Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics – What’s next?

Suzan Steinberg - Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics - csews.com
Suzan Steinberg

In February the Bay Area sewing community was shocked to hear that Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics was going to stop offering sewing classes at the end of June. This great store had offered classes for two decades. Owner Suzan Steinberg made this momentous announcement on her Fabric Lady blog. You can read that post here.

As the news about Stonemountain’s classes gradually spread, I could tell from conversations I had with a few people at Bay Area Sewists meetups (I’m the organizer of this Meetup group), that there was some confusion about why the decision was made and what it meant for the future of the store. So I decided to go directly to the source and interview Suzan. After our phone interview concluded, she also sent me these two paragraphs about the store, which will give you some sense of its history:

Our family has been in the fabric business for nearly 100 years and in our current incarnation since 1981. My Dad and I are third and fourth generation! You may look around your home and see a little bit here and there from Stonemountain – in your closet, curtains, quilts, crafts & more. We cater to the creative community – serving the crafter, quilter and garment maker with a wide variety of fabrics, patterns, buttons and sewing notions.

Twenty years ago I dreamed of teaching classes here at Stonemountain & Daughter in our upstairs discount fabric room. 1996 was a sewing school desert in the bay area. Since we began our school, I have been blessed to see it grow into one of the most successful in-store sewing schools in the country: a place to come and learn how to sew, design and play with our amazing fabric while growing our sewing community. Our classes have helped Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics survive by teaching the next generations how to create and use the fabric they love!

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics - photo by C Sews - csews.com

C Sews: In a March blog post on your Fabric Lady blog, you said that you came to this decision based on “looking at ALL current economic realities, long-term trends heading our way, the vast amount of time it takes to schedule, produce and administrate the classes, and the great benefits of selling fabric in the upstairs bargain room.” Can you please expand on that?

Suzan Steinberg: There are many things going on in the world, especially with having a brick and mortar fabric store. I’ve been doing this since 1981. There were tons of fabric stores in the area when we opened up. I’ve seen many stores going out of business over the years. We are a family business making a living providing goods and services to a community that really needs it. That’s why I joined the business with my father! I felt that “need” but the need lessened as I watched these multimillion-dollar businesses close around us. Poppy Fabric, New York Fabrics, and Kaufman’s – they’re all gone.

Besides Britex Fabrics, we’re one of the only full-service fabric stores in the Bay Area. Other stores are around but they are hit or miss. They’re based on bargains alone. We’re based on a curated collection from all the categories of fabric: cotton, wools, rayon, linen, silk, knits, and also patterns and notions needed to complete a project.

Sewing class at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics - photo by C Sews - csews.com
Upstairs classroom space

We are one of the last great full-service fabric stores in the country. There are less than 50 in the country – there used to be at least one in every city and town! Our sales people are talented and can answer your questions and help you out. They are consultants. If you go to Joann Fabrics (a national chain) you may not find people to answer your questions.

I come from the perspective of always trying to stay ahead and to not necessarily base my decisions on what is happening with other stores but trying to stay true to our customer base. We’re at another phase and crossroads. We’re also dealing with higher rents and rising costs. We rent our storefront and the people who work for me are paying higher rents in the Bay Area as well. It’s time to navigate through these changes and get even stronger.

At the beginning of the year, the writing was on the wall for many Bay Area businesses. I’ve been looking at every aspect of my business with my team, asking where is it fun and where is it worth our time? Where is the greatest need and where do they intersect? For me I never really thought about NOT doing the classes.

Summer sewing class at Stonemountain - photo by C Sews - csews.com
Barbara Becchio’s summer sewing class at Stonemountain

I didn’t consider that until my CPA suggested it in February of this year. After all, we jump-started the sewing revolution and have held space for classes when very few were sewing clothes.  Spending hundreds of hours on the classes (outside of my full-time job running the store) has been a ‘labor or love’. We wanted to provide low-cost quality instruction in our store classroom upstairs and look at what we created! It really feels like a time of graduation and completion. Twenty years later, my personal life is moving in a new direction. In my spare time outside of Stonemountain, I’m an astrologer, I have a family, and I love to travel. This is a significant time to pass this mission onto the next group of teachers.

