Category Archives: Vogue patterns

The ABCs of D-R-E-S-S-M-A-K-I-N-G, Part I

Those of us who do fashion sewing sometimes have difficulty identifying what we do in a single descriptive word. A “sewer” (not those stinky things that go underground that happen to be spelled the same way) can be one who sews many different things, right? The term “sewist” is a somewhat new word, made up of sew + artist, which really doesn’t describe anything specific to my way of thinking. Most of us are not “designers” (and not all designers can sew), although most of us use some design techniques in our fashion sewing.   Some of us may be “sewing professionals,” a term which covers a broad range of endeavors, such as being a custom clothier, a sewing teacher, a writer about sewing, or even a retailer involved in the sewing industry. The term “seamstress” implies one who sews on a machine, as in a factory; although this person may be very talented in certain techniques, her job does not leave room for innovation or creativity. And that is why I like the term “dressmaker” so much. In one word it expresses many things explicit and implied. And although it is a term much used until the 1960s and not much since then, I consider myself a Dressmaker; maybe you do, too?

This wonderful Vogue book, copyright 1957, still used the term "Dressmaking" in its title.

This wonderful Vogue book, copyright 1957, still used the term “Dressmaking” in its title.

A dressmaker is one who makes custom clothing for women (oneself included.) She usually works from a commercial pattern, and then uses all her creative, design, and technical skills to create a one-of-a-kind dress, blouse, skirt, coat, etc. I have devised this ABCs of DRESSMAKING to define some of the important aspects and practices of dressmaking, especially in the couture sense.

D is for Design. This seems like it should be common sense, but it cannot be said too often that you should choose a design that is going to work for you. Unlike ready-to-wear that we get to try on, when we sew, we are working from patterns that we think will be flattering, but we really will not know until it is finished (a muslin takes some of the guesswork out of this, but not entirely.) Most of us have our own personal style that we know is flattering to us. Even if you want to diverge a bit from it (which is fine), it’s probably best not to go too far afield. Also, beware of trends that may not be flattering. (An example of this from a couple of years back is the revival of the peplum, a look that not too many of us can wear very successfully.)  When it comes to Design, choose one that is “smart for [many] seasons” rather than “one that’s soon outdated.”

The first page of the book pictured above tells the reader why she should be using Vogue patterns, but it also suggests some of what it means to be a "Dressmaker."

The first page of the book pictured above tells the reader why she should be using Vogue patterns, but it also suggests some of what it means to be a “Dressmaker.”

R is for Risk. Let’s face it, fashion sewing can be risky. We can be sewing with really expensive or “difficult” fabric or vintage fabric, which is now no longer available – or sewing with a complicated design/pattern – or making something for a very special occasion – and the outcome is entirely in our hands! It takes bravery, confidence in one’s skills, patience, and a willingness to take a risk to grow in our dressmaking, but the rewards are manifold.

One of the Dressmaking signs I have hanging in my sewing room.

One of the Dressmaking signs I have hanging in my sewing room.

E is for two things: Engineering and Embellishment. I have said this before, but it bears repeating – sewing is engineering. I love to read pattern instruction sheets, especially for something that is complicated, and I bet many of you do, as well. It’s fascinating to see how patterns go together, how different fabrics demand specific approaches to that process, how the pattern pieces need to be manipulated to fit one’s particular form. A well-engineered pattern is a beautiful thing, and it takes a sewing-engineer’s mind to know how to best bring that pattern to life in a stylish and successful fashion. It takes a dressmaker.

Another one of my signs, the first one I purchased and still my favorite!

Another one of my signs, the first one I purchased and still my favorite!

Embellishment is almost synonymous with the term dressmaker. “Dressmaker Details” include such things as ruffles and frills, ribbon, or braid, but also those little touches that add so much to a successful garment, such as well-chosen buttons, interior trims, non-boring linings, covered snaps, bound buttonholes (when appropriate), and the creative manipulation of, or addition to, a pattern to get the effect you want. A creative dressmaker can start with something basic and make it unique – and couture – by adding just the right embellishments or details.

S is for Seams. This is about as basic as it gets, but those seams must be sewn well and finished well for a successful finished garment. One of the techniques I learned in the couture sewing classes I have taken with Susan Khalje is, for me, the method to achieve successful seams. That is – thread basting along seam lines to use as your sewing guide, rather than relying on the seam allowance markings on one’s sewing machine.   This is the building block for successful dressmaking.  And then, finish those seams on the inside to control bulk and add to the wearability and durability of your garment.

