Summer Gingham and Straw

My first sewing for this year’s summer season is effortlessly simple.  It’s also basically everything associated with an old-time American summer picnic – gingham cotton, basket-like straw, bright red cherries, easy and comfortable dressing (no less cute, though), and good times in the backyard.

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I had to bring my pet dachshund into the picture for good measure!  He’s a loving little shadow to me, though he is camera shy.

Butterick 7161, yr. 1954THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a 30 by 45 inch cut of an all-cotton, loosely-woven ‘homespun’

PATTERN:  Butterick 7161, year 1954 – it was a free gift from a kind Etsy seller.

NOTIONS:  I only needed thread, a bit of interfacing, some bias tape scraps, and 3 buttons – all of which I had on hand

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My blouse was whipped up in 2 hours one afternoon at the end of April 2017.

DSC_0417a-comp,wTHE INSIDES:  cleanly bias bound edges

TOTAL COST:  The fabric, my only expense, was bought at Wal-mart’s remnant area in their fabric department for only $2.23!

This blouse just makes me happy.  I love the styling – just enough ‘vintage’ touch to be neat and unique, yet still classic.  The colors are muted and cool, and pair well with so many different bottoms (skirts, pants, and shorts) in all colors (mostly khaki, denim, and black, but even red will do).  From a practical point of view, this was so cheap!  Yet, for how well it fits on me and nicely finished I made it, this is such a deal.  No wonder I buy fabric and sew for myself versus picking up ready-to-wear!DSC_0282a-comp,w

Making this top sleeveless was not precisely by choice, but I like it.  I was lucky enough to make a blouse from this as it was!  My blouse does look really good with sweaters, luckily, for when I’m stuck inside freezing air-conditioning or out in a chilly night.  I find it interesting how generous and comfortable the armscye is on a 1950s era sleeveless blouse.  The armholes from the next decade of the 60’s are so much tighter, and I’m always paring them down but it’s never good enough.  Maybe I’ll need to try sleeveless 50’s fashions more often.

The only major special detail to this blouse is the gathers which come from under the collar.  They are an ingenious way to both add an interesting design element and provide bust shaping.  I thought about pleating the excess fabric rather than gathering it (as I did), but I plan to use this pattern again and I can try that out then.

DSC_0283-comp,wHalfway through sewing this blouse, I had a scare.  I realized this ‘homespun’ cotton was quite fragile when I was stretching the blouse back neckline into the collar piece.  It tore way too easily into the seam allowance.  Thank goodness it didn’t tear any further into the blouse or I would have been devastated because this blouse is my new go-to, throw-it-on frequent favorite.  Once that rip happened, I was glad I had cut the as-is size of the pattern, which was technically too big for me.  I ended up leaving the blouse its generous size because I didn’t want another tear happening in the body of the fabric, which I could totally see happening just from being worn if it fit tighter.  The cotton is so soft, it kind of ‘droops’ down anyway and you can’t tell how generous it is on me.  Between the comfy fit and the loose homespun, it does make for an “I-don’t-feel-it-on” weightless summer blouse.DSC_0285-comp,w

A view of the back is rather basic but my vintage 50’s hat makes it amazing, if you ask me.  Look at that stunning weave of the two different kinds of straw!  The perfect condition and the steal of a price that I paid, makes this one of my prized vintage hats.  To complete the accessorizing details, my fun cherry fruit earrings are vintage from my dear Grandmother.

Blouses, especially 50’s era blouses are my newest ‘thing’ currently.  I’ve been whipping out several already with a few more in my projects queue to sew yet.  Thus, look for more separates to come here on the blog in next few months!

“There’s No Place Like Home…” for Halloween

I went to movie inspiration for this year’s Halloween in our household.  Except for missing the tin man, we were the four major characters from the movie The Wizard of Oz, and, in my opinion, did a smashing good attempt at re-creating those costumes.  Toto might look a bit different, and our lion is too cute to be scary, but altogether, we made smiles from whoever saw us.

Halloween2013 #2-fixed#2     Now, just to clarify, I only sewed my outfit and the neck/head wrap for the scarecrow, my husband.  Our little tyke’s outfit is from Target, hubby’s clothes are over-sized items from relatives, and my white blouse is a cheap but fancy resale shop purchase.  In this post, I would mostly like to brag about my resourcefulness and creativity in coming up with my costume on such short notice.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  cotton blend blue and white gingham check; in total there is about 10 yards of this stuff

NOTIONS:  two over-sized white plastic buttons from my inherited stash

PATTERN:  none!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  done in a total of only 3 hours on October 30, 2013

THE INSIDES:  the only seam showing is the gathering at the inside of the waistband; all other seams are folds.  I’ll explain the why and how of this down below.

My stash has recently been expanded with the addition of several large containers of scraps and extra fabric from my parents’ AND grandparents’ houses.  Most of these fabrics that I now have also have special connections to people, places, or events.

Thus, when I ran across yards and yards of blue and white checked gingham cotton, I knew it would make the perfect “Dorothy” jumper.  But, at the same time, I remembered it is also the same fabric used to make the curtains in my parents’ kitchen. 100_2121

I knew I wanted to make something quickly, preferably using no pattern, and sew an item that I really might use again.  Yet, I really wanted to make it in a way so that I didn’t have to cut the cotton gingham at all, or at least minimally,  just in case my mom should want to make some replacement kitchen curtains.  So I made something that comes naturally to me – an apron!

There was one big 8 yard piece and two separate pieces of gingham, each about 1 1/2 yards in length.  One of the two smaller cuts was used for my bib by being kept folded, selvedge to selvedge, then folded some more into fourths and sewed down.  The raw edges of the fabric were all at the one short end of my rectangular bib, so I cut off about 4 inches off that end.  Now I had four long strips that got sewn into two shoulder straps, my waistband, and hair ties, while the bib was finally the right length to end at my waist.

Next, I cut the large 8 yard piece in half to have two 4 yard parts.  The gingham is a 45 in width fabric, and I know that half of 45 makes a good length skirt for me.  With the fabric folded selvedge to selvedge again, I sewed a loose double zig zag stitch all the way across.  It took QUITE some work to gather 4 yards this tightly.  In a little over an hour the selvedge edge was gathered and sewn to the waistband, with a nice folded hem and double layered skirt for no show-through.  I suppose I was following the engineer’s principle, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid), when my “Dorothy” skirt was in my mind.

100_2119     Notice how my “Dorothy” outfit goes all the way around me like a skirt, but ties in the back like an apron.  The back skirt/apron center seam is kept together for now with a handful of safety pins.

100_2125    I think this might look quite good worn as an apron with a 50’s or 60’s dress, and I can even take it apart without too much grief if my mom needs my outfit take a second life as curtains.  There sure was an element of surprise when my parents recognized the fabric of my “Dorothy” apron/dress on Halloween night.

Hubby the “Scarecrow” had his head/neck covering from a small square cotton scrap found in the parental scrap tubs, as well.  The back and the front were loosely gathered and the ends frayed a bit.  I think my little creation, together with plenty of straw and his natural skinniness, makes the whole outfit work.

There isn’t much to making this but…no pattern + I made it equals something I’m very proud of!

It’s amazing how something as simple as fabric can link memories and people together.  Making something with this gingham from my parent’s stash gives me a plethora of ideas to create things with many other fabrics that were a part of my childhood with my family.  Do you have any fabrics or clothes that are connected to old memories which make you feel good inside?

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