Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Simplicity Jiffy 5959 - Update

I was so excited to get the neckline facing sewn down on my dress last night. I thought I might have a fit of rage in the process, until I realized... Get this... That the facing is supposed to be COMPLETELY TURNED UNDER. I thought it was supposed to be sort of folded over, and that was making me really upset because I couldn't get the fabric to lay flat. I finally Googled "facing for a V-neck" and found the answer.

So yeah, that went well after all, even though it took me three times longer than it should have.

Setting the zipper was a breeze thanks to my friend Jennifer's tutorial. I'm getting to be an old pro at zippers.

I got the side seams all sewn up and then had to wait until I was getting ready to go to bed to try the dress on for fit because a dog park friend came over with her dog, and it was kind of chaotic.

So imagine how I felt when I tried the dress on and saw this:


I must have stretched the neckline out somehow when I was messing with the facing. I'm so pissed off. There is no way I can fix it, except to pin the excess fabric away in a little tuck, which looks pretty stupid.

But I don't care. I've never been in a contest before, and I really want to see this through. I also love this dress, and I plan to wear it. Maybe I can make a bow and stick it over the messed up part, and hopefully no one will notice.

Tonight: armhole facings (which should be much less stressful now that I know how to do them right), hemming the dress, and then cutting out the pieces for the jacket and lining. Maybe I'll even be able to sew some of the jacket tonight. It depends on how patient Lulu can be before insisting that I take her on a walk, and how long it takes before I run out of steam. Sewing is very mentally demanding, which drains me of energy pretty quickly on week nights after work.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Simplicity Jiffy 5959: Vintage sewing contest

So I started my new project for the vintage sewing contest on patternreview.com. Simplicity Jiffy 5959 is a two piece sheath dress with a matching jacket. Four pattern pieces in all, if you don't count the facings. I almost didn't do a muslin because the pattern looks so simple, but then thought the better of it since I had decided to shorten the pattern where the lengthen/shorten line is for once, rather than just taking it up at the hem. That's because the dress has a slight waistline, and I am very short-waisted.

The muslin turned out nicely. I'm not very experienced at pattern fitting (i.e., have no experience in it whatsoever), but it seemed okay to me. Loose fitting, but the illustration on the pattern cover looks a bit loose-fitting. Didn't see any weirdness at the waist, the armholes seem okay, didn't seem to gape at the neck, and it was a good length.

I only took pics of the bodice because look at those darts! I love them, so clean and neat-looking!

The pattern calls for the jacket to be lined, but I decided to line the dress too since the fabric I'm using is so sheer. I also thought it would be easier to deal with if it was lined because the fashion fabric tends to stick to itself. Plus, it's a bit scratchy against the skin. But CUTE!

I knew I was going to run into problems because I always run into problems. I attribute it to my level of experience, no matter how simple the pattern. I am trying really hard to improve my craftsmanship, and it's very frustrating when things like this happen and I don't know why:

I meant to clip the curves and trim the seam allowance of the neck facing at lunch today, but my cat had other ideas.

Oh well, carry on!

I only have a few more days left. I'm hoping to have it done by Thursday so my parents can take pics of me in it when I'm there for Thanksgiving, but as long as I can finish it on Friday I'll be happy. I still haven't cut out the pattern pieces for the jacket. One thing at a time. My plan is this:

Tonight (Monday): I hope I can at least do the zipper and finish the neck facing and sew the side seams together this evening, and cut out the armhole facings.

Tuesday: Attach the armhole facings, hem the dress, make the tie belt, and cut out the jacket pieces from the fashion fabric.

Wednesday: Cut out jacket lining pieces and sew jacket and lining together but probably too much to hope that I'll line the jacket Wednesday night.

Thursday: Line the jacket, hem bottom edge and sleeves. I have a feeling a fit of rage will happen when trying to line the jacket, because the pattern illustration accompanying the instructions looks incomprehensible to me.

Friday: Post pattern review and pics on patternreview.com.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Edwardian shirt waist - FREE PATTERN - The McCall Bazar Pattern No. 6438 (1902)

According to the IMPORTANT CHANGE notice at the top of the page, the first pattern they started printing with markings was No. 6414, in the March, 1901 issue. In the caption below the pattern, it says the pattern is a facsimile of the March 1901 pattern--or so that's how I interpret it.

But the pattern number below the illustration of the finished waist in the bottom right corner says No. 6438. So I'm going to assume this is a pattern for No. 6438.

"The above is a fac-simile of The McCall Bazar (model) Pattern (commencing with March, 1901, issue) showing perforated tracing lines, also the necessary seam and [missing text] allowance without waste of material."

The black box containing the pattern pieces measures approx. 4.5 inches (11.3 cm) long x 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) high, in case that helps for scaling up the pattern.

Here is a good video tutorial on scaling up the pattern using the radial projection method:

If anyone comes across this blog post and uses this pattern, will you please let me know about your experience making it? I'm dying to see how it looks in real life.

I plan on making an Edwardian costume at some point but don't know when I'll get to it.

