Presently Preferring Pucci

Once I get into a project, especially one that has some complicated decisions or construction to it, I tend to think about it during many of my non-sewing hours. (I wonder if other sewers/dressmakers do that?) Now that I have finished my Pucci dress, I’ll be spending both sewing and non-sewing hours on the jacket.

First, however, some details about the dress are in order.

The dress is finished!

The dress is finished!

There are a few design aspects of this dress which set it apart from a simple A-line or sheath dress.  Notable to me is the effect that the curved front yoke makes on the bustline. It gives it more definition than it would have with just darts.

If you look closely, you can see the yoke seam.

If you look closely, you can see the yoke seam.

The back yoke adds some “surprise” interest by being split in the middle. In addition, the back of the dress would not be quite so clean looking if the zipper were placed in the center back below the yoke. Its location on the side seam is one of those hallmarks of a carefully planned Designer pattern.

The "open" yoke on the back of the dress.

The “open” yoke on the back of the dress.

I made some changes to the dress, based on the muslin. My six alterations are:

1) I decided to incorporate curved armholes into the two back yoke sections. On a younger person, the more revealing back arm would be fine, but I was not so comfortable with it!  Please see the photo above.

2) I took out some of the A-line from the dress. I wouldn’t say I actually “pegged” it, as I left a slight taper, but the effect is now one of a straighter skirt, which I think is a bit more “current.”

A sdie view shows this alteration best.

A side view shows this alteration best.

3) Taking out some of the taper meant I had to give myself a bit more ease in the skirt, so I left a slit at the center back.

The center back slit at the hem line.

The center back slit at the hem line.

4) I added two small darts to the back sides at the waist, which adds some definition to it.

5) I lowered the neckline to accommodate a particular necklace that I want to wear with this outfit. Isn’t it just lovely that sewing allows us the ability to make these kind of custom alterations?

6) The pattern called for a hook and eye at the center back neck. I decided to add a loop and small button instead, although I added an interior hook and eye to help the back neck lay flat.  Adding this button and loop can definitely be called a “dressmaker detail”.

The button is one I have had in my button box for decades!  Its faceted surface seemed perfect for this dress.

The button is one I have had in my button box for decades! Its faceted surface seemed perfect for this dress.

Of course I underlined the dress with silk organza.

Preferring Pucci

This back view also shows the extended armhole line.

This back view also shows the extended armhole line.

And this side view shows how the front yoke adds definition to the bustline.

And this side view shows how the front yoke adds definition to the bustline.

Then I lined the dress in black crepe de chine, and under-stitched the neckline and armhole seams with turquoise silk buttonhole twist, just for fun.

The dress turned inside out.

The dress turned inside out.

Under-stitchibng in turquoise. No one will ever see it, but I love what it adds!

Under-stitching in turquoise. No one will ever see it, but I love what it adds!  Click on the photo for a close-up view.

So – that’s it!

Now here’s a phenomenon that seems to happen to me frequently. I’ll be using a mid-century designer pattern for a project, and I’ll come across a current magazine or newspaper article, which in one way or another relates to what I am sewing or planning to sew. So it was this past weekend, when I was catching up with reading the April WSJ. The Wall Street Journal Magazine, delivered the weekend before. Right there on page 84 was an article on Laudomia Pucci, Emilio’s daughter, entitled: Fortress of Fashion. It is a fascinating account of her commitment to preserve the “fashion legacy” of her father, by reinventing an ancestral estate in Tuscany into an accessible-and-preservation-minded archives. On view are fabrics and fashions, and “already Pucci has hosted several educational events… Two groups of students … have come to study sewing and print design…[would not this be wonderful?! - my addition].  Laudomia is hoping to extend the educational activities to international fashion schools for longer visits.”   Her goal is to encourage the “next generation … to find inspiration for innovative fashion.” Now this is a place where a Preference for Pucci is definitely a way of life!

