Year 1950 “Wild Thing” Weskit Blouse and a Basic Black Slim Skirt

Roar, snarl! For a cold weather set, this outfit is kinda hot, if I must say so myself. Something as “buttoned down” and “prim and proper” as a 1950 hourglass-defining waistcoat becomes defiant and wild with my bold decision to use a suede leopard fabric. To match my newly made blouse, my suede multi-paneled skirt is an oldie-but-goodie garment, still being worn and enjoyed since I made it about 15 years ago.

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My “jungle cat” face!

I’m not usually an animal print sort of girl and a weskit is so odd and form fitting, but yet I am not shy to try new things. “Jungle January” is being hosted again over at the “Petty Grievances” blog so I have a good reason to go “wild”. After all, there’s always the (good) chance I might like something I thought I wouldn’t otherwise, especially when I make it myself. So here’s to going all out for a fun and unique project! Besides, there was sort of a gentle challenge behind the source of my blouse’s animal print. The fabric was a casual gift from my dad, who bought it for a work presentation background drape but thought it would find better use in my hands. I had to prove that hope correct, even if it was only one yard!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  Weskit: a 100% polyester micro-suede in a leopard print of brown, tan, and black tones. The facing pieces are a tan cotton-poly broadcloth. Skirt: a polyester micro-suede with a poly cling-free lining.100_6442a-comp

NOTIONS:  I have a variety of brown tones and used about three different colors from on hand for my weskit. Wanting to make this a practical “make do” project, I also used whatever was on hand to work – shoulder pads, interfacing, bias tape, and buttons. The skirt did not require much besides thread, with some elastic to finish the waist.

PATTERNS:  McCall #8265, year 1950, for the weskit, and a modern out-of-print Butterick #3972, year 2003, for the Butterick 3972, multi panel skirts-front cover-compskirt.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Well, the skirt was made so long ago (15 years) I don’t remember how long it took me exactly but I know it was relatively quick project for all those seams and panels (and lining). This year, I remade the waistband in a matter of one hour. The weskit took a total of at least 15 hours, spent off and on over the course of a few weeks. It was finally finished on October 30, 2015.

THE INSIDES: The weskit has a “Heinz 57” mix of different seams…French, raw, and bias bound. The skirt was made on my mother’s serge machine (over locker to Europeans).

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TOTAL COST:  As the weskit was half gift, half “from-on-hand”, and the skirt was made so long ago (with fabric probably bought for me by my parents, too), I’m counting this as…drumroll, please…free! Really, though, this outfit wouldn’t cost much made from newly bought fabric with both patterns demanding less than 3 yards combined.

These two pieces were a bit complicated in their own way. The skirt is fairly easy, just a bit time consuming and needing precise designation of the individual pieces with all the panels which make up the pattern. It’s kind of like assembling a quilt! Since the skirt is put together with so many pieces, I really don’t remember why I made this pattern out of a solid black, but perhaps I wanted a one color skirt to have some interesting seam lines at close inspection. The weskit was so very seamed and fitted, it became sort of a problem because each spot to be tailored relied on the other. For example, I couldn’t tell how the weskit would exactly fit until it could close, which meant I needed to add on the facing (for a true judgment)…which I couldn’t do yet because I might have to take out the back darts. The same combined problem existed between the side seams and the sleeves – I needed to hem the sleeve length before sewing up the seam (because the wrists are so skinny) but I couldn’t do that until they were in the weskit, which then the side seam (or at least half) needed to be done. Such a bother, I know, but if I end up with a perfectly fitted and beautifully tailored garment, any extra effort is worth it for me. If it’s something as unusual as a weskit I’m going to make, then it had to be a success in my book…and it is a wonderfully good one!

