Saturday, 26 July 2014

Finished: Early 1940s Blouse - Simplicity 3364 Pattern Hack

After my last post I ended up not sewing at all. The hot weather dried up my sewing mojo. Or rather, my motivation to do anything at all. Ironically though I have been knitting a lot. Knitting a winter dress during a heatwave makes total sense, right?!

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite makes to date - the blouse that goes with my 1940s palazzo pants from Simplicity 3364 from 1940.

This blouse was a completely spontaneous make. When I started to cut out my 1940s slacks I had a lot of fabric left over. So I decided on the spot to cut out a blouse and sew it and my trousers simultaneously.

I had been wanting to make a 1940s button front blouse with a waistband for a while after I unsuccessfully purchased Advance 2275 in January (the seller had already sold the pattern elsewhere and forgot to remove the listing, sob). But I realized adding a waistband to another blouse pattern would be really easy.

All I did was look for the natural waistline on the pattern, fold the pattern half inch below that (seam allowance), take the waistband pattern piece from the Simplicity 3688 trousers and gather the entire lower edge of the blouse to fit into the waistband. Piece of cake! I wanted to add ties to the waistband like the Advance pattern but I didn't have enough fabric to do so.

The fabric is a soft cotton that looks a bit like linen. The color of the fabric is hard to describe - it's a shade of red, but it's far from red red. It has a hint of burgundy / wine / claret but it isn't really any of those shades either. The fabric has some body to it making it perfect for this blouse's puffy design. One thing that annoys the crap out of me with this fabric though; it creases terribly when washed! And with all the details this blouse is a nightmare to iron, ugh! With my terribly creasing palazzo pants combined, it looks as if I never iron anything :')

I used these chunky early plastic vintage buttons from my stash (i'm not sure whether they are Bakelite or celluloid, or maybe something else). They have four holes giving lots of possibilities for decorative sewing!

Coming Monday, the weather will be cooling down slightly. Hopefully it'll bring my sewing mojo back. Meanwhile, you will find me on the couch knitting a winter dress!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

What to Sew Next - A New Blogging Routine

For a while now I have wanted to change my blogging routine. I would really like to keep you guys more in the loop of what I am planning to sew and how my sewing (and knitting) projects are progressing. I usually have a lot to say about each sewing project (problems, doubts, fitting issues, etc) but every time I write a 'finished' post I have to scrap a lot of the thoughts I have (had) about the project because there's just too much text and I'm afraid I will scare you guys away ;)

Yesterday I finished another sewing project (a two piece dress in mustard yellow - I love it!) so I'm at the point of planning my next project - the perfect time to finally start that new blogging routine.

Right now I am torn between two options:

The first option is to make a maxi skirt with this lovely fabric. However, it is a lightweight slippery ( 'liquid') fabric and I don't have the proper needles. I have also purchased a walking foot. So it would mean no sewing until the things I've ordered arrive in the mail.

The second option is to make a dress out of this gorgeous dark eggplant/purple lightweight woolen fabric. I am still looking for a job and I have realized that I hardly have any clothes that are suitable for a job interview. So I really need to start sewing some. But even thinking of sewing with such a warm fabric right now makes me sweat.. Also, I am completely indecisive on what pattern to use for the fabric.. will it be:

Simplicity 3475 - The dress version with long sleeves (very cute but unsuitable for a potential job (interview))

Retro Butterick 5281 (very suitable for a job interview / work but I have been a bit disappointed at the sewn examples I've seen)

Simplicity 3962 (I really like this pattern and it would be suitable for work but I have to size it down a whopping 6 inches which means making muslins and all together just takes a lot of time..)

Honestly, I'm really much more in the mood for a simple project and something that I can wear right now.. but I do need a 'proper' dress..

Ugh, me and my indecisiveness! What do you guys think?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Finished: Summery 1940s Slacks - Simplicity 3688

Oh, how long I have been wanting to sew a pair of high waisted trousers! I had the very famous repro Simplicity 3688 lying around for almost a year now, but for some reason I was too scared to sew them up. Pants always seem to be prone to fitting issues and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to fix them if they did come up.

The time I felt ready finally arrived and I quickly sewed up a muslin which seemed to fit me perfectly. One of the main things I was excited about was wearing these pants with the 1940s blouses I have sewn so far. While nearly complete, I tried on the slacks with one of said blouses. Something looked very off. The pleats that shape the waist of the blouse were sticking out quite far above the waistband. Making the pants and blouse look ridiculous together. I also noticed the waistband did not seem to be sitting as high on my torso as it does on most other ladies, yet it sits at my natural waistline. I was completely puzzled until I finally realized what was going on: I have a long torso! Or maybe not a long torso but at least a lower than usual waistline. I can't believe I never noticed that before.

