Painted Bunting

Ah, it’s finally spring in the northern hemisphere, at least officially that is.  It’s the time for one of my favorite parts to spring besides the newly awakened flowers – the bird activity!  The snow birds are leaving town and both our ‘normal’ varieties of avian creatures as well as unusual visitors will be showing up through this next month.  Then the sweet but noisy baby birds will be coming!  I am one who admittedly has a “life list” of species I’ve spotted, and although birding is no longer as serious of a deal that it was when I was a teen, I now have a dress for that.

Novelty prints are not really my “thing” but this bird one is winning me over.  It is such a bright and cheerful print of what is probably fantasy songbirds, but they remind me of all my vivid-colored, real-life  favorites – the kestrel, the redstart, orioles, warblers, or my ‘yet-to-be-seen spotter’s life goal’ the painted bunting.  However, this post’s title is appropriate in more than one sense!  With its swishy, full, mullet hemline and peek-a-boo flashes of skin, my dress is fully lined in a hot pink cotton for both unexpected fun in my fashion and to have a non-poly comfort against my skin.  I’m carrying a celebration of cheerfulness with me when I wear this dress!

The fact that this dress has received top rating from my 6 year old is proof of the happiness this dress exudes.  He always laughs, smiles, and is like glue to me just to study the print – if I ever want to make his (and my) day better, I wear this.  Want proof?  My son made me a necklace that matches.  It was totally a surprise project of his.  Someone brought a beading kit to keep the kids busy after church one Sunday and he was busy making something for me in all the colors, but extra beads in especially the ones I love – turquoise, purple, and pink!  Together with earrings from my Grandma which remind me of baby robin eggs, this is a combo that is spring and summer embodied for me.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The bird print is a buff finish polyester satin while the solid bright pink lining is a poly and cotton blend broadcloth

PATTERN:  Burda Style “Cut Out Dress” pattern #116B from August 2014

NOTIONS:  All I needed was thread!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was a quickie compared to how it looks a bit complex – 6 to 7 hours and finished on April 19, 2017

TOTAL COST:  I didn’t really wait for a sale to buy this – it was too cute to wait and see if there was going to be any left!  However, I did buy it years back at the (now defunct) Hancock Fabrics so sorry if you want some, too!  It was about $7 for each of the 3 yards…and the broadcloth was a few dollars a yard too.  Thus – my total is about $20.

Everything matched up well for this pattern and the instructions were decent (not as great as sometimes).  However I did go up in size and I’m glad I did.  The bust and shoulders seem to run small in my opinion, but then again I did not want a tight fit for a breezy balmy weather dress made out of a non-stretch woven material.  I also brought the shape of the neckline in just a tad – straightening out the dip of the scoop in front and bringing in the sides so as to cover my brassiere straps better.  The neckline now appears to be more of a wide boatneck, but it is still easy to slip over the head as well as complimentary open around the neck, just now compatible with normal lingerie.  Finally, I slightly lengthened the front half of the hem line to the skirt.  All these changes I am so glad I had done at the cutting stage.  I do not think I would like my dress as much as I do if I hadn’t have done such adjustments.

I do love how this dress is a balance of simple and complex depending on how you look at it.  The pattern pieces were rather interesting, too.  From the front it has clean lines – straight, shorter skirt and a basic bodice with cut-on kimono cap sleeves and only a flashing hint of the ‘party in the back’.  From the back, the skirt has a full sweep – like a lovely cape – in midi length and the bodice is separated from the waistline for some skin baring in an uncommon spot.

The cut out ‘window’ at the back waistline more than just a feature, though – is adjustable with a drawstring going through the casing made around the oval opening so you can customize your coverage to your liking.  I love when personal preference is considered in fashion!  This design also makes this dress a pull-on which needs no zipper!  You loosen up the gathers to pop it on, then pull the drawcord ends (one long 1/4 strip made of the dress’ fabric) to close the back as you prefer.  The back opening as you see it on me is almost as small as it will go, so if you like this design, too, keep that in mind.   The half waistband that is in the front of the dress merely basic and comfy elastic kept in a casing made of the seam allowance.

Such a design detail of an open back above the waistline can be seen on the sporty dresses and versatile playsuits of the vintage world of fashion.  I notice similar styling from the 1940s to the 1970s.  In the case of this Burda dress, the back opening sort of makes it look like the bodice is only connected at the front and side waistline.