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Part of my problems with fitting had to do with the proportions to this patterns seeming to be not as consistent and predictable as others from the early 50’s or even from McCall’s. One of the reasons I love McCall’s vintage out-of-print patterns is that not only are they printed for easy marking and making, but they also tend to fit me well (besides having awesome cover drawings). This pattern did have the lovely envelope image and printed pattern, but not the predictable fit that does well for me. I had to take out so much from the bust, both in the side seams of the bodice front and the darts, that it was crazy. Granted, women at that time were probably wearing “battle armor” style pointy bullet bras or some sort of brassiere artificially forming the girls into something like a Barbie doll’s chest, but this pattern was even bigger than that, it seemed to me. Then, the waist was incredibly small. I added extra room in the waist, but even with that I had to take out the bottom half of the back darts and let out the side seams from the under bust down to 3/8 inch just to fit. Women of the 50’s also wore very confining waist cinchers which helped give them the “wasp waists” so popular, and this might be the reason for the tiny waist sizing. 100_6563a-comp

So, according to my supposing, the sizing being off very well could be solely on account of the trend of women’s lingerie creating the desired silhouette of the time…or it could merely be this particular pattern. I don’t think my blaming the era’ lingerie is too far off, because I remember my Grandmother reminiscing about the 50’s era confining “corsets”, and she seemed attributed her 19 inch waist on her wedding day in 1951 to wearing that kind of stuff. Wow, a 19 inch waist would have certainly found this pattern (as I made it) roomy. Looking into the fashion of the decade of the 50’s nowadays can make the decade feel like a great step back to time where women were bound and confined in more ways than one.

Moving on back to the construction details, my only major changes to the weskit design (besides those made for fitting reasons) were to lengthen the bottom hem by one inch and to eliminate the hassle of wrist closures. The sleeve ends are skinny, but not small enough to not slip over my hands when I cup them. Sometimes wrist closures in small circumference sleeve hems only end up itching my skin, and I had a feeling that a zipper had a high chance of that occurring. Besides, I really didn’t feel like the extra fuss of bothering with closing the wrists when dressing in my weskit. I have enough of those garments from the 1940’s where there are four or five different spots you have to close just to be dressed (see my 1941 Military-inspired wool suit for one example). There is a point which I appreciate of being ‘historically accurate’, but at the same time, I don’t think my interest in simplicity downgraded the weskit’s design.

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I love the elegant neckline of the weskit, and the buttons I used are (I think) just enough contrast/match in color, with a small enough size to be feminine. The weskit calls for an odd number of seven buttons, and I found the perfect fit in my husband’s Grandmother’s collection – a set of six with a seventh matching in tone and width to the others except with a cat-eye center. The special odd-button is at the top, the first closure to the front. The bottom button ends a bit too high for my liking, so I added a tiny hook and eye at the center of the front weskit hem to keep that sharp corner together.

100_6556a-compAnyone with larger upper arms like myself would love this pattern (although I believe it is hard to find)! Not too many sleeves are friendly enough to allow generous room in the biceps and shoulders but this weskit certainly and unexpectedly does – with room to spare. The sleeve pattern piece was huge from just below the elbows and up to the shoulder, but being a 1950’s pattern, it is shaped very well. It makes for a wonderful deep set sleeve which is very easy to move and reach freely in, though it does need thicker than normal shoulder pads to fill in the tops appropriately. If it wasn’t for the generous sleeve tops, I think this weskit would be uncomfortably confining.

100_6443a-compI considered adding in some lightweight boning into the weskit to achieve something closer to the envelope drawing where the hem sticks out and the body is a straight and rigid vertical line. But no…what’s good enough is best left alone, and the pattern doesn’t call for such measures. I figure if I want such a look, I’ll suck up and wear a 1950’s corset girdle, and see how much torture it involves and commiserate with my Grandmother. My hem is merely turned under with bias tape instead of using the pattern’s facing so perhaps this is why I’m short of a feature to the silhouette (or maybe just hard on myself).

Weskits have been worn for a long time and are a fashion adapted from men’s wear. The word is like an informal acronym of “waist coat”, those short vest-like which ends at the high hip and is sleeveless, collarless and worn over a shirt and sometimes under a jacket. Waistcoats are of very English origin which can be dated very precisely to October of 1666 from a decree by “The Merry Monarch” Charles II after the Persian-mode of dressing. (See more waistcoat/weskit history here.) Some waistcoats created an extra layer of warmth before the era of central heating. Mostly these “waist coats” were ornamental, many with plain backs and all the ornamentation on the front, some even with a mock front or simple tie-back.waistcoat & weskit history collage

However, patterns I’ve seen for weskits in the 20th century include every sort of variant – a bib-like year 1918 weskit, a 1929 kimono sleeves weskit, a 40’s weskit-like jacket, a The Thrill of Brazil movie pane-cropped-Evelyn Keyessleeveless and strapless corset-like summer 50’s weskit, a 1954 apron weskit modeled by “I Love Lucy”, and vests/weskits with and without collars, scoop necks, and double-breasted closures. My all-time favorite weskit is a striped one worn by actress Evelyn Keyes seen in one of my favorite movies, “The Thrill of Brazil” from 1946. Variety is the rule it seems with weskits, and they are so complimentary to the waist, I’m surprised they aren’t seen more than they are…which is hardly at all.