I_have a 25,5" waist and 37" hip, and after measuring the pattern pieces decided to trace size 10 (25"waist) for the waist and size 12 (36" hip) for the rest of the trousers. The fit was pretty good on me, so I'd say this pattern has about 0,5" to 1" too much ease. Not too bad.

The original waistband was quite narrow so I added 1/2 to make it wider. I also added 1/2" to the length. These pants are pretty short!

All in all I think the trousers from Simplicity 3688 are an okay pattern. Very easy and straight forward to sew and definitely a good start if you are looking to sew your first pair of trousers. If you are on the skinny side like me, and want pretty wide slacks I definitely recommend tracing a least one size bigger for the legs.

Changes to make next time:
- Straighten side seams from waist to hip (they are a little too curvy)
- Lower the back crotch slightly
- Widen the legs
- Lengthen to add cuffs (optional)
- Add pockets, either in the side seams or patch pockets (optional)

I have actually acquired two 1940s patterns for trousers since I've sewn these so I am going to give those a try for the next pair. And I'm a little behind on my blogging; I've already finished two blouses since I started these slacks!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tip for sewing a perfect curved patch pocket

Today I wanted to share a great sewing tip with you that I recently learned from the Crafsty class "40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know" (highly recommended!). I was immediately able to put it into practice on the 1940s blouse I am currently sewing, Advance 2943:

If you have an unlined pocket that is curved at the bottom there is an easy and quick method to press that seam allowance under in a smooth curve. (Basically, it's the same principle you use to ease a sleeve into an armhole, or easy in a hem of a full skirt.) Here's what you have to do:

1. Ease stitch

Mark the seam allowance on your pocket and with the longest stitch on your machine, ease stitch along the curve, just into the seam allowance.

2. Pull up threads

Trim you seam allowance down to about 1/4" and pull threads. Pull them only slightly - pulling them up too much will create gathers and that's not what you want! You can always pull them up a little more later if you need to. As you can see, the pocket already wants to shape into a curve!

3. Press

Now you can press you seam allowance under and it shouldn't be too hard to press it into a nice smooth curve. I noticed that you may get little pleats which have a tendency to create little corners/points in your curve. Try to eliminate them by ironing. If they won't budge, give the seam allowance a little clip, up to the stitching line.

4. Finish

Finish your pocket and marvel at your pretty curve!

Now if you also stitch them on to your garment straight you will really have a prefect pocket :')

Monday, 2 June 2014

A Dutch 1940s knitting pattern booklet

Today I wanted to share one of my new acquisitions with you, a Dutch knitting pattern booklet I got from the Dutch version of eBay.

This is actually the first real vintage paper knitting pattern I own and I love the fact that my first pattern is a Dutch one. It's just a bit more special when something comes from your own country :)

The title "Brei-Ster-Serie" can actually be interpreted in two ways. "Brei" = knit, "ster" = star but "breister" = knitter (in female form). Serie just means series. So on the one hand the title says "Knit Star Series", but it also says "Knitter Series".

There are only five patterns in the booklet for ladies garments, the rest are babies, children and one for the men. But I love every single one of those five patterns. Especially the first two cardigans (cover and below) are just amazing!

What I thought was interesting is that these patterns work a little different from what we're used to. Usually a knitting pattern is designed for a certain size, or sizes, and will tell you to cast on a certain number of stitches and to work so many rows and decrease or increase a certain amount of stitches.

But not these patterns. These patterns go like this (I have deliberately translated it a bit literally to keep in the Dutch archaic use of language) :
 "After measurements have been taken, half the amount of cm of the hip measurement will be cast on (measured unstretched). Hereafter there will be knitted in stocking stitch for 2 cm in white wool after which one continues knitting in chart 15a. When the length to the waist has been reached (15 cm on our model) half the amount of cm of the waist measurement should be on the needle."

And just in case you are wondering: no, I have not left anything out. Those are the actual instructions up to the waist! Basically, their method is that you just measure your work while you are knitting. Seems like a very inaccurate method to me! (They don't mean swatching and then calculating because that is mentioned as an alternative method!).

Doesn't this guy just look dashing?!

Looks familiar

I just LOVE these illustrations of the back views! (click for bigger view)

So knitting one of these patterns will take some work since you basically have to calculate the entire pattern yourself, but I will definitely knit them at some point!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Finished: Simplicity 3364 - The 1940s Palazzo Pants

I believe you have been waiting for this one - the finished Simplicity 3364 Palazzo pants!

I ironed them, I swear! Then I sat down to knit.. sigh

These pants are very easy to make and sew up very quick. Or at least they were supposed to be.. unfortunately this was one of those projects where the sewing gods are against you and everything just seems to go wrong. Stitching a buttonhole on the wrong side of the placket for instance..

