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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

McCalls 7677: The 80s Called...

Once upon a time, about half a year ago, I sorted my patterns from the 1980s. While doing so, I found this cute sarong skirt
pattern that simply cried out to be made instead of being returned to the plastic storage bin of no return (unless the 80s come back.)

I bought a piece of reddish-orange and white challis in a sarong-worthy print and set to work.

I adore rayon challis.I love wearing it and a sick part of me loves sewing it. It presses so nicely, but it does tend to stretch and go its own way, so I decided to underline the fabric with cotton batiste.

The batiste didn't stretch, but the challis did--over an inch in some areas.
After trimming the challis to match the batiste, I used transfer paper with disappearing ink to draw the darts and pleat markings on the underlining. Usually I just mark them with snips and pins, but this stuff was cool, so I used it.
Also, even though I love making pleats, the pleats on this pattern are difficult to follow using only snips and pins, so I'm glad I drew them.
You can just see the purple marks on the orange fabric.
They honestly did disappear.
The pattern makes the pleat look easy, but trust me, you have to focus while you're making these pleats.

After the pleats were done, it was clear sailing--or it would have been if the pattern directions had been correct. The illustration shows the tie attached to the right side of the skirt back. If you do that, then there is nothing to tie the other tie to once the skirt is wrapped. 
I put the tie on the left side of the skirt back and viola--I had something to tie to. At the last minute I decided to only underline the skirt back and left front. I thought underlining both front layers would make the skirt too bulky.
And here's the skirt in action:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Where Did Summer Go?

You know how the previous post was called Long Days of Summer? Well, this one should be called Did Anyone Notice Summer Go By? Talk about a blur--but it was a good blur.

I did get my apricot maxi skirt done, along with a few T-shirts, but my coup d'grace this summer was Vogue 4617. I made the sleeveless version out of pale gray taffeta. It actually turned out to be silver.

I was going to make the dress last summer, but came up against an obstacle when the pattern called for "skirt stiffening". I had no idea what that was and none of my books or internet searches answered the question. Happily, this past spring I happened across a vintage 1950s dress in a thrift store and noticed that the entire skirt was lined in nonwoven interfacing. Skirt stiffening was simply interfacing!
You can see the cracks in the nonwoven interfacing.

The nonwoven interfacing hadn't aged all that well, but it still made a huge difference in the drape of the skirt, so I knew that (a) the "optional" skirt stiffening was necessary and (b) I had to find some 60 inch wide nonwoven interfacing. I eventually found some gorgeous interfacing at Fashion Sewing Supply. I believe the interfacing cost more than the fashion fabric, but it was totally necessary. I'll be "stiffening" more 50s skirts in the future.

I hand basted the interfacing to each skirt piece, just like underlining, but I didn't baste across the bottom hem area. I've had trouble with bubbling between the interlining and fashion fabric and leaving the bottom open helps me deal with this.

All in all the construction was straight forward, right up until I had to attach the bodice to the  skirt. My waist is very high, so I normally shorten the bodice a good inch. This time I did it differently. I put the unshortened bodice on Tillie, then I turned under 5/8 inch on the top of the skirt. I put the skirt on Tillie, situating it exactly at the waistline, then marked the position.

After that I removed the bodice and skirt, then pinned the skirt to the marked line and trimmed the bodice to match the skirt.

This way the skirt sat at my waistline and not where I guess my waistline is when I shorten the bodice first. (Clear as mud?)

The bodice has one pleated shoulder and one plain.

There are a few tacks to hold the pleats in place.

I hand picked the zipper. I've never done this before and now it's my favorite way to put in a zipper. I love the look and love how precise it is.

Here are some shots of the skirt panel detail. I stay stitched to make certain they didn't stretch on the bias and to make sure the waist didn't stretch.

To hem the dress, since the stiffening wasn't basted to the skirt at the bottom, I marked the hem and hand basted along the hemline through both the stiffening and the taffeta.
Then I trimmed the hem to 2 inches, sewed on lace and turned it up along the basting. I tacked the hem to the stiffening, so it didn't show on the outside.

I wore the dress to the Harlequin party at the Romance Writers of America National conference. It was super comfortable and the stiffened skirt was a lot of fun to wear. No crinoline necessary, so no itchy legs. Yay!

I made a self-fabric belt out of a vintage kit. I was afraid that  1 inch belt would be too thick, but now I think it's perfect for this dress.