February 22, 2017

Typical

Sometimes, there is really no reason to try and be original. It can be very nice to just make something which is very typical for an era in fashion that you like or even for your own 'signature look'.

I think this skirt is like that. The shape, a half circle, would not have looked out of place in the early 1950's (when high fabric cost kept hems in everyday life narrower than you'd expect by looking at the couture creations of the time). The pockets, with their folded-back flaps suit that style too. 

And personally, I've always loved half-circle skirts. Nicely full but more economical and a lot more practical than their full-circle relatives. For example, riding a bicycle in a half-circle skirt is fine.

The only special thing about this skirt has to be the fabric: A mid-weight, fairly stiff corduroy in a lovely sky-blue colour. Although the pile of this particular corduroy is really low, I treated it as a "fabric with nap" anyway. I cut the skirt in eight gores which were all cut out of the fabric in the same direction. Of course, this way to cut the skirt also made this pocket design possible. 

There is not much more to say about it really... It's a fun skirt which will work well with lots of different tops. 

February 19, 2017

New loose shapes

This past month, I have been sewing and I have enjoyed it... It just took me a long time to take pictures of what I had made. I finally caught up. Today, E took pictures of three different new garments. Actually, four new garments but two of those are in the same outfit. That's the one I will show you today.

I've had this heavy mystery-fiber (definitely synthetic but luckily without static cling) crepe in my stash for a while. Originally, I had it earmarked for a dress with elaborate draped and pleated details but I never quite got around to making it. I think I was right not to. This stuff is too bulky for such use. So, some weeks ago, I decided to make something else I liked the idea of: Retro-style very wide trousers.

I always liked the idea of culottes/trousers and I have made a pair before. And now that my increased level of exercise (all that climbing!) has made me loose some of the roundness on my hips, they look even better than before.
So, I thought that would be a great use for that fabric. And did I mention I love the colour? That bronze-ish tone tends to look very good on me and it can be combined with so many other colours I like!


The previous pair of full-length culottes were drafted as culottes, based on a skirt sloper. This new pair isn't, these are actually very wide trousers. The only real difference is in the shaping of the crotch seam and in the angle of the center back seam. 

I also made a better informed choice about the pockets: The old pair had in-seam pockets. Not the best choice in a garment that is at its most fitted from waist to hip. Here, I have made slightly curved slanted pockets.

Oh, and I didn't want to make a fly front in a fabric with so much drape. Nor put a zipper a the side seam, come to think of it. So, the closure of these trousers is another of my odd zipper-less inventions. There is a button on the waistband at the left pocket, not a the right side. The inside of the left pocket extends to center front and is buttoned to the inside of the waistband there. So, the trousers open far enough through the side of that pocket for me to get in and out of them. 

Making these trousers, I was thinking about vintage lounge pyjama's, like these from Beyer's Mode from 1937,

or these from Gracieuse magazine from 1931.

I have some patterns for those but I drafted my own anyway. I have studied the patterns of those 1930's examples and they all have very loose and low fit at the crotch. I didn't really want that here, I think it would have made the trousers less wearable in a "normal" setting...

Oh, and I also made the top (this is not a great picture, E took it while I was putting on my shoes. It looks a bit odd but it does show my work with those stripes). I used the loose fitting, dropped shoulder shape I made earlier this winter and tried my best at matching those very thin wavy stripes (and gave up on that half-way through). It's simple and comfortable and in this thin jersey, it is perfect for tucking into high waistbands. 
The combination is quite loose all-over by standards but I still really like it. There is a sort of laid-back glamour about wearing lots of flowing fabric... 
And I actually like the idea of these trousers so much that I'm already dreaming up lots of other outfits to create using them. Outfits for which some parts still have to be created...

February 5, 2017

Back in time again!

It's been a while since I shared any vintage goodness here. How could I forget to do that!
I'll try to make it up to you.

Today, I am happy to present an issue of one of my favorite Dutch sewing magazines: Bella, het nieuwe modeblad (= Bella, the new fashion magazine). Bella is a favorite of mine because, unlike many other magazines of the time, it includes all the designs which are printed in the magazine on the pattern sheet. Just in one size each though (I have yet to find multi-size printed patterns pre-dating the mid-1960's).

