Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dreaming of a Dressform

I have been wishing for a dress form and I want to add one to my wish list. The holidays are just around the corner and Santa is asking for my list. I have been doing some research on the many options.  I came across this short Craftsy blog post on How to buy a dress form.

Option 1: 
How to make a custom dress form that Jenna posted from Jezebel.com. Looks interesting and economical. The cost of all her supplies total: about $95.00

The only thing with this option it also seems experimental and as I am maturing I am losing the spirit of adventure. The other thing is the amount of time that it would take to make it , I could be sewing instead.
Option 2. Fabulous Fit has several forms for $387 and then add the fitting pads for a grand total of $502.99 or from Amazon for around $300 with free shipping. Basically you order the form close to your size then pad it to be a closer fit with the padding system. I think you would order a smaller size to be able to pad it, does anyone know?
If I choose Fabulous Fit then which one model be better?
Fabulous Fit Misses 3/4 dressform

Fabulous Fit Misses Dressform
Option 3: Duct Tape Dress Form, the least expensive option.
Threads Magazine
 I found this tutorial from Threads magazine. Do any of you readers have a dress form? Which kind do you have and what do you like about it?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


My daughter enjoys vintage shopping and sewing and she prefers to create a similar silhouette when wearing her vintage dresses and skirts. In order to create that look she likes to wear similar undergarments that would have been worn in that era. Lately she has been coveting these super girly and fun petticoats.

Peggy Mays Vintage on Etsy
Some Like it Vintage on Etsy

Sadly these range from $50- $90 and are out of her price range. Lucky for her she has a super sewing mama to make one. At least I think...It really can't be that hard, right?
After looking around at Joann's and other stores I couldn't find the nylon chiffon all I could find was poly chiffon which felt crisp and cheap feeling I decided to search Etsy. I like to support my fellow Etsy stores when I can so I purchased 8 yards of white nylon chiffon fabric from Dream Spun Shop on Etsy. 

I should enough to make two, maybe dying the second one. I have this pattern from making costumes for plays. I also found this great blog post from Sugardale on the subject. 
Simplicity 5006
I decided to use the yoke from my pattern instead of gathering so much fabric like the sugardale tutorial, then add the 2 tiers as she shows. The first thing she recommends is to decide on a finished length. My daughter is petite and prefers to wear most of her skirts at her knees. We measured and she decided 21 inches for the finished length. The sugardale tutorial suggests you take your finished length, add in seam allowances of 1/2" ( easier math). So 1/2 " for the bottom tier, 1" for the middle tier, and then 1/2" for top tier. If you are doing an elastic waistband then you would also allow for a casing. You then take your total and divide it by 3, this gives you the amount for the length of each tier. 
She recommends that you cut the bottom tier the longest using 2, 4 yd parts, then the middle tier is 1/2 the size using 1, 4 yd part cut in half , then the top is 1/2 of that. confused? sorry...She uses 4 yds of fabric and stitches the ends together with french seams to prevent raveling and uses fray check. I am using nylon chiffon which has a nice clean edge when cut and doesn't ravel. I ordered 8 yds to have enough for 2 petticoats so I will not seam mine together but cut the 8 yd for my length instead of 2- 4 yd parts. I hope this is not terribly confusing?
My finished length will be 21" so I am cutting 1, 7 1/2 inches by 8 yd long for the bottom tier. Then 1, 7 inches by 4 yd long for thew middle tier, I am using 4 inches for the yoke (or last tier) and the pattern piece is much longer so I will shorten it. My daughter also would like a ruffle along the bottom from self fabric. I cut 1, 3  inch by 8 yards for the ruffle. 
My  total is 3+7.5+7+3.5+21 inches for my finished length.

Making ruffle using ruffle attachment

Working from the bottom up, I added the ruffle to my bottom tier. 

Working with this fabric is more time consuming than I expected. It doesn't fray but tends to roll on the edge and you have to use one hand to straighten it as you sew.

