Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vogue 7044 - The coat-cape continues...

There have been a few setbacks in my cape-coat-cape, I'm sad to report. First, I can't seem to get past the interfaced sleeves issue.

Second, I threw away my scrap fabric before I cut out the center back facing piece. Genius.

But I have managed to plod forward, despite all odds, and hope to have something pretty to show for it soon.

I wrote the gory details, as well as a little tip on completing bound buttonholes, here.

Tips on Working with Vintage Patterns

I posted earlier today looking for tips on how to put a placket with snaps into a side seam of a dress.  Well, a short internet search later and I found this helpful Threads article that covers many aspects of sewing with vintage patterns.

If you feel the need for some pointers, the article includes tips on pattern sizing, terminology, pattern markings and short tutorials on bound buttonholes, adding a gusset, bias binding, and placket closures.

If that fabulous 1933 dress in the Threads article looks familiar to you, it's because Debi from My Happy Sewing Place just made it for The Sew Weekly Challenge.  She did a wonderful job!

pattern work Butterick 4627 coat

This weekend I worked on pattern alterations to Butterick 4627 coat.

First, I traced it onto Swedish tracing paper.  Then I carefully folded the pattern and stored it.  It's so fragile, I don't want to damage it.

I know what the fit issues will be, so I like to make flat pattern adjustments before sewing a muslin.  I used a TNT pattern (McCall's 5145) and compared the dimensions. I generally need to add height to the shoulder /armscye area and adjust the sleeve head.

The way I compare 2 very different armscyes is to mark the vertical center front and center back lines and horizontal lines at the bottom of the armscye as reference points. (See the green lines in the photo) Then I overlap my current project over the TNT pattern, aligning center front /back & armscye lines.  This is the easiest way I've found to get the alteration done without pulling my hair out.  Sewing something straight out of the envelope generally produces something so mysteriously unwearable that I have been known to ball it up, toss it in a trashcan and head to the mall.

This Butterick 4627 is a size 10, which I like because that shoulder length matches mine.  I would wear a size 20 if I used the usual bust-hips-waist to determine my size.

If you click on the image, you can see it larger:
The darts are pinned out in the bust area of both patterns.
After getting the shoulders, neckline and armscye altered, I went on to grade the pattern up at the waist and hips.
I just calculated the amount of ease in the size 10, and added the same amount to my own measurements.  I added some  to the the side seams, and the rest to the vertical wedges created by slashing & spreading down the middle of each front and each back piece.  

At this point, I've pinned the altered front and back on my dress form and it's looking about right.  Now I need to alter the sleeves.  I won't sew a muslin of the entire coat - it is just too much fabric!  But I will sew a partial muslin from the bust up.  I need to make sure all my little calculations and adjustments work properly.

I am not sure what has possessed me to sew another coat so soon.  They are so big and bulky and generally annoying to handle.  But, alas, my desire for this coat outweighs the inconvenience.

I must have it!

Muslin Take Two-- and Some Advice Needed

You may remember this picture that I posted last week when I realized that I needed to add some major length to the bodice.  (Imagine-- at first I thought it was supposed to look that way!)

I went back to the drawing board and added 2" to the pattern.  While some of you advocated not changing it at all since it didn't look bad per se, I think the second muslin is much better as the proportion seems more correct in this second one.  Another reason I wanted to lower the waist is that I do want to include the belt-- so the natural waist needs to actually sit at the waist, not at my ribcage.

