Sunday, September 29, 2013

Next Gertie's NBBS Project: The Sultry Sheath

Well it's almost October and I am picking a new project for the month from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. As I browsed the book I new I needed a dress for my brother in law's wedding in a few weeks at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. I have been trying to decide what to wear for a little while and settled on the Sultry Sheath in silk duchesse satin the only thing that I had trouble with was the fabric color. 

I love the Red in the photos but I am generally a neutral (some would say boring) sort of gal. I ordered swatches of silk duchesse from Mood in the Roja Red and the Midnight Navy. They look very close to the color online.

Roja Red
Midnight Navy

I had wasted a few precious days thinking and rethinking and changing my mind about the color. It came down to the deadline and I had to decide in order to get the fabric in time. After asking my family, friends, even the bride to be I decided to sleep on it but I was leaning towards the navy. When I woke up I told myself if I could come up with 3 different occasions that I could see myself wearing this dress in red then I would step outside of my normal safe beige, black or navy.

My three occasions came into my head quickly.
Occasion 1. The wedding is in the evening  for cocktail hour and the color was bride approved.
Occasion 2. Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker (my daughter will be performing as Mother Mouse this year )
Occasion 3. My 20th anniversary weekend trip to Las Vegas in December.

All of these events feel very red dress worthy. So I went for it and ordered the Roja Red fabric was ordered and took only 4 days to arrive. The color looks like Samba from the Pantone Fall 2013 color report, maybe that means I am kind of on trend.

Pantone Fall 2013

Over the weekend I researched how to launder and handle the fabric before cutting. I came across several resources online and I found these two to be the best. Blog for Better Sewing and Denver Fabrics
They suggest either hand washing or dry cleaning. I knew that dry cleaning was going to cut a few more days into my already tight schedule and I really prefer to hand wash my more delicate garments do I tested the swatch in the sink with mild detergent(shampoo actually) and it turned out fine with minimal color fading. Then I laundered both the silk organza for the underlining, and the red duchesse silk satin and left them to dry overnight.

In the mean time, I worked on my muslin to perfect the fit, making my usual narrow shoulder adjustments. I used the size 4 everywhere then graded to a size 2 in the shoulders.
  The only problem I had was the darts did not match up to the skirt. The pattern pieces use the Sultry Sheath Bodice and The Pencil Skirt pattern together to create the dress.  The front bodice has two darts and I was very happy with the placement do I moved the skirts darts over to line up with the bodice.

The back bodice has one dart and the skirt has two. I decided again to change the skirt dart to match the bodice to one dart.

After adjusting the pattern and lining up the darts, I resewed the new darts and then tried the muslin back on. 
I referred back to a blog post on Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing Working with Duchess Satin "The biggest thing to note about duchesse is that its luster, which is quite beautiful, also has a fatal downfall: it shows every lump, bump, and dent - in your body and in your construction. I would recommend choosing a style that's not too terribly fitted. This sheath dress worked well because there is actually a notable amount of ease in the bodice and hips. The waist is very fitted, and happily, covered up with a belt"
I plan to purchase and wear shapewear/foundation garments under the dress and a fabric covered belt. The only other thing that I changed on my muslin was the back skirt slit felt a little high for me so I lowered it. 

              I am really in love with the neckline on the bodice.

I am happy with the fit and ready to cut out my fashion fabric. The wedding is on October 12th, leaving me just 1 week to complete this dress. I was feeling stressed about having deadline looming and my husband quoted Tim Gunn and said "make it work". With two teenage daughters and a sewing wife in the house, he has watched a lot of Project Runway.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Completed Slip, well almost.

 The slip is complete. I am hanging it overnight before I hem the bottom because it is cut on the bias.  I plan on hand sewing the the vintage lace applique that I found at my favorite fabric store .  I would like to show it on because I feel it looks best that way but I am to modest to wear it in a photo for all of you so the hanger is the best I have for now.  A dress form would be nice for this.

 I used this pattern from Mrs Depew on Etsy. I drafted the slip to a size 34 inch bust measurement instead of my high bust of 32 inches. I drafted the pattern and quickly sewed up a muslin in poly crepe and satin not on the bias and the fit seamed fine.

  I cut the silk charmeuse, carefully sewed the french seams and made bias binding to finish the top edge and straps. All was well and actually quite enjoyable. I was really thinking that I should sew up several of these for nightgowns to give away as gifts because it was so beautiful and simple. 

Tiny French Seam
Bias Tape

I completed the straps and pinned them on for a fitting still feeling pretty good about the project.

