Saturday, January 31, 2015

My tiny pattern stash

As part of the Vintage Pattern Pledge, I thought I would show you my small collection of vintage patterns. (I also have a lot of reissued Vintage Vogue and others but I really prefer working with the real thing, even if it means I have to resize.)

These are from my mom.

Vogue 8114

Vogue 9259
These I bought in a local thrift/antique store

McCall 7260

Simplicity 4650

These I bought on line

Advance 5909

Marian Martin 9154

Simplicity 2926
And that's it!

I'll be looking for more patterns online as the mood strikes. But I have to really really love them to bring them home.

Friday, January 30, 2015


Well, this is disturbing.

I return to my blog after a summer, fall, and part of winter away and find that many images are missing.

I will replace them soonish. And I'll update this post when I've replaced all the broken links. All the broken images are fixed, except for one blog post. I can't find those images. I will search my phone and tablet and see if I can find them there.

I've pledged to make 5 garments from vintage patterns this year, as part of the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, over on A Stitching Odyssey. See the badge in the sidebar.

And I've pledged to BLOG about them. At which I stink.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Simplicity 4650, dress w/ collar variations

Finally, another vintage pattern (almost) completed. I can't find a 1" wide white plastic buckle (although hot pink would be even better) anywhere, so I used a skinny red belt that I have for these pictures. It looks unfinished without a belt.

I wrote about altering the pattern to my size in this post.

I'm very pleased with this. I took my usual massive shortcuts in construction since this is a throw-away dress (here's hoping it does not get too baggy before the end of summer). I used $1 yard polyester from Walmart. I love the pink - it is a hot pink. I don't care for baby pink, but I like hot pink. I wore the dress all day, even managing a 2 hour band rehearsal (I play trombone) in it. I don't normally wear all-over pink, but I'm making myself try out new things.

I applied fuseable interfacing to the facing pieces, rather than sew-in interfacing to the bodice pieces. I did not hand stitch the back of the bias binding in place, I edgestitched with the machine, so it is not even folded over nicely on the inside. But it looks good from the outside. I machine stitched the hem, not even blind-hemming it. The sleeves are finished with bias facings, as the instructions called for. The side zipper is just inserted in the seam, I did not do a lapped zipper for this.

I have a 1" wide interfaced belt in the pink print waiting for the right buckle. I disregarded all belt instructions and made it by using copious amounts of heat-n-bond (for applique) and a bit of invention.
I cut two 1" wide strips of lightweight heat-n-bond, applied the strips to the wrong side of the fabric, roughly cut out around the applied strips, left the backing paper in place, but turned the edges over and pressed the folds in. Then I removed the backing paper, and ironed the turned edges over the exposed heat-in-bond. I cut another 1" strip of heavy weight heat-n-bond, applied it to the backside of one completed fabric strip, then ironed the other fabric strip over it, making sure the edges lined up nicely. I edge stitched the long edges and turned over one short end instead of making a fancy point.

The fit is acceptable, considering I will never use this particular incarnation of the pattern again (the original size should fit me well when I'm done losing weight). I had done a full bust alteration which turned out to be too baggy on the sides of the dress, so I just took a larger dart there. Which makes the tip of the dart a bit strange, as the dart is now quite wide at the base and relatively short. The print of the fabric helps hide this. As does my cardigan habit.

The next version I make of this dress will have the lovely wide collar included.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Marian Martin 9154, wrap dress with scallop details (Updated!)

New photos (same as added to Sew for Victory 2.0 Flickr photopool)

Finished with olive buttons in back.

I am new to grading patterns up to fit me. Previously, I've just stared longingly at too-small patterns. I've done two so far: this was actually the second one. The first one (a 1954 Vogue dress) is cut out waiting for some more free time.

I'm using the Threads article on pattern grading as a guide, where you slash and spread along specific vertical and horizontal lines. No way am I a 34 bust. More like a 40 high bust. So that's a lot of sizes to alter past!
More, I think, then a novice is supposed to.

I have always wanted a back wrap dress, like the famous Swirl dresses, and this dress is sort of maybe close. It has a V neck in back (Swirl dresses generally don't) but I like it anyway.

