Light Load

 

String is a wonderful thing. I am particularly fond of kitchen string. Usually twisted cotton or a twisted cotton blend, it is useful for many things (such as tying together the newspapers for recycling, playing with the cats, securing open bags of flour and sugar, etc., etc.) It also occasionally makes its way upstairs to my sewing room.
Light Load DSC_1380

“Light load” kitchen string happens to be the perfect weight and diameter for making piping to be used in apparel. And – my current project for Fall features piping as one of the main design details.

The piping is more clearly visible on the green view of this dress.

The piping is more clearly visible on the green view of this dress.

As luck would have it, I had purchased some hand-dyed silk bias ribbon from Britex Fabrics a couple of years ago. One of the colors I had ordered turned out to be a perfect complement to this silk from Mendel Goldberg, which is slowly making its transformation into a dress.

Light Load

After hours and hours of working on the muslin (toile), cutting out the underlining (on the bias to accommodate the stretch of the silk fabric), checking and re-checking (multiple times) to make sure my pattern pieces were laid out properly, and then meticulously basting the gossamer silk gauze underlining and the slippery fashion fabric together, I was ready to do something fun. “What could be easier?” I thought. “The ribbon is already cut on the bias so I’ll just sew up three yards of piping and I’ll be in business.” Except that I kept getting ridges and lumps in my piping as I encased that kitchen string in the silk ribbon. I thought maybe if I stretched it a bit, it might look better, but it really didn’t. I must admit I was discouraged – actually very discouraged. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong, but I knew I needed to take a break from this mess and come back the next day.

Before I left my sewing room, I went to my stack of Threads Magazines to look for a particular issue recently recommended to me for another reason, and in my search found, by chance, the December 1994/January 1995 issue. There on the cover “Techniques for Perfect Piping” was a featured article.

I have many odd issues of Threads Magazine, but earlier in the year I bought the Threads Magazine Archive 1985-2013, available on their website. I can't recommend it highly enough - decades of sewing advice and expertise is readily available at the click of your computer mouse!

I have many odd issues of Threads Magazine, but earlier in the year I bought the Threads Magazine Archive 1985-2013, available for purchase on their website. I can’t recommend it highly enough – decades of sewing advice and expertise is readily available at the click of your computer mouse!

Needless to say, that became my evening reading. One line in this article by Linda Wakefield led me to the solution to my problem: “I also recommend reducing presser foot pressure, if possible, so that the fabric doesn’t twist or ripple as you stitch.” Even though I am unable to change the presser foot tension on my machine, that advice made me think that I needed to stabilize and reinforce the silk bias ribbon somehow to make it feed more evenly through the needle. The next day, back in my sewing room, I got some tissue paper – the kind one uses for wrapping presents – and cut it into strips. I placed a single layer of tissue under the silk ribbon as I stitched – and voila! Perfect piping emerged from my machine.

The tissue is brown (which is just some I happened to have with my gift wrapping supplies.)

The tissue is brown (which is just some I happened to have with my gift wrapping supplies.)

 

 The tissue paper tears off easily and cleanly from the silk piping.


The tissue paper tears off easily and cleanly from the silk piping.

Further advice in the article gave tips on applying the piping. I decided to try my hand with this added guidance, choosing to start with the sleeves. The pattern calls for piping around the lower edge – a nice short distance and easy to fix if I wasn’t happy with the finished look. What do you think?

Light Load

The sleeve has a side opening - to be secured by snaps.  Here it is just pinned.

The sleeve has a side opening – to be secured by snaps. Here it is just pinned.

There will still, I am sure, be some tedious moments as I continue work on this dress, but my load was definitely made lighter by something as simple as —- tissue paper!

26 Comments

Filed under 1980's dress patterns, piping, sewing in silk, vintage Vogue Designer patterns

“This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.”

