Saturday, April 9, 2011

RTW Tailoring Sew Along - getting organized

I really admire Sherry of Pattern-Scissors-Cloth and so I joined her tailoring Sewalong, and then could not get going on a project.  Summer is approaching here in N. California and tailored garments get pushed aside for summer dresses.  I have had some trouble choosing something to make although I could use a lightweight black jacket but didn't have anything suitable in my stash.  Plus I have put myself on a fabric diet.  
Rummaging through the selection on my shelf I chose this mystery fabric found at an estate sale - can't remember when.   I am not sure what the fabric is, it was washed and pre-shrunk in the dryer and seems to behave like denim, it presses well, but doesn't wrinkle like cotton so I am not sure of the fiber.   I had an aqua cotton poplin short trench coat which I wore a lot so this should fit into my wardrobe, plus the price is right!  The jacket is cut out and markings are done, so I will be fitting the sewing in between working on other projects.  
Collar pieces aqua jacket
I made this same pattern last year,  in uncut corduroy, and while I was happy with the jacket it seemed a bit short.  Yesterday I was examining it again, and I decided that it is not so much short at the hem but that the waist seams hit me too high, so the peplum effect starts too far up on the torso.   Here is last year's version.
Blue cord jacket front
Playing around with the length and proportion I have concluded that the seam where the bottom portions attach can move down about 2 inches.  If that is too much then I will raise it up when sewing, but for now this will work.   To lengthen patterns I decide how much to add, then choose a spot and draw my "lengthen or shorten here" line across the necessary pattern pieces.  This jacket has no provision to lengthen the torso - but that doesn't mean it can't be done.  Here are the 2 upper side pieces.  I have drawn the line across the pattern pieces, then using tissue paper I make long strips with the desired amount drawn on, for this example it is 2 inches.  I find that if I make the "expansion pieces"  in advance, the process goes quickly and I avoid mistakes in the adjustment.  In this case the expansion is in length but it would work the same for spreading the pattern in width.
aqua jacket pattern piece 3
Next I cut the pattern apart on the line I have drawn, and insert the 2" extension piece.  To keep the top and bottom halves of the pattern piece in the proper orientation, use the straight of grain line to connect the pieces and line up the bottom with the upper part
aqua jacket pattern piece 2
It may be a little easier to see it in this photo, here I have extended the straight of grain line down to the bottom of the pattern piece, as it needs to go through the part where the extension will be inserted.
Aqua jacket pattern piece 1
Remember to lengthen all the pieces, including the facings!  Oh yes, I have cut out a complete jacket and then realized that I neglected to lengthen the lapel facing - kind of defeats the effort.  

Dandelion flowerToday's SunnyGal garden photo,  we have had so much rain this winter - which is a good thing here - as it will be dry very soon.  But the weeds enjoy the rain as much as my tulips.    
Happy Spring Sewing,  Beth

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Floral Frocks - Vintage History

A gift for no reason is a lovely surprise, so I have a new book in my fashion reference library.  My friend Herma came across this book and said she thought of me.
Floral Frocks   a celebration of floral printed dresses from 1900 to the present day
Floral book cover

I can see why she did, based on some of my recent creations.  A look at my Etsy shop shows that I am wild for florals.
The book has very interesting photos and a good amount of history, explaining the development of the floral day dress in the 20th century.  I enjoy reading about this time period, and all my watching of public television costume dramas and pre-war mysteries has just reinforced my occasional wish that we could dress that way again.
book bw 40s dress
book bw 40s dress caption

This one really grabs me, I am crazy for those shoes, plus look how the pleats in the skirt incorporate the design of the fabric.  
Here is the accompanying caption,
featured in Vogue Magazine as 
the "Bargain of the Month."

According to the authors, prior to the mid-twenties, floral print was rarely seen in fashionable day wear, mostly used for work wear or cheaper clothes such as nightwear, aprons or linings.  During the 20's, with the growing emphasis on leisure and outdoor activities, floral prints for casual beachwear became available, eventually migrating to dresses for women of all classes.

book blue white dressbook blue 2-piece dress
Look at how they created those varying stripes with the floral pattern, fantastic.  The dress on the right is a 2-piece, sundress with little jacket.

At the same time new methods for printing fabrics were developed, and a range of new synthetic fabrics made more choices available.  Changes in fashion production meant that prices went down and people could acquire more clothes, either buying or making at home.

book 50s dress bw
Note the gloves worn in this photo.  Had I been dressing then I would have had a collection of single gloves - as I am sure I would lose just one on a regular basis.

In the late 40's and all through the 50's prints moved into everyday clothes for women and the summer floral day dress gained in popularity.  I think this one below is my favorite.  While I love the use of the horizontal pattern and full skirts of the dresses shown above, the color in this one really attracts me, as well as that bow.  And I would wear that dress on the cover of the book in a heartbeat. 
book pink dress
Lastly, a couple of shift dresses from the 60's, more selections I would wear right now.
book 60s shift dresses

Fun to have a peek into some fashion history - but think of all that ironing!
My recommendation for today - wear florals and be cheery.

Very serendipitous to receive this book now as I am just finishing a project this week, something vintage and floral. I will do a post next week but here is a peek.  The fabric is from my "Margaret" collection, an estate sale treasure trove that is like Mary Poppin's magic bag, unlimited gems in that box.

pinkblue floral sleeves