The Skirt with a Yoke

Family print fabric - Skirt with a yoke - csews.com

Great colors and cool Art Deco-like design – that was my first reaction when I saw this cotton voile at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I thought it was an abstract swirly motif, which is what made me want to get it. Later I realized that it was a family. Yep. Look at it and you’ll see that there’s a mother, father, and baby – check out the slippered foot towards the bottom of each family. This discovery made me like it less so I put it in the closet, where it languished for about two years before I finally decided to make this skirt with a yoke.

Butterick B5756 cotton voile skirt with a yoke - csews.com

I’m glad I finally made something out of the fabric! I like it a lot more than I did before I stuck it in the closet. ūüėČ

I started this skirt back in August and finally finished it in September. I posted about the pocket but I got caught up in my Fall for Cotton project (My Fall for Cotton Project Is Finished!) and writing about this skirt got put on the back burner. The photo at the top is from How to Add a Patch Pocket to a Skirt.

Folks who follow my Instagram feed have seen the various stages of putting it together. I wrote about the lining – Bemberg Lining for a Skirt – a while ago. But I ended up getting regular rayon, not Bemberg because that was what was available. (Note: Bemberg is a high-quality rayon with the feel of silk. It’s breathable, which is why high-end designers like to use it in their garments. Also rayon doesn’t generate static like silk and poly can, which is what makes it a better lining for a skirt. You can read a brief history of Bemberg here¬†at the¬†Fabric and Buttons website of Waechter’s Fine Fabrics.)

The skirt pattern is Butterick B5756, which is still available – though not for long as its current sale price is $4.99 on the Butterick site. I cut size 16.

Materials

Butterick 5756 – $1 (on sale at Joann’s)
3.5 yards of cotton voile – approximately $50 (I got 4 yards of it on sale a couple of years ago from Britex Fabrics. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it wasn’t cheap. I used more than the recommended yardage to match the pattern.)
1.5 yards of rayon lining – $15
zipper – $2 (pattern calls for a regular zipper, I used invisible)
hook & eye
matching thread
fusible stay tape (optional, my addition)

The cool thing about making a gathered skirt with a yoke is that you only need to make a muslin of the yoke. You can just adjust the gathering that goes below to make it bigger or smaller. How easy is that?

muslin of skirt yoke - B5756

I put the muslin yoke around my waist, held it together in the back and saw that it fit. I thought I might need to add more to the hips but there’s a lot of ease in this pattern so I didn’t need to make any adjustments. It was a little loose, but I thought that would be OK because I like skirts a little low in the waist. A zipper goes in the center back, which is why there are two separate pieces for the back yoke.

Here are the pattern pieces for the yoke. You cut two of each piece because the yoke is “self-lined” with the fashion fabric. The gathered skirt has its own lining.

Skirt yoke B5756 pattern pieces

This rayon was rather slippery so I made a “muslin sandwich” to cut it. I prewashed both the fashion fabric and the lining in cold water.

Sandwich lining fabric between muslin

My sandwich worked out pretty well but I should have used more pins. The popcorn was good too – nothing like snacking and sewing!

Cutting the lining fabric

Cutting rayon lining between muslin

I thought this could be a good time to try out the Japanese fusible stay tape I bought from Sandra Betzinger at the Pattern Review Weekend in San Francisco earlier this year. I wanted to reinforce the fabric around the zipper. This stay tape is more of a medium weight so I probably should have used something that was lightweight.

Fusible tape on zipper area

For this skirt, you sew the gathering stitches in the fashion fabric, then you pin and baste it to the lining, and then gather the top edge of the skirt.

Pinned and basted gathering at top of skirt

Then you sew the skirt to the yoke – leaving the center back open for the zipper. I didn’t think about how sewing the lining to the yoke would affect how the invisible zipper would look on the inside – not very neat. If I make this skirt again, I’ll have to remember to stop sewing 5/8″ from both ends when attaching the lining to the gathered fabric…

Yoke, lining & zipper - csews.com

… to avoid having it look like this. Or I guess you could add another 1/2″ to both sides of the lining in the zipper area so it could cover part of the zipper. I just didn’t feel like unpicking all the stitches (including a bit of the gathering) from that bit of lining behind the zipper. So I left it ¬†as is. No one can see it anyway – except if they see it here. ūüėČ

Zipper & lining - csews.com

Here’s what it looks like on the right side. I was slightly off where the center back seams meet. But I don’t think it’s too noticeable because the fabric is busy!