Those of you who are sewing bloggers and/or readers of sewing blogs are probably aware of a “survey” of sorts which is quietly and slowing making the rounds of those of us who share this interest. The survey is a simple list of questions which explores the relationship between sewing and one’s blog. I have been enjoying reading other bloggers’ thoughts on this relationship, most recently those of Mel of Poppykettle. Mel is surely world famous by now for her exquisite wedding gown which, of course, she made, as well as the gowns for her attendants. Now, I have never met Mel (although I hope to someday!), but I can tell she is just as charming and fun and genuine as the delightful blog which she writes. Knowing this made it even more flattering for me that she nominated me to expound on these same questions. So, I “accepted” the mission and here goes…

What am I working on?

As the sun-filled days steadily get shorter and shorter here in the northeastern part of the United States, and the morning and evening air begins to shiver a bit, I have mentally packed away my Summer sewing and am switching over to my favorite season of all – Autumn. As much as I love this time of year, I find that my wardrobe generally is sparse for Fall apparel. Last year, I made a Diane von Furstenberg knock-off wrap dress that was – and still is, of course – perfect for Fall.

DSC_1022 So it should come to no one’s surprise that I want to add one or two more Fall-appropriate dresses this year. I have just begun work on the muslin for a silk dress, using a Vogue pattern from the 1980s (which is somewhat of a shock, since I consider that decade, for the most part, a vast fashion desert!) The silk is Italian, purchased from Mendel Goldberg in New York City. This dress should be ideal for Autumn, assuming I finish it before we’ve moved into Winter!

Fabric for my current project.

Fabric for my current project.

Why do I write?

Now that is a good question! Unfortunately for you, my readers, the answer to that has multiple parts, and I hope I won’t bore you! First and foremost, I really, really love to write. I like to put words together. I like to try to make sentences clear but colorful and evocative. (I am not nearly as good at “explaining” procedures or techniques, although I know I need to do so occasionally.)

Second, I love to tell a story. I’m not sure how it happens, but it often seems that my sewing projects have inherent stories to them. Sometimes it’s about the pattern, sometimes it’s about the fabric, sometimes it’s about a long-fulfilled sewing dream of mine (left over from the ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘70s!), sometimes it’s about the accessories, and sometimes it’s a combination of all of these things. Writing and telling stories about my sewing helps to give it another layer of meaning.

Third, writing and sewing are very, very similar. Both involve great expanses of solitary endeavor, engineering (of words or patterns and cloth), creativity, sense of style, striving for excellence of technique, and tenacity. However, both have a friendly and supportive communal aspect to them as well, when shared with others of the same interest. And – both sewing and writing are goal-oriented pursuits, perfect for my personality type!

Finally, I must give credit to my daughter, Susanna, who gave me the inspiration to start a sewing blog. An exceptional writer, Susanna had her own blog for a while, and her encouragement to me made all the difference.

How does my blog differ from others of its genre?

Answering this question reminds me of the beginning sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Except that there is nothing unhappy about sewing blogs! I think my interest in the fashions and vintage patterns of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s helps to differentiate my blog from many others. I really enjoy making connections between mid-century fashions and the fashions of today. The fact that I can make a dress using a 50-year-old pattern (or 50-year-old fabric!) and have it look totally current continues to amaze me – and sharing this excitement hopefully makes my blog just a little bit unique.

How does my writing process work?

I wish I had a magic formula to share! Fortunately, sewing is a slow process, at least for me, so I have lots of time to think about writing while I stitch away. I sometimes make notes to myself (and take photos, of course) while sewing and sometimes I wish I had made notes and taken more photos! I usually try to do a little research on the pattern (or fabric) I am using, to help “tell the story”. I actually often start with a title for my post, which can sometimes take a lot of thought and time. That small detail usually sets the narrative for me, so that I am able to proceed with the story. One thing I try to do is keep my posts to a reasonable length (a guideline I am not following right now…). Because of this, I do a lot of editing during and after the writing process.

Nominate!

