Sometimes the sewing stars align to ensure success (and sometimes they don’t.) But this story is a success story, although it played out differently than I originally planned.
Having only 1.25 yards of this vintage wool restricted my options to either a simple sheath dress or a skirt. I opted for the sheath, with all good intentions of using the princess-lined pattern I had recently used for a pink dress in vintage Linton wool. In fact, one of the reasons I made the pink dress was to see if I would be able to successfully match plaids when I started on the red/green wool. (The weave of the pink Linton has a plaid woven into it, which I knew would be helpful to me in determining the pattern’s useability for a multi-color plaid.) Only one problem – when I laid out the pattern pieces on the Forstmann wool, I didn’t have enough fabric. I should have realized that the 7-panel princess dress would take more fabric than I had – and this time there was no making it work.
SO – I had to find another pattern. I have, over the years, made several sheath dresses using a newer Butterick pattern, but I really wanted to use a vintage pattern for this wool. Now, I have a lot of vintage patterns in my collection – and I went through every single one looking for the right sheath dress. At first I didn’t realize this pattern had the look I wanted.
I had originally purchased this pattern for that gorgeous shawl collared coat. But – BINGO – when I took another look, there was the perfect sheath looking right at me.
Although the pattern was not dated, I knew it was from the early 1960s. But of course, I thought it would be wonderful to know the year it first appeared. A lengthy search through old Vogue Pattern Magazines proved to be successful – not only successful, but timely. This pattern was included in the December 1962/January 1963 issue, and was the featured pattern for a Special Capsule Catalog included in the issue. Not only that, the caption read: “110 IDEAS TO START THE NEW YEAR IN VOGUE.” Yes, I thought, that’s what I want to do!
Of course, starting with a pattern I had not before used meant I had to make a muslin (toile) and fit it. That little effort took two days. But then I got started in earnest, cutting out the silk organza underlining and positioning it right where it needed to be on the fabric.
There were two important considerations for placing my silk organza underlining “templates” on the plaid: 1) the orientation of the plaid vertically and 2) the correct placement of the hemline on the grid of the plaid and making this placement work with the position of the waistline and neckline.
I thought the wider, darker part of each woven “block” on the plaid should be oriented to the bottom of the dress, which I believe is apparent above.
I find, when working with plaid, it is very important to have the hemline determined before you cut out your fabric. Visually it is more appealing if the hem does not cut a block of the plaid directly in half or, especially with smaller plaids, end right at the edge of a block. I think it looks better if there is a bit of a “float” around the bottom of the dress to anchor the bottommost blocks. (Larger plaids have their own considerations. Look at the art on the pattern envelope above to observe this.)
One of the design features of this dress is the kick pleat, which has its origin in the back seam starting at the bottom of the zipper. I wasn’t sure how I was going to work the lining around this, but I also thought I could probably figure it out.
I loved that fact that this type of kick pleat made the perfect setting for a lapped zipper, shown below.
You will notice this dress has two shaping darts on either side of the front panel, in addition to the bust darts. The back has one shoulder dart and one shaping dart on either side.
All these darts make for such a lovely fit. In addition, I used a trick I have learned from Susan Khalje. Instead of sewing the bust dart into the side seam, I allowed it to float free, stitching the seam above and below the dart. I did this for both the fashion fabric and the lining. Using this method provides more ease to the bust.
I did lower the neckline by about ½ inch, and I cut the shoulders in by about an inch on either side. These changes just seemed to look better on me, as determined by my muslin (toile).
I lined the dress in black silk crepe de chine. (I find almost all my lining silk at Emma One Sock.) When it came to the kick pleat, I found that a slanted seam below the end of the zipper was necessary to divide the lining between the two sides of the kick pleat.
I have no idea how to explain what I did to finish the lining in this area. Just know that whatever I did – worked! I ended up with no lumps and no restriction on the functionality of the pleat.
