Sewing Elbow

Have you ever heard of sewing elbow? Me neither, but I think I have it. Sunday night, as I continued into my 3rd hour of handsewing, my elbow was just painful. The pain occurred with every stitch. I finished up the piece I was working on and set the skirt aside. So….the 1918 dress is now officially on hold.

I am going to have to take a break in the handsewing. I am very sad about this new development. I thought I might be able to finish the dress by the weekend. But, I do not want to have continuing pain in my elbow.

In other annoying news, my internet connection has been mercurial at best. I could not stay online for more than a few minutes at a time over the weekend and it was out of service completely last night. Hence, no photo of where I got in the handsewing of the 1918 dress.

I guess this means I can finish up the 1931 dress. I still have the sleeves to put in and that is up tonight! Hopefully, I will be able to share some photos.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Was Bad

That was me yesterday.  Very very bad.  I went to pick up some more trim so I can finish the 1918 dress and somehow…I am not sure how….11 yards of fabric followed me home.

I fell in love with the wool plaid and I already know what I plan to do with it.

Something else followed me home yesterday from an estate sale I should not have been at…yes…I am a tease!  More on that later.

But as you can see....very very bad

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Cat in the Picture

Yes, the cat has gotten into the act while I try to take a close up of the skirt and posed for the camera with his demon cat eyes! He likes to pose for the camera.

But what you can see is where I am on the 1918 Dress.  Slowly but surely it is coming along.  There is now trim on the skirt.  As I mentioned before, there will be more trim added but I am out so this is as far as it gets until I get to the store to buy more trim.

Pretty…no?  I am liking it.

A close up of the trim on the skirt…shimmery goodness.  All in all, I have spent 4 hours hand sewing the trim on the skirty.

Wherein I ramble

Last night was my company’s monthly mixer which means a 14-15 hour day for me! Needless to say I was exhausted when I finally got home and no sewing took place. Just a lot of not moving.

However, that does not mean that I didn’t think about sewing. I did. A lot before sheer exhaustion over took me.

Yes, I have not finished anything yet but am thinking about my next project. I think the next project will be this dress. Why? Probably because I need to pick hard patterns to make. Though this will be made with a cotton so no slippery fabric. This will also NOT include trim requiring weeks of hand sewing. I do plan to shorten the dress so that it i not ankle legnth. 

These are all positives. I need something easy right about now and the fabric is from my stash: the mint dotted swiss pictured here on the left.

Suffragette: I, too, am utterly in awe of people who can turn out an outfit in a weekend. As hard as I try, I just cant do this. I am a slow and easily distracted sewer. I often need a deadline so that I can spend the 2 days before the deadline working like crazy on an outfit and not sleeping!!!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trimming the Skirt

I thought I was going to put it away for a little while.  My head hurt just to think about the rest of the work I needed to do.  However, I heard the siren’s call tonight and could not resist.

First, I pinned the trim to the skirt on the 1918 dress.  Not sure yet, if it will be one or 2 rows.  Cost may have something to do with it.

Second, I took out the new silver thread that I picked up today.

Third, the handsewing began……again.

I am pretty pleased with the way it is turning out.  However, when I am done with this, I am out of trim.  So no more work on the 1918 dress until I manage to get more trim.  Alas, that will not happen until the weekend.

Just as I was in a groove and I could just barely see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, April 19, 2010

1918 Dress

The trim on the neckline is finally all sewed on; it only took an hour.  Nuff said.

Hand Sewing Extravaganza

Make that 4+ hours of hand sewing…. And the end of the neckline trim is in sight. Yes, just in sight and not completed. I believe that I have about another 45 minutes to an hour then Wooohooo I am done with that. Next up will be the trim on the skirt and sleeves. Oh, joy, what in the world was I thinking. It is really pretty but this is crazy making.

