sewing

1980s McCalls into 1920s Garden Party

Ah the 1920s! Jazz Age Glamour! The Black Bottom! The Great Gatsby!

Fashions that look terrible on people with tits and ass.

Le Sigh.

In keeping with the 100 year rule (people get excited and nostalgic when things are about 100 years old), the decadent Jazz Age is back in style. I’m sure the impending doom that it seems like our county is hurtling towards is helping that Weimar Cabaret feeling. But for whatever reason, the 1920s and associated events are everywhere these days.

The 1920s is a decade I have never been super enthusiastic about costuming. The boyish flapper figure is really far from what I have. I’m much more about that hourglass. A couple of years ago I tried to make the One Hour Dress and that was a fugtastic fail. Despite my dislike of the era I was joining a bunch of friends at Dardenella’s Atlanta Gatsby Garden Party. I had to figure it out so I’d have something to wear.

This photo of my grandma with her grandma was my inspiration. This photo is probably from the later part of the 20s.

File May 14, 12 36 44 AM

As cute as my grandma was, and as cute as I bet that dress was, there’s sure something wonky going on with the fit. It’s not my grandma, it’s the style of the 20s.

Check her out just a few years later in the 30s:

Photo Mar 23, 1 08 00 AMAdorable! What a difference!

See what I was up against?

Looking at other photos from the 1920s, curvy and bigger people just looked frumpy. You needed to have tiny ankles and no discernable bust like these gals. Photo Apr 17, 12 01 55 AM

Photo Apr 17, 5 59 18 PM

But then again, Queen Latifah looked damn fabulous in the Bessie Smith biopic so being curvy and looking good in 1920s fashions could be done.

bessie-queen-latifah

I was doing my usual troll of eBay and Etsy for vintage half-sized patterns when this 1985 relic came up in my search.

Photo May 14, 12 32 16 AMMinus the hair and the shoulder pads, McCalls 2276 seemed pretty close to a 1920s dress.

The line art makes the 20s potential even clearer. The shoulder treatment is very similar to Decades of Style Isabella dress and the collar options also had potential. I decided to go with a short sleeved version of view C with a hip sash.

Photo May 14, 12 32 11 AM

My cotton fabrics were pretty cheap to begin with and then I bought them in a Joann’s mega sale at 50% off. Because of this (and because I ran myself out of time) I decided not to make a test and just sew on the fly. I wasn’t super invested in the the fabric or honestly the final dress so I wasn’t afraid of a fail. I dug around in my closet for an acceptable backup outfit just in case, so I was set either way.

With no darts and hardly any shaping I didn’t see any point of putting in the zipper. Since that left the back wider than the collar I probably should have made an adjustment but I didn’t. I took very small seam allowances on the facings to make up the difference. I took a smaller seam allowance from waist to hip on the side seam but otherwise did not adjust the sizing.

I had planned on doing the pleated skirt but since I was at the 11th hour I was feeling lazy so I got out my ruffler foot. I ruffled the three skirt panels and just figured I’d attach it and hope that it fit. When I tried the dress on I realized that the dropped waist was too low even for the 1920s and the overly full skirt was super 80s. I raised the waistline between three and four inches (I did it by eye), took out most of the 3rd skirt panel, and took about another 3 inches off the hem. I hand tacked the sash and added two vintage pink buttons as a detail.

Photo May 12, 2 05 43 AMPhoto May 12, 2 05 54 AM

I tried the dress on with my other accessories but no shapewear. A distinct lack of fug was detected. 1920s success!

With my parasol mended, bust flattening shapewear on and picnic packed we were off to the event. It was held on the grounds of The Wren’s Nest, the home of Joel Chandler Harris. We were able to take an interesting short tour of the house which was a real treat!

I didn’t take a ton of photos but I here are a few.

Photo May 13, 1 04 52 PMSunglasses – $16 Amazon Prime!

Photo May 13, 1 08 48 PMMy husband, left, is wearing a bowtie I made for him. Don’t you love his oyster belt buckle?

Photo May 13, 1 36 58 PM

Megan made the Decades of Style Isabella for the occasion and I just love Rob’s swami getup!

One of our party, Rebecca (Swami Rob’s wife), was named best dressed at the party. She won a gift certificate for any dress from the new opened Trashy Diva boutique. This pretty much made the event for me!

Photo May 13, 1 03 01 PMThe win was foretold!

Photo May 13, 1 13 09 PMPhoto May 13, 1 13 19 PMPhoto May 13, 1 14 09 PM

As is prone to happen in Atlanta, a much feared for thunderstorm popped up halfway through the afternoon causing a scramble and a soaking. That pretty much ended the event as they had no rain plan (poor planning in my opinion). We never got a group photo and I was soaked through before I got my own photos.