Speaking of history, my hat is a satin-type of nylon, woven as if it was straw, in an authentic early 50’s asymmetric style for more period appropriateness to my outfit. I love the fancy jeweled broach on one side! See “dollycreates” blog page here for a picture link to a 1951 fashion magazine showing a hat just like mine!

To complete the style of my weskit while still remaining modern as well as wearing something I made, my past-project black micro-suede skirt was resurrected and slightly re-fashion to my current taste. You see, the skirt was made well (all seams serged, fully lined), I did like it and have worn it many times, especially in the years after it was made, but lately I did not have the desire to put it on because I no longer liked the poufy elastic gathered waist. So I took out the elastic and cut off the casing to start over and make a cleaner, not-so-bulky, gathered waist. I’ve found myself doing this on several other past-made skirts with the same full elastic gathered waist. Very soon, I’ll have a blog post showing my method of revitalizing old waistbands and making smoother stretch-on skirts, otherwise I’d get into all the details here. All I’ll say is that it involves wide 2 inch elastic and keeps the gathering on the sides over the hips.

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I love how the straight and long style of my black skirt is not-too-far-off from the slender and body hugging columnar bottoms which were so incredibly popular for women to wear for the few years in the very late 1940’s and early 1950’s. My modern skirt is close enough to be similar in silhouette, but not so extreme as those from the past. It’s still full, but slimming to the point that I feel taller in my skirt, and for a shorter lady like me, I like that! Those early 1950’s/late 1940’s skirts were at their longest lengths, low mid-calf, and very slender to the point that they appear restricting to my eyes, limiting movement like a modern “hobble skirt”. I do have a skirt pattern from 1949 (McCall #7809) which I think is a perfect example of what I’m saying, so I want to make this up sooner than later so I can experience first-hand just how confining and slender women wore their skirt back then. 100_6542a-comp

Practical sewing has wonderful benefits even though it might seem a boring sew. It’s great to make garments that are classic enough to be a staple in a wardrobe for many years, like my skirt, and to fix them so you continue to like them, as well. On the other hand, it’s also great to try those more unusual pieces that stand out on their own and teach new sewing/fitting skills. Unique and lesser known styles are especially open to those who sew versus those who rely on what the fashion industry cranks out. Both ends of the spectrum met in this unusual set…and I love it!

What is your most unusual kind of garment you’ve made? Do you have “stand-by” clothes that you’re still wearing (and loving) after years of use?

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A Space Age Fashion Classic for 1968

The year is 1968 – our eyes were aimed towards the sky with an impending trip to the moon, and everything that was formerly deemed out of the question was suddenly a reality.  I have already briefly addressed the history of 1968 that had its impact on fashion styles in a previous post, my tapestry corduroy dress.

I have made a dress that combines two classic styles of the space age: hounds tooth fabric and sleeveless color-blocked shift dresses.  Every woman was expected to look like Twiggy  in the late 60’s and A-line dresses promoted the current ideal – a streamlined, androgynous fashion forward image.  Hounds tooth check has been around since the 1880’s, but had a surge in popularity during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s for women’s business and suit wear.

100_2682      My dress has a front crossover bodice yoke, with gentle notching at the neckline, a basic A-line shape, and a back zipper.  Simple and classy, this retro dress promises a great style that should make it a wardrobe staple this summer!  I like doing my best modern poses wearing this and pairing it with my favorite knock-off beehive hairstyles.

Our town’s Science Center provided the perfect backdrop to do the photo shoot pictures of my dress.  The giant building behind me is the called the Planetarium, displaying the history of space travel and showing the night sky on the ceiling inside on certain nights.  It is lit up in different colors at night and presents quite a landmark on the south city skyline.  The Planetarium just celebrated its 50th anniversary; it was built in 1963.