Invisible zipper on skirt - csews.com

I really do like this skirt – even though the fabric is far busier than what I typically wear. I like the pocket I added but putting anything heavy in it weighs down the skirt because it’s a lightweight fabric and there is no waistband. I just put one pocket on the right side, which you can see here.

Butterick 5756 skirt with a yoke - photo by Kofi - csews.com

For some reason, my husband tends to cut off my feet in some photos. I think this is the only back view I’ve got.

Back of skirt - csews.com

The lining! I’m glad I went with red instead of blue. Thanks to Brooke of Custom Style, Catja of Gjeometry¬†and Samina of¬†Sew Everything¬†for chiming in on that post!

Skirt lining - photo by Kofi - csews.com

And here are more photos from that warm September day in Berkeley.

Skirt with yoke - photo by Kofi - csews.com

Cotton voile skirt - photo by Kofi - csews.com

Cotton voile skirt - photo by Kofi - csews.com

The skirt is a bit loose at the waist so when I walk, it shifts a bit so I have to pay attention and make sure the side seam doesn’t move to the front. That’s a little annoying. If I use this pattern again, I could bring it about an inch for a closer fit. I have this same problem with some bias cut skirts I’ve made too. These are all skirts without waistbands so maybe that’s part of the problem. Have you had this issue with any skirts you’ve made? What did you do to fix it? I’ve thought about adding a little rubberized strip along the side seam at the hip but I haven’t tried that yet.

I do like my skirts to have some ease – then I don’t have to worry about things getting tight after a full meal and dessert. Heheh.

Do you have any favorite skirt patterns? Do you favor an A-line¬†style, gathered, pleated or straight skirt?¬†I like patterns with full skirts because they look best with my hips and because I have a big stride when I walk. Straight skirts aren’t really my thing unless I can walk in them without shortening my stride.

 

My Sew Red October Project

Fitted tee using part of Sewing Cake Hummingbird pattern - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas - csews.com

OK Рmy Sew Red October project seems a bit lazy (and lame) in comparison to the oh-so-pretty Red Roses Dress that Heather of Handmade by Heather B made or this red polka dot beauty by Roisin of the Dolly Clackett blog. But I wanted to do something super easy after spending many, many hours on my Fall for Cotton blouse, which involved delicate 60-something-year old vintage swiss dot fabric, hand embroidery, and an invisible side zipper (see pix here My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!).

I made a fitted tee using the front and back pattern pieces of the Sewing Cake Hummingbird top and drafting a piece to extend the bottom, which you can see in my my post Hashtag Sew Red October. (I made my first Hummingbird peplum top during the Hummingbird Sewalong.)

This my first Sewing Cake pattern hack – and I’m sure I’ll do plenty more. Melanie of The Seeds of 3 has done a quite a few Sewing Cake hacks – see the links in her comment in my Hashtag Sew Red October post.

Thanks to Lady Katza for coming up with the initial hashtag and to Gillian for creating the very cool button below. Love it!

Sew Red October

Now I’ll subject you to a bunch of photos (or what my husband calls narcissism). As I mentioned in the earlier post on this top, I was just guessing about the width of the hip area. I did want a snug tee but this seems a tad too fitted. Actually I prefer not wearing it all smoothed out because then it makes my waist look slightly less pudgy than it currently is. Hehheh. (I need to get back to the gym!)

One thing I forgot about this knit fabric is that it’s a heavyweight cotton knit (with 5 percent lycra) and doesn’t have a lot of give in it. Sure it stretches but it’s got a tight weave so you don’t have much ease. ¬†The red Hummingbird peplum top I made was snug. So for a tee, I should have traced another Hummingbird top at the next size up. Oh well, next time. (You can see my three Sewing Cake peplum tops in the post¬†More Sewing Cake Hummingbird Tops!)

Thanks sewcialists for this sewalong idea! It was a good way for me to

Tee using part of Sewing Cake Hummingbird pattern - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas - csews.com

Tee using part of Sewing Cake Hummingbird top pattern - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas csews.com

Tee using part of Sewing Cake Hummingbird top pattern - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas csews.com

Tee using part of Sewing Cake Hummingbird pattern - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas csews.com

Tee using Sewing Cake Hummingbird top pattern - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas csews.com

Materials

60″ wide heavyweight cotton knit with 5 percent lycra $9.99/yard
[I had two yards and much of it had stains (from a prewash disaster), which I cut around. I think you could make this top with about a yard of fabric.]
Schmetz jersey needle
Matching thread

Accessories:¬†I’m wearing a cheap hat made in China from paper fiber but I like it a lot and wear it often. In my hair is a strip of the knit fabric with the ends knotted together – a great way to use up scraps and make headbands or hair ties! The vintage bracelet was a gift from one of my sisters. Jeans are RTW – trouser cut by Tahari that I’ve had for a few years.

Photos: The top photo was shot when a beam of late afternoon sun was hitting the shed I was standing in front of – thus the sun glasses. But then that bit of sun disappeared so I shot the rest against the back of the apartment building. By then the area was all in the shade, which gives the photos a bluish cast.

Thanks for reading! What have you made or are in the process of making for Sew Red October? Please let me know and include links so I can check out your project. I’d love to see what you’ve made!

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Winners of My Vintage Fabric Swatch Giveaway

Vintage Swiss dot cotton voile - late 1940s

I had a little vintage fabric leftover from my Fall for Cotton project so I decided to some of it away. This Swiss dot voile fabric dates back to the late 1940s, according to Maxie’s Daughter Fabrics, the Philadelphia store where I got the fabric. So I thought it would be nice to let other folks see what this fabric looked like in person. (Thanks to Trice of SewTell for telling me to visit Philly’s Fabric Row area when I was there in August!) My original intention was just to cut small swatches – a few inches square. But then I realized that I likely won’t do anything with my remnant so why not give larger pieces? I have three largish scraps, one about 1/4 yard and the other two are more triangular (30 inches on one side). I drew three names for the largish scraps and one will get a swatch. Not everyone who entered a comment wanted fabric so I didn’t have five winners. Here are the winners of my Vintage Fabric Swatch Giveaway:

1/4 yard –¬†MaciNic of The Somnolent Dachshund¬†who made a very lovely red and white striped Tiramisu, which you can read in her post I do like Tiramisu.

1 triangular piece – Catja of Gjeometry, who made two snzzy knit dresses for her Fall for Cotton project. Check our her post That 70s Dress: Diane Von Furstenberg.

1 triangular piece – Lyric of Sew and Cro, whose blog I recently discovered. Her tagline is intriguing: “Wardrobe transformation from modern to Regency, Edwardian, 1940s and 1950s.” Her blog covers vintage sewing and crochet.

1 swatch – Loran of Loran’s World, who made an amazing number of outfits for Fall for Cotton. You should definitely visit her site to see what she made! Here’s a link to her second of three (THREE!) posts on her completed outfits: Fall for Cotton – part two.

Congrats ladies! Send your mailing addresses to info [at] csews [dot] com!

And if any of the folks who commented by over the past week would like a swatch, send me an email with your mailing address and I’ll send you one!

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Point Turner Tip

Test fabric with point turner

The 1940s Girl Friday Blouse I made for my Fall for Cotton project has three collars (for photos of the finished version, see My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!). I used a wood point turner on each one. Although I was being very careful, as I was turning one collar, I saw just a tiny bit of my point turner poke through my Swiss dot cotton voile. Yikes! That’s when I realized I should have tested my fabric first. So here’s my point turner tip: Before you use your point turner, take a scrap of fabric and push that point against the fabric. See how much pressure that fabric can take before the point goes through it. Then you’ll know just how gentle (or rough) you can be with it.

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Girl Friday Blouse – Fall for Cotton – Details and Giveaway!

Girl Friday blouse - front view-feather

I promised to post about the details of constructing my Fall for Cotton¬†(a sewing challenge by Rochelle of¬†Lucky Lucille¬†and Tasha of¬†By Gum By Golly)¬†project. I chose to make the 1940s Girl Friday Blouse from Decades of Style¬†(Yes! you can buy the pattern). ¬†I posted several views of it earlier this week in My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!¬†But I didn’t have any time to write about the nitty gritty details of sewing this blouse, which took many hours to complete. It’s not that it was difficult to sew, but I had to spend some time figuring out how I wanted to finish the seams, plus I did some hand sewing and embroidering.

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!)

The facts:

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

Vintage fabric - swiss dot voile
Wrong and right side of vintage Swiss dot voile fabric

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.

Vintage fabric  Swiss dot voile detail - front and back
Right and wrong side of vintage Swiss dot voile

The fabric is not transparent but you can see my hand underneath the blouse front – and you can see the tucks.

1940s Girl Friday Blouse - vintage swiss dot voile fabric

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.

Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style

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 pattern instructions are clear but she doesn’t provide any suggestions on how to finish the seams on the front and back pieces. I decided to sew a french seam at the shoulders and on the right side. Christine Haynes has a good explanation on Craftsy: Seam Series: How to Sew a French Seam Tutorial.

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.

Black bias fusible stay tape

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.

Left side - invisible zipper - bias tape

The Collar

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.

Pattern collar pieces - Girl Friday Blouse

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.

Point turner on collar curves

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).

Middle and bottom collars - Girl Friday Blouse

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.

embroidery instructions - Girl Friday Blouse

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.

Mark embroidery lines on collar

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). ūüėČ

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.

1 row of embroidery on top collar

After all the collars are embroidered, you line them up starting with the bottom collar, matching the notches.

Collars pinned together - Girl Friday blouse

The you baste the collar together along the notched side and then hand stitch the underside of the collars together where they overlap.

3 collars hand stitched together

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.

Collar pinned to front neck edge

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.

Back facing - finishing

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.

Collar sewn on Girl Friday Blouse

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.

Bias tap on neck - Girl Friday Blouse

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.

Collars at center seam

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.

Ctr front seam - bias-seam tape

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.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!

1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern, Fall for Cotton, photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas

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.

1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern

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!
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My Fall for Cotton Project – Sewalong Update

1940s Girl Friday blouse, Decades of Style

For the first two part of September, I was set on making a 1950s (or was that 1940s?) suit or at the very least the jacket, which I wrote about in the post Fall for Cotton – A Vintage Sewing Challenge. But after I washed my home dec fabric a couple times and then did a burn test, I finally had to acknowledge that there was a little synthetic something in there. A tiny big of hard residue was left after it burned. I didn’t want to shop for more fabric or patterns so I looked over the vintage patterns I had, including some I got in August (see My Vintage Weekend) and via Vintage Martini (my Instagram pic of those). Here’s where I am on my Fall for Cotton project.

Decades of style 1940s blouseI got this lovely Decades of Style blouse pattern from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley a few months ago so I thought maybe it’s time to make it up. I had some lovely vintage Swiss dot fabric that I got in Philadelphia at Maxie’s Daughter Fabric. I never wear that color but I really loved the fabric so I bought four yards because it wasn’t very wide. (I’ve had an aversion to green since high school because I had to wear a forest green uniform – think green plaid, green skirts and pants, green knee socks.) I think the owner said that it was from the 1940s. I need to check on that.

I’ve never used Swiss dot fabric before either so this would definitely be a sewing challenge, especially because I really didn’t start sewing until last weekend! So excuse the iPhone photos, I’ll be doing another post on t finished product with better pics!

I cut out the pattern last week – I decided to forgo tracing it because of the time factor (sewalong participants are supposed to post photos of their finish project by Sept. 30). Before I cut the pattern, I checked the size measurements and the finished garment measurements. Based on those numbers, I decided to cut the size for a 36 inch bust and graded up one size in the hip area.

I thought about not doing a muslin because I just wanted to get going but there would be no way of getting more fabric so I cut a muslin of the front and back pieces.

Muslin of 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, Decades of style

It fit around the hips and that’s all that really mattered to me. Oh, and I realized that I sewed up to the wrong marking on the side seam. See how it’s wrinkled around the armhole? I wasn’t paying attention and marked my muslin with the dot for two sizes smaller. Oops. I made sure to fill in the correct dot on the pattern so I wouldn’t repeat that error!

Vintage fabric often has widths much smaller than we use today. This fabric was only 34 inches wide. For my size, the pattern calls for 1 1/2 yards of 45 wide or 1 1/8 of 60 wide. As you can see from the photo below, folded in half, it was just wide enough to cut two front pattern pieces. Whew!

1940s Girl Friday Blouse, Decades of style - Front pattern piece

This pattern has two shoulder darts instead of side bust darts, four tucks in the front and four darts in the back for a flattering shape. I have no idea how one would adjust the bust for this pattern – create a larger shoulder bust? Add a side bust dart? I have a small bust (cup size A) and it fit fine for me. I think it would also work for a B cup but nothing larger.

I used a French seam along the shoulders and right side. The fabric is a bit sheer so that was the best option. (See how the dots look on the wrong side? Fuzzy!)

French seam - right side, 1940s Girl Friday blouse, Decades of Style

The trickiest part is the invisible zipper, which you install on the left side – not a whole lotta margin for error there – especially with my vintage Swiss dot, which is rather lightweight.

I’ve only installed two invisible zippers to date – one side zipper on the dress I made for the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern Contest (I didn’t win but I was one of 20 finalists). You can see a photo of it in my post Nitty Gritty Dress Details. And the other on the skirt I finished earlier this month but haven’t taken final pics of yet. I wrote about the pocket though in How to Add a Patch Pocket to a Skirt.

I use a regular zipper foot because I can’t seem to find an invisible zipper foot that works with my Kenmore machine. The one that came with it doesn’t work well.

After I installed the zipper, I tried it on and pinned the center front. You don’t sew the center front seam until after you’ve attached the collars. It fit well but it was a little snug in the hips. The difference between my muslin and this version is that I followed the directions when I made the one with my fashion fabric. When I made the muslin, I just sewed the tucks along the lines in the pattern. The lines for the tucks don’t go all the way to the bottom of the pattern piece. But when I read the directions, I sewed them correctly. So that meant I lost some ease. Same thing for the back darts. On my muslin I sewed them coming to a point about an inch from the bottom. The directions say to sew it down to 1/8 inch at the bottom.

Checking fit of 1940s Girl Friday blouse

So how did I add ease? I decided to redraw one front tuck on each side 1/8 inch away from the original line. I sewed the tuck and then I very carefully removed the old stitching.

The patterns calls for bias tape on the armholes and front neck area. Luckily I had enough fabric left over to make some. The pattern said to cut it 1 1/2 inches wide but I only had a bias tape maker for 1 3/4 inch and 1 inch so I decided to go with 1 3/4 inch. But when I started putting it through the bias tape maker, it didn’t look very good – maybe because of the dots, which are rather fuzzy in on the wrong side of the fabric, it just wouldn’t form the folds very neatly. So I ended up just ironing by hand:

  • fold in half, iron
  • fold one side to middle fold, iron
  • fold other side to middle, iron
  • fold in half, iron

Though I really hate ironing, I hate sloppy folds even more and it didn’t take too long to iron a couple yards. (Have you seen this cool post by The Scientific Seamstress Printable Bias Tape Maker? She created a bias tape maker you can use to make 1/2 inch single-fold tape – on a sheet of paper. However, I was too lazy to print it out and put it together but when I have more time I’m definitely going to check it out.)

I am happy with my custom bias tape!

Bias tape for 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, Decades of Style

The unique aspect of this pattern is the three collars. I’ve never made anything with more than one collar. The top collar on top runs all the way around your neck, the other collars are each separate pieces that go under the top collar. So you’ve got two collar pieces under the top one.

The pattern shows you how to add embroidered running stitch on each collar, suggesting that you make the stitches 1/4 inch in length and place each row of stitches 1/4 inch apart.

I wasn’t sure if I would do it but when I had to go get the invisible zipper I passed by Lacis, a lace museum with a great retail store that carries all kinds of embroidery floss, ribbons, lace and notions, so I stopped in and picked a yellow (perfect match for t yellow of the dots!) and a green. They’re only 45 cents each so I got one of each.

Embroidery Floss for 1940s Girl Friday blouse, Decades of Style pattern

Here are the collars lined up.

1940s Girl Friday blouse, Decades of Style pattern, collars

And here they are with the embroidery.

1940s Girl Friday blouse, Decades of Style pattern

I admit that after I did about two of the bottom collars I started thinking that the yellow was too bright. But I got plenty of encouragement on Instagram and Brooke of Custom Style assured me that it wouldn’t be too bright and it would help make the collar shape stand out. So I finished embroidering all the collars last night and basted them together.

Here’s a larger detail of two bottom collars.

Collar detail - 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, Decades of Style

It took me nearly the entire weekend to get to this point. I didn’t expect it to be so time-consuming. My husband thought I was rather obsessed, which I guess I was. The hard part’s done. Now I have to attach the collar, add the bias tape and hem the blouse. Whew!

Have you made any garments from vintage patterns with unique details such as this collar? If you have, please put links in your comments below. I’d love to see what you made!

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A Tale of Three Threads

Three green Gutterman threads

Vintage Swiss dot voile
The photo of my fabric on my iPhone

A couple nights ago after I ran an errand after work, I remembered that I didn’t have any thread yet for my Fall for Cotton project. I finally decided on using my vintage Swiss dot voile fabric to make Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday Blouse. I would be near Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics so I could stop by there BUT I didn’t have a swatch on me. What if I wanted to start sewing that night? I had a photo of it on my iPhone but I knew that could not replace a swatch because photos are just not a good substitute for the real thing. The color could be way off. But I thought I could get in the ball park. So I went in the store, took a hard look at the green threads and decided to pick three threads (Gutterman 752, 785, and 788). Between my memory and the photo, I thought I could get close.

Before I paid for the thread, I told the lady that I didn’t have a swatch and she just said, bring back the thread you don’t use along with your receipt and we can give you your money back.

When I got home, I checked each thread against the fabric. Any of them could have worked because my fabric wasn’t just one shade of green. It turned out that the best match was the darker green, Gutterman 788.

OK, so the lesson is: Take fabric swatches of all your current projects and put them in your purse, wallet, or somewhere you can access them anytime you’re out. You never know when you’ll run across a button, zipper, or contracting fabric!And if you don’t have that swatch, you may not be able to make a decision.

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What to Make with This Marimekko Fabric?

Earlier this week I was wandering around a Crate & Barrel store in Union Square in San Francisco and saw several bolts of Marimekko fabric on sale. They were tucked away on the second floor at the store on Stockton St. This is the floor with furniture, pillows, and bolts of beautiful fabric. I saw this stunning design and the bolt said $7.50 so I thought – oh, nice price – thinking it was $7.50 a yard. Then I asked, “Is that the price per yard”? Ha. It was the price per foot. Darn. Apparently this was the holiday fabric from last year (note the trees) thus the sale price. I think the expectation is that people buy the fabric at Crate & Barrel for wall hangings, table runners or table cloths, not garments. (Note: Crate & Barrel’s online store only has Marimekko products, not Marimekko fabric.)

Marimekko fabric

I would have loved to get a couple yards but I didn’t want to spend more than $30. It’s about 58 inches wide so decided I could afford 4 four feet, which is enough for a skirt or even a shift dress. I’m leaning towards a shirt. Maybe this will end up being my Fall for Cotton fabric. (After a burn test, I think the other fabric I was considering has some synthetic in it. See my Fall for Cotton post.)
It’s a medium-weight 100 percent cotton fabric. It’s machine wash warm, line dry only.

What garment would you make with this Marimekko fabric?

Fall for Cotton – A Vintage Sewing Challenge

FallForCotton

At the end of August I decided to participate in the Fall for Cotton РA Vintage Sewing Challenge launched by Lucky Lucille and By Gum By Golly. I bought several vintage patterns last month, so I figured, why not?

Purple fabric swatch (2)The important thing is that the fabric be 100 percent cotton. When I was visiting family on the East Coast a couple weeks ago, I did a little shopping in the Fabric Row area of Philadelphia. I wandered into a shop that was selling fabric for $5/yard. I nearly walked out when I found out it was all home dec/upholstery fabric but the owner said that many people bought his fabric to make clothes.

Then I spied a bolt of fabric with a nice shade of plum-purple and asked if it was cotton and he said yes. It felt like cotton so I decided to get 4 yards of it. I wasn’t really sure how much I would need because I didn’t have my vintage patterns with me and of course I forgot to take photos of them before I left California. I did a burn test when I got home but it kinda fizzled out – probably treated to be fire-resistant. It’s really hard to photograph this fabric. The color isn’t as red as this – it’s a little more on the violet side.

Vintage sewing patternWhen I got home, I flipped through my patterns to see if any of them used medium or heavyweight fabric. This one mentioned corduroy of one of its suggested fabrics so I think I’ll make this suit – or maybe just the jacket.

I feel like I’m a little behind because I haven’t cut anything out yet and I’m still wondering if this fabric will work because it is rather sturdy. I’ve put it through one wash and dry cycle but maybe it needs a few more, as Brooke of Custom Style suggested to me the other day. Also in the last Twitter #fabricchat (every Friday at 1 pm PT, 4 pm ET), folks told me that washing would help soften it. So I will definitely wash it some more. I did another burn test over the weekend and the fabric took flame rather quickly. So washing it also removed the fire retardant. ūüėČ

Have you worked with upholstery fabric to make a garment? What did you make and how did it turn out? Did you wear it in public?