The fitting did not go well, I didn't realize how much the fit would change using the drapey bias fabric. It was too large along the top and sides. I had to unpick carefully all of my beautiful stitches  and take in the side seams even more. The other things that I struggled with was the bias tape on the top to finish the edges weighed down the fabric and caused it to be droopy. I started again with a thinner strip hoping that would fix the droopy top. I have fidgeted with this slip for 3 days now and decided that I will live with it the way it is. It feels dreamy and looks pretty but I should have cut a smaller size to match my high bust measurement. Then I would have had a better fit through the chest and shoulders I will attempt another one next week as a gift for a friend and soon to be family member who is getting married in a few weeks. The bride to be is my size so I will redraft the pattern in a smaller size and see how it turns out. While my slip wasn't as dreamy as I had imagined it turned out well enough and will serve its purpose for wearing under my Liberty Lawn Shirtwaist Dress.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The perfect "Lady" slip

I love the Shirtwaist Dress that I completed last week. When I was outside being photographed by my daughter she mentioned a slip would probably be nice. The Liberty Lawn cotton is  a bit thin, and I have been collecting several slip patterns over the last year but have yet to sew one up. I like the idea of feeling ladylike like in a slip and the useful side also appeals to me. I have some lovely white silk charmeuse just waiting to leave the fabric stash and become something. I need to choose a pattern from my vintage slip patterns.

This 1970's Let's Make Lingerie with Bernina Pattern #130 Misses Chemise Slip was purchased on Ebay.  I love the name on the front "Sugar Martinez" I have a mental image of the person who owned this pattern and maybe wore this slip and I think I would like her.

                           This one is for sale in my Etsy Shop Vintage Sewing Suite.

   This New Look 6311 is from the 90's and was also purchased on Ebay.

                                                             1930's  French slip
I also have this one from Mrs Depew, it is a draft at home PDF file.  If you have not visited her absolutely Etsy shop then you should, at least for the eye candy. She has such pretty patterns.I also purchased this ebook at the same time.

                                                     1930's Underwear and Lingerie book 

I recently read the section on Chemises and slips in the book. In each section I found a bit of history, "the chemise was a straight one-piece garment, rather scantily made and intended to be worn next to the skin and under the corset, and was usually constructed of a cotton or linen fabric with very little beauty of texture, color, or trimming. As the importance of undergarments has increased the chemise has developed into  a much more wearable type of garment, so varied in cut and there is type for every wearer who prefers the one-piece undergarment". I found this interesting I always thought a chemise was a shorter slinky slip, which today if you Google chemise that is what you find. Here is a Chemise pattern for sale at Mrs Dewpew

Mrs Depew

The slip section describes "a slip is a garment worn directly under the dress, its main function being to serve as a correct foundation for the outer garments. In other words, it is worn to set off  a dress by helping it to maintain the good lines of its own design. Besides this, a slip serves to protect the dress and lengthen it's like by lessening the wear on it. In the case of the slip it that is built up back and front, it serves another purpose, that of keeping the dress from direct contact with the skin across the upper back and chest. The slip, therefore, can be considered a very necessary, and in fact, practically an essential part of one's clothing." 
The book goes on and suggest appropriate fabric, trims, seam finishes and more. I have decided that I will use the 1930's French Slip pattern because it has the V neck that will work best with my dress and it gives me an opportunity to learn something new by using a French pattern drafting system.
My inspiration photo the slip on the right. I am not sure about the red one on the left, I do not think it would look very smooth underneath clothing, but it is interesting.

Left, a vintage Charmode slip with pansies on the cups and hem, possibly from the 1960s. Right, a pink silk slip from the 1930s. Via
In my search I found an interesting blog post discussing the slip.
Well off to draft the slip and make a muslin out of some cheap satiny stuff in my stash. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Shirtwaist Dress

Earlier in the week I posted about my frustration fitting the sleeves on the Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I had already altered the bodice by taking in my usual narrow shoulder adjustments and cut the size 4 but graded down around the shoulders. I was stuck and thinking of making the dress sleeveless or adding a shoulder pad to fill out the space. fortunately I knew that I should set it aside and take a break.

I went on the following day to complete my final lesson on the Craftsy class. It was perfect timing because Lynda mentioned a few more fitting tips that I applied to the sleeves.

After a good nights sleep and no distractions at home I tackled the bodice again cutting down the arm area up towards the shoulder by 3/4". I then basted in the sleeve and did a fitting and was pleased with the results.
I did the same thing to the other side and sleeve. With both sleeves on I was still happy. I finished the dress with machine sewn buttons holes and hem instead of by hand as the book recommends. 
The Liberty Lawn cotton is so soft and fabulous. I have enough leftover to do a belt and something small, maybe a dress for my little niece. I really love this dress and I hope to get a few chances to wear it before the weather turns cooler. 

