Tag Archives: Emma One Sock Fabrics

Wearing Dots

From this …


To this…


How did that happen?

After my purchase of that pattern a couple of years ago, I definitely had second thoughts.  While I loved it when it was first available back in the 1970s – and at that time I was of the age when I probably could have actually worn it – I immediately realized it would not be appropriate for a 60-something-year-old! I tucked it away in my pattern file where I knew I would come across it occasionally and indulge a long-ago dream.  Little did I know it would play a major roll in the realization of this polka-dotted dress.

It took almost eight years for me to come up with a plan for this polka dot silk fabric.  I kept envisioning a waisted, sleeveless dress with a “flowy” skirt, but I could not find a pattern I liked, either vintage or new.  I wanted to avoid darts as much as possible (that’s a story in itself for someday), which meant I needed a princess style bodice.  Many princess line bodices have side seams, but I wanted one without side seams, and with princess line seaming on the bodice back as well.  Pondering all this, I again came across my Belinda Bellville pattern above and thought maybe it would work, with a few changes. But then I noticed that the bodice was supposed to be cut on the bias. 

This pattern detailing from the instruction sheet shows the thee bodice pieces at the top of the picture. The bias is clearly marked.

After not having any success in finding any other suitable pattern, I gave it another look.  Why not cut it on the straight of goods?  It was at least worth a try in muslin, so that’s what I did.  The changes I made to it included; 1) lowering the bust line, 2) eliminating the short-waisted front of the dress and restoring it to waist level, 3) placing the front center part of the bodice on the fold, eliminating the center seam, 4) lowering the neckline just a little, 5) making the waist larger, and 6) adding some ease across the back and shoulders.  With all those changes, I had a bodice I really liked.

But then I needed to make a skirt to complement the bodice.  When I looked at the skirt pattern, I knew I needed to divide it in thirds (for one half of the width of the skirt) and match the seam lines to the seams in the bodice.  Here is what I came up with:

On the left is the one-piece tissue pattern for the skirt. Using the dart lines on that pattern helped me determine the angles I needed for my skirt.

It was about this time I got the idea to make this dress in a longer skirt rather than knee-length, which is where I usually wear my dresses.  The only question I had was – did I have enough fabric to do this?  My silk was 45” wide, and I only had two yards.  I spent at least an hour laying out and eyeballing my muslin pieces on the silk, on the floor, just to see if I could possibly accomplish this task.  I found one combination that would allow this, and took a photo so I could remember how to do it!

It literally took an entire week to work out the pattern and perfect the muslin, but then the sewing began!

As soon as I completed the construction of the bodice, including its silk organza underlining, its catch-stitched raw seam edges, with the seam allowances around the neckline and armholes appropriately tacked in place, I knew I had a bodice which was just what I had envisioned.

Somehow the skirt seams all matched up perfectly with the bodice seams and the center front inverted box pleat, which I added, looked wonderful, I thought.  I made the lining out of navy blue crepe de chine, purchased from Emma One Sock Fabrics.

When it came to under-stitching the neckline and armholes, I decided to do it in white.  It mimics the white polka dots in the fashion fabric and also was much easier to see while doing all that handwork.

Instead of a box pleat in the lining, I did two side pleats to reduce bulk in that critical tummy region!

Fortunately, for the belt, I had silk taffeta left over from two previous projects, which turned out to be a perfect match.  I did not want the belt to take away visually from the rest of the dress, so I made it a modest 1.5 inches wide.  I think it is enough to complete the look, but not overpower it. And OF COURSE I wanted to finish it off with a tailored bow.  (I am planning a post on making this tailored bow belt, so I will not go into the details of it right now.)

 

An oyster-colored clutch helps to complete the look.

This is a very comfortable dress to wear!

No attempt was made to match any dots, as the pattern was completely random. This is the hand-picked zipper. I love the fact that the navy thread shows up on the white and coral dots.

And should I need a dress coat, this one matches the belt!

While this dress was firmly in my queue for summer sewing, at the time I did my planning I was not making it for any special occasion.  However, as good fortune would have it, two unforeseen occasions are now approaching in late summer for which this dress will be perfect.  I am definitely looking forward to wearing these dots!