My first muslin (just the two bodice and two facing pieces) was very troubled, with a huge annoying ripple on the back, more on one side than the other.

My husband pronounced it "Wonky."

I pondered this for a few days, eventually concluding that my attempts at drafting the pattern up were not at fault, but rather my lopsided shoulders were.

So I made it difficult on myself when making the yellow flowered version.

I started by making the pockets, then assembling the skirt, then interfacing and attaching one of the set in belt pieces.

Then I staystitched the living daylights out of the bodice piece, proceeding on to the four darts in bodice pieces.

Then I did the scallops on the front, attached the facings to the front and back (yes, the fronts are back were not stitched together yet), sewed the side seams (still no shoulders seamed together, ugh), sewed the bodice to the belt and skirt, roughly pinned the shoulders in place, tried the dress on, fixing the dress' overlap at the shoulders so the back of the dress lay nicely with no wonky ripples.

Whew? Followed all that? Basically, I made the dress backwards from the directions.

The right shoulder (as I wear it) is about like the pattern pieces were supposed to go together, but the neck-line edge of the left side is an inch further overlapped than the pattern called for.
Then I finally sewed the facing together and to the neckline, stitching the scallops down after that.

I took numerous shortcuts on this, machine stitching (badly!) the bias down instead of sewing by hand, and machine stitching every turned edge: sleeves, back skirt, hem, even if it came out ripply and weird. I don't have two matching buttons on hand that are large enough for the back waist, so it is pinned in the pictures. What a hatchet job!

Because my waist is a bit large still, the dress does not overlap as much as it ought, so my husband stuck a pin in the bottom of the V to keep my bra band from peeking out. I'll add an interior button and hole when I get around to it, I can take the button off when I don't need it any more and the hole will be under the overlap anyway. I believe I can wriggle into the dress with the bottom-of-the-V button fastened.

I used some super cheap polyester? rayon? mystery fabric from Walmart's discount bin for this wearable trial run. At $1.50 / yard how could I go wrong? Well, um, errrr.

I decided to go with olive green for the bias trim on the scallop details. The only type I had was double fold which was far to heavy for the thin and cheesy fabric.
For the pockets, I interfaced the top edge with lightweight fuseable. (Same for the facings). I'm not sure it helped the bias binding process very much. So I used The Power of Steam to get the pockets to behave. I did not interface the shoulder scallops. No easier, no harder than the pockets. Jury's out.
I also took some tiny tucks at the Vs between the scallops, to make the scallops more scallop-ish.

Yes, that was handsewing. I also handsewed the final placement of the shoulder overlap. Thank goodness for 15 minutes of Mega Piranha on the SyFy channel.

So I can't say it is done, but I can say it has a lot of promise.

I like the set in belt, which defines my waist a bit. I like the scallop details - even the pockets, which I might modify to protrude  a little less next time. I even like the yellow flowered print, something I was very unsure about to begin with.

The pockets are very high up on the skirt. Awkward to get my hands in there. Are they supposed to be that high?

When I graded the skirt, I added length through the middle of the pocket as well as the skirt. I may move that grading line to above the pocket altogether and return the pocket to a 3/4" shorter condition.

I'm pleased with this pattern and my attempt here. I'm looking forward to trying more vintage patterns as I have the time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Altered states (updated)

Blogger has lost all the images that I included in this post. And I don't seem to have them on my computer anymore. Waaah!

So this post is essentially broken for good. Sorry.
When I do some more slash and spread grading, I will make a new post!

[things in brackets] used to be images.

Begin original post.

I have a handful of vintage patterns (original ones) either from my mom or from the thrift store. All of them are too small for me, so I decided to try my hand at altering them by slash and spread grading. Google around and you will find many pages on this. Threads has a good one.

This is the result of a 1954 size 18 (36 bust)
[pattern cover]

pattern graded up (we hope) to fit me with a 42" high bust measurement. That's a huge change, I know, but why not try it?

[bodice front]

After I finished the basic grading changes, I went ahead and did a full bust adjustment, fervently hoping I did not add insult to injury.
[sleeve image]

I measured the sleeve diameter after the grading and decided to add 1 1/4 inches. I did this by slicing right up to the top of the sleeve in five places and nudging the bottoms of the slashes out one-quarter inch each.

