Monday, June 17, 2019

India Wilkes dress final

So I just realised I forget to post this one up .... after all that build up lol

Before I start I have been looking at my stats and seeing that there appears to be people all over the world you read this.  Weird feeling.  Out of interest please leave a comment about who you are and where you are from it would be nice to know who's connecting to this.

Anyway without further ado, and I believe there should be a post for each part so I won't go into to much detail in this one just an overview.  If I have missed any pieces I will go back and fill them in later.

The dress was a raging success though I am still on the hunt for a snood.  Below are some pics because I know when I am looking at blogs that's the main thing I am interested in anyway :)  Enjoy and remember leave a comment I would love to know what you think of my work.





Edwardian Madness - Ageless #1344

Ageless Patterns had a sale in April to celebrate their  birthday and I couldn't resist.

Firstly I was already looking at there patterns for an outfit for an 1899 outing in December and secondly I am a sucker for sales!!.  I end up with 3; #1315 from 1892, #1389 from 1898, and #1344 from 1912.



My original plan was to make the 1389 for a tram anniversary in  December and the others were just to make postage viable and take advantage of the sale.  However when a steam train ride to Kiama appeared on my Facebook feed and a friend in the Historical Picnic Society decided to organise the troops the 1912 jumped the queue.

Planning Process
This pattern says (and Ageless even checked there original for me) it is a 40" bust and a 27.5" waist.  I made up a trial knowing that I would not ever corset down to a 27.5 at the moment expecting to resize.  In the end it actually fit my 40"/30" amazingly well with zero alterations.  I can't explain this but don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Ageless patterns do take more planning than many others due to the lack of instructions.  Ageless do not pretend to be anything more than a reproducer of the original pattern with original instructions.  Thus it is important to remember going into this that no one will hold your hand, "finish in the usual way" was a very valid instruction for the Victorian and Edwardian times when sewing was much more widespread and people just knew how to do those things.  Given that i rarely actually follow instructions this isn't a huge hindrance to me but I understand it may be to others.

These instructions seemed even more vague than usual, possibly as the original is in french and Ageless have translated as best they can.  Both English and French are included so if you do speak both perhaps it would be easier for you.  The biggest issue I had was was the closure none of those instructions made any sense nor did the pattern pieces that came intuitively give you a closure point.  Instructions say that bodice closes at center back, and that the first few buttons on the front are functional but with no center back seam on the skirt there was no place for the waist band to open.  I decided after consulting many online groups to add a center back seam and go from there.  This has worked though I can't say I am a fan of the hook and eye closure and will be de-historifying it with a button covered zip in the near future.

Another point to be aware of is that the entire over bodice is one huge pattern piece with some deceptively simple shaping techniques for the sleeves and the side seam. 


In short ease the dart in the sleeve part, sew small darts into the underarm/underbust/side seam area.  Line up sleeve ends and side seam bottom pull straight and sew one continuous seam. 


Took some fiddling but this was worked out in trial stages.  Not doing this will cause the arm to twist oddly.



Fabric Choice:
Knowing that this dress would be for winter - specifically for this train trip I wanted a warmer fabric than the suggested taffeta.  After much deliberation I decided that despite my wool allergy a wool or wool like would be best and due to the bodice piece issue a non plaid.  Any pattern was going to need to be small and able to conform to biases.  I thought and fiddled and searched until I happened upon a beautiful marle Oxblood mostly acrylic (yay for less allergins) from Pitt Trading.  I accented with tulle from stash, lace and velveteen from spotlight.  Lining is left over white cotton and white linen/cotton.

Buttons came from a shop in newtown that sells huge amounts of buttons in all shapes sizes and colours.  They are a black plastic with a little shine to them.


The Making:
This pattern (by fluke of fitting me) came together perfectly once I had worked out the few small issues - being the closure, the sleeves twisting and that I misinterpreted a pattern marking and cut off some of the left side skirt (yeah don't do that  - you will have to add it back later).

The fabrics were of little issue EXCEPT the tulle. It has gone straight onto the banned list and I will avoid it now like a creeper in a club.  I have to thank Angela Clayton for the inspiration to overdo the dicky adding both lace and pleated tulle.  Undeniably it looks fantastic, but it was a nightmare to control and still is.

Horrible pleating tulle
But soooo pretty

So without further ado here is the pictures of the finished dress beautifully backdropped by vintage trains.




As a side note the hat was also made - I will eventually do a post on that too - another credit to Angela Clayton.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Forward Planning - Or how do I make room in my stash for better fabric.