We are still dedicated to education. We’ll focus on our blogs, newsletters, and other forms of social media that are reaching thousands of people – putting out quality content and inspiration. All of this takes time and creative focus to share the quality of our message we strive for.

We will have more in-store events and videos on YouTube. We have people in our store that are good at that and ready to go! Please refer to our Affiliate Teachers in our Guide to Bay Area Sewing Classes when you are ready to have guidance in all of your fabric arts projects.

CS: You have a YouTube Channel?

Yes, we started it a long time ago but haven’t activated it lately.

CS: The impression is that because people need to buy supplies for the class, they would be buying things from Stonemountain so that helps you make money.

Stonemountain & Daughter sewing class space - photo by C Sews - csews.com
Upstairs classroom space shared with sale fabric

Yes, that is a point that has been greatly considered. Let me address that. Not having classes will affect our business, but we have to ask, what is the cost in going after that sale? So much of the store’s energy goes into classes, but is it sustainable? That’s what we have to look at and be brave and courageous and see what is better for our business long-term. As we transfer our time into supporting staff, customers, other shops, schools and teachers, then the larger our sewing community grows with ease and fun!

Another interesting point it that the last number of times I’ve gone upstairs to look at the classes, 50 percent of the people are not buying fabric from us. Maybe they’ll buy some thread and zippers, but they are buying fabric from Joann Fabrics or other places a lot of the time. That’s their decision. We give them an option and a coupon to purchase our fabrics, but we’re not forcing people to buy from us. So seeing as how about half of our students don’t actually buy that much from us, it makes me feel better about our decision.

CS: Upstairs the space where your sewing tables are will be replaced with fabric. What will be different upstairs?

Barrels of discount designer fabrics - photo by C Sews - csews.comWe can now buy larger lots of fabric and fill the upstairs. We’ll have the space to display one-of-a-kind designer discount fabrics. All the fashion schools want it and sewing groups, like you! We’re filling a big need and it’s an opportunity to have more designer goods at great prices.

The basis of a great garment is finding a great fabric. Our store is based on choice. The decision is really to further serve the community in a joyful way, to change the store around to make it more airy, spacious, and creative.

We received 14 barrels for fabric on Friday. We’ve been painting the outside of the barrels and they will be tubes of delight, filled with Designer over-runs and sample yardage. So exciting!

CS: You’ve also made some other changes with the sewing patterns you carry. What’s happening there?

Of the big corporate sewing patterns, we carried Vogue, Kwik Sew, New Look and Burda. These companies are now selling online, directly to the consumer for cheaper than our wholesale prices. This has hugely undercut our pattern sales and the big companies have no sympathy or remorse. When we asked for fair pricing, they denied us because we are a retailer. Not to mention it costs us thousands of dollars to manage and stay up on inventory control. So, the decision was really made for us.

Another part of this decision is asking, how would we run the business if we were to start now, if this were our first year Pattern sale - Stonemountain Daughter Fabrics - photo by C Sews - csews.comof being open? What patterns would we choose to carry? We want to be here for as long as we can to serve the growing sewing community in the Bay Area, nationally, and internationally. Bottom line, these big pattern companies were not there to support us.

CS:So all the sewing patterns will now be indie patterns?

Yes! We chose our indie pattern lines because they are made by real people, for real people. Each pattern is drafted with care and the sewing community brings it to life. We have personal contact with many of our indie pattern designers and we get to see them grow in their business with us. This is how sewing should be. We appreciate the mutual support we receive from them, something that was missing from our relationship with the larger pattern companies.

Our complete collection is up on our website, as well as in our store. We love supporting the independent and local business movement! What can be better than having great fabric, tools and inspiring pattern choices?

