Friday, December 30, 2011

Self Drafted New Years Party Dress (Part 4)

The Christmas party dress that became a New Years party dress is finally finished! My dream dress, the biggest accomplishment in my sewing career so far. The self drafted version of a Dior New Look dress, just like back in 1947!

(To see how this all started: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, only a click away)

For once, I will try not to drown this with words... the pictures can speak for themselves (there are lots of them)

And, for comparison, in case you did not see it or have forgot, the inspiration collage I made before I started sketching:

The last bits of construction, and some detail photos below! It took forever to pin all those folds on four meters of skirt fabric!

The shawl collar goes through a loop at mid front, and can be folded through or around it in several ways.

The combination of zipper and lacing in the back makes it possible for me to wear the dress both with my corset underneath, as I do in the photos, and without. (Corsets and dinner parties just won't do!)

Tiny hidden hand stitches to keep the collar in place above, and folded detail on sleeve on the right. The folds gives the sleeve a slight curve and some extra room at the elbow!

Tomorrow night I'll be wearing this for our New Years Eve party, I'm so glad I finished in time!

Happy New Years everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas presents for mum and sis!

Time to show what I made my mum and my sis for Christmas!

My mum Marianne got a silky stretch dress, inspired by this:

And my sister Olivia got a cotton tunic, made from a pattern that my great grandmother used in 1960! Here's the inspiration for that one:

The handwriting on the pattern envelope (top right corner) is Elsa's in pencil and my mother's in ink. 

I am so happy this pattern and a few others have not only been saved through time, but also have some notes on who used the pattern and when! 

Now, here's the result of my sewing! Don't they look happy? 
A few pictures of construction details below. I spent a lot of time making these as pretty on the inside as the outside, realizing that, even though it's time consuming, it's very much worth it! It's so pleasing to look at a garment that has a beautiful finish!

I also realized that sewing in polyester satin is horrible. Another lesson learned.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heading home for the Holidays!

Just a quick post to let you all know that it might be a bit quiet here for a few days... Tonight me and my darling are getting on a train across the country to our families for Christmas! I've missed them a lot, so I'm really looking forward to the coming week! The New Look dress will be staying here in it's unfinished state, waiting for my return on the 27th.

For Christmas I'll be out in the archipelago, it's like a little slice of heaven out there...

I hope for snow, it's still nothing over here which is really weird! The picture above is from early spring a few years back, so the ice had already broke. This is literally just outside our house!

These last few weeks there has been some gift sewing, and hopefully I can share with you soon what I've made for some of my relatives! It's great to get to make them gifts that they can use.

Wishing everyone a very lovely Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Self Drafted Christmas Party Dress, Part 3.

Nope, not done with the dress.

Here's my process so far: The bodice is almost done, the shawl collar is halfway on, it's made in two rectangles sewn together, and I've stitched the bottom one to the bodice so far. Here it's pinned in place. After playing around with the fabric on my dress form, I decided that the collar would probably have the best drape if I didn't cut it shaped after the neckline. (If shaped like neckline, it would lay flat out towards the shoulders, but I want mine big, standing up and fluffy!)

Side view of the huge collar.

Back view. I love how the collar makes the waist look tiny! 

Detail of the back. The dress will have both a back zipper and lacing, to make the width adjustable, in case I want to use my corset underneath to get that really tiny New Look waist! Sewing those round holes for the lacing was not fun at all, but I really like the result!

So, one might wonder - why not done? As always, life got in the way, this time first with general stress and then a not so nice faceplant into some water and a rock due to very slippery leaves when I was out on a photo expedition. Luckily I didn't break anything, but ended up with a pretty disgusting bruised fat lip and ugly scratches on my upper lip and chin.

The last pics I managed to take...

... and now my face looks kind of like this:

A few days before Christmas. Great timing, really. Thank God I'm mostly going to stay in with my family. And that I can hopefully get this dress done when we get back home three days before New Years and wear it then.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Self Drafted Christmas Party Dress, Part 2.

The sketch, the planning, the drafting of pattern pieces needed.

Last week, I presented my inspiration collage for what is (hopefully) going to become an amazing party dress for Christmas. As promised, I will share my process of getting from idea to finished garment!

After gathering inspiration, I make a rough sketch of which features from the inspiration dresses I wanted to use, adding comments and memos of my thoughts along the way. It doesn't have to look great, it's just to make sure one has thought about all parts of the garment before anything else.

Next is details and cutting. For example, I want my dress to be adjustable in waist width, since I want to be able to wear it both with my standard underwear and with my corset, to give it that true Dior New Look silhouette. So, I'll be doing both a zipper and a lacing detail in the back!