A few sidenotes:

  • These are NOT the shoulder pads I intend to use.  I wanted to use shoulder pads for the fitting since the pattern calls for them and I definitely want to use them.  (They're supposed to extend into the sleeve cap).  I will most likely make my own from batting when I get to that point in the process.  I have a few forties dresses in my closet that I can use for reference.
  • When I was a design student in college, I did an independent study with one of my professors where we focused on fit.  One great trick I learned is to tie a piece of elastic around your waist (the black line above in photo).  Jump around a bit/wiggle/move and the elastic will naturally settle into the smallest part of your waist.  THIS is your natural waist.  Compare this with where your pattern has the waistline marked (also visible on the muslin in the middle photo above) and adjust accordingly.
  • I also lowered the armhole about 1".  It felt a little tight, and there were wrinkles forming along the side seam.  According to Vogue Fitting (a wonderful resource that you can buy used on Amazon for as little as $2.00), the underarm seam should start about 1" below the armpit.
  • I'm ready to move on to the fashion fabric.  Woohoo!
So, I need y'alls expertise on something:

This dress has an opening in the side seam to allow for me to put it on (see picture below).  The original pattern calls for snaps, but I don't really know how one makes a placket (for lack of a better word) for snaps in a side seam.  Does anyone have any experience doing this?

My mom suggested using an invisible zipper instead which is fine except I don't think I like zippers in side seams.  In my recollection, they tend to buckle strangely which ruins the silhouette of the dress.  I have a suspicion that gals with a lower waist-hip ratio can use a zipper there, whereas girls like me with tiny waists and larger hips run into trouble.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Update - Sidetracked

Hello Ladies (and possibly gents)! First I want to thank you for all the help on my fitting issues. I have to say that after doing three muslins I got tired of looking at the project. It wasn't until I realized I was going to skip doing "the little details" that I want to make this a special project that I decided I needed a break. Instead I'm making some vintage clothing for my little girl. If anyone is interested I'll post pictures of that when I'm done!

I'll be back in the saddle and on my way before February is half over. Cheers!

(In the meantime, I've been up to other things too.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Regretfully, a Change of Plans.

Well, my lofty aim to sew the Walkaway Dress is not going to pan out.  I just don't have the skills yet to tackle this dress in the allotted time, and the nerves about it have driven me Plan B!

I have never sewn vintage, so I came to reason and decided that a simpler project is probably a better idea, eh?

Plan A, the Walkaway Dress:

Plan B, a wicked easy vintage dress:

I'll accept the defeat for now, but mark my words - the Walkaway dress will be MINE!  Just after I get over my nerves. :)

See my blog for more deets.

Cheers to all,

Advance 9560- The Bishop Method

(picture from The Authentic Bishop Method Website)

I received my pattern in the mail last night, and began reading through the instructions. They use the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction which led me on a google search. I found out Edna Brtye Bishop was the founder of the method and wrote a book in 1959 about techniques of tailoring using "faster," industrial techniques of the time. From my brief read, it sounds like Edna began the use of grainline to ensure a properly fitting garment along with other techniques that we use today such as understitching, staystitiching, etc., but again that was my impression from my speed reading! And Edna developed the "can't live without" Ezy Hem gagdet!

Her book can be found here. I would like to ask other vintage sewers...are you familiar with the Bishop Method, and Edna Bryte Bishop? I am curious to find out if I will learn new techniques or have I uncovered the founder of the techniques which sewers use today. The instructions for my pattern are detailed and lengthy...which is good because I need all the help I can get when it comes to the welt pocket! It is new territory for me and a major detail on the coat!
Also, thank you for your fabric recommendations. I chose a Calvin Klein khaki color, medium weight cotton ( possibly twill? I can't remember...). It has a small woven texture and shiny sheen to make it a bit more special . I am taking the recommendation to make the lining pop! I will photograph the fabric when it arrives.
On to the muslin...

