The Outfit of a Christmas Past

Some of my pre-blogging outfits are like ghosts peeking out to appall my current taste in clothes when they are seen from a less frequently visited garment rack or out of a storage bin.  Others, in good number, are still worn by me and occasionally trickle visually onto my blog.  These ones are the ultimate tried and true standbys in my closet, and although I have some reservations about them deserving to be on my blog, this site does feature things I made and if these garments have lasted me this long…hey I’ll give them their moment in the spotlight!

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Here’s a Christmas outfit I made for myself back in 2006.  I must say this is one I am still quite proud of – besides, it has good memories attached.  My aunt’s house was being featured in a Christmas neighborhood tour, and I was delighted when she chose me to be the guard/helper for the occasion.  Being one who sews, of course I used this event as the perfect reason to whip up a new outfit (the one in this post).  How could you get any fancier than two lovely tones of velvet?!  Also, too, I figured correctly that the velvet would keep me warm the week after for the midnight church service my parents and I attended that year.  Even with my coat on, you can still see the prettiest feature of my skirt sticking out from underneath since it’s so long.  Oh yes, I was doing some calculating with this outfit, and it might be a bit dated, but it’s still a winter winner!

My hat was bought to match my outfit, a Christmas gift that same year (2006) from my thoughtful dad.  It has a velvet ribbon around the base of the crown to continue the theme of my outfit.  My matching boots leather suede “Hotter” brand, a gift to myself a few Christmases back.

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The skirt is a 100% cotton velveteen, lined in cling-free polyester;  The top is a polyester stretch crushed panne velourB4230-knit bell sleeve-shawl collar-topbutterick-3654-year-2002-bias-flounce-hem-skirts

PATTERNS:  The skirt used Butterick #3654, view C, year 2002, while the top is from Butterick #4230, view B, year 2004 (whose bell sleeves went onto this 20’s tunic and this 1970 dress).

NOTIONS:  Just basic stuff from on hand was needed here – thread, elastic, bias tapes, and some spare ribbon.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Neither of these took very long to make, but I do not remember exactly anymore – I’m guessing about 5 or 6 hours for the outfit.

100_7051a-compTHE INSIDES:  Both top and skirt were made at my parents’ house so I took advantage of her serger (over lock machine) for all around cleanly finished edges.

The patterns for the top and skirt are great – easy, quick, fit right on, and turning out exactly as pictured.  There is a refreshing lack of both facings and closure notions.

My top was made without any changes or adjustments but now I wish I had lengthened the bottom hem a bit.  The bertha-style collar has the tendency to curl, but I believe that is 100_6986-compdue to the panne velour…it just loves to curl like holiday ribbon run over the edge of a scissor.  Bell bottom style sleeves prevent this top from being worn under a sweater, kind of a bummer because the poly panne is a lot thinner than the skirt and not as warm.  Besides, the panne has a nap that seems to go in every which way at once so it sticks like Velcro to whatever clothing is over it.  This is the only down side to this top, really.  Otherwise, I do love how this is a dressy top without being stiff or stuffy.  Mostly, I believe I choose this ivory panne because I love how the look of it reminds of the beauty of a cold frost spreading, crusting and settling over a window on a cold winter’s day – part of the reason we took our pictures in a snow shower!

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My velveteen skirt had several issues along the way to as you see it now.  When I was first making the skirt, I had miss-read the proportions and lengthened the skirt.  However, it didn’t need it so I ended up taking out the added inches by making a folded over band above the bottom bias flounce.  I think the skirt looks all the better with that band above the flounce.  A few years later, I finally got around to refashioning the waistband so it wasn’t an all-around elastic band-type.  There are two off-center darts down from the front of the waistband so the belly will be smooth, with the elastic going around the back and sides from front dart to front dart. Last year, I realized one of the front darts were crooked and longer than the other, so I adapted that.  The lining inside is free hanging attached at the waist of the skirt.  Its hem ends at just above the bottom flounce of the velvet skirt because when I walk the ruffle above my feet flips up in a rather curious but pretty way.  If the lining was lower than the flounce it would show when I walk.  This might appear a simple skirt, but it has seen its share of tweaking through the years I’ve worn it.

100_7000a-compThis outfit brings to my mind a topic I’ve wanted to bring up on my blog.  You see, when a garment is made by me, I make sure I both like it enough and that it fits me well enough that it gets worn for as long as it will last.   This includes any mending, repairs, fitting adjustments, and even includes the possibility of re-fashioning.  I crafted it for myself and spent the time and money on it, thus I feel no one else but me is better qualified or has more vested involvement to make sure a handmade garment gets loved and appreciated.  Granted some of my past makes are eye-sores to me now, way beyond any ideas of re-fashioning at the moment, and make me shake my head at what I was thinking.  At the same time, I will admit I do like keeping these currently unworn eye-sore garments because it helps me see how creative and individual I’ve been with my fashion all these years and (most especially) see how far I’ve come with my skills.

100_6984a-compAm I just a lone wolf doing this long-term interest in one’s own wardrobe?  This idealism is mostly associated with the war-time rationing efforts of the decade of the 1940s, but I do not see why it should be so ‘cubby-holed’.  Modern “fast-fashion” has no staying power – it comes and goes out of fad every few months, it is commonly made with extremely low quality, and is not made to your fit and taste like a sewn garment can be.  No wonder charity shops are overflowing with unwanted ‘stuff’.  Handmade garments have more lasting qualities, so why give up on them and get rid of them like any old “ready-to-wear”?  Even if you do have store bought garments, or even vintage pieces, you can still take care of them to keep them in fine order rather than letting a fallen hem or frozen zipper be forgotten by being donated away.  In my early 20s, experimenting with store bought clothes which did not fit me well was how I taught myself the ins-and-outs of tailoring.  Sure, clothes might be a cheap commodity nowadays, but it wasn’t always so.  If you have them, use those awesome sewing skills of yours to do more, given the time and gumption of course.  If you don’t sew, it never hurts to learn how to create with scissors, thread, paper and fabric.

