Thursday, 17 July 2014

Taking Time to Stop and Smell the Roses - Lilacs & Lace joins the #vintagepledge!

Boy have I got a special treat for you today! The crazy-talented, queen-of-vintage-stitching Laura Mae from Lilacs & Lace has kindly joined in with my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge (#vintagepledge) and is sharing intricate details of her journey with her beautiful Vogue 4203 dress! If for some unthinkable reason you're not familiar with Laura Mae's blog, you really must check it out - I promise you'll be hooked! I hugely admire how she embraces couture techniques, which she generously shares with her readers, alongside many other tutorials. How she manages to be so productive when creating such quality makes is a mystery to me! Laura Mae's blog is also a great source of inspiration posts, none better than her own makes. I love how she creates the most exquisite dresses (here, here and here to name a few) and even manages to give modern patterns a vintage twist (here and here). Oh, and she's an expert knitter too!


Hello, fellow sewing enthusiasts! I  am so excited to be participating in the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge! Thank you, Marie, for having me over to your online home for a visit!


To join in the festivities, I thought I would pull out one of my vintage patterns that has been ignored for far too long. Vogue 4203 is a Special Design from 1960 or 1961 (the instructions are dated 1960, but the pattern envelope is stamped 1961). It is often impossible to find any mention of a copyright date, and here I have two for one!


At first glance, this looks just like any other basic bodice/full-skirt/sleeve combo. Upon closer inspection (as is the case with so many vintage patterns) there is so much more to this dress. There are a combination of released darts in addition to the standard fare, a piped waist seam, a skirt that is pleated and gathered for maximum poof, tucks along the sleeve and skirt hems, an included petticoat, and bound buttonholes up the bodice back. Not too shabby, right?!


This particular pattern includes a rather in-depth look at a type of bound buttonhole I have never tried, so just for fun, I decided to skip my usual technique and try out a new one. So out came some fabric scraps!


I have learned so much about apparel sewing from working my way through vintage pattern instruction sheets. You may not get the information spoon fed to you, but there are plenty of reference books to fill in the gaps if you are willing to take the time – check out your local library for some great older sewing manuals, and of course, there are bound to be a few online tutorials to help out as well. If you are anything like me, you will get lost in the world of sewing construction found in the reference book and learn a few more tricks along the way!

Most vintage techniques are not all that difficult, but they do take more time than sending a seam through a serger and calling it a day. Which leads me to my favorite sewing mantra: slow down and enjoy the process! Buck the fast fashion trend, and stitch up something made to last through years of wear and washings.


Making a mock-up of any design is always a good way to ensure you will be happy with the final outcome. Not only is it a wonderful way to check fit, but you can also work through any questions you may have about the construction along the way. I usually end up using my muslin as a fabric pattern.


Take the time to hand baste markings in place once you start working with your dress fabric.


Make your own piping with self-fabric and some scrap yarn.


My muslin was an excellent reminder that a skirt like this needs a foundation in order to look like the illustration!


I love borrowing techniques from vintage patterns that I have worked with in the past. This design is illustrated as a bell shape. I have always found this look intriguing, so I thought it was high time I tried it out. The included petticoat is certainly going to help to achieve the look, but the exaggerated curve starting from the waistline reminded me of a past project.


As a bit of an experiment, I used a technique from a Vogue design from 1954 that adds interfacing to each skirt piece from the waist to upper hip for added stability before darting, pleating, or gathering in the excess width. Pellon was often used as an underlining in vintage frocks to give some oomph to a skirt, so I decided to have some fun with it.


Without a petticoat of any kind, the dress is holding its shape quite nicely, thanks to the Pellon!


I may end up making a petticoat as well, just because they are so much fun to wear, but the dress could certainly be worn without one – all thanks to that 1954 pattern instruction sheet.


Interfaced skirts, bound seams, bound buttonholes, piped seams, hand-picked zippers, nice deep hemlines . . . all of these elements can elevate a basic dress into something really special.


And isn’t that why we sew? To create something with our hands that we can be proud of, that will last for years to come, and is worth the extra effort and time that it takes.


I am off to finish hemming my dress, add a waist stay, and figure out if I will be adding piping to the neckline to match back to the waist seam . . .


Vintage patterns give us the opportunity to build something truly one of a kind with beautiful details and unique silhouettes. And who doesn’t love working with yummy fabrics and oohing and aahing over the gorgeous pattern illustrations?!