This dress was such a fun project. I loved working with such a beautiful wool and such a beautiful pattern. There will be more such sheath dresses in my future.
So now, how about you? Have you started the new year in Vogue? I hope so!
Odds and Ends and One Thing You Mustn’t Miss
Sewing has been, well, challenging this summer. In reality, I think I have been able to accomplish just about all I could have hoped for – so far, at least – but it certainly doesn’t seem like very much.
When I packed fabric to bring along to our new vacation home in Wyoming, I tried to think ahead and determine exactly what I would need. For instance, I brought two decorator fabrics which I had picked out for two of our “new” bedrooms, with plans for making decorative pillows and at least one bed skirt. I also brought two fabrics with which to make dresses for our two little granddaughters who were arriving, along with the rest of our immediate family, in late July. I also brought some vintage Moygashel linen, many pieces of shirting and dress cottons, skirt fabric, and a piece of Viyella cotton/wool blend. What was I thinking?!! Certainly no one could accuse me of being under-ambitious!
I totally misjudged how much of my time would be taken up with organizing and setting up a new household. So – what have I been able to sew? A number of decorative pillows, for one thing. I find them – and all that self-bias tape I had to construct – utterly boring to make, but satisfying once they are completed. The bed skirts have been moved to the “still to do” list.
I was able to make dresses for my granddaughters. My original intent was to make each dress out of a different fabric, but when I stretched out my ladybug embroidered, striped fabric from Emma One Sock, I realized I had more than I needed for one dress. With one minor compromise, I knew I could get two dresses from my existing yardage. So I changed plans and made matching dresses.
I made white piping for the pockets and collars out of kitchen string and white batiste. The ladybug embroidered fabric is really so cute!
The compromise I had to make involved the sashes, as I did not have enough fabric to cut sashes for two dresses. Fortunately I had enough of the coordinating red fabric to make the sashes. Now I’m glad it worked out that way, as I think it makes the dresses cuter.
I had pre-purchased red decorative buttons, thinking I would need them for just one dress. Normally I would put three in a row centered beneath the collar, but with four buttons, and two dresses … Well, you do the math! Two on each dress it is!
Having spent many summer days and nights in Wyoming before this year, I knew from experience how chilly the mornings – and nights – can be throughout the summer. (The days are warm and glorious, however.) Warm cozy slippers and a winter-weight bathrobe are necessities. And that is why I brought along the afore-mentioned Viyella fabric. Although I packed a winter-weight robe which I made a few years ago, I wanted to make a new robe which I can leave here, therefore eliminating one bulky item from future suitcases.
How lovely to have the opportunity to use this vintage Vogue pattern once again.
This robe takes a lot of fabric, and it was a tight squeeze fitting all the pattern pieces on it and matching the plaid as well. I had to make the sash out of two pieces of fabric, seaming it in the back. Additionally, I had enough fabric for only one pocket (I prefer two.) But, I am happy with the outcome, and very pleased to have used one more piece of fabric from my sizeable collection!
Viyella is the perfect fabric for a lightweight, but warm bathrobe. It is machine washable, and gets softer with age.
While the bathrobe, and the little dresses, were enjoyable to make, neither were challenging in the “couture” sense. So I did my “couture” dreaming vicariously through the Susan Khalje Couture Sewing Club, where inspiration abounds in many forms. Earlier in the month, Susan was interviewed for the “Love to Sew” podcast. Treat yourself and spend a lovely hour-plus listening to it, if you haven’t already done so. The interview, Episode 106, dated August 12th, can be found here:
Among Susan’s new pattern offerings is this jacket:
When I arrive back home in Pennsylvania, I will be searching through my fabric closet for the perfect pairing for this pattern. I am just itching to challenge myself with such a project. No more pillows, at least for now!
Filed under Bathrobes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Fashion commentary, Sewing for children, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s
Tagged as 1950's Vogue patterns, Bathrobes, fashion sewing, sewing for children, Susan Khalje Couture, vintage Vogue patterns