Friday, October 20, 2017

The Seabirds Dress (Butterick 5209)

Hey everyone! Today I'm sharing the Butterick 5209 I made to wear to our friend's wedding on Catalina Island. I made it along with the seahorse dress and a light blue and white striped Moneta (which I have yet to blog about). I decided to go with a nautical theme for all of my outfits since the wedding was on an island (yes, I'm a weirdo). Unfortunately I didn't get any good photos of the dress on Catalina, so I took some photos last weekend in Guadalupe, a little town near the ocean a few miles from Santa Maria. It's known for the huge sand dunes nearby and it was the filming location for the 1923 film "The Ten Commandments." The crew actually left most of the props behind after filming and they were covered up by the sand. Some have now been excavated and you can see them in the little historical museum in town!

Anyway... I used Butterick 5209, which is a 1947 re-issue and it has a look which can read both 1940s and 1950s (the halter version would make a perfect "Marilyn" dress). It was pretty simple to make and luckily it fit without adjustments, which was great since I was in a time crunch getting three dresses completed for the wedding! The only thing I would possibly do if I make it again is to make the neckline a teensy bit higher because I ended up showing a bit more cleavage than I'm used to :)

I made it with some great rayon challis from Cotton & Steel with little sea birds on it. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this fabric! Not only is it a great novelty print which reads well as being from the right era, it's super soft and comfortable as well! The only thing I was a bit worried about was that it's instructed to be dry cleaned only, which is just way too high-maintenance for me. I took a chance and washed the fabric as a delicate and tumbled it dry on low heat and it didn't seem to create any adverse effects..phew! I'll still wash it in cold water and hang dry from here on out.

I tried my hand at a 1940's hair style (courtesy of a YouTube tutorial), it's better than what I usually do but as you can see I still need some practice (also my hair does not like to stay curled for more than 10 minutes or so).  I finally had a reason to wear the adorable hair clip my brother's girlfriend gave me last Christmas. It's perfect for the bird theme!

I had to share a photo of this amazing wall mural- I hope they never decide to paint over it!

The other side still has this advertisement for Gold Medal Flour. So cool!

Pattern: Butterick 5209
 Size: 18
 Alterations: None
Skill Level: Intermediate

See you next time!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sewing Project: The Seahorses Dress (McCall's 7599)

Hi guys! I'm back today with a recent sewing project. Our friends' wedding on Catalina Island gave me the perfect reason to make a few new dresses to wear. I decided to make a new dress for each of the three days we were there and make them all in an ocean/nautical theme.

 I got my inspiration from the photos of this vintage dress from Cheshire Vintage (it sold awhile back). I loved the scalloped trim and the two rows of fish. I looked online for fish appliques but couldn't find anything I liked, so I decided to make my own. That's when I had the idea to make seahorses instead of fish, to move them to the skirt instead of the bodice, and to make them two different colors. I also decided to make my dress in more ocean-y colors, though I do love the contrast of the maroon and white of the inspiration dress!

I'd been really wanting to try out this vintage Advance 6672 pattern and I thought the scallops on the bodice would be perfect to go with the wave scallops on the skirt.  I started the somewhat laborious process of grading the pattern up to my size when I realized that the re-issue McCall's 7599 was really similar, and had a full circle skirt (which I was going to substitute anyway). So in the interest of time I decided to just used the McCall's pattern but add scallops to the bodice band.

This project was definitely one of those fussy ones that takes a bit of trial and error. I had a lot of trouble getting the bodice to fit my bust properly. Fitting is one of those things I still struggle with and I really want to learn more about (especially since I have kind of a hard-to-fit body). I was thinking I needed to do a full bust adjustment, but I ended up just lowering the darts by a couple of inches, making the darts bigger and adding some length to the bodice front. It took me quite a few tries to get that right and I had to just throw out my first dress altogether (it was a wholly unflattering mess). At that point I almost scrapped the whole project, but decided to order some new fabric and start over after I had some time to regroup. Luckily I got it to work this time and I learned something about fitting my body that should help me next time around.

I chose this Robert Kaufman cotton Manchester. I absolutely love the look of textured cottons like this one! They're perfect for vintage-style dresses and look similar to a lot of fabrics you see from the 1940s-60s. The only thing I didn't like was the amount of pilling that appeared after I washed and dried the fabric.

I decided at the last minute to add a contrasting belt to kind of finish the outfit. When I say last minute, I really mean it- I was finishing the belt in the car on the way down to Long Beach! I think the addition of the belt helps give it the right vintage look as well as making my waist look smaller.

 I also added some round patch pockets which I trimmed with rick rack as well. They ended up a bit crooked somehow so I need to remove one and try to sew it on better!

