Monday, February 17, 2020

Ogee Oscar - Vintage Vogue 1678

I recently participated in a Instagram vintage sew along #joyvivsewvintage.  The patterns had to be from 1995 or earlier.  Well geez, that was not a problem, Back in the 90's   I  was working in corporate America, where the work wear was still dressy. I sewed many of my work suits and dresses.  But I also had two young children, so a lot of pattern and fabric purchases never got used and went straight to the stash.

 I dug out this  1995 Vogue designer pattern from Oscar De La Renta.

Vogue 1678
I have long wanted to sew it,  mostly because of the challenge of the shaped inserts, the ogee or parenthesis shaped inserts to be more specific, especially the ones on view B yellow dress. About the same time, I was making this dress, DH was watching a woodworking show that described the serpentine, extended curve as an Ogee curve.  I googled Ogee on a favorite online fabric site and pages of decorator fabrics came up.  The ancient tile in our bathroom  has a similar pattern and when I googled “ogee tile”, a picture of it popped up on the screen.  Who knew?

Vogue 1678 

I gave a lot of thought on how I would seam the pieces to get the perfect curves. I used a technique based on one I had used for applique quilting many years ago, when  I made several Baltimore Album quilts.  A high level description of the technique would be to turn under the seam allowance of the curved edge using a template, Hand applique/tack the curved edge to the background fabric, turn to wrong side of garment and machine stitching on the seamline. Remove applique/tacking stitch.

If you have access to old Threads Magazines, these article  describe similar techniques.

Easy Applique for complex shapes    Beatriz M. Grayson        60 AUG/SEP 1995 69
Add Style with Graphic Fabric Insertions   Pamela Ptak        113 JUN/JUL 2004 48

For my template I used freezer paper.

1. Copy the pattern piece for the  curved shape including seam allowance onto freezer paper.
2. Iron waxy side of freezer paper to wrong side of fabric.

3. Stitch a scant 5/8 inch from cut edge through the paper and fabric. This line of stitching acts both as stay stitching and the seam allowance  turn under line.
4.  Remove the freezer paper in the seam allowance. This should be easy to do as the stitching perforates the paper.
5. Clip seam allowance of fabric  on curves and press back over the edge of the freezer paper along stitched line.
Wrong side of dress front with seam allowance pressed over freezer paper template

6.  Lay piece on top of adjoining fabric piece, along seam allowance line . Hand stitch the two pieces together along seam line just catching a tiny bit of the turned edge. I use a fell stitch.


 7. Flip top piece over so right sides are together, exposing seam allowances.  Remove remaining freezer paper. Sew along seam line just a smidge to outside of the stitching that marked the turn line, on the garment side of the line.
Sewing seam to outside of blue turn line stitching. Orange stitches that cross blue thread are the fell stitches 

8. Remove basting stitches

The fabric I used is actually older than the pattern. Both the black and white tweed , and the purple wool crepe were purchased in the early 80's at a place called Surplus City in central PA, where I lived at the time.   You are probably starting to guess at the age and size of my stash. Yes, it is scary.

I used a size 14 above waist and 16 below.   I took some length out of the bodice above the bust, probably the space intended for the shoulder pad.  I redrafted the sleeve head to fit the resulting armhole better.   I add an insert at the neckline to add interest and fill in the neckline. It was actually easy to create the shape. I laid view A  front pattern over view  B front pattern and the resulting difference between the two  necklines made a great Ogee shaped insert. Same for the back pieces for the two views.

View A of this dress  comes down the runway in this YouTube video   OSCAR DE LA RENTA Fall 1994/1995 New York at  6:21 min. It is mini length, which make it look a lot less matronly than it does on the pattern envelope. And the hat it is worn with is outrageous. It was interesting seeing all the super models of the time Naomi, Helena, Yasmin when they were so, so young.

Vogue 1687

Vogue 1678 side view - weird shape
Vogue 1687 back

Monday, February 3, 2020

Wardrobe Basic - Denim - Black Flair Jeans

Back in December,  Stefanie of  Sea of Teal Blog announced her  Sew Your Wardrobe Basics challenge for 2020. Every month she publishes a theme or a piece of clothing she wants/needs in her wardrobe, along with  inspirations and pattern ideas …  and she  invites anyone to sew along.

