Monday, July 10, 2017

The 1950's Garden Party

Just a short post to share a pic from the 1950's Garden Party Bridal Shower that I attended this past weekend.  I am wearing Simplicity 4560, my daughter is wearing Butterick 6049, and my granddaughter is wearing McCall's 6303 (both the dress and the hat, which I never blogged about but here is the pattern pic).

The baby clothing patterns are terrible, in my experience, at giving you any idea of what size to make.  I made the size medium which was much too big on her last summer as a six month old but fits her well this summer as an 18 month old.  Good to know for future projects.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Vintage 1950's Dress - Simplicity 4560 - and Crinoline

Simplicity 4560

Mom circa 1959
I am attending a bridal shower this weekend that has a 1950's garden party theme.  I love the idea of a vintage clothing theme and set out to find a dress to make.  I was inspired by this pic of my Mom from 1959.  My mom has a stash of original patterns from various eras and I chose the above Simplicity 4560 pattern to make.  It was even in my size!  This pattern only makes the one style dress but it is sized with separate pattern pieces for short, medium and tall. If you are here about the crinoline you can skip all the learning curve and head straight to the
Crinoline Directions.
Simplicity 4560 with a crinoline
This was a simple dress to make, but there are some changes I would do if I were to make it again. I made the tall version (rated for 5'7" and up) but I wish I would still have added one more inch to the length of the bodice (I am 5'7").  Rather than using the arm and neck facings, I lined the bodice using this method.  That way I was able to use the lining as my muslin.  Even though the darts seemed to be correctly placed on the muslin/lining, the front darts seems to run a bit too high on the finished fashion fabric.  I'm not sure why that happened but it is something to be aware of in future.  The biggest change I would make is to the skirt.  The skirt is made of three panels that combine for a 96" skirt; a short one across the front and two 35" panels that run from roughly the front of the hips to the centre back.  I'm sure the pattern was drafted this way to accomodate 36" wide fabric that was so common back in the day.  This means there are no side seams on the skirt.  I think the skirt would look just about as full if you used two 45" panels (45" wide fabric) and then moved the zip to the side.  This would also make getting dressed much easier.  Finally, I used a standard zipper (which is what the pattern calls for) because I couldn't find an invisible zip in an appropriate colour.  I much prefer invisible zips, and in fact that would be a necessity if I were to move the zip to the side.  The pattern calls for using seam binding on the waist seam.  The pattern says this is to add strength to that seam and prevent stretching.  I debated whether or not I needed this but decided to go with it.  I'm glad I did because it is such a form fitting bodice and I wouldn't want to experience a wardrobe malfunction.  It also makes for a much neater inside if you chose not to line the bodice.  There is a lot of fabric gathered into that skirt and I can just imagine all the loose thread ends once it's been through the wash if it were left exposed. Having said that, the lining also covers that seam so if you are lining it you can leave off the seam binding - your choice.

Dress without a crinoline
As you can see, the dress really needs a crinoline or petticoat to make it look like a 1950's dress.  In some ways this is good because I can wear it on its own as a current sundress.  The crinoline was a bit of an ordeal, but I finally got through it.  After making my first one, I found it was totally inapropriate and so I tore it apart and redesigned it.  Then I went on to make another for my daughter.  I will share some of the lessons learned.
#2 - my second crinoline
So what are the lessons learned making a crinoline?  Well the first one is that not all crinolines are created the same.  It is important to choose a pattern appropriate to your material, and that you are choosing a pattern that will give the silhouette you are looking for.  All over the internet there are tutorials telling you to use miles of crinoline in your bottom tier.  There was one that has a finished hem of 48 yards!  The first pattern I was following called for 8 yards around the hem, but as I was seeing so many patterns that called for more I decided to go with 12 meters (14 yards).  At the fabric store I was about to buy tulle when the salesperson showed me a product that's actually called crinoline.  It is a harder plastic type of fabric.  Ok, stiffer is better, right?  One of the blogs did mention that a crinoline should stand up by itself...  Then I spend an entire day fighting with gathering 12 meters of fabric.  I tried basting but the thread would break on me while pulling the basting thread, probably because the crinoline fabric is so stiff.  Then I threaded my machine with upholstery thread in the needle but with standard thread in the bobbin it kept catching and the crinoline would tear.  Then I pulled out my old sewing machine with a ruffler attachment, but I couldn't get the appropriate 2-to-1 ratio.  I ended up with a 3-to-1 ratio and thought "good enough".  Wrong again.  The 2-to-1 ratio between tiers is important for the final shape of the crinoline.  Let's just say that by the time I was finished (after about a week's worth of work), all of the above combined into what looked like something I would use to go square dancing (sorry, no pics).  So I put it aside for a week to think about it, tore it apart and started over. I am nothing if not determined.