Next I did 2 basting/gathering stitches along the top of the bottom and middle tier.Then I gathered the bottom tier to match the middle tier and attached it.
 I then assembled the yoke piece together with a this french seam  added a casing and then hemmed it to have a nice finish. I used lining fabric that I had leftover from another project and it ravels like crazy. 

Next, I gathered the middle tier to fit sewing them together with a regular seam. 

Finished...or so I thought. We decided it didn't look full enough so I cut more of the long sections to add another layer to the middle and bottom tier. 

It would have been faster and easier to do this the first time as the fabric is so long and difficult to lay out and cut. I am starting to understand the high price tag for the petticoats above.

The total amount that I cut was 2, 7 1/2 inch 8 yard pieces. 2 7 inch 4 yard pieces, and 4, 3 inch by 8 yard pieces for ruffles. I do not have as much leftover for another petticoat as I had planned originally unless I wish to make it less fluffy, but that's no fun. 

Cost of the fabric: $30.50 with about half the amount needed for another petticoat leftover.
Everything else was from my stash, the pattern, elastic, yoke fabric, and thread.

It took me much longer than I thought to complete this. I will make another and I now know ways to make it easier and hopefully faster. The request is for a red one next.
Vintage vixen has a great post on how to wear a petticoat. For more inspiration and ideas check out my Petticoat board on Pinterest.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vintage Yellow Frock

My daughter is  a huge fan of vintage. She regularly shops at Redlight Vintage and Costume and Lucky Vintage both on University Way in Seattle. She also has explored the Redlight in Capitol Hill along with Pretty Parlor. If you like vintage inspired or vintage clothing and accessories you should make a trip to Pretty Parlor, so many pretty things in the store.
 My mother in law sent a package a while back of some of her clothes that she had saved through the years, and was hoping we could alter them to wear or make something from the fabric.

My daughter immediately fell in love with the pale yellow gown but it needed quite a bit of alterations. Well at the end of the summer she had a small growth spurt and the dress fit better requiring less adjustments to fix the fit. We had all been trying to prepare for the wedding in Palm Springs and she wanted to wear the yellow vintage frock and surprise her grandmother.
 Like most garments on her, we had to adjust the width in the shoulders. I decided the easiest way to do this and keep the integrity of the dress would be  by extending the darts in the back bodice all the way up the shoulder. Then I had to cut the bias trim on the back, cut the lace, and restitched the whole thing back by hand. 

One of the things that I love about vintage dresses and sewing with vintage patterns is the construction techniques and quality. I always learn something new when I am deconstructing and altering something vintage. They almost always have 1 inch seam allowances and are fairly easy to add inches in the waist that so often needs to be done unless you are willing to wear the undergarments that were worn to create the tiny waist.

My mother in Law wore this to her wedding rehearsal dinner in 1964 (I think?). The dress was made for her in a pale yellow taffeta with lace on the bodice and organza covering the taffeta.

Now the dress is no where near perfect it has flaws like most vintage or thrift items. There are some small holes in the organza and some stains that I was unable to remove.

 I am not sure how to repair these or if I even should. I do not think the flaws bother her at all, she loves the classic style of her vintage items and the great price tag.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Couture Sewing is about Control

I have been re-taking Susan Khalje's The Couture Class to improve my sewing skills and learn some couture techniques. I skipped school last week, so  you can see how I ended up being a Couture School drop-out last time I took the class. I am not currently sewing the pattern that is included in the class along with the class. 

Picking up where I left off I started on Lesson 3: Muslin Assembly.
Susan recommends marking your muslin with large 26" X 39" sheets of waxed paper which I purchased from Richard the Thread and a tracing wheel. I have 4 rolls of yellow, red and blue sheets, enough to last me for many years of tracing. I like tracing this way and have used it many times after watching this the first time. There are two things to watch out for. One, the sheets can rub off on your hands or your clothes and will not wash out of the fabric.
The other thing, is to be sure to use a press cloth when ironing the muslin the wax lines can mess up the bottom of your iron. I have learned the second one by experience. Mark the stitching lines, notches, hem, and long grain lines. Below is a screen shot of the large tracing paper that Susan recommends.