 

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, Dressmaker details, sewing in silk, side-placed zippers, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

Searching for Rumplestiltskin

Rarely do I not have enough fabric for a sewing project. I am one of those people who usually errs on the side of excess when I am buying fabric. Sometimes, however, I buy a piece for which I have no immediate plans, and therefore, no real idea what I will end up making. This, of course, was the case when I bought my Pucci silk. Little did I know I would be making a dress, and hoping to line its accompanying jacket in the same matching silk.

Pucci

I dutifully measured and calculated and figured there was a good chance I could eke it out. I had two things going for me: the silk was 60” wide, and I knew I would be taking about three inches off the length of the dress pattern (and still have a nice 3” hem). But I also had two things going against me: I would need to do some matching of the design on the dress, which could prove interesting with a print that seemed to change both its color and motif on a whim. More concerning was the fact that the jacket has kimono sleeves. Kimono sleeves usually require more fabric than set-in sleeves.

I wasn’t about to panic – yet. First I had to make muslins (toiles) of both the dress and the jacket. Both needed some fitting adjustments (mostly minor), which I will not go into now. One of the most helpful parts of making a muslin, at least for me, is the opportunity it gives me to get acquainted with the construction of whatever it is I am making.   In this case, the dress was very straightforward, but the jacket really intrigued me. No wonder, I thought, that the flap on the pattern envelope states “Emilio Pucci’s designs are distinguished by marvelous cut and construction.”

The vintage Vogue Designer patterns include a short statement about each featured designer on the pattern envelope flap.

The vintage Vogue Designer patterns include a short statement about each featured designer on the pattern envelope flaps.

Take a look at the pattern pieces for the jacket. The jacket front (#8) is cut on the diagonal while the accompanying lining front (#16) is cut on the straight of goods, with a deep dart to accommodate the fullness for the bust..

Click on the image for a clearer view of the pattern pieces.

Click on the image for a clearer view of the pattern pieces. Also, note the grain lines.

Now take a look at the jacket side (#13). It is both the jacket side and the under sleeve at the other end. Sewing the muslin together showed me how ingenious this construction is – and I’ll show more about this in another post.

But – back to that silk. Using my adjusted muslin as my pattern, I cut out the silk organza underling for the dress. So now I had all the dress pieces ready to place on the silk, spread out single layer on the dining room table. Then using the tissue pattern pieces for the jacket lining, I was able to eyeball my chances of having enough fabric. There was a thudding moment of truth when I knew in no uncertain terms that there was no way I was going to have enough fabric without making some change in plans.

Where was Rumplestiltskin and his magical spinning powers when I needed him? Alas, I knew I would have to make my own magic to solve this problem! And I could see only one way to make this work. I would have to piece the sleeves so that the lower half of them – the part you can’t really see – were in another fabric, the logical choice being, of course, the black crepe de chine that I would be using to line the dress.

I set about making new pattern pieces for the lining, separating each sleeve section at the “lengthen or shorten here” line and adding seam allowance for sewing the new “bottoms” on each of the three sections. Here are the new patterns for the lining, minus the sleeve ends:

DSC_1197 And here are the sleeve ends. Since I would be able to use the crepe de chine doubled for these pieces (no matching required!), I only needed to make one pattern for each lower sleeve, thus three pattern pieces instead of six:

Searching for Rumplestiltskin When I took my new “chopped off sleeve-ends” pattern back to my silk, I was able to fit everything on, including matching the dress yokes to the body of the dress. I checked and rechecked all the pieces. Then I took a leap of faith and cut it out. Although I am currently working on the dress, I wanted to see how the “new” sleeves, with their pieced ends, would look. So, here is one lining back section assembled, with its lower sleeve end added to it.