And here's a rough pattern plan. I'm keeping the skirt super simple, just a big rectangle to gather around the  waist.

The most important pattern pieces are the front and back bodice. Without them fitted well, the whole garment will look sloppy! I have made mine earlier using pattern constructing books, a lot of math and a lot of patience and fitting. This is the basic sketch...

...which leads to these pieces. I have them cut in high waist length, and if I want to make a dress with natural or lower waistline, I simply add the inches required. The neckline is high and fitted, and lower necklines marked out on the pattern pieces for reference. I will be using the low low one on this dress! And these are actually the only real paper pattern pieces I'll be using. I'll just improvise the rest. 

If you don't feel like making an entire bodice pattern from scratch, you can cheat a little! Take a bodice pattern that fits quite well, copy it on heavier paper (perhaps with some minor alterations to make it as simple as possible and as perfect in fit as possible) and you can use it again and again to go from when making things of your own design! Mostly, what changes is where the darts are put and how the neckline is cut, and those details are not that hard to play around with once you have your own basic pattern! Much easier than one could imagine! The picture below shows variations for bust dart placement, they can basically go anywhere!

Tomorrow I'll be sewing up a storm, we'll see how far I get! We're leaving town on Tuesday evening heading to the other side of the country and our families for Christmas so it has to be done by then!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Self Drafted Christmas Party Dress, Part 1.

Last week, I made a dress for celebrating Christmas with my family in the archipelago, in style of Christmases a hundred years ago in Sweden. Now it's time to make that other Christmas dress, the one that will be the conversation subject on any given Christmas party...

The inspiration collage:

Like many of my projects, this one starts with gathering of inspiration pictures. Or, rather, this one starts with the fabric. The wonderful flowery silk/cotton blend fabric in orange, red, pink and purple (top row in the collage) I traded for a pair of curtains I don't use. I knew quite instantly that I wanted to make something with a full skirt, and found myself drawn to the ever so amazing New Look. Combined with a portrait collar it will make the statement of the year (I hope!)

Very fittingly the challenge for this week on Sew Weekly is purple, and the one for next week is drafting your own pattern. I'm going to allow myself to combine them and make the dress over two weeks. After all, a party dress like this needs a little extra attention!

I'll try to document as much as possible of the drafting process, since I know there are quite a few ladies out there who sew and think of drafting as super hard. It's not! (One just needs about ten more fittings/a dress form/a good basic pattern that fits perfect to go from. And patience, lots of it.) Personally I started drafting when I started sewing real garments for myself and friends (say, ten years ago), and first time I used a pattern was last year...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Old Sewing & Crafting Magazines!

I'm in a local area facebook group where people give away things they no longer use. It's a great idea and everyday loads of things change owners because of it. So far I've collected some clothes and fabric and other things, but today I picked up the best ever - two bags of old sewing and crafting magazines!

There are eight Burda Magazines ranging from 1969 to 1992 and eight Neue Mode magazines, ranging from 1973 to 1981 (Both are German, but Swedish edition, so at least the sewing instructions are in a language I know.) And then there's about 20 different Crafting magazines (Handarbete in Swedish = Crafting), from between 1979 and 2000. Most of the magazines still have all their pattern sheets! Yay! And for me who absolutely adores the elegance of 1970's fashion (largely because it's quite like 1940's in style!), this was a great source! I just took a few pictures and made a collage from now, haven't even looked through half the stash yet.

I just love how these fashion photos can look so current and up to date, being from thirty-forty years ago! The fashion cycle is great! (And this is why I have such a hard time giving away clothes I'm not using, I know they will eventually come back in style!)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The "Christmas as in the old days" dress

...and by that I mean a Christmas that is about love, sharing, giving and getting, family, warmth, and making do with what you have.

This became a bit of a long post, brace yourselves.

Over at Sew Weekly we're using fabrics that had a previous domestic life, like tablecloths or curtains to make garments this week. Thinking about re-using, consumption, the things we value and the things we don't, I started to think about Christmas. In my family, Christmas is very important. We start decorating even before Advent and by December 24, well, mum and dad's place is covered in red and green and little lights, almost all of the decorations are the same every year. We still have the same traditions and for us, Christmas eve (which is the day when Swedes celebrate Christmas, give gifts etc.) is still pretty much the same as it was when me and my brother and sister were kids. One would think that at 28 years of age I would like a change, but I don't. One great thing I have taken with me is that a gift is really only great if you give with your heart and not with your wallet. We may not have been a wealthy family, but we sure have been able to give things that make each other happy. I know a lot of people who spend days, weeks or months worrying what to give their family members for Christmas just because their families always give expensive and fancy things, almost making it into a competition of who found the "coolest" thing to give, rather than thinking about what the person your giving something to might wish for.