Next you carefully remove the pins from the tissue and reinsert them back into the muslin. Turn the muslin pattern piece and flip it over to trace the lines onto the other side. Susan recommends you mark the pattern piece with a sharpie. All of these steps increases the accuracy. After all the pattern pieces have been marked Susan recommends you thread trace the lines using a dark thread. and wide stitches.

There are more tips and techniques that Susan reveals about pinning together the muslin and assembly. She has some great tips on getting a nice smooth, curved, princess seam. Susan mentions several times about control in couture sewing and shows you ways to achieve this along the way.
 Susan doesn't stitch the bodice to the skirt put assembles it with pins so she can adjust it if needed during the fitting. She even discusses different methods of pining the fabric and placement, she prefers to use the pin as a stitch.
In the next session she shows you how to adjust the fit on your model. Susan talks about not only adjusting for the fit but it is equally important to evaluate the proportion also. She has two sleeve options to try and shows you how to fit a sleeve and adjust the dart near the elbow. She finishes this section discussing fit and suggesting dress forms or professional dressmakers who can make a few pattern for you. If you remember this summer I took a class on Fit form Craftsy and we paired up with a group to fit on each other. I finished with the last topic on the muslin, modifying the muslin, dead darts and adjusting the armhole with a french curve. 
Next week I will watch the section on underlining. I used this technique on my sultry sheath dress after doing a quick watch of the lesson, I am sure there are some tips that I missed.
Many of these tips I had forgotten, I am glad I am re-watching the lessons. Susan is a kind and patient teacher I would love to take one of her live classes or better yet her Paris Tour. Ooh la la!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gertie's NBBS October Project : The Sultry Sheath

New Skills accomplished.:
1. All in one Facing
2. Underlining a Dress with silk organza

3. Working with Silk Duchess Satin
4. Lapped Hand Picked Zipper (Probably my personal favorite skill...I may use     this for all my zippers)

Since I already own the book with the pattern  and have used it here Skirted Playsuit and Here Shirtwaist Dress so I have decided I will not add the cost into the total.

Fabric: Silk Duchess Satin (60" wide) from Mood Fabrics $50/ yard purchased 1            1/2 yard plus enough other fabric to qualify for free shipping. I had                 very little left over so I need to be sure I make no mistakes.

           Silk Organza  $14/ yard purchased 1 1/2 yard from Nancy's Sewing                  Basket in Seattle.

           Notions and belt making supplies from Nancy's Sewing Basket  $8.00

Total cost of dress right around $100.00

I liked the pattern and the instructions were very easy to follow. The only thing I would change next time is the shoulders. It was difficult to wear the dress and keep the shoulders in place. I used garment tape to accomplish this.
The rest of the fit was exactly as expected. and the duchesse silk satin was very nice to sew with.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Adventure in Belt making

One of my personal goals that I have set for my self is to learn new skills and techniques with my sewing.
While sewing the red Sultry Sheath from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, I decided to make a fabric covered belt to match the dress out of silk duchess satin. By the way the dress looking fabulous and it looks great with out a belt just in case my first try fails.