Now comes the fun part – and difficult part, too. Fun because I can nominate two fellow sewing bloggers to participate in this same survey, and difficult because there are so many interesting and talented bloggers about whom I would love to learn more. However, two talented dressmakers whose blog posts I never want to miss are my nominees: Janene of ooobop and Brooke of Custom Style. Of course, you, Janene and Brooke, are under no obligation to participate, but I do hope you will accept the “mission”!

 

18 Comments

Filed under Love of sewing, Uncategorized

“Cheers!”

Cocktails in our home – and in our family – are always preceded by a toast of some sort. Usually a simple “Cheers!” will suffice, but sometimes the occasion calls for something more meaningful. One of the most memorable cocktail toasts I have ever heard was standard fare for one of my late mother-in-law’s good friends. By the time I met her, she was a little shaky, which made the toast even more charming. She would raise her trembly glass with great ceremony and declare “To our noble selves!”

As I was working on my latest project – yes, a cocktail dress – I thought about all the possible declarations we, as sewers, could add to the vocabulary of toasts. More about those thoughts later… First up is something to wear to that cocktail/dressy party!

This Vogue Designer pattern is from the early 1960s.

This Vogue Designer pattern is from the early 1960s.

The lengthy process of perfecting the muslin (toile) for my blue cocktail dress revealed a few minor changes I needed to make – four of them, to be exact.   You might be able to see on the pattern envelope, that the “overblouse” in the front actually hits about an inch above the waistline. This just did not look good on me, so I extended the length of those two over-lapping fronts an inch so that they would lay directly at my waist. Second, the under-dress, the top of which is not seen when being worn is cut low so that it does not show beneath the “V” of the overblouse. However, it was cut much lower than I needed, so I raised it a bit.

I thought the shoulders of the overblouse extended a little bit too wide, so I cut the top of the armscye in about ¾ of an inch, graduating it down to join the lower part of the armscye. And fourth – I added a slit at the lower back center seam to make walking easier. I seem to do this frequently with vintage patterns.

The pattern called for the fashion fabric to be underlined, but not lined.   I wanted to line the dress – and actually felt it was a necessity with the fabric I was using. Because of the unusual construction of the dress, I knew that this was going to be interesting – and that I was going to have to make it up as I went. To see what I mean about the unusual construction, take a look at the pattern instructions. The front of the “underdress” is sewn to the back of the dress at the side seams only to the waistline. The bodice part of the front “underdress” hangs loose while the two sections of the overblouse are first sewn to the dress back. Then that bodice is hand sewn in place.

To our sewing selves - pattern diagram

To line the dress, I first sewed the lining to the front underdress at the neck and the armscyes by machine. I under stitched these sections by hand, leaving about an inch free on either end.

Cheers

Next I lined the two front overblouse sections, stitching only the front armscyes by machine; I attached the rest of these linings by hand, using fell stitches.  Then I joined the overblouse sections to the (unlined at this point) dress back.

The front overblouse sections are attached to the side seams, but the front underdress is hanging loose, which does not show in this photo.

The front overblouse sections are attached to the side seams, but the front underdress is hanging loose, visible at the lower left.

I had pieces of dress and overblouse and lining hanging every which way! Any of you who have made a “Chanel” type jacket know how unruly the process is before the lining is seamed in place by hand. This reminded me of that. Somehow I would have to make order out of chaos!

To line the back dress section, I pinned the lining to the armscyes and neck and fell stitched in place by hand. Then I was able to sew each side seam on the machine. The shoulder seams were the final ones to finish, which I did by hand. Then it was only a matter of fell stitching the lining to the hand-picked zipper and understitching the neck and arm sections.

The shoulder seam encloses two finished layers in front.

The shoulder seam encloses two finished layers in front.

It worked! The lining fit perfectly and made for a pretty “insides”!

An inside look at the underdress and the overblouse.

An inside look at the underdress and the overblouse.