#3 - my daughter's crinoline
Since I was using a very stiff crinoline fabric (stiffer than tulle), and because I had cut my crinoline fabric lengwise into 3 meter strips, I ended up joining the strips together into one long length and then cutting to make my bottom tier 4 meters, the middle tier 2 meters, and the top tier a little over 1 meter - my hip measurement plus 4" or 5" for ease.(45" - the width of a standard bolt of fabric). After the catastrophe of gathering the first crinoline, I did a lot of hand work with the second.  I used the upholstery thread to hand baste and gather, and then hand basted that to the next tier instead of using pins.  Needless to say this was still a very lengthy project.  By the time I got to the third crinoline, I had figured out how to successfully gather it by machine and had cut my time down to six hours (granted, I already had the bottoms bound in the satin ribbon).  Also, I used cotton broadcloth for the top tier and waistband instead of just for the waistband.  So without further ado, here is how I will make my next crinoline:

Crinoline Directions

These will be very basic instructions, and material amounts are gauged to make a crinoline that will fit me - 5'7" tall with 41" hips.  Your mileage may vary.  I will try to answer any questions if I can in the comments.  I may try to update with some pics if necessary.  I am not an authority on crinolines, I just found what worked for me.  The important thing to getting a pleasing silhouette with your crinoline is the ratio between tiers; 2-to-1. For a fuller crinoline, add more yardage but keep your ratios between tiers the same.  You can probably add more tiers for a longer (such as floor length) crinoline.

Materials to make a 27" long crinoline:

  • 1.4 meters or 1 1/2 yards of stiff crinoline fabric
  • .6 meter or 5/8 yard cotton broadcloth
  • 7 meters or 8 yards 1" satin ribbon
  • 1" wide elastic
  • Upholstery thread for gathering