CS: How does it feel now that the Stonemountain Fabrics era of sewing classes is over?

I feel very proud of our contribution. We’ve taught over 20,000 people to sew and over 300 kids each summer. We completed this phase of our mission and now our dream is widening. It feels great, but I do understand the sadness people feel about the loss of our classes upstairs. It has been a fabulous place for people to sew. I’m grateful to everyone who has taken a class with us. They made it as good as it was. What a 20 years it has been!


Many of the people who taught classes at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics are still teaching in the Bay Area. Stonemountain compiled this helpful Guide to Bay Area Sewing Classes for Adults. So all is not lost! You can still take classes with some of your favorites teachers who may be teaching in a variety of locations in the Bay Area. For example, Barbara Beccio is now teaching at Lacis and the Stitch Sewing Lab in Berkeley, the Handcraft Studio in Emeryville, and at her own studio (visit her website Desideratum, for a full list of classes.)

Did you take any classes at Stonemountain? I took Nicole Vasbinder’s “How to start a craft business” when I considered making hats to sell. She provided plenty of useful information which I still have – if I ever decide to do that. 

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics - what next after sewing classes end? csews.com

Refashion, Stylish Remakes book review and giveaway!

Hi, It’s hard to believe that September is well underway. I thought I’d sew more summer things but I didn’t quite have the time (or motivation) to sew as much as I wanted to.

In June, I wrote a post about my summer WIPs (works in progress). Out of the six things I mentioned, I finished two (my fourth Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt and my third By Hand London Anna Dress – for the International Anna Party). I said I was going to make the dress pictured on the cover of the Japanese sewing book Basic Black but I still haven’t traced the pattern (whoops). It was intended for the Sundress Sew-a-long organized by Handmade by Heather B. Maybe next year, Heather!

Did you do any summer sewing? What did you make? In August I started working on a refashion project for two reasons: 1. Tuttle Publishing asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing a couple of Japanese sewing books and Stylish Remakes Stylish Remakes by Violette Room (Tuttle Publishing)by Violette Room, was one of them. The other was Stylish Party Dresses by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I hadn’t heard of Violette Room, a Japanese clothing company, but the book seemed interesting.

2. I had just found out via Instagram about The Refashioners challenge organized by Portia Lawrie – create something from a men’s shirt. (See the impressive lineup of sewing bloggers who stepped up to the challenge on this Makery post.) So I was game and told Tuttle, “YES! Send the books!” [Note: I am not being paid to review these books. I was given the books with the understanding that I would provide an honest review.]

This super-long post includes my review of Stylish Remakes, my first men’s shirt refashion, and a giveaway of this book! Details on entering the giveaway are at the end of this post. (I’ll be reviewing – and giving away a copy of – Stylish Party Dresses in a later post.)

I took photos of this much-washed Brooks Brothers shirt that I got for free at a swap event in San Francisco a couple of years ago. As you can see, this size 17.5 “relaxed fit” shirt is quite voluminous.

Before - side shirtBefore - back shirt

I flipped through Stylish Remakes to see what ideas could be useful for the Refashioners challenge. The book features a total of 25 ideas categorized into six sections, labeled as follows: T-shirts, Flannel Shirts, Borders, College Sweats, Gabardine Coats, and Bandannas. “Borders” seems to refer to garments with stripes. Also included in this section is a detachable collar that you make and embellish with beads. “College sweats” refers to sweatshirts.

There are anywhere from three to six ideas in each category. Some of them are quite simple – shorten the T-shirt sleeves, add a bow, attach a skirt to make a dress, sew a scarf to the top to make a tunic (design no. 14). I’ve taken photos from the book so you can see some examples (excuse the poor lighting!).

Stylish Remakes by Violet Room - tunic

None of the ideas in the book are particularly complicated. Only a few designs approach the more radical transformations of Charity Shop Chic or Refashionista. BUT if you haven’t tried to refashion or upcycle a garment before, this book will give you some good ideas to get started – and then you can add your own design changes. The book seems aimed more at the fashionista than the sewist. The book flap says “With just a little cutting and sewing you can create fun and funky new pieces… Anyone can do it and anyone can wear it.”