S is also for Steam. As in ironing. A good steam iron is worth its weight in gold! Steam is useful in so many ways – here are just a few:   1) When sewing with wool or most dry-cleanable fabrics, a good place to start is steaming your fabric before you begin to lay out your pattern pieces. Even if you have pre-washed cotton or linen fabrics, a good initial steaming of your yardgoods will insure a better outcome. 2) Steam newly sewn seams flat to set your stitches before spreading the seam open for its second pressing. 3) Contours can be set beautifully with steam, especially when using a pressing ham and/or a seam roll, or draping your work-in-progress on a dress form.

Te Vogue Dressmaking Book has an entire section on pressing, with guidelines still appropriate almost 60 years later. Click on the image to read the page.

The Vogue Dressmaking Book has an entire section on pressing, with guidelines still appropriate almost 60 years later. Click on the image to read the page.

And then, S + S  is for Sewing Sense, which is what every successful Dressmaker must develop. This subject is so vast it warrants its own blog post sometime in the future!

So now I am halfway through the ABCs of D-R-E-S-S-M-A-K-I-N-G. Part II is yet to come…

17 Comments

Filed under couture construction, Dressmaker forms, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, Vogue patterns

The Allure of Silk, Part 3: Finishing Touches for a Fancy Frock

In planning for my ‘50s-inspired silk party dress, my original intention was to use a red sash, just as shown on the original dress which I first saw on Pinterest.

Blue taffeta:silk dress - originalWhen I sent off for swatches of silk taffeta from Emma One Sock Fabrics, however, I requested reds and yellows, just in case I might change my mind. When the swatch card arrived, there were clearly two obvious choices – the clear red and the vibrant yellow.Allure of silk - cummerbund picture

Then a funny thing happened. I ordered the red, which was out-of-stock temporarily. The owner of Emma One Sock (who, I might add, is one of the pleasantest and most helpful people from whom one will ever order fabric!), held up the order, at my request, while I thought about it some more. By the time I went to Baltimore to start my dress in Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School, I had just about decided to switch to yellow. With Susan’s hearty endorsement and the additional approval of my classmates, the decision was made: the sash would be yellow, not red.

When the yellow silk taffeta arrived, I knew the decision was the right one. All I had to do then was figure out how to make the sash. Easy, right? With lots of time to think about this while I finished the embroidered organza top and the sapphire blue skirt – and the dress lining – I gradually came up with a plan. I decided a more structured cummerbund and bow would be the best look. First I went in search of a cummerbund pattern, which I found in an early 1960s pattern in my collection:

Allure of silk - cummerbund picture-1

I decided to loosely pleat it instead of gathering it, so it would appear smoother around my waist. Because I had underlined it with silk organza, I had an anchor upon which to secure the soft pleats:

I used a loose catch-stitch to secure the pleats.

I used a loose catch-stitch to secure the pleats.

allure of silk final

And I folded in the two ends, ready for hooks and eyes.

Then I lined it with silk crepe de chine.

Allure of silk final

Now –  I really love a beautiful bow. And I knew just where to go to get the perfect bow pattern. I made this Butterick pattern in the early 1990s, and while I still like the dress I made (I’ll feature it sometime… it’s still in my closet!), I love the bow. I have used this bow pattern numerous times, always successfully.

Allure of silk - bow picture-2

Here is a close-up of the instruction sheet, showing the simple but effective construction of this bow.

Allure of silk - bow diagram-3

I increased the width and length a bit, as I knew it would need to be a focal point of the dress. I attached the bow to one end of the cummerbund, and used a snap to secure it in place on the other end.

All of this took more time than I could have ever imagined! The event for which I made this dress is next week, and I’ll get proper pbotos taken then. But here is a sneak peek, first of the shoes I found which really seem to be the perfect pairing for this dress:

allure of silk final

And here is the dress on my dress form:

Allure of silk final

Allure of silk final

I thought I'd include this photo of the dress lining for anyone interested in seeing it.

I thought I’d include this photo of the dress lining for anyone interested in seeing it.

I am very pleased that I decided to "V" the back of the outer bodice!

I am very pleased that I decided to “V” the back of the outer bodice!

A close-up of the bow.

A close-up of the bow.

One of my favorite fashion quotes is one from Madeleine Vionnet: “The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines. It must accompany its wearer and when a woman smiles the dress must smile with her.” Will my dress put a smile on my face when I wear it? Yes, if only for the fact that it has been finished just in time!

Details:

Blue silk taffeta:  Britex Fabrics

White embroidered organza:  Waechter’s Fabrics (now out of business)

Yellow silk taffeta:  Emma One Sock Fabrics.