DSC_1199

Am I positive this will work and not look glaringly – like I didn’t have enough fabric? Not really.  I’ll know soon enough, however. In the meantime, I am enjoying every minute I spend with this Pucci silk.  Eat your heart out, Rumplestiltskin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under couture construction, kimono sleeves, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

A Preoccupation with Emilio Pucci

In the world of designer fashion, there are certain names which are synonymous with specific looks.  Obvious examples are Coco Chanel with her little black dress and classic cardigan jacket, Christian Dior with his figure-enhancing full skirts and feminine décolleté necklines, and Emilio Pucci with his distinctive colorful prints,  smart sportswear and flowing at-home-wear.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Emilio Pucci (1914-1992) a lot.   It all started a couple of years ago on one of my West Coast visits to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I had already decided upon several lengths of fabric, when I saw a silk charmeuse, which clearly spoke to me of Pucci.  The design was so amazing, the colors so vibrant, and the silk so luscious, that, with a little encouragement from my husband, I added it to my pile.  At 60” wide, I thought 2 yards would suffice for a blouse, not really knowing what I would make.

Pucci

DSC_1183

The silk I purchased seemed to have all the bells and whistles of a classic Pucci print.  (Pucci’s daughter, Laudomia took over the business after her father’s death, and has continued her father’s signature style.)  He only used the finest, luscious fabrics with a color palette “straight from the Aegean horizon” according to the entry on him in The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia  ( Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, 1997, pages 325-326):  “turquoise and ultramarine set against sea green and lime, or hot fuchsia and sunflower yellow”.  These colors are arranged in “optical fantasies of geometric shapes” which eschew repetitiveness. And, finally, every authentic Pucci fabric carries his discreet “Emilio” signature.  (The Vintage Traveler blog has an excellent post on Pucci and his sporty prints, which shows another example of his signature and his diverse designs.)

The small "Emilio" signature is at the lower part of the pink section.

The small “Emilio” signature is at the lower part of the pink section.

The signature is spread thinly across the expanse of the fabric.

The signature is spread thinly across the expanse of the fabric.

And here is a signature printed vertically rather than horizontally.

And here is a signature printed vertically rather than horizontally.

Shortly after this fabric purchase, I began to get a greater and new appreciation for Pucci’s diversity as a fashion designer as I acquired a few of his Vogue Designer patterns.  Instead of featuring styles dependent upon his bright and unusual fabric designs, they showed feminine dresses and jackets, with clean lines and a surprising touch of demureness.   Here are the three patterns I purchased:

Happy New Sewing Year - Pucci pattern

Pucci - pattern envelope

Wrap dress - 5 (Pucci)

Some other of his designs for Vogue patterns were featured in Vogue Pattern Book Magazine:

The caption in this June/July 1972 article says:  "Emilio Pucci adds glamour to your life with an off-white silk crepe pantsuit..." while the lower picture shows his "signature colors on a silk jersey  lounge gown."

The caption in this June/July 1972 article says: “Emilio Pucci adds glamour to your life with an off-white silk crepe pantsuit…” while the lower picture shows his “signature colors on a silk jersey lounge gown.”

This lovely Pucci gown was shown in the April/May 1970 issue of VPB Magazine.

This lovely Pucci gown was shown in the April/May 1970 issue of VPB Magazine.

Both the fabric and the patterns sat in hibernation in one of the closets in my sewing room until an idea began to take hold in my mind.  I decided I’d like to use one of my Pucci patterns for my authentic Pucci fabric. It just seemed totally logical to me. I measured my fabric again and found I had closer to 2¼ yards.  I was envisioning pattern # 1418, with the dress in the silk print, paired with the jacket in black, lined in the same silk.  With this plan in mind, I found a lightweight, soft and silky wool/cotton waffle weave in black at Britex Fabrics in early February while I was on the West Coast for Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School Class – perfect for the jacket.

Hopefully the "waffle" weave shows up enough in this picture.

Hopefully the “waffle” weave shows up enough in this picture.

With pattern, fabrics, and a vision, I was ready to go on my next big project.  There was only one gnawing question – would I have enough yardage of the Pucci silk to make that sheath-style dress and line the jacket?

The answer to that question  - deserves its own Fifty Dresses post!

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Filed under sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s

Magnificent Obsession

Sometimes the dreams and aspirations of our younger days take a long time to come to fruition.  Although I was doing a lot of fashion sewing for myself when I was in my twenties, there were many more Vogue pattern designs which I never had the opportunity to make.  One was Vogue Paris Original #2668 by Hubert de Givenchy (1927-).