The pattern called for tacking the front overblouse sections to the underdress, but I decided to use snaps instead. Ironing this dress will be so much easier with the overblouse sections opened up. However, I did permanently tack the looped tie in place, as indicated in the pattern directions. There was much more hand sewing involved in this dress because of the added lining, but the process was so rewarding in the end.

DSC_1374

Cheers

I anticipate this dress being perfect for not only cocktails, but also weddings and other dressy occasions (particularly if I get the coat made, too!).

Cheers

DSC_1369

 

DSC_1362

Although I doubt I’ll be clinking my cocktail glass with many other dressmakers, I like the thought of a “virtual” toast with my fellow sewing enthusiasts. Some possibilities I have come up with are “To needle and thread” – or “To weft and to warp” – or “To scissors and seams” – or the one I think I prefer, with thanks to a lady from the past – “To our sew-able selves!”

40 Comments

Filed under Cocktail dresses, couture construction, hand-sewn zippers, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

In the Company of Cows and Sheep

Vacationing in a foreign country always has its own special charms, but when that country is Ireland, the charms are manifold. My husband and I were lucky enough to be joined by our son, our daughter, our son-in-law, and our year-and-a-half old granddaughter on a trip to Cork and Kerry Counties in southwest Ireland (our treat to them!), from which we have just returned. All of us love to hike (granddaughter Aida went on her Daddy’s back in a child carrier made for trekking), but we also enjoy nice accommodations and good food after a day on the trail – so we arranged our trip through CW Adventures, who took care of all the details and enabled us to take some incredible hikes through stunningly beautiful Irish countryside.

Photo of the Coastline in Dingle taken by Nate Helm (my son!)

Photo of the Coastline in Dingle taken by Nate Helm (my son!)

Ireland We expected to see cows and sheep, but the sheer quantity of cows and sheep, some of whom we shared our trails with, was a delight! Gentle-natured and handsome animals they are, living in this verdant green land with breathtaking vistas. We all agreed that the Irish butter was the best we have ever tasted. And, of course, we all know what lovely product comes from sheep. Irish lambs wool must be some of the softest in the world.

Ireland I thought it would be nice to come home with some Irish wool – can you believe that? We were not in cities for very much of our vacation, nor did I have time while we were in the cities to search for fabric stores. But I did expect to find some woolen yard goods in the smaller towns and villages.   There was plenty of knitting wool for sale, but very few bolts of fabric. I found this small offering of tweeds in one store, all of which were lovely, but not quite what I wanted.

Tweeds - Ireland Actually I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted until I saw this small blanket in a store in Dingle:

The dimensions of this small blanket are approximately 36" long by 62" wide.  The fringe is 3 1/2" long.

The dimensions of this small blanket are approximately 36″ long by 62″ wide. The fringe is 3 1/2″ long.

The colors in it seemed to speak to me of Ireland: greens reminiscent of the pastures and hills, the yellows and reds of the abundant flowers sprinkling the countryside, the brown of the cliffs and stone walls – all set in a pleasing grid just like the hills and valleys delineated by centuries-old stone fences and hedgerows. And it had fringe! I love fringe. But – it was a blanket. Could I possibly use this blanket as woolen yardage for a fringed skirt? Would I dare to cut it up?

I guess we’ll find out, as home it came with me, with that intention.

Draped loosely on my dress form.

Draped loosely on my dress form.

 I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store - as a skirt - to test my theory.  Here it is pinned on my dress form

I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store – as a skirt – to test my theory. Here it is pinned on my dress form

I hope you can see the herringbone weave in these close-up photos.

I hope you can see the herringbone weave in these close-up photos.

Ireland blanket

The weight of this wool is perfect for a skirt.

There is an old Irish proverb (so I am told) that seems apropos to this particular blanket/piece of wool: “Time is a good storyteller.” It will indeed take some time for me to figure this one out, but hopefully the story will have a happy ending!