Nope, I didn’t do anything but the handsewing over the weekend. So, let’s see if I can find a pretty picture to enthrall you with…

Since I am at work, my pictures options are limited to say the least…ok here is the back of my most recent ballgown. It is being re-worked because there are some problems because I was a renegade and went off pattern to just make it up. The bodice is silk, I forget what type; the skirt is rustle inducing silk taffeta. There are beads all over this frothy concoction but I was mostly able to sew them on with a machine……ah sheer bliss.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Bodice is Born or When You Have Enough Hand Sewing

The 1931 dress has a bodice….I just got tired of hand sewing.  It wasn’t hard if you discount the slippery fabric, the fabric that wrinkles when you look at that.  Yes, it was super easy if you discount those three factors.
Interestingly, from the pictures it looks as if it is a skirt and top.  Nope…It just has some weird double waistband thing that I have yet to figure out.

Like the bias binding around the neck.  I have no idea how to do the “V” portion of the neckline yet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Eye Strain

I am going crossed-eyed with this hand sewing and my brain feels taxed.

So I give you buttons....some of the buttons I got from the haul of vintage sewing supplies from my friend's grandmother's basement (the same basement which coughed up all the dressforms).

Carved stone flower buttons.....unusual

A box o buttons

A big brown glass button that just does not photograph

Some delicate white and gold flower buttons

Happy Tax Day

First a shout out to Suffragette: Thanks! I am glad you are enjoying my ramblings. Its kinda nice to know there is someone out there checking out my little space on the net. But whoa…8 projects at once! I bow to your multi-tasking, you are putting my 2 projects to shame. I would love to see some of your work some time.

Now down to business:

Since I am the queen of procrastinators, I had to have my taxes done last night. I had to pay so no fabric purchases for 30 days at least! Sad news but probably for the best. Due to the tax prep, all I did last nite is handsewing on the 1918 dress. The picture would be the same as yesterday…or make that the day before, just imagine the top edge of one line of trim ½way sewed on. I figure there is at least another 3 nights of sewing on the trim around the neckline. Not scintillating blogging to say the least. However, starting tonight, I will try to come up with something...........not sure what.

Pattern Review is having a vintage sewing contest. Should I enter? There are only 15 days to complete the outfit…..I think that is too little time for me especially since I really want to finish this 1918 dress. But I do have a stash of vintage patterns I would like to sew. It is that 15 day deadline. If I had a whole month, then it would be fine. But 15 days with a lot going on this weekend…I just don’t know.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Don't Know What To Work On

Should I continue working on the 1918 dress now that I know the bodice fits?

Or should I power on with the 1931 dress since it is still in the beginning stages??

What to do?  Decisions, decisions.

I am trying to switch back and forth but I want to concentrate on one thing!  And no, I haven’t just been dithering around trying to decide what to work on.  I did pin the trim around the neckline of the 1918 dress. 

I also work on the skirt of the 1931 dress.  Curved French seams, what was I thinking??    It does not photograph well. 

I am beat.

Thinking of concentrating on the 1918 dress again because I am looking at a lot of hand sewing which if I don’t start sewing there’s a really good chance I never will.  It is turning out much too nice to make it a UFO.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Eye Candy

Since I didn’t have time to either sew or post last night – really need to get the dumb taxes finished before the 15th! – I thought I would share some eye candy. This is the skirt of last year’s Halloween costume.

No you don’t get to the see the whole thing….yet. May need to use it for future eyecandy posts!!

As you can see, these photos pre-date the acquisition of the dressforms

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Picot Edge

I fooled around with my serger for a while trying to get this picot edge thing to work.  I am not really happy with it but am not going to do it by hand.  I think on the bottom of the skirt I will just do a rolled edge.  I think it will look better and have more consistency than the picot edge.  

I am not sure that this picture shows anything but it was the best of the lot.  Really not happy but ripped the stitch out of both sleeves once already and have no desire to do that again.


I cut out and sewed the sleeves of the 1931 dress!  Progress.  However, the instructions say to do a picot edge.  I do not completely understand the instructions provided for a picot edge and it seems like an awful lot of hand sewing.

But miracles of miracles my serger has a picot stitch.  I know it’s not the period correct way of handling this edge but I think I am going to do it on the serger for practicality reasons and swiftness.  We all know that if there is a lot of hand sewing for me to do, it is just not getting done. 

