Reality check

Lots of us seamsters have a stash. Lots of us have a stash so big that we must hide it for fear of being recruited for Hoarders. Surely, keeping it orderly prevents such dire interventions by friends/families/TV crews. But how to sort it?

I used to sort by colour.

Then, by fabric type.

Last night I spent a good few hours pulling it all down off the shelves and sorting by a few different systems. First I put all the dress-length pieces together. Then all the other garment-sized and garment-appropriate pieces. Next, cords and velvets in one pile, heavy cottons in another, and old sheeting in two piles. The result:

Here’s the reality check. That top left quarter of the picture – all four piles – comprises dress-length pieces. I counted, not including linings, nearly 70 pieces of fabric.

Let’s think about this a moment. 70 dresses. Is that not a lifetime’s supply? When would I have the time to wear them all, let alone make them?

I culled quite a bit (giveaway, anyone?) but probably not enough. The whole exercise was quite a pointed demonstration that I do not need to buy any more fabric.

How do you sort your fabric? And how do you know when you’ve got enough?

Tale of two blouses

So I made a quick ‘n’ dirty version of the Joan blouse from the previous post, hoping it would be wearable, but I’d be able to tweak it before cutting into silk. The fabric is an electric blue cotton voile.

I was sooooo excited about this one. But I’m completely underwhelmed. Neither I or Headless Esme are as bodacious as Joan, which might be a contributing factor. The blue, too, looks a bit hospital scrubs or trainee ninja or something. I think it would be better in a print or less gaudy shade. Finally, the facings are insane – you’re instructed to face the peplum. It would be sooooo much easier and neater to just line it.

In contrast, I’ve had this Advance pattern for years. I bought it for the dress (still unmade) and turned my nose up at the jacket and blouse. But I’ve been seeing so many nice 1940s style blouses online that suddenly the blouse looked less unappealing. And, a good match for my newly-made high waisted BRIGHT RED wide-leg trousers. So I whipped one up quickly and a wee bit shoddily from a rayon remnant I’ve had for about as long as the pattern. And, surprise surprise, me likey! It’s got a bit of a 30s vibe to it.

This one I’m definitely re-making. I have a vintage silk twill that will be perfect. I did widen the neck and shorten the sleeves a little, and will do so again.

Blousy booty

Months, if not years ago, when I saw this blouse on the telly, I thought, “me LIKEY.”

(swiped from the very excellent Tom & Lorenzo dissections of every thread of clothing worn on Mad Men)

Then I saw this pattern on etsy:

…and I pressed BUY as some kind of reflex. I swear, there was no brain activity involved; it was all spinal. I’m sure it’s the same pattern.

Yeah yeah, I know, it’s hokey to be all slavish to Mad Men fashion, but too bad.

Piping hot

Last week my Jane Tise Butterick 4682 pattern arrived – remember, the one I’ve been thinking of for three years?

So I set about making it with rare fidelity to the pattern’s instructions. Usually I change this or that, due to laziness more often than not, but this time I swore I’d be good. I piped everywhere that I was told to pipe..

Piped pockets ROCK MY WORLD. I’m a total convert. There’s a real risk that everything I make will now have piped pockets.

The fabric is a soft 70s cotton twill I picked up in a country junk shop. I had *just* enough… well, I had to cut the collar in two pieces. Nose to tail eating… nothing left but scraps. Unfortunately this meant I couldn’t be choosy about where to cut each piece so I’m suffering from a bit of twinning in the front bodice. (Terrible affliction, discussed by the Slapdash Sewist¬†who suspects it’s an elaborate conspiracy by textile designers.)

I love it. It’s garish and a bit mad. All thanks to Nora, three years ago. Hurrah!

Confused curtain shirtdress

I suaved out the pigsty that was my sewing room and with the cleanliness and order came inspiration.

So nice to have my sewing mojo back. And to have made a new frock I really, really like!