Photo May 13, 4 22 58 PMMy coordinating bracelet and brooch, possibly by Neiger, are of the era.

Photo May 13, 4 23 23 PM My faces are of the era too. Pure silent film overacting.

All’s Well That End’s Well?

Advertisements

Bow Tie Bonanza

815r7ax5JnL._SY550_I’ve been playing around with another 70s patterns. This time it’s Kwik Sew 352, Tie Variations. I’ve been been making bow ties. I wanted to make my husband a bow tie or two, specifically for him to wear to an upcoming Gatsby picnic. Due to the vintage of this pattern I was wondering what the finished look of the bow tie would be. Would it be like a 70s prom tie or something a bit more timeless?

IMG_4063My initial tie was a bit too wide so I’ve taken a greater seam allowance. Opting to top stitch was really a mistake. I was also kind of stumped on what stiffener to use. On the first attempt I used sew-in interfacing that ended up being too heavy and stiff. My second with no interfacing and starch was not stiff enough. I did a little googling around and found this helpful blog post which suggested lining with muslin. That seemed too do the trick! The third time was the charm.

Despite having sewn a bow tie, I didn’t know how to tie one. I looked around at several tutorials but they all seemed kind of confusing. I found one that after an extensive step by step how to rounded out the tutorial by declaring that if anything was confusing just to remember that the most common knot used for bow ties is the same as the one you use to tie a shoe. Really? So I went through all of that when all I needed to know was “tie in bow”? Fucking hell people. No wonder the clip on ones became popular.

18235921_10154532898787337_567025972_oWhen I posted my first attempt photo on Facebook, a friend from my Chicago days declared that he would be proud to wear said tie. So I sent him my 3rd, perfecting attempt. Looking dapper, Alan!

Patriotic Protest Pantsuit

Ever since I got into sewing with vintage patterns I’ve been fascinated with the tunic pantsuits that seemed to be a part of every casual wear pattern in the 70s. I was born in 1973 and while I don’t exactly remember these garments from my childhood, they can be found all over my family photos and media from my toddler years. img_6576I’ve had a plan to sew my own version just for kicks for at least a year and a half. I decided to use Simplicity 5556, also from 1973, after making two versions of the dress from that pattern. Somewhere along the line I acquired a huge and cheap piece of blue and white double knit perfect for this project. I just needed to get around to sewing it.

In the run up to the election I was tentatively swept up in “pantsuit fever”. Despited my dearest hopes, I had my misgivings on how the election would really go. I considered trying to sew the pantsuit in time for Election Day. It would have been a crush but I could have done it. A friend suggested that I could wait and have it ready for The Inauguration. Since I was worried how I would feel if I burned the oil and it all went pear shaped, I took her suggestion.

And, as we know all now, it most certainly went pear shaped.

As soon as the Women’s March was announced, I considered going to Washington DC. In the end, I stayed and marched in Atlanta with old and dear friends who happened to be in town for the American Library Association convention. This was the time to make my pantsuit.

Since I had used part of the pattern before I felt like I had a decent chance of success without a mockup. I was a little concerned about the fit of the pants though. I measured my rise versus that of the pattern. It seemed like it would work and the tunic would come to the tops of my thighs anyway.img_2159It went together pretty quickly but it was looking pretty blah. I decided it needed a little jazz so I used my newly learned double needle trick to topstitch the neckline, all the hems and the tie belt with red thread. img_2160The pattern suggested that you could add a crease to the pants. I thought this would help tailor my look. To really accentuate the crease, and make life easier after washing, I sewed the pleat in, also in red. The only real problem was that somehow I managed to get one leg an inch shorter than the other! I’m not really sure how that happened. Maybe I am out of alignment these days? I’ve never noticed this on any other garments though. How odd. I had to make do since I didn’t quite have the extra inch to spare on the shorter leg. See if you can guess which one it was!img_2163In the end I wore my pantsuit with my 1976 bicentennial liberty bell pimp chain and a button I received with an Etsy purchase the day before the march. It was tucked in with a vintage pattern purchase. The button had clearly seen better days and its original pinback had been replaced with a safety pin. It reads “I Support America”. When I found it in my package, I really did not know what spirit the button was sent in but I took at as an omen and wore it.img_2208The day of the march it poured. We had scary storms and thunder so intense it knocked pictures off my neighbors’ walls. The start of the march was pushed back by 30 minutes. I debated on wearing my pantsuit in the pouring rain. I certainly gave up on any effort with my hair. I pushed the meetup time with my friends back and somehow, we managed to avoid the worst of the rain. Then the rain stopped. It was gray but we were ready. The estimate was 60,000 people marching, many of whom had come in the worst of the weather to get there. I certainly don’t blame people for not being sure. The storms that morning were downright frightening. I can only image how many people we might have had on a bright sunny day.img_2162I think in some ways my bling, button and pantsuit kind of confused my fellow marchers. I didn’t have a pink pussy hat or a protest sign. I could see how my oddly aggressive groovy patriotic garb might not “read”. Even if it didn’t resonate for others, it reminded me of everything that was a new step forward in 1973, everyone who had fought before and how we have to keep fighting. It was also really comfortable. Never hurts to have a comfy outfit for a protest!