  1. Cut the crinoline across the 45" width into six 9" strips.  NOTE:  in hindsight I'm not sure if the crinoline was 60" wide, in which case you will need to do the math for fabric yardage requirements
  2. Sew two strips and four strips respectively together into tubes.  To join the strips, butt the short edges together and overlap by 3/8".  The pieces will lay flat with no seam allowance to stick out.  Sew with a coverstitch or sew a double seam.
  3. Fold the ribbon in half lengthwise and press.  Encase the bottom edge of both crinoline tiers with the ribbon and stitch in place close to the open edge of the ribbon.
  4. Mark top and bottom of the middle tier and the top (unbound edge) of the bottom tier into four equal sections.
  5. Sew on the gathering thread.  Using a wide zigzag stitch, sew over top of a length of upholstery thread to the top edge of both tiers, being sure not to catch it in the stitches.  The zigzag stitches create a channel for the upholstery thread to pull through.  Stop the machine at each of the four markings and cut the upholstery thread, leaving a tail.  Leaving the needle in the fabric, lift the pressure foot and place a new length of upholstery thread centred under the pressure foot (with a tail behind).  Repeat for all sections.
  6. Pin the top of the bottom tier to the satin bottom of the middle tier, matching the four markings and overlapping the crinoline over the satin.  Find the centre of each section of the bottom tier and pin to the centre of the middle tier.  Repeat finding the centre between pins until there are pins every 1-2 inches.
  7. Holding one end of a single piece of upholstery thread in each hand (so as not to pull it out), pull to gather the bottom tier.  The pins will help it stay in place and will simplify evenly spreading out the gathers.  Baste the bottom tier to the top tier and coverstitch OR sew a double seam. 
  8. Cut the top tier broadcloth 45" wide by 21" long and fold in half lengthwise.  Press.
  9. Sew side edges to form a tube.
  10. Fold back in half lengthwise (so it is a double thickness tube), wrong sides together.  Sew an elastic channel at the folded edge, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.
  11.  Mark the bottom edge of the top tier into four sections.
  12. Repeat step 6, except rather than overlapping the seam, join the right sides together as a standard seam.  Sew a 5/8" seam.  Press the top tier and seam towards the top.
  13. Fold under a 5/8" seam allowance o the opposite side of the top tier.  Pin over the first seam to encase it.  Topstitch, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.
  14. Insert the elastic, sew together the ends and topstitch the opening closed.
And that's it!  Even with all the little tricks my final crinoline took me a good six hours, but that's much better than the 40 or so hours I sank into the first one.  Please post a pic or a link to yours if you make one!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Shopping Purse (With Pockets!) - with tutorial

I was in the mood to make a new shopping bag, so I started off with the google.  There are lots of options out there.  The one that I liked the best was the Market Tote from Bijou Lovely, and there is a great tutorial at her blog.  I found some quilting weight fabrics in my stash that I had bought to make aprons, but I didn't have quite enough and was looking for something else to use for the lining when I ran across project leftovers from a flowered denim skirt, a pair of disaster pants and a cover for Sergio.  I thought because these were heavier fabrics they may be better for this project, and I thought the colours went together well.

Once I got the outer shell done I decided I liked it so much that I would add pockets inside to make it more like a purse, hence the "shopping purse".  I used my large Michael Kors bag as inspiration because it is about the same size.  I checked out how they did things on the inside and used their idea of the band of matching fabric around the top of the inside - would you call that a yoke?  I think I will call that a yoke - to enclose the top of the zipper tapes.  

Pop can added for perspective
I also really like the credit card slots in my Guess bag that is my current everyday bag.  By adding these pockets the bag can fit quite a bit of shopping (or just my other shopping bags) without having to carry a separate purse for my essentials.  Or I can just use it as a large purse (it is really big!)  I spent a crazy amount of time playing with ideas, thinking of what I wanted to carry in the bag and working out the pockets, but it was fun.  The following is the adaptations I made to the Market Tote.  Unfortunately I didn't take any "in progress" pics, but hopefully you will get the idea from the finished project pics.

To begin I followed the instructions for the outer shell just as described in Bijou Lovely's tutorial.  I cut a piece of plastic mesh (found cheaply at my local Dollar Tree store) to give the bag a firm bottom.  I hand stitched the ends of the plastic mesh to the seam allowances where I boxed the bottom of the bag to keep it from moving about. Then I moved on to the lining.

I debated whether to interface the lining because (a) I am using a heavier fabric than called for for the outer fabric and (b) I am a notoriously cheap b@stard.  But I bit the bullet and interfaced the lining, thinking that I would need the structure in the lining to support the pockets.  I think that was a wise choice.  

 First, I sewed the zippers to the top of the larger patch pockets (2) (I'll call them the base pockets).  My finished base pockets measure 9 1/2" wide (to accommodate a 9" zipper) by 7" deep.   Then onto one of those base pockets I added the smaller cell phone patch pocket and the pre-hemmed slots for lipsticks and a pen.  I didn't write down any measurements for these; I made them to suit by sewing down one edge of the strip, pinning it around a tube of lipstick and sewing down the pinned line, and then repeating for a second lipstick tube (because you always need a choice of two lipsticks, amiright?!) and a pen.  I sewed diagonally across tiny folds on the bottom of the lipstick slots to prevent the lipsticks from falling through.  Alternatively you could just slipstitch the bottom together, maybe gathering it, or sew it down to the base pocket - whatever works for you.

