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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Announcing My Pencil Skirt Drafting and Sew-a- long.

A pencil skirt is a great basic item to have in your wardrobe for Fall and is simple to draft.
 A good fitting pencil skirt will bring elegance to your everyday wardrobe and every lady should have one! But for many of us, those off the rack don't fit well. Perhaps they might gape in the waist or be too tight or loose in the hips. I will show you how to draft your own basic pencil skirt pattern that you can tweak and use as a basic design pattern for a variety of pencil skirt styles. 
This basic pattern will be dart fitted at the waist with a bias faced waistline and will be knee length with a kick pleat in the back. 
Join me next Friday, October 6 for my first installment of this drafting and sew- a- long.
If you would like to be included I will have a linky party where everyone can share photos of their skirts when the sew-a- long is finished.
Here is what you will need:
For The Pattern
  1. Some brown craft paper which comes in a roll. I buy mine at the 99 cent store. If you have dotted pattern paper, all the better!
  2. A straight clear graph ruler for pattern making.
  3. A curved hip ruler which isn't absolutely necessary but helpful.
  4. A pencil and eraser.
  5. Something sharp to poke a hole for your dart ends.
  6. And of course a tape measure to get your measurements.
For The Skirt
  1. 1 yard 60 inch fabric or about 1 1/2 yard 45 inch fabric. That should be enough for most sizes. Also make the fabric sort of thick since the skirt won't be lined. I'm trying to make this project as simple as possible!
  2. A 7  or 9 inch zipper.
  3. Bias binding in a matching color as your fabric.

I hope you join me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vintage Pattern Sizing Differences

Today I got a letter from a reader enquiring about what size she should buy in vintage patterns.
As an aside, it seems that size numbers in clothing keep shrinking but the measurements do not. For instance, I wear a 4 or 6 in US sizes but when I try on American clothing from the 1980's I wear a size 10! This is known as vanity sizing and maybe has something to do with either the growing waistlines of this country or the need for more sales. For instance, if you are trying on clothes, do you get a little excited when you can fit into a smaller size? Well, don't get too excited! You may not have gotten smaller. The clothes have just gotten bigger!
Sewing pattern sizes have also gotten smaller through the years.
A Modern Pattern Size Chart

60's Pattern Size Chart

40's Pattern Size Chart

Sometime in the 60's the pattern sizing changed. For instance, I have a 34 inch bust so I take a pattern dress size 12 in modern patterns. I have a mid sixties Vogue pattern that lists a 34 inch bust as requiring a size 14. Going further back my fifties and forties patterns list a 34 bust as a size 16. The modern sizes we have now for patterns have been in use since around 1969. How do I know that? Well, I saw an old pattern that had a big announcement on it, saying "New Modern Sizing". It was dated 1969 and had the same sizes we have now.
If you look at the pattern charts above you will notice a size 12 today is for a 34 inch bust, 26 1/2 inch waist and 36 inch hip. But a size 12 in a forties pattern is for a 30 inch bust, 25 inch waist, and 33 inch hip.
Not only have the sizes gotten smaller but all this ease has been added. For you newbies ease is "extra space" added to a pattern for comfort. I am bigger than a size 12 on the bottom. I have a 28 inch waist and 37 inch hips but I often have to take in the skirts on size 12 dresses to get the more fitted look I like. Ease shmeeze if you ask me! Do I want to look like a box? NO! Why not add ease to shoes while we are at it? Because then they wouldn't fit! Just like modern patterns. This is all the more reason to, yes ladies, start learning how to make our own patterns! It's really not that hard. I will be doing a straight skirt draft- a- long soon. If you are interested in participating, leave a comment.
As an aside, I do have to say Collette patterns seem to actually fit the measurements described on the envelope. But if you are smaller than a C cup you will have to adjust the bust.
I hope I haven't bored you silly with all of this measurement jargon but I know some people getting into vintage patterns have mistakenly bought the wrong size. Just doing my part!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Backstage at the fashion show

The show went off well today! There were 27 dresses in all and I was lucky to get an aunt of one of the models to do hair and makeup at the last minute. Liz did a great job. It was really hectic getting all the girls in their outfits buta lot of fun! I was backstage the whole time so I'll probably have to wait a little while to get some photos of the show but here are a few pics of some of the girls:

The first three photos and the last one are vintage and the rest were made by me.
Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Advance 5867 : A 50's Peasant Blouse

Project: A fifties style peasant blouse
Pattern: Advance 5867, Undated but approximately early 50's. Bought from a vintage shop for 5$
Fabric: Silk charmeuse, 1 yard 6$, bias trim bought at garage sales and lace from downtown LA and trim approximately 1$
Time to make: About 4 hours because of all the hand stitching.
Total Cost: About 12$