What do you think?  Would you rather start anew with a project?  Working on something existing can drag one down.  Does the thought of fiddly repairing send chills down your spine?  Do you (like me) rather enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you invested in your wardrobe after a garment repair has been made?

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Plush Pillow Time à la 1971

So often nightwear is neglected in one’s sewing in favor of clothes that do get seen in public. However, why shouldn’t a seamstress treat herself to her own creations when it comes time to unwind and relax? She should…just finding the time is the challenge! I’ve already made a trio of pajama separates for my hubby using a 1946 pattern (blog post here). Now, it’s time for my own nightwear to come about 🙂

100_4287aWhat better pattern to reach for to make my first nightwear than a family pattern – one which has already been tried and true with memories attached?

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a polyester knit crushed panne velour – a fancy and soft cheaper modern alternative to real velvet. It is in beautiful ice blue color.

NOTIONS:  on hand already100_4264

PATTERN:  McCall’s #3035, year 1971

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Easy as pie! From start to finish, which was on December 12, 2014, my nightgown took maybe 5 hours or less.

TOTAL COST:  As the velvet was bought quite a while ago now, and all the notions were here, too, I’m counting this night gown as free! Zero cost! For anyone else, or if I had bought fabric and supplies, this nightgown still would be very reasonable to make, as it is simple and can be made with a small amount of fabric.

This night gown has been long overdue and years in the making. Back in 2006, I bought this blue panne right after making a fancy top for myself in the same fabric, just in an ivory color. It was then I discovered crushed panne velour to be an easy care, rich looking material. Even then I had plans to make this into nightgown, but I didn’t have a pattern assigned. The only thing I knew I had to have on my panne nightgown was very frilly, feminine, features. So, I remember rummaging through my mom’s stash and pairing my ice blue panne with some old-fashioned lace, the kind which has satin ribbon run through it, along with some skinny ribbon, woven with a floral vine pattern down its length. All these notions were still bagged up with my velour when my parents passed it from their stash to mine a few years back.

100_4293aThe McCall’s 3035 pattern I used for my night gown came to me from my mother-in-law. I asked if she remember this pattern, and – yes! It had been made out of a floral flannel, using the long and cozy view seen at the far right of the pattern front. However, when I had opened up the pattern to judge which view I was going to make, there were three fairly major pieces missing – the night gown back, the back neck facing, and the long sleeve. This meant I was a bit limited, as well as restricted because I only had two yards of my blue panne to work with for my night gown. The pattern pieces are luckily so very simple in their shapes, and do not need precise fitting, thus I was able to make things work.

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Check out those “panties” included in the pattern…so cute but hilarious!

Studying the cutting layout and pattern piece diagram, the back and the front pieces of the night gown’s body looked almost exact. As I was missing the back, I simply cut out two of the front (eliminating the front slash opening markings for the back). I really barely had room for the short sleeves the way it was, so the missing long sleeves weren’t needed. If I do make this pattern again with long sleeves, it would be easy to use a substitute sleeve from my cabinet of patterns. The length I chose for my night gown was more or less in between in long and the short versions…it was all I had room for on my fabric. The missing back facing was another easy fix (for me at least). I drew my own pattern piece based on the back yoke neckline’s shaping and width.100_4265

The night gown went together in a flash. Back and neck facing very nicely self-cover the raw edges of all the gathers from the lower night gown body. As much as I like velvet and/or velour, I do not know why there was no memory of all the terrible fuzz that gets everywhere as you sew. Literally, I had fuzz sticking to my hands and my nose, fuzz caking my feed dogs on my machine, fuzz covering the fabric edges making it hard to find the real ends. What a mess!

100_4292All the fancy trimmings were added after the night gown was done, except when it came to the sleeves. The sleeve instructions were showed to do them in a manner I’ve never seen before. How fun – something new! About 2 1/2 inches away from the sleeve edge, I sew down 1/2 single fold bias tape as a casing running parallel to the hem. Then the instructions said to measure a comfortable width around one’s arm, add the seam allowance to each end of that width, and cut the total length out of 1/4 inch non-roll elastic. The elastic is run through the bias casing (gathering the band) and tacked down so the sleeves’ seams can be sewn together. Ah, I didn’t forget to add the lace to the edge before doing the gathering! Having the elastic ends sticking out of the sleeve seam allowance is not the most comfy thing in the world to have under one’s arm, but it sure made for a different and challenging way to gather a sleeve cuff.

100_4283aI like the idea of living in everything I make myself. It really puts a smile on my face and make me feel self-sufficient. Besides, now I don’t have to be perfectly presentable and go out of the house just to wear my own clothes. It’s also nice to make a rounded out variety of garments. Being someone who sews on a weekly, almost daily basis, making my very own vintage night wear, especially one with a family tie, feels relaxing in its own right – though not something that generally is seen, it’s something made for me, to be myself in, and treat myself to a little luxury I would never buy (or find) otherwise. Pillow time here I come! I’m ready to unwind in my own premium, handmade style.