Monday, August 13, 2007

Switching Years

I finished making a couple of T- shirts for myself with lovely rayon/lycra knit fabrics from
And started work on a Vintage pattern.
I decided to sew the 60's Pierre Balmain dress. It is fairly simple and I might actually wear it. There was a similar dress in the Versace ad on page 63 in this month's Vogue Magazine. It is accessorized very differently than the 60's version. Interesting, but not a look I can carry off. The measurements of the pattern are very close to mine with the exception of the waist. I thought the easiest way to check the fit would be to pin the pattern to my packing tape dressform double, who I affectionately call Verite (French for truth). I made her last year in an all day session with Jan Bones at the Sewing Expo in Chantilly VA. Verite is a very accurate double of my unique body shape.
I found the pattern at a Goodwill store, and it has obviously been used. I could tell by the tucks and pleats still taped in place, that the person was short waisted, had narrow shoulders and needed an extra inch or two in the hips. The adhesive on the tape was still very sticky and I was able to peel it away without damaging the pattern. The pattern fit Verite very well when I pinnedit on her. The center front needs to be shortened a bit and the arm hole may have to be cut lower. Both of these can be adjusted after initial construction. The pattern is well designed. It has match points every 4 " along any seam line. It includes 3/4 " seam allowances on seams that are to be topstitched. The armhole is cut higher for the sleeveless version, something I haven't seen frequently in patterns today, The pattern fabric recommendation includes double knit. I am using a med. weight, firm, 70/30 poly cotton double knit. The instructions recommend underlining all the garment pieces. I will try it on a couple to see how it changes the feel of the fabric. I am not sure the knit needs additional body, which is one purpose of underlining. But the instructions also say to catchstitch the armhole facings and hem to the underlining, and that will definitely give a more professional look. I remember my mother poring over the instructions for Vogue Paris Original patterns in the 70's and commenting on the advanced techniques used to construct the garments. I am going to try and use as many of them as possible just for the experience.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Another Sewing Contest

For my birthday last month, my good friend Ursula gave me a vintage pattern. There was no date printed on it, but the general consensus was that it was from the 1950’s. My mother remembers sewing a similar housecoat for her sister around that time and a check of pattern dating sites listed 1950 too. Which means the pattern is as old as I am. The outside envelope was starting to deteriorate but the inside pattern pieces were as good as new. Sort of like me, I hope. The present motivated me to search out all my vintage patterns. They were all over, in the attic and the basement. I know, I know, not great environmental conditions for archiving printed paper. Then I saw that there was a Vintage sewing contest over at To be eligible for the prizes, you must sew one garment from a vintage pattern or reprint of vintage pattern from 1920 to 1982. Yes, I signed up for the contest. It is just one garment, not a whole SWAP. But can I pick just one pattern? It is really tough. The time frame meant that the patterns I sewed in high school, in the early 70’s, are eligible. I still have them. Hipster elephant bell bottom pants, smocky tops by Kenzo and Ann Tice. I am tempted to make the bell-bottoms to give my kids a laugh. I will need platform shoes to complete the look. But from what I see in the magazine, platform shoes are coming back. Seriously, the patterns on my short list are....
One 1960 style dress. I have the perfect poly blend double-knit from a free bundle. (I retrieved it from the give away pile). A 1940’s Vogue evening dress reprint from Eva Dress in olive lace and matching solid. A pattern, no name or date, of the type purchased through newspaper. And a 1920’s McCall’s pattern for a flapper type dress. Decisions, Decision. Oh yeah, and I order a bunch more vintage patterns from Etsy, which seems to have the best prices. This contest will be a learning experience in altering/resizing a pattern to fit me. None of these patterns match my measurements.