The side closes with three fabric covered buttons at the waistband and three snaps below.

The pattern is a size 16 (27" waist, I have a 25,5" waist) but I decided not to adjust the pattern to my size - except for the waistband of course. So the pants are actually wider than they otherwise would have been. (Which, naturally, I did on purpose.)

Because the fabric I used is so very thin I underlined one layer of the waistband with lightweight cotton to give it a little more structure.

Slipstitching was out of the question with this fabric because the stitches created ladders in the weave. So I just narrowly hemmed the trousers and top stitched it down. I finished the seams by folding them in and stitching them together (aka mock french seams). This my favorite method for finishing seams so far.

They are so elegant, I absolutely love them. This was just a test version with a cheap fabric - there will be more of these!

For my next project I am finally making a pair of slacks with the famous Simplicity 3688. I have already made a perfect fitting muslin so now I am about to cut into some lovely whine/burgundy ish cotton fabric!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

1 Year Blog & Sewing Anniversary

Happy birthday to me my blog! Exactly one year ago I wrote my first post about the start of my (vintage) sewing adventure. On the one hand I can't believe a year has gone by already. But on the other hand sewing has become such a part of me that it feels like I've sewn practically all my life!

I figured that this would be a good moment to reflect on the past year and do a little project roundup.

Unfortunately there are two projects that should have been included in this list, the Butterick 3810 dress I started in February which still needs to be hemmed, and the 1940s palazzo pants from Simplicity 3354 which I have actually finished but unfortunately not photographed yet.

Altogether I have sewn 10 garments (I'm including the palazzo pants and Butterick 3810 dress). Maybe it's not too bad for a first year but honestly I'm a tiny bit disappointed. I had simply hoped to have sewn a lot more in one year. Now I know what you're thinking; quality over quantity! True, but quality isn't really the issue here. Actually, I think the quality of my sewing would improve if I sew more, simply because I get a lot more practice and routine. I am building an actual wardrobe here, and I really do need a lot more clothes. Ten garments a year simply won't cut it!

So I have decided to set a new goal for myself; By May 10th, 2015 I will try to have finished 24 (sewn) garments. So that's 2 garments a month. I think that should be doable!

The most important thing for me to remember, if I want to make that goal, is that I need to drop the indecisiveness. What will I sew next? How will I finish this seam? How will I hem this skirt? Am I going to use a placket or a zipper? All good questions to ask yourself while sewing, but I can seriously not touch a project for days just because I can't make up my mind whether I want to use a placket or a zipper. In the mean time I could have finished the garment! It's quite silly, really.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little roundup of the things I have made in the past year and how I feel about them in retrospect. Let me know: What was your favorite project? And how much would you like to sew (or knit) in one year? (Ideally, but realistically of course ;) )

May/June 2013

My very first project was the (in)famous Butterick Walkaway Dress. At that time, even though I didn't really like the dress and knew up front that I would probably never wear it, it seemed like a good choice for me as a first project. However, looking back with the knowledge I have now I don't think it's a good pattern to start with at all. And I think the dress is rather hideous.

July/August 2013

My second project was Butterick 4919, another 1950s repro pattern. Again a very wrong choice as a second pattern and I am still amazed the dress turned out so well. Obviously I have never worn it since it requires a special occasion. The blog post about this dress is still my most viewed post.

August 2013

My third project was another repro pattern, Butterick 5209 and my first 1940s pattern. This was my first actually wearable garment. I was and still am quite happy with this simple little dress.

October 2013

On to project number four and five, which was my first time sewing with a vintage (unprinted) pattern. I simultaneously sewed two versions of Simplicity 4987, view I and view II. These were the last projects I finished before moving to the UK. I am still quite happy with these blouses but I've hardly worn them yet because I don't have any skirts or pants to wear them with.

January 2014

I started knitting! And quickly completed my first garment, Sun-Glo 2726, the 1940s Wind Breaker cardigan which was also my entry for the Knit for Victory challenge.

February 2014

Just one month later I completed my second knitted cardigan, the bottle green Lumber Jacket from the Australian Women's Weekly. I absolutely love this cardigan to death and have worn it só much in the past two months. I think I will have to make another one just because this one might not live very long!

March 2014

I made a test version of the Mrs. Depew 1940s Tap Pants. Hardly a proper sew, but wearable. This project taught me that my sewing skill just isn't up to sewing with slippery fabrics yet and kind of made me feel depressed about my sewing skills altogether.

April 2014

I finally finished the Simplicity 3450 Blouse that I started way back in December together with the matching skirt from the same pattern which was my entry for the Sew For Victory 2.0 challenge. After completing these I finally felt like my handmade wardrobe is coming together. But it's still only a start.