January’s theme was denim. The most worn denim pieces in my wardrobe are black denim.  Not only jeans, but I even have a black denim jean jacket. Black goes with so many garments in my wardrobe.  I was getting tired of the skinny and straight leg jean styles that I have so many of.  This challenge prompted me to add a new style of black jeans to my wardrobe: flare leg.  I have sewn jeans before, but they never seem to fit as well as RTW.  My favorite pair of flare leg jeans is a pair from the brand  Nic and Zoe. The fabric is a heavy 95% cotton, 5% lycra  fabric that may even be a knit. It is hard to tell. They fit well in the butt and are very close fitting in the hip and thigh area.

 I  copied the N&Z pair. There are many ways to copy Jeans. Just Google it, or look on YouTube and chose your method.  My first attempt, using the rubbing  method, resulted a slightly wonky looking pattern.  The second attempt,  pinning paper (Dr's examination table paper, Thanks Jane!)  to the seams of the pants, resulted in a much more accurate pattern.

copy of  N&Z  pant pattern
 The fabric I chose to use was   Telio Atwell Denim Twill Black Fabric.  Contents 65% Cotton/32% Polyester/3% Lycra Spandex.  Description: This medium weight (6.5 oz. per square yard) denim has a soft hand, a nice drape, and about 15% stretch across the grain for comfort and ease.

This fabric had a lot more stretch that the original pant fabric and I was a bit  apprehensive to do jean style top stitching on a stretch fabric.  So I added fusible, straight of grain, seam reinforcing tape (Japanese Tailoring tape) to seam lines to prevent stretching  specifically on the back yoke, the front pockets, and the center front zipper area. 

Fusible tape on  yoke seam

Leather trim on back pocket.
  I faced the waistband with elastic, something I saw in another pair of RTW jeans.  I have a problem with jeans' waistbands stretching out which  means I am constantly tugging my jeans up all day. I stamped the elastic with an "a" for Audrey.

Waist faced with elastic.

I am very happy with the fit.  Only problem is the fabric seems to be a big lint attractor.

I even dug the black denim jacket out of the back of the closet, a Burda Style magazine pattern that  predates my blogging, so at least 15 years ago.

Who picked this paint color? I need my shades!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Dressing to DIscuss Dying

I was asked to give a program on “Dyes, Types  and Uses” for an ASG  neighborhood group.  In general, I don’t mind giving a presentation about something I enjoy, though I always make sure my audience knows I am not an expert.  For my presentations I like to incorporate something in my outfit that supports or illustrates the topic.  I spotted this outfit in the Oct 2019 BurdaStyle magazine. #115.  It was the perfect outfit for the presentation.

Burda Oct 2019 115

  A colorful, easy to sew top, and  coordinating necklace. That could be used to illustrate the use of dye on different materials; fabric and wood.  

I dyed some very inexpensive wool lycra knit using Rit brand, general purpose, Aquamarine dye and the instructions for protein fibers.  I had bought this fabric specifically for experimenting with dying and fabric manipulation.  I prefer silk and wool when I do this, but these types of fabrics can be expensive.  So, when I find some light-colored wool or silk yardage sold “As Is” because of defects or dirt, I snap it up.
My wool sucked up all the dye in the solution, resulting in a deep color. There were some light streaks and dark blobs, which is not surprising when dying wool with general purpose dyes.  There are better dyes designed specifically for protein ( wool ) fibers. But they are not available in grocery, big box or hobby stores.

The Burda top is easy to sew, I serged the seams, and used a coverstitch for the hem on the sleeves and bottom edge. I tapered the sleeves to be narrower from elbow to wrist. A style preference.

Burda top 115 from Oct 2019 issue
Burda top 115  Oct 2019 issue
The necklace was made of unfinished wood circles, (Amazon) rubbed with the undiluted dye, the edges colored black using a sharpie pen.  And sprayed with a gloss finish spray.   To form the chain from the circles I cut a slit in the rings with a handsaw. The slit allows just enough flexibility to interlink the rings.  I have strands of Christmas tree “chains” made this way.  That is where the idea came from.
Dyed wooden necklace

The presentation went well, and I got a lot of questions about the necklace.