The seahorse appliques were somewhat time-consuming (but then again they're kind of the focal point of the dress!). I experimented a bit to figure out the best way to make these and had to throw away a couple of the first iterations. I ended up using wonder-under on one side of the fabric, then tracing the seahorse design onto a piece of interfacing which I then ironed to the wonder-under. Then I trimmed  around the shape, leaving about a 1/4 inch allowance. I cut lots of notches, and then carefully folded over and ironed the fabric onto the interfacing, bit-by-bit (the wonder-under is key to getting it to stay).

After I had the seahorse shapes made, I hand-sewed the silver trim and beads on. I found the decorative grommets in a bunch of stuff I inherited from my grandma, and they were perfect for the eyes. I then measured up from the hem where I wanted the "waves" to be and drew lines with a fabric marker. I then drew the scallops on. To get even scallops I used the plastic lid of a coffee can. I then hand-sewed the baby rick rack onto the lines I drew and hand-sewed the seahorse appliques onto the skirt. This was definitely the most tedious part of this project and my fingers hurt like crazy after I was done! The only thing I realized I forgot was to add some sequin "bubbles"- I'll try to put some on before I wear it again.

I wore it the day after the wedding to a beach excursion we all went on.  Here we are at the Two Harbors beach in the beach palapa our group rented. It was a lot of fun!

Here's Phillip and I by the fountain in Avalon. I think it was all worth it in the end!

The essentials:

Pattern: Mcall's 7599
 Size: 16
 Alterations: Lowered bust darts, added scallops to bodice band. I also didn't bother making the crinoline from the pattern.
Trims:1/4 inch baby rick rack, handmade seahorse appliques, belt kit
Skill Level: Intermediate

See you next time!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My New Bernina 350

For my birthday back in May, my parents offered to get me a new sewing machine. I had been using my old one since I had gotten it when I was about 18. It wasn't a terrible machine, but I did get frustrated sometimes trying to sew through especially thick fabrics and sometimes the stitch length wasn't super consistent. So I started researching a bit to find out what kind of machine to buy.

It's really overwhelming since there is such a range of prices and features, including lots of things I knew I would probably never need! I got a very helpful spreadsheet from Tanya that she put together when she was deciding on her new machine. I looked into a few of the ones that she listed as well as going to my local sewing machine store. I was looking for a good-quality machine without a lot of bells and whistles, but which would stitch evenly through lightweight all the way to heavy fabrics. Pretty much everyone I spoke to said Berninas were the best machines for garment sewing, and once I tried one out in the store I was really impressed. Then I saw the special edition Cotton + Steel Bernina 350 model and I knew that was a must-have- I'm a sucker for bright colors and gorgeous design!

The machine comes with a lever that allows you to raise and lower the presser foot without using your hands. I tried it out but so far haven't used it during a project, though I know many people swear by them.

This machine has a digital display that is pretty simple and easy to use. You can adjust the stitch length, width, and move the needle with simple arrow buttons. When you enter the number of the stitch you'd like and the display will tell you the correct foot to use. There is also this removable extension table which gives you some extra room-  I tend to keep it on for everything but sleeves and such.

The machine comes with this card which shows all of the stitches the machine has available. I've just left it up on top of the machine as I learn the various features. I've tried out most of them, though I don't use these fancy stitches very often and mainly just use the straight and zig-zag. As I had hoped, the stitches are even and consistent and it sews through every fabric I've put through it with ease. Another bonus is that I rarely get tangled "thread nests" at the beginning of seams, which was a regular occurrence with my old machine.

One thing I thought would be annoying to me (but actually hasn't) is the fact that this machine uses a traditional bobbin rather than the drop-in kind that most newer machines have. The lady at the sewing machine store explained that this gives a better stitch. I was afraid I would be annoyed to have to load the bobbin case and snap it in underneath, but I've actually gotten used to it pretty fast.

The machine comes with a few interchangeable presser feet. They are actually really easy to change out, despite not being the snap-on ones I was used to before. The lady at the sewing store said Bernina uses the shank type because they are sturdier. In addition to the ones that came with the machine, I went ahead and purchased an invisible zipper foot, which has become indispensable to me now that I've learned to use one properly. (Seriously, get one right now if you don't already have one- they make inserting fiddly invisible zippers so much easier!) The machine also comes with a book showing all of the feet and other accessories that are available and how to use them. In the photo above you can see: (1) Reverse-pattern foot, snap-on foot adaptor, (34) Buttonhole foot, (4) Zipper foot, (5) Blindstitch foot, (20) Open Embroidery Foot, (35) Invisible Zipper foot, and (37) Patchwork foot.

I've done a few buttonholes, and I can say that though the foot is a bit weird and looks intimidating, it's not hard to use and has done a perfect buttonhole every time. You can even sew buttons on with the machine, but I've been too chicken to try that one out yet... so I just keep sewing them on by hand.

