Tag Archives: B and J Fabrics

Flights of Fashion Fancy

Having returned just a couple of days ago from a short Summer trip, I still seem to have airplanes and airports on my mind.  Although it wasn’t practical to take any sewing (hand-work, that is) along with me, that doesn’t mean I have not been thinking sewing, fabrics, patterns and fashion.  In fact, while I am still physically (and mentally) working away on my “couture dress”, another part of my brain is thinking about Fall and Winter, getting my projects listed in some sort of order.  I’ve started envisioning them all lined up on the “runway” – kind of like planes all queued up and waiting for take-off.  Some big, some small, some already late, others sneaking in before their time!  Which ones will have to return to the gate?  Which ones will be smooth flying – and which ones will hit that proverbial turbulence?

After finishing my current Summer projects, I am thinking the first one to “take off” will be an addition to a suit I made last winter.  I have enough fabric left of this lovely checked wool to make an overblouse:

Paired with the suit skirt, an overblouse in this fabric will make a variation on the “little black dress” – just in two pieces instead of one.

I recently found this pattern, view D, which I intend to use for this blouse.  I am so fond of the “Dior darts” which give a lovely silhouette to a bodice.

I’ll definitely make a muslin of this pattern to check the fit.

After that, I know I’ll be working on a dressy suit, which I need for a wedding and another event mid-Fall.  I found this wool at B and J Fabrics which I’m about to order   to use for the jacket.  I am still on the hunt for a slightly orchid-colored pink in light- weight wool or heavier silk to coordinate with it for the skirt.

This fabric, a wool/lurex blend, has a bit of sparkle to it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love pink – and here is another one:

I have a lot of yardage of this fabric, so I have flexibility in choosing a pattern.

I’ve had this fabric for several years.  It is a wool/cotton blend with the perfect weight for a Fall dress.  However, I can’t decide on what style I should make it in:  shirtdress, sheath, tailored or not?  If I can’t decide, then it may just have to go to the back of the line.

This is a recent purchase from Britex Fabrics:

This is actually alpaca – and very, very soft!

I bought this fabric to be made up in this dress, view A, with the below-elbow length sleeves:

The length of this dress as shown on the envelope is very 1950’s. I’ll be making it in knee-length.

The back of the envelope shows the versatility of the belt, which can be included – or not.  Think of the endless possibilities with changing the belt on this dress, especially with a basic black and white herringbone weave:  it would look great with red, pink, orange, black, green, or even bright blue.  This pattern will give me more practice on the couture techniques I’ve been learning, too.

I love that the drawings include the handbags!

Finally, here is another fabric from Britex:

Another subtle windowpane, this one in navy with deep red and ivory intersecting lines.

This is a pure cashmere wool which I purchased last year in the store.  There is no way to describe how soft and luscious this fabric is.  And here is the pattern I know I am going to use for it:

This pattern is circa 1970.

Well, if all I had to do between now and December is sew clothes, I might get most of this done.  However, interspersed amongst this fashion sewing will be  several “gift” sewing projects, which are going to sneak their little wings into line, along with holidays!  No matter – among other things, sewing encourages flexibility and, like flying, can take us to places of great adventure and quiet reflection.  No wonder I – and so many, many of you –  love to sew!

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Filed under Dior darts, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns

Eating my words.

I never expected to find a pattern from the decade of the ‘80s that I liked, as my refrain about fashions from that span of time has always been:  “Those ’80s’ styles were just too awful”.  But I humbly ate my words when I finally found a pattern (from an Etsy shop) for a sarong skirt, which just happens to be from 1985.

I won’t be making the bra top… And notice the “big” shoulders on the blouse, which otherwise would be kind of cute, I think!

It’s quite obvious where the Vogue pattern designer got the inspiration for this sarong and “bra-type top” look.  Here is the scoop from Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion , p. 395 (Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, New York, 2010):

“Long straight wraparound skirt made of bright-colored tropical design fabric with deep fold in front, held on by a scarf around waist.  Worn by men and women of the Malay Archipelago.  Adapted as a beach dress style with wraparound skirt draped to one side and strapless top first designed by Edith Head for Dorothy Lamour film Hurricane, in 1937.  Worn by Lamour in many films of the 1930s and 1940s. [my emphasis]

This sketch accompanies the entry for sarong skirt/dress in Fairchild’s Dictionary.

The original owner of the pattern made the long version skirt while I decided to make the shorter version.  She left cryptic notes throughout the instruction sheet.

Here is an example of some of the notes which the original owner made on the instruction sheets.

I made some of my own notes, but I wrote them on the muslin which I made to test the pattern before cutting into my fashion fabric.   I am glad I did, too, as I discovered that the overlap for the skirt was not quite enough for a “street” skirt (as opposed to the beachy/resort intent of the pattern).  So – I made the side panels each about 2” wider.  Then to make the waist still work, I added a dart in the left side front (which is the hidden side of the wrap).  I  made the ties each about 2 inches longer, as I thought they would be more becoming and lay flatter if they had a little more length to them.

Here is the diagram from the envelope which shows the thumbnail details of the two skirts.