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Filed under Bows as design feature, Cocktail dresses, couture construction, Linings, Mid-Century style, Polka dots, sewing in silk, silk, Silk taffeta, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s

Classic French Jacket – Number Four

Many of you, no doubt, are familiar with the “10,000 hour” theory. In a nutshell, it purports that to master something, artistically or technically, you must devote at least 10,000 hours to that endeavor (assuming you have a proclivity for it in the first place.) Well, cognitively I know I have a long way to go towards having 10,000 hours devoted to these Classic French Jackets, but it sure seems like I just devoted at least half of those hours to my current, just-finished jacket!

That said, I was aware of an interesting phenomenon as I plugged away on this project. I felt more confident in the process on this one – and more confident in my ability to execute it well. I noticed this especially when I got to the point of inserting the sleeves. The sleeves are, as many of you know, inserted entirely by hand. In previous jackets this has always been my least favorite part. For one thing, you are working within the confined area of the armhole, with lots of very wide seam allowances and “flapping” fabric. It is messy, but precision is necessary to get a beautiful shoulder line and a sleeve that fits well and feels comfortable.   This time it did not feel like an imperfect process; I actually felt like I knew what I was doing!

Getting ready to insert one sleeve.

Voila! It’s in.

Perhaps another of the clues to my feeling more confident in the process of this jacket is the fact that I felt I could take it in a little bit of a new direction. The most obvious departure from the norm is the fact that it has no buttons. Having seen some of the real Chanel jackets in my Pinterest feed that are embellished with bows instead of buttons, gave me the idea to change up this jacket. I really like bows, and I thought using bows would be the perfect foil to this rather regular, non-whimsical hounds-tooth boucle.

I also decided I would eliminate the sleeve extensions and go for curved hems, set off by the trim alone – no bows even for this professed lover of them, as I thought that would be just too much.

Before the trim is applied.

Here is what it looks like on the inside.

Another guiding principle I used for the embellishment of this jacket is the fact that I am planning a matching sheath dress for it. Obviously I want the two pieces to complement each other beyond the shared fabric, so the dress will be trimmed in a manner coordinating with the jacket. (These details will be shared in a future post when I have the dress underway. Eternally optimistic here!) Anyway, envisioning the jacket and dress worn together led me to add both the waistline trim and the trim above the bust (which is across the front only.)

First some details on the waistline trim: I set the pockets to follow this line; the trim is continuous across the top of the pockets (which pick up the curved hems of the sleeves.) I gradually dipped the back edge of the jacket by ½ inch in the center back (a couture technique I picked up from Susan Khalje) and had the waistline trim follow that contour, which I think adds a very graceful look.

I sewed the pocket linings by machine, as that gave the curved dip a better turn. I sewed first along the stitching lines and then cut the curve.

The slightly curved back of the jacket.

Second, I decided I needed the trim across the upper bust as an anchor for the bow I had planned. Obviously I had to set this trim in place before I inserted the sleeves.

The left sleeve pinned in place, the trim already applied.

It was a difficult decision for me to forego a printed lining for this jacket, but I am so glad I did. The black charmeuse has been tiring to work on for my blurry eyes, but it just seems right in this application. And just think – now I have an entire dress to concoct using more black lining!

The boucle is from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics; the trim is from Britex Fabrics, and the black silk charmeuse lining is from Emma One Sock Fabrics.

Until the matching dress is finished, a black sweater and black skirt will have to do.

A red handbag is just what this rather dark and dreary day needs.

I will definitely be ready for some bright Spring colors when this entire ensemble is finished.

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Filed under Boucle for French style jackets, Bows as design feature, Chanel-type jackets, classic French jacket, couture construction, Linings

A Fitting Finish to Summer Sewing

Summer slipped quietly away this week with nary a peep except for the sighs coming from my sewing room. No matter how hard I tried, I could not keep up with the calendar to finish my final Summer project.  However, a few days late on “delivery” doesn’t really upset me, as I can look forward to wearing my Madame Gres-designed coat next Spring.