And now, for the rest of this week, I’ll be in the company of —- my sewing room, working on my blue cocktail dress, which must be ready for our next trip! Move over please, cows and sheep …

 

16 Comments

Filed under Blankets and doll blankets, Uncategorized, woolens

The Search for the Perfect Blue

Do you ever have a specific color in mind when looking for fabric for a specific type of dress? I am usually open to changing my mind if something else wonderful appears, but this time I really, really wanted to find a blue fabric for a cocktail dress. I started out thinking I would like a pale or periwinkle blue silk to pair with white lace, having Susan Khalje’s new Cocktail Dress pattern in mind.

The version I was thinking I'd like to make is the third one, with lace for the top and bottom panels.

The version I was thinking I’d like to make is the third one, with lace for the top and bottom panels.

I sent off for swatches – and more swatches – and even more, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. This is what happens when one lives in an area which is devoid of fine fabric stores. ARGH! Then I found this lovely lightweight silk/linen/viscose blend at Emma One Sock. The color was just what I had in mind and I loved the feel of the fabric. The delicate woven design within this fabric catches glimmers of light.

The subtle design is in shades of pink, green and peach.

The subtle design is in shades of pink, green and peach.

I really loved it. BUT – I knew it wouldn’t look good paired with lace. So-o-o-o, I thought to myself, maybe I’ll save the lace idea for another time. Maybe I should look at my pattern collection and see what other cocktail dress patterns might be more suitable.  I picked out two more designs and gave myself some thinking time.

Perfect Blue - Mattli pattern

View D would be my choice.

View D would be my choice.

Since the yardage needed was about the same for all the patterns, I felt confident ordering the fabric and making my decision after it arrived. Can you guess which design I finally chose – and why?

The Vogue Couturier Design by Jo Mattli was the winner. I felt like the vertical “stems” and “leaves” woven into the fabric would be shown to best advantage by a dress that did not have a whole lot going on in it in the way of seams and tucks and gathers. I also like the fact the Mattli design very cleverly gives the feel of a two-piece dress, but in reality, it is one-piece. In fact, only the front of the dress looks two-piece. Here is the back view:

Perfect Blue - thumbnail sketch of backs

The lightweight nature of this fabric also means that there will not be an excess amount of bulk in that double layered front. The fabric is ideal for underlining in silk organza, with a lining in luscious china silk which Emma One Sock helped to select for me.

I spent several days working on a muslin (toile) for the dress, making some subtle changes which I’ll cover in a future post. The dress itself is now “under construction”! Of course, the longer I work with this beautiful fabric, the more I wonder if I should order more of it….?   A coat with a lining to match the dress would be quite something, wouldn’t it? (Any coat would not be finished in time to wear to the early September event for which I am making this dress, but would I let a small detail like that keep me from a vision?) What do you think? Coat or no coat? And if I did make a coat, what color should it?

 

 

21 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

Sometimes It’s All About the Shoes

Well, maybe it’s not entirely about the shoes, although they do promise to share a starring role with my just-completed yellow and blue linen dress.

All about the shoes

I first spied these lovelies on the Simply Soles website last winter, as part of the offerings for Spring/Summer shoes. Although I loved everything about them (the combination of colors, the fabric, the asymmetrical bow, the kitten heel, the brand – knowing from experience that Butter shoes are extremely comfortable), I decided not to purchase them. At that point in time, I had not yet bought the bittersweet yellow linen, so I had no reason to buy shoes with such a limited color palette. By the time I had a good reason to buy them, they were no longer available in my size.

All about the shoes However, the Simply Soles website allows one to request an email advice should the correctly sized shoe become available. Weeks went by, Summer arrived, and by then I had paired the recently purchased deep yellow linen with the pottery blue linen. Goodness, I could not stop thinking about those shoes and how perfect they would be with my envisioned dress. And then – they were suddenly available – in my size – and on sale!

All about the shoes

By this time I was already immersed in making my second linen dress of the Summer, so I planned for the blue and yellow linen to be number “3”. In the meantime, I happened upon more documentation of Moygashel linen, this one for the “yellow” piece. Those of you who follow this blog know how much I love to make these connections!

