Wallpapering a Tent

The idea in my title might sound ridiculous but hey, what if you really felt comfy in the tent and wanted to stay awhile? What if that tent’s ocular pleasantries are a bit ‘dated’ but still ‘old-fashioned’ enough to be cute? Well…what if that “tent” I’m speaking of is something worn in the form of an over-sized vintage nightgown, and the “wallpaper” is a quaint but soft cotton? Bingo! Hello year 1969.

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This project was not my own choosing or doing, actually, but was kindly passed on to me by my mother-in-law. It was begun by her and completed up to the point before the marking of the pieces and sewing them together takes place. I was tickled, happy, and (later during sewing) slightly skeptical of the finished project, but now I truly enjoy the nightgown and am glad I got to finish it. The nightgown was even sewn on the machine given to me by my mother-in-law, one which had been her mother’s. My Grandmother’s stash gifted to me provided the lace. By using thread to link the past and present together, I get to wear a piece of the family’s memories.

THE FACTS:Simplicity 8457, year 1969 nightgown and bed jacket pattern

FABRIC:  It is a very soft but also quite sheer (va-voom!) printed cotton that might have a small blend of poly…but I’m not sure.

NOTIONS:  Every notion came from what I had on hand – two colors of bias tape packs, ivory thread, two buttons, and some lace (from my Grandmother’s stash)

PATTERN:  Simplicity #8457, year 1969

TIME TO COMPLETE:  As I mentioned above, the preliminary work was started for me, but what I did do took me about 5 or 6 hours to do. The nightgown was finished on February 19, 2016.

THE INSIDES:  I made sure all the edges are cleanly finished inside in either French seams or bias bindings.

TOTAL COST:  Zero!!!

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The size to the nightgown seemed to be a bit on the generous size for my proportions but having a roomy nightgown almost always is a good recipe for comfort, I figured. The original fabric pieces were cut out with a slight up-grading of about ¼ inch on all seam allowances. As the pattern was a size up than what I needed, I cut off the excess to make the medium precisely. Then, as the nightgown turned out, it is a good size for me. I have made several other Simplicity patterns from about 1968 to the mid-1970’s in a size medium, too, and they also fit me well. Hmmm…perhaps these run on the small side.

Luckily, the scraps that were leftover had been kept with the fabric pieces and the pattern. I needed those scraps for some pieces which hadn’t been cut out yet – a continuous lap-style placket for the front button closing and a neckline facing. With the scraps still available, I decided to go all out with the dated look and cut out a collar (which also didn’t come with the nightgown as my mother-in-law gave it to me).  My thought was, I enjoy collars, doing one wouldn’t take much extra time, and the large baby doll style was cute in the cover drawing. Nevertheless, I do not like the collar as much as I had hoped but it isn’t that bad, either. In the back of my mind I think the chest placket would look a bit basic or empty without it. However, the delicate lace around the collar wins me over to it.

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Speaking of the lace, my Grandma’s stash (as I said above) provided the most lovely, delicate, deep ivory lace that I could have wanted. It was a length which was just enough with perhaps 5 inches to spare for under the edges of both the collar and sleeves. Speaking of sleeves, they were originally cut to be quarter length but I shortened them by 3 inches. Cropped sleeves and the thin lace felt more in keeping with the rest of the nightgown to balance out the large amount of fabric everywhere else.

As easy as this was to sew together, it seriously was overwhelming and almost hard to find the seams when working with it at the sewing machine. There is so much fabric for the long length version…which is why it truly seems like a tent when I’m not wearing it. However, on me, the excess fabric seems quite nice and in proportion to the rest. This nightgown is an extreme example of how different something can look on its own compared to when on a body. When I held it up to show my hubby, he said the nightgown reminded him of something to wear to go camping. “Why?” “Well,” he came back, “if it wasn’t so thin, the whole family could stay warm under that nightgown.” That was a creative –albeit unexpected – thing to say, and funny to think about! I’m still laughing to myself just writing it! I think my calling the nightgown a tent had something to do with his idea…

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It actually took longer than I realized to wake up and hear the thought in the back of my head regarding the fabric’s print. I knew that the more I looked at the heavy layer of white in that repetitive vertical design I was always confused, like I was thinking, “this can’t be fabric”. The pastel colored bouquets in between the white swirls were the most annoying part of the print ‘til I was lying in bed on day and I saw the outdated floral wall paper on our ceiling (yeah, we need some renovations…). Eureka – wall paper! I’d finally pinned down what my mind was thinking without my knowing it. This fabric truly needs to have glue spread on the back of it and be pasted up on the walls of a movie set for a retro disco-era background…just don’t do that now that I’ve made something from it. Seeing remnants of this fabric actually got my dad to talk about memories of his Grandmother’s walls. Gosh, it’s amazing what a fabric can do.

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I did not follow the instructions as to where to work the button holes and buttons and decided to stick to my personal taste. A touch of claustrophobia keeps me terrified of anything which fits too tightly around my neck. Thus I left the chest free of buttons and only chose two over-sized pink pearl buttons to close the lower third portion of the placket. With no interfacing added into the placket (or anywhere for that matter), making a button hole in this thin fabric was a frustrating nightmare but nothing a little hand-stitching and some “fray check” liquid couldn’t fix. I’m still a bit frustrated that I took the time to make nice insides but sew such a crummy button hole. So goes life – at least this only happened to a nightgown and nothing made for wearing out and about.