It’s a 1976 pattern made up from old curtains kindly given to me by a friend in a de-stashing frenzy. There was a bit of light damage but I just cut around the worst marks.

Only a couple of modifications – added length to bodice and skirt and made the sleeves longer with a kicky little turn-up.

Love, love, love it. The swingy skirt is just the best.

Pinstriped pinny

I don’t know why the Americans call this garment a ‘jumper’. It sounds so juvenile. Besides, jumpers are woolly things you wear on top to stay warm. The Americans call those ‘sweaters’. Are they especially sweaty people? I didn’t think so. Perhaps they are just proud of the human propensity to perspire. After all, dogs can’t do it. Dogs pant to stay cool. Yet, they don’t wear ‘panties’. Which is another American word I loathe.

If you made it through all the non sequiturs, you may be interested to know that my warm and sassy pinny is is made from a stretch pinstripe wool remnant and the same mail-order pattern as the bolero. And it really could have done with a bit of an iron.

Post-it, post-haste

The Post-it dress is done! I love it!



Back, showing the drape

It’s so hard to capture the colour of this fabric, but it really is Post-it note colour! It was absolutely filthy to sew because the fabric writhed, wriggled, slithered and morphed to an incredible degree. In the end I had to tack the interlining to the brocade just to cut it out, then overlock the two together, and then tack the whole dress together to sew – pins just weren’t doing the job.

And that pattern again, Simplicity 6218

Post-it dress

First: the man-shirt update, modelled reluctantly by the recipient:

I don’t love the fit in the sleeve which is tight at the front and loose in the back – but he’s not planning to conduct orchestras or communicate via semaphore in the thing, so a full spectrum of movement is not mandatory. Otherwise, I think it came up a treat and he picked the purple buttons himself (actually, he has an unexpected talent for picking buttons. I consult him on almost every garment because he picks the buttons I never would and they’re usually perfect). One day I’ll remember to widen the shoulders so he doesn’t get those wrinkles under the collar.

NOW. Moving right along. As foretold in the previous post, there’s a contest entry to prepare! I picked Simplicty 6218, a stunner of a 60s sheath gown with a cowl back and empire line. I’m making it in a simmery, drapey 1960s brocade that is the precise colour of Post-it notes. Or pus, if you’re feeling earthy rather than proprietory. But the ‘Pus Dress’ doesn’t quite have the same appeal as the ‘Post-it Dress’ somehow. Can’t think why.

Thought I’d show you how I go about lengthening things. A quick and dirty muslin told me I needed 5cm more length in the boobular section. So I pinned the pattern pieces at the bottom and traced the lower seam line then moved it up 5cm, like so:

This is the lining that I’m working on first and I’ve had to mess with the contrast because the fabric is a similar colour to the tissue.

The important thing is that you shift it precisely on the grain line (when you’re cutting on-grain) OR along the central axis if you’re cutting on the bias. Then, with a ruler, you need to draw new side cutting lines from the top edge of the pattern to the edge of the original placing of the lower seam. You can see this above on the piece to the right.

I’m also narrowing the neckline by 1cm because I have very narrow shoulders. I hope this is enough! This pic shows the front and back bodice pieces together at the shoulder seam… obviously the alterations have to match exactly here.

Now we move onto the vintage brocade. This is the cowl piece which is cut on the bias for drapeyness. I’ve added 5cm here too and redrawn the side seam… yup, I know this looks like a very different angle, but it’ll all be OK, I promise.

Now I’m using the lengthened lining piece as a pattern for the brocade. And it’s a bit sheer, allowing me to artfully cut a bodice piece that avoids the horror of accidentally landing a target-shaped motif slap-bang front and centre like some glorified aureola.

I’m not doing a true lining; I’m sewing the two fabrics together (interlining). But because one is so slippery and the other writhes and wriggles about, I’m basting them together….

…and then overlocking the straight seams since these synthetics unravel like the dickens!.

Phew! Next steps… well, I’m going to muslin the skirt because I have an awful feeling I might not have enough fabric… eek.