T-shirt refashioned - Stylish Remakes by Violette Room - csews.com
Tank top and a t-shirt cut and sewn together (no. 3)

If you’ve made anything from a Japanese sewing book, you’ll be familiar with the format – photos of models wearing the garments, followed by instructions with detailed diagrams. There are only a couple of patterns in the book, a collar, a bow, and a cat, which you enlarge on a photocopier. There aren’t any patterns for the other projects because you’re refashioning existing garments (and bandannas) into something else.

Here’s an upcycled sweatshirt made into a mini dress (design no. 17) – not something I’d make or wear.

Refashioned sweatshirt - Stylish Remakes by Violette Room - csews.com

An outfit made from a striped long-sleeve tee and a Liberty print dress (design no. 12). A simple idea that I may use. I’ve got a RTW striped top and cheap skirt that may be more interesting as a dress.

Stylish Remakes by Violet Room - borders - csewscom

Here’s a coat restyled using different parts of a scarf as the collar and design elements sewn on the coat (“Coat with Scarf and Details,” no. 20). The horses are from the scarf. I really like the scarf-used-as-collar idea. I’ve got an old vintage coat with a rather dirty collar. I’ll try dry cleaning it first but if that doesn’t work, I’ll try this clever idea.

Gabardine coats - Stylish Remakes - csews.com

This tot is absolutely adorable in this camisole and skirt made from a bandanna (design no. 24).

Bandanna refashion - Stylish Remakes by Violette Room - csews.com

Both pieces are made from one 20.5 inch x 20.5 inch (52 cm x 52 cm) bandanna. The book recommends that you use an old bandanna that’s soft and drapey, which will feel nice to the little one. So cute!

The book has five ideas for refashioning men’s flannel shirts. They’re not complicated to execute but you need some basic sewing knowledge to understand the construction explanations, which heavily rely on diagrams as much as the words to explain the details.

This “Half-and-Half Dress” (design no. 7) is one of the more interesting and clever designs. You button the two shirts together (moving buttons if they don’t line up) and use the cut-off sleeve pieces to make the shoulder straps. The leftover sleeve pieces (still attached to the shirt) form pockets – very nice. I’m not a fan of flannel shirts but I really like this design idea. I could see making this with two (non-flannel) shirts.

Stylish Remakes - flannel dress - csews.com

Before I get into my project, here’s my conclusion about this book: I wouldn’t make most of the projects in it because they’re not my style BUT I really like the ideas for the flannel shirts and the coat collar. So it’s worth it for the sewing tips to create those garments.

I wanted to try making a blouse from the men’s shirt so first I thought I’d try the “Jacket with a Gathered Waist” (design no. 8), which wasn’t really a jacket (maybe a fault in the translation?). I liked the 3/4 gathered sleeves.

Stylish Remakes by Violet room - flannel shirts - csews.com

You remove the shirt cuff, shorten the sleeve and reattach the cuff to the shortened sleeves. Then you fold the hem up and sew a casing for the elastic. Pretty simple, right?

Stylish Remakes - shirt cuff - csews.com

Well, I made a mistake when I trimmed my sleeves. I cut them too short. After I sewed on one cuff, I tried it on and realized it was too tight on my forearm. Ack. I measured from my shoulder point to where I wanted the sleeve to end. However, I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that the sleeve is cut at an angle to give it additional ease so you’ll have more to gather at the cuff. Darn. I marked the sleeve on the fold a few inches below my elbow point instead of at the sleeve seam (below my inner elbow). Here’s what that sleeve looked like with the cuff attached.