Well it is the night before the big unveiling of the India Wilkes dress, It sits still incomplete (I have to do the sleeve epaulets) which I will work on tonight once my little man goes to sleep and tomorrow I will get some photos to be able to do a big review of the project and probably some individual pieces going into more detail on the bodice and the skirt.

In any case the time has come to start thinking about what to do next and I think it is time to focus on some smaller scale, more usable on a daily basis pieces that use up stash fabric.  We lovingly refer to my stash as stash mountain and you can see the beginnings of it in previous posts (years ago) and the fun thing is that most of that fabric is still around..... and it's found friends along the way.

On top of the stash is unfinished projects, many that will be abandoned to time and waste due to size changing, needs passing or it just being a project that didn't work.  However in the interest of motivation I am below posting some of the ideas that I have.

Starting with an unfinished project;

the 40's floral

Most of this dress is done, I started it about 3 years ago because it was just after my son was born.  It is actually the third time I have worked with this full pattern not including when I turned the bottom half into a skirt.  Obviously I love this pattern, the fall and drape is beautiful and flattering.


I halted because as you can clearly see on the picture the front is not symmetrical and I somehow managed to cut the front right piece the wrong way.  Stupid right - yes very, especially the 4th time you have done it.

The material I had gotten on sale for $10/m and its a faux silk satin that falls like water.  I loved the vibrancy of the colours.  Eventually and randomly as I had given up hope I did find more of the fabric and bought another meter but by that stage I had moved onto another project that had a more pressing deadline and then I just never picked it up again.  I deserves another look though




Black and White Gertie Pattern

I bought this black and white gaberdine in a big spotlight sale specifically to make this super sexy 60's ish number from Butterick's Patterns by Gertie Range.  I have never even traced the pattern.  Again this was just after having my son and I wanted to lose some weight, which I did but then with a baby didn't have time and since then I have put a whole bunch on again that I am in the process of trying to lose.  Life is a never ending desire to drop weight unfortunately.

I will probably look at this again for winter time next year, simply because it is a heavier fabric and more suited to the autumn winter seasons.  It will be great for work though




Red Rayon Pattern Copy

I have had this red rayon for a long time - it was bought when Spotlight had a buy the rest of the bolt for stupid discount and I was big in love with both the 40's fashions and the no iron properties of rayon. 

Red has always been a good colour for me and there was only a few meters on the bolt making it viable to buy and so it has sat ever since. 


This is another project that has sat around since my maternity leave.  I selected this pattern because could you ask for anything more perfect for a red rayon than copying the dress on the pattern drawing.  I even remember buying black rayon for the neck though it would take a miracle to find that in my stash now.


The pattern is traced and that tracing "should" fit me now so I should probably prioritise this one even though the sleeves make more of an autumn winter number too the rayon means it shouldn't' be too hot.

1940's Blue Birds

This fabric has also been in my stash for a very long time.  It is a crepe that has zero body.  I bought it and another fabric which i made the first pattern mentioned on here out of.  The end result is a weightless beautiful drape, the work to get there though was a headache.  This slips and slides and does not like to behave.



I selected this pattern for it at time of buying and I have never changed my mind, but I would be lying to say that the creating those front gathers and curved seam in this weightless fabric is not intimidating.  Likely this is the reason I have never gotten around to this one.



It would make a very elegant summer dress though so maybe its time I grew some and cut into it.  I could always starch it first and see if that helps.  I will need to get lining though.


Random Shirts

So under this category I have a whole bunch of possible projects.  Maybe I need a day or a weekend to pump out all of them. 



The orange spot is a rayon originally purposed for a skirt but I think maybe a shirt would work better in my wardrobe - I have tones of skirts and dresses but few tops.  I just can't decide which pattern to use.  One of these or none of them.





I will be using the peplum with this Japanese lawn.  It was bought with that pattern in mind.




Outside of the above I have plans for two 1930's dresses, a 1940's military style costume, more 50's dresses and some wardrobe pieces.

But for now I better get to those India Wilkes sleeves

Happy sewing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Buttons? Buttons? Who's got the Buttons?

At last count this dress will have over 90 buttons on it.  Most of them cloth covered and only 23 of them functional  These buttons (and the phone replacement issue) account for the delay in these posts.

The plan for the buttons included around 25 functional buttons for the front of the bodice, 20 for the sleeve epaulet detail (10 per sleeve), and 8 skirt epaulets with 7 buttons each for a total of 56 - 101 buttons in total (Plus what will be used on the under sleeves).

I wanted the functional buttons to be about half an inch, smaller for the sleeve detail - but the hardest to find would be the skirt buttons.

Anyway, I went searching for buttons online.  I could have gone to the local spotlight but there cloth covered buttons are expensive at $8 for 10, have crappy plastic backs and the size range isn't as extensive as I would need.