All in all, I'm really happy with my new machine! It has been such an upgrade from the one I was using before, although I didn't really know how much until I made the switch. I'm looking forward to using it for many years to come!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sewing Project: The Butterfly Skirt

Hi friends! At long last I'm sharing my project for Tanya's "Dress Like Your Grandma" sewing challenge, where you find an outfit that your grandmother (or other relative) wore and re-create it. Like I mentioned in my last post, I wasn't able to track down any good family pictures, so I took the opportunity to re-create one of my favorite vintage fashion photos.

My first task was creating the fabric design to order on Spoonflower. I wasn't able to find any other photos of this skirt while I was working on re-creating the design, so I sketched it out as best I could and then brought my sketches into Adobe Illustrator, traced them, added color, and made it into a repeating pattern. Later, I came across this blog post by Dividing Vintage Moments where she also re-created this skirt with some of the original 1940s fabric. You can see by her version that the colors were actually a bit lighter than the way they look in the photo.

I had the design printed on the organic cotton sateen, which is turning into my go-to fabric for skirts. It is 56 inches wide so I am able to make the design on both borders and then cut it in half lengthwise. It did end up a teensy bit shorter than I would have liked by the time I took off some for the waistband. I ordered 2 yards which I cut in half so this skirt has a total of 4 yards in sweep.

I didn't use a pattern for the skirt- it's just a simple dirndl skirt with a side zipper and hooks at the waistband. I did add pockets, which was a bit tricky to figure out with the side zipper. I used this tutorial to help me figure it out.

For the shirt, I used vintage Simplicity 2127, which I had in my stash, and some of this rayon voile from Unfortunately mine is missing the envelope, so I had no idea what size I was working with (it isn't marked on the pieces either). I was in a bit of a time crunch so I just went ahead and made it without any grading and luckily it fit just fine. I love how forgiving peasant blouses are! The only thing is that it's a but sheer so I'll probably wear a cami under it.

Well, thanks for stopping by! You can check out all of the other entries for this challenge on Tanya's blog. I hope she does this challenge again so I can find a real family photo to re-create!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sewing Project: The Watches Skirt

Hey friends! I know it's been awhile, but I wanted to pop by today to share one of my recent projects. I acquired this amazing vintage fabric with watches on Ebay. Actually, I had Phillip bid on it for me because I have total Ebay anxiety and I hate bidding on things at the last minute, which is what you have to do if you really want to get something. I was so relieved when he won it!

I had just enough to make this simple pleated skirt. I had to do some creative piecing to get the waistband long enough. Luckily the direction of the print makes it hard to notice.

 I finished the hem with bias tape- this is my favorite method for skirts-especially when you don't want use up too much of the length. Also you can pick a coordinating color which adds a bit of extra detail.

I'm so in love with this print! Maybe one of these days I'll make a repro of it to add to my Spoonflower shop. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dress Like Your Grandma Challege Inspiration

(Image Source Here)

   Just to get it out there right now: no, this is not my grandma. In fact I have no idea who this lady is. I'm cheating a little on this one.

  I haven't had the time to go and track down some old family photos for Tanya's Dress Like Your Grandma Sewing Challenge, but I still really want to get in on the fun, so I've decided to use the challenge as a good excuse to re-create the outfit in a photograph I've been in love with for awhile. 
   I've decided to attempt to re-create this gorgeous 1940's-era butterfly skirt and yellow peasant top, which was published in a 1942 edition of Harper's Bazaar, according to the source website. I spent the better part of the weekend trying to draw the butterflies in Illustrator, which I thought would be straightforward but was surprisingly difficult due to the folds of the fabric. Anyway, I did my best and now I'm awaiting the fabric from Spoonflower.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dress Like Your Grandma Sewing Challenge

I just wanted to let you all know about a fun sewing challenge my friend Tanya is hosting on her blog, Mrs. Hughes. It's called the "Dress Like Your Grandma" vintage sewing challenge. Here's the idea:

"This is a vintage sewing challenge where family history can inspire your wardrobe.  Take a photo of your grandma (or your grandpa, great-grandma, mom, aunt, someone else’s grandma —  you get the idea!) and re-create an outfit or piece that they are wearing.  Many of us don’t have vintage garments to remember our loved ones by or perhaps we can’t fit into what they left behind.  Re-create that image with vintage patterns, reproduction patterns or modern patterns.  If your style is different from a family member’s or you want to evoke a different era, find a vintage photo with a garment that suits you and re-create that.  The idea is to study a vintage photograph and transform that photo into a garment or outfit that you’ve sewn yourself."

You can get the rest of the details here on her blog and get some buttons for your own blog.

So much fun! I'm off to find some old family photos!