I borrowed this great Mexican skirt from the Santa Paula Theatre where I  sometimes work as a costume designer. I'm showing it in my vintage fashion show on Saturday. Since this is a charity event and I am not wanting to spend a fortune making things for it , I decided to go through my fabrics and patterns to make a matching blouse.
The finished outfit
This skirt is an example of a tourist skirt from the 1950's. When tourists would go to Mexico they would often buy these colorful and beautiful circle skirts to bring back to the US. This particular skirt is from Mexico City and has an Aztec motif. It still needs a crinoline to bring it to life.
I decided to use a silk charmeuse that I thought matched the skirt trimmed with some bias tape and lace, all of which I  had on hand. The lace was bought from the FIDM Scholarship store. It was a steal, 4 dollars for a whole paddle of it. ( About 25 yards.) I love this pickstitching detail I have seen on other garments. It gives kind of a pretty handmade look. In this case it looks a little too handmade!
 (My 8 year old Lily just told me, " You have to work on your hand sewing Mom!")
A casing created with bias tape with elastic pulled through.
Detail of the bias tape facing which is hand stitched on the inside to avoid machine marks .
 Instead of sewing facings into sleeveless blouses like this you can just attach bias tape but you have to hand stitch it down on the inside to avoid the machine stitched look. The little picks show through on the silk charmeuse, unfortunately. I probably should have just sewn the recommended facings, but I can't ever seem to follow those pattern instructions precisely.
I like to think of them as suggestions only!
How about you? Do you veer from the directions too? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Inspiration : World War 2 Ladies Jumpsuits

I love these jumpsuits!
Has anyone ever made one or does anyone have a pattern they might want to sell to me? These are really scarce and I have never found one for sale. It seems easy enogh to make a pattern though. I could use a wide legged pant and just add a bodice from another pattern like in the first photo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Bombsell Dress For Izzy

Here is a bombshell dress I made years ago from a stretch paisley woven cotton but put away because the elastic and the neck area got all stretched out and I sort of just forgot about it. I would tell you the pattern but I can't remember it. I salvaged it by sewing some black bias tape along the neckline, creating a casing. Then I pulled some ribbon through the casing and made a little hole in the center front to tie a bow with it. Now it looks like a peasant dress!
(Does this fire truck look familiar?)
And here is Izzy posing with Frankie Avalon, the singer from the 1960's. Does anyone remember that song "Hey Venus" he sang? But seriously my favorite song of his was "Beauty School Dropout" from the seventies film, "Grease." Button up your shirt, Frankie! Beach Blanket Bingo was a long time ago!  He was a little too willing to pose in this picture with Izzy if you ask me... Eeek!
And no, that's not a cocktail in her hand..
What kind of mother do you think I am!?
 First, my 24 year old stepdaughter was the recipient of my hand me downs and now my 16 year old daughter also digs through my bins. I doubt my two year old will be digging through my bins when she is a teen because I will be positively ancient by then!
And how did a dark haired, dark eyed, part American Indian and Italian person like myself have such a pretty, blue eyed blonde? I'm still trying to figure that one out since her dad is also brown eyed and brown haired like myself..
I was told it was a one in 16 chance. 
Oh, and she was also bit by a rattlesnake when she was six.
 What do you think the chances of that happening are?


Friday, September 16, 2011

Butterick 6582 and Sew Chic Saturday

Here is my weekly creation to share:
To post your own projects today scroll down to the bottom of this post.

When I see these snazzy vintage drawings from old patterns I get lured in. I guess it's a combination of optimism and wishful thinking that gets me to buy into the idea my finished dress might actually look this screaming hot on me! We can dream can't we?
Pattern: Butterick 6582 1960 Retro reissue
Fabric: Navy and white stretch woven gingham with white piping on neck and bows.
Construction notes: I had to redraft the neckline because it didn't cross in the center front and the pleats messed up the drape so I removed them and just made the shoulders a bit narrower.I also skipped the facinghs and used bias tape instead . I sandwiched some piping in between the bias and the dress.

 I tried to do my hair in a forties style here but it just ended up looking kind of dorky! However, I DO like how the dress turned out!
Here I am later in the weekend at a party in my new dress. When you wear a dress like this, you have to put on your "DIVA" attitude and just work it, bows and all!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Richard's Tomatoes

Richard has been busy in his garden!
Now I have to figure out a way to preserve all these beautiful tomatoes. I'm going to make a big batch of tomato sauce and a big batch of salsa to freeze.
I wish I could have a blog giveaway to give some of these away! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Restoring a late thirties rayon dress

Cost: 5.00$ due to rotted seams and holes
Time Spent fixing it: About 2 hours
This little dress was in a sad state. I bought it at my favorite local treasure trove which doesn't even have a name! Terry the owner didn't want to deal with restoring it so she sold it to me for the fabric. I love the little draped panels in the front and the way the two little points fold down at the neckline. Now if I could only find someone with a 25 inch waist to fit into this!

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