McCall's Magazine, July 1902

I was so excited to find a McCall's Magazine dated July, 1902 at one of my favorite antique malls this weekend. It's missing several pages, so the vendor didn't even charge me for it. AND, maybe the most exciting thing about it, is that it came with a FREE pattern!! For a 1902 "waist"!!! Which I'm going to share at the end of this post!!!!

But first, let's take a trip down history lane. How about these fab hats for little girls? I honestly didn't know that little girls were expected to wear hats like THIS back then. Whenever I think of old-fashioned hats for girls, I think of a little straw hat with a simple ribbon on it. Not hats loaded with frills and feathers and floral trims and lace.

Celebrity Snapshots! Miss Hilda Spong, M. Santos Dumont, and Mark Twain are featured. Mark Twain? Who ARE these people?

I Googled all of them. Miss Hilda Spong was an actress that I think started in Australia, and then made her debut in England in 1896. According to Wikipedia, she was born in 1875 and was in a shit-ton of plays, and died in 1955.

Santos Dumont, wow, I had no idea he pioneered air flight and in fact made the first airplane and did the first airplane flight BEFORE the Wright brothers! I can't believe he's been virtually erased from history and the Wright brothers get all the credit for inventing airplanes. Santos Dumont was a pacifist and hated the fact that his biggest invention was used as a tool of war.

Mark Twain was a writer and wrote some book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I have no idea. *shrug*

Now for the good stuff - fashion.

Ribbon Garniture for Summer Gowns
Sporting Costumes
Summer Shirt Waists
Gowns for the Seashore
Frocks for Misses and Children
For the Street and Boudoir
For the Street and Boudoir

More picspam of McCall's Magazine, July 1902 edition in a later post. And I've decided to share the shirtwaist pattern in its own post to make it easier to find.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Old letters: L.A. Johnson writes to Miss Lois Carter, 1918

We are WAY overdue for another old letter. I'm having a bit of weepy day today, plus I'm really stressed about money, and I'm just worrying about everything all at once and and and... So I want to treat myself and all my bot readers to a new old letter.

In this episode, L. A. Johnson writes to Miss Lois Carter, who apparently is in the hospital after having an operation. The letter is written on blank sales receipts from W. B. Lillard & Co, The Ladies' and Children's Ready-to-Wear Store, No. 105 S. Market St., Jackson, Tenn.

As usual, I'm keeping all the original spelling in the transcription and making my best guess where proper names are iffy.

[FROM: L.A. Johnson, Jackson, Tennessee, TO: Miss Lois Carter, c/o Lucy Brinkley Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee / May 9, 1918]

Dearest Babe

Hope you are getting along fine and will soon be home for we miss you so much. I saw Abe Watlington and he said to tell you that it wasn't at all neccessary for you to go to Memphis for he could have performed the operation on Stoddert St. as well.

Everything is quiet as usual had a little excitement yesterday when a live wire fell on our st and Miss Mollie was guarding it for the company.

I think Mr. Mashis is behaving nicely haven't heard of any more babies. Prof Griffin had his trial yesterday somebody said. I don't know what they did.

Don't you like my stationary they didn't have time to have my monogram so you will have to excuse it this time.

The whole force was in office so of course didn't have the nerve to ask for expensive paper.

Well have just had an old hen who told me she could get waist like my 7.50 ones in Greenfield for 1.98. That is just like the old devils. 

Some more of boys are going to leave Mon. I don't know whether Mac is in the crowd or not. 

I have three pennies left from pay day. I have bought myself broke in war saving stamps. I will be a rich lady if the war ever ends. Then I speck maby with all my money I can get Mr. Phillips especially his auto.

Well must close as Mary & Mr. Joe is flying round like tigers this morn and are liable to put me on buttons so I have to pretend I am busy guess I will have to stay in toilet. Mr M Tuckfeld & I will take time about he is in now.

Write us
[name illegible]

Omg, "haven't heard of any more babies"! My, my, my. I guess Mr. Mashis was one who got around. I like this girl's sense of humor! And boy, I would have been pissed off too if someone told me she found the same dress as me somewhere else for a quarter of the price. I wonder if the boys who are going to leave on Monday are being deployed for the war? She wants Mr. Phillips for his car. And she was huddled in the bathroom writing this letter! L. A. Johnson sounds like a vivacious young lady. I wish I could read the name at the end of the letter, but I just can't make it out. It looks like it starts with a G, but I don't know how that relates to her first initial being L.

Vintage Butterick 8160 - F@#% this

This weekend I worked on my dress for the Pattern Review vintage sewing contest, using Vintage Butterick 8160.

Early indications were that the bodice was going to be a bitch to sew and that I'd have at least one fit of rage while trying to get the fit right.

I made a muslin. The fit was so hideously bad. It was a major humbling experience for me because my figure is so generic that I actually stopped making muslins for the 50s-style sundresses I love because my proportions fit the pattern measurements so easily. I didn't think it'd be any different for this actual 1950s pattern, but thank goodness I made the muslin for it. Because it looked SHITTY and I would have killed myself if I'd cut up my fashion fabric for it.

