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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Pattern Heaven

Though I already have heaps of patterns that I’ve barely looked at let alone made, I won an eBay auction for 42 vintage patterns a couple of weeks ago.  They arrived in the mail from the U.S. today, and I’ve already spent a couple of hours poring over them.  These are my favourites:

Simplicity 2838

This pattern fancies up a pretty plain, simple dress (only two pattern pieces excluding facings) by giving you the option of adding bows, collars, belts or a sash – all detachable.  Five dresses for little more effort than one! 

McCall's 5784

These dresses are just pretty…enough said.

Simplicity 2758

I love the interesting collar/top of the bodice/whatever you call that area on this dress.  And while I don’t usually go for longer sleeves on dresses, I think I could really get into these ones.

Simplicity 3790

I like these boleros but what I really love about this pattern is how the ladies on the envelope seem to have some sort of concave spine condition – what is with that?

Simplicity 3354

This is a really simple dress, and I probably have quite a few very similar to this in my collection already (actually, I think I received even more in my new collection) but I love how on the pattern envelope they’ve broken the dress into the three colours.  My favourite colour combination to wear is red, blue and white and I’m going to shamelessly rip this idea off when I make up this dress.

Simplicity 4918

Another pattern envelope illustration that I’m going to rip off.  The use of a border pattern fabric to create the band of colour in the middle – love it!

New York 679

The scallops.  The 1940s styling. The long-ish sleeves that I don’t hate.  This is going onto my “to make” list immediately.

Unfortunately, my sewing machine is sick.  So sick, that I can no longer bear to use it – at least without ear plugs.  It makes a really horrible screechy, squealing noise and is sewing very roughly.  I was going to take it to be serviced, but found it would cost 2/3 of the actual cost of the machine to service, so I’ve decided to buy a new one.  I’m sad that my trusty, first sewing machine is no longer, but so happy that I get to buy a new one!  My only problem now is deciding which one to purchase.  My current machine is a really simple, basic machine, that pretty much only does straight and zig-zag stitches.  It’s served me well and I haven’t yet found anything that I haven’t been able to do on it, but am excited – and confused – about the possibilities with a new machine.

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Pretty (and not so pretty) dresses

So this has nothing to do with sewing, but everything to do with late nights – and dresses – so it belongs here.

A couple of weeks ago we had a party to celebrate The Wedding…you know which wedding I’m talking about.  And if you don’t, well…you don’t deserve the internet!  The rules of attendance were simple: you had to bring some posh, English-style food to share, and you had to dress as a bridesmaid (or a bride as some, myself included, did).  Everyone really got into the theme and looked brilliant!

The beautiful Kerls flashing some leg

Tovah and I sharing a cup of tea

The blushing brides

It was a very classy affair, with cucumber sandwiches (the cause for which Claire nearly lost a finger!), toad-in-the-hole, tulle and sequins galore and even two wedding cakes!  It was also fun for me to wear a wedding dress – likely to be the only time I’ll ever get to wear one – even if I did look like a deranged Little Bo-Peep (see below).

Such a beautiful dress...not...

Claire will never eat a cucumber sandwich again!

Thanks everyone who came (and let me put their photos up here!) – it was a fantastic night!

1951 Dress & Sewing Bonanza

I’ve been a bad blogger…but not a bad sewer.  Promise!  I’ve been spending all my spare time working on my 1951 dress that had to be finished no later than last Friday – which I managed to accomplish…after  more than a few late nights, and much more swearing.

I made a mock-up of the bodice, which worked well, but was a little small around the waist.  So I made a few adjustments to my traced off patterns, and began on my fashion fabric.  I started work on the bodice at first, then realised that missing skirt pattern parts were more complicated than I thought.  Not only is the front side of the skirt gathered, there is another panel at the front that is joined to side front in pleats – aarrggh!  Luckily Dajarra the Super-Nerd came to the rescue.  We took a photo of the pattern instructions, and projected them onto the wall.  We then compared the projected image to an actual pattern piece to check for scale, etc. and thankfully they were drawn more-or-less to scale.  We then traced the skirt pieces onto newspaper taped to the wall, and voila!  A complete, accurate pattern.

Tracing the pattern onto newspaper

All went well after that, until I tried the bodice on and it was waaayy too big, so a few more adjustments were made and it looked a little better, but still not quite right.  I thought the bodice might sit better with the skirt sewn on, so on it went and the dress looked like a huge, floral potato sack.  It was horrible and I began hating it.  After cracking the sads and a good nights sleep, I decided it would be best if I unpicked almost the entire thing and started basically from the beginning again.  Much better.  Until I couldn’t get the blasted thing off without help.  All I can say is that women in the 50s had much, much smaller arms than me.  I decided to change the sleeves to a cap style (which I like better, anyway), and did a bit of “creative” (read:  lazy) re-drafting in the underarm area and all was well.

Here I am, modelling it for my Mum at the lovely old house my grandparent’s party was held at.  After all the problems I had making it, I’m quite happy with the way it turned out and I received lots of compliments at the party.

Update: someone asked for a picture of the pattern packet – here it is:

My exciting weekend didn’t end there, however.  My gran who was a talented seamstress gifted me her overlocker (!), as well as some other bits and pieces, including an amazing wooden, pull-out  sewing caddy that I remember from when I was little.  It was full of old zippers as well, which is awesome!  And when we got home from the party Dajarra presented me with a dressmaker’s mannequin as an anniversary gift.  I am very spoiled indeed!

My gran's old, and my new, sewing caddy

My new dressmaker's mannequin with my new dress

My new overlocker

Now I just need to get over my slight fear of overlockers and learn how to use it!