Fabric Belt for My Spring for Cotton Dress

Hi,

Do you make accessories for your sewing projects? The most I’ve done is make a couple of belts – one ribbon belt with a fabric covered buckle for my Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress and two fabric belts to match the dresses from vintage patterns. My latest fabric belt is the contrasting hot pink belt I made to go with the dress I made for the Spring for Cotton sewalong organized by Lucky Lucille. And this time I took accessories one step further and put together a fascinator by attaching a feathered headpiece to a hair band, which I’ll blog about later. 

DIY - fabric belt - csews.com

Because I didn’t actually start sewing the dress until the last week of the sewalong (I made a muslin first), I didn’t have much time to make the belt. I had to sew it after I got home from work so I could photograph the ensemble the following day. The deadline for photos was April 30. Because I the time crunch, I decided to take my chances and improvise a short cut to make the belt.

I used the same fabric as the underlining of my dress – this hot pink cotton from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. Here’s a detail of two fabrics. I love how the pink pops through the eyelet fabric.

Bodice with lining attached

For the belt backing, I used 3/4″ (1.9 cm) buckram ban-roll that I got at Britex Fabrics. I work a few blocks from Britex so I can easily pop over there during my lunch break or after work. I told Natalie, the notions floor manager, that I was going to make a fabric-covered belt and I needed some belt backing. She suggested using ban-roll. I decided to give it a try. It’s wasn’t very thick but is stiff yet flexible.

My short cut was using double-sided fusible tape (see photo below) – to avoid basting. It has a paper backing. You iron it on your fabric, then peel off the paper, place the other piece of fabric on top of the fusible and iron those pieces together.

I cut the end of the ban-roll so it would have a triangular shape on the end. I cut two pieces of fabric – the first one would go partially around the ban-roll and the second would be ironed so it would be exactly the same width as the first layer. The second piece goes directly on top of the first and then they are top stitched together.

In this photo, I’ve placed the fusible on top of the ban-roll. Then I ironed the fusible to the ban-roll.

Belt materials - ban-rol - fusible web - csews.com

Then I peeled off the paper from the fusible tape, folded the fabric over the ban-roll and ironed it to the fusible.

Fabric-covered belt - csews.com

Next I ironed another piece of fusible to the wrong side of the belt….

Fabric belt - part two - csews.com

… removed the paper…

Fabric belt -peeling  fusible - csews.com

… and ironed the second layer to the first one. They sort of stuck together but not so much at the point because of the folds there.

Fabric belt-2 layers together - csews.com

I moved my needle over to the left and used my blind hem foot to top stitch the belt together. I sewed slowly because I could tell that my fabric layers were shifting slightly – uh, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to skip the basting. I used my fingers to make sure the fabric didn’t get out of alignment. If I make a fabric-covered belt again, I think I’ll use the fusible for the first layer but baste the second layer to the first – less shifting that way.

Fabric belt stitched - csews.com

Then I used a buckle kit I got from Lacis Retail Store (you can also get them at the Lacis online store, search “buckle kit”) to make a matching fabric-covered buckle. It comes with a piece of double-sided adhesive that you stick to your fabric, cut around and peel. (For more details see How to Make a Fabric-Covered Belt Buckle.)

Buckle cover - csews.com

Then you stick it to buckle, trimming around curves where needed…

Fabric-covered buckle clipped - csews.com

…and you’re done! I didn’t bother with belt tong or making holes for my belt because it didn’t need it. The belt seemed to stay in place. Maybe if I were using a slippery fabric instead of quilt-weight, I would have made some holes and added rivets. I like the ban-roll. It was a good weight for this belt.

Fabric covered belt - completed - csews.com

Well, actually, I thought I was done but I realized later that I forgot to make the belt carrier – a loop of fabric to prevent the end of the belt from flapping around. Oops. Too bad I didn’t notice that before I did the photo shoot for the dress. But I did make one just before I went to work the next day because it was going to be my day into night ensemble. I was going to a jazz concert that evening.

Here’s the completed ensemble!

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 dress pattern - csews.com

If had another day, I might have made a clutch purse. I have some leftover fabric because I was going to make a matching jacket. But it was really boxy and I didn’t like how the muslin looked on me so I skipped the cropped jacket. Maybe I’ll make the purse this summer.

Thanks for visiting!

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My Spring for Cotton Dress – Construction Details

Hi,

I hope you’re enjoying some spring sewing! Have you sewed any eyelet fabric? If you have any tips, please pass them on. This was my first experience sewing with it.

A few days ago, I finished the dress I made for Lucky Lucille’s Spring for Cotton sewalong. The challenge was to make something from a vintage or vintage-inspired pattern using 100 percent cotton fabric. I went through my small stash of vintage patterns decided to make a sleeveless dress. This pattern was for a 36 bust, 28 waist, and 38 hips. I added a lining to my version.

Simplicity 2439 - vintage sewing pattern - csews.com

My waist and hips are bigger than the pattern (especially because I’ve gained about ten pounds since last year – the result of a busy job and not making time to exercise). My waist is about 30.5 inches (77.5 cm) and my hips 41 inches (104 cm). I made most of my adjustments before I cut my muslin, which you can read about in my post WIP: a Vintage Dress Pattern and Japanese Top. Here’s my brief summary of the flat pattern adjustments before I made my muslin:

  • 1/4″ small bust adjustment,
  • dropped armhole 1 inch,
  • added 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) to side seams of front and back bodice (total of 2 inches),
  • added 1/2 inch to skirt waist
  • added 3/4 inch to hip area.

Here’s what my muslin looked like (pardon the bad bathroom lighting). I decided to leave off the pocket detail because I didn’t really like it on me. They were decorative anyway, not actual pockets.

Muslin of dress - spring for cotton - csews.com

At first glance it looked like it fit quite well and I thought, great, now I can cut my fashion fabric. But when I turned around and looked at the back, I could see that there was a little gaping of the back neckline, which is a bit of a scoop neck that’s lower than the front neckline. Hmmmm. I had not encountered this issue before. But I hadn’t made a dress with a scoop back neckline either.

So I went online to see what pattern adjustment to make – and stumbled across Ginger Makes post: By Hand London Anna Dress: Back Neckline Adjustment. I don’t have narrow shoulders so this was the first-time pattern adjustment for me. Before I did anything to my pattern, I took off my muslin, pinched in where I thought most of the gaping occurred, then pinned it in pace with safety pins. I guess that 1/4-inch (slightly less than 1 cm) would do the trick.

1/4 inch back neckline adjustment - csews.com

Back bodice – pinned.
Bodice - back adjustment muslin - csews.com

I tried it on again and it looked good (sorry I didn’t take a photo of that), so I decided to skip making another muslin. I made a 1/4″ flat pattern adjustment, following Ginger Makes’ clear instructions. It was easy – just draw a line from the armhole to the area that gapes the most, cut along that line and overlap 1/4″. The point turner is where I sliced the pattern and overlapped it 1/4 inch. to see a larger version of this photo, click on it once and it will open another window, then click on the photo again, you’ll see a large version.

Back neckline adjustment - Simplicity 2439 vintage sewing pattern - csews.com

Then I did a bit of a reality check, tried on the muslin one last time and realized that the waist needed a little more ease. So I added another 1/4-inch (.6 cm) to the waist of the bodice and skirt, crossed my fingers, and began cutting my fashion fabric.

Meanwhile, I also did a muslin of the jacket but decided I didn’t like the boxy shape. So I didn’t make it.

Jacket - vintage Simplicity 2439 - Spring for cotton - csews.com

The challenge of making this dress is that I was using eyelet fabric for the first time and lining the entire dress with a contrast fabric. Here’s an image I posted on Instagram when I was shopping for my fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics for this dress.

Eyelet fabric with fuschia - csews.com

I chose the hot pink fabric for the color – more like a fuchsia – rather than its weight, which was quilt weight. I didn’t think it would make the dress layers too thick because the eyelet fabric was lightweight and had a bit of drape to it. So I thought they would balance each other out. As a general rule though, it’s better to match the drape/weight of the fabrics you’re sewing together. In retrospect, it would have been better to choose a lining fabric that was lighter weight as you’ll see below. But the challenge of this sewalong was to use 100 percent cotton and I liked this color so I went with it.

Materials

  • 3 1/2 yards eyelet fabric [amount for dress and jacket, which I didn’t make]
  • 3 yards of lining fabric
  • 1 1/4 yards of 3/4-inch ban-rol waistband interfacing
  • 1-inch buckle kit
  • Gutterman thread
  • Schmetz 60/10 needle

I got my fabric from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, ban-rol from Britex Fabrics (notions floor manager Natalie suggested that I use this for my belt), the buckle kit from Lacis in Berkeley. You can also buy the buckle kit at Lacis’s online store (search “buckle kit”).

As I began sewing this dress, I realized I needed to figure out if I would sew my hot pink lining fabric as lining or underlining. (For a good explanation of underlining, see Seamstress Erin’s post When to Underline your Sewing.) I decided that it would depend on the effect on the eyelet – and how thick the fabric would be. So the bodice was sewn as lining and parts of the skirt were sewn as lining and underlining.

I decided that the darts could all be sewn separately, rather than sewing the lining fabric together with the fashion fabric. so I sewed the all the darts first. Four in the front bodice…

vintage Simplicity 2439 - Bodice - front lining - csews.com

two in the back bodice…

vintage Simplicity 2439 back bodice - csews.com

and four in the skirt back. This is one side of the skirt back, which has a center seam and kick pleat.

vintage Simplicity 2439 - back skirt darts - csews.com

I also got a nice tip via Instagram from @sewbrooke, who blogs at Custom Style. She told me if the fabric seemed thick, I could press the darts one way for the lining and another way for the fashion fabric to take care of any bulk. I took her advice.

The directions called for cutting the darts and pressing them open, which I had not seen before. I posted that photo on my IG feed (@csews) and asked if I needed to do this. Brooke said that this is often done in menswear and more necessary with a suiting or wool fabric. So I just pressed my darts.

Dart instructions - csews.com

However, the pleats in the front needed to be sewn with both fabrics sandwiched together. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see any of the pink through the eyelet.

As you can see here, the darts are slim enough that you don’t really notice that there isn’t any pink behind them. The pleats are a bit thick – something I hadn’t thought about when I bought my lining fabric. (I forgot to make a loop to hold down the end of the belt but I did make one the next day so I had it on when I wore the dress to work on Friday. It doesn’t stick out anymore.)

Spring for cottonn - Simplicity 2439 dress front detail - csews.com

I sewed my bodice pieces, following the instructions in How to Line a Sleeveless Dress from Blithe Stitches, a tutorial I used when I made a dress a couple of years ago. This dress has a side zipper. I left open the area just below the left armhole.

The skirt got a little tricky. I had to figure out how to sew the kick pleat in the back with the lining. The instructions direct you to first sew the two back skirt pieces together with  5/8″ seam allowance, and then sew the center back seam, which is about three inches in from the other seam. You then fold over this three-inch bit of fabric to one side and sew it together when you attach the bodice to the skirt. This center back seam runs about 2/3 of the skirt length. The area below the center back seam forms the kick pleat. I improvised as I figured out how to sew the kick pleat with the eyelet and lining fabrics. (I cut my eyelet fabric perpendicular to the grain so I could use the scalloped edge of the selvage as my hem. The dress hem is a straight edge, not a curved one, which makes it possible to do this.)

instructions - kick pleat - csews.com

I skipped the first seam with the 5/8″ seam allowance and just sewed the center back seam, leaving the area below the pattern mark open.

Skirt back - kick pleat - csews.com

Then I sewed the center back seam of the eyelet fabric and pinned it to the waist of the lining fabric. Clearly, the dress would be too thick around the waist – six layers of fabric (kick pleat adds another two layers) – so I cut the fashion fabric above the pleat with my pinking scissors, close to the seam line. I didn’t trim the lining fabric.

Kick pleat - eyelet fabric - csews.com

Then I placed the lining fabric on top of the eyelet fabric and sewed the 5/8″ seam. Here’s a detail of the kick pleat before sewing the 5/8″ seam.

Kick pleat sewn

After I finished sewing the kick pleat, I was ready to sew the skirt side seams. I sewed the lining and the eyelet fabric together at the side seams. It was hard to line up the eyelet across the seam. I began at the bottom so I would be sure that the eyelet lined up at that scalloped edge. I pinned and eased as much as possible but it was all slightly off on the side seams. I decided to let that go and not get stressed out about it. I’m not sure what made it tricky – maybe because I cut the fabric against the grain or that the embroidery of the eyelet distorts the fabric slightly so things are slightly off? I didn’t use any stabilizer so maybe that would have helped.

Here’s what it looks like completed.  The seam in the center is that 5/8″ seam I mentioned above.

Kick pleat completed - csews.com

But you really don’t see that seam in the back pleat. Without the pleat, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to walk in this dress.

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

I attached the bodice to the skirt (note the zipper tape on the right). The waist seam is really thick – four layers of fabric and even more where the front pleats are. If I had to do this again, I would have picked a much lighter weight lining fabric. And I would add more ease in the hips. It’s not that it’s tight there but when I sit down, there’s small pool of fabric in my lap, which doesn’t look very good.

Waist seam - inside - csews.com

And here’s another photo of the finished dress!

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 dress pattern - csews.com

I really love the colors! I think I’ll do another post on accessories for this dress – the belt and fascinator. I was going to include info on making the belt and fascinator but it’s getting really long so I’ll save that for another day! Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!

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Spring for Cotton Dress

Hi,

I finally finished my Spring for Cotton dress! And just under the wire, too. Today, April 30, is the deadline day to post photos. I couldn’t take photos until I got home from work today. Yep – rushed home, changed into the dress, traipsed a couple blocks to my location, set up my tripod and took these photos. This dress is made out of 100 percent cotton – lining and fashion fabric.

Spring for Cotton - dress from vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

As you can see, the sun is a bit harsh around 6 pm in California – thus the major shadows. I really didn’t have time to edit the photos so what you see below is just what I selected in a hurry. I’ll go back over my photos over the weekend and either add more or replace some of these with other versions.

Spring for Cotton dress - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

And here’s the back view – as you can see, the back neckline scoops lower than the front. Luckily I noticed on my muslin that I had a bit of a gaping issue but I fixed it. I’ll post construction details later! [Update (3 May 2015): I replaced the earlier photo. This is a better view of the back.]

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 - csews.com

UPDATE (3 May 2015): Here’s another photo of the dress. This photos shows how well the bodice fits. Unfortunately, the belt is sticking out a bit. I forgot to make the fabric loop to keep it in place. I finished the belt the night before I took the photos. But I made a loop the day after my photo shoot – just in time to wear it to work and then to a jazz concert that evening – Esperanza Spaulding at the San Francisco Jazz Center.

Spring for Cotton - vintage Simplicity dress 2439 - csews.com

A few construction notes: Top is lined, skirt front is underlined because of the pleats in front, back skirt is lined. I thought the combination of the eyelet fabric and the lining would be too thick to sew the darts together so I did them separately. There are four darts in the back of the skirt, two darts in the back bodice and four darts in the front bodice (two side and two front darts). And there are six pleats in front!

I made the belt last night using the same fabric as my lining.

I’ll post construction photos in a separate post. Thanks for visiting!

UPDATE, 6 May: My post on My Spring for Cotton Dress – Construction Details.

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Spring Sewing

Hi,

What are you sewing for spring? I’m going to try working on two projects this month: a vintage dress for Spring for Cotton – a group sewalong organized by Lucky Lucille (March 20-April 30) …

… and a garment from She Wears the Pants, a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada, which I’m reviewing for Tuttle Publishing.

I’m thinking of making the vintage dress and jacket in cotton pique. My goal is to wear it to a magazine awards event on May 1. The trade magazine I work for is a finalist for nine (!) awards. The awards event is in Los Angeles and it will be warm down there!

I like the striped top on the cover of She Wears the Pants, and a few other tops in this book. A couple of the mini dresses would work as tunics, such as this one. I wouldn’t wear anything this short but I would wear it with pants. (Photo taken with phone so excuse the quality. In fact this entire post was done on my phone!)

After I review this book, I’ll be holding a giveaway for a copy of it – so stay tuned!

Please feel free to share your spring sewing plans – and happy sewing!

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Japan Sew Along 2015

Japanese sewing books - csews.com

I was on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and saw that @Sewbusylizzy (of the blog Sew Busy Lizzy) had regrammed an image from @stoffbuero about her Japan Sew Along, which just began. When I saw it, I thought, should I participate or not? I’ve got these four Japanese pattern books in my collection but only made one thing (not blogged) – from Shape Shape – and it was too small. It was my first Japanese pattern book and I forgot to add seam allowance and size L was too small anyway.

The blog Tanoshii features Japanese sewing books, at least from what I can tell. She blogs in German and hosted a Japan Sew Along last year as well. I didn’t know about that one. Her schedule for the Japan Sew Along are in German, followed by English translations posted in italics. You just have to scroll down to find the English. (The hashtag is #2015jsa.)

In 2013 I bought the Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear because I wanted to make some everyday dresses BUT I didn’t realize until after I bought it that size large was more like a medium. The dimensions for Large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hip.  And there was no XL. Too bad. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon because I was seduced by the photos. But who was I kidding? I have broad shoulders and at 5′ 8″ (1.73 m) I’m much taller than the average Japanese woman. So I haven’t made anything from that book yet.

I bought it because I wanted to make some “everyday” dresses because it seemed as if the dresses I was making were more for work or fancy occasions. In fact, I wrote a post back then about my desire for Everyday Dresses but since then I’ve only made one dress that really seems to fit that description – my Bluegingerdoll Winifred dress.

Before I saw Lizzy’s regram, I just happened to get a comment from Nobu Murakawa, an Etsy seller in Japan (JapanLovelyCrafts) who sells fabric, Japanese sewing pattern books, and craft supplies. She read my 2013 post about the Stylish Dress BookHips, “Husky” Girls, and Japanese Sewing Patterns, and commented:

I have read your blog. I am also a husky girl of weight 70+ . Why don’t you try one of these Japanese sewing books that helped me a lot to sew cute dresses for me.

She provided a link to a Japanese sewing book with larger patterns; it was described like this:

Large Size Clothing – Japanese Easy Sewing Pattern Book – Chubby Woman Dress Clothes – Blouse, Shirt, Tunic, Pants, Tops, Coat

OK – I admit the “Chubby Woman” description gave me pause but I thought it might actually be easier to grade down and do an SBA (small bust adjustment) than to grade up on the other pattern books.

In case you’re wondering what “pocchari” means, well, I looked it up. Apparently it’s Japanese slang for “chubby” but in a positive sense;  it’s also a fashion trend in Japan that’s more about celebrating a full figure rather than hiding it or being ashamed of it. So pocchari fashion is bold and colorful. You can read more about it in this Guardian article “Japan’s pocchari trend celebrates chubby women.”

I weigh more than 70 kilos (150 lbs.), but I’m not petite in height so I’m not exactly “pocchari” though I do have many days when I feel like I am!

I decided to take a chance and order the book ($25.50 + $8.50 for shipping) and it arrived last Thursday, less than two weeks later. (The seller graciously upgraded me on shipping at her expense, so it would arrive earlier than the usual 2-3 weeks for economy air. Thank you!). It was very carefully packed in a plastic bag and bubble wrap, plus she included a cute note along with a packet of Hello Kitty tissues. It was her only copy, which is why I didn’t include her link. (If you want to order it, I found a used copy on Amazon for $28.99 + $3.99 shipping.)

Pocchari girl's sewing book

I don’t usually order books from overseas because of the shipping costs. I tend to be a bargain shopper for sewing books getting them at used bookstores or on sale at Amazon. Of the books in the photo at the top of this post – the one on the far left was a $5 discovery at the San Francisco Public Library book store (proceeds go to the library), Shape Shape and The Stylish Dress books were discounted Amazon purchases, and Pattern Magic 2 about $10 at Half Price Books.

I’m thinking of making this blouse from the Pocchari book. I hope it doesn’t look like a tent on me. I’ll definitely have to make a muslin and do a major SBA. This could be fun in a knit fabric. Nearly all of the book is in Japanese so I have no idea what the recommended fabrics are. The only English text you’ll find is on the front and back covers and on the pages where the garments are photographed. Everything else is in Japanese. Maybe I’ll make a trip to Japantown in San Francisco to see if someone at Kinokuniya bookstore can translate for me.

Japan Sew Along - pocchari top - csews.com

I’m assuming the shoulders will fit. We’ll see…

Japan Sew Along

Have you made anything from a Japanese sewing book? How was the fit?

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2013 – A Year of Sewing Firsts

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.

Striped h-bird - standing

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.

1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern

You can see more photos in the post My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!

This year was the first time I sewed with chevron fabric – which I discovered was not quite the same as sewing stripes (heheh). I made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress, when I participated in Cake Patterns Red Velvet Knit Dress sewalong (pattern link here).

Red Velvet Knit Dress - Cake Patterns - csews.com

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.

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

And coincidentally, these “firsts” are also my top five. Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2014?

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Emery Dress with Embellishments

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

At last my Emery Dress is finished! I began working on it in October when indie designer Christine Haynes’s Emery Dress sewalong for her lovely sewing pattern. (You can buy the pattern here on her website.) This dress has a fitted bodice with bust and waist darts, two sleeve lengths, and an optional collar and bow. I made a variation of View A with the short sleeves. I didn’t add a bow because it’s not my style but I did add a collar and a few other embellishments, which is why it took me a while to finish.  Also, in between making the Emery Dress, I participated in the Red Velvet Sewalong, which began on November 11, and made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress. It was a dress month!

Emery Dress sewing pattern by Christine HaynesI made my Emery Dress from two 42-inch wide (about 1 meter) cotton remnants that I got on sale (30% off) from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. One remnant was 1 1/2 yards (1.4 meters) and the other 1 1/8 yards (a little over 1 m). The pink piping at the waist and the lace at the bottom are also from Britex. If you are ever in the Bay Area, you must visit this special store – three floors of fabrics (many of them imported) and one floor of notions. Though many of the fabrics are quite pricey, you can find generous cuts of remnants (2 and even 3-yard pieces) and a wide range of prices on notions.

I wasn’t planning on putting a collar on my dress because I didn’t think I had enough fabric but after I cut out the bodice, which has bust and waist darts, sleeves, and skirt, I discovered that the 2 7/8 yards I had were just enough. However, I didn’t have enough fabric for the bodice lining or pockets so I used a solid black cotton for the bodice lining (also from Britex) and another cotton fabric I had for the pockets. View A (size 10) requires 3 3/4 yards of fabric.

I love the fabric. I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but it is a dark navy printed with stylized silver flowers that have a bubblegum pink center. Those flowers look white here but they are silver with a slight metallic sheen, which is difficult to capture in a photo. (You can click on any of my photos to see a larger version.)

I didn’t want my collar to just blend in with the bodice so I decided to add an embroidered running stitch similar to the collar on my 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, which I made for the Fall for Cotton sewalong this past September (you can see the Girl Friday collar details here). But instead of doing two rows of embroidered stitches, I did just one using a double strand of floss – one strand of metallic silver and one strand of pearly grey, which I got at Lacis in Berkeley. I also bought some pink floss to match the pink in the print but decided against adding another row of stitches because it looked too busy.

Collar detail - Emery Dress sewalong - csews.com

I went to Britex to see if they had any ready-made piping that would go with my fabric. I had a swatch in hand and looked at a pink and silver options. I went with a hot pink that’s closer to magenta. I got the idea of putting piping at the waist when I saw a beautiful 1950s vintage dress with this detail at the Alameda flea market last fall.

Though I haven’t had any experience with piping, I decided to go for it. I found a couple of tutorials on piping on Pinterest but they were about piping on pillows, not clothes. The important thing I learned was to make sure it lined up along the seam line. This would have been a lot easier if the piping width matched my 5/8″ seam allowance. 😉

So I pinned and basted the piping to the bottom of the bodice.

Pinning piping to Emery Dress - csews.com

Then I sewed the gathered skirt to the bodice. The challenging part was getting close enough to the piping using my zipper foot. (There is such a thing as a piping foot but I don’t have one.) I couldn’t see the piping because it was sandwiched between the bodice and skirt so I used my fingers to feel where it was. I had to go back over a couple of spots where you could see the stitching on the piping.

The collar does lay flat but the dress is a little tight at the sleeves. I did make a couple muslins of the bodice but I think I need a little more room on the armscye. It doesn’t cut into my arm so it is comfortable to wear but the sleeve wrinkles a bit if I raise my arms up. :/

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

I was really nervous about making the piping line up in the back where the invisible zipper was. After I sewed the piping to the bodice, I checked to make sure it would line up it the center back seam when I put the pieces next to each other – right sides together. Check.

Piping at at center back - Emery Dress - csews.com
Piping at center back seam

Now it was zipper time. After I sewed one side of the zipper (also from Britex), I laid the dress flat, stuck one pin in to attach the top of the unsewn zip side to the bodice. Then I used white chalk to mark on the zipper exactly where the piping should be. You can sort of see it on the right, near the pin. Then I pinned the rest of the zipper, making sure that white mark lined up with the piping.

Marking zipper - Emery Dress - csews.com

And it worked! The piping lines up! Wahoo!

Piping and invisible zipper - Emery Dress - csews.com
Center back seam with invisible zipper

Sewing a 22-inch invisible zipper in the back wasn’t easy because I don’t have an invisible zipper foot so I used a regular zipper foot. I had ordered an invisible zipper foot for my Kenmore sewing machine but it didn’t work very well. The regular zipper foot worked better.

I’d only installed two invisible zippers before this one and those were a lot shorter and thus they were easier to handle. It’s harder to manage sewing a longer invisible zipper using a regular zipper foot. In several places I didn’t get close enough to the teeth so I went back and sewed more stitches to get closer and then hand stitched a few areas as well. Ugh.

Here’s a view of the back – isn’t the collar cute!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

And now to the nitty-gritty details.

Materials

Emery Dress sewing pattern – $18 ($25.30 with shipping and California tax)
2 5/8 yards (42-inch wide) cotton print fabric (just enough for bodice, sleeves, skirt and collar) – $21.69
1 yard black cotton (45-inch wide) for bodice lining – about $10
1 yard bright pink piping $2.70
1 3/8 yard of navy lace $8.16
1 skein of DMC metallic silver embroidery floss [can’t remember price]
1 skein of DMC gray embroidery floss
22-inch invisible zipper
matching thread – Gutterman
70/10 Schmetz needle
fusible cotton woven interfacing  for collar and for invisible zipper area
navy seam tape

My pattern adjustments before cutting my fabric:

Bodice – I did my first small bust adjustment on this dress (you can read about my adjustment here) and a slight wide shoulder adjustment. I cut a size 10 bodice.

Skirt – I added a few inches to the length. My waist (30 inches) is closer to the pattern’s size 10 (29 1/2 inches) but my hips are a size 12 (41 inches) so I cut a size 12 skirt.

Adding length to Emery Dress - csews.com

I wanted it even longer but alas, I didn’t have any more fabric so instead of making a making a hem by folding the fabric over 1/2 inch and the 1 1/2 inches as instructed, I added seam tape. Somewhere in the midst of all this I injured my right middle finger so I couldn’t do any more hand sewing. My finger really hurt after I hand sewed the bottom edge of the bodice lining to the skirt. So no more hand sewing until my finger is healed!

But now I needed to figure out how I would hem the skirt. I posted a photo on Instagram (@csews) and shared it on Twitter (@csewsalot). On Twitter, Leila (@lbreton) of Three Dresses Project suggested that I do a blind hem by machine. She event sent me a link to Lolita Patterns blind hem tutorial (thanks, Leila!). I was going to do this but after I tried on the dress again, I decided to add more length by adding some lace. I really like a long skirt – preferably tea length.

I made a narrow hem, folding over the seam tape, pinning and then sewing the hem (note: seams are finished with a three-part zigzag stitch).

Narrow hem on Emery Dress

Then I went back to the notions floor at Britex to look at lace and got navy cotton lace that’s about 1 3/4 inch wide (4.4 cm), soaked it in very warm water for 30 minutes, air dried it, and machine sewed it to my hem. I used June Tailor’s Fray Block and hand sewed the ends at the side seam.

Navy cotton lace for Emery Dress

And here are some more views of the completed dress – yes, the dress has pockets!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

Photo shoot details: I was waiting for a warm day and I was in luck last Sunday, Dec. 15. It was in the 60s in Berkeley. So I put on some makeup, stuffed my hair under my vintage hat; got dressed in my skirt, black slip, tights, my new patent leather Mary Janes; grabbed my tripod and digital camera and walked about a block to this location. I positioned my tripod and set the timer on my Sony Cybershot at 10 seconds and began shooting. Yep – no photographer. Just me.

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

I shot for about an hour, which went by really fast. I should have brought mirror with me to check my collar and other things. By the end some strands of hair were falling down in the back. I guess this is why you have hair and makeup people! I’m gradually getting more comfortable in front of the camera but it’s hard to pose without looking awkward. I’ve edited out many photos with stiff arms and oddly angled legs.

Emery Dress - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

My hat is one of my favorites in my vintage collection. I use a hat pin to keep it on my head. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. Love that store!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

It was fun to participate in the sewalong. Christine Haynes provided plenty of tutorials and tips throughout it. I found the small bust adjustment and wide shoulder adjustment very helpful. The instruction booklet that comes with the pattern has very clear step-by-step direction and it’s well illustrated. But I recommend checking out the sewalong posts for extra tips and to see photos of other Emery Dresses.

Do you make many pattern adjustments when you sew a dress? What do you usually do? Do you have any tips for armscye adjustments? 

Who is your photographer when you shoot garments you’ve made for yourself? Is it just your camera timer, a friend, partner or husband?

Thanks for visiting!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of csews.com - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

 

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Everyday Dresses

Emery Dress and Red Velvet Dress Sewalongs

A few weeks ago I realized that I don’t have any everyday dresses in my wardrobe. Not one. I have everyday skirts but no everyday dresses. Yep. I’m more of a separates kinda gal so that’s part of the reason. And I guess the other reason is my attitude toward dresses. I guess I think of them as being something that you don’t wear everyday.

The five dresses I own only get worn a couple of times a year or not even that. They include a vintage black dress that I got years ago; the dress I wore as a bridesmaid to a wedding; two dresses I made from vintage Vogue patterns, and the dress I made for my BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest entry earlier this year (I was a finalist but didn’t win). I usually end up wearing a vintage hat with these outfits and even a crinoline with the one I made for the sewing contest – not exactly everyday wear but I do wear them to work when I’m in the mood and the weather is warm enough in San Francisco.

So when I heard about Christine Haynes‘s Emery Dress and the Red Velvet Dress by Cake Patterns – I had to take a closer look. At first I thought the Emery Dress was a touch too girly for me – I think the bow made me hesitate. But then I saw the striped Emery Dress by Devon of Miss Make blog and it convinced me that I should get the pattern. She cut the collar on the bias and it looks fabulous, doesn’t it? She kindly let me repost this photo from her blog post Emery Dress Pattern.

Emery Dress - sewn by Devon of Miss Make - pattern by Christine Haynes

The Emery Dress Sewalong has just started but Christine is only on fabric and notions. Muslin sewing starts on Oct. 30. You can view the schedule here. I think you could still join in on it if you order the pattern right away. In November Christine will focus on bust adjustments – small and full. I’m looking forward to that!

The Red Velvet Sewalong starts on November 11! So there’s still time to participate.It’ll be a series of ten sessions over two weeks. I participated in the Cake Patterns Hummingbird Sewalong earlier this year, which was a lot of fun. So far I’ve made three Hummingbird tops, which you can see here.

Melizza of Pincushion Treats was a pattern tester for the Red Velvet sewing pattern. You can see two of the dresses she made here.

And I also love the Lady Skater Dress that Katie of Kadiddlehopper made. She wrote about it in Lady Skater: Sakura Blossom Style and graciously let me post this photo of her twirling around in the dress. Check out her post for more photos of this pretty dress.

Lady Skater Dress by Katie of Kadiddlehopper

And last but not least, today my copy of Clothing for Everyday: Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori arrived! I pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Clothing for Everyday Wear: Stylish Dress Book by Toshiko Tsukiori

This is the English translation published by Laurence King. There are dresses, tops, jackets, and pants in this book – a total of 26 garments – according to the book flap. There are plenty of photos in the book – slender, winsome, and unsmiling  Japanese models, which probably means grading the pattern up a bit for me. The pattern is sized for XS, S, M, and L. No XL folks.

The dimensions for large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hips. Based on that, I’m more of an XL in the hips and height. Oh, and the pattern gives the same height for all four sizes – 63″ (160 cm), which must be a mistake. 63″ is 5′ 3″. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ so who knows what the height measurement means.

I’m looking forward to adding everyday dresses to my wardrobe. Have you made any dresses that fall into the everyday category? What patterns have you liked? Have you  made anything from Japanese pattern books? What was your sizing experience like?

And do let me know if you’re participating in the Emery Dress Sewalong or the Red Velvet Sewalong. I’d love to see what your version looks like!

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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). 😉

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 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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My First Sewalong – Hummingbird 30 Minutes a Day

Finished Hummingbird TopI began the Hummingbird 30 Minutes a Day Sewalong last week. It’s also  my first time participating in a sewalong.  I made the Green top from this bright knit blue fabric I got from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley (love that place!). And here’s my first Hummingbird Top. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

All these photos were taken with my iPhone so please excuse the quality.

I didn’t exactly work on this 30 minutes a day. I traced my pattern on Day 1 – my waist is currently in between the 30 and 32 to I traced a line in between the two measurements for the top and for the peplum. I figured it was knit so I didn’t have to be too exact. ;o)

I cut my pieces out on Day 2 and did the neckline on Day 3. I don’t have a serger so I used a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. The stretch stitch on my machine is way too bulky – sews each stitch three times so it’s really slow going. So I just used a zigzag that wasn’t very wide or long.

The trickiest part of this top is sewing strip of knit fabric to the neckline. Be sure to watch Steph’s helpful video on her Day 3 post before you do it! I gently pulled on my strip of fabric as I sewed it and it was fine.

I pressed it and it lay flat! It looks quite professional. I love this neckline.

Then I didn’t work on it again until the weekend.

I didn’t make a muslin – I like sewing dangerously sometimes. Plus I figured that my measurements were accurate and knits stretch so it had a very good chance of fitting.

I decided to hem my top as an experiment. I don’t usually hem knits because they don’t unravel. But I decided that because this top has such nice binding on the neckline and arms that it would be good to finish it off with a hem.

I decided to use some 3/8-inch fusible bias stay tape by Design Plus, which I got at Stonemountain and Daughter earlier this year. It’s not a fusible knit tape so it doesn’t stretch, which might be a problem down the road – I’m not sure. But I just ironed it on, folded it over once. So it’s just a single-fold hem. The last photo below is the zigzag stitch I used on the hem. For this my stitch width was slightly below “1” and my length was slightly over “2” on my Kenmore sewing machine. The stitch doesn’t really look like a zigzag unless you squint at it really closely.

The cut pattern pieces
The cut pattern pieces
My neckline!
My neckline!
Hemline with shallow zigzag stitch
Hemline with shallow zigzag stitch
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