I’m going to use this red polka dot cotton voile to make the Wrap Blouse. I originally got about five yards of this fabric on sale at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco to make a dress but it’s fall now and I’d rather make a top, which I can wear in the fall. Even thought it’s fall, it’s still pretty warm in the Bay Area so I think I can wear it for a while.
I’m making size B, which is for bust sizes 36, 38, and 40. Size B yardage is 2 3/4 yard (about 2.5 meters) for 44 wide, 2 yards (about 1.8 meters) for 60 wide. However, this fabric was 54″ wide, which meant that 2 yards would be too little. So I had to use about 2 3/4 yard to accommodate the large front pattern piece. As you can see from the photo below, my table wasn’t wide enough. I had to work on the floor to cut this pattern piece.
But I did finish cutting the pieces and searched my stash of Petersham ribbon and found that I had a yard of red – yay. The pattern says to use grosgrain or Petersham ribbon for an inside belt. The pattern includes a belting guide so you can mark the center front and underarm areas. you can see my chalk mark on the ribbon below. I’m going to take a risk and just make this blouse as is. I’m hoping I won’t be swimming in the blouse because I’m not doing an SBA (small bust adjustment). I’m hoping that because it is a wrap blouse, it will be fine (fingers crossed!).
I can’t remember where I got this vintage Vogue pattern. It doesn’t have a copyright date but I think it has an early 1970s feel. What do you think?
The pattern pieces were really wrinkled! The previous owner just crumpled them up and stuffed them in the envelope. :/
I had never seen a pattern that wrinkled before. (The horror!) I’m the kind of person who will spend 15 minutes refolding patterns exactly as the printer folded them. I had to iron each piece and then discovered that the back facing piece was missing. But it’s just a small curving piece so I figured I could just draft one by tracing the top curve of the back pattern piece, which I did.
This dress has six sections – two front pieces, two side front pieces, two side back, and two center back.I think it would be fun to color block. I traced the woman in red on the pattern to see how that could look, which you can sort of see in the photo below.
I spent a small fortune at Britex Fabrics on two pieces of wool jersey – one was this black remnant and the other was this beautiful deep red from the first floor where all the expensive silks and wools are. I got 1 1/4 yards (1.14 meters) of the red – just enough for the center front and back pieces. I have plenty of the black for the sides and sleeves – if I make the long-sleeve version.
I traced the pattern pieces and decided that I needed more room in the armhole. The sleeves are fitted so I decided to drop the armhole about an inch. You can see the penciled in line below.
Oh, and before I forget – let me just mention that I broke out my new erasable highlighters for this pattern. Thanks to Brooke of Custom Style for her great tip, I now highlight all my pattern notches and markings so I don’t forget to mark my fabric before I remove the pins. (Brooke is a costumer and expert seamstress. You can see her various project in progress on IG (@sewbrooke).)
I like to use the pink highlighter because I’m not fond of pink so I won’t ignore the notches. 😉
I like this particular highlighter by Foray because you erase the highlighter using the other side – a white tip, which is also a marker but when you run it over the highlighter markings, the highlighter disappears like magic.
Pilot also makes an erasable highlight but it erases via the friction or heat generating from erasing. When you use the eraser end on it, your mark disappears but you can also tear your pattern paper from the rubbing motion. Because it is heat sensitive you could also use an iron to erase it but that could get annoying – turning on your iron to erase a highlighter mark.
You can get both of these highlighters at office supply stores.
I’m going to make a muslin of the dress from some brown jersey in my stash. It’s not really the same weight or hand, plus it has a touch of lycra in it, but I think I can at least check and see how the arms fit. Then maybe I’ll get some other knit fabric that is closer to the hand of my wool jersey and make another muslin. If you know a place where I can buy some really cheap wool jersey, please let me know.
Have you made anything from wool jersey? This will be my first time sewing wool jersey. I’ve only sewn cotton jersey, rayon knits, and fleece. If you have any tips, feel free to pass them on.
Thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for spurring me and many others to look back at this past year. One thing I realized is that 2013 was a year of sewing firsts for me. So here’s a brief rundown of the “firsts” in chronological order.
I entered my first sewing contest in February – the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest. You had to make something from the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern and post photos to your BurdaStyle profile. I made the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress and a crinoline with the following adjustments: changed the neckline from square neck to boat neck, lined the bodice (first tine I lined a bodice!), added bra strap holders at shoulders. I posted about making the dress but never actually posted this photo on my blog. So here it is.
To my great surprise I was selected as one of 20 finalists. I didn’t win but it was exciting to be a finalist. (You can see more photos on my BurdaStyle Project page here.)