In the cases of vintage styles which are similar the bodice and bottoms can be actually disconnected for completely versatile set!  There is a modern (readily available) New Look sewing pattern which offers the same cute and ingenious styling as the 40’s and 50’s counterparts I showed as just a few examples.  However, none of them include a high-low hemline, as well.

If you’ve been following my site for awhile you may have noticed I do enjoy a high-low hem.  This style of skirt does show up here and there in my projects because I like it only in small doses.  This particular variety of a mullet hem is my favorite yet.  It has a fantastic sweep due to the back opening gathers – just the back half of the skirt was such a large pattern piece it practically was one yard in itself.  The lining underside the skirt really makes the most out of the hem shape because if you’re gonna see the ‘wrong side’ make it worth noticing.

Full body lining is the absolute best thing for this dress, I do believe.  The pattern needs to be amended from henceforth to include this step.  I don’t know about you, but I hate the feeling of a polyester fabric on my skin…man-made fibers aggravate both my body and my mental state in more ways than one.  So – to keep both my sanity and comfort whenever I do succumb to the cuteness of a polyester fabric, I line such garments in good old cotton broadcloth.

No, really, though – full body lining also makes the edge finishing so much cleaner and fuss-free.  No tiny hemming to do, and no raw fraying edges to deal with either.  I love a clean inside as much as I love how nice my garments look on the outside when on myself.  You can see the clean, no-seam hot pink lining side through the open armholes, too, and do so enjoy a garment that has its innards visible when they are done as nicely as this!  It’s not that much extra work – sure it takes twice as much fabric – but it is worth it in the end product.  For me, I guess sewing is not just materializing an idea or feeling, neither is it just crafting something I need or want.  I suppose my habit of finely finished insides say that what I love about sewing is the beauty and the art of it.

Cedar Waxwings I spotted in my parents’ backyard!

The ultimate magnificence is in nature, however, and birds are the cheerful feathered announcers that living is to be celebrated.  I am lucky to have had up-close and personal time with birds – especially the time I took a class on bird banding as a teen and actually held my favorite local feeder visitors.  Then, there is the time I was by a creek painting some flowers and a hummingbird buzzed me, coming up to within inches of me, seemingly thinking I was something which needed checking out.  Yes, the thing I love about birds is the best way to enjoy them – stop the busyness of life, listen with your heart, and soak in the cathartic benefits of realizing their simple but indispensable existence.  Something as insignificant as this post’s home-made piece of clothing, no matter how fabulous, reminds me of the greater beauty of life around me.

Advertisements

A 1920s Aesthetic for Today

It has been a while since I have posted anything 1920s here!  Unfortunately, part of the reason is not only the fact that the decade’s silhouettes can be hard to love on myself, but also the fact that I want something from that decade to wear today without looking like I am doing historical re-enacting.  It seems to me that something pre-early 1930s can easily be obviously vintage.  I generally love to bring my vintage style into my everyday life and wardrobe in a way that keeps it modernly appealing yet still true to the history of the decade’s fashion.  This is a hard balance to find all the time, which is why you don’t see as much 1920s things in my list of makes…and also why I am posting (with great excitement) about my newest Burda Style dress!

I somehow feel like life is so much more fun, free, and easy in this dress.  There are no closures (zippers, or the like) needed with the bias crossover bodice.  It is a popover dress that is flowing, comfy, unconfining, and freshly different.  I absolutely LOVE the garment make of mine.  It embodies the late 1920s crazed hype that lived life to its fullest – and foresaw many of the modern conveniences (television, computers, etc.).  The late 20’s overdrive (1927 to the crash of 1929) produced both short above-the-knee skirts and many avant-garde inventions that would not been seen for many decades later.