This brought but the next issue in the planning, how to attach the buttons to the skirt and not have them flop about, I wanted them to sit flat.  Shanks on functional buttons are both necessary but also get held into position by the extra material around the button hole.  Without a button hole it flops around which wouldn't work for what I was after.

So I found on ebay a listing that had not only metal backed cloth cover button kits but came in both flat back (for gluing on jewellery apparently) and shanked.  A bit more searching and I found the website I like big Buttons and placed an order. 

I decided on the small 12mm (25), for the sleeves, 15mm (25) for the functional buttons, and huge 1.5inch for the skirt (50).  I was able to get shanks only on the functional buttons and flat backs on the rest.  You may have noticed that I had to cut down the plan for the skirt buttons because they came in packs of 50 or 100 and I didn't want 44 unnecessary 1.5inch flat back buttons on my hands.  Seemed easier on the pocket and storage to cut down each epaulet by 1 button and only need 48.

There was only one issue with the delivery which is that one of my shank backs came shankless which cut down the number I had to work with by one.  Otherwise, service was fast, friendly and the website easy to use.  I also found that the smaller button sizes were smaller than I had anticipated.  I think maybe if you flattened out the metal circle it would measure 1.5cm but the front buttons came in more the size I wanted for the sleeves and the sleeves are tiny - but we make do and I don't think it will make too much difference to the final look

Then set about the epic task of covering these bad boys.  The process is long winded enough when you have 5 to do for a dress, 89 (as the final count was) took a long time and patience that I am not well known for.  But I did promise myself that I would spend more time and effort on the finer details of the things I make so  I persevered.

To cover the buttons, first I had to cut the circles out of the fabric - a process made slightly easier by spending the extra buck on the plastic sizing tool which provides an exact template of the size that circle.  Then you stitch a run around the circle, put it in the rubber setting tool, place the metal to cover in pull the stitch tight and then push the back in with the plastic finishing tool.  To make things a bit more secure I added some craft glue between the inside and the back.  Then I did this about 90 times.



Pro tip, the bigger the button the easier it is to get the back in.  For the really small ones I used a vice, for the really big ones my own hand strength was fine.

Once all done I attached the buttons to the bodice front the traditional way (shanked) though I screwed up on spacing and will have to redo them today :(.


For the Skirt Epaulets I sewed through the the fabric where it curls under into the button.



I will provide further details of the process of making the epaulets when I do the post regarding the skirt and the one for the bodice, but for now progress continues and with only a couple of weeks to go I better get back to it.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Sound of Silence

I know I really should be posting some kind of update about now.  I even have the subject as my buttons have come in and I have spent time covering them and have reviews of the site I got them from but alas - I lost my phone this weekend and thus I have no way of documenting the progress

In related news I feel so lost without the phone, I can hardly remember life without a 24/7 connection to the world.  I can't count the amount of times in the last 3 days I have had a thought and reached to get my phone and look something up on google.

The positive is there has been little to distract me so I have had to focus on things like covering my buttons rather than procrastinating on whatever the weird ottoman empire game is that I had been playing.  I hope that in the next week I will have a temporary replacement in place.  Until then I may have so see if my husband can help out though his photography is a little advanced so I doubt he will be happy with my quick snaps

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Little things for Little people

My mother and I have been considering and working for a while on the idea of making vintage inspired clothing for children.  We have a ways to go before we can do our first market stall and much planning but in the mean time I find sewing children's clothes to be fun and fast - a great deviation from the more involved projects I am working on.

There won't be to much information about the how's and why's of these few things I have made for friends but I thought I may as well share these with the world.


I am going to start with this one, which I call beach baby.  It was made for a friend who was pregnant at the time (that little girl is about to turn one) and I used a cotton spot that my friend had bought for me to make her a costume for stage.  I knew she loved the fabric, the stage, the show and the costume and so kept all the scraps to make her daughter an outfit.  Gave it to her at the baby shower and she cried.  Got to love pregnancy hormones.  I really liked the hat in this one - its a basic tulip pattern finished off with a matching daisy button and some crossgrain ribbon.


Also for the same friend, this one was using a quilting cotton (what a dream to work with good quality cotton) in a vintage blue striped floral print.  The lace was used to decorate the costume I had in the show.  I think this one turned out with the most vintage feel.  You will also see a pattern emerge of nappy covers, nothing cuter than some little matching pants.



