Month: February 2016

Happy Valentines Day with Simplicity 5556!

One of my 2016 Vintage Pledge goals was to finish all of my Vintage Pledge UFOs from 2015. This includes both half sewn garments and ones that only managed to be cut. So behold, my first vintage sew of 2016: a better fitting version of Simplicity 5556 from 1973 — with hearts, for Valentine’s Day, or something!

70s heart dress on form

I cut this out about this time last year after I had made a first run with this pattern. The fabric is a lightweight sweater knit from Fashion Fabrics Club. My copy of this pattern has two printed sizes. This time around I cut the smaller size for the top and graded out to the larger size starting at the waist. It fits a lot better but is still a little too big in the shoulders / bust. I’ve also changed in the upper body (thanks to working out with a trainer 2x a week since July 2015) so that also has to be factored in. I did the majority of the stitching on the overlocker. Because of that I probably didn’t take the full 5/8 inch seam allowance. I’d make that change before I would consider cutting it even smaller.

70s heart dress CU

The pattern calls for finishing the neckline with facings. Ugh, what is it with the facings? While I know I have leftovers of this fabric, they were separated from the cut pattern pieces. I decided to just go ahead and use the facings but not exactly as the pattern suggested. I sewed the facing on with the serger and turned it. When I made the turn I wrapped the facing over the allowance made by the overlock stitching forming a sort of makeshift binding. I topstitched the facing down and then trimmed it down with my appliqué scissors. I got a little over zealous with the trimming and ended up cutting a couple of small holes which I then had to mend. I did a pretty good job dealing with the stripes. I was really befuddled with the hem. My side seam stripes pretty much lined up so I thought that I could just hem straight across but no, that was not working. Maybe it had to do with the bust darts? I don’t know. Good thing that I had to cut off three or four inches anyway.

70s heart dress 1

Accessorized with heart earrings, a vintage scarf and boots from Modcloth.

I did the sewing of the dress on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday and wore it out to two (!) different Super Bowl Parties. I even managed to show up to the 1st one before half time. That’s kind of an accomplishment for me. I didn’t even know who was playing. I don’t think I’m “too cool” for football. Actually, if you held me down and forced me to pick a sport to watch, I’d pick football. But, it’s just not a thing I get into unless Chicago or Atlanta is involved.

I had a couple of people ask me where I got my dress. Once I replied that I made it, but another time I said “Off my sewing machine”. I thought I was being all witty!

I’m going to keep playing with this pattern. I like it a lot and I think it can be refined just a little more. Simplicity 5556 also includes the ubiquitous tunic & pantsuit version which I am kind of interested in trying just for funsies.

IMG_9649As far as the actual Valentine’s Day, I’ve had a lovely one. My husband just returned from three weeks in Asia. He made me this awesome card and got me a really fabulous and hilarious gift that I will have to show you in a different post. The soot sprites are pins that I can wear! And soon I will have a delicious steak to eat. He’s a fabulous chef.

I hope you all had nice Valentines too.



1st Historical Sew of 2016 – Truly Victorian Chemise

I’ve finally completed my first historical garment of the year, a test chemise from TV 102 to match the test bloomers I made about a year ago. After five years? six? of historical costuming I finally have a complete set of undergarments. I did not make a chemise before now because 1) the previous pattern I tried to use was terrible 2) I got away with just proper split bloomers and a tank top. I can now move on to make the linen blend “heirloom” versions of both.

Making this chemise is very simple, unless you actually try too hard to follow the instructions. You can make the chemise with small “sleeves” or without. I chose to make a sleeveless version. The problem is, the pattern doesn’t really tell you what to do if you omit the sleeve. Well, ok, it does tell you, but way after when you really needed to know. Also, the pattern tells you to reinforce the straps and provides a little rectangle pattern piece to cut. Doing the reinforcing makes sense, but how you are instructed to do the reinforcing does not. All that is required is to make sure that your button hole and button are mounted through three layers of fabric and that all the edges of the reinforcing piece are sewn down. I’m being a little vague here but trust me this advice will make more sense if you actually make this chemise. It certainly isn’t any more confusing.

This underwear pattern must have been one of the first patterns released by Truly Victorian. That might explain the wonky instructions. I generally find TV patterns to be easy to follow. In the time I wasted trying to figure out what was being said, I could have probably sewn a 2nd chemise! Just trust your instincts. It will all turn out fine.