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Pattern Choice from Territory Mom

First, let me tell you how excited and privileged I am to be a part of this sewalong.  I feel like I have my own personal home ec teacher.
This pattern comes from a pattern book distributed by the American Thread Company and published in 1945.  I didn't want to take up too much room so you can read more about my choice here.
Anyway, I'm Territory Mom and I have three blogs, too many, I know.  OklaHome is my first blog about Oklahoma, of course and my family history.  Delayed But Not Denied is about being a mom and raising a sensational son (we have the big "A") and his wonderful sister.  New Territory Co. is my sewing and business blog.
I know this is the Great Vintage Sewalong but to me it is a great escape.
Thanks for letting me be a part of it.
Have a great day and happy sewing.
Territory Mom

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beth's Garage Sale Dress, Finished

While Beth of SunnyGal Studio is not a Vintage Sewalong member, we just love the story of the 1953 dress pattern, all cut out and still pinned to the fabric, she bought at a garage sale. She just finished sewing it and here it is. Can't you see your grandmothers or moms wearing this back in the day? Read Beth's post here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Advance 9560

Well...I changed my mind and have taken another route for the Sewalong! I decided what I really need in my wardrobe is a spring coat. I chose the above pattern. I love the collar and the simplicity of the lines of the coat. It is called the Audrey Hepburn coat. And I have to admit...anything about Audrey Hepburn's style intrigues me! Along with the mention of the "Bishop Method"...what is this??

So dear vintage sewers...what fabric would you use for this coat. And remember, it is for spring! I appreciate your suggestions.
I might need the hat to go with it...ha!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Du Barry 5766 - Ready to Cut Fashion Fabric

I think I'm officially ready to cut into the "real" fabric.  I have worked on the sleeve that I.just.could.not.ease into the armhole WITHOUT gathers or puckers.

The pattern at the top of the photo is the revised pattern; the pattern at the bottom of the photo is the original pattern showing some of the manipulation used to get to the new pattern.  More details at my blog Seams Well.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Is there an official name for the sudden dementia that strikes as soon as one starts a sewing project?  I swear-- Every.Single.Time I sit down to sew, I end up making silly, silly mistakes.  And, rather than learning from these mistakes, it seems that each one is more grievous than the previous.

Let me ask you: Does anything curious strike you about my version of the pattern (aside from the missing belt)?
Ding! Ding! Ding!  The prize goes to the woman in the front row.  YES! You may be scratching your head wondering why that skirt is hoisted all the way up to my boobs.  Frankly, I'm wondering the same thing myself and questioning how I could have made such a silly mistake.  I'm just glad I caught it before I cut out the fashion fabric.

SO, the lessons learned are (to be forgotten the next time I tackle a pattern):
  • When you're 5'10", you ALWAYS have to lengthen the pattern.  ALWAYS.
  • Take a GOOD look at the fashion drawing on the front of the envelope.  And, if there is one, take a good look at the flat sketch as well.
Silly, silly me!  I'm off to add, oh, a good two inches to my pattern.

Butterick 4919: altered bodice + fabric choices

I added some side darts to the bodice and made a tuck on each side of the neckline, which I have just stitched as darts for now to get the idea. I then turned under and stitched down the seam allowance along the neckline (in the actual dress, the edges are finished by a facing piece that is sewn like a lining). I threw a couple of hooks on the back so I could get it to stay on. I think the fit is much better now. I might also add a little more length to the shoulder seams so my bra straps don't show.

I'm sorry this picture is so blurry, but it's the best I could get by myself. You can kind of see the tucks I made at the neckline near the center front. (Any advice on how to alter the pattern for this?)

(If I had more shame, I would not post this  picture of me in my baggy pants and messy living room on the internet, but I guess I don't.)

Here are the two fabrics I'm thinking about. The top one is a cotton voile with a black background; the bottom a black woven polyester. The coin on the black fabric is a quarter.

Muslin pics

I finally found time to be pinned in to my dress muslin and take pics yesterday afternoon.  There are a full set over at my blog, but these 2 I think show where I am up to. 

Front of the dress
side view
There were not too many adjustments to be made after all. I took it in by about half an inch at the long side darts and the shoulder seams. I think the fit is fine for a summer dress. I am going to lower the neckline by about 1.5 - 2 inches. I don't find high necklines comfortable, nor do I think they are flattering on me.
I am not sure whether the bunching at the back here is a problem with the pattern/fit, or if bunched it up when I put my hands on my hips for the earlier photos. You can see we only pinned the hem up at the front. I will make the shorter hem adjustments on the pattern before I cut the fashion fabric.