Coats of certain length - 7 I never forgot the jacket, in particular, featured in this Designer Pattern.  Over the years I occasionally obssessed about this pattern, regretting that I had not purchased it.  I never imagined I would have a second chance to make it mine, but thanks to the marvels of the Internet, I did.  When I saw a listing for it in this Etsy store months ago, and it was in my size, I knew it was time to buy it.

The use of color blocking, as featured in View A, became stylish in the mid-1960s, when Yves Saint Laurent introduced his classic Mondrian dress.

This little sketch from The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, New , York, 2010, p. 329, shows the classic blocked design.

This little sketch from The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, New  York, 2010, p. 329, shows the classic blocked design.

The appeal of the use of large geometrical sections of contrasting colors was widespread then and has, for many of us, never lost its cachet.  The clean precise lines, and diverse use of fabrics in color blocking must have appealed to Hubert de Givenchy’s sense of design.  Known for simplicity and refinement, according to Arlene C. Cooper, writing in the St. James Fashion Encyclopedia, Givenchy emphasizes “line rather than decoration”.  Further, Givenchy is known for “coats that are marvels of line and volume…”  (St. James Fashion Encyclopedia, Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, 1997, p. 154).  Vogue Patterns must have been exceptionally pleased to have the rights to this design for its Designer Series in the early 1970’s.

I started my jacket in early February this year in Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School class in San Francisco.  I just finished it.

Magnificent Obsession

Magnificent Obsession

I like it worn open as well...

I like it worn open as well…

A look inside...

A look inside…

A back view.

A back view.

Making this was one of the most enjoyable sewing experiences I have ever had.  Being privileged to get Susan’s expert guidance on some parts of the jacket certainly was part of the equation.  In addition to that, however, were the preciseness and subtle design details of the pattern, which made it a pleasureable sew.  A few of those details are:

1)  the genius of the extra side panel, which enhances the “swing” line of the coat.

2) that side panel  also allows the use of a Dior dart which adds just enough to the bust to keep the line smooth, but ample.

Th instruction sheet gives a good diagram of the small Dior dart tucked into that front side seam.

The instruction sheet gives a good diagram of the small Dior dart tucked into that front side seam.

3) the concealed front allows the clean appearance of the coat to be unencumbered by buttons.

I chose these navy blue buttons for the concealed front.  They are flat, simple, and match the blue exactly.

I chose these navy blue buttons for the concealed front. They are flat, simple, and match the blue exactly.

4) the flap pockets, which conceal the openings, again with minimal interruption to the clean and “simple” look.

The concealed opening, with a flash of pretty pocket lining.

The concealed opening, with a flash of pretty pocket lining.

I did make a few changes/alterations to the jacket, ensuring a better fit for me in 2014.

First, with Susan’s assistance, I took some of the volume out of the back seam, as it was just too full for my frame.  Second, I added ½ “ to the diameter of each sleeve, as they were just a little too slim for comfort.  Doing this allowed me to enlarge the lower armscye, also adding comfort and more flexibility.  I felt like I was able to do these alterations without changing the look of the jacket.  I also made two “visible” changes, although still in keeping with the design.  The original flaps looked a little too “’70s” to me.  I reduced the “depth” of them by 7/8″, so that they are more in keeping with modern sensibility.

These muslin patterns are folded in half to show the depth of the original flap and the depth of the altered one below.

These muslin patterns are folded in half to show the depth of the original flap and the depth of the altered one below.

The pattern had separate pieces for the lining, and even the lining followed the blocked design.  I had chosen a printed silk charmeuse (at Britex , naturally!) for my lining, which did not need to be block sewn.  So, using the muslin I had made for the lining, I cut the “lengths” as one piece, eliminating 16 horizontal seams.  I also underlined the silk charmeuse with a very lightweight rayon voile, which made the lining fabric easy to control, and adds another layer of warmth to the overall coat.  This photo shows the underlining in the sleeve linings before I sewed them into the coat.

