Category Archives: Slot-seam buttonholes

An Evening Jacket for the Ages

“Very up and coming” for the Fall of 1962, according to Vogue Pattern Magazine, was “the striking medium between a straight line and a bold curve – the gentle convex ‘barrel’ shaping of this coat:”

An Evening Jacket for the Ages - picture

It is from this time period – perhaps a year or two later – that this Designer Pattern comes:

Oh the things we can learn, no 10

I don’t know many of us who want to look like they are in a barrel, so it was my intention to take the best parts of the design of the evening jacket and then adapt it to a more current look, or at least to one that did not scream 1963/64

The details I loved about it were: 1) the shaped, two-part collar, which doesn’t really look like a collar, rather as an extension of the body of the jacket, but with more definition to it:

Evening jacket for the Ages

2) the dipped back hem of the jacket:

Evening Jacket for the Ages

I purchased the yellow silk taffeta from Britex Fabrics, while the dress fabric, also silk, is from Mendel Goldberg.

Evening Jacket for the Ages

3) the below-elbow length, kimono sleeves with their clever built-in gusset, and 4) the prominent, offset buttons:

Evening Jacket for the Ages

The top buttonhole is a slot-seam one, while the other two are bound buttonholes.

Less attractive to me was the fullness of the body of the jacket.

My muslin (toile) showed me that I needed to eliminate quite a bit of that fullness from the pattern pieces. I took 2 inches right out of the back of the jacket, making for much less to be gathered into the collar:

Even with two inches removed from the center back seam, there is still enough to gather nicely into the collar.

Even with two inches removed from the center back seam, there is still enough to gather nicely into the collar.

I also took a large wedge out of the each side of the back:

The dark blue line on the left is my re-drawn seam line. the original seam line is marked in red.

The dark blue line on the left is my re-drawn seam line. The original seam line is marked in red.

Then to add a little more shaping, I re-drew the side seams in the side underarm sections:

Again, the blue line on the left is my re-drawn seam line.

Again, the blue line on the left is my re-drawn seam line.

Because the buttons are such a prominent feature of the jacket, I knew I had to find the right ones. The pattern called for them to be 1¼” in diameter. That is a big button! I also knew they had to be a bit fancy or elegant, and I envisioned mother-of-pearl as the ideal composition. It took a while, but I found these buttons on eBay, and they looked just about perfect to me: right size, beautifully carved mother-of- pearl with a swirl design which I thought would add just the right contrast to the silk taffeta of the jacket. As it turned out, they were also the right price (always a welcome surprise!), and more beautiful when they arrived than I had anticipated:

Evening Jacket for the Ages

These buttons have a substantial heft to them, making them well suited for their application on this jacket.

After getting the body of the jacket together, I tried it on to look at the length of it. Fortunately I had cut my pattern with about an extra half-inch in the length, and I used it, plus another ¼ of an inch, as it just looked better a little longer.

Another plus to lengthening the jacket is that the sleeve length lined up more attractively, something I didn't realize until I saw these photos!

Another plus to lengthening the jacket is that the sleeve length lined up more attractively, something I didn’t realize until I saw these photos.

I did my usual flat applied piping along the edge of the lining:

Here is the piping sewn in place.

Here is the piping sewn in place.

The green piping picks up the green in the dress. I opted for an off-white lining, which is a little boring but that's okay!

The green piping picks up the green in the dress. I opted for an off-white lining, which is a little boring but that’s okay.

And I added the label I had:

Evening Jacket for the Ages

Evening Jacket for the Ages

Evening Jacket for the Ages

A few wrinkles left over from the jacket’s first wearing!

Evening Jacket for the Ages

Evening Jacket for the Agea

Evening Jacket for the Ages

I have to say, I really love this evening jacket. I have decided it is going to have another life – with another dress, this one constructed with the double, slanted flounce on it (see pattern above).  It would look fairly fabulous with a black and goldenrod printed silk – or navy, white and goldenrod printed silk…   I’ll be on the search.

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Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, kimono sleeves, Mid-Century style, piping, sewing in silk, Silk taffeta, Slot-seam buttonholes, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

Does Sewing Make Us Smarter?

Could it be that while we are planning, fitting, pinning, cutting, stitching, (and re-stitching), we are also using skills that can enhance the ability of our brains to process information and solve complex problems?

I have always loved the fact that sewing demands so many different skills and abilities, but I never thought of it as “brain-enhancing” until I read an article with the intriguing title “Which Professions Can Make You Smarter?” (by Sue Shellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2015: search here.) The author identified five criteria that indicate the activity or job you are doing, can, according to some neuro-scientists, enhance the “elasticity” and cognitive ability of the brain. One by one, as these criteria were listed, I thought of how apropos they are to sewing. See what you think:

1) “You work at tasks that are difficult enough that you make some mistakes.”

As we all know only too well, mistakes are part of sewing. Why else would seam rippers have been invented?  Have you ever sewn a sleeve in backwards or failed to match a plaid? I immediately thought of this blouse which I made a couple of years ago; while sewing the collar/tie to the front of the bodice, I made the same mistake over and over until I finally got it right.

The Necessary Blouse

2) “You have a job [or avocation] that is continually challenging.”

Whether the challenge comes from the pattern you have chosen, the fabric, the fitting issues you are facing, your time constraints, or any other myriad of potential hazards or goals, sewing is inherently challenging. A good example of a sewing challenge is the use of Marfy patterns. With no written instructions, minimal marking on the pattern tissues, and often complex (but very exciting) designs, Marfy patterns are definitely for the dressmaker who relishes a challenge.

Here is a detail from a dress which I made using a Marfy pattern.

Here is a detail from a dress which I made using a Marfy pattern.

3) “Your work lets you progress to higher skill levels, but you are never able to master it.”

I am always amazed at people who, knowing that I have  taken numerous couture-sewing classes, comment to me that I “must know everything there is to know about sewing.”  I find that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Just take a look at the Table of Contents of this special Designer edition of Threads Magazine from Summer 2014.   So much to learn, and while every piece we finish expands our sewing knowledge – and abilities – we are still humbled by some of the amazing techniques that would take more than a lifetime to master.

Sewing makes us smarter - designer techniques

Click on the image to read the text.

Sewing makes us smarter - designer techniques - 2

4) “Improving your skills is rewarding enough that you want to keep trying to do better.”

I believe this is one of the most important aspects of sewing. The reward of using – and improving – your skills is something you can wear! Although I love a Classic French Jacket, and want more of them because of their wearability, style, and enduring appeal, I have to confess that after making my first one in a class with Susan Khalje, I immediately wanted to make another one to see if I could improve on the first one. Now I have two more in my queue – and yes, it does have at least some small part to do with making each one better than the one before.

I wanted to add working buttons and buttonholes on my second French jacket, so I devised a way to make slot-seam buttonholes. This definitely took some thinking and a bit of nerve, too!

I wanted to add working buttons and buttonholes to my second French jacket, so I devised a way to make slot-seam buttonholes. This definitely took some thinking and a bit of nerve, too!

5) “You have to pay attention to details while solving more complex problems.”

The details in sewing are legend! The darts, the seams, the proper alignment of your fabric, using the correct thread, choosing buttons, marking – well, the list goes on and on and on. We do all of this as a matter of course in our sewing, but we also know that if one of these details is not done well, it can affect the outcome of the entire garment. So, for example, while I am working my way through some complex instructions such as the sheet below, I have to be completing each detail, no matter how simple, with mindfulness and skill.

This is from one of the more complex patterns I have in my collection. It is a Jo Mattli Vogue Designer pattern for a coat and dress.

This is from one of the more complex patterns I have in my collection. It is a Jo Mattli Vogue Designer pattern for a coat and dress.

One of the sewing quotes I love so much is from the great American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“It is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their hearts than while so occupied.”

It seems we are also at home with our minds while stitching away the hours.

 

 

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Filed under Chanel-type jackets, Love of sewing, Marfy patterns, Quotes about sewing, Slot-seam buttonholes, Uncategorized

Defying the passage of years?

Throughout the 1950s, copyright dates appeared on all Vogue patterns (or, at least that has been my observation). Copyright dates appear on some of the patterns from 1960-‘62, but after that, they are non-existent. It is always a thrill when I find a reference to, or picture of, a pattern, which I own or am working on, in one of The Conde Nast Publications, Inc. magazines or other printed materials. It is one sure way to date an otherwise undated vintage Vogue pattern.

So – you can imagine my delight when a small, 8-page Vogue Pattern Fashion News from February 1965 – which I recently purchased – featured the Emilio Pucci dress and jacket which has been my sewing focus for the past several weeks.

On the cover of this small "flyer", which was available for pick-up wherever Vogue patterns were sold, is the reference to fashion from Florence - as in Pucci's Florence!

On the cover of this small “flyer”, which was available for pick-up wherever Vogue patterns were sold, is the reference to fashion from Florence – as in Pucci’s Florence!

And here is the sketch of "my" Pucci pattern.

And here is the sketch of “my” Pucci pattern.

The brief caption gives an apt description of the Pucci pattern:

Pucci pattern - fashion news caption

And – I did indeed wear this dress (and jacket) to an “important party” just last weekend – to a beautiful wedding in Center City Philadelphia.

 

(This photo was not taken at the wedding...)

(This photo was not taken at the wedding…)

I was working diligently all last week to finish the jacket. Here are the details on what was transpiring in my sewing room:

First, I can tell you I was delighted that the pieced sleeve linings worked just as I had hoped they would. Here is the jacket turned inside out, showing the piecing on the lower sleeves.

Defyng the passage of years

Inside out, a back view.

Inside out, a back view.

And here is a photo inside the jacket, looking towards one sleeve, which shows that the piecing does not show! Hurray. I honestly don’t think anyone seeing the jacket slung over a chair is ever going to suspect that the Pucci lining fabric does not extend all the way down the sleeves.

Defying the passage of years

I also had the idea to add a narrow, bias, flat piping to the edge of the lining down the fronts and around the neckline. I found a turquoise silk in my fabric closet which seemed to keep with my “theme” of the turquoise under-stitching on the interior of the dress. This is one of those “dressmaker details” which just makes me happy.

Defying the passage of years

Another thing that makes me happy are the buttons! I picked out specific scraps of the silk, which featured designs I wanted to emphasize on the buttons. I sent them off to Pat Mahoney in Lodi, California, who returned them made into 1¼ inch buttons – flat and beautiful!

This is the button I chose for the top of the jacket.

This is the button I chose for the top of the jacket.  Notice the slot-seam-buttonhole.

The middle button - I couldn't resist featuring the Emilio signature on this one.

The middle button – I couldn’t resist featuring the Emilio signature on this one.

And the lower button.

And the lower button.

I decided to have two extra buttons made in case I wanted to add them to the sleeves.   And – add them, I did. I like the extra subtle  attention they bring to the jacket. (Another dressmaker detail – specifically, an added embellishment.)

Defying the passage of years

Defying the passage of years

I had the jacket finished when I suddenly remembered that a Vogue label had come with the pattern. Of course, I was delighted to sew it in place.

Defying the passage of years

Defying the passage of years

Defying the passage of years
 Defyng the passage of years

Defying the passage of years

There is something about using a pattern from 1965 that seems quite amazing to me. Yes, it is simple math, but think about this: 1965 was 49 years ago!   Is anyone who sees me in this dress and jacket going to think that it is sewn from a 49-year-old pattern? Somehow I doubt it. I think my secret is safe.

 

 

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, Dressmaker details, sewing in silk, Slot-seam buttonholes, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s