Sunday, November 29, 2009

What to do with a long weekend, part 2

This is one of the 1960s dress patterns I bought recently- this one for the neat back pleat. I wanted to get a good look at how it was drafted and sewn with the closure above it. Well, as it turns out, I'm not in love with the exact way that this pattern sews the pleat, but it was nice to get a chance to walk through really making one, handling the lining, and thinking about construction methods.

simplicity 7386

Last year I bought about 4 yards of black stretch wool suiting at one of the teensy hole-in-the-wall stores in the garment district. It turned out to be perfect to try out this project with. Since I only paid about $20 for the whole 4 yards I wasn't terribly concerned if it turned out horribly. That said, I wanted to practice some of my fancy dress and jacket making techniques that are often skipped over... this is was a "slow down and do things the correct way" project.

The jacket is underlined in silk organza, and the markings for darts were transferred to the organza using chalk paper and a tracing wheel. I basted the underlining on the first two pieces using the sewing machine, but I didn't really like how it came out, so the rest were hand basted. When I made my BWOF coat a few weeks ago (I'll blog that soon, really!) the machine basting went fine, because it was flannel being basted to a tweed. This one, however, was very thin stretch wool being basted to shifty silk organza, and it just didn't work. Hand basting came out much smoother and honestly went faster. The bolero is so tiny that it only took a few minutes to do each piece. You can see the top piece below is hand basted and the bottom one is machine basted.

The darts are at the back of the neck on the jacket. Another vintage detail that I always love since it makes the jacket hang easily from your shoulders! Here are the darts all sewn up:
back darts

The pattern came with separate top and bottom collar pieces- both cut on the bias- which stitched up and went in with no fuss. Gotta love good drafting, thank you Simplicity pattern maker! For a lining in the jacket I used some ambiance scraps. Let me repeat my least favorite things about ambiance: it shifts when you cut it. It shifts when you pin it. It acts all squirelly when you sew it. I singe my fingers trying to press the seams open. Sigh. And yet I still keep buying it because I forget the pain too quickly or something. Here's the lining hand sewn to the outer sleeve.


The dress is lined in a navy blue silk habotai, because that's what was in my stash. It feels *fantastic*. Wow... the silk is very light, and the dress is rather loose, but it has this very wonderful presence when it's on. So I rather think that there will be many silk habotai lined dresses coming out of my sewing room in the future. ;-)

There's a front seam in the dress, which has a little bit of shaping to it, but I chose to be lazy and just cut the front of the dress on the fold. This is a B36, when I really wear a B34, so I figured the minimal shaping in the front seam wouldn't make too big of a difference. I did take the side seams in a smidge at the very top, but otherwise I just let it be a bit loose. I'll be wearing this in the winter, and you'll never see the lack of extra front shaping under a sweater. I'm not sure how much wear this will really get, since it's very dressy for my office. I suppose it might be good for going out to dinner with my sailor, or worn with a warm coat and tights to go out to lunch in NYC or something. I enjoyed making the bolero but it feels like a 1960s costume with the dress, so they might get separated.

So these aren't the best pictures ever... I got my dad to go out on the deck to take them since photographing black is so difficult. The jacket and dress are both in massive need of a good pressing. My excuse here is that I was deep into cooking dinner when my dad came back with the dogs, so I hopped into the dress and dragged him out on the deck before the sun set.

simplicity 7386

simplicity 7386

The dress does kind of pull at the very front of my neck, because the weight of the pleat kind of tugs down in the back. I talked this over with my mom, and we think that it will be OK in a wedding dress because the front neckline will be lower, and it will be much more fitted around my ribs. Also, the wool I used here is much heaver than the silk for my dress will be. So. that was my holiday weekend wedding dress research. ;-)

What to do with a long weekend, part 1 a super girly pink quilt for Kate. This is her Christmas present, but not a surprise because she helped lay it out.

French Hatbox fabric by Tanya Whelan



Fold up binding being pinned

Quilt With Pinned Binding

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for....

....coming home for a long weekend to a bookshelf full of fabric and a new BWOF. Aaaaaah. It's better than any trip to a spa, I tell you. ;-)

....a visit to the ocean with my sailor
Back Bay Wildlife Refuge

.....the cutest little nieces and nephew ever

Kate & Ana

more stories?

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Will you slip in any time to sew?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some more vintage wedding patterns....