100_2672THE FACTS:

F100_2433ABRIC:  My hounds tooth fabric was found around the time of last year’s summer at a Goodwill resale store, bought for only $2.00.  The fabric is a polyester knit (I think) with it’s original ‘Woolsworth’ label on a corner.  It was a 2 yard cut, as the label says, and the price was listed as $2.00 as well.  I am estimating the age of this find to be anywhere between the 60’s to the 80’s.  The brown contrast fabric was also used to line parts of the dress’ inside and is also a polyester double knit.

PATTERN:  McCall’s 9230, year 1968McCall's_9230 envelope cover

NOTIONS:  A zipper, another spool of matching thread, and a pack of sewing machine needles.  For some strange reason, I went through 4 sewing needles to finish this dress.  Some needles broke at the thicker seams while others bent for no apparent reason…quite strange.  It’s not like the fabric was that tight and I’ve sewed with thicker stuff before.  My new tool, a “Jean-a-ma-jig”, was used to stitch the thick seams, and I really can’t praise it enough – I love this notion!  I could do beautifully even stitches up and down the fabric ditches.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This dress was finished on March 6, 2014 after only a handful of days’ sewing.  It probably took 8 to 10 hours from start to finish.

THE INSIDES:  They are neatly zig zag stitched…for now.  Read on to hear about what I hope to do to the inside seams in the future. 

FIRST WORN:  My dress was first worn on a busy Sunday, just a day after I was done.  First to Church, then out for lunch, then to a family member’s birthday party for dessert.  Later that evening we went out to take the pictures for this blog post.   

TOTAL COST: $10 or less

This project was easy-peasy to sew up.  I only glanced at the instructions and otherwise did not need to use them as the dress construction is pretty straightforward.  Using the back pattern piece, I drafted my own upper bodice panels to create a matching color-blocked look for the back, so my dress wouldn’t have everything going for it in the front only.  Other than adding the back upper bodice blocking, my only other personalized changes were to eliminate the facings and downsize the dress, as my pattern’s bust was 2 sizes too big for me.  Fitting an A-line dress is easy, though, because it’s just shaping the side seams.

100_2435   It was so weird but funny to see a very big, bold lettered ‘CAUTION!’ across the pattern tissue when I was laying it out on my fabric.  I have never yet seen this before.  The caution advises, “BEFORE YOU CUT, read about your new McCall’s pattern sizing”.  Goodness, is such an alarming tone and bold letters really necessary for a new sizing chart?!  Has anyone seen something like this on a pattern before?

There is a 22 inch center back zipper to make this dress a cinch to get in and out of.  I was tempted to eliminate the zipper completely because my fabrics are knits.  As the fabrics of my dress are stable knits and since I enjoy doing zippers, I opted for the boon of easy dressing and kept the back zipper.

100_2676a    This dress is secretly a fun pun.  Everywhere you see hounds tooth, the inside is lined in brown, and everywhere you see brown, the inside is lined in hounds tooth.  My original reason for doing this was merely a fun one – so I can fold down the crossover front bodice if I want and have the hounds tooth showing.  You can see this in the picture above.  While I was almost halfway into sewing my dress together, my hubby asked if I was making it reversible.  What a good idea!  If I hadn’t been so far along in construction, I would have taken the extra time to make my dress able to be worn inside and right side out.  I still can make the reversible idea work, but I think I will get around to touching up and cleaning up the seams at a future date.  I am considering using self-fabric binding or contrast bias tape to cover and add interest to the inside seams to make this dress reversible.  You can see the inside at the right picture. 100_2686

Taking in the sides of my dress threw off the shaping of the armholes and I’m proud at how well my free-handed cutting is shaped.  I actually trimmed the front armholes only and did it while the dress was on me so I could make sure I was cutting the right shape!  A total of about 1 1/2 inches was taken off the front armholes and curved into the back.