As great as the Women’s March was, it was only one event. The hard work of fighting for and keeping rights was and is on going and is done generally without regard to glamour. But if you can make it a little glamorous by marching with friends in a handmade double knit pantsuit, it’s just that much better.

2016 Sewing Roundup, Part 2: Modern, Historical and Costuming

NOTE — I just found this post languishing in drafts! I wonder what it was doing there or if I missed something? Either way, it’s beyond time to post it!

I’ve already detailed all of my vintage sewing in Part 1 so now here is the rest of what came off the stitch plate.

All of my sewing with vintage half sized patterns has continued to disenchant me with modern patterns. But I did use a few in 2016. One was a Burda for the kid’s jacket from vintage fabric that I already mentioned in Part 1. The others were….

Weekend Doris Dress by The Lazy Seamstress (coincidently I’m wearing the tunic and the same leggings from Walmart right now. I was mixed on this pattern but it is comfy.weekend doris selfie        Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline StudiosIMG_9547 A matching shirt for Uno from a tutorial by Mimi and TaraFullSizeRenderI also finished this UFO from 2015, another dress from New Look 6889 (a personal favorite pattern.cowgirl dress and fabric detailsOn the historical front, I didn’t get anywhere close to the 11+ dresses and garments on my 2016 to do wish list. That’s not really a surprise but I thought I might make at least one new Victorian gown. I finally made a chemise from Truly Victorian 102 to give me a complete set of Victorian underwear.chemise 2I also made a new TV 101 to replace my original. FullSizeRenderAfter that I switched gears and started sewing a Regency wardrobe. This was a new era for me and I felt really daunted by it.

First I made a day dress from Laughing Moon 126 and beretIMG_0494An evening dress from the same pattern using a vintage sari.IMG_0704And a bonnet hackimg_1200I played with making a new Victorian bodice but it didn’t come together. At least one new Victorian gown is on the decks for 2017. I’m over due to update that era in my wardrobe!

On the pure costuming front, I made wizard robes for my niece and nephew. That was a Christmas surprise!img_2051

A pretty good year I would say!

 

 

Christmas Sneaking! aka Wizard Robes

In the run up to Christmas, when we were all exchanging wish lists and making inquiries, I found out that my sister-in-law had begun reading Harry Potter to my niece, age 8. My nephew, age 5, while a little young for the series, had heard some of the tales and demanded to hear more. We were told that both were thrilled with all things Hogwarts and that a little magic under the tree would be very appreciated. Since, I’m sort of known for my Wizard Robes, I decided that it was only logical that I sew wizard robes for my niece and nephew for Christmas.

I was able to make both robes from two different colors of very similar poly satin from my stash. It’s not really kid friendly fabric but I figured that by the time the robes are totally destroyed they will either have outgrown them and need new ones, or perhaps ceased to care about Hogwarts (unlikely). I also used some metallic trim that I think I got at a yard sale? Who knows, but again, stuff that was perfect for this project and nothing else.

I used the kid sized version of the Simplicity pattern I used for my robes. This pattern sews very fast but is fabric intensive. img_1992Somewhere along the line, I decided that if was making wizard robes, then I was going all the way and having them delivered via Owl Post. I wrapped the robes in cut up brown paper grocery bags and tied them with string. I was very careful to make sure that the bags had no logos or any printing on them anywhere in order not to break the illusion. I actually argued with my mom on the necessity of this!img_2038After Christmas dinner, I slipped outside and left the two packages on the walk. I made a bunch of random noises on my phone from the kitchen. At that point, my husband, who was in on the ploy, said he thought he heard something at the door. My sister-in-law, who was not fully clued in, brushed him off but he convinced her and the kids to go check. They brought in the packages and immediately opened them while vibrating with glee and delight. img_2040They were all completely surprised! I played along and never said anything about making the robes, although all the adults knew. I think that my niece might have figured part of it out because later I was handed a “letter” via owl post from the headmaster saying that I would be going to Hogwarts. After that, I was handed another letter with my shopping list, which was copied directly from the book. img_2051My husband got a letter saying that he was only a muggle! img_2069Even a few days later my nephew was still talking about how mysterious it all was and the robes were still being worn all day. +10 to Slytherin (that’s where I’m always sorted)!img_2045

 

 

 

UFO Fail: McCalls 3053

As part of this year’s Vintage Pledge I said I would finish all my vintage UFOs. I don’t tend to have that many UFOs unless they are things I start in the 2nd half of the year. Often I get sidelined by all the holidays and also the need to sew seasonal outfits and gifts.

img_1309

This UFO was for a halloween dress. I had some spoopy house fabric that I liked but didn’t love so I figured it could be a good sacrifice to McCalls 3053 from 1953. It went pretty well though and the dress was turning out to be worth finishing until Halloween passed and it didn’t get done.