ASG Dying Presentation 
As part of the presentation I talked about using Rit Dyemore and IDye Poly to dye synthetic fiber wigs. At the end of the presentation I donned a wig I had dyed using Rit Polydye.  

My silly selfie of  me as a “blue hair”


Love the  Urban Dictionary's definition: "An old person who's white hair appears blue. Usually it is the only thing you can see over the steering wheel of the car they are driving."

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 A New Year

"Why, Audrey what is that you are wearing?"  My new Atacac stripe body stocking. Thanks for asking. Doesn't it fit beautifully? And the stripes disguise any body flaws. "But where ever to you wear it?"  Oh you know,  creative photography sessions, or to  perform  improv dances. And I sewed it myself!

 The pattern is  available from Atacac as a  downloadable PDF,  either free or  for a contribution of 10 euro.  For a pattern as unique as this, I felt it was worth the donation.  This body stocking was designed to support the  PhD thesis "Kinetic Garment Construction" of one of the Atacac founders. The thesis is available on the site and makes for interesting reading. As well as the Atacac business model and manufacturing philosophy.  Check it out.

Back to the pattern.  There are no directions and the pattern only comes in one  size.  A size 3. It is a bit short in the torso for me. I suspect it would best  fit a body with the dimensions below and a height of  5'6" - 5'7"

The pattern is very unique looking

Atacac Body Stocking pattern

I purchased  3 yards of 60 wide cotton/lycra knit from  I was disappointed the stripes on this rather expensive fabric were printed rather than knitted, fearing sloppy stripe printing would cause major matching issues.  The printing was accurate. Any matching issues was mine.

Some piecing was required because of the odd pattern shape and I didn’t feel like spending time to see if there was a “no piecing required” layout. My  joints can only take so much crawling around on the floor, which is where I had to do the pattern layout and cutting.

One side of pattern

There are points around the pattern labeled with letters.  These points are used for putting the pattern together.  Mark every one of the matching points,  with letters. They are critical, as the fabric wraps and twists around both the legs and arms in a very non intuitive way.

Recommended Sewing Directions
  1. Sew the neck dart and the back head dart on each side piece.
  2. Sew the leg seam on each side piece. The foot has some weird tight curves. Use those match points!
  3. Sew hand /arm seam on each side piece.   I hand basted the 1 mm seams allowance on the fingers before sewing on the machine. There was no way I would have been able to successfully sew the small seam allowances in small curved areas, in a stretch knit,  without the basting.  Another option is to rough cut around the hands leaving fabric between fingers. Mark the seams around the fingers on the hands, sew around the fingers on seam line, and trim fabric from between fingers.
  4. Sew the zipper(s) in the back seam.  The website description on the purchased  body stocking says" the body stocking  is closed with a invisible  zipper running across the head and down the seam at the back. Since I had trouble sourcing an invisible longer that 36". I used two invisible zippers in the back seam; a 9 inch and a 26 inch. They both start at the same point at the back neck , the shorter zipper opens towards the head and the longer one towards the crotch.   I inserted them in the back seam at this point  in the sewing, to make the insertion and stripe matching easier.
  5. Open the zippers and sew the seam from the top of the head, where the short zipper ends, down the front and under the crotch to the point where the longer zipper ends.
Voila, Put it on and startle your spouse and pets.

Reality - I need help to get it on. It is also a bit difficult to see through the fabric.

  I have several other Atacac patterns in the queue. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Marfy Sew Along

My Thanksgiving holiday guests have departed. Normal eating, exercising and work schedules are back in place, and I have time to do blog updates.  I  participated in the SewtofitMarfySewAlong 2019 which finished up earlier this month.  The pattern everyone was sewing was Marfy dress pattern 6180.