Simplicity 3430 - in progress

I've gone and changed my original pattern for the sewalong.  I was so indecisive on fabrics for my other choice, and this one kept poking me when I would visit the pattern box.  

What's not to love?  Rick rack, square neckline, full skirt?  
Yesterday I traced and altered the dress and today I cut it out and have the bodice stitched together.  

It fits very well (yay!)  but of course I ran into a small snag.  I think it's fixable?  In any case, I  have another fabric pulled from stash to make another one when this one is finished.
You can visit my blog to read more about it if you'd like!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Where I'm At

My original pattern was this princess-style by Marian Martin.  The neckline was very high, too high for me so I've changed it to a v-neck.  Hopefully this won't change the character of the dress too much but it's way more comfortable and flattering on me.
I ended up having to make a FBA adjustment on the dress, only a 2cm one which was good, it's easier than having to try and manipulate bigger adjustments. I followed the princess seam FBA method from the Fit For Real People book. I also moved the bust point down by 2.5cm.
Cutting out muslin #4 of the bodice of the dress. That's the only part of the dress that is fitted and amazingly, I did not have to alter the back except to skim a small amount off the back armhole. The final, fitted 4th muslin.
All that's left is to alter the shoulder length by about 1cm but I will wait until I've got the dress together in 'real' fabric and see.
This is my thrifty year and I'm limiting my fabric purchases and using stash fabrics. I can't remember what this fabric is but it doesn't wrinkle and it's so soft and drapey. Perfect! It's a natural fibre, possibly cotton and something else - I bought it from Mood Fabrics last year. I have some pink cotton batiste which I'll line the dress with as well. I've prewashed the fabric, it's on the clothes line as I speak type.
This is the first dress that I've been really happy with my pattern adjustments and not stressing too much. It's also my first vintage pattern I've ever sewn.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


What I thought was a perfectly fitted muslin,
is now the not so perfect first stage of my actual skirt.  After putting the pieces together and taking a look at the fit, I discovered that the skirt is a bit too a-linish in the back.   Here are a couple of front and side views

 And here is a picture of the excess fabric in the back of the skirt.  Please excuse the picture being on it's side, I don't know how to rotate pictures yet.  Removing the extra 2 1/2" of excess right below the zipper by increasing the side seams would be so easy.  Howbeit, I think that if I took that route I think I would seriously jeopardize the size pleating.

 I think the correction should be made in the center back seam.  The only deterrent is that I will have to remove and re-insert the invisible zipper.  I guess I should mention that I've already removed and re-inserted once for the sake of perfectionism.  But of course I did say that I wanted to get in a lot of practice inserting invisible zippers this month.  If anyone else has any other suggestions on this I would appreciate hearing from you...

Roll Call! How Is Everyone Doing?

Where do you stand with your pattern? Everything going swimmingly, or have you thrown in the towel? Leave a comment and let everyone know how you're doing so far. Thanks!

McCall's 2206 Update

I have just cut out my third muslin of McCall's 2206 and I'm ready to stitch it up. Hopefully I'll be ready for the real thing next.

After seriously altering the bodice to bring it down to my size, I figured it couldn't hurt to go ahead and slap one more muslin together to make sure the adjustment works as planned and more importantly, to check the fit of the sleeves and collar, which I haven't muslined yet. I suspect I may need to raise the armhole a tad and add a little bit of extra room to the sleeve. Once all that is done, I can cut out the real thing!

I'll be making the long sleeve view from red "suede cloth" from stash. I was worried about having enough fabric, but I checked and there is plenty. Enough to re-cut a piece if necessary, even. And since I'm putting all this work into muslins and fitting, I think I will go ahead and make the short sleeve view as well. I have a pretty turquoise/hot pink boucle in the stash that needs to be used and I'm thinking a bright, mod dress will be just the thing for Easter. (I might even have enough to make my daughter a coordinating A-line dress. She'd be thrilled to have a dress like Mom's!)

