Monday, 30 May 2011


Still on the theme of skirts... the highly anticipated Vogue Vintage pattern arrived in the mail today!

I ordered Vogue Vintage pattern #2885 a few weeks ago.  It is still available on the Vogue website but as an out-of-print pattern.  So you want to pick one up time is running out.  Anyway, I'm quite thrilled that is finally here.

I picked up this pattern for the skirt, circa 1944.  The skirt is slightly flared with a contoured waist and back pleat.  I like the slightly flared part and hopefully it will fit nicely without sitting a bit higher in the back, (a problem that I seem to find with store bought clothing).  

The fabric that I've been keeping aside for the project is a heavy weight, white, cotton sateen stretch, I thought it would be a staple summer piece to my wardrobe.  But first off to pick up some muslim to test out the pattern.

Tip of the Day... Recycle

One of my favourite dresses from a few years ago was a I.N.C. International Concepts dress.

It was a summer dress with built in padded bra, and criss-crossed back straps and a pleated skirt.

The fabric:  a lightweight stripped cotton with big embroidered yellow flowers along the hemline.

For some reason it didn't fit when I was digging out my summer clothing from storage.  It might have something to do with cookies but that is a completely different blog.

Now has a new life as a skirt since I couldn't part with the fabric.

Since the skirt of the original dress had pleats it was an easy transformation.

  • Cut along the waist seamline and closed the side zipper opening.  
  • Serge the waistline edge and gather.

Now it is ready for a waistband.  The fabric is a cotton and I could easily have used a neutral cotton fabric to match the black pinstripes on the white but the plan was to use some decorative elastic instead.

There are some fabulous elastics out there now.  I found this two inch wide ruffled edge elastic that worked well.

  • Overlap the elastic over the gathered fabric and stitch with a stretch stitch.  If you machine doesn't have on a small zig-zag stitch will work will too.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Vogue Dress Pattern 1043... Finished.

The dress is finished and it fits like a dream.  I absolutely adore this pattern.

The only pattern adjustment that I had to do was to shorten the hem to fit my five-foot-one stature.  The short kimono sleeves are cute, the tucks across the bodice front are placed perfectly for a nice fit.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the pattern.  Three spools out of three for sure!  

The basting continues...

The Vintage Vogue dress (Vogue 1043) is coming along and is almost done.

This morning I sewed the skirt to the bodice at the waistline seam.  My trusted Jamone sewing machine has a much loved stretch stitch that I used.  Since the fabric is a stretch cotton I didn't want the stitching to take away from the give around the waistline.  

Now onto the zipper.  Exhale.  

I'm not a fan of sewing zippers.  Give me an underarm gusset any day over a zipper!    

I spend a great deal of time basting before I took it to the sewing machine.  On the opening from the bodice back I basted the serged edge with 1/2" allowance before basting it to the zipper edge and sewing it on the sewing machine.  And then I repeated with the bodice front except with a 5/8" allowance that overlaps the back bodice zipper edge by 1/8".  After a great deal of basting I was very pleased. Or maybe it was relieved?  

What do you think?  I'm happy with it so far.  It is very comfortable.  

I know, I still need to hem it and before that cut down some of the length.  

I'm just grabbing my pins and trying to bribe someone to help me with pinning up the hemline so that I can do the last finishing touches.  

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Gussets are used in clothing to give ease of movement.  I guess the best way I can describe it would be as a piece of fabric that is used to help mold the garment to your body.

Today, I will be sewing a gusset in the Vintage Vogue Dress #1043.  It has short kimono sleeves where underarm gussets are typically found to give the sleeve a longer slimmer look that is closer to the body.

The gusset is cut on the bias allowing for the maximum amount of ease of movement and less strain on the fabric.

It is important to reinforce the right side of the fabric with two inch bias cut squares or you can use bias tape sew along the seam line.  The pattern calls for bias cut squares of fabric but since my fabric has some weight to it I thought I would use some 2" bias tape.

If your garment fabric frays easily I would also reinforce the wrong side of the garment with iron-on interfacing.

Baste the two inch squares at the underarm front and back placing over the stitching and clipping markers from the pattern piece.

Stitch the squares in place using a smaller stitch length along the stitching line.  Make sure that you make a clear pivot point and continue along the stitching line.

Clip to the pivot point.

Turn the bias pieces to the wrong side of the bodice front and back pieces and press.  

Continue with the bodice pieces before stitching in the gusset.  Stitch along the tuck markings for the bodice front, press down and baste in place.

Sew the back darts and press to the centre back.  Stitch the back bodice pieces together at the centre back.

Ease-stitch the shoulder seams before stitching the bodice front to bodice back at the shoulder seams.  Now you can attach the bodice pieces at the side seams leaving the lower left side open below the small dot for the zipper.

Now we can attach the gusset, matching the pattern markings (dots and notches).  Take care when stitching around pivot points.  Gusset stitched with a 5/8" seam allowance.

For more information about sewing gussets Vogue Sewing is a great reference.  The instructions included in this pattern were easy to follow too.  There is no need to worry, it is a pattern detail that was easy to achieve.