Another fabulous thing about vintage is the ability to suit every figure type out there – the variety is incredible. From the easy fit of the 20s, to the ruffled flounces and slinky bias skirts of the 30s, to the structured silhouette of the 40s, to the soft feminine 50s ideal, to the figure revealing look of 60s mod, you are bound to find something you like.


Whatever decade you choose, working with a vintage pattern is sure way to learn a few new things about garment construction!

So have fun with those vintage patterns that are finally getting some much deserved love and attention for your Vintage Pattern Sewing Pledge and do not be afraid to get creative with the construction and enjoy the journey. There really are no rules . . . when you end up with a wearable garment that makes you smile, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!


And, of course, happy sewing to all! 

Wow, is anyone else in as much awe as I am right now? Laura Mae makes me want to be a better stitcher! We're over half way through the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, so to see what everyone else taking part  is up to, check out the dedicated  Pinterest board

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Kids Dressmaking Blog Hop with Lisa Lam + a Giveaway!!!


As someone with an extraordinarily large number of friends with babies, I'm always on the lookout for cute sewing patterns for little ones. Needless to say I was delighted when Stitch, Craft Create got in touch about joining The Kids Dressmaking Blog Hop with Lisa Lam, especially as they're offering you guys a sweet giveaway to boot which I'll detail at the end.

Lisa Lam is well known for her handbag making empire - U-handbag - but having her daughter (who is the adorable model pictured below) inspired her to try her hand at children's patterns and the results are pretty cute!



The Dance With Me Dress is a sweet and simple design, open to interpretation and creativity so you can really go wild with it. It can also be made as a pretty smock top and comes with a matching purse pattern to boot...too cute for words!



For a funkier edge Lisa has also released the Happiness Halter Playsuit, which is a versatile wardrobe-builder for your lucky tot - you get a playsuit, dress and halter top all in one pattern!

I've yet to stitch either of these patterns up, but the instructions seem easy to understand and comprehensive, with clear pictures illustrating key construction methods. Each booklet also includes foldout full size pattern sheets, which is a huge bonus for anyone who doesn't have a photocopier/printer or hates tracing. The patterns are graded for children between 2-6 years old, so if you're a parent you'll definitely get your money's worth!

Speaking of money, you can save 25% of the RRP if you order both patterns together from Stitch, Craft Create. Or you can leave a comment below telling me which pattern is your favourite and why, for a chance to win a free copy of both booklets! Make sure you leave your email address so I can get in touch if you're the lucky winner. This giveaway is open to all and closes at midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 22 July.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Inside...Vintage Vogue 5671


A little later than promised, but I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into vintage Vogue 5671! As you know, I used it for my Minerva Meet-Up dress, which is also my first #vitntagepledge make. 


The first thing I want to stress in this post is that not all vintage sewing patterns are scary! I know a lot of people are reluctant to give them a go, most commonly because they fear working with unmarked pattern pieces and minimalist instructions. This is indeed true of some vintage patterns, especially ones pre-dating the 1950s, but most 1960s ones I've come across have been absolutely fine. Luckily, Vogue 5671 falls into this category and you can see from the sleeve pattern piece below that everything is marked clearly and in great detail.


I've also pictured the sleeve pattern piece, because for me, it's one of the most interesting details of the dress in terms of design and construction. A dart at the top gives it a really nice shape and volume without the hassle of gathers. What I love the most about these sleeves though, is that they're not set into the neckline, instead they form part of the neckline. The back straps are attached at the same time as the facings and although they're optional, I think that they actually help to keep the sleeves on my shoulders.



When it comes to vintage sewing patterns, it's all about the details! Vogue 5671, and many other vintage patterns, offers sweet touches like a decorative bow for the back and a bow belt to finish the outfit off. Due to my busy fabric print I opted out of both of these, but I look forward to trying them when I revisit the pattern with a solid fabric.


You may remember me saying before, but I didn't have time for a muslin when I made this, so I just had to dive in. I made up my bodice without the sleeves, basted in the side zip and tried it on (at this point it just looked like a boob-tube). To my delight it was spot on at the waist, but I clearly needed a lot more width across the chest/back to fill it - around 12cm altogether! Were women's bodies that broad/different back then, or were patterns not drafted as well as they are nowadays?!?

Anyway, I pinched out the excess, marked it on the wrong side of my fabric, unpicked my side seams and re-cut the bodice pieces. Luckily the bodice was spot on after that and once I increased the dart size on the sleeve I had a nice snug fit - these two changes did mean that I had a bit of fiddling to do in order to re-size the facings, but nothing too tricky. The only other change I made was to shorten the bodice by my usual 1.5cm and to swap the skirt for my beloved pleated Lilou one.