This era of the 20’s had an amazing modernity that I feel has been captured by this dress.  There is a zig-zag print on the skirt to pay homage to the hardened, mathematical form of Art Deco that flourished in the time.  The bodice is a mock-wrap to pay homage to the popular fashions of the few years before (1926 and 1927).  It’s also made from a soft textured gauze which reminds me of the lace, sheer, and interesting fabric bodices of many fashions in the 20’s.  The high-low hem with a fishtail skirt ‘train’ is later, very 1927 to 1929, though (see this post for more info).  All of these years are my favorites to this decade.  So – yes – this dress is a rather accurate combo of everything I love best in the 20’s from an unexpectedly modern source!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a cotton gauze for the bodice, with a poly blend gabardine for the waist ‘belt’, a poly print lined in cotton muslin for the skirt

PATTERN:  Burda Style #118 “Wrap Dress” from April 2015

NOTIONS:  nothing complicated was needed to finish this – just thread and scraps of interfacing

TIME TO COMPLETE:  maybe 30 plus hours…it was finally finished on May 28, 2018

THE INSIDES:  a combination of French, bias bound, and raw seams

TOTAL COST:  This is a project that spanned 3 years, so I do not remember anymore but I know it didn’t cost much with 1 yard for the bodice, and about 2 yards for the skirt, with only scraps left over from these two projects (here and here) for the contrast belt.

My 20’s style dress project counts for my monthly “Burda Challenge 2018”, my ongoing “Retro Forward with Burda Style” blog series, plus the “Sew Together for the Summer of the Wrap Dress” challenge.  Now, you might say this is only a mock wrap and not a proper wrap dress.  Well, yes and no!

The name for the pattern is “Wrap Dress”, for the first thing.  More than that, though, the full ‘lap’, cross-body, tie-on dress that we tend to think as a proper wrap didn’t quite look the same 90 years back.  In the 1920’s, a wrap dress was a garment that was often faking it, with a cross-over bodice, a one-piece skirt, and a sash or tie of some sort on one side to continue the deception.  A mock wrap to us of today was a full wrap dress in the 1920’s.  Not only this, but mock wraps were immensely popular in the decade anyway, even in the blouse or jacket form.

By the next decade of the 1930s, wrap-on dresses were normally a one piece, full tie on garment, closer to what we are used to today, with a caveat.  They were often reversible and considered more of an apron or pinafore like garment meant for housework or grocery errand duty…the hum-drum efforts which only result in sweat and grime appearing on one’s clothes.  Many of these full wrap-on dresses were called “Hooverettes”, after the American president at the time of the Great Depression.  These were like a gloried robe for women to iron easily and look sensibly cute yet incredibly comfy to do all the things that the hard times required of them.  With the rationing of the 1940’s, an easy-to-make full wrap-on dress was glamorized even further to being included as possible for evening looks (with the right fabric).  The 1950s and 60’s widely used wrap dresses with great ingenuity in many of their designs, but Diane Von Furstenberg and the trending Boho Hippy look in the 70’s democratized the wrap dress as we know it today for all shapes, occasions, and materials.  Yet, according to this article, even for Ms. Furstenberg, her early “wrap dresses” started off as a cross-over top paired with a skirt!

Now, for as easy as this dress is to wear and put on, it was one of my most difficult makes, especially among Burda patterns.  As you see the dress now, it is in its re-fashioned form.  Yes, I do re-fashion my own makes…I’ll do whatever it takes to save a project and turn it into something I love!  So, this dress is not the original design – very close but still slightly adapted.  I did make the dress according to the pattern back in 2016 (at left), and it did turn out well after some difficulty with the curved, drop waistband.

However, as nice it looks on the hanger, the final fit on me was less than complimentary.  The gauze had more of a give/stretch than I expected, the dress’ fishtail train hung past the ground on me, and the drop waist back was way below my booty.  I really didn’t like that much of the contrast waistband, after all, too.  I did like the general shape, the colors I chose, and the print/texture combo.  So, the dress had been saved to sit in my “projects half finished” pile (which is quite small, I can brag) for these last two years until I felt I had the right idea of how to re-work it.  No wonder it feels so good to finally wear this!  This dress makes shaking my booty so good looking with such a swishy skirt!

A good drop waist dress should fall (in some small portion) somewhere through the hip area, slightly above the true hip line yet at least 5 inches below the true high waistline.  It technically should not be much below the bend of your body when you sit, from my understanding.  Thus, to ‘fix’ my dress, I figured on leaving the hem alone and making a new straight line (taking out the curved “belt”) across and around the mid-section, parallel to just below the bottom of the front contrast waistband.  I did want to keep a small portion of the contrast “belt” to transition the two fabrics with a solid color and give the appearance of a mock half-belt panel.  It was sure tricky to straighten out the skirt in turn around the back with that amazing bias to the skirt!  In the 1920s, the waistline traveled all over from very low to almost non-existent, but this dress’ waistline is a slightly higher, later in the decade style to match with the skirt.  Otherwise than this re-fashion step, I kept the bodice as it was except for pulling up the shoulder seam slightly.  To keep the full skirt weighted down nicely (so it wouldn’t turn wrong way up like Marilyn Monroe over an air vent) and keep it opaque, I fully lined it.