I participated in my first sewalong last June – making the Hummingbird peplum top by Cake Patterns and sewing by first neck and sleeve binding using knit fabric (link to pattern here). I liked the pattern so much I made three tops: solid blue, solid red, and my favorite, black-and-white striped version with binding cut on the bias.
It was so much fun participating in the Hummingbird sewalong, I joined in the Fall for Cotton Sewalong hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum By Golly, and made my first Decades of Style pattern, the 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, a bit of a challenge with three collars and a side invisible zipper.
And finally, I made the Emery Dress, a Christine Haynes pattern, and did my first small bust adjustment and my first wide shoulder adjustment using the tutorials she provided with her Emery Dress Sewalong.
And coincidentally, these “firsts” are also my top five. Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2014?
Be warned – there are many, many photos in this post but if you get to the bottom you’ll get a reward – details to enter my small giveaway – a swatch of the vintage Swiss dot voile fabric I used in making this blouse. The fabric is from the late 1940s, which I didn’t know when I made it. Really. Earlier this week – after I’d finished it – I contacted the fabric store, Maxie’s Daughter Fabrics in Philadelphia, to ask what decade it was from. What a nice surprise to discover that I made a 1940s blouse using fabric from that very decade! And thanks to Trice of SewTell for telling me to visit the Fabric Row area or I never would have stumbled on this store when I was in the area in August!)
Pattern: 1940s Girl Friday Blouse by Decades of Style – $18
Fabric: 3.5 yards Vintage Swiss dot voile, 34 inches wide – $35
(Some vintage fabrics have smaller widths. If I used 45″ fabric I would only have needed 1 1/2 yards, 1 1/8 for 60″)
Notions: Invisible zipper – $2.79
Green and yellow embroidery thread – $0.90 (45 cents each)
Gutterman thread $1.80
Design Plus superfine fusible bias stay tape
70/10 Schmetz needle
The fabric is very lightweight and the “dots” are actually woven in the fabric. On the right side, it almost seems as if the dots are printed on the fabric. On the wrong side, the “dots” are rather fuzzy and raised as you can see from the photos. It was rather delicate to sew because the weave wasn’t very tight. Thus the best needle was 70/10, not 60/10. The 60/10 pulled on the weave of the fabric. At first I thought I had a tension problem but then I switched to a larger needle size and the problem went away.
The fabric is not transparent but you can see my hand underneath the blouse front – and you can see the tucks.
There are only five pattern pieces to the 1940s Girl Friday blouse: front, back, three collars and back facing. Then you make bias tape for the front neck facing and armholes.
I didn’t bother tracing the pattern because I got a late start because I changed my mind on what I was going to make because the fabric I initially chose wasn’t 100 percent cotton. Frankly I wasn’t entirely sure this was 100 percent cotton but I was told it was a voile and when I did a burn test, I didn’t get any hard residue. But
My waist fit the pattern’s size B/36 bust but my hips were closer to the next size up (41 inches). The pattern provides the finished bust and waist measurements. For the 36″ bust the finished measurements were 42″ best and 32.5 inch waist. So I graded up around the hips and made a muslin of the front and back pieces. (See the earlier post My Fall for Cotton Project – Sewalong Update for details on that.) Do not skip the muslin.
The front and back pieces are straightforward – four darts in the back, two tucks on either side of the two front pieces and two shoulder darts. I didn’t realize until later that one shoulder dart ends nearly an inch lower than the other! Oops. But you really can’t tell because the collar hides it. So I left it as is. Darts were a bit tricky on this fabric because of the bumpy Swiss dots. I think that’s why I went a little further on one side. I pinned my darts but with this fabric I should have also basted everything. but I was a little impatient.
You don’t sew the center front seam until after you attached the collar.
The tricky part was installing the side invisible zipper on the left. I decided to use fusible stay tape on the fabric next to the seam for the invisible zipper. I thought about a skirt I have where the fabric is getting a bit frayed at the bottom of the side invisible zipper. I didn’t want my fabric to eventually tear near the zipper so I thought this bit of reinforcement would help.
I decided to go with black fusible stay tape because it was less visible than white. I didn’t want to sew through the stay tape because it was going to be bulky from the zipper tape. Thus I fused it so it would go right next to the 5/8 seam. It’s probably not so great to have such a curve on an invisible zipper but I didn’t want the blouse to be too loose around the waist.
The pattern doesn’t provide any directions on installing the zipper. It just says: “Insert invisible zipper in left side seam below notches as per manufacturer’s instructions.” Really. So I turn to the Coletterie tutorial Installing an Invisible Zipper to refresh my memory, install the zipper, and then sew the seam above and below the zipper. Luckily it went fine and lined up at the top.