I have a handful of doll commissions to finish before I can do a muslin and try out the results of my mad slashings!


I did a muslin in Cat in the Hat fabric. It is cute! The bust is too big, so I took a bigger bite on the side bust dart. I'll make this in some cheap pink fabric from Walmart real soon now (it is cut out and waiting for me).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Smocking experiments

Last year, I inter-library-loaned a 1948 book on smocking Stitching for Style by Nelle Weymouth. Finally, I'm getting around to trying some of the designs.

This is lazy-smocking, as all the thread tails are on the right side of the fabric, and I did the work on scraps of $2 polyester lining fabric.

I had high hopes for the Columbine pattern, but three out of the four flowers look rather sad. My favorite is the lower right one.

I like the Rose Trellis quite a bit - I can see it on the yoke area of a blouse or on the sleeves somewhere.

I may sit down and try a few more patterns, since I have more of the green left.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Butterick 6701, 1943 vintage reissue blouse

1943 reissue pattern from Butterick (2000), now out of print.

"Fitted blouse, has shoulder pads, princess seams, shaped hem and button trim with snaps. A: lined, above-elbow sleeves. B: long sleeves with slits/hooks and eyes and back peplum."

This blouse is a princess seam, but the seams go to the shoulder, rather than to the armscye. I like this kind of princess seaming better than the seams that go to the armscye.

I've made this blouse before, view B in a mustard yellow linen. I liked it but the linen was a pain - wrinkle wrinkle, needed ironing all the time. That blouse is long gone.

So this time I dug around in my dwindling stash of fabric and found enough cotton-blend eyelet to make it again. This time, I did view A, a view that is supposed to be lined and has less of a rear peplum than view B.

I had made my previous alterations directly on the pattern pieces, not something I do often. I had lengthened the body 1 inch and generally cut out a 22 with some extra flare at the hips. It was easy to trace over in my currnet size. Whew!

I eyeballed a full bust adjustment for the center front piece, after tracing the pattern over with an 18 shoulder/neck (based on my high-bust measurement) and a 22 waist and hip.

I played around with changing the shoulder line a little bit as I knew I would not be using shoulder pads for this garment. I took about 1/2 an inch out of the side back at the shoulder seam.

I remember having to enlarge the sleeve pattern quite a bit, and my memory was confirmed when I unfolded the sleeve and saw all my painstaking alterations.

I decided the alterations were still good, and traced it over, just changing it at the sleeve head to an 18 from the 22 I had originally altered. I added 1" above the elbow and 1/2" below, and a total of two inches at the sleeve head, tapering to less at the wrist.

Due to my messing with the sleeve pattern, my sleeve head is perhaps gathered into the armscye a bit more than the design intended, but I think it looks all right.

I did not line this, neither did I create facings. I bashed out a lot of bias strips in a not-totally-far-out blue poly-cotton broadcloth and just faced the edges. Then I pressed the bias to the inside and stitched around the edge from the outside.

The inside is finished to the extent that I bothered to cut the pieces out with my pinking shears.
I used some largish sew-on snaps to close the front.

I do get drag lines on the upper arm when I have my elbow folded even the smallest amount - this could be in part due to the missing shoulder pad. Or just my fat arms? Both!

 I'm not actually sure what the differences are between an armscye and sleeve head that is designed to have a pad, and ones that are not. I should figure this out and do a better job on the shoulder fit next time.

The waist at a 22 fits nicely, but I needed to let the center front opening flare a bit more than designed to accomodate my shrinking but still present cookie-belly. I do like the shape that gives the front of the blouse.

Overall, I'm pleased with this. The eyelet fabric (which used to be white but I dyed it blue years ago with Dylon machine dye) makes the blouse a bit dressier than I intended, but I'll be wearing it to my stepson's pre-wedding meet-n-greet so I think it will fit right in.
When I make this again, I'll be skinnier, but I think I'll still make the front pattern pieces a bit longer, as the blouse over a modern rise pant leaves a little bit of a gap at the center front. Over a skirt or pants that fit at the natural waist. it looks just fine, but then again, that's what it was designed to be worn with in the first place!