Overall, I'm ridiculously happy with the fit of this dress and I'm even happier that I finally got around to using this gorgeous pattern - I definitely see more Vogue 5671 variations in my future!

Long live the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, I say! Are you in?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Minerva Meet-Up Dress and a fifth of my #vintagepledge


Yikes! It's been over three weeks since the Minerva Meet-Up and I'm only just getting around to blogging about my dress for the occasion! It was a truly fabulous event which I was busy having too much fun at to photograph, but the hyperlink above hosts plenty of photographic evidence.

 


I'm doubly happy with this dress, because not only is it pretty, it also counts as one of my five fruit a day Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge garments! I used the very chic Vogue 5671 from my stash, but put my own spin on it by swapping the pencil skirt with the pleated Lilou skirt. I must admit that as soon as I finished this dress I had a massive panic about it looking ridiculously 90s due to the fabric print, and although I still think it does, it fits so well that I just don't care! Also, the fabric is a very lovely cotton sateen from Minerva, which was awesome to work with...so really mustn't complain!


Vintage patterns are known for their unique details and interesting construction techniques, so I'm going to follow up this post with a closer look inside Vogue 5671. I also didn't have time for a muslin, but I did have to make some substantial adjustments, so I'll share them in the same post as well.

Vogue 5671 has a lovely curved front neckline and pleated sleeves, which perhaps would be more visible in a solid fabric! I didn't attempt to pattern match at all, yet accidentally almost managed to at the waistline...couldn't have planned that better! 


I faithfully followed the instructions on finishing the sleeves and neckline with hand-picked facings and I also stitched the hem by hand. I'm usually far too lazy for that kind of thing, but I always feel the need to do justice to vintage patterns.




This is the third time I've used the Lilou pleated skirt and I really love it! I'm tempted to use it for all my dresses, but I guess that might become a bit boring!



Vogue 5671's piece de resistance is the back of course! I find this extra, little back detail quite adorable really...but again, a little 90s in this fabric. I'm seriously considering making this dress again in a solid fabric, just so all the interesting details are a little more visible.


 

So, do you think I've started my #vintagepledge with a bang? I've still got a way to go before I finish, but I'm pretty relieved to have made a start! How are you getting on with yours? There's still plenty of time to join in!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Embellishing your Bellini collar - how to sew beads onto fabric


We sew because we like flexing our creativity and expressing our unique personality, right? Embellishment can be a great way of achieving this, so I'm going to show you how to sew beads onto fabric, just like I did for my Bellini blouse's collar. I know I promised this post a few days ago, but I hope you agree that Simplicity's Jiffy 1356 giveaway was a good enough reason to postpone!

STEP 1 - Prepare your fabric


Press your collar piece well and apply interfacing to give it enough stability to support the weight of the beads. Make sure you also mark out your seam allowances / stitching line to help you with the placement of your beads - you don't want them getting in the way when you're constructing your collar. Although not shown in my pictures, I highly recommend stay-stitching the curved neckline edges to avoid misshaping.

STEP 2 - Experiment with your bead placement


Now's the fun part - have a go at experimenting with the placement of your beads before committing to a design! I tried out different formations and borders and even toyed with the idea of creating a polka-dot effect. In the end I settled for a flower-head design on each scallop.

STEP 3 - Measure and mark your placings


Once you decide how you want to show off your beads, a little measuring is required to put your vision into practice. First I measured the length and width of my flower-head, then I measured the width of each scallop to make sure my design was centred. I also made sure my flower-head would finish at least 1cm from the seam allowance / stitching line I then marked the centre of my flower-head with a little 'x' on the back of my fabric.

STEP 4 - Sewing beads onto your fabric



With all the prep out of the way, you can finally start sewing your beads - just double up your thread and you're ready to go! Start by finding your mark on the back of your fabric and passing your needle through. Once on the right side of your fabric, thread a bead through your needle and down your thread. Then insert your needle close to your initial entry point and pull out to the back of the fabric again. Inserting the needle close to the initial entry point ensures the bead is tightly secured and will help keep the shape of your design.


The pics above just highlight the movement you want to be making with your needle, to tightly secure your beads. Don't pull your thread too tightly though as you may end up with unwanted puckers on your collar.

STEP 5 - Admire your handiwork!


Wahoo, you've created something unique and beautiful! And your inner geek will be happy too, safe in the knowledge that the ugly threads will be hidden by the time you finish constructing your collar.



Now that you know how, are you tempted to embellish anything soon?