I decided to make myself a red dress for Christmas, but not just any dress, a dress that would, as much as possible come from nothing, and would represent the giving spirit! The fabrics were an old double bed-sheet (I haven't found a proper name for it in English despite looking, it's two layers of sheets sewn together except for an opening where the duvet or cover goes into it, it's standard Swedish bedding) that someone had thrown away. I took it, washed it (or rather, cooked it, just in case) and stashed it. It's 100% cotton, and in two very "old time Swedish" looking prints. Two pieces, one of each print, were sent as a gift to Stacey at The Little Taylor along with the patternswap we did a bunch of weeks ago, I kept the rest. I used a pattern that I won in a Thanksgiving giveaway that Amelia at Sewly a Harpist had on her blog. The notions are from my stash, so once upon a time they probably cost me a cent or so. I was also very inspired by the works of famous Swedish painter Carl Larsson.

Here I am trying to capture the spirit of Christmases long ago...

And as a reference, Carl Larsson paintings of Christmastime in Sweden over 100 years ago...

So, the dress! The skirt is made from one fabric print, and the bodice, sleeves and pockets the other. I cut the bodice on the bias as the stripes were diagonal on the fabric, and I really love using a print to shape and enhance the cut of a dress, also, having cut it on the bias makes it just a little bit stretchy and way more comfortable! 

The pattern I got in the giveaway is this really lovely McCall's 7101, dated 1963. First time ever I win something like this, and it's in my size, yay! As you can see, view A looks very much like the dress I made! Usually I end up doing a lot of changes to the sixties patterns, but the only things I did here was to add about two inches to the bodice (to make room for the boobs, lol) and shorten the skirt two inches. Should probably have added two more at mid front, from side view one can see that the high waistline is higher front than back.

Also, instead of a hook and eye (I didn't have any at home), I put in a button and a fabric loop on the neck facing.

Last but not least - a closeup of the fabric, and look: pocket lining!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas came early this year!

Trolling around Tradera (the Swedish version of eBay) a few days back, I found something amazing. Really old and most likely quite rare vintage patterns, in my size! Look at these beauties!

I thought for a second, googled them (and found other copies nowhere!) and then hit "Buy Now". Got both for 145 SEK including postal fees... that's about 20 USD, and, dare I say, nothing for these darlings. (Sometimes it's really ok to be your own Santa!)

Spending a few hours on research I found out approximately what years these were made: The McCall 7727 is from 1949 (that one was easy, since no. 7726 is on, looks stylewise very similar to this one, and is from 1949). The Vogue Special Design 4553 was a bit harder to place but I could at last conclude that it's from either 1943 or 1944. This makes it my oldest pattern!

I am so happy for these, it's crazy! :-D Even more so when I think about those thin and fragile pattern pieces being almost 70 years old! I will definitely have to copy them onto new and fresh pattern paper before I use them...  but first I need to unwrinkle them, the ones for the Vogue pattern look as though the last person who used them threw a tantrum and just mashed them back into the envelope... :-/ Wish me good luck!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Awesome hippie pants or "look I got my whole fall palette into one garment"

I was going to finish these for "orange week" at Sew Weekly (the week before last), then I threw my back out, but now I'm back in business! With quick jumps through time I went from the 1920's in my last post and landed smack in the middle of Woodstock era with these pants!

The fabric is heavy woven linen and used to be a bunch of curtains, I got them in the neverending pig-in-a-poke bag of odd fabrics I bought this summer. Of course I just had to take advantage of their previous state, so instead of hemming, I left the hanger fabric thingys in and cut the pants to their exact length from the start. This is what it looks like when I turn the inside out, lol!

If anyone is wondering about the guitar in the above pics, yes, I play and sing... :-)

I used Simplicity 6572 from 1974 because of the high waist, straight leg and the lovely detail that the zipper is in the back just like on a skirt! I looked at all my pants patterns to find one that would work with the width of the stripes of the fabric, and not be cut in a strange way. Those of us who have seen some Project Runway knows about crazy crotch pants, and I really really tried to avoid that... worked almost great. :-) Below is a detail of the back zipper and how I used the stripes for the waistband!

While you're at it, take a look at the cut of the jacket... wow. I just need the perfect fabric for it.

And here's one of a styling idea to make them seem a little bit less crazy (at least in my eyes... guess my acceptable level of crazy might be somewhat different from that of the average person... but I love fun clothes!) Also it's easier to see in these pics what these wonderfully weird Woodstock worthy pants actually look like!