I pulled it out this year expecting to have the new Halloween dress that I was denied last year. I needed to put in the zipper, finish the side seams and armholes and do the hem. Since I’ve been sewing so much vintage I’ve mostly gotten over my fear of zippers. What was left was easy peasy.

Then I got to the ironing board. I was looking at my skirts and the houses were completely on the bias. That wasn’t right. Then I discovered that I had somehow constructed the skirt completely incorrectly. I had managed to flip my rights and left or backs and fronts or perhaps even both. It was a weird and frankly rookie error. But, it can happen, especially when you are distracted or trying to work to fast.

img_1305

I’m pretty bummed. The top of the dress looks pretty great but the bottom is completely wrong. The waist ended up a little tight but wearable with a belt. I don’t know if putting the skirts on incorrectly had an effect on that. As this is a straight size versus a half size pattern the bodice back didn’t fit as nicely as it does on my half size patterns. But again, the whole dress is kind of off. The print is too busy for the pattern details also.

I’m torn about trying to fix it. I don’t have any more fabric and I’m just not invested enough in it at the moment. At the same time, I know what needs to be done so it could be saved. Good thing I wasn’t super in love with this fabric as it did indeed end up as a kind of sacrifice to the sewing gods. It happens sometimes. So annoying.

Regency Bonnet Hack

I’ve taken a couple of Regency dance classes this summer. My dancing group had a picnic over the weekend. I had some ambition to make a new dress for the occasion but being a week past Dragoncon the motivation just wasn’t really there. Being a picnic it did seem like I should have a straw bonnet though. I poked around online and found a great bonnet hack. It promised to be fast and cheap, two concepts I can get behind!

img_1200

Behold! A very easy and quick Regency bonnet or hat from The Cheats Costume Guide by Hathaways of Hawthorn. The cheat is using a faux straw sun visor as your base. In essence you:  1) sew a fabric crown to the base 2) add ribbon, ties and feathers 3) wear to your event and look fabulous. The hat you make can look very similar to this one in Sense & Sensibility. 

I ordered these to use as frames, mostly because they were on Amazon Prime so I could get them fast. They arrived on Friday and the picnic was Sunday. Since this was a first time experiment all other supplies were from my stash. I ended up going a little avant-garde with all silver, grey and black. I did check around to see if a black straw hat was even a thing in the Regency. The only ones I could find were specifically referenced as being for mourning. Not really what I was going for but historical enough on short notice.

While the cheat doesn’t tell you to do this, I opted to sew self fabric bias around the edge of my brim. The visor is already bound so I just covered over it. I thought it might lighten the look of the bonnet and also make it fancier. Despite my not that great hand sewing, I did achieve that.

From there I sewed on the silk crown. The cheat tells you to cut “a piece fabric around the size you would use for a cushion cover” which really isn’t terribly specific. I measured my couch throw pillows and then went a little bigger. I cut a 22 inch square into a circle. It seemed to work but maybe was a little too big.

14324147_10157465209045711_6563625177790905327_o

Apparently oddly riveted to something beyond the frame. Also, not totally loving the side profile of my bonnet.

For whatever reason, the straw part of the crown seemed kind of tall in my version. I don’t know if that’s because the head band on my visors actually was taller than the ones in the cheat. I made the size of the head opening a little bit too small. That might have forced the brim to want to naturally curve lower down. Because of that I ended up using a quite wide piece of silk leftover from my Edwardian Chinoiserie gown to make a hatband. One width of ribbon just would not have sufficed! I think it looks fine from the front and back but a little weird at the sides. I will definitely address this when I make up the other visor I got. I may also add some other ribbon or decoration to that expanse of crown.

14305234_10157465209865711_3885446234257704487_o

Looks pretty OK from the back.

I started the hat Friday night while watching The Harvey Girls and finished it Saturday night after a round of day drinking. It was 85% hand sewn. I did the fabric ties on the the machine and bits here and there.

We had great weather for the picnic and the heat wasn’t too brutal for early September in Atlanta. Here’s a couple photos of some of the compliment.

img_1165

img_1198

img_1160-copy

img_1195