Cut Velvet for Adele

What am I thinking? I couldn't find appropriate fabric to do my muslin this afternoon at the local, so I just freak out, go ahead and order 2.5 yards of 54 inch cut velvet from Thai Silks which suddenly I envisaged dying a lovely blue-grey to keep the 1920's feeling of the design.
Have I lost my mind? Is this what happens when you join a sewalong? Next thing you know, I'll be ordering an ivory cigarette holder to go with it, and I certainly don't even smoke.

Yuk choice for my Adele Simpson

Went to local fabric store today to look for something nice as a wearable muslin for my Adele Simpson Vogue Vintage. Found nothing that would work for spring (or any other season for that matter.) The problem is I need a nice draping crepe and everything was nasty poly or winter weight or T-shirt knits.
Hmmm. this may call for Thai silks....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lady K - comments on sliding shoulders

Lady K- I read your post & comments with interest.  I think I understand what monkeysocks and Phyllis are saying regarding the shoulders.  I took the liberty of snagging a screen-shot and illustrating Phyllis's suggestion.  I use Snag-It for this.  Ladies, please correct me if I have mis-understood.
(Click to enlarge)
The photo above shows where to make a slash /overlapped edges to remove an inch (or whatever it takes) to pull that shoulder up to a more reasonable shoulder line.

The other issue, that monkeysocks mentioned, is that the whole upper bodice is too big.  The neckline stands away from your neck.  You may find that graceful and like it - or you may prefer the neckline to fit more closely.  If you want opt for the latter,  here is what I think is necessary:

click to enlarge
You'd have to make this adjustment to both front and back to get the neckline in the right place.  Then you'd alter the collar pattern.  That is not hard.

There is a lot to be said for starting with a pattern that fits you using the upper chest measurement (right under the armpits).  That usually (but not always) gives you the right fit in the neck and shoulders.  

A full bust adjustment is usually easier than trying to adjust neck and shoulders.  But- it all depends on your personal situation.
I hope this helps and keep us posted!

I love this style for you!

HELP! My shoulders are falling off!

Hi everyone! I am perplexed. I probably could have sewn this dress up as-is and had it mostly fit OK, except that I have large arms and bust. *sighs* This is for a 42" bust and I'm a 44. And in the light of full disclosure I'm 37" in the waist, 45" in the hips, and I'm 5'8" and a lot of that is in my torso (these are empirical[is that the right term?] measurements as I'm a USAnian).

So I've done a slight FBA, and I did a rounded shoulder adjustment (I work in the IT industry, slave away at a computer all day). I also did an adjustment for full arms. The sleeves themselves fit but the fall off the shoulder is just... weird. Also... excuse the construction issues I was sleep deprived when I put it together and it just didn't seem that important to have all the seams the right way on a test muslin. But honestly, I'm not sure what to do at this point. I need to add length, since the dress is suppose to belt at true-waist and there are half inch seam allowances. It falls about an inch above my belly-button so 1.5 inches added in length?

So here are some pictures. As you can tell I totally did my hair and makeup for these (not).

(Design on this calls for some gathering at the lower back into the skirt. See weirdness of shoulder and set-in sleeve.)

(exhibit A of need for more length in the torso)

(outside of the weird way the shoulder falls, I kind of think this looks OK here)

I swear my shoulders aren't that lopsided, it has to do with the only one sleeve.

I had to take out some gaping in the back bodice but wasn't sure how to take the volume out of the sleeve cap to match, especially considering I needed to make the sleeve wider for my sausage arms. Please help! Suggestions, point me toward some tutorials? I realized this is my first real foray into a woven top. All my tops have been knits so far because they are so much easier to fake good fit. The sad thing here is that despite all the issues it STILL fits better than RTW wovens. *sighs* I think that once I can get the top of this dress to fit I'd really only need a couple alterations to make it a plain shirt pattern as well. That would be awesome.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

McCall 4803 - Grading the Pattern

I've had the most fun reading everyone's progress!  My patterns finally arrived this week too, so I was able to get started.  Here is my trouser, McCall 4803:

First order of business was tracing and grading the pattern since the waist on this one is 26" and I haven't personally seen a 26" waist (at least not on my body!) since 1987.