Magnificent Obsession

The jacket turned inside out, showing the lining.

The jacket turned inside out, showing the lining.

The inside back of the coat.

The inside back of the coat.

Finally, the pattern called for topstitching the exterior edges of the coat.  Due to the nature of my napped fabric, I thought machine topstitching would detract rather than add.  But – I wasn’t happy with the thought of no topstitching, either.  So I decided to do it by hand.  It wasn’t nearly as time-consuming as I thought it would be, and I am happy with the result.

The topstitching is very subtle, but you can see it here on the pocket flap.

The topstitching is very subtle, but you can see it here on the pocket flap.  Click on the photo for a close-up.

One more thing about this pattern.   When I received it, the pattern pieces for the pants and sleeveless tunic were cut and had obviously been used (although every piece is intact).  The tissue pieces for the coat were still in their factory folds.  On the outside of the pattern in the upper right hand corner is the name Georgia Sanders.  I guess I’ll always wonder if she had plans to make the jacket, too.  I’m so glad she bought this pattern and kept it in such good condition so that it could find its way eventually to me – to help me realize my magnificent obsession from my younger self.

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Coats, Color blocking, couture construction, Dior darts, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns, woolens

The Inside Story

Silk organza must be the best fabric ever made.  The more I use it, the more I appreciate and value its unique properties.  Having first become aware of it as the building block of couture sewing in the Couture Dress Class by Susan Khalje on Craftsy, I quickly adapted my sewing to incorporate it whenever possible and feasible.  Although I fully expected to be using it for my color-blocked coat, I wasn’t sure if I would need to add more to the inside construction in the way of interfacings or other support techniques.

The pattern envelope and instruction sheets were somewhat mystifying, as they listed yardages for both interfacings and underlinings.  However, the diagrams on the instruction sheets clearly showed interfacings only.

The Inside Story - interfacing detail from instruction sheet It was just so lovely to have Susan Khalje’s input and expertise to help me with this during my Couture Sewing School class with her in February.  Silk organza was clearly going to be the only “support” mechanism I was going to need (with the exception of the collar, to be discussed below.)  With each jacket section underlined with black silk organza, I was able to control the inside seams by catch-stitching them to the silk organza.

Here is the inside of the back of the coat, with the seams catch-stitched to the organza.

Here is the inside of the back of the coat, with the seams catch-stitched to the organza.  Click on the photo to see  details.

A quick note here on pressing.  Because my fabrics each have a distinct nap to them, making them easily impressionable, and because they are heavier coat weight fabrics, pressing seams required some extra attention.  Susan had me insert sheets of paper under the two edges of each seam for its initial press (before trimming  them down for catch-stitching).  This prevented the impression of the seam allowances to show up on the right side.  With a really good steam iron, a wonderful finish can be achieved with this method.

The pockets were one of the first details to be tackled.  It had been a while (like years!) since I had made flap/buttonhole pockets.  Once again, Susan’s guidance gave me confidence.  She had me make a trial pocket first, and then I was ready for the real thing.

My sample flap before pressing.

My sample flap before pressing.

Showing the "buttonhole" type opening.

Showing the “buttonhole” type opening.

Showing the "inside" of my trial pocket.

Showing the “inside” of my trial pocket. 

With the flap concealing the opening of the pocket, there is no room for error (or else you will end up with puckers at the edges of the flaps).  I basted and basted and sewed with extreme caution.  I ended up with pockets with which I can, thankfully (whew!), be  happy.

One finished pocket . . .

One finished pocket . . .

. . . and the other one.

. . . and the other one.

And here is what it looks like under the flap, with the opening basted together temporarily.

And here is what it looks like under the flap, with the opening basted together temporarily.

So now on to the collar.  The collar was cut on the bias, and it had a clearly marked roll line.  With the organza basted on (the only “interfacing” I would need), Susan had me run an invisible line of tiny hand stitching along the roll line.