I could have shortened the chemise a bit but it’s fine and wearable as is.

chemise 1

The color got a bit off here. It’s more of a khaki tan check and ribbon than brown.

Fabric — Cotton Lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club / Insertion Lace — good ole Joann’s

I opted not to trim the hem. I figured it probably would just get rumpled in the wash. Who wants to iron the trim on their underwear!

I pinned my bloomers to the form just to get a feel for the two together. You can read about the bloomer construction over here. Cute!

chemise 2


Pattern Review: Weekend Doris Dress

I live in Atlanta. Winter is a strange beast here. It’s not terribly cold, but not particularly warm either. You can’t just throw on a cotton dress and bop out of the house with bare legs and a thin cardigan. That only works in south Florida. You need to have winter clothes here but not many. They’re shouldn’t be too heavy either because the number of days it will actually be cold enough to wear that artisanal wool sweater will probably be counted on one hand. My relationship with Atlanta’s winter is compounded by the fact that I’m originally from Chicago. While my blood has considerably thinned, I won’t wear a parka when it’s 50 degrees. I also don’t want to put on tights if I’m just running to Target. Consequently I tend to dress like a frump in the winter. All my winter clothes depress me. Winter also depresses me in general so blah.


What does this have to do with the Weekend Doris Dress by The Lazy Seamstress? I bought this pattern as part of my 2016 sewing with knits experiment. I thought that I could potentially make a few simple knit dresses to spruce up my detested winter wardrobe. The Weekend Doris calls for medium weight stable knits. Warm and cosy but still a dress. Two birds, one stone.

This pattern is only offered as a pdf. I generally don’t buy the pdf versions of things because I don’t like all the cutting, taping and wasting of paper. I’m lucky in that I was able to ask my husband to print the full scale version of the pattern at his office. That saved me a ton of time. I also purchased the Maude Skirt so he printed them together. While the Maude Skirt printed true to the 10cm x 10cm test square, the Weekend Doris printed a 1/4 inch shallow on all sides of the square. My husband said he printed both patterns at 100 percent. I’m not sure if it was a user or patterning error but definitely double check when you are printing! To compensate I cut one size larger and took a smaller seam allowance. This seemed to seemed to work ok.

weekend doris Dress

Not bad but it doesn’t cut a dashing figure exactly.

95% of my problems with this pattern were due to my fabric. I got a nice deal (weirdo fabric outlet again) on some gray French Terry. The fabric is very nice but it is exceedingly springy and wanted to roll on the cross grain. I tried very hard to not to overly handle the fabric and stretch it but I was not completely successful. I also had problems with my layers slipping. I did the majority of the stitching on my overlocker and used pins but I still had problems. I stitched the pockets on my Bernina with the differential feed engaged. That worked well for the most part. Where I really screwed up was the hem. The pattern suggests using a double needle, which I don’t have at the moment, to execute the very shallow 1/2 cm hem. I opted to overlock the hem and just turn it up with a straight stitch. Well that looked terrible. I turned it up a second time and finished the hem with the same visible hem stitch that I used on Uno’s Liberty sweater. That looks a lot better but even with ironing, the hem is kind of puckery. The neckline looks too open as well. I don’t know if I cut on the wrong line or stretched it too much sewing and with the iron. I’ll know better after the first wearing and wash. Finally, I find the arms to be a bit snug. It’s not a problem really with the gray terry but it would be in a fabric that was less boingy.

weekend doris selfie

You can see the neckline issue here.

I probably made this dress in about 3 1/2 hours. With a less squirrelly fabric I’m sure I could shave at least 30 minutes off of that. The finished product is cute enough although I’m not super duper excited about it. I don’t know if it’s the pattern itself or just the fact that I made a utilitarian garment in a nice but unexciting fabric. Last night I was feeling optimistic at Joann’s, so I bought some more knit fabric. I had originally planned to use it to make another Weekend Doris but I’m going to hold off for the moment. I have a 1970s vintage pattern UFO that I want to finish first. Which ever dress I like the best will get the nice fabric. I’d definitely make Weekend Doris again, but only with fabric scores until I really decide if I like the pattern or not. There’s a shorter sweater version included with the Weekend Doris. Something tells me I might like that better than the dress so I’ll probably give it a go at some point. A friend also suggested that I may like this dress better if I took it in under the arms to below the waist and changed the neckline. She might have something there but I don’t think I’m going to bother with any changes to this make. It is perfectly fine and comfy for running errands in the cold and not feeling like a total frump.