When I reflect on this project I wonder sometimes if we are too judgmental on our home sewn garments expecting more than something we purchased. I know in the past I have purchased ill fitting, poorly constructed garments on many occasions. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sew the Perfect Fit: Lesson 10 Truing the Pattern

I watched my final lesson from the Craftsy class Sew the Perfect Fit.  In the final class, Lynda shows the basted together completed muslins for two of the models that were used during the series of lessons. She views them closely checking to see if the darts line up on the bodice and the skirt, the side seams are not pulling and the general fit. She recommends you revisit this before you clean up your paper pattern and do another muslin.
Then she demonstrates how to rectify the pattern measuring the armhole on the bodice and the armscye or top of the sleeve to be sure that it will fit properly. When the she ends up with a difference of 5/8" instead of 3/4", she solves the discrepancy by taking some fabric from the dart in the sleeve. 
I measured my patterns and had exactly 3/4". Woo Hoo !! 
She continues with the next model lining up the darts. She completed the course empathizing the importance of making a second muslin and adjust for style changes that personalize your garment. The only part of this class I found disappointing was the fact we didn't get to see one of the gussets completed.
I made another muslin with the gusset alterations added. I am going to warn you ahead that it looks a little crazy as I ran out of traditional muslin and was in the zone so kept going with some cotton remnants that I had. It turned out to be a colorful muslin. The left side (grey) is the new and improved sleeve with the Cut-on-gusset added.

I am pretty pleased with the fit at this point. The bust darts need to be taken in a little more, but that is a simple alteration.

 Side Seams match up

 I am pretty pleased with my sleeves and shoulder seams. I learned a few new tricks that I will apply the Shirtwaist Dress that I was struggling with. 

The gusset worked and looks much better than I imagined...I can raise my arms with comfort. In my previous blog post about Lesson 9: Gussets I discussed the gussets in my vintage patterns. I like the look of this one much more, less emphasis on the armpit.
I highly recommend this class to anyone who sews garments I have learned many new skills and have a greater understanding of how to check the fit of a garment. The pattern is Vogue 8766.
I am still undecided about fabric or design details for this pattern. I find it hard to think about sleeves due to the hot summer weather we are still having in Seattle. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing: Shirtwaist dress

I really enjoy Gretchen Hirsch's  New Book for Better SewingWith so many tips and photos, the book is ideal for a beginning sewer but  appeals to the intermediate seamstress as well.
There are several things I would like to sew and learn better or new sewing techniques in the process.
I have decided to make it a monthly goal to sew one item from her book over the next few months.
For the month of August September it will be the Shirtwaist dress in Liberty Lawn cotton.

The new skills that I will learn from sewing this dress are:
1. Shirring
2. Bound buttonholes? hmmm... I think I will learn this skill when I have only one  or two buttonholes to do. My machine buttonholes will work for this project.

I have the Liberty lawn from  laundered and ironed waiting to be sewn.
I  made a muslin of just the bodice and altered the paper pattern using my techniques that I learned from  The Craftsy class Sew the Perfect Fit.

              Narrow Shoulder Adjustment that I always have to make.

Checking to be sure my shoulder seams line up on the front bodice and back bodice.

         I really need to buy some fabric weights, instead of using my phone.

        Fabric prepared and ready to cut..Ohhh I love this Liberty Lawn cotton. 

 The book has additional tips to help along the way to help apply the fitting alterations to your paper pattern. I just had to show the a page that I viewed on the sleeve caps.

First New Skill: 1. Shirring

Instructions were detailed in the book, describing how to wind the bobbin thread with elastic by hand pulling slightly to create a bit of tension. Then you basically sew in straight lines 1/4 inch apart until you have 6 lines. Then you use an iron to steam the elastic thread causing it to shrink back up.

Here is what I learned: Always practice first to be sure you have your bobbin wound with enough tension and chopsticks make a great tool in the sewing room. I used the chopstick with the bobbin, holding it between my knees freeing up two hands to wind the thread. It wasn't pretty but it worked well.

The second thing I learned was to stitch on the right side of the fabric up. I just stitched it to the wrong side showing the elastic thread thread on the right side.  

I unpicked it and rewound more elastic thread into my bobbin by hand and restitched onto  the right side the fabric. Looks much better.

It was fun steaming the fabric watching the elastic shrink up. Many of my vintage pattern instructions recommend basting the garment together and checking the fit and since the fabric was a splurge I decided I would follow this recommendation just to be careful.
I assembled the front and back bodice, yoke, pockets and skirts and did a fitting.The dress needed a few alterations in the length of the bodice (1 inch) and the pocket placement but other than that I was happy with the fit so I restitched the dress adding the changes and was ready to set in the sleeves. Until this point, sewing the dress was completely enjoyable.