This one is the most beautiful delicate pink fabric with a sweet bunny print, also a quilting cotton and finished with a cotton lace.  All the above are lined in lawn.  The Hat for this one didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped.  I love the gathered brim but I must have misjudged the seam allowance on the crown because it was tiny.  I think the very tiny baby only ever fit it once.  Again same friend but no special meaning other than I liked this pink.



This one was started for a friends child's first birthday, but I accidentally made it 18mth size and then didn't finish in time anyway.  These friends a huge supers fans so I knew Wonder Woman would be a hit.  The birthday was last December, the friends received the finished piece a few months ago.  Basically when my sewing stuff was packed away it ended up a UFO and I only got it back out when doing some more stuff for a workmate.



I love this pattern.  I found with my son that there was very little sweet, vintage baby stuff appropriate for a boy.  I made this for another friends baby shower, she was having a boy and I felt the colours and style would work without being too out there.  Quilting cotton with lawn lining and simple brown buttons.


Also for my friends boy, overalls because who doesn't love overalls.  This fabric has a kitten drinking on it and I am especially proud of the button closures I did on the leg inseams.  I ended up using simple clear buttons here because I hate working with press studs and coloured buttons looked too busy.  The clear blends perfectly whist still being functional.


This is from an actual 1950's girls pattern.  I am yet to see this dress on someone and I would really like to because from here it is a little meh.  I think I am so used to seeing the shaping in women's 50's that I see a box with an unflattering skirt but on it would probably be very cute.  I also think it needs a ribbon which I still have not gotten round to getting.  I had this cotton in my stash for years, I bought it when I went through a phase making small things.  The post exists here somewhere and maybe I will even link it one day.  It is a cheaper quilting cotton from spotlight that was on sale for probably $5 and I don't think this even took a meter to make.


 This psychedelic spot number is so cute.  One of my workmates was going to be a second time grandma and so I made three outfits for her.  She has told me this is her favourite.  I can't remember but I think I also added the lace to the bottom of the tunic in the end but didn't get a photo.  Again quilting cotton and lawn, I kind of want to get this fabric again and make myself a shift dress.



This bunny fabric was so cute.  I used a white cotton to do the bust stripe and added some lace I had hanging around for literally over 15 years.  Still have some left too.  Instead of gathering as I did on the blue vintage one above I pleated to keep bunnies looking neater and it worked a treat.  I believe it was my first foray into pleating with a fork but I stand by the method 100%.  In the end I think it may have ended up a bit stark but at the same time I did photograph it on my work desk which is also white so I doubt that helped matters.



And lastly, of cause my pregnant workmate saw the bunny dress and being rabbit crazy was very jealous.  As I had some fabric left over (I bought 1m and got all this out of it) I decided to use up the excess on her.  I actually prefer this fabric in this more modern tunic style.  Not that the last one wasn't cute but I think the blue shorties break up the starkness of the white and black beautifully.  This one does still need buttons though.


I am sure there will be more to come in this category as I have about 5 more outfits already cut out.

When Heaven is only a few doors away

There was a sewing shop that I was informed of sometime ago.  It must have been in 2016 because I am sure I was on maternity leave.  In any case word had gotten around that a sort of sewing charity shop existed in a far flung non event suburb of Sydney that had terrible parking options and next to no public transport. 

The idea behind this shop is that it took donations of anything sewing and sew craft related and then on-sold it - like a sewing op shop, with proceeds going to Achieve Australia Disability support.

Anyway on hearing of its existence my mother, a friend and I decided to pay it a visit.  After all both my friend and I were on maternity leave so what else did we have to do with our time but trek into random Sydney suburb in search of a sewing op shop in the industrial area.  The place had a lot of pro's - things were different to the more traditional sewing shops like spotlight.  Everything was hit and miss but you could pick up a bargain in terms of fabric or patterns if you were willing to search.  Years of it being at premises meant that there was some level of mess to contend with and everything is basically a one off. 

I think I bought a pattern, My Friend who quilts found a few pieces she liked and I don't recall what mum walked away with but we clutched our treasures vowed to return and then, well didn't.  Basically nothing against the shop but it was out of the way.

A couple of years go by and Facebook lights up with a notice.  This shop is undergoing a name change to The Sewing Basket and it is moving premises.  One block down from my work no less. 

With business hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I was happy and my husband worried but either way I had a place to visit at lunch that meant I could be on task for any of those real bargain finds that pop up from time to time. 



In support of their opening day I headed down and whilst it is apparent that they are still sorting through, setting up and finding their feet I did manage to find a few things to take with me.  The staff were lovely, helpful and friendly.  The shop much more organised and clean though with all fabric shops how long that lasts is debatable.



My first find was actually a suggestion by the woman who worked there, a double edge broderie for $10.50 and there is about 2.5m which my research says is a bargain.



Secondly I got this vintage kids fabric - 3m for $15.  Plan is to make something for a friend who is pregnant and rabbit crazy!! but with 3m I am sure mum and I can come up with a whole bunch of things.


Anyway - watch this space as I am sure to find more fun things as time goes on.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Petty Petticoat

As I outlined in my last post I have been planning how to strategically create my petticoat using the fabric that I had in my stash.  I methodically ran and re-ran the math, I was sure it could be done.  Then the first hiccup - when i took the material out of the bag marked 4.5m of 150cm I discovered about 2.5m of 150cm, which is confusing to say the least as I know that the only thing I have made from it was done before those labels.  I put it down to the fact that at time of labeling I had over 3km of material to catagorise.  In any case I pushed on.

Lesson one: Don't count your meters before you unfold.  I really should have checked this and planned for what I had not planned for what 2012 Heather said she had.

I decided to cut the first tier at 30cm then the bottom two at 40cm.  The benefit of two tiers being the same was that I could sew and gather one full strip and then just sew on however much it took to attach to the full circumference of the preceding tier.  I was going to get out my gatherfoot and it was going to be so fast breezy and dreamy.  That was my second hiccup - pride goeth before the fall.

Unperturbed I pressed on with one 30x150cm strip and less 40x150cm strips than I had hoped but assumed with less gather I should be fine.  After all I only needed a hem of about 4m to go around the hoop.

Lesson two: the gatherfoot says it can gather and attach easily in one seam is the biggest lie since the cheques in the mail.  I watched the tutorials I have seen it done but attempting myself was a hellish trespass that I won't be quick to try again.  Instead I selected the rate of gather I wanted, used that to simply gather single layer of fabric and then pinned and attached a second layer in another step.  This seemed to work well and with practice I feel I can say I even became proficient.

Lesson three: One can not gather material that has already been gathered, or has any sort of thread left in it from a previous gather.  I would even consider fabric with slubs a risk the foot was that touchy.  I broke two needles on that.

So with those two things in mind the project is coming along very nicely.  I was however about to learn another valuable lesson in planning;

Lesson four: there is more than one hoop in a three hoop skirt, and you should know the circumference of all of them as well as their distance from each other and the waistline.



As you can see this outcome is not really what was in my head when I pictured it.  So I had to move into the how the hell do I fix this mode.  Thus  I took my overtired butt to bed.  When I woke up my plan was simple - get more fabric and make the same thing again and use one as a front and the other as the back.  By Lunchtime I had decided to tackle in a different way - one which was mirrored by another sewing friend.

Step one: The first tier is obviously too long, to combat this I halved the distance by self facing the top tier.  The self facing would allow for a strong support for the rest of the skirt (reasons to follow) and the sewing of a channel to put a drawstring through.

Step two: add pin-tucks to the obviously also too long and too tight second tier.  this would allow the first tier seam some room to breathe and also put some added bulk over that first hoop better disguising it under a skirt.

The result


Now it was looking more like I wanted.  In fact I would almost call it pretty.  Short but pretty.  There was no escaping it I knew I would need more fabric and as luck would have it Spotlight was selling there cotton linen at some sort of markdown.  I took 3 more meters because I didn't want to end up short again.

Not really learning from the above I cut 4 more 40cm strips for a total of 5.4m (this was a shorter bolt).  When attaching to the above tier I was short and cut another "40cm" strip that ended up being 35cm but in the end that didn't matter to much as I was able to hem out more than what I had missed.  Final hem is over 6m.

For decorative reasons and to create a more ideal length I added two more pin-tucks on the second tier.  The whole thing sits beautifully but weighs a fair bit.  When they say use lightweight material they mean it.  The lightest you can work with because this fabric economical design has still got 4m ish fabric in it and it all adds up.  It does mean that the extra fabric on the waist adds weight but it also anchors well.



Finally because I am trying to use finishes on all my pieces I moved to decoration.  I contemplated covering the pin-tucks as I don't think they are neat enough but was convinced otherwise by various strangers and friends on the internet. 



In the end I am glad I did because I planned to do 4 rows plus ribbon row on the bottom hem - and ended up with just two.  It literally took 20 minutes easy to pin the trim on and sew it round.  Not all the trim that is 20 minutes for each row.  Not to mention the time it took to thread the golden orange ribbon (I know orange is an odd choice it is a nod to my sons favourite colour), only to discover I was under a meter shy of a full run



So another day, another spotlight trip and 20 more minutes and I have a finished and final petty petticoat.



Apparently I should be wearing at least two so I have plans for  pin-tuck petticoat sometime in the future but today is not that day.