Bride Chic blog has a post today about some gorgeous vintage wedding patterns. Just in case, you know, you haven't gotten enough vintage wedding dress pattern overload from here. ;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

vogue 1776 - Carolina Herrera wedding dress

vogue 1776

Now how's this for a cool pattern insert? This Carolina Herrera pattern had a sweet little booklet on wedding dress sewing tips inside it!


vogue  pattern booklet

Considering that I only bought it for the instructions anyway, this was a nice bonus! I first saw this pattern a few weeks ago on a vintage pattern site, where it was $75. Last week I stumbled over it on ebay for $6 so I snatched it up. I didn't realize that all the "couture gown tips" were in a little color booklet, along with the huge instruction sheet specifically on the dress. I'll be browsing through this, picking up some tips...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lace inserts

I found these two lace inserts on Etsy... I've been thinking about the neckline at the front of my dress, and I might try the white one as an overlay on the bodice. The last dress on this blog post has a cute little bit of lace peeking out from the neckline, and it's super cute.
lace insert

The navy applique would be for a flower girl dress or my sister's dress.
navy blue lace insert

Another adorable bridal pattern made it's way here... this is McCall 8527

mcall 8527

And a dress pattern with a nice back pleat:
simplicity 7386

I'll have to think about how to incorporate the back pleat with my empire waist, like doing the pleat entirely below the band of the empire waist.

happy veteran's day


That's my sailor, back when we first started dating, with a real, live penguin. In antarctica. Happy veteran's day, sweetie. I miss you when you're underway, but it's all bearable when you find cute surprises like this in your email inbox! ;-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

lunchtime sketching

lunchtime sketching
Originally uploaded by wck

Working on christmas card designs at lunch. If you've never played with them, watercolor markers are So Much Fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Comment Catch Up and 2 small dresses

Here's Ana's dress from the other day. My apologies for the bad photo, I had a terrible time photographing a white & black dress. I was hoping for a photo of her modeling it but we didn't get a chance for that.

dress for ana

Top has a sweetheart neckline. The skirt is bemberg ambiance with a stretchy net double layer overskirt which was 2 inches longer than the underskirt. I pinned the skirt up in places and stitched it there with little red ribbon roses. I absolutely don't want a wedding dress with pickups like this on the skirt, or a tulle dress, but I've been looking at so much of both the last 2 weeks that they kind of worked their way into my system. So here we are, I worked them out on a little holiday dress for Ana. :-D

Next up, a dress for Kate from a vintage 1950s girls pattern. I love that it came with a circular petticoat pattern! The material is a white swiss dot with real thread dots. I have Karen to thank for that purchase- she was looking for some 'real' swiss dot, so I've been paying attention to swiss dot fabrics the last 2 weeks, and this sort of jumped into my cart.

white dress for Kate

McCalls 1979 from the 1950s

The pattern is adorable and very 50s. My mom pointed out the gloves and hat and said that's what she always wore when she was growing up. It has kimono sleeves with little cuffs
kimono sleeve

And a full circle skirt that took just under 4 yards of lace


Here is a picture of the sweet little elastic waist petticoat

So, comment catchup!

Antoinette wanted to know what my timeline was for choosing a dress pattern. That's a good question... we're hearing where he will be deployed next in March, so we'll pick a date then. We were originally planning to scramble and do the wedding in May before his next report date, but that looked like it was going to be very difficult to pull off. So right now we're in a wait and see mode. I will probably make some muslins over Christmas break, but otherwise not do too much until we have a date. This could all change... the one thing you learn quickly when dating someone in the military is that everything is subject to change at the last minute. ;-)

meredithp asked if my pink skirt was cut on the bias- nope, this pattern is for the straight of grain, both front and back are cut on the fold.

Toby commented on the sleeves on the vintage wedding dress patterns- yes, this is what I really like about them. Every wedding I've been to in the last few years, the bride spent the whole reception tugging her strapless dress and bra into position, which just doesn't look like fun, so I'd like to sidestep that whole thing.

And finally, a small wedding dress inspiration photo from a wedding blog. I LOVE the dress back in the upper left, and I'm thinking of trying that, but with a single inverted back pleat.

That dress is by Sarah Arnett.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


OK, I confess. I've been buying far too many vintage wedding dress patterns. WAY too many. It's too much fun, and most of these were in the $6-$12 range, so it's too easy to justify buying them. Sigh. (You can click on them to go to flickr, then click "all sizes" to see a larger photo)









When I was at the grocery store a few days ago I noticed that they had some pale blue and white hydrangeas, so I bought a few stems. I've had an idea for the wedding centerpieces floating around in my head for a few days, and I got a chance to try it out. The milk glass bowl was given to me by our nieghbor's children after she died- I was always fairly "eh" about milk glass before, but this piece made me realize that some of it is really pretty. I used a florists frog inside, and inserted 3 hydrangea stems, and- viola. I'm thinking I'll get some more cheap milk glass pieces from ebay & the thrift stores around here, and use florist foam (cheaper than frogs, it seems) to hold some hydrangeas. Probably with a candle on the table as well- shouldn't be *too* expensive, although it will depend on how hard hydrangeas are to track down. I might do another trial run with carnations or something else that I'm a little more sure of being able to buy come the week of the wedding.


There are tons of wonderful photos of centerpieces like that around on the web. If you'd like to lose a bit of time browsing, here are two. One here on The Knot, and a DIY milk glass centerpiece. Someday I should do a list of all the wedding blogs I've found and been sucked into reading. There are quite a few really fantastic ones with gorgeous photos.

And thanks to Carolyn for catching that my prom dress photo was set to private. Ooops. It should be fixed now.