The curved line is the roll line.

The curved line is the roll line.

This anchors it for the subsequent pad-stitching.  Although the pattern instruction sheet shows only half of the collar interfaced, you will see the pad-stitching detail, which is required to get the collar to roll properly.

The Inside Story - collar detail

I am grateful to my classmate Sylvia for taking a photo of the pad-stitching which I did on the collar.  What this shows is the small pad-stitching below the roll line, with larger pad-stitching above it, extending to the fold line.

The inside story - collar pad-stitching

Click on the photo to see it in detail.

With the side seams sewn, my collar showed a clear roll where it was supposed to be.

The inside story

And here is the collar on my dress form.

And here is the collar on my dress form.

I had one more important question for Susan:  what about the buttonholes on that concealed fly front?  Normally, when sewing with wool, I would do bound buttonholes, but we both agreed that would add too much bulk to what should be a clean, sleek finish on this coat.  It seemed machine-made buttonholes would be the ones of choice.  I must admit, I had a bit of reluctance to do machine buttonholes in wool.  I even practiced making buttonholes by hand, but I wasn’t happy with my trial runs, and even they seemed too bulky.  So, I simulated the thickness of my layers at the fly front and made some machine buttonholes in a sample piece.  And – I thought they were great!  On to the real thing – and this was clearly the way to go:

The buttonholes show up better on the camel wool. Click on the photo for a close-up.

The buttonholes show up better on the camel wool. Click on the photo for a close-up.

The middle buttonhole is a slot-seam one.

The middle buttonhole is a slot-seam one.

The next step, before inserting the lining, is to finish the hems in the sleeves and the body of the coat.  Here I may add a bias strip of soft interfacing to insure that the hem has a soft edge to it.

The Vogue Sewing Book from 1963 includes this detail on The Soft Hemline, as part of its section on Haute Couture Techniques.

The Vogue Sewing Book from 1963 includes this detail on The Soft Hemline, as part of its section on Haute Couture Techniques.  I also asked Susan about sewing on a chain at the hem as well.  Because the two wools I have used are slightly different weights, she agreed this may be a good idea, to help ensure an even hang.

So – the miracle of silk organza, pressing techniques, and practice, practice, practice – are helping to make my long-awaited color-blocked coat a reality.  On to the finish line!

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Filed under Coats, Color blocking, couture construction, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens

The Necessary Blouse

Fashion sewing is an interesting combination of inspiration, aspiration, indulgence and necessity, manifested singly or collectively.  My newly completed bow blouse is an example of a bit of all of these motivations rolled into one.  This is the blouse I made to go with my No. 2 Chanel-inspired jacket, made from the same red and navy blue geometric print silk with which I lined the jacket.

The Necessary Blouse Inspiration came from several sources.  I was mostly inspired by the pattern, which is copyright 1957 by The Conde Nast Publications, Inc. (Vogue Patterns) – so much so, that I purchased it in a size larger than I usually wear, as that was what was available – and with vintage patterns, one is never sure to find a favorite one again soon – or ever.

Looking at blouses 1957

Some of the aspects of the pattern which appealed to me are: 1) the “dropped” bow shown in views A and B; 2) the various sleeve lengths; 3) the shaping in the body of the blouse – soft and understated, but very feminine.  Just for fun, I looked through a few of my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines from 1957 and 1958, to see if I could find examples of this blouse pattern.  That was easy!  Here is one sketch and one photograph of Vogue 9227:

The blouse was featured in the December/January 1957-58 issue.

The blouse was featured in the December/January 1957-58 issue.

Part of a feature entitled "A new era for the soft BLOUSE."  In the August/September, 1957 issue of VPB.

Part of a feature entitled “A new era for the soft BLOUSE.” In the August/September, 1957 issue of VPB. 

After making a sheath dress to coordinate with my Chanel-inspired jacket No. 1, I aspired to pair my Jacket No. 2 with a suitable companion, too.  A bow blouse seemed to be a versatile and useful solution.  And then it became a necessity!   I decided my Jacket No. 2 would not be complete until I finished this blouse.