I decided against bulky armhole facings which would then need to be hand-sewn to the lining.  I wanted to keep in things simple.  So, using the brown knit, I made my own skinny bias facing to finish off the raw edges of the armholes.  The look and feel of this finish much better than facings – it was quicker, and more comfortable.  Plus, it’s better if I want my dress to be reversible, and, besides, it was my own personal touch.  As a side note, I was actually considering adding short sleeves to my dress and had even cut out two from both fabrics just to make them reversible, too.  After slipping the sleeves in place under the armhole when my dress was on me I really thought it took a lot away from the rest of the dress.  Besides, I never could decide which side – the hounds tooth or the brown – to have showing.

100_2644a     The back facings were the only real facings that I did on the inside of the dress.  I sewed them in a special way so that when I turned them right side out, they covered the shoulder seams.  When you sew the shoulder seams (the front and back together, with wrong sides out), sew the back facing to the shoulder seam and the neck from the side of the dress front.  I hope you can see what I mean in the picture at left where everything is pinned together.  Just be careful to not catch the inner neck corner, but stay close to the corner, because a little point or bump will result next to the shoulder seam otherwise when the facing gets turned inside.   megans-white-shift-dress1 combo

A Google search of the pattern I used and also ’60’s hounds tooth dresses’ showed me a plethora of vintage items proving to me the era-appropriateness of my new creation.  Among the images I found was this lovely hounds tooth suit MAD-MEN-CHRISTMAS-COMES-BUT-ONCE-A-YEAR-08dress (at far right) worn by the character of Megan Draper from the T.V. show Mad Men.  With my dress, I hope to channel the look and feel of her outfit, but amp it up a bit by making closer to the fresh and bold attitude of a white/orange/green color-blocked dress she wore in another episode (at right).  There is also another hounds tooth dressy suit worn by a blond haired Mad Men secretary in a 2008 episode.

Doin it 60s style pic for McCalls 9230    My Google searching also revealed a another seamstress’ wonderful version of the same dress pattern I used, McCall’s 9230.  She (see her Flickr pics here) seemed to be the first to recognize the fun color blocking potential of McCall’s 9230 as well as it’s similarity to Mad Men styles.  I was also happy to run across an old original ad/flyer for the McCall’s 9230.  Perhaps this picture (below left) came from out of the pattern books we look through inside fabric stores, I can’t seem to find out for sure.  Either way, this dress pattern and fabric design sure have more potential than I first realized.

Technically, this dress isn’t really much, but I sense that it hits a great balance of fabric, styling, historical correctness, and economical cost. It’s easy wearing and easy dressing, and I really enjoy it.  We had a lot of fun taking the pictures, too, and I hope that’s apparent.

Nothin’ like some lunar illumination to link the last 50 years together!

I will post more pictures soon on my Flickr page, Seam Racer.100_2667

The “It’s No Longer a Funnel-Neck” Corduroy 1968 Dress

I would like to post a cozy winter vintage dress that I made for myself this past cold weather season.  What was originally a 1968 funnel neck sheath dress turned into a week and a half’s worth of frustration.  I’m glad this dress finally ended up as a great fitting, good looking success.  Its profile has a classic A-line shape with a…well, “not-sure-what-to call-it-neckline” that is rather complimentary.  Persistence definitely paid off with this project!  I still can’t believe something so awful has turned out so well – another reason why I love to wear this retro dress.

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC: a tan tapestry print of 100% cotton, small wale corduroy; brown poly cling free lining for the inside; both fabrics I’ve had in my stash so long I don’t remember where they were bought or for how much, so they’re being counted as free.

NOTIONS:  I already had the thread and bias tape; just needed to buy a long 22 in zip for the back.100_1080a-comp,w

PATTERN: Simplicity ‘Jiffy’ pattern 7673, year 1968

TIME TO COMPLETE:  finished on February 9, 2013;  I spent at least 22 hours on this darn dress, stretched out over a week and a half’s worth of night work every day.  Those hours doesn’t count the NON-SEWING frustrated times ( many times my dress got thrown into a corner, rolled in a ball, when I didn’t know what more do to it ), but I knew I would pick it up again and do some more adjustments:)

100_2175-compTHE INSIDES: They are very nice and smooth with not a seam to be found exposed!  This dress is fully lined…meaning I more or less sewed two separate and identical dresses then connected them at the neck, sleeves, and bottom hem.  I was very careful not to twist up the sleeve linings, match all darts and seams so the lining is aligned, and the inside bottom hem is covered with hem tape (see picture at left).  Beat that, you RTW clothes!