This is the only picture I have of Muslin #1:

I convinced myself that it turned out badly because the fabric I used is too heavy and stiff. So I made another one, and I felt like the gathers came out better and looked more like the picture on the pattern. But it was the same result on the body. Ungainly. Badly proportioned. Horrible drape. Here, I'll show you.

Muslin #2:

I am actually wearing pants here, okay? A skirt, actually. I turned the waist band up to my actual waist level--I am very short-waisted--hoping it would magically improve the bodice fit.

I can't even begin to figure out how to fix the fitting issues. I even bought a dress form to try the muslin on so I would have a better chance of figuring it out, but ended up having a fit of rage and tearing the stupid thing up at the seams (the muslin, not the dress form).

I truly don't think the bodice pattern for vintage Butterick 8160 is a workable design. It looks good on paper, but in reality, it's a terrible design.

So I'll have to do something else for the Vintage Sewing challenge, and save the Christmas dress for the Holiday Sewing contest, because then I can combine a different bodice with the Butterick 8160 skirt, which really does look to-die-for.

Luckily I had a Plan B for the Vintage Sewing contest. My fallback plan is to do Simplicity Jiffy 5959 with the cute vintagey print fabric I found at High Fashion Fabrics in Houston.

It looks easy, and I'm sure it is, but I'm convinced that every new pattern I try takes at least 5 times longer to complete than it would for a more experienced seamstress. Plus, I'm going to line both the jacket and the dress, because the fabric is kind of scratchy and I believe it tends to stick to itself. So it's probably good for a fit of rage, haha.

I only have 12 days to finish the Vintage Sewing contest. Luckily, the Holiday Sewing contest started Nov. 15 and runs through the end of December, so I have plenty of time to figure out what to do for my Christmas dress.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Butterick 4735 - My first REAL vintage dress!

I recently completed my first REAL vintage sewing project (real as in, not 1980s) from Butterick 4735, which is one of the patterns my dear, amazing friend Jennifer sent me.

It was an easy dress to make but, as with all things I attempt for the first time, more difficult that I thought it would be. I did learn some new skills with this one, which is probably why it was so stressful for me.


1. Armhole facings. I faced some very tense moments when I had to turn the facings to the inside. I got massive bunching up of fabric. Jennifer walked me through it though. She sent me pictures of how to grade and cut Vs in the seam allowance to reduce the fabric bulk (and then gently reminded me that there are instructions for armhole facings in the Fashion Sewing for Everyone book that she sent me. I'm so used to running to her flailing my arms in despair that I'd forgotten all about it).

My first armhole facing still had a few lumps:

But the second one was perfect! I couldn't believe it!

2. Interfacing and attaching a yoke to a dress. Boy did this stress me out. I could NOT make sense of the instructions that came with the pattern. Once again, Jennifer came to my rescue.

The yoke came out beautifully despite some issues in the beginning, and I'm very proud of it. The back edges are even, too! I clipped all the curves like a good girl, and hand-stitched the raw edges down on the inside, but I'm terrified it's going to all fall apart when I wash it, because the fabric I used shreds very easily and I'm afraid I didn't turn the raw edges under enough.

I had a problem when it came to folding the facing over the zipper part in the back. I think I should have either waited to put the zipper in until after the yoke was all done and in place, or I should have left the top few inches loose. The instructions said to put the zipper in even before the armhole facings, so that's what I did. But I had to do a lot of tweaking to get the facing to lay right around the top of the zipper because... Well, I'm not exactly sure why. It just wouldn't lay right, and I forgot to take pictures of that step for future reference.

Other than the armhole facings, and the yoke facing near the zipper, the only other problem I had was that the dress stretched HORRIBLY on the bias. As in, the sides were 5 inches longer than the front. I think it's because the fabric is a loose weave and very drapey. I couldn't hem it myself--I had to go to my mom and bless her, she spent an hour on measuring, trimming, and then ironing the hem allowance in place so I could sew it, and did a FANTASTIC job.

Oh, and the dress is supposed to be 39.5" long in the back as the finished length, but for some reason mine was 37" unfinished. But I'm short, so that worked out okay.


Let's get to the pictures, shall we? But before I do that, I really don't recommend this dress for ladies with generous bosoms, because you'll look like you're wearing a tent. In fact, the dress is described on the pattern package as a tent dress. It will not be flattering, trust me. Comfy, but not flattering.

See what I mean? I was afraid I was going to seriously hate the dress and the time and money I'd spent on making it because there was no way I could wear it "as is." I tried it with a belt, too, but that just made me look puffy on top and bottom. And then I remembered a pink wool shrug that I bought at Salvation Army a few years ago and never wore, and wouldn't you know, it was the perfect thing for this dress.

Ugh, I have the worst posture. Anyway, who cares, the dress looks fabulous, and I got TONS of compliments on it. It's a wonderful summer-to-fall transition dress. It's also delightfully twirly:

Next project is going to be my Christmas dress from vintage Butterick 8160 (view A) for the patternreview.com Vintage Sewing Contest.