On the second base pocket I attached the credit card slots.  This was made from four strips which had been zigzag hemmed across the top and had the side seams pressed under.  Mine have a finished width between stitching lines of 7", but add extra for folding the sides under and seam allowances to that.  You don't want it so loose that your cards are falling out but not so tight that you can't get them into the slots.  My strips are each offset vertically by one inch.  I started with the top one and sewed just across the bottom, measuring down about 1/8" less than the height of a credit card from the top, leaving the bottom edge raw to minimize bulk as it will be covered by the next strip(s) anyway.  I repeated that procedure for all but the last one.  That one was flipped over and sewn right sides together to give me a finished bottom edge and then pressed up.  Next, starting at the bottom of the strips I sewed a seam up the middle to separate the two sides, followed by a seam up each edge, again starting at the bottom.  You can see in the pic that the self-fabric cord with keyrings is also sewn to this base pocket.  If that is your choice then this is the time to do that.  My intention had been to sew it into the bottom seam of the yoke but I forgot, so it got sewn to this base pocket after the bag was finished.  The cord is just a strip of the bag base fabric sewn closed with a double fold.  I bought a pack of keyrings at the local Dollar Tree and attached one to each end so that I can decide if I want to clip my keys to the loose hanging keyring (that would be good for a house key, for example) or the solidly attached keyring (better for car keys).   

Then I added the base pocket sub-assemblies to the lining.  Note that I haven't assembled the lining yet, so I am working on flat pieces of fabric.  The base pockets are sewn onto the lining as zippered patch pockets rather than cutting into the lining for bagged pockets.  I thought this would be stronger and stand up to wear and tear better.  I wanted to use the yoke to contain the top of the zipper tape.  Before I could calculate where to sew the base pocket onto the lining I had to work out the math for the yoke.  I followed the same method that Bijou Lovely uses to attach the outer base of the bag (starting at step 7 in her tutorial) to come up with the following measurements.  I suggest following her pics to help visualize this part.  By this point I knew that I wanted more structure to the top of the bag because of the added weight of the pockets, so I cut 1" strips of the plastic mesh to encase in the top of the bag.  To accommodate this I wanted a finished yoke depth of 1 1/4".  Allowing for 1/2" seam allowances top and bottom I cut the yoke strip 2 1/4" deep and the width of the lining.  I used a straightedge to draw a line on the lining 1 3/4" from the top edge.  This will be the line to butt the edge of the yoke to.  Then I drew another line 1/2" below this, the width of the base pocket sub-assembly and centred in the middle of the bag, to show where my yoke stitching line will be.  Once that line was drawn I could place the base pocket assembly so that the top of the zipper tape is just above the stitching line so that it will just be encased in that seam line.  I stitched along all four sides of the base pocket sub-assembly, remembering that the top edge of the top zipper tape is the fourth side.   I then drew a line on the yoke 1/2" from the long edge to show my stitching line and stitched it in place as per Bijou Lovely's instructions. 

Zippered pocket with separate section for glasses
In this pic you can see a seam going up the patch pocket at the side of the pen holder.  That seam separates the patch pocket into a larger and smaller compartment so that I have a place to keep my glasses (the smaller compartment) without them getting scratched by anything else.  I had forgotten to plan for a place for my glasses so this was done as an afterthought but I think it will work well, and the larger section is still plenty large enough.  Unfortunately I didn't think of this until the next morning (therefore requiring some disassembly and reassembly on my part) but this would be the time to add this partition. Make sure you don't sew this seam up through the zipper or you won't be able to open/close it. 