Friday, 27 May 2011

1953 Fashions

Researching 1953 fashions uncovered a few interesting facts.  According to Retro Fashion History the colour palette for spring 1953 was "soft, pretty, feminine, and flattering" and white, beige, and soft pink was included in the "it" look for the time.

The importance of cotton to the American economy was highlighted when the government of the day awarded the first Cotton Fashion Award.

Coincidence that I chose a soft pink floral on an off-white 100% cotton sateen?  Yes, I didn't research this prior to choosing the fabric.  I just picked it out of the sale bin.  Funny how things work out.

The fabric is cut.  I'm looking forward to some sewing time this weekend and to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Sewing therapy...

Just when I'm in need of some sewing therapy, I could not find my cutting shears.

As I dreamt of a well-organized sewing space that I could call my own, I gathered my purse and shoes for a trip to the local Fabricland.

Yes, I was really in need for some sewing therapy.  There was no time to waste looking for my lost cutting shears.

Thankfully, Fabricland was open and a decent pair of cutting shears found.  A deep breath of air exhaled from my lungs as I drove home.  Excitement built as I carefully laid out the pattern piece over the cotton stretch sateen and began to envision the dress it will soon become.

The stresses of the day slowly evaporated and were replaced with creative juices that filled my veins.  I can't wait to finish my work day tomorrow so that I can start my next sewing project... and maybe I'll find the missing cutting shears?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Vintage Vogue Dress

My next sewing project:

Vogue 1043, Vogue Vintage Model Original 1953 Design.

The bodice of the dress is adorable.  It has front stitched tucks, back darts, short kimono sleeves and underarm gussets.  The skirt portion of the dress is described as "mid-calf" but the pattern piece held up to my five-foot-one stature begs to differ.  I think there might be some alterations going on around the hemline.  The dress has a side zipper closure.

The fabric is an ivory with pink floral 100% cotton stretch sateen.  I found it in the sale section at Mitchell Fabrics and it
cost $5.00/ metre.  The price was not what drew me to the fabric but it didn't hurt.  I would have picked it even if it were not on sale, I think it is really cute with a vintage vibe going on.

Well, the fabric is pre-shunk, ironed, and the pattern pieces are cut so that means I should get to work.  I'll be laying out and cutting the fabric over the next few days in hopes to have it ready to sew for the weekend.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bias tape continued...

Sewing bias tape along stay-stitched neckline
The tunic has been coming along nicely, the raw silk has been a great fabric to work with.  Now it is time to sew the bias tape that was created earlier.  First thing first, stay-stitching.

Stay-stitch the neckline of the tunic to prevent it from stretching during construction and to help support the grain at the seam line.

Necklines are typically treated differently from other seams because the grain over the entire neck outline changes directions several times.  To stabalize the neckline stitch a single layer of stitching close to the edge.  For the Vogue 8733 tunic, I stitched 1/8" from the edge starting from the shoulder seams to the middle fronts and backs.  

Open the bias tape to and stitch the bias tape along the fold line of the bias tape.  To shape the bias tape to an outward curve stretch the fold while easing in the open edges.

When applying the bias tape, fold back the starting end 1/2-inch and align the fold at the centre back.

Overlap the bias tape and stitch to over the starting point fold.  The raw edge will be hidden when the bias tape is folded over the neckline edge.

Trim the neckline close to the stay-stitching and fold over the bias tape.  Hand or machine stitch the bias tape fold to the inside seam line.

Front finished edge
Front view

Back view

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A Few Things I've Learned through Sewing...

  • 1.  A respect for the time invested in quality workmanship and a critical perspective of store bought clothing.  
I've become one of those shoppers who closely inspect clothing, checking out seam finishes (or lack of), fabric content, and interesting details that caught my attention.  I may appear to leave empty-handed but I always leave with a head full of ideas and a renewed sense of pride in my own ability.

2.  A good pair of scissors are your best friend when it comes to cutting fabric.  Treat them with respect, keep your fabric scissors for fabric.

And may I suggest locking them away from those you love and want to continue to love?  In prevention of unwittingly having a good pair of fabric scissors used as a multi-purpose tool.  I know... Gasp, the horror!

3.  Waxing your thread before you sew on buttons will prevent your thread from becoming a tangled mess has been been one of my favourite sewing tips I've picked up.

4.  I've learned what a joy it is to have a self-threading sewing machine.

5.  I've learned that sewing is relaxing, especially now that I have a self-threading sewing machine.  I'm kidding.  It is like putting together a puzzle and I find that relaxing.  

6.  I learned that patience pays off and that cutting corners will only lead to sloppy work.  Even though I dislike ironing, have I mentioned that before?, a few moments ironing along the way will pay off in the end.   Oh, if my first sewing teacher could hear me now!

Sewing: A creative mess is better than tidy idleness.  ~Author Unknown 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Vogue Tunic Pattern #8733

The tunic top with short sleeves from Vogue pattern 8733 is on my list for a future project, maybe this weekend.

For this project I have dove into the large collection of fabric that I have collected over the years.  I found some raw silk that I thought would work nicely with this pattern.  But I was a bit short on the yardage to make it all in one colour.

I have two pieces of two meters of raw silk in a light mint green and vanilla colour, so I thought I would mix the fabric to make a two tone garment.

I cut the bodice yokes and sleeve in the light mint coloured raw silk and the lower front, back and tie pieces in the vanilla coloured raw silk.  The pattern calls for bias tape for the neckline and I do have an uncommon colour to match with the bias tape selection that is available in Winnipeg.  No problem though, bias tape is easy to make.

How to Make Bias Tape:

You'll need a bias tape maker, a ruler, dressmaker chalk, and a piece of fabric.

You'll likely start off with a rectangular shape of fabric which is perfect, working with a square piece of fabric works too.

To get started you will need to find the bias of the fabric, you can easily do this by folding up the corners to form a triangle.  The fold is the guide for the bias.  Mark the fold.  You can baste the fold line, mark it with chalk or press the fold line.  I prefer to press the fold line. The pressed line is your bias line.

Open up the triangle that you have created to reveal the bias line that has been pressed.  Using dressmaker chalk, a ruler, and the  marked bias line as your guide, your are now ready to mark off stripes from this line.

Since I need to make 1/2-inch bias tape I marked my lines 1-inch apart.  You will want to mark your strips twice the measurement of your desired finished bias tape.

Once you have the desired amount marked off you can go ahead and cut out the strips.  You will notice that if you tug at the ends of the strips that there is a bit of a stretch to them.  Perfect!

Trim the ends of the strips to that there is no longer a diagonal edge to them and that the corners have 90 degree angles.

To sew the pieces together line up two ends together at 90 degree angles so that the edges match up with right sides together.  Then sew them diagonally across.  When you open up the seams you will find that you have a straight piece of bias material.  Continue to the remaining pieces.

Now you are ready to insert the bias fabric into the bias tape maker.  This is the fun part because it so easy!  Feed your strip of bias fabric evenly through the bias tape maker.  It will come out the other end with press the folds down.

And there you go!  You just made your own bias tape.  

Burda Style #7489

The tunic from Burda Style 7489 is complete and I'm quite pleased with the result.

Made in a green with white polka-dot 100% cotton (found in the quilting section at Fabricland), it has a front placket that I added two snap closures to.
And I think that I would like to add some pockets, something I'm considering since I still have some fabric.


I would give this Burda Style pattern a three out three spools.  I was extremely pleased with the fit and the instructions.  If you are thinking about picking up this pattern, go for it!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

My day of sewing mishaps...

Today was the day that I was going to spend some quality time at the sewing machine and tackle the Burda Style pattern #7489 with fingers crossed that the sizing will work out.  I should have also crossed my toes that the sewing would work out.

I interfaced the front, back and sleeve facing pieces and got to work.  My first mistake that I discovered was that I cut the centre front instead of placing it on the fold.  I don't even know what I was thinking when I made that error.

Luckily, using the narrowest seam allowance that I could get away with and finishing the edge, it worked out fine.  The front seam is hidden within a front pleat.  Potential disaster adverted.

This is me making my second error, clueless to this  fact when the picture was taken.  It is the front facing being sewn and do you notice that there is quite a bit of excess fabric beyond the placket corners?

For some reason, lack of coffee is my defense, I didn't clue in that I was in the process of sewing the placket band on the wrong side of the front and marked the placket band with chalk.

Thankfully, I didn't cut what I thought was excess fabric at that point!  Some quality time seam ripping my mistake while the coffee was settling in the bodum and I was set to tackle the project again.  After enjoying the cup of java, I repositioned the facing and the placket worked out nicely.

So this is it so far, almost done.  I just have to hand-stitch the sleeve facing in place and I think I will add a couple of snaps to the lower part of the placket.
There is a scene in How I Met your Mother where Lily tries to explain "I know it's a mistake, but there are certain things in life where you know it's a mistake and look back and say 'yep, that was a mistake.'  So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake, because"... this is where I interrupt ... 

... well because despite my initial near disasters, it turned out fine, just fine.  And the size worked out too!  And how boring would sewing be if you didn't have some seam ripping thrown in to reflect on the process?  

Saturday, 14 May 2011

McCall's 2465 Coat Dress

This pattern is from a few years back and it is still one of my favourites.  It is from the now defunct McCall's NY Collection.  I really liked the designs that came out of the NY Collection, and you can find them on ebay every now and then.

McCall's 2465 is a pattern that includes a pair of pants and coat dress.

The fabric that I chose was a deep burgandy overlay with black faux topstitch design throughout.  I recall the fabric as one that frayed very easily but it turned out quite nicely.  Thank goodness for a serger!

The coat dress is lined.  I used a medium weight black lining.  The lining is actually heavier than the fabric that I chose for the coat dress and I'm happy with the result.

The Perfect White Shirt

Is there such a thing?  If I were to dream, the fabric would be white and made from natural fibres. It would have long sleeves, a menswear ...