I created a little tutorial on how I grade up pants (and skirts) on my regular blog, Quality Time. You can go read the tutorial there if you'd like! 

As a plus-size vintage lover, I've had to invest lots of time to little tricks to use these lovely patterns that, more often than not, are way too small.

Now I'm off to muslin!

Greetings and salutations

Having signed up as soon as I heard about the sew-along, it has taken me a while to post, but better late than never, right? I have hatched and scratched a few plans for this project and have settled on this Simplicity 7509  from 1970.

A year or more ago a friend helped me to fit a muslin of it, and I never got back to it, so this sew long is the perfect motivation. However, I have lost about a dress size since then, so I will be working on the muslin some more before I upload pics.

I am not 100% decided on fabric yet. I have some lovely royal blue linen that was gifted to me by a friend, but I fear there will not be quite enough. I will try some creative pattern laying laying out, but if I can't make it work I might use a russet red cotton that is in my collection.

Friday, January 14, 2011


REALITY: That which is real; an actual existence; that which is not imagination, fiction, or pretense; that which has objective existence, and is not merely an idea.

So here is my CURRENT REALITY: I am never going to make my original garment a REALITY. I love love the pattern but I can't find fabric I love love and time is slipping by....

So here is my NEW REALITY: Vogue 2934. I love love it too. I have a perfect piece of fabric in my stash and I know I can make this one a REALITY!

Here we go again!

Making progress on Sherlock Batman - Vogue 7044

I'm steadily making progress on my coatcape, Vogue 7044. I managed the get the body put together this morning and now I can spend the weekend tweaking the fit, and assembling and stitching the lining - I foresee a lot of hand-stitching in my future.

More on the details here.

Snowed in with Fabric

Hi everyone! Wow, some of you ladies work really fast. I got my supplies in last week and then had to work. Been working from home, in fact. Here in the Southeast there's an inch of ice and even more snow on the ground and everything is shut down. Plenty of time to sew with no place to go! I'll be back soon with an update about my first muslin. (I started this post a couple days ago, but then got distracted with things like long neglected house work and kids home from school the entire week. SHEESH)

My Pattern arrived!

So my pattern arrived today and I have spent a fair bit of time studying the back of it - especially looking at those measurements. Hmmn ... I think there may be trouble brewing and I don't know how to resize a pattern up three! sizes and based on my measurements (which stay fairly true when I'm not pregnant) the size 16 then is equivalent to almost a 12 now. Hmmn...what to do.

Dig out the dressmaking books and learn about resizing patterns - that's what!

After that I will cut out and sew up a muslin and compare it wish some of the muslin's I did for dresses I made last year. I might even take it to my aunt's place and try iton her adjustable dress form.

If I am planning on wearing it just a month after I have a baby - it shouldn't matter if the muslin is too big.

I think given how much I am in love with my fabric - I will put the pattern on hold at that point until post giving birth when I can at least fit the dress too me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wait for Me!

Hi There! I'm DeniseAngela and I'm a new sewist and I blog over at dame*design*studio .  I love dresses from the 1950's & 1960's!  I'm a little late in posting my pattern choice as I could not decide from the two vintage patterns I own!   I finally chose the Retro Butterick '52 otherwise know as the walk-away dress.  Its says fast & easy but since I have pattern phobias & issues this will not be fast & easy for me!  This is the fabric I chose.
I will use the white & pink striped taffeta blends ( it feels like taffeta-I'm not sure though, I got it on sale and it said "fabric unknown") for the front dress part and I will use this black cotton, linen blends for the contrasting wrap-around part.  I will be using the black bias for the trim.  This is also my first sewalong and any idea's, comments are very helpful to me!  Thanks!