"... pure enchantment for sun places ... a forsythia linen dress ..."  and the source information in the back of this Vogue Pattern Book Magazine from February/March, 1968 credits Moygashel as the brand of linen.

“… pure enchantment for sun places … a forsythia linen dress …” and the source information in the back of this Vogue Pattern Book Magazine from February/March, 1968 credits Moygashel as the brand of linen.

Seeing an entire dress made out of the forsythia linen helped me to feel confident about having such a bright color as the bodice part of my planned dress.  As I stated in my last post, I decided to use the bodice from this early ‘60s’ Vogue pattern, pairing it with a slim skirt and a belt.

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

As this would be a dressier type of frock, and because I know how foolproof couture construction is (with silk organza underlining and crepe de chine lining), I proceeded using those techniques. The facings on the V-shape of the bodice front and back were cut as part of the pattern, instead of being separate pieces. I followed the instructions to reinforce the edges of the fold with ¼” twill tape.

I basted the twill tape just to the outside of the fold line on the "all-in-one" facing.

I basted the twill tape just to the outside of the fold line on the “all-in-one” facing.  This is the back bodice.

And this is the front bodice, showing the deep V and the center seam.

And this is the front bodice, showing the deep V and the center seam.

Normally, couture construction does not use facings, but in this application, they were indispensible. Then the rest of the dress proceeded without a hitch.

Here is the dress turned inside out.  I used a forsythia-yellow zipper as i thought it more important to match the bodice than the skirt of the dress.

Here is the dress turned inside out. I used a forsythia-yellow zipper as I thought it more important to match the bodice than the skirt of the dress.

Here is the shoulder with the crepe de chine fell-stitched and understitched in place around the shouilder.  Note the lingerie stay made with a folded piece of Hug Snug Rayon woven tape.

Here is an inside look at the crepe de chine fell-stitched and understitched in place around the shouilder. Note the lingerie stay made with a folded piece of Hug Snug rayon woven tape.

About halfway through the construction of the dress, I got the idea to have decorative buttons made – to compliment the front V of the neckline.

I sent scraps of my fabric off to Pat Mahoney in California to have these buttons made.  Sadly, Pat is retiring from her business at the end of August...

I sent scraps of my fabric off to Pat Mahoney in California to have these buttons made. Sadly, Pat is retiring from her business at the end of August…

I actually was not sure I was going to use them until I had finished the dress, but I think they add just the right amount of detail.

Here is the dress without the buttons . . .

Here is the dress without the buttons . . .

. . . and here is the dress with the buttons.  What do you think?  With or without?

. . . and here is the dress with the buttons. What do you think? With or without?

Another detail I was happy to add was the Moygashel linen label which had been attached to the forsythia yellow linen yardgoods.

I attached the label inside the back neckline.

I attached the label inside the back neckline.

The belt is also a Pat Mahoney product, made from a silk dupioni.

The belt is also a Pat Mahoney product, made from a silk dupioni.

All about the shoes

All about the shoes

I like the V-ed back!

I like the V-ed back!

Love those shoes!

Love those shoes!

To me, this dress is reminiscent of a 1950s’ “wiggle dress” – although I added a back slit so that I can walk easily, which I guess would have been “cheating” in the 1950s! I was delighted to make another 1950s’ connection when I saw this pair of Roger Vivier shoes for Christian Dior on Pinterest:

All about the shoes - Pinterest pin

The similarities with my shoes are remarkable! Now that I have one dress perfectly suited for my Christian Dior-inspired shoes, I will be looking for other “perfect pairings”. Who knows what fabric treasures will present themselves next Spring or Summer for just such an undertaking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44 Comments

Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, hand-sewn zippers, Linen, Moygashel linen, Shoes to make an outfit complete, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, underlinings, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

“Good Wearing-Relationships”

This is a pattern I have long admired:

Good wearing-relationships - Forquet pattern

It is one of those patterns which is always in my mind when I am looking at or for fabric. Twice I have opened it up to survey its pieces and construction, and twice I have decided against it. To be fair, both times of rejection have been because of “not enough fabric”, but other factors have weighed in as well: 1) the collar is too “’70s-looking” and would have to be recut; 2) the skirt is A-line, a look I am just not excited about right now; and 3) the top part of the dress is “bloused” instead of darted, which adds more bulk to the waist than I can handle at this stage of my life.  However, with that said, I still love the look.   I love the strong contrasts of color, divided and punctuated with the wide white belt. I love the styling with the shoes matching the red bodice, the tidy neck scarf, the big ball earrings, and the classy bracelet. It is a memorable look. And – it served as inspiration for me as I recently paired two vintage pieces of contrasting Moygashel linen.

GGood wearing-relationships

When I purchased these fabrics – at different times – I had no intention of using them together.   But then, one day I put them together and liked what I saw. I knew from Vogue 2708 (above), that a white belt would add the necessary foil to those two strong colors. Further encouragement came happily from a two-piece dress in the June/July 1962 issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine using similar Moygashel linens:

"They're naturals - and we're not just talking about the cotton and linen fibers in the clothes on these pages , but the good wearing-relationships we have with them.  We like them; they like us - our 1962 shapes, science-bred colors, the places we go, our washing machines..."  The two-piece dress featured here was made from Moygashel linen,

From the description:  “They’re naturals – and we’re not just talking about the cotton and [Moygashel] linen fibers in the clothes on these pages , but the good wearing-relationships we have with them. We like them; they like us – our 1962 shapes, science-bred colors, the places we go, our washing machines…”

Now all I had to do was decide upon a pattern which would work with the one yard I had of the “bittersweet” yellow linen for the bodice and the one-and-one-quarter yards I had of the “pottery” blue linen for the skirt. (Fortunately, these linens are 45”wide, meaning that they were manufactured after the early-1960s.)

Initially I thought I would just go with View D of this current Vogue pattern:

Good wearing-relationships - new vogue pattern

But after having recently read Linda Przybyszewski‘s The Lost Art of Dress and being influenced by the discussion therein of the importance of fashion emphasizing one’s face, I thought I wanted a more interesting neckline. Off to my collection of vintage patterns I went, emerging with this one:

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

The neckline dips down to a slightly curved V, with a center seam.

And the back is equally as pretty!

And the back is equally as pretty!

Now I had a plan. I would use the narrow skirt from the current Vogue pattern and the bodice from the vintage Vogue pattern, except that I would make it sleeveless. I had to work to line up the darts on the bodice and the skirt, moving them hither and yon several times. And then I had to deal with the positioning of the bust darts, always an issue for me with vintage patterns. The apices of the darts are always too high for me. (I’m sure it has much to do with the foundation garments which women wore in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s.) Simply moving the apices lower does not always work, as then I seem to have too much fullness above the bust and across the shoulders.   Of course, this is where making a muslin (toile) comes to the rescue. In this case, my first muslin had so many changes to it, that I had to transfer all my final markings to a new muslin. I also decided to underline the linen with silk organza and use true couture techniques to complete this dress.

Here is one side of the front from my first muslin.  I still had to make changes on the second muslin, but better on muslin than on the fashion fabric!

Here is one side of the front from my first muslin. I still had to make changes on the second muslin, but better on muslin than on the fashion fabric!

As I work on this dress I am in concurrence with further commentary from the 1962 VPB: speaking of “Naturals for our Time” (linens and cottons), the editors say, “Most of all, we want the real-life way they look – effortless, inspired by structure rather than detail [my emphasis], and naturally appealing now.” Actually, there is one important detail which will add to the “good wearing-relationship” I will have with this dress – but I’ll save that for my next post…

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Filed under couture construction, Linen, Moygashel linen, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, underlinings, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns