Thursday, January 16, 2014

1938 apron reproduction

My summer dress is coming along nicely, except that I'm having problems lining up the center back seams of the bodice and skirt. I had to pick out the seams three times last night before I finally had enough. I am also going to have to fix the gathers on the back of the skirt because they run out about 1.5 inches on either side of the zipper. If the dress wasn't looking so good, I'd have had a fit of rage.

While I'm waiting to finish my summer dress, I thought I'd post pics of the apron I made over the holidays. My friend Jennifer sent me a set of three apron patterns from the late 1930s when I was sick with the sinus infection/cold from hell a couple of months ago. I finally got a chance to make one of them over Christmas break. It was my first time sewing with rick-rack, and it took a while to get used to pinning it to the fabric.

This skirt isn't doing me ANY favors.

Close-up of bib detail, with bonus adorable sleepy puppy.

I got the calico fabric from my favorite thrift store. I'm really happy with the way this looks! I especially like how the shoulder straps are done. I wore it when I made Christmas cookies with my mom on Christmas Eve.

I'm not very happy with the way I look in it though. That skirt is definitely going into the Goodwill pile. If I ever needed any reason to justify my love of structured clothes and 1950s-style dresses, that white skirt gave me one. I should have just worn the dress that I modeled my vintage aprons in, but I've torn my rotator cuff and it hurts to bend my arm backward to zip up the dress.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Old letters: SFC Freddie Cagle writes to his wife, Mattie, 1951

In this edition of Old Letters, we will continue the story of big meanie Freddie Cagle and his wife, Mattie. I see he's stationed in San Francisco now. Let's see if his attitude has improved any, shall we?

[FROM: SFC Fred Cagle 38418724, Co C 64 Tank BN, San Francisco, CA TO: Mrs. Mattie Cagle, Rosebud, Texas / June 9, 1951]

My Dear Wife,

Just letting you hear from me once again. Well how is Daddy's Baby this time. As I told you before we are back across the 38 now and for a few days the going was kind of tuff for the boys.

But for me a day before the ruff stuff started I was relieved from my job to give my replacement which was my gunner a chance at tank commanding. So when out on mishin I stayed back with supply and C.P. The first platoon lost all but one of there tanks and that was the one that I use to have when I was in the first. But the tank commander of it got all mess up. For over haft of the boys in the platoon got hurt. Lavine was back here with me. I thought for a while that I would have been on my way by now but the date has been set back. 

All I am doing now is walking around from tent to tent and from company to company bull cornin the boys telling them that I just thought I would drop around before I go home. (smile)

Well I am glad you did what I told you about that beer and wiskey because I might get in at night. (smile)

As I told you before I am still having those dreams some time to in one night. I really must be loaded. (smile)

I recieved those last pictures you sent that boy is really getting fat. For Jane look like she was in a strane holding him.

Well how is rosebud now days for I know I will here a many things when I come back from those clowns. I hope none of it sounds true. (smile) For you know me in that line I am the same way. For I don't believe in know clown messing with nothing of mine. Get what I mean. (smile)

Well Baby Daddy still love his Baby and can't get home to you fast enough. I have been looking around to see L.G. but haven't seen him yet. So when you write tell me what outfit he is in I might try to see him before I leave here. I still haven't heard from Elmo yet. (over)

Now give my love to all and tell them it won't be long. 

Then to remember to be a good Girl also don't for get that Daddy still love his Baby.



Well that wasn't too bad, but ugh, I just feel so grossed out when men call themselves "Daddy" and their wife or girlfriend or whatever "Baby." And he hints at having sexy dreams, which is really more than I need to know. But it's not his fault that I bought his private letter to his wife. ¯\_()_/¯

Has Mattie taken up drinking? I'm sure I'd need lots of alcohol to endure being married to this man. Is that what the beer and whiskey reference is about? Or had he advised her in a previous letter or phone call to stock up on beer and whiskey for when he comes home?

Just thinking of Mattie and Freddie makes me so happy to be single. Well, lots of things make me happy to be single, but any suggestion of marital strife just makes me send up a silent prayer of thanks that I am no longer in an unhappy marriage, and don't have a man in my life to make me cry.

I'll end this blog post on that happy note, and all of us who are single can contemplate how wonderful it is to be free to be ourselves without having to reassure or explain or excuse or apologize for it to some man who acts like you can't do anything right anyway, no matter what you do (but still expects you to cook for him and sleep with him). How wonderful it is to be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. How wonderful it is to not have to get naked for someone you really aren't attracted to anymore, and who isn't really a pleasant person to be around anymore, but you force yourself to do it because you can't be in a relationship and not have sex, and you try to believe that this time you might feel differently even though you know you won't.

TL;DR, in conclusion: no more sexual boredom, no more crying, no more feeling like I'm not good enough. This is why I love being single!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Butterick 5708 attempted: Is stupid and rage-inducing

Well, since my Christmas dress actually defeated me in spite of my best efforts, I decided to do a little stash-busting.

I bought Butterick 5708 at Joanne's when Butterick patterns were on sale 10 for $10.00, and figured it would be perfect for this pretty, pretty lighthouse-printed fabric I found at a thrift store a few years ago.

I didn't have quite enough for the dress, so I bought a coordinating solid at Joanne's to use on the upper part of the bodice. CUTE CUTE CUTE

Omgosh, this pattern. This PATTERN. It, like Butterick 8160, looks GREAT on paper. In reality, it's terribly designed. I will say, I noticed several bloggers who were able to make this dress and it looked great on them and they said it was easy. This wasn't the case with me, so basically I'm ranting but if you want to try this pattern, go for it.

Several bloggers who made the Butterick 5708 dress mentioned that the shoulders seemed to be made for a linebacker. Since I have wide shoulders, I wasn't really concerned about it. But I should have been. I tried on the bodice before I lined it and maybe I did something wrong when I cut the pattern out, but the fabric in the front and back gapes and bunches up terribly when I tied the sleeves.

And this is another thing--this bodice is a BITCH to try on for fitting purposes, because you can't really pre-tie the shoulder straps and then slip it on. It has to be worn to tie the shoulder straps properly, and even then you really need to have a helper tie them for you (which I didn't have) to get them tied evenly on both sides.

Nevertheless, I realized as I was trying it on for fit that I was going to have to cut down the bodice as best as I could because it was way too huge. That meant I had to take it all apart because, and this is something else people mentioned--the way the bodice is constructed means that you can't do anything but take it in at the sides once it's sewn together. If you need to fix the fit in any other way, you have to take it completely apart.

I was trying really hard not to freak out, so I gamely deconstructed the bodice and retraced everything to a size 14, which was the smallest size of the pattern. I couldn't do anything about the neckline, unfortunately, because the fabric was already cut and I didn't want to buy more. It takes TWO AND A HALF YARDS of fabric cut out the TOP (contrast) part of the bodice pattern. 

Vintage ashtrays are fun pattern weights. I wanted to buy vintage flower frogs in different colors to use as pattern weights, but that would have been expensive.

Sewed the damn thing back together. Which, sewing a midriff to a v-shaped bodice is SO MUCH HARDER than you'd think. "Stitch to the large circle and then pivot." Oh no. First you have to figure out how to pin the pieces together, then figure out how to deal with all the fabric that's bunched at the point of the V where you're supposed to pivot, then you turn it right side out and realize you're going to have to redo it because, duh, all the fabric got bunched up.

What I had to do was sew each side of the midriff to the bodice separately. There was no pivoting. It worked out well, but was a really frustrating learning experience.

Ugh, hateful pattern.

Anyway, finally got the bodice and lining sewn together and as I was trying pressing the seams flat after turning it inside out, I found myself cussing it out and repeatedly exclaiming "I HATE THIS!!"

SERIOUSLY??? Trying to press the seams flat on the shoulder straps was traumatic. One long, drawn out, barely controlled fit of rage.

Listen. I admit I'm prone to fits of rage when sewing, but when you are hating every bit of a project--END THE PROJECT. I'm stubborn and I am also thrifty and I didn't want to waste this cute fabric that I won't be able to replace, but I should have trusted my instincts because this was all a waste of time.

Thank goodness I had enough leftover fashion fabric to make a new bodice from a pattern I've done before and really love: enter McCall's 5094.

And behold, the new bodice:

Isn't it pretty?? God, I hope it fits. The first time I made this pattern, I made it in a size 14 and ended up having to take it in 1.5 inches on either side of the center back seam. This one I made in a size 12. I feel like the straps could be a little longer, but on the first one I made, the straps were way too long and I had to take those in too.

I am really working on improving my craftsmanship, and I'm really proud of my work on this bodice so far. Except for the fact that the pattern is running upside down on the midriff. And the fact that I trimmed the seam allowance connecting the upper bodice to the midriff and THEN realized I'd forgotten the midriff lining. But I fixed that, and proved that I COULD stitch in the ditch. And then realized I'd accidentally sewn the midriff lining on wrong, so that the wrong side is now showing.

Guess I won't be selling this in my etsy store after all.

But listen--when I first started sewing, I didn't know about trimming seam allowances and clipping curves. I didn't know about stay-stitching. Now I stay-stitch all sides of all pieces, because I've experienced too many stretched out necklines and armholes. The added benefit is that the stitch line serves as my guide for the seam allowance, which is wonderful because before I could never sew the 5/8" allowance consistently. It would waver from 5/8" to 4/8" to 6/8" and would just make me sweat with anxiety. Now that I know about trimming allowances and clipping curves, my necklines and armholes are nice and smooth. After I get a few more dresses under my belt, I might actually be ready to start selling what I've made on etsy. :-)