This is the first (of two) January issue of 1954. I'm not sure this coat with the crazy chest pockets is a Bella design. The covers of Marion always showcase designs readers could make for themselves but Bella is a bit inconsistent with that. 

On the reverse of the cover, we have this "big sister, little sister" feature. The looks for the big sister are in small(ish) lady's sizes.

Then, there are sporty coats for men and children,

and this issue's "four variations to draft from these instructions" feature (I once made a blouse using one of these. It worked way better than I had expected. You can see the blouse itself here. I shared the pattern for it in this post and another one, a dress in a larger size, here).
If you are wondering if there is something wrong with the illustration because the skirt on the dress on the left seems wider than the other ones, there isn't. This pattern includes instructions to turn the skirt form sort-of-pencil to A-line. 

This is another "one pattern" two options feature. It includes two patterns for what is basically the same design in different sizes. They both have a dropped shoulder which can be used on its own or with an added three-quarter length sleeve. 

This spread includes some of the most interesting designs in this issue. You may even have seen it before because I tried out one of these patterns for last year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. The toile I made of the second dress from the left is still on the dummy in my sewing room. I still don't really know what to do with it. I've just never been able to decide on the right fabric for it.

Then, there are designs for children,

and the inevitable nightwear. Really, it never ceases to amaze me just how often all these vintage magazines feature "lingerie", by which they usually mean pyjama's and nightgowns. Maybe I should try one of these designs some day but... meh. There are so many more interesting things to sew.

And then there is a knitting pattern. And quite a serious one at that. A whole dress, with a full-ish skirt. Did anyone ever really make one of these? It must take forever to knit and surely that skirt would be quite heavy... I really should ask my grandmother.

And after that, on the inside of the back cover, there are the most glamorous designs: Two cocktail dresses with a stole and a bolero. They are supposed to be made from silk with details in georgette, organza or tule.
If only I ever had excuses to wear things like this...

February 1, 2017

The Mermaid

And here is that skirt I promised in the previous post:


It's a proper mermaid skirt! 
It has been a loooong time since I tried this look but this particular fabric, a beefy, polyester/wool/viscose/lycra ponte knit, was just asking for it! 


It drafted as a six panel skirt but I added a center back seam for fabric economy. I started out with the same shaping on all the panels (just more flare and a bit more length towards the back) but ended up taking it in at the side waist and at all the back leg seams between hip and knee. 
This skirt actually tapers significantly towards the knee and only flares out from there. I would never do this in a woven fabric but this is a knit, it has stretch so something approaching a true "Morticia"-look is possible.

Drafting a pattern like this is fairly simple. I didn't use any instructions (I know how to do stuff like this by now) but you could try out different ways of drafting a skirt like this using this tutorial from Studio Faro.

Because of the fabric, I didn't even have to put in a zipper. I drafted the skirt to extend to about 4 cm above the waist and sewed 4 cm wide elastic to the top seam allowance, creating a nice, snug internal waistband (which I can still get over my hip because it stretches...)

I haven't really worn the skirt yet but I when I tried it on with this tweed jacket which I made many years ago, I just loved the look! 
(in fact, it really reminds me of an Azzedine Alaia design of which there is a picture in that nice big book from the Kyoto Fashion Institute... I just don't own the book and can't find that picture online right now. Of course, the designer outfit is much more extreme, but my stuff kind of looks like a wearable light-version of the same idea...)

January 29, 2017

Simple stripes...

... with a little twist. 
I can't believe I didn't get round to blogging about this all week! E took these pictures a full week ago. However, I've been busy and I have had a cold so I'm not going to blame myself.
This is The first thing I wanted to show you (I'll write a separate blog post about the skirt later this week):

A simple long sleeve t-shirt made from the red-and-white striped fabric I used before
In that first top, I got creative with unusual pattern shapes and the direction of the stripes. This one is much more normal. A simple, fairly close-fitting top with raglan sleeves. And matched stripes, of course.