DSC_0087a-compThis nightgown reminds me of an important point. Having one’s own taste is important, and recognizing that fact is even more so. Just because something is “out-of-date” or not conforming to what current trends tell us to put on doesn’t – shouldn’t mean you ignore your own likes or dislikes. To a point, those who rely on “ready-to-wear” are restricted but for those who sew…the possibilities for self-expression through what you wear are endless! When fashion is in the hands of one whose knows how to manipulate paper, fabric, and thread…THAT is a powerful, satisfying, source of enjoyment.

Sure this nightgown is odd, by hey, I’m glad to get to try it out and, gosh, it is comfy to lounge about and sleep in. It is so curious in so many ways, and between me and hubby we’ve thought of several ways of looking at it which make us smile. Since when is different bad?! So, in the end this is one of the strangest ways of liking an unexpected project. Who would have guessed? Perhaps a new and unexpected style might be just the “palate cleanser”, “trial for your skills”, “branching out of a style rut”, or “trip down memory lane” which shows you what you never knew you could like. Who doesn’t like something new?!

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Retro Rewind – a Modern 60’s Style Babydoll Blouse

Some clothing creations of mine I like almost instantly, while some others just have to ‘grow’ on me a bit before I can say I like it on myself.  I was so proud of hitting my 50th sewing project mark with this little blouse, but the 60’s inspired top itself took some getting used to.

Baby doll styles have never really appealed to me.  However, I don’t like to be stuck in a style rut and I am willing to try new things.  My version of a 60’s Baby doll blouse has finally won me over, and I have a few great ways of accessorizing and matching it.  The thrifty part of me also makes me want to brag about how this blouse is made entirely from scraps and remnants… so the total cost is so cheap but inventive!

100_2033aTHE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a 100% cotton remnant (.89 of a yard, to be exact) in a white polka dot print with an aqua background, bought on sale at JoAnn’s;  for the collar, I bought a 100%cotton quilter’s Fat Quarter

NOTIONS:  I had everything I needed;  I always have interfacing, the back button came from my stash, and then there was enough matching thread and aqua bias tape leftover from being used towards working on these two apronsI also used a small potion of the braid used on my “The Artist” Movie copy cat dress

100_1289PATTERN:  Simplicity 1693, view D.  I have made this pattern before, in a different view with modifications, as my ‘Great Gatsby 20’s satin tunic. 

TIME TO COMPLETE:  not long, maybe three of four hours;  it was finished on my birthday this year (early August 2013)

THE INSIDES:  every seam is sewn in French seams, except for the inside collar edge which is covered in bias tape

TOTAL COST:  the fabric remnant was 1/2 price, and the Fat Quarter was only 99 cents, so my total cost for this blouse is only $4.32.  This top has Wal-Mart prices with high-end quality.

     Even though my Baby doll blouse is a different view than the last time I made this pattern (which was for my 20’s satin tunic), I still did the same minor adjustments and came up with the same wonderful fit.  I made two sizes smaller for the bust darts and cut a bit generously around the back bodice shoulder area, but otherwise I made my correct size (with grading, of course).  I will certainly make more of this pattern, with another different variation, it’s such a great go-to standby, easy to change, easy to wear, and quick to put together.100_1766

I did find out that .89 yards was too much of a tight squeeze to ever try again, especially with sleeves, but, as always, I made it work.  Do not try this at home!  As you can see in the picture at left, the little bit of fabric left above where the tunic was cut, went towards fudging in the sleeve pattern.  Our dachshund is the black thing in the corner…he’s always on the lookout for interesting smells!

My short sleeves would’ve appeared funny any shorter than they already were, so I wanted to add an elastic placket.  Merely using the hem for elastic casing does not appeal to my sewing tastes too often, and I also added a casing for the elastic cuffs of my tie-neck knit dress.  Then, I happened to find some aqua double fold bias tape in my stash of “Wright’s” brand trims.  It matched the aqua background of my fabric, and I had just enough leftover from the two projects it went towards already, my re-fashioned vintage apron and it’s matching mini apron.

After using the leftover aqua bias tape towards the sleeve elastic casings, I still had a small strip.  I hated to not find a way to use up all of the bias tape.  When I tried on my blouse, it was still missing that “something”, so the small leftover strip was cut in half widthwise and sewn up into ties for the front.

100_2040a     I am so proud at how perfectly I matched up the front designs of the collars on my blouse.  The fat quarter was more of a stiffer cotton than the cotton for the body of my top, but therefore perfect for its use.  I love how the design on the fabric of my collar is a wild match which makes my top much more fun and retro than if I had chosen a single color.

A simple button placket went into the back button closure of this Baby doll blouse.  Since I had cut both the front and the back bodice pieces on the fold, I put in a vintage style placket, the kind where you cut out a rectangle, hem three edges, sew it down around the slash marks, then turn right sides out and top stitch down.  I did this same method for my 1937 Peacock blouse (see my post for a visual explanation).  The aqua button is from my vintage stash, and the loop is a tiny cut of 3/16 inch ‘president braid’ used to make my “The Artist” Movie imitation dress.

100_2042     Please excuse the wrinkles…wearing 100% cotton is great but a short trip in the car can make its mark on it too soon.

That’s all folks!  See my Flickr page (link here) if you would like to see more pictures of my 60’s style blouse.

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