I had picked out this tropical-look fabric, ordered a swatch, then the yardage from B & J Fabrics in New York.

Here’s how it all turned out:

Not quite Dorothy Lamour.

A close-up view, showing the ties.

When I was putting my new skirt in my closet, I spied my chartreuse green Tommy Bahama top, which is almost vintage itself, it’s so old.  But, h-m-m-m-m, the wheels started turning and I paired the two together here:

The green in the top actually matches the green in skirt better than it shows here. Just wish I had some green shoes to match…

From 1937 – to 1985 – to 2012, I suspect this is one style which will never go out of style.

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Filed under 1980's dress patterns, Asian-inspired dress designs, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, Vogue patterns

“You are going to have some new clothes.”

So said the fortune which was tucked inside my cookie.  What it failed to mention was that I was going to be the one making those new clothes, but otherwise I’d say it was right on target. Well, it seemed only fitting that, with this Chinese dictum, and with my burning desire to use those shell buttons (which kind of give off an exotic aura), I should indulge my attraction to Asian-inspired clothing design, and make this tunic my next sewing project.

The date on this pattern is 1958. The envelope is in sad shape, but the pattern pieces are fine!

I had another reason, too, to choose this tunic pattern.  After my last project, the Pierre Cardin silk dress, I was ready for something that did not need to be underlined or lined – and I was ready for something casual and fun.  I might add “bright” to that list, too, as the fabric I chose is indeed that!

This is the swatch I ordered from B&J Fabrics.

Just a reminder (if you need it) that I wanted to use these buttons for this tunic.

I had the fabric swatch sitting on my ironing board in my sewing room when I started work on my “Pierre Cardin” dress.  The pink silk from that dress complimented this silk check so much that, putting the two together seemed inevitable.  I played around with some small scraps, scrunching them around those orange shell buttons, still on their card.  What could be more perfect than making the buttonhole loops and details out of the pink fabric, to set off those shell buttons?  I was sure that would be much more effective than making the loops and details out of the same checked fabric.

I ordered enough fabric to make a matching obi-type sash, as I thought I might want to wear the tunic “belted” sometimes, too.  (In the back of my mind is the knowledge that I have enough of that pink silk left, that I can make a skirt – or blouse – with it.  I’m definitely leaning towards skirt…)

First, of course, I set out to make a muslin.  When I opened the pattern, the pieces for the dress had been previously used, but not the pieces for the tunic.  The collar was universal for all three views.  However, in addition to the tissue collar, there was a collar piece cut out of newspaper.

Here are the two pattern pieces for the collar – the top one cut by the original home sewer.

There was nothing written on the instruction sheet or envelope to explain this mystery – and it appeared that the “newspaper” collar was shorter in length than the tissue pattern.

Here you can see the newspaper pattern is shorter than the tissue one.

Having no explanation, I just decided to use the tissue pattern – and I figured the muslin would tell me what I needed to know.  Did it ever!  The collar included with the pattern is too long for the neckline, so this home sewer in the late ‘50s re-cut it to fit her pattern.  I decided to take another approach: I kept the tissue collar and widened the neckline enough so it fit perfectly.  I also decided to shorten the shoulders a bit, for a more structured fit, and I took the center back seam in a bit at the waistline.  I ended up adding long tapered “floating” darts to each side of the back, too, to give it a little more definition to the waistline –  but I am getting ahead of myself…

As is my method of approaching a new project, that is, getting a few things constructed before I need them, I decided to make the obi sash first.  I just kind of guessed for width and length, making it 4” wide (finished width) and 77” long, so it could go around me twice comfortably with a double knot in front.

The completed sash.

Next I made the button loops and details.  The pattern didn’t give too much instruction on these pieces, other than the length they should be and the finished width (1/4”).  (I should mention here that I decided to put 5 buttons on the tunic, not 4 as is shown on the pattern.)  I cut bias strips 1”wide, folded them in half lengthwise, sewed the seam twice and turned them with a bodkin.  Nice and easy!

From top to bottom, the making of the strips for the buttonholes and details: 1″ wide bias strip, one folded and stitched, one turned and finished! (Click on the photo to see these close-up.)

I put flat-felled seams in the sleeves and added interfacing to the front edges even though the pattern did not call for this.  The most time-consuming part of the whole thing was hemming the ends of the buttonhole loops and details and then sewing them onto the tunic.  But that’s really what the project was about – showcasing those buttons in an appropriate way.

The finished tunic, with the sleeves folded up, as they are supposed to be.

A close-up of the front, with the button detailing.

An even closer look at one of the buttons and loops.

This photo will make my daughter very happy! Here I am modeling my new tunic, with sash.

One more view of the sashed tunic. Picture this with a narrow skirt in that same solid pink…

I think it works – what do you think?

One final thought:  fortune cookies are a little like potato chips (or chocolate!) – it’s hard to eat just one.  Yes, my first cookie was followed by another one – and I was hoping for a similarly enticing fortune.

Imagine my surprise when my second fortune was exactly the same as the first one!

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Filed under Asian-inspired dress designs, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Buttons - choosing the right ones, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s