I added my 1" strips of plastic mesh after sewing the lining side seams, but in hindsight this is when I should have done that.  Fold back the yoke to expose the lining underneath and baste the plastic mesh to the lining to prevent it moving about.  I was able to sew over the plastic mesh by machine without any problems, or you can tack it in place by hand.  I had to join several pieces of the mesh together to make the strips long enough so I overlapped them a bit at the joins to keep them firm as one long piece.

Seam to close up opening in bottom of lining
I followed Bijou Lovely's instructions to make the handles, assemble the lining and finish the rest of the bag.  The only other changes I made were to leave a seam open at the bottom of the lining so that I could sew the top of the bag to the lining completely and use the opening in the bottom of the lining to turn the assembly right-side-out, and I added a couple of magnetic snaps on the yoke at the base of the handles to keep the bag closed.  I added more keyrings to the zipper pulls but I'm not sure I am happy with that.  I may end up making fabric pulls to attach to the zips.

Whew!  Well I hope that's not too confusing.  Feel free to post any questions and I will try and answer them.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Simplicity 1696

Well hello out there!  I've been spending quite a bit of time in my sewing room since retiring but clearly not spending any time blogging about it.  I need to remedy that.  So I'll jump right in with the project I finished yesterday - Simplicity 1696.

This is one of Simplicity's "Perfect Fit" patterns.  They give you 1" side seams in order to make appropriate adjustments.  I feel that this pattern fit me straight out of the gate and other than the length I made no alterations.  As with all big 4 patterns I sew one size down from what my measurements call for.  They have you take a back crotch length measurement to determine if you are a regular or curvy fit.  That doesn't take into account how tall you are, so even though mine showed me as a curvy fit I made the regular.  I think that was the right choice. The instructions were straight forward and easy enough to follow.  I wasn't sure which side of the waistband was to be interfaced and ended up interfacing the facings by mistake.  You would think it would be interchangeable but the front left is not the same as the front right.  I don't think it will matter much in the wearing but it did make a difference when trying to sew the facings down because I had no ease to work with.  I spend a long time working on these pants, mainly because I can.  I wanted to be meticulous on the details.  I made them from a cotton sateen with spandex.  They should be a nice pair of summer pants.  And check out that pattern matching at the fly!

I did add an embellishment by adding piping down the side seams.  First I basted the side seams to check for fit, then pressed the seam open to leave good crease witness marks.  Then I removed the basting and used the witness marks to sew on the piping.  Finally I sewed the side seams back up using a zipper foot to crowd the piping as I sewed.  I am happy with the results.  If I were to do this again I would finish this seam first before sewing the inseams so that I can run a line of topstitching over the side seam to keep the piping laying flat.  Now that I know the pattern doesn't need any alterations I can do that in the future. This time around I've just pressed it.

I also sewed a strip of twill tape inside the top of the waistband (between the layers).  This is a tip I picked up from an Angela Wolf pattern.  The twill tape prevents the waistband from stretching out.  This pattern has you add bias tape to the bottom of the waistband facing.  I'm not sure if it will prevent stretching in the same way as the twill tape because bias tape has a bit of stretch to it.  To be fair I didn't read ahead to see the bias tape being added when I added the twill tape.  Perhaps I will leave out the twill tape on the next pair and see if the bias tape is enough to prevent stretching on its own.

The only alteration I made is to add 2 1/4" to the length.  The pattern states it should fall to the ankle bone but I like mine a bit longer.  The pattern calls for a 1 1/4" single fold hem but because this pattern is similar to a jeans pattern I did a 5/8" double fold hem and finished it with the coverstitch, starting and ending at the piping so as not to have to sew over it.  I have fabric to make another pair.  I may leave off the belt loops next time as I am unlikely to be wearing a belt with these pants.  For a hidden splash of colour I made my pockets in hot pink.

I am very happy with the results and I am really looking forward to wearing them.