I did end up sewing over the bias tape in some areas. I finished the seam by stitching the fabric to the zipper as you can see on the left. Thanks to Brooke of Custom Style for suggesting that! Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics also gave me that advice.
The collar is the most unique aspect of this blouse so I’ll spend some time here going over my experience with it. The most important thing is to mark the collar notches (the 3/8″ line(s) on the left side of each pattern piece) – two on the bottom collar, three on the middle collar, and one on the top collar. I just clipped right through the pattern pieces and the fabric to ensure accuracy. You will need to use those markings to line up the collars after you’ve sewn them. The instructions are very clear so be sure to follow them to the letter. The only challenge is that you have to figure out how you’re going to finish the seams.
About an inch before I got to the collar point, I reduced my stitch length to 1, sewed to the point, pivoted, stitched about another inch and then increased my stitch length back to 2. You only stitch on two sides, leaving the notched edge open. I trimmed very close to the edge of the collar points so I wouldn’t have any bulk there. You can do that when you have a very short stitch length.
I trimmed the seams and clipped the curves. To prepare the collars for pressing, I used a point turner on the points and ran it gently over the curves areas to push out the fabric from the seam.
After you press the middle and bottom collars, the instructions say to “finish the remaining un-notched raw edges as desired.” Hmmm. I had to think about that. How should I finish that part? I decided to press a 1/4″ fold and sew close to the edge (see pinned side below).
Now I had to decide whether I wanted to add any embroidery. The pattern says a collar embellishment is optional and suggests a running stitch with each stitch 1/4″ long and each line of stitches 1/4″ apart from each other. Because my fabric had two colors I decided I only needed two rows of embroidery so I went with one row of yellow and one row of green.
It took me a while to mark each collar piece. I decided to use the Pilot Frixion Erasable pen because the ink just disappears with heat. You just use your iron on it and the ink goes away. Of course I tested it on a scrap to make sure it would disappear and it did. I wrote about using it in Tracing Patterns with the Pilot Frixion Pen and learned from a comment by Mallory of Daze Like This who told me about the heat factor.
I marked my lines because it’s really easy to go off track when you embroider. The running stitch is easy to do. I loaded about three 1/4″ stitches on my needle before pulled the needle through. I used a two strands of embroidery floss doubled.
The important thing to to make sure your floss isn’t twisted. After you’ve threaded your needle, hold your thumb and index finger on either side of the floss and pull the needle up. The oils from your fingers and the action of pulling the floss between your fingers helps to get the twists out. I learned that tip from the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book. I think Natalie Chanin called it “loving” your thread. I embroidered a ton of spirals last year before I figured that out (see Getting Started on My Alabama Fur Wrap and The Embroidered Wrap). 😉
Oh, and when you start your embroidery, you start your stitch on the inside of the collar. I didn’t think about that until I had already finished the bottom and middle collars. On those two collars, I started with my knot on the outside of the collar – uh, not sure what I was thinking there. You can see my knots in the photo of the backside of the collar.
You could also machine stitch your embellishment or just skip that part.
Here’s one row of yellow embroidery on the top collar.
After all the collars are embroidered, you line them up starting with the bottom collar, matching the notches.
The you baste the collar together along the notched side and then hand stitch the underside of the collars together where they overlap.
Next you pin and baste the collar to the front neck edge, which includes several inches of the front center seam. There is a circle you mark on the collars and the center front seam that you use to line up the pieces.
As you can see, precision is important. Things will not line up if you don’t measure accurately. I was super careful in all my markings and in sewing my 5/8″ seams.
Next you sew on the back neck facing – once again, the instructions leave it up to you to decide how you want to finish the edges.
I pressed a fold 1/4″ from the edge and then folded it over a second time and pressed it. after I attached it to the back neck, I realized that I needed to finish the sides so I just improvised by pressing a fold and sewing close to the edge. A little sloppy as you can see below but at least the edge wasn’t left raw.
Here’s what the front neck looked like at this stage. You can see that there are many layers of fabric where all the collars overlap in the front center seam. And you can see the shoulder darts in this photo as well.
The instructions say to make 1 1/2 inch bias tape for a facing. I had a 1 3/4″ bias tape maker so I cut my fabric for that but ended up making it by hand as I mentioned in an earlier post. I think my brain defaults to thinking double-fold bias tape whenever I read bias tape but the facings in this pattern only need single-fold bias tape. You can see the extra fold in the facing here.
I used single fold for the neck area but double-fold for the armholes because I liked the way it looked.
