Join me in my adventures as I write romance novels and sew vintage and contemporary fashion.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Duty Calls

I've been very busy over the past few weeks. Here's what I want to be working on--McCalls 9212, which is one of the first vintage patterns I purchased.

I bought some gorgeous red linen and then got busy on other projects and set it aside after tracing the pattern. You know how it is...sometimes a project (like my daughter's Gertie dress) needs to sit and stew for a year or two. That's the beauty of retro sewing. The patterns don't go out of style during the procrastination period, they just get more retro.

I got this far...
...when duty called and I had to switch over to this:

My go-to men's shirt pattern. I've been using this same pattern to make my husband's shirts since we first got married. (I'm rather impressed that he still wears the same size he wore when we wed.) I weaned him away from custom shirts almost a decade ago, when children's organized sports controlled our lives. He was quite happy buying his shirts and I was quite happy having him buy his shirts...until he could no longer find his favorite cotton chambray work shirts.

The brand he liked no longer exists and he couldn't find another brand he liked. That's when I got the look. The I-know-you-can-duplicate-my-favorite-shirts look. In return I gave him the I-know-you-can-rub-my-feet-every-night-while-we-watch-TV look. For a while our gazes battled, negotiated, then agreed. Shirts for foot rubs--and several hours in the fabric stores of my choosing. I must confess that I bought more than chambray, but more about that later.

Here's shirt number one (there will be three, because I'm insane):
Sure enough--it looks eerily like his old work shirts, right down to the white top stitching and buttons.

I used a medium weight woven sew-in interfacing for the collar and cuffs. I think it worked well.

There are no raw edges in the shirt. The side seams are flat fell seams and I (finally) learned how to attach the sleeves to the body without raw edges showing...
thanks to Peter at Male Pattern Boldness who is taking a shirt making course at the Fashion Institute and learning all kinds of amazing stuff that he's kind enough to share on his blog. The steps are here if you're interested.
My stitching wobbled a bit at the top of the shoulder and normally I would take it out and redo that section, but I forced myself to be realistic. This is supposed a comfortable work shirt my husband can wear in the Nevada heat. Within a week there will be a barb-wire hole or some such thing marring the general wonderfulness of this shirt, so I'm going to live with the wobble.

Once the shirt was done and I convinced my husband that I'd make him another in the next decade, I was ready to dive back into the dress...and then duty called again.

Someone (okay, it was me) came up with the bright idea of the family running a popular 8K race dressed as the characters in Robin Hood Men in Tights. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find green men's tights? Finally I found football tights. Hurray for green school colors.

There are six of us, which means six jerkins made out of brown duck. I'm on jerkin numbers four and five, sewing them assembly style since they are the same size and I won't do anything foolish like sewing a large front to a small back (not that those things happen to me or anything). So...another jerkin or two, two more white puffy shirts (one completed and fortunately the rest of my merry band have their own puffy shirts), six hats, and I'll be back at that red dress.

I can't wait.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Butterick 5882 -- The Gertie Dress

When Butterick came out with this pattern, designed by Gertie Hirsch, last year, I snapped it up because it was ridiculously cute. Honestly, I couldn't see myself wearing it, but not too long afterwards my daughter emailed me and asked me if I would make her the "Gertie Dress". Yes, I would, since I was halfway there--I had the pattern. The only thing left was fabric shopping and the year-long procrastination period that always happens when I make myself finish current projects before jumping into something new, fresh, fun.

This is obviously a dress that requires a muslin and I decided it may as well be cute, so I bought red retro floral cotton for under $3 a yard. I traced the pattern size that corresponded to my daughter's measurements, then brought the bodice to the haunted hotel for a fitting. The bust cups fit perfectly, but I had to take the sides and waist in over an inch--almost two inches toward the top. I had the boning basted into the bodice for the fitting, so I was fairly confident until I got home and sliced two inches off the top. Suddenly it looked way to small, but I finished the dress and mailed it off to my daughter. Guess what? It fit perfectly--so perfectly that the muslin has become the finished product. I love it when that happens.

This pattern was really easy to make, except for those cups. I loved making them, because I like tackling techniques I haven't yet tried, but attaching them to the bodice was pretty tricky due to extreme curves. I didn't take photos because I was going to document the construction of the "real" dress, but I wish I had. Anyway, with a lot of curve clipping, I got them sewed in.

I will make this dress again. We're talking white with black polka dots and black bust cups, which will have a nice retro feel. So, in closing, kudos to Gertie for coming up with this pattern.