Vogue Gres coat and dress

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I am not sure I can remember a sewing project which I have enjoyed more. The coat pattern is actually quite a simple design, imaginatively shaped with unusual darts and seams. Perhaps the fact that I made it from vintage Moygashel linen helped make the sewing of it enjoyable, as the linen is so stable. Darts and seams can be crisply sewn and ironed, the grain of the fabric is so easy to see, and the fabric drapes with a fluid sturdiness, if that makes sense.

This shows the side darts which shape the coat and the dart/seam at the front of the kimono sleeve.

This shows the side darts which shape the coat and the dart/seam at the front of the kimono sleeve.

I covered the changes I made to those front darts in an earlier post; those were the only alterations I made to the final design except for lengthening the sleeves by one inch and the length of the coat by 1½ inches. Besides those shaping darts, there is one other feature of this coat which defines it. Do you know what it is?   Yes, it is the bound buttonholes and their buttons. Seven of them, to be precise.

The pattern instruction sheets call for bound buttonholes, as shown here:

I love how these vintage Vogue patterns give such precise instructions; there are various ways to make bound buttonholes, but the method described here is my favorite.

I love how these vintage Vogue patterns give such precise instructions; there are various ways to make bound buttonholes, but the method described here is my favorite.

I have made a lot of bound buttonholes in my sewing life, but seven of them lined up as the focal point of the front of my coat is still a little intimidating. First of all, I had to find buttons that were “perfect.” I found some lavender buttons on the Britex website, and although they looked like a good match in color and appearance, ordering something like that online is always imprecise. However, when they arrived, they were, indeed, “perfect!” With buttons in hand, I made a sample buttonhole, as I always do.

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I think this photo shows the "monkey's knot" design in the buttons, which compliments the linen weave, I think.

This photo shows the “monkey’s knot” design in the buttons, which compliments the linen weave, I think.

Then it was on to a marathon buttonhole session one afternoon.

The most important ingredient in making successful bound buttonholes is precise marking.

The most important ingredient in making successful bound buttonholes is precise marking.

I finished the underside (on the facing) of the buttonholes using organza patches, which makes a beautiful, sturdy finish.

I finished the underside (on the facing) of the buttonholes using organza patches, which makes a beautiful, sturdy finish.

Here is the underside of the buttonholes before I finished the edges.

Here is the underside of the buttonholes before I finished the edges.

And here is the facing side, finished.

And here is the facing side, finished.

Another charm of this pattern is the coat collar, which is seamed in the center back on the bias, causing it to “turn” beautifully. I under-stitched the undercollar to help keep the perimeter seam properly in line (this is a trick I learned from one of Susan Khalje’s classes):

This is the undercover, showing center back seam and the under-stitching I used to secure the perimeter seam.

This is the undercollar, showing center back seam and the under-stitching I used to secure the perimeter seam.

When it came to the lining, I knew I wanted to use silk crepe de chine. I ordered some swatches from Emma One Sock fabrics:

A Fitting finish swatches

Fortunately my sister was visiting and so I could get her opinion on which one to order. I was a bit smitten with the idea of a bright pink lining, but she wisely asked if I hoped to wear this Spring coat with dresses other than the pink flowered one which had inspired it. Well, yes, I do want that flexibility! That made the decision easy – I chose the pale lavender silk, which is just about a perfect match. I added a bias, flat piped edge to the lining, which is now something I always do with coats and jackets I make. It is so easy and adds so much!

Fitting finish

Some of you may recall that I had to piece one of the facings because I was just a little short of the fabric I needed. Here is the seam on the left facing. I really don't think anyone will ever see it! (Except all of you, of course!)

Some of you may recall that I had to piece one of the facings because I was just a little short of  fabric. Here is the seam on the left facing. I really don’t think anyone will ever see it (except all of you, of course!)

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This is a good look at the bound buttonholes and what they add to the overall look of the coat. If you visualize machine made buttonholes in their place, you will get an idea of how vital the bound ones are to the design of the coat.

Another thing that will add to the total look of my 2016 Spring ensemble is this Kate Spade handbag which my grown children gave to me:

Fitting finish

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Fitting Finish

Fitting finish

Fitting finish

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Now all I need are lavender pumps…

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Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Coats, couture construction, kimono sleeves, Linen, Love of sewing, Moygashel linen, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

“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.

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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

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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!”

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

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?

 

 

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