There’s no mention of understiching in the instructions. I understitched the neck facing. Then I hand stitched the neck facing to the blouse.
I sewed bias tape to the armholes. Rather than pressing the seam to the inside, I folded my seam to the outside, trimmed it and folded the bias tape over it and blind stitched the facing to the inside seamline. So there’s about 3/8″ of fabric added to the armhole. I didn’t take a photo of that so I’ll add it later.
One of the last steps is sewing the center front seam. This means sewing through all the collars – as many as six layers of fabric – and then just the two layers below the collar. I was nervous about sewing this seam and asked for advice on Instagram – Samina (Saminakaty on IG) of Sew Everything Blog suggested using a longer stitch length, bigger needle size and maybe walking foot, Laura (Laruahoj on IG) of A Make It Yourself Mom’s Diary suggested using a Jean-a-ma-jig which helps going from bulky to not-so-bulky areas.
I was still undecided about how I would sew this last seam so I dropped by Lacis in Berkeley because I knew that Erin had made the blouse. I asked her how she sewed it and she said she didn’t do anything special and said, “just sew it!” I also called up Stonemountainand Daughter Fabrics when I was at work and asked their advice. The person I spoke with told me that I didn’t need to do anything special but suggested that I do a test on some leftover fabric, which I did. I decided I could just use the same needle and stitch length.
I also decided to reinforce the center seam below the collars and iron on some fusible bias stay tape along the seam line.
I pinned and basted the center seam then I opened up the seam and saw that I could see the stitches where the collars were sewn together. I looked at the basting and saw that I was slightly off on one side. My seam allowance was slightly under 5/8″ on one side. So I removed the basted where the collars met and lined up the edges and basted again. I was good to go.
There was no way to do a French seam because of all layers. I ended up just pinking the edges. My finger is pointing to where the collars meet at the center front area.
Next, I tried on the blouse. I really had to shimmy into it and decided that I needed a little more ease. I have broad shoulders so I was afraid that I would be putting too much strain on the seams getting it on and off. I decided to remove two of the back darts. So I’d have two back darts instead of four – a small sacrifice. I highly recommend trying it on before you hem it!
I used seam tape on the bottom of the blouse to which I blind stitched a hem. The photo below shows the bias tape along the center seam and the hem.
Whew! And that’s why it took me more than 30 hours to make this blouse!
And now to the giveaway! If you’d like a small swatch of the vintage fabric I used in my Fall for Cotton project (it’s more than 60 years old!), just comment below on whether you’ve made anything with vintage fabric or with Swiss dot fabric, include a link (if you have one) of what you made, and what your experience was like. If you haven’t made anything with those fabrics, just let me know why you want a swatch! You have until Friday, Oct. 11, 6 pm Pacific to enter your comment. I’ll announce winners on Saturday. Then winners can send me their mailing addresses.
Here’s one last image for you – you can see the black feather in my vintage hat in this photo.
I finished my Fall for Cotton project – the 1940s Girl Friday Blouse from Decades of Style – with not a minute to spare. Really. I was still working on it yesterday and realized I had to hustle if I wanted to get photos done before sunset. It was after 6 pm and I still had to hem and iron it! And this sort of explains my expression in this photo. I couldn’t find my cream-colored strappy sandals right and the clock was ticking so I just threw on some makeup, grabbed my vintage wool hat and tripod and walked a few blocks to to this side street for my impromptu photo shoot with me and my digital camera. Yeah, no photographer so it was weird just staring into the lens. In the back of my mind, I kept wondering, “Is this really in focus?” and “Crap, I’m losing light!” and “How long is 10 seconds?” I’m just doing this on my lunch break so the nitty gritty details on making this blouse will have to wait for another post this week. In the meantime, I’ll subject you to more photos of my blouse, which took far longer than I thought it would to make. There really aren’t very many pattern pieces but I must have spent more than 30 hours making it! Hand embroidery on the collar, side invisible zipper on the left, seam tape on the hem, hand stitching the bottom two collars together and hand stitching the hem. You can read about some details in the post My Fall for Cotton Project – Sewalong Update. And I wore the wrong bra with the blouse – you can see it in the back view photo. A darker bra wouldn’t have been visible. The fabric is a vintage lightweight Swiss dot cotton voile.
If you’ve made any Decades of Style patterns, I’d love to know what your experience was like. I found the pattern to give rather minimal instructions in some areas. So this would NOT be a good pattern for a beginner. I’m glad I finally finished this blouse and I don’t think I would have if I didn’t have a deadline. So thank you Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum By Golly for the Fall for Cotton Sewing Challenge!