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.



Things I Forgot To Mention From 2014, Part 2: Totoro

You might have noticed from my last post that I have been, in some ways, spending the start of 2015 in the past.  I figured why not continue that theme with the 2nd installment of “Things I Forgot to Mention from 2014”.

You might remember that I never finished running down my costumes from DragonCon. My epic Sunday cosplay was The Blue Totoro Bustle Gown. I did this cosplay with my great friend, designer and costuming cohort Ms. Megan Maude. We were at my house one night far too close to DragonCon brainstorming our cosplays. We were sort of at a loss. I mentioned Totoro and her eyes lit up. Yes. We were going to do this!

“You said you you liked hand sewing…” Image by Leo Photography 2014.

We decided to make bustle dresses that were recognizable both as Totoro inspired and also as straight up Victorian fashion. We both wanted to make gowns that were period fashion appropriate versus some odd semi-historic fantasia. This gown seemed very doable to me as I have made several bustle gowns and I had all the foundations ready to go. It was much more work for Megan who was new to this period of sewing and also had to make her bustle and undergarments.

It was decided, due to our considerable height difference, that Megan would be the main gray Totoro and I would be the small blue Totoro. We discussed designs and even got into a couple of heated discussions about what was and wasn’t appropriate. In the end, we went with this:

Totoro Bustle Design Sketch. Drawing by Megan Maude.

You can see some of the variations we discussed on the right side — how many pleats, what do to at the cuff. The only non-historial concession we made was to add the Totoro ears to our bonnets. We had a design and were ready to sew our respective dresses.

We used all patterns from Truly Victorian. The 1884 French Vest Bodice with a modified square neckline for the bodice. The 1885 Four-Gore Underskirt with no modifications for the skirt and hats from the 1880s French Bonnet Frame.

My fabric was white and periwinkle Kaufmann Essex Linen Blend (55% Linen / 45% Cotton). I bought a small piece of bright green linen to make ginkgo leaves for my bonnet. The leaves, beyond being a super cute Totoro reference served to cover some of my hat’s wonkiness and my needle puncture blood stains. I bag lined my bodice per the Truly Victorian pattern using some vintage cotton curtains that had been gifted to me. I thought the texture, color and pattern of the curtains matched the mood of the gown perfectly. I had the lining cut out and then realized that there was actually a tear in one of my pieces. So I added a funny little patch since there was no more curtain to cut another piece.  I also happened to find some perfect leaf buttons so I added those as accents to the collar, cuffs and above the back bodice pleats.

Vintage curtain lining complete with patch and leaf button details.

Megan opted to finish with facings, thinking that it would end up being a cooler garment to wear in the DragonCon swelter. This is actually the more historically accurate way to finish but ended up being a bit of a frustrating choice for the hand sewing adverse Ms. Maude.

I made a little reticule out of some natural cotton and a drawstring made of braided hemp twine. The blue Totoro always seems to be running around with a sack and this was extra convenient for my cell phone, cash and hand fan.

We were both thrilled with how our gowns turned out and had a fabulous time on promenade Sunday night. I have to say this was probably the most squee-able cosplay I have ever done. The squees were audible as we heard people exclaim “OMG Totoro!” and the like. We also had our share of people wanting photo ops. I think I pretty much giggled and smiled the entire time we wore the gowns!

Classic Totoro by RBC Image.

I even have a Totoro fan in my hand. RBC Image

Urban Totoros by RBC Image.