Under bodice and outer bodice pattern:  Vogue 8766

Cummerbund pattern:  Vogue 5234 (vintage)

Bow pattern:  Butterick 3582 (vintage)

Shoes:  Butter, sold by Simply Soles

40 Comments

Filed under Cocktail dresses, couture construction, Mid-Century style, sewing in silk, Shoes to make an outfit complete, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

“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…

15 Comments

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

Fashion Past, Fashion Present

Many reviews of Linda Przbyszewski’s book The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish have been written. Two of the most recent ones are by Stephani Miller of Threads Magazine, and by Joy Landeira in the quarterly newsletter (Summer 2014) of the American Sewing Guild, Notions (available to members only). Both of these, plus many others give an excellent overview of the subject of the book. For those of you abroad and others who may not have been exposed to this book, here in a nutshell is the narrative: From 1900 – 1960, American women’s interest in fashion was shaped to a great degree by many professionals in the fields of Home Economics, Retailing, and Art. Following certain concepts espoused by these “Dress Doctors”, as the author calls them, average American women embraced style, grace, appropriateness, and practicality in their dress, making them paragons of American fashion.

Lost Art of Dress - cover

I found the book completely fascinating to read, learning much about the cultural and social history of this country during those six decades. Although the book is scholarly in its research, documentation, and overview, Linda is an engaging writer, infusing humor frequently, adding pointed commentary throughout, and, finally, extrapolating meaning from the “lessons” taught by the Dress Doctors for present seekers of style. As a dressmaker and frequent user of vintage patterns, I read the book looking for specific references, which would apply to my sewing and fashion sense, and to help me answer the question “Just exactly why do I find the fashions from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s so captivating?” To say that I found much to savor is, indeed, an understatement.  However, certain “Aha” moments stood out for me, so that is what I will try to cover in my remarks here.

1) To be successful and enduring, fashion should emphasize one’s face. When I look at vintage patterns, so many of them have details at the neckline, or unusual and flattering collars, or necklines cut gracefully to frame the face. This seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Fashion should bring attention to one’s face – and therefore, one’s person – so that YOU are remembered rather than your attire (although the proper fashions can help you be remembered at your best). Jewelry is one way to help emphasize a face, but, of course, it should not overpower your countenance. Prior to 1965, wearing hats was commonplace, adding another point of emphasis to the face. Now we are not so lucky, save for some very special occasions.

2) Black is fine to wear for evening, but think again for day-time wear. While I am not naïve enough to think that black is going to leave the wardrobes of American women (after all, what is more classic than the Little Black Dress for after-five?), most of us would do well to consider adding more color to our fashion sewing and wearing. Color is a powerful enhancer to complexions (of all hues) and moods.

3) Older women were once considered at the apex of elegance and style. Women and girls younger than 30 were expected to dress in a more youthful manner that mimicked their elders, rather than the other way around! (Isn’t it interesting that 30 was considered the age at which women were expected to assume a more polished appearance?)   Vogue Pattern Book Magazine contained the occasional feature on young girls and college girls, and Vogue even had a pattern series called Young Fashionables. But the majority of their patterns were for the 30 – and – older crowd, showcasing models and fashions which were demure but elegant, feminine but refined.

Here is one "Young Fashionable" pattern, to illustrate the type of style designed for the younger than thirty age group.

Here is one “Young Fashionable” pattern, to illustrate the type of style designed for the younger-than-30 age group.

This page from the October/November 1955 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine shows many of the ingredients of a polished look, the norm among American women at that time.

This page from the October/November 1955 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine shows many of the ingredients of a polished look, the norm among American women at that time.

Even fashion illustration included all the elements of a polished look.  (From the same VPB magazine as above.)

Even fashion illustration included all the elements of a polished look. (From the same VPB magazine as above.)

4) The Dress Doctors were not only concerned with fashion, but also with how fashion could influence the rest of one’s life. First and foremost, one should buy, or sew one’s own attire, which is appropriate for the life one leads. Buying on impulse is rarely a good idea if the item you are buying has no use in your weekly or monthly calendar. Further, if you find a style or look which works for you, repeat it – easily accomplished by those of us who sew. And those of us who sew know that tweaking a pattern, adding or subtracting a detail, and choosing diverse fabrics can make any pattern look new. Hooray for us!

5) A final point – and it is about many women’s favorite fashion accessory — shoes. According to Linda Przbyszewski, shoes have taken on much more significance than they once did – and should. Shoes should never be the focal point of one’s outfit. They should be chosen to enhance the overall look and to be functional for the occasion for which you are dressing. Shoes used to be just one of the accessories adding to the complete outfit, along with gloves, hats, scarves, handbags, jewelry, and coats. As gloves and hats and coat “wardrobes” have receded from the recipe for a “fashionable look”, shoes have filled that gap for many of us.

The last chapter of the book is devoted to the “demise” of the Dress Doctors in the 1960s and ‘70s. The emphasis on “youth”, starting in the ‘60s, and the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s changed mainstream fashion dramatically. Not addressed in the book is the continuance of some of the standards, established by the Dress Doctors, by the pattern companies in these two decades. Although my experience is mostly with Vogue patterns, I continue to be inspired by many of the fashions, Designer and otherwise, featured in patterns during these two decades. Once again home dressmakers were at an advantage – and continue to be.

