Monday, July 14, 2014

Vogue Patterns Catalog: March 1952

Browsing Ebay a few weeks ago, I was taken aback when I found this:

 Tiny hand for scale


The side tabs have seen better days.  And it is EXTREMELY loved.  But honestly, it took my breath away.  I am an avid fan of the Vintage Pattern Wikia, but there is something about seeing all the patterns in person.  The book is huge.  Well, standard size for a pattern catalog today, but for some reason I was expecting a compact pocket book of patterns... not the brilliant 1298 page encyclopedia I received. 

The tiniest details on some of the garments are amazing...


 Awesome subtle neckline detail

 Fuller skirts are not really my style put some of these are too amazing to pass up...

I love the tiny cutout at the shoulder

A skirt compromise!

Cute 1940's detail remnants on early '50s blouse:

My favorite detail of 1950's patterns has to be the extensive use of buttons on every type of outfit:

One of the many pages of casual to semi-formal separates:


The lingerie is incredible.  They even have a couple bra patterns!

A section for Menswear!  I have recently started researching men's tailoring... it is a whole other world.

A pattern for sleeve variations.  It would be awesome to get a basic pattern down and just play around with different sleeve options.  8 versions of the same dress... excessive?  Nah.

  In addition to pattern artwork, there are also pictures of actual people in some the garments.


More buttons <3

Over the past 10 years, I have accumulated a small mountain of vintage sewing patterns that I have yet to use.  I love them all, but I will spend days pouring over dressmaking books, being distracted trying figuring out how the patterns were drafted, filling up page after page in notebooks with notes and totally forgetting all about the actual sewing!  The process has turned me in to a bit of a pattern drafting nerd.

I have learned that for me, with modern as well as vintage patterns, an FBA, swayback, taking in the waist and/or grading the hips have just become a normal part of the sewing routine.  It is not anything I have a problem with… but it got me thinking,

Why not draft my own?

Using this pattern catalog and the aforementioned incredible Vintage Pattern Wikia for inspiration, I am going to try my hand at pattern drafting.

I made my own sloper using Burda’s Theater Dress bodice and sleeves as well as By Hand London’s Charlotte skirt.  I could have used a pre-made sloper or "basic" pattern (there are a couple on Etsy if you are interested) but honestly, I was super excited to get started and I already had these! The Burda bodice is a standard two dart front, one dart back, adjusted for an FBA and (surprisingly!) lengthened.  I always assumed that since I was busty and short, that I just had a short waist.  Turns out, the correct size for my shoulders and high bust line, I needed to add a whole inch to the front and back bodices.

Me, measuring myself for the bodice while trying to hold a measuring tape at my underbust as well as at my waist.  Harder than it looks.

To get an accurate measurement for the bodice length, I tied a ribbon around my waist (so I knew exactly where to measure) and measured down from my shoulder over my bust to my natural waistline.  From there I worked with the pattern to figure out the correct length and width.

On the left: My final pattern (in clear) on top of the Burda standard bodice.  On the right: All my adjustments!

I used Christine Haye's tutorial for adjusting for a fuller bust and it was great.  Very clear with excellent instruction.  However, I have always found with any standard fba adjustment there always ends up being too much extra room right under the bustline.

Pinning out the excess fabric.  You can kinda see the black thread where the original darts were

A very rough version of the original dart (in blue) and the extra amount I took out form each side (red.)

Adjusted bodice with the underbust taken in.

After making up a muslin, I pinned out the excess fabric and re-sewed the darts.  I ended up taking in an additional 1/4 inch from each side seam.  It fit better, but not perfect.  The above is a picture of the bodice in a standard every day bra.  Lesson 1 learned: Make a muslin using the bra you plan to wear the bodice with.  With my longline bra, the fit is better.  I swear. 
As of now, I am ok with the fact that I may have to use the basic darts (on the finished paper pattern in black) from the FBA for pattern adjustment and sort out the extra fabric in each muslin.  At this point, what I care most about is that the length is accurate and I get the basics of dart manipulation down!

All in all I am EXCITED.  I already went through the pattern catalog once.  It took over an hour and I was going fast.  I cannot wait to get into it and dissect everything... as well as finally get to sewing!

Now... to  go invest in about 500 yards of muslin...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Moneta top and ByHandLondon Charlotte skirt

I am very awkward at posing.

I was in a sewing rut.  I had goals.  I had promises (Self promises.  the worst kind.)  And yet.  Nothing I was making was coming out right, the colors were wrong, you name it.

I had an event coming up last week that called for something that was dressy, yet danceable.

1960s Moneta sweater
100% of the tops I wear are stretch fabric.  I think I might have one dress I made with actual darts.  So when the Moneta pattern came out a couple weeks ago, I bought it thinking "PLEASE let me finally sew something I do not want to light on fire."

The Verdict... it was pretty amazing!  I cut a medium in a black ponte knit with the 3/4 length sleeves and added 2.5 inches of ribbing at the waist.  I also drafted a 1960'sish collar, which I was not sure would work for me.  I blame binge watching Mad Men and too much time on Pinterest for that.  But the end result was fantastic.  Using a twin needle for hems makes a huge difference and really looks professional.  I may or may not have stared at my sleeves all night in awe.

The original dress calls for a lighter weight knit fabric, but the ponte worked fine for me.

If (when) I make it again I think I would do an FBA or add some length to the front somehow.  If you are particularly busty, this already hits right about at the waist.  So if you are making just the top and wanted to be able to tuck it in or not add ribbing you will probably need the added length.

 Very thankfully I did not end up with fans in awkward place.

Bettie (Charlotte) Page skirt
I originally found this fabric as an amazing skirt by Bettie Page/Tatyana.  While I was blown away by the colors and design, the skirt did not really get much wear.  I tend to gravitate towards one look and stick to it: Very Fitted.  So, refusing to part ways with it, I took it apart and hoped one day I would find a use for it.

Bring in the Charlotte skirt.  If you are looking for a basic pattern to enhance your wardrobe, this is it.  It can be very simple, but it is very well designed.  I loved the it kind of molded to me.  I did still have to make a 2" swayback adjustment, but I always have to do that.  No big deal.

I wish this was a cool dance move but really it is me recovering from fixing my hair

The instructions were pretty straightforward.  There is even a cute little label to sew in.  I have not done it yet.  But it is there.  I am sure a future Charlotte will get that honor.  I put in a lapped zipper and left the original waistband in with a button closure.

The fabric seems to be a sort of poly cotton blend.  That drape is amazing and since the original circle skirt was cut on the bias, my skirt has a tiny bit of stretch!  Which made dancing a lot easier!

Now everything is in its rightful place and I want to make everything again.