Ah, I can’t help but interrupt my previously planned post for one that highlights Agent Carter…because she’s back! Well, sort of. Sadly, it has been confirmed Peggy will be back only in name only for the newest (and last) Season 7 of “Agents of Shield”, despite her romantic interest Agent Sousa being front and center in the most recent episodes. I’ll admit that I have not been following “Agents of Shield” until now and I do despise the last ditch ideas of time travel which shows too often fall back on at the end of their run. But if Agent Carter is back for some sort of relevant story continuation (which was cut short by the lack of an expected Season Three of her TV show), I’m here for it by adding more outfits from seasons one and two to my wardrobe and perhaps watching the new show. I’ll pick up on sewin’ and postin’ more Peggy fashions, starting with recreating the first thing we see her in upon embarking on her new California adventure at the beginning of Season Two, “The Lady in the Lake” episode. “Are you ready for another adventure, Miss Carter?” said Mr. Jarvis. Oh how I do love having my own exciting escapades when in Peggy’s shoes!
NOTIONS: I needed nothing extraordinary – just thread, a bit of interfacing, and 3 vintage buttons out of the stash of hubby’s grandmother.
TIME TO COMPLETE: Not counting the hour or two spent to re-draft the pattern, sewing the blouse took me about 6 hours. It was finished on June 11, 2020.
THE INSIDES: French seamed with a bias covered hem
First off, yes, I am wearing separates – a blouse and trousers (which are the Marlene pants from Burda Style, posted here) – and yes, my pattern for the top half of my outfit was highly redrafted from a dress pattern. You did not read the facts above wrongly. I wanted to start with a vintage pattern, of course, and all the blouse patterns I had on hand were not remotely close to what I wanted. Yet I did have the 1944 dress pattern which had a similar shawl collar and strong, slightly full, shoulders. After all, Peggy Carter was known for wearing mid-40s fashions prior to her time out in California in the second season, so the dating would be perfect, too. I was never a big fan of the original dress, although I might eventually try it in the future, but I bought it anyway a few years back on one of those $1-something sales. This way I feel like it is not just taking up useless space in my pattern drawers. It has now actually come in handy, just not in the way initially intended. I might have a large stash of patterns, but I do not hoard…the patterns I have are cared for gently and often preserved and copied, but they do ‘work’ for their keep here and they are much more than a pretty inspiration!
I first had to trace out the pattern as it was, from hip length up, and then tweak it. Next, I extended the collar to be wider, especially in the front over the chest, as well as making it roll over itself better. The back collar was drafted by me to be just wide enough for the edging. I am so happy to have ended up with a collar which was just what I wanted! The shoulders and main body are pretty much the same as the original dress, but I added greater wearing ease all over so it would be blousier than the original slim fitting dress. The back bodice had a dramatic re-drafting because the original dress had princess seams. I combined the pattern pieces to become one piece, cut on the fold, with two vertical fish-eye darts. Remember, it really doesn’t take much to change things up dramatically on paper for a sewing pattern…an extra ¼ inch may go a long way.
The semi-sheer batiste needed to be double layered to be an opaque blouse, which was rather hard to pull off on only 1 ½ yards. This silk is so lightweight and breathable two layers is no big deal, though, once I was able to fit the pattern pieces in. Silk is the world’s most all-season, easy to wear, and overall beautiful fabric in my opinion. The listing for this fabric said it was matte finish, but there is still the loveliest shine along every soft fold. Even a matte silk blend has the same lovely sheen. Every time I create with silk, I find it is more imperative than other fabrics to use a new needle in my machine, otherwise it create pulls in the fabric as I sew.
Now both the silk and the sateen listings say to dry clean them…bah! Only in a few exceptions – and vintage acetate is one of them – have I come across a fabric that is not washable. I wash woolens, silks, rayon, cottons, linens, and of course any man-made (i.e. polyester), as well as any combo of those, and have never come across any unpleasant effects of doing so besides a few wrinkles, which a good ironing can easily remedy. Even many decorator fabrics can totally be washed, although their first dip in water does shrink them like crazy. Washing all of these fabrics must be better for them anyway over harsh, unpleasant chemicals of conventional dry cleaning! When in doubt, I do try and wash a small, snipped off test corner first. So, don’t be afraid to get your fabrics clean, just do so in the gentlest way possible. For me, this means either hand-washing, or placing them in a zip-closed laundry bag before machine washing on the delicate cycle. A cleaner garment means less attraction for hungry bugs that might like to eat them, remember!
I am still thrilled over the lovely novelty of self-made bias tape, as seen in my making of my last project, this multi-use apron/sundress/ jumper thing (posted here). Especially when your bias tape will take a front and center stage, it is important to have a quality notion. So I started with a quality fabric to edge this blouse the way I figured it, and I’m so glad I did. The slightly heavier weight of the decorator’s sateen is perfect for keeping the collar in place and stabilizing the soft silk. The slight shine on the sateen matches the finish on the silk, too. The very slight off-white color is a gentler contrast than a pure white. I just love it when an idea for a garment comes together as good as or even better than I expected! It’s the best surprise.
This ‘blouse-from-a-dress’ experiment opens up all new doors for my pattern stash, now. A dress can be tweaked to become a jacket, a vest can have sleeves added to develop a blouse, or a skirt can be reformed into pants when you approach patterns as a fluid tool with great potential to aid in creating anything with your hands. This is the beauty of sewing. It is all up to you – the skies the limit! Anything can be sewn up anyway you like it.
With that said, I want an entire wardrobe of everything Agent Carter has worn in her TV series, and so my sewing creativity in this sphere goes towards personalizing and doing some historical basing of my ‘copies’ of Peggy’s outfits. “Copying” an existing garment you admire can be every bit as challenging, if not more so, as trying to match your own individual idea. Sewing is an exciting undertaking in its own way, and even small adventures are important in our times when there is so much wrong about the world today and a pandemic has forced too many of us into an unwelcome isolation. Stepping into Peggy Carter’s shoes and clothes is my ongoing quest that suits me up with her spirit of independence, personal confidence, sense of equity, and – of course – great fashion taste. How is sewing your special adventure?