The author leaves the reader on a positive note, stressing lessons for all of us to be learned from the wisdom of the Dress Doctors, and crediting the home sewing movement NOW for the beginning of a return to standards and style in the art of dress. I look at this  as a responsibility.  How about you?

2 Comments

Filed under Book reviews, Little Black Dress, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

A Fascinating Foundation

Vogue patterns from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s never cease to amaze me. The intricacies of construction, the detailed instructions, and the artistic styling of so many of the patterns from those three decades make sewing from them such a pleasure. Each one is like a mini sewing lesson, neatly packaged with beautiful photos and/or sketches and precise line drawings.

Such has been the Emilio Pucci Designer pattern on which I am currently working.

Happy New Sewing Year - Pucci pattern

The unusual construction of the jacket caught my attention as I was trying to lay out its lining pattern pieces along with pattern pieces for the dress.  As I mentioned before, the front of the jacket is cut on the bias. However the interfacing and the lining pieces for the front are cut on the straight of grain. How, I wondered, is that going to work? The answer to that question is one of the most fascinating construction methods I have ever come across.

The interfacing and the lining both have deep darts to form the bust line. Of course, the jacket front, cut on the bias, is going to have built-in give for the bust. But in addition to that, there was a “cup-like” pattern piece for adding to the front interfacing, clearly with the goal of enhancing the bust line, and defining it.

The "cup-like" pattern piece is in the lower right.  Notice the large dart in the piece next to it.

The “cup-like” pattern piece is in the lower right. Notice the large dart in the piece next to it.

Here is the instruction page for assembling these interfacings. In effect, it is a process for making an interior bra.

Click on the diagram to read it more easily.

Here are my front interfacing pieces with the darts sewn.

Here are my front interfacing pieces with the darts sewn.

Here I am reinforcing the darts in the bust (cup) interfacings.

Here I am reinforcing the darts in the bust (cup) interfacings.

Here they are ready to be added to the base interfacing pieces.

Here they are ready to be added to the base interfacing pieces.

And here are the front interfacings assembled and ready to be attached.  Looks kind of risque, don't you think?

And here are the front interfacings assembled and ready to be attached. Looks kind of risque, don’t you think?

Note also the detailed instructions for making the bound buttonholes on the above instruction sheet. I did a practice run on a bound buttonhole, being careful to layer the fabrics exactly as they would be layered on the front of the jacket.

My sample buttonhole.

My sample buttonhole.

The right jacket front, marked for buttonhole placement.

The right jacket front, marked for buttonhole placement.

Another detailed instruction was given for the sharp angle under the sleeve. The instructions called for a 2” x 2” square of fabric to reinforce that corner. I used black organza.

The organza patch is sewn on the right side of the jacket and pressed to the inside.

The organza patch is sewn on the right side of the jacket and pressed to the inside.

The organza patch makes a very secure and precisely sewn  corner possible.

The organza patch makes a very secure and precisely sewn corner possible.

And here are just a couple of photos of the interior of the jacket with the rest of the interfacings attached.

The right front of the jacket, with buttonholes sewn.

The right front of the jacket, with buttonholes sewn.

Thje front of the jacket.  Note the "stays" made our of seam binding.  They are loose except where they are attached at the underarm and at the collar.

Thje front of the jacket. Note the “stays” made out of seam binding. They are loose except where they are attached at the underarm and at the neckline.

The back of the jacket - simple compared to the front!

The back of the jacket – simple compared to the front!

There is something else that never ceases to amaze me either about these sophisticated vintage Vogue patterns.   That is – how stylish and current so many of them are.   Here’s an example of what I mean. Take a look at these recent jackets from current designers.

I clipped this out of The Wall Street Journal sometime within the past year, but I unfortunately forgot to note the date.  Click on the photo for a close-up.

I clipped this out of The Wall Street Journal sometime within the past year, but I unfortunately forgot to note the date. Click on the photo for a close-up.

The article rightly makes the reference to Balenciaga, but look how similar these are to the Pucci jacket on which I am working.

A Fascinating foundation -picture of Pucci jacket

These thumbnail sketches  also help to show the similarity to the current jackets.

These thumbnail sketches also help to show the similarity to the current jackets.

Well! I am looking forward to sharing some more details about this outfit when I can show it completely finished – in my next post – and answering those nagging questions, “Did piecing the lower sleeves on the jacket lining actually work? Will anyone guess my secret?”

 

 

21 Comments

Filed under bound buttonholes, couture construction, kimono sleeves, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

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!

 

26 Comments

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Comments

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