This dress’ skirt does need a tiny 1/8 inch hem so that it doesn’t get stiffened at all.  At the same time, such a tiny hem on a skirt like this was a major pain.  It might not be immediately obvious, but the length of hemline just seemed to keep going, and going…but all that turns out well in the end is worth it in my opinion.  Do tiny hems wear you out and seem overly tedious like they do for me?

It was entirely my idea to make a long tie piece and stitch it to the left side of the bodice, thereby continuing the mock wrap dress deception!  I especially like how much this little touch adds to the dress.  This is again another true 1920s feature, as most of the era’s mock wraps had ties on the corresponding side to continue the illusory appearance.  To me, the tie also adds a touch of asymmetric that was also so popular in the 1920s.

Somehow it seems so much easier for me to interpret a modern take on the 20’s when I am starting with a pattern from today, versus starting with an old original pattern.  I almost always recommend others to use vintage patterns because I think that they offer so much to learn from and have better details.  However, there are so many modern patterns that have veritable 1920s features if you know what to look for.  This presents two interesting points.

Firstly, here I am saying it’s hard to make an old 20’s pattern look modern, yet I’m also saying that many modern fashions (patterns and ready-to-wear) have very 1920s features.  Perhaps the era between WWI “The Great War” and the Depression of the 1930s has more in common with us of today than we think.  Looking at old fashion plates or extant garments might not make this as obvious as it could be…it just takes the styles of today to give us a new perspective!

Secondly, this proves how important it is to pepper one’s awareness of current styles with a knowledge of fashion history.  A good overall view of the big picture might just be something specific to me as others have told me, but looking around and seeing the beginning of a trend is always a good idea. Actually, style is something that seems to only be recycled over and over again the more one sees.  Besides, often finding the source, or at least seeing the ways a detail is re-interpreted, is fun, interesting, and always worthwhile…not to mention the benefit of giving me more ideas for my projects!  Don’t be afraid to dive into some fashion research next time you start wearing the “newest” thing and find out the reference of where it came from!

The Highs and Lows of Reaching One Hundred

When I joined the online sewing circle of Sew Weekly in mid-year 2012, I didn’t realize then that I was embarking on a tremendous challenge.  Sewing every week, pushing one’s limit’s, teaching one’s self new skills by accomplishment, and becoming 99% independent of all “ready-to-wear” (RTW) garments has been a very informative move that changes one’s outlook and knowledge in ways never expected.

Beginning my counting after my first blog posting, here it is exactly two years later that I have reached the number one hundred project!  Ya hoo!  This post is a combination of my quiet, unofficial celebration of my sewing feat and a project post on the garment that brought me to my century of ‘me-made’ items.

An unusual skirt with some neat fabric and the most current modern fashion is my #100 project.

100_3774THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a lightweight to medium weight rayon jersey knit, with a small percent of ‘Modal’ (a newer rayon-type) in its content, with the colors of ivory, grey, and rust orange. 

Simplicity 1429NOTIONS:  only a spool of matching thread was needed; everything else was on hand already

PATTERN:  Simplicity 1429, year 2014

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This pattern took me only 5 hours from start to finish.  It was done on September 12, 2014.

THE INSIDES:  the two side seams are in French seams, and the bottom is in a tiny 1/4 inch hem.

TOTAL COST:  about $15

This skirt pattern really impressed me.  It has a quality that I don’t find too much of in modern patterns, maybe only Vogue Company if anything.  The skirt’s design has a beautifully simple complexity, one which makes the construction very fun and happily intriguing to the mind (at least to mine).  Would you believe here are only three pattern pieces to make a skirt like this?  There is a waistband, the skirt back (cut on the fold), and the skirt front (cutting two).  All you need to know is how to do pleats and darts.  I know ‘hi-low hem’ skirts are not for everyone, but you must admit this skirt is unique and I like it that way.  The way I see it, if you’re going to make something, make it so much better and special than anything available to buy RTW.

100_3783100_4242b     Even though I can’t say enough good things about Simplicity 1429, I must vocalize a BIG complaint about the cutting layout instructions: they are completely wrong!!!  Following the layout the instructions show, one would cut out the back skirt panel with the stripes going horizontal (instead of vertical like the front sides of the skirt) – very big, very ugly boo boo!  Also, the total amount of fabric needed would be a ridiculous amount more over and above the 3-something yards already called for on the envelope back chart. Lucky for me, my mind was actually working so as to notice what was wrong.  I have never yet seen a cutting layout mistake this big and obvious.  Normally, any problems I do find in new patterns only have to do with construction details.  I can totally see someone, myself included, just going along with the layout, and trusting the diagram to be right because, hey, this skirt does look like it calls for some unusual things to be done.  I have done mistakes like this before, and they are usually repairable, learning experiences.  However, Simplicity 1429 cutting layout mistake is not cool – it makes for a complete waste of fabric, wastes money, and is not repairable unless you want (or can) buy more fabric.  Mistakes come easily enough in the experience of sewing without having to be tripped up at the very beginning of a project by a faulty fabric layout diagram.  Unfortunate sewing times shouldn’t come to anyone, and turn people away…the world needs all the interest possible in the fabric arts, so nothing gets lost.   100_4244a

It’s easy to avoid this cutting layout mistake.  At right you can see my own layout diagram drawing.  Start with the back skirt panel.  It looks like a very long and very skinny pattern piece – kinda strange!  Open up the fabric completely, single layer.  Next, take the one end of the cut edge and fold it into the rest of the fabric with selvedge to selvedge.  Don’t fold in too much, though – just enough for the back skirt pattern piece’s width because you’ll need most all of the fabric for the front skirt piece.  Now the back skirt piece should run vertical along with the stripes in your fabric.  Lay the ‘on fold’ edge of the skirt piece on the fold like my drawing shows.  You should be able to fit the waistband at the bottom fold, too, by folding the pattern piece in half, but you don’t have to do it this way.  I just always like to make sure I have enough room for a small but important piece like a waistband by cutting it out sooner than later.  Finally, the large and strange shaped front skirt piece can be cut out as directed, double layered, with stripes matching.

100_3785     The front panel pattern piece gets cut double layered, with fabric selvedge to selvedge, and there is a LOT of marking needed so expect to take plenty of time and space floor (or table) space for a successfully finished skirt.  The time you take to do all those markings is so very important with the front skirt pieces, even though it is hard on account of the need to match two layers and the fact that knit does not hold chalk very well.  I did the ‘tailor’s tacks’ style of markings with thread and, even then, had to keep out the front pattern piece and instructions to make sure I was matching the right sections plus turning them the right way.

Marking is the only hard part to this skirt, in my opinion, because the rest of the skirt (even the front) comes together easy-peasy as long as the construction instructions are followed.  No matter how strange the construction seems, just follow it, and as you do, it all makes sense because you see it suddenly looking like it should before you know it.  You dive right into doing all the front pleats, which get hidden by being taken into the folds.  The “pocket” over the belly created by all that fabric manipulation in the front is sewn together in a lapped seam inside, pulling the fit taught around the hips and waist (see below picture).  There is a very wide, basic casing sewn at the waist, to have very wide 1 1/2 wide ‘non-roll’ waistband elastic installed through.  I only wish I would have made the waistband casing double layered to help support the rest of the skirt, but sewing in the waistband at the front was thick enough the way it was, I’m not sure my ‘improvement’ idea would even work.

100_3953     I am very glad I switched between sizes for my skirt.  I noticed the model’s skirt on the cover envelope seemed very tight, plus I figured correctly that the skirt would be quite disproportionately heavy at the front.  Thus, I went down a size for the waistband, and up a size for the skirt sections, and, because you’re working with a knit, everything stretches to fit together to match up well.  The skirt seems to fit me perfectly.  It turns out snug enough the way it is, even with my going between sizes…it would have fit like a second skin according to the pattern – yuck!  Some amount of form fitting is appropriate to maintain this skirt’s proper styling and hot, figure flattering appearance.

This garment gives me something I don’t normally have – the feeling of being very tall!  I am on the average/almost petite height, and I kind of like the fact that merely wearing this skirt, with it’s vertical form skimming lines, makes me feel otherwise.  The high/low hem and the draping causes a sort of peek-a-boo effect with the bottom half of the legs when walking, creating a very complimentary effect to a lady’s gams especially when worn with heeled shoes.  If you have a booty, this skirt that part of your body a positive focus, too.

100_3778     I found my new skirt a bit hard to accessorize, in the way of finding the right top, shoes, and/or sweater to wear.  Any top worn with the skirt has to be just as tight as the skirt because there isn’t much room for anything blowsy to be tucked in at the waist.  On account of the bulky, pleated skirt front, I think any top worn with this skirt needs to be tucked in, which is another limiting factor…unless you have the gumption to wear a belly top 🙂  I think I found a few ways to outfit my striped skirt, and you see two in this post: 1.) my ivory short sleeve tee with studs and sequins, and 2.) my rust orange jeweled neckline tank top, layered with a tank underneath and grey long sweater.  Outfit #2 seemed to need a raw and modern backdrop so we tried out exploring a construction site (see below right picture). 100_3942

I love how the skirt’s appearance moves and changes as the wind blows and as I move.  When the four bias drapes hang just right, it is truly amazingly picture perfect.  Perhaps I’m just so happy with my new unusual skirt because it brought me to my ‘project #100’ in exactly two years!!!

Check my Flickr page for more upcoming pictures of this draped, unusual, and special skirt.  Happy Sewing!

My Fall “Fast Fashion” Skirt – An Easy Project with Modern Styling

I recently found a very interesting math equation that produces an excellent result.  Here it is: 1 yard of easy care, super soft knit fabric, plus 2 hours of time devoted to cutting and sewing, equals 1 very happy Seam Racer, a.k.a. Kelly.

At that time, I needed a no-fail, instant satisfaction project which was a change out of the ordinary for me, and this skirt was my lucky number.  Besides, I had been wanting to make my very own version of the “high-low hem” style that has been out since the first spring fashions emerged earlier this year.  The fact that I have been noticing how many 1920’s and early 30’s styles had the same “high-low hem” made my determination only stronger for me to sew something with that fashion element.

100_1720      A few of  the Pantone Fall 2013 colors are included in the tribal Indie print of my skirt – linden green and samba especially, among other background colors of turquoise and navy.

This skirt, although it didn’t call for much skill, makes me feel SO good, it’s amazing!  I haven’t made a new skirt for my wardrobe in so long of a time.  I intended on turning my skirt into a one piece dress by sewing a top to the waistband elastic, but the versatility being able to change top colors is much more fun than having another dress.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a poly/rayon blend knit, bought at JoAnn’s store on sale

NOTIONS:  I used dark navy thread which was on hand already, and only bought the specialty color waistband elastic

Simplicty 1659PATTERN:  Simplicity 1659

TIME TO COMPLETE:  only 2 hours, from the beginning of cutting to finished and on myself: I made this skirt on a Saturday afternoon, July 27, 2013

THE INSIDES:  both side seams are French seams, while the bottom hem and waistband seams are zig-zagged over (this fabric doesn’t fray)

FIRST WORN:  I felt so good in my new outfit, hubby suggested taking the family out for a meal of food we don’t normally eat, but love: pizza, wings, potato skins, and root beer. Yum!

TOTAL COST:  the one yard of fabric only cost $5 and the elastic about $2, so the final cost is $7.00

The skirt portion of dresses A, C, and E was used and adjusted to be turned into my easy knit skirt.  Firstly, I straightened out the top of the skirt front pattern so it would go straight across.  On the dress, it arches up to the join the bodice center like an upside down V, with five tucks along the front.  I kept 4 of the tucks for my skirt front, the two on right and two at left, but eliminated the big tuck at the center to simplify things and keep some fullness.  Also, I re-drew a new length onto the pattern.  The longest length was too long, and I didn’t want to short version, either, so my skirt is in between those two lengths. With all these changes, I still cut out my correct corresponding size.  Only one yard (60 inch wide, and folded selvedges in at the center) was just enough to squeeze the two pattern pieces.

100_1724     Doing the waist band was fun!  There were at least 10 different fashion colors of elastic 100_1752to pick from at JoAnn’s, and I can’t wait for another project which gives me the opportunity to use a different elastic color as well as this interesting sewing technique.  All you have to do is cut your elastic to a comfortable measurement around your waist, add enough (two inches maybe) to securely sew the ends together, then pin and stretch both skirt and elastic!

100_1746     I know one thing…I have not yet figured out how to do a waistband like this without having someone with me to help me.  After I pinned the sides, hubby was sport enough to hold my skirt and elastic stretched out together so I could work at pinning the waistband in place.  Two rows of zig-zag stitches later, I was done and amazed – its nice to have an easy and uncomplicated project every so often.  By the way, the flower isn’t part of the belt – it just clips on for an easy decoration.

Look at the waistband picture above at right – there is a side seam going through the design, I just matched it up really well.  The other side isn’t matched up as well, but I’m o.k. with that because my finished project is just too good for me to care.

100_1733     A historic village in a different part of town was the perfect spot for a Sunday afternoon of letting our little tyke play in the dirt and take some photos.  I don’t know if I was enjoying being out more than him, but the picture below shows our little guy giving me quite a look.  Just HAD to add this outtake – it’s so cute!

I would like to make one last observation regarding the pattern, Simplicity 1659, which I used for my easy knit skirt.  I couldn’t help but see a resemblance between the long style dress with the open sleeves (view E) and this original Chanel creation from the 30’s (see pictures below).  I makes me wonder about the amount of fashion that comes around every so many years and sneaks its way back in without people ever suspecting.  There is a temptation for me to adapt Simplicity 1659 into a Chanel imitation, but, if I do, it won’t be anytime soon.
So many projects…so little time!

1659lineblack and white Chanel gown

My Hankie-Hem Dress of 1929 – the Year of Ups and Downs

My dress is, I believe, quite historically accurate.  I have taken a good amount of time and patience to get this project right, done plenty of historical and fashion research, and my public approval has come unwarranted in the form of comments from strangers.  The best part about my hankie-hem dress is the way it fits, how it feels so fun, and is very comfortable to wear!

My dress is meant to channel the ‘turn of the decade’ 1929 look, as evidenced by my early 30’s features:  Cuban heeled shoes, my Deco style Y-shaped drop pearls, and the small barely- flutter sleeves.

100_1276a     Here I’m posing with a 1929 Ford.  Now, for a brief history overview.

The year 1929 was quite a tumultuous year.  The world at that time, I mean the people and the events they caused, shows just how determined were the attempts to find out the right places for everything on the brink of a new decade.  However, it’s a matter of fact that what goes so far ‘south’ (Admiral Byrd was the 1st to fly over the South Pole in ’29), must boomerang back, as is especially the case in regards to “Black Thursday”, the Stock market crash of October 24, 1929.  Even fashion was no exception to the rule…after hemlines were at their shortest lengths above the knee from 1926 to 1928.  There was no doubt somewhat of a general outcry, and by 1929 uneven hems and asymmetric skirt hemlines helped the transition to new longer, more subdued hemline lengths.  Longer sheer over skirts and semi-sheer top skirts were worn over opaque linings as another way to gently ease away from the flapper enthusiasm while still attaining a new 30’s ideal of decency.

THE FACTS:Simp7227

FABRIC:  1 1/8 yd. of deep cream brushed flannel;  ivory lace from stash;  remnants of poly cling-free ivory lining for behind the flannel;  1 1/2 yard of pale yellow floral chiffon (poly blend) for the skirt and sleeves;  1 1/4 yd. of lingerie polyester to line the chiffon.  My poly fabrics are the only non-historical part.

NOTIONS:  I already had all the thread and interfacing that was needed.  I only bought a zipper.

Simp1810Simp1693PATTERN:  Well…this dress is THE Franken-pattern that beats all!  A good part of many little details are personal ideas from researching history, but I did use pieces from 3 different patterns.  Simplicity 7227, year 2002, view C, only the bottom layer of the lower half of the skirt was used to make the skirt for my dress (see above right picture).  Simplicity 1693, year 2013, view B, was used for only the sleeves.  Simplicity 1810, year 2012, view C tunic without the ties was used for the main body of my dress 

FIRST WORN:  to an Easter Sunday antique car show. 

TIME TO COMPLETE:   It took a very long time (for me), with sewing done between working on other projects, stretched out over the course of 3 months.  It was finally done on March 30, 2013


     The top tunic of my ’29 dress was sort of a whim, a “throw it together because I’ve been wanting to make this pattern” sort of thing. (I’m sure most of you have done this too!)  It went together quickly, easily, and turned out nicely while still fitting quite well.  I added the lace at the shoulder section to highlight the design and add a touch of femininity.  The funny thing is how sewing one project evolved into the finished dress.

100_1301    Flannel is actually quite accurate for my dress and had been used for clothing -both men’s and women’s- more frequently in the past.  Traditional/historical flannel, which has been around since the early 16th century, would be wool or a silk blend and cotton flannel is a rather modern invention.  The lighter colors of flannel, like my dress’ pale hue, became popular in the early 1900’s with use of bleaching (instead of dying), achieving the cool summer looks such as “Cricket white”.  My flannel tunic is lightweight and the facing makes for a super soft feel around the neckline.  I had it floating in my stash, leftover from the backing of a blanket I made for my mom.

100_1298a     I went through several differing preliminary drawings to figure out how best add theoriginal 20's hankie-hem dress chiffon. My drawing at left is the closest to my finished look.  Early on, I envisioned the chiffon as 1) draped across the front and back, 2) gathered up in layers, 3) heavy beading or sequins, and even 4) vertical bias ruffles, which I almost used.  I kept simplifying my ideas and staying away from the 30’s.  Early in February I even found a fancy bed skirt that seemed like it might have looked good at the bottom of my tunic, but it will be better as an individual skirt.  My husband was the one who picked the Simplicity 7227 I used for the dress’ bottom half, while I designed the zig-zag “hem” where the tunic bottom and skirt meet.  Those two features of our joint design gently incorporate the bottom skirt into the rest of the dress, and are very similar to vintage originals, like this Vionnet made dress at left.

Completing my hankie hem dress was more time consuming than I had foreseen.

100_1515a      First of all, finding the right lining was a challenge.  It was hard to find something that had a drape complimentary to the chiffon, as well as being opaque, and creating the right tint to match the flannel tunic.  I would have preferred to use a soft, lightweight cotton lawn, but I settled on a semi- shiny lingerie polyester.  Then, both the lining and the chiffon had to be cut, and the pattern piece for the skirt bottom was so unexpected…a large rectangle with a hole in the middle on the fold.  The hems of both lining and chiffon received my 1/8 inch tiny hem treatment, which makes for some time-consuming, thread-eating, beautifully invisible seams.  Since the top “hole” of the skirt was mostly on the bias, the fabric at that cut was stretched out as I sewed.   Next, I went to work measuring and centering the flannel tunic bottom so I could start adding the skirt bottom.  The lining and chiffon had been sewn together at the “hole”, and I can’t begin to express how frustrating it was to add the horizontal zig-zag seam.   Stretch, shape, pin, measure again, maybe unpin, and shape anew over and over was the regimen.  No matter where or how I would work, it was hard on the hands, back, and eyes.  As it ended up, the sides of the chiffon have small gathers to aid in the side shaping and gathering.  I think my determination to see it done got me through.

My last minute touches were to add a side zip (so as to get a better fit without it being tricky to get into) and small hand tacks to keep the points of the lining and chiffon hanging evenly with each other.

100_1284a     All the time spent towards making my hankie hem dress made me a very lucky girl when I wore it to the Easter car show.  Many of the owners of 20′ and 30’s era car recognized the time period of my dress, pointed me out, called me over, and invited me to take a seat in their vintage cars.  The car owners said very few people actually get to sit in their cars and check them out, so that day I felt special to have such unique opportunities.   We have some wonderful pictures of hubby and me in a 1925 Model T Touring (not in my post), and – my favorite – a great family photo (below) of our Easter.

100_1278a    Go, sit back, and look up some of the facts and historical landmarks of 1929.  I think you might be amazed, as I was, to find how advanced the world was in that year, as well as all the achievements that were made as well.  For example, did you know that in 1929 color TV was first patented and demonstrated publicly?  I know this has nothing to do with sewing except for helping a realization that back then compared to now are really not that foreign, but have a lot in common.