The sew along was organized  and managed by Andrea at  She  provided YouTube videos on selecting the proper pattern size and fitting the pattern. Becki Chitwood, who had sewn the dress earlier this year, wrote comprehensive sewing instructions. And Roz from SewMuchFabric posted a video with fabric suggestion for three different looks; Weekend Glamour, Office Daywear and Special Occasion.
There were prizes (random drawing from all participants completing the dress)

$50 gift certificate from @sewmuchfabric
Marfy Catalogue
Pattern from Marfy
Bonus 1-hour Private Fitting consultation with @sewtofit ($55 value)

Back in August, anyone (around 30 people) who were interested in the sew along voted on the pattern. The pattern that was chosen, 6180, was not the pattern I voted for. I was surprised it won because it was not an easy to sew style or one that would look good on all body types.   But then I was assuming that  everyone who voted  actually planned  to sew the pattern.

I made a mock up in  cotton muslin.  I started with a Size 46 which matched my bust measurement.  I added significantly, 4 inches, at the waist and upper hip, tapering back to the original side seam at the hem.  I also added to the upper back beneath the yoke for my rounded back and 5/8 inch at the back shoulder seam to accommodate forward  shoulders.  I removed the high low hem, and lengthened the dress to below my knees.  Even with alterations and a decent fit, the muslin  was unflattering and I considered bailing on the project.

My competitive streak asserted itself and I kept going. Not wanting to waste precious fabric I dug through the deep stash fabrics in the attic and found slightly over a yard of dark green wool crepe. I decided to overlay the yoke with black lace and make the sleeves and flounce in unlined lace. This dress has a curved dart that starts at the hip and curves up to the bust resulting in a very fitted shape in the hip and waist area. I deliberately made the yoke and sleeves a contrasting color to the dress, to visually widen the shoulders and de-emphasis what is really the widest part of my body,  my  hips.

The wool crepe made such a difference to the look of the dress and it flowed smoothly over my curves, something the muslin did not. I actually like the dress a lot. I wore it to my nephew's evening wedding several weeks ago and felt suitably elegant.

   I think I would be perfect as one of the  well-dressed Italian matrons shown in the background of older Dolce and Gabbana advertisements.

 It turns out that many of the participants in the sew along fell by the wayside, for various reasons.  Only three people finished and sent in pictures by the deadline.   That made the odds of winning a prize very high. I won the $50 gift certificate from One can never have to much fabric! And Roz has many lovely ones to choose from.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Diamond Dress - Burda 8 2019 109

In the last year, Burdastyle magazine  has featured several variations of one piece dresses with V necklines and longer flared skirts. I don’t recall ever wearing a dress of this style,  but it looked like a good option for work dressing on a rushed morning.

 To test the water,  I chose  what I thought was the easiest to sew version, Dress 109 from the August 2019 issue.  This dress is in tall sizes 72-88. I am an inch shorter than Burda's tall height but I haven’t found this to be a problem.   The bodice is seamed to the skirt about 1.25 inches above the natural waist. I made an 82 on top 84 below waist.

Dress description:  “Exact cuffs, inlaid pleats along the shoulder ( not in the pattern I traced from magazine )and a moderate V-neckline … the cut of this dress with the bias skirt panel looks good on paper, though the real power of the style is in the wonderfully printed crêpe in electric blue and black.”

The fabric I chose for my wearable muslin was an inexpensive  polyester crepe.

  The little diamonds were printed on the diagonal. Because the  skirt is cut on the bias, the  diamonds end up in horizontal and vertical lines on the skirt.  Probably no one but a sewist would notice, but I didn’t care for it, especially over the tummy. Why didn’t I realize that would happen before cutting?  Because I was at a sewing retreat when I was cutting this dress out and was doing more talking that paying attention to what I was doing.

I like the style and fit on me, however my choice of fabrics resulted in a rather sober, dark dress.

The dress definitely needs a belt to accent the waist and breakup the expanse of black. For fun I purchased a coordinating belt bag to copy the styling in the magazine picture.  It actually proved to be quite useful as well as decorative.  During my normal work day, I attend many meetings in different parts of a very large building.  I always carry  my laptop, wireless mouse, phone, and a pen. Often juggling the last three items or putting them in various garment pockets.  The belt bag was great for neatly carrying them all in one place.

BurdaStyle 8 2019 109

I am thinking of making this dress again but in a lovely print wool challis.