Jiffy patterns now make me a bit suspicious after using this one.  Granted I knew the bust was too big for me, but the finished size still would have made the correct sized woman (this was a 34 bust pattern) swim in the excess fabric.  My surmise is that this ’68 Simplicity pattern basically did not have good shaping or correct proportions.  The waist and below was the only part which fit me.  The shoulders and bust were humongous, and even the funnel neck look was impossible to achieve without interfacing the way it was designed.  Not calling for the use of interfacing was part of the ‘Jiffy’ idea, I guess.  It was a bad idea because you couldn’t get the envelope drawing appearance, but it was good for me since I did so much altering to help this dress fit and look alright.

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Sewing my corduroy ’68 dress was so hard mainly on account of the fact I was fully lining this dress.  Every alteration I did to the corduroy dress had to be precisely measured, lengthwise and width wise, and sewn in exactly the same way, in the same place, into my separate lining dress.  This is part of the reason all my fitting adjustments were so slow and done in agonizing increments – because I didn’t want to make an alteration which I would have to spend extra time to rip out because it was too much.  The routine went like this: I would sew and inch or two here and here, try the corduroy dress on myself, see how it fit, then do the exact same fitting to the lining, and repeat all over again. 100_2173-comp

I ended up taking in a whopping 5 or more inches around the bust.  The shoulders of my dress hung too low (affecting the bust darts) and were raised up several inches to make it properly proportioned.  An invisible dart was even sewn in vertically down the front center, from the neckline to just below my waist, and this took out the last of the extra bust room I didn’t need.  You would never guess that front dart is there…I made extra sure to match up the center front print!  The back zipper is even “professional-style” covered up by the lining inside (see picture above right).

My biggest hack on this winter dress was to the funnel neck.  After the whole dress FINALLY fit me, I just could not like the way this funnel neck looked on me with the dress’ design.  Knowing I still wanted it to cover my neck (because a warm winter dress is hard to find), I played around with different shapes while the dress was on me.  I ended up with this finished neckline by merely pulling down the front panel of the funnel neck down to my collarbone.  The ends of the neckline self-facing is covered in bias tape, and folded over inside (see picture above), so if I do decide to change the neckline again at some point, I can do so easily.

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I did an internet search for my pattern to find if anyone else has tried making this 60’s dress.  I found only one woman who made this same pattern and her dress turned out so badly she hacked it into becoming a darling jacket.  Both she and I made the best of a bad pattern.100_2176-comp

Here’s a close-up of the vintage pin I added to the front of my dress in some of my pictures.  I think it compliments my dress well, and makes it look like the blond wearing the purple mini dress on my pattern envelope’s drawing cover.

I did some research on the history of the funnel neck fashion -it proves to be quite interesting (all history is interesting to me).  It seems that funnel necks made a comeback with coat fashion in 2007, but they were at a height of popularity in the 60’s.  Futurism was big during the 60’s, due in large part to the new Space-Age spawned from going to the Moon.  Crazy patterns and large brooches often went with such basic A-line dresses, such as my own corduroy ’68 dress.  For some more very interesting fashion history please visit this link and you might learn something fun to add to your retro sewing.  Fashion-era.com also is another great website where I got some of my info about for my ’68 corduroy dress, as well as info for other projects.

100_1103-comp,wThe snow picture included in this post is from a surprising Easter week snow we had earlier this year.  It was warm enough outside that the snow was incredibly wet and heavy, but it did not last even 24 hours because, as you can see, I didn’t need a coat.  It was cool to catch the falling snow in our pictures!  Beware…I’m forming a snowball to throw at my hubby/photographer in the picture below.

Whether there’s snow or no snow, I am prepared and ready for the cold with this cozy retro winter dress.  I hate to part with it long enough to go in the wash machine.  The more I wear this corduroy dress, the more I love it, but at the same time it makes me laugh at the amount of frustration and disappointment that went into getting such a wonderful finished project.  I am glad I can laugh now and be thankful.

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“A” Is For “A-Line Dress” and “B” Is For “Bouffant Hairstyle”

This sewing project is my sun-shiny ‘never-give-up’ dress.  I persisted in finishing my yellow retro/modern dress when some unexpected, time consuming correction measures were needed on it.  Now I have a very cool and classic style to get me through the summer.  With the right hairstyle, I can definitely rock the 60’s era in my dress!

100_1391a     There was some great teamwork with my husband in order to repair my dress’ original sizing problems, maybe that’s also part of the reason why wearing it makes me happy.

Really, though, things just fell into place last year when I whipped up my dress.  The week before Sew Weekly had “Yellow Inspiration” my dad “happened” to find this 2 yd. cut of yellow, and I had a newly bought pattern perfect to fit my idea.

I literally cut it close (which I do too much) to make my chosen pattern work for the fabric.  With hardly any scraps leftover I had to cut correctly.  All the finished garment sizes led me to cut my first non-graded pattern, straight bust size only here.  Little did I suspect, there was a mistake waiting to happen.  After all, there are no real mistakes in sewing, merely design opportunities…right?!

So you, the reader can understand what’s going on, I will give you, without further adieu-

Simplicty1878THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  light yellow rayon ‘linen-look’ blend, in a 2 yd. cut (rayon ‘linen-look’ shreds like CRAZY when you sew or cut it, just an F.Y.I. even though it’s carefree to wash and wear)

NOTIONS:  had thread and interfacing; merely bought a zipper and 2 packs of bias tape

PATTERN:   Simplicity 1878, designed by Lisette, year 2012

TIME TO COMPLETE:  finished on August 5, 2012, after at least 8 hours of sewing;  then some more fitting sewing was done this April, 2013

FIRST WORN:  to the license office, to get my official picture taken for the renewal of my driver’s license

Lisette’s pattern is easy to put together and effortless to wear.  I would definitely recommend this pattern, just be ready to do some fitting on it perhaps.  It would probably also look great in a big bold print as the fabric.  I’ll list some of Simplicity 1878’s strong points:

1) The notched neckline adds such charming character to design of the dress.  It wasn’t that hard to do either.  I obsessed a little when I was sewing the front, worried about getting the two notches even with one another and the points sharp, but I am content with how well I met my own strict expectations.

2)  The top stitching detail over the front seams is fun and I think emphasizes the A-line shape.  Besides, it shows off all the extra stitching and seam lines.

Some of the front details can be seen in our close-up.

100_13943)  The sleeves are comfortable, not baggy bell shape nor a tight cap.  The longer sleeve version turned out an awkward bracelet length on me, so I just shortened them to above my elbows.  The sleeves also were a bit snug at first in my armpit and by my back shoulder blade, but sewing a smaller 3/8 seam gave me just enough room to move my arms comfortably.100_1386

4)  It’s so smart to have the dress shaped by two long darts in the back of the dress.  Those darts work better than ties and leave the front looking great with nothing to take away from the design.  Please pardon the wrinkles along the back – I hadn’t given my dress an ironing job across the darts.

Once the dress was done, I tried it on and – Oh no! – from the bottom of my bust-line down to below my hips it fit me like a tight bodysuit.  My punishment for not grading was all the extra seam ripping and re-sewing I had to do to my yellow dress.  I was so ready to bury it in my UFO pile but I actually felt badly doing that, and besides my husband came up with a great idea to extend the sides.

I unpicked both side seams of the dress up to 2 inches below the armhole seam (left that intact), then sewed tan single fold 1 in. bias tape down the whole length of the side seams.  The bias tape is about 3/8 over the dress’ side seams, then I sewed a second strip of bias tape inside so the raw edges aren’t showing and the side seams will be strong.  I hope what I said makes sense.  Either way, hubby’s idea was the perfect fix.  Now I have just enough room together with a not-too-eye-catching but still retro appearance.

Megan's Mad Men yellow dressYellow is a color I have never really liked on myself, however now I’m a convert.  I know many Sew Weekly participants felt the same way (a slight aversion) about yellow.  Personally I love the deep mustard yellow that Megan wears (see left picture) in the 100_1402TV series “Mad Men”.  I have yet to make a peplum skirt, top, or dress, but this project is on my wish list for future projects, as long as I make it out of a golden, mustard yellow fabric (preferably real linen, too).

I will say “see you later” with my favorite photo of my best 60’s look pose and a shot of my bouffant, which, while not my best, I’m proud of how close it is to Joan’s amazing pouf of hair (aka. “Mad Men”).

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