I looked for online resources and found some fabulous blog posts. My two favorites were from Lauren from Rosie Wednesday and Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch. I was unable to find a fabric covered kit and have it arrive in time for the wedding but in the future I will order from here Maxant Button and Supply.com
I also read on many blogs and from several sewest that another great resource to have a belt made but in my case I did not have the time to do this on this project.
                                   Pat's Custom Buttons and Belts
(209) 369-5410
537 York Street
P.O. Box 335
Lodi, CA 95241

  After reading the tutorials, I headed to my local fabric and sewing supply store Nancy's Sewing Basket.  One of the things I love about going into this store is the advice that the ladies give on my sewing projects.They have supplies for placing grommets in the store but they would be too large and heavy for my project.
 We discussed all the options for placing eyelets, tools needed or using the eyelet stitch on my machine. I decided I would start with trying eyelet stitch on my machine. With my new gained confidence I purchased and awl, belting and a regular belt buckle headed home. I was not able to find a belt buckle kit so I decided I would attempt covering a regular buckle armed with the products that I had at home. Next time I will order from here Maxant Button and Supply.com.

The Fabric Fusion glue worked the best to attach the fabric to the buckle.

I decided I would start with trying eyelet stitch on my machine. While practicing on scrap fabric, I did not have great success with my eyelet stitch. I am not sure what I was doing wrong but I couldn't get a nice circle. ( Anyone else have a Pfaff machine and advice on this?) I ended up using Dritz Eyelet Plier Kit purchased at Jo Ann's with 5/32"red eyelets that came in the kit.

I had 10 to start with and ended up with 5 usable ones after destroying the others. I would advise anyone doing this to have several more than you plan on needed. 

As I worked I gradually improved and realized I needed to use the awl really well to open up the space , then punch the hole with the tool before placing the eyelet in.

I cut a small strip to create a loop for the belt by cutting a rectangle and folding it in half and then in half again. I plan to hand stitch it in place.

Here is the underside of the belt. It doesn't look very pretty but no one will see the ugly side.(except for you readers). I used fray check pretty liberally to clean up the buckle. I think it would have made a big difference to have a covered kit but I am making it work.

The completed Belt is far from perfect, I would give it a C+, but it will work for the event. I will make another one to go with the Shirtwaist Dress below.

 I have completed the red sultry sheath dress and pressed the hem. I plan to hand stitch it today while enjoying the view in Palm Springs. The wedding is Saturday evening so stay tuned for the photos.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Couture Class Drop out


Its officially fall and feels like it here in Seattle, The weather forecast has been filled with rain which makes me more inclined to be in my basement sewing. One of my goals that I have set for myself is to improve my sewing skills by taking classes. I really enjoyed the last Craftsy Class Sew The Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard.
I initially planned on signing up for one of the many classes on sale last month, but decided to finish a class that I had started previously. Way back in Spring 2012, I signed up for Craftsy Class:The Couture Dress with Susan Kahje to treat myself with birthday money from my grandmother.I tried to watch the class and complete the pattern that was included, but sadly failed. 

Now I am not proud of this, but after completing 6 of the 15 lessons I stopped and basically dropped out. I used another pattern, Butterick 5748  instead.

            I completed the dress but not the couture techniques. 

While trying to complete my Gerties NBBS Sultry Sheath I decided to squeeze in a little time for education and start over on the couture class. As I listened to my first lesson and the introduction I asked myself "What is Couture Sewing anyway?"
Susan explains"Couture Sewing is like gourmet cooking,or sewing the way your grandmother used to sew with out shortcuts" .
In the second lesson Topic 1: Muslin: preparing and marking the muslin and pattern. Susan recommends that you use stitching lines not cutting lines for seam allowance, mark 5/8 line on tissue pattern from all cutting lines. You can usually use your tape measure as  most metal edges of tape measure are 5/8". She recommends you mark your hem as well. She demonstrates how to prepare your muslin fabric and cutting loosely not along the pattern edge.
She goes on to discuss personal design choices such as changing the waist and cutting on the bias instead of straight of grain as the pattern recommends. Susan adds a 3/4 sleeve to the dress she is sewing and chooses a plaid wool to show us how to line up a plaid pattern.
I plan to complete this class similar to the last one by doing one lesson or topic a week. I am not sure if I will use this pattern or another. 
Has anyone else taken this class? Did you use this pattern or another one?