To answer some questions:  This fabric is slippery because it is a silk chiffon but I never even thought of using a stablizer!  Seriously, I am just not that with it.  I am using a lot of pin.  There are many curved seams look mighty scary but since I am doing french seams I am not as worried about it.  I may regret that statement though.  What type of stabilizer would be recommended?  Really as I sit here I have no clue.

I have been playing around with the trim on the 1918 dress.  Here are some of the option I came up with for the neckline.  I am leaning towards the double row around the neckline with space in between the rows.  

Thursday, April 08, 2010

What about the 30's

The 1918 dress is on hold until someone comes over to help do the final fitting of the bodice.  I want to make sure it will close properly with the buttons and I need someone to hold it closed for me.  Alas, I really wanted to move forward with it but decided to wait because I do have to put in button holes…yikes!  I may play around with trim placement in the meantime.

Rather than not sew,  I will work on something else.

Here is the fabric a silk chiffon:

The pattern will be a 1931 dress in honour of my friend who just turned 30.  A year off but the best I could do.  I am doing the short version with the 3/4 length sleeve.  I love a bell sleeve!

Because of it being a silk chiffon, French seams are in order.  Blech, that means I have to sew the dress twice!

Now you should know that the 20's and 30's, even though very different in style are my favorite eras.  The 30's to me just oooze romance.  Something just speaks to me about the styles of the 30's.   I remember watching 30's movies growing up and loving the clothes.  I am fortunate to own one vintage 30's dress which is just gorgeous.  So its time to give one a try though with this fabric it may cause me to tear out my hair.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Afraid To Cut?

I am terrified of cutting into fabric which is why I try to always use $1 fabric.  For a long time I was actually paralyzed when it came to cutting out a pattern.  So much fear that I would screw everything up.  New scissors helped as did the rotary cutters.

But since I have been using a lot of cheap fabric so I don’t care as much, I am able to cut out a pattern without thinking about it much.

Today I made the facings on the 1918 dress.  There is no pattern for the facings so I had to wing it.  No problem, lots of extra fabric; I now know what a facing is and what it should look like.  So what’s the problem?  First there is the fact that I forgot about the adjustment I made to the pattern.  Oh well, plenty of fabric and facings are small.  Second, this square neckline.  I sewed on the facings and I knew I had to trim the facings to get the points of the square to sit right.  Oh was I scared.  I kept taking little nips of fabric off; the smallest I could manage.  I was convinced that I would take too much.  Finally, I had to suck it up, take a deep breath, relax, tell myself there is plenty of fabric if I do something wrong and then snip.

Well everything went ok as you can see!  I am super happy with the facings.  Nice square neckline.

I had wanted to get more sewing done tonight but I decided to rip out the sleeve that bothered me and give that another go. 

But I need to still work on this fear of cutting.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sewing Did Happen

Easter just got the better of me but sewing is now happening.  Though those tucks took forever and a day to get the way I wanted them to look.  It’s just too bad that in this picture you really cannot see them!  After all of that effort I wanted to record them for posterity!

The dress is now a little wrinkled.  I ironed it a couple of time but getting the skirt onto the ancient Wolf dressform resulted in many more wrinkles.

Nevertheless, I am happy with the way this dress is turning out.  The waistband and facings are on tomorrow’s agenda.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Look What Just Came in the Mail:

I don't know what possessed me!!

Now, all I need to do is go to back to Kauai. Where will I find fabric for this one?  Not from my usuall source.

Frustration or Why Does Blogger Hate Me?

I have had such problems trying to post the past few days!! I just keep getting errors.

But not to worry, perseverance pays off!

An update is in order: The update is frustration. Hours spent hunched over an ironing board, pins at my side and tape measure in hand trying to get these tucks accurate. The first go around left the tucks too low; so of course the next go around they were much much to high. Tucks on the butt not a good look!

I believe that I am placing them in the right spot now, but after 3 hours hunching, pinning, measuring and ironing last nite I got one tuck done and the other 3/4s of the way pinned. I then gave up due to increasing back and neck pain.

But persevere I will! Tonight begins the hunching, the pinning, the measuring and the ironing. Hopefully a little sewing will also occur! Because once those tucks are correctly places, its 2 quick zips around, some gathers and then attaching bodice to skirt! That shouldn't take that long.