Back view

Back view

Step number one was to make a muslin (of course), knowing that I would need to alter the pattern to fit me correctly.  Sure enough, I needed to take out the bagginess in the bust and body of the blouse, and I needed to shorten the sleeves.  I went to my favorite book on making alterations which guided me through the correct changes:

I highly recommend this book.

I highly recommend this book.

My muslin showed me that the sleeves were also a little too full for me and for current 2014 styles, so I removed some girth from them as well.  I was skeptical of the bow (cut on the diagonal) when I looked at the pattern and then the muslin.  Would it be too full?  Made up in muslin it seemed a little overwhelming.  But, my silk was so lightweight and fine, that I decided it might just be okay, using the original dimensions.

Here is the bow/collar ready to be attached to the body of the blouse.

Here is the bow/collar ready to be attached to the body of the blouse.

This blouse went together quite as planned, although I worked on one side where the bow/collar joins the corner at the front facing for hours, until I had it inserted correctly.  I kept making the same mistake over and over, which was a little irritating.  I also added some extra hand-sewing, understitching the facing by hand and hand-stitching the hem.

Hand understitching looks just so much nicer than machine stitching!

Hand understitching looks just so much nicer than machine stitching!

When I started the blouse, I had not yet picked out buttons, thinking I would use some that I have in my vintage collection.  But then I was on Waechter’s website and found these buttons, which seemed just about perfect:

The Necessary Blouse - button

These buttons measure 5/8″. 

(Sadly, Waechter’s is closing their business in Asheville, N. C., to my great dismay.  This makes me even more grateful for Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, from which I purchased all the fabric for this blouse and my Jacket No. 2.)

Sewing with vintage patterns is such a pleasure in so many ways.  For example, the sleeve vents had their own separate pattern piece:

The instruction sheet from the pattern . . . .

The instruction sheet from the pattern . . . .

The vent sewn on . . . .

The vent sewn on . . . .

. . . . and the finished vent.

. . . . and the finished vent.

Another classic vintage aspect is the proscribed use of snaps  – in this pattern, at the waist and below, which takes bulk away from the “tuck-in” part of the blouse.

And that bow?  Once I had it made up, was it too much?

I think the bow is just about perfect.

I think the bow is just about perfect.

I am very glad I didn't tinker with the size of the bow!

I am very glad I didn’t tinker with the size of the bow!

Shown with the jacket.  I really like how the collar on the blouse shows a bit when i have the jacket on.

Shown with the jacket. I really like how the collar on the blouse shows a bit when I have the jacket on.

The Necessary Blouse

A comfortable fit.

The Necessary Blouse

Would be nice with a navy skirt as well …

The Necessary Blouse

Whew!  Blouse and jacket turned out as I had hoped!

Whew! Blouse and jacket turned out as I had hoped!

I am feeling quite good about indulging in the extra fabric and extra time needed to make this blouse.  Now that my No. 2 Jacket is complete, I can indulge in my other current project – my color-blocked coat -  which might add a new word to the vocabulary of fashion sewing – obsession!

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Filed under Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Blouses, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Chanel-type jackets, sewing in silk, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, Vogue patterns

Powerless in Pennsylvania, Sewing in San Francisco

“She had the loaded handbag of someone who camps out and seldom goes home, or who imagines life must be full of emergencies.”  – Mavis Gallant

Actually, the handbag I took to San Francisco was small, tucked inside a larger tote bag – so that I could use my allotted “carry-on” space for an extra suitcase for fabric purchases.  Off I went on February 1st for Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School held at The Sewing Workshop in San Francisco.  I had carefully packed myriad sewing supplies and my prepared muslins, hoping to be ready for any contingency.  Little could I have known that while I was to be sewing on the West Coast, the camping out (or really, camping in!) and the emergencies would be on the East Coast – with the county in Pennsylvania where we live especially hard-hit by a devastating ice storm.  Our house was without power for 5 days, and knowing that my husband was dealing with downed trees, downed power lines, blocked roads, confused pets, a house getting colder and colder with each day, and limited means of communication, weighed on me mightily as I worked away on my color-blocked jacket.

Coats of certain length - 7

Most of us in the class needed to purchase all our fabric or coordinating fabric or supplies for our intended projects, so off we went to Britex Fabrics on Monday after Susan had fitted most of our muslins.  I had thought long and hard about what color combination I would like to have for this coat.  Knowing that many, many hours of work would go into this project, and also realizing that this jacket could be a go-to piece of outerwear if I chose my fabrics carefully, I decided to look for more conservative colors.  So – no hot pink and apricot orange, at least this time.

Britex carries an extensive selection of coating wools, so much so that it is definitely advantageous to be helped by one of their incredibly knowledgeable sales assistants.  I was fortunate that Inna, who has such a trained and talented eye for color and texture, was able to assist me. We started with a lovely camel hair coating wool, which had a napped silky sheen on one side and was just the right heft for outerwear.  First I wanted to look at pairing it with gray, but nothing in the gray family seemed to strike my fancy.  Then we moved on to the navy blues – and there nestled in among the bolts was the perfect “medium” navy blue, also with a napped sheen on one side.  It was a little heavier than the camel hair, but Susan felt confident we could make the two fabrics work together, especially because their colors complimented each other so perfectly.

Silk lining fabric was next on the list, and I wanted something figured rather than plain.  Inna pulled out a bolt of Italian charmeuse, which picked up the geometric feel of the jacket, and introduced a little red into the mix.  I couldn’t be happier with it.

I am not so sure this gives the best sense of the colors of the fabrics, but you will see more in a future post.

I am not so sure this photo gives the best sense of the colors of the fabrics, but you will see more in other photos.

Back at The Sewing Workshop, armed with fabrics and enthusiasm, I spent the next two days cutting out the multi-, multi-pieced pattern (31 separate pieces, all of which would be cut in tandem, making 62 in all, not including the lining!), and basting the silk organza underlinings to each and every piece.

My well-lit and spacious work space at The Sewing Workshop.

My well-lit and spacious work space at The Sewing Workshop.

Because of the color blocking, I needed to pay great attention to which piece was to be cut in blue and which piece in camel.  Initially I went through and labeled each muslin piece “navy” or “camel”.  Susan double-checked me, but then suggested that, because I absolutely could not make a costly mistake, that I pin the muslin pieces onto the available dress form in our studio.  What a great idea, one of so many which I picked up from Susan and my classmates!

Here is the "front" of the jacket, pinned onto the dress form.

Here is the “front” of the jacket, pinned onto the dress form.

And here is the back.

And here is the back. 

Now, I felt confident and set about to cut my fashion fabric.

Here are the silk organza underlining pieces arranged on the blue fabric.  I pinned a small tag on each piece, telling me each piece's pattern # and description.  A lot of the pieces look alike!

Here are the silk organza underlining pieces arranged on the blue fabric. I pinned a small tag on each piece, telling me each piece’s pattern number and description. A lot of the pieces look alike!

Two piles showing all underlinings basted onto the fashion fabric.

Two piles showing all underlinings basted onto the fashion fabric.

By this time, I was half-way through the 6-day class.  I assessed my situation and determined the parts of the jacket construction upon which I wanted to get expert advice  from Susan:  treatment of the concealed fly front, flap pockets, rolled collar (all of which will be detailed in a future post).  Now I had a plan, which seemed to be much more than anything that was happening back home in Pennsylvania.

My husband joked during one of our few cell-phone conversations, that he had a vision of the power in our house coming back on Sunday evening, February 9th, as he would be driving me home from the airport in Philadelphia.  He was right.  That is exactly what happened.  I came home to a 39F degree house, but the lights were on, and soon the heat was, too.  Almost a week later, it is still snowing and snowing – perfect sewing weather for this sojourner home from San Francisco.

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Filed under car coats, Coats, Color blocking, couture construction, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns, woolens