It's only with those sleeves that I tried to be a little bit clever: Along the raglan seams, the sleeves are gathered a bit and I have used some satin-edge lingerie elastic as piping on those seams.

Fellow pattern makers may know that if you take a normal sloper with a set-in sleeve and make that into raglan sleeve, you end up with a dart where the shoulder seam was. You can sew that dart or eliminate it in the way which is usually used for sportswear, essentially taking away the sleeve head and bringing the sleeve up to almost a right angle to the bodice. Here, I have slashed the raglan pieces and folded the dart closed, creating room for those gathers. I could have added extra length to make the effect more pronounced but I only added a little bit. 

It may not be the most exciting top but I think it will serve me well. 

January 19, 2017

A new bra!

It is kind of finished... I may add shoulder straps later if I manage to find the right kind of elastic in the right colour. I have nice edge elastic in this sage green but so far, I have not been able to find a good match for straps.

Unbelievably, I bought this lace as far back as four years ago (which I found out thanks to my old blog posts). I found it at my local haberdashery store (the one owned by the same people who run my favorite market stall). They sometimes carry lingerie lace and some elastics but they don't have all the supplies. I found some matching lycra, underwire casing and satin edge elastic when I visited Kantje Boord with Melissa but I didn't find anything for shoulder straps.
Using those supplies, I panties using Melissa's pattern, my first attempt at a self-drafted bra (which didn't really fit), a self-drafted pair of panties (using instructions from an excellent website about drafting lingerie patterns which has since disappeared from the internet) and a second, better bra.   

I have worn the panties and the second bra. However, thanks to the improvised shoulder straps and not-so-great choice of material for the cup lining, the bra was never really nice to wear.

So now, after all those years, I have made another one. This time using cut-and-sew foam for the cups. There's actually no lycra fabric at all in this bra. There's a bit of that left and I hope I will be able to come up with a design for panties which uses up every last scrap of lycra and lace (my normal go-to patterns won't work, I already tried).
Over the years, I've come to like this bra design: Horizontal cup seam, sewn foam, all lace on the outside. I have adjusted the fit and shape slightly over several versions. For example, I have abandoned the recommendation from my lingerie pattern making book to raise the center front on a strapless bra by 1 cm. With my cup size, there is really no difference in the level of control whether I do that or not and the look of the bra is much nicer with the slightly lower center front (more curved). 

I used grey underwire casing and a grey closure for this bra. The colour doesn't quite match but it doesn't bother me in those places. I have grey shoulder strap elastic but that really didn't look right...
Oh, and so far, I've always topstitched some tape or bias binding to the raw edge of the foam cups but this time I stitched it to the outside and sewed the inside by hand. I hoped this would give a smoother finish and it does. It is by no means a "normal" lingerie sewing technique but if it works?!?
All I have to do now is come up with that panty design...

January 17, 2017

Some replies

Actually, I don't have time to write a blog post right now, but I wanted to reply to some comments I received earlier (and I don't want to wait too long with that):

Jane M, although I recommend the webshop for lingerie supplies I mentioned in last week's post, if you are going to Amsterdam, there is a better option: Go to Kantje Boord! This is an actual store in Amsterdam, filled completely with fabrics and notions for sewing lingerie. The staff is very knowledgeable too.  
I've been there three times and every time I'm impressed with what's on offer. My blog post about the time I went there with Melissa is here (and it includes pictures!).
The link to the store goes to the "contact" page on their website. The website is only in Dutch, but the address is in big letters on that page. It is located in a shopping street in a residential neighbourhood, away from the cities tourist attractions and main shopping district. Easy to reach by car(rare for Amsterdam, there is free parking along the streets there), tram 13 or bus 69 (when using public transport, get out at the stop called "Burgemeester van Leeuwenlaan).

And to any readers here in the Netherlands: If you happen to spot me buying fabric or bouldering/climbing, feel free to say hello. (the first happened to me once, at the market, it was a nice surprise). I'm always happy to talk sewing ;)