I started this in August and planned on finishing it sooner and posting photos over the Labor day weekend.
Life was busy and I had to delay my sewing on the dress for a week.
I pulled out the dress yesterday and allotted some sewing time, telling my family DO NOT DISTURB ME unless there is blood and lots of it.  After setting in the sleeves before attaching the collar and the facings.I decided to do another fitting 
I was struggling over the sleeves and unsure about the fit even after all the pattern adjustments. I have such narrow shoulders and always struggle with this.I even considered making the dress sleeveless or go for a 1940's look and add shoulder pads to fill out the shoulders .After un-picking the sleeves many times I basted in one sleeve to check the fit  again. I apologize for the poor cell phone photos.

Here is a photo of a basted sleeve with a thin padding to look at adding a shoulder pad. It helps with the fit and pulls up some of the excess fabric pooling over the bust.

Now that I look at the photos I think maybe that they may work, but I do not want to go 1980's. My motto is "if I have worn a style before then I should not wear it again".

My oldest daughter liked the sleeveless side better, she said it looked more modern. My vintage-ista daughter liked the sleeved version best. Next I asked my husband, he just told me how nice it looked. Smart Man right? He new better than to pick a side. I decided at this point to stop as I was only getting more frustrated. Am I being too picky?

Here is the sleeveless side. Now I am Sleeve or not to Sleeve? What do you think? 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Seattle Art Museum : 30 years of Japanese fashion


Today I went to the Seattle Art Museum to see the special exhibit Future Beauty 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. The exhibit has been on display from June 27 until September 8th. I wanted to see it earlier but waited until it was the last week and lucky me the first Thursday of the month is free for all exhibits.

The photos are either purchased postcards from the gift shop or found on the SAM website along with various Google searches. There are two that I took with my camera before I was told "No Photos". The photos are not nearly the same as seeing the garments up close with all the textures and layers. It was really well worth viewing in person.
Here is my virtual tour of the exhibit for those of you that have not already been to see it.

Rei Kawakubo really made me think. They are all truly works of art but not something I could see someone wearing. 
Rei Kawakubo Comme des Garçons, Autumn/ Winter 1995. Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Photo Takashi Hatakeyama

This pink knit skirt had a huge bustle stuffed with white tulle and more tulle coming from below the bottom  of the skirt. It was paired with a matching pink sweater top.

My favorite designer was Yohji Yamamoto. His designs were made from beautiful fabrics and design.
I am not sure about function on this one but it was oh so pretty with all the quilted layers.

This was one of the photos taken before realizing that this was a no photo section.
Autumn /Winter 1995-96 Collection

This one was gorgeous I wish I could have photographed it.

Spring/Summer 1998
White Silk and Wool Satin

  Junya Watanabe's collections went from being very bright and whimsical to chic and glamorous.The accordion folds in the dress were made from polyester organdy.

                               Junya Watanabe, Autumn/Winter 2000
                                       Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

Spring/Summer 2002 Collection
Washed Blue Denim

Autumn/Winter 2009 2010 Collection
Black Nylon Taffeta with gold chain.
So pretty..the other one of my Photos.

Junya Watanabe Spring//Summer 2003
Polychrome Landscape-printed cotton plain weave; tapered bags and wired headgear with white padding.

The print on the fabric had a vintage look along with the "saddlebags" and the umbrella looking hat I thought this girl is prepared for anything but still looks fabulous. 
They had a film of the Spring/Summer runway show playing that was very fun. The runway had a rainfall in the center and the models walked through it with reversible sheath dresses that converted to a rain dress. A very chic look for the rain.

Many others to share.
Naoki Takizawa dress was printed silk charmeuse and had matching boots.
ISSEY MIYAKE ( Naoki Takizawa) + Aya Takano / Kaikai Kiki Autumn/Winter 2004 Collection Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute,Gift of ISSEY MIYAKE INC.

Jun Takahashi  Autumn /Winter 2000-2001
Tartan Plaid Mohair skirt and jacket with pants that have gold sequins on them.
Seattle Art Museum

Jun Takahashi Spring /Summer 2007
 Red polyester covered in organdy decorations. This one looked like spiral red hair ringlets from a distance.
Seattle Art Museum

Another one that I have to mention is the Kosuke Tsumura 2012 Final Home Nylon Jacket.

This was really cool and useful. There are loads of pockets that can be stuffed with anything you may need for your day out or whatever you collect and bring home. The exhibit garment was very pretty stuffed with silk flowers.

 There was so much more that I would love to show you. I recommend that you go to the exhibit is it is in your area. The textiles and construction are amazing to see. If only I could have touched them, but I am sure that would be against the rules.