Sleeve shortened cuff reattached - refashioned shirt - csews.com

If you make this top, put on your shirt, pull up the sleeve to determine what length you want it to be. Make sure the cuff is at a comfortable spot on your arm so it’s not too tight. Mark the sleeve at the length you want at the seam line, not on the outside of the sleeve. The book gives you a measurement for where to cut the sleeve but I ignored it because I have long arms and I knew it would be too short if I used the book’s measurement.

Now I had two cuffs that I wasn’t going to use. I played around with them, trying to see if there was another way to use them. How about a pocket? I liked this idea but didn’t reuse them for this shirt because the cuff was rather thick and didn’t seem right for this shirt. I’ve saved them though and may reuse them for something else.

Shirt cuff as pocket - refashion - csews.com

I had to change plans and decided to go with short sleeves. I flipped to design no. 9 – the “Big Bow Blouse.” I wasn’t keen on the bow but I liked the collar and sleeves so I thought I’d give it a try.

Stylish Remakes-plaid blouse with bow - csews.com

I removed the left front pocket and I made the sleeves shorter but the armholes were really gaping.

Sleeves trimmed - shirt refashion - csews.com

Clearly, I needed to get rid of some excess fabric. So I stitched a new side seam. The point of the pencil is where the new seam is.

Side seam - Get Shirty - csews.com

I trimmed off the curving parts of the shirt hem so I could have a straight hem all around. I saved those curving bits for later. Now the shirt looked like this. The hem is pinned. As you can see the sleeves stick out a bit.

Refashioned shirt - WIP - csews.com

The book says that if the sleeve opening was too wide (hell yes!), to “overlap the sleeve under the arm and stitch.” Hmmm. The translation is a little awkward here but the diagram offers a better explanation.

Sleeve diagram - Stylish Remakes - Violette Room - csews.com

This makes the sleeve fit more closely to the upper arm as you’ll see in the photos below.

Cutting off the collar left a slightly frayed edge, which I wanted to hide. Also, the collar seemed rather plain because I wasn’t using a flannel shirt with more visual interest.

Shirt collar removed - frayed edge - csews.com

So I looked at the collar I removed, then I trimmed off about 3/8 inch (1 cm) to remove the top-stitched edge. This left me with the top and bottom collar pieces and its interfacing (note: not a fusible). I joined the two pieces together in the middle with a flat felled seam to make one long strip with curved ends. Now I had a long strip of fabric roughly twice the length of the collar stand, which would make a nice ruffle.

Collar before gathering - csews.com

I finished the curved edge with a 1/8 inch (about 3 mm) hem and the straight edge with a zigzag stitch. Then I sewed two lines of gathering stitches on the zig zag side.

Here’s the collar gathered and attached reattached to the shirt. I don’t usually wear anything with ruffles so this was a fun experiment. The ruffle is a single layer of fabric but the gathering makes it stiff enough to stand up. I stitched it right on top of the collar stand, which is a bit of a sloppy finish but I didn’t feel like ripping out the stitching on the collar stand to open it up and insert the ruffle.

Ruffled collar - detail - refashioned shirt - csews.com

I nixed an elastic waist like design no. 8 (above). So I trimmed the bottom and I used the leftover sleeve pieces to make a belt. They were huge sleeves! I didn’t have enough fabric for one long piece so I used two pieces of fabric for each side of the belt. You can see the seam just to the right of my fingers.

Fabric belt seam - Get Shirty project - Refashion - csews.com

I had a belt kit I got from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse and used that to make the belt. It came with the belt backing, buckle and eyelets.

Fabric belt kit - csews.com

The shirt fabric was pretty thin though so it didn’t quite lay flat but one side looked better than the other so I put that on the outside, attached the buckle and inserted the eyelets, which are really huge and not too attractive. Oh well.

Fabric Belt - Get Shirty - Refashion project - csews.com

I tried on the shirt again but it was still too big because I didn’t take out enough from the side seams. Oops. But I liked the sleeves. I followed the instructions from the diagram above and now the sleeves don’t stick out as much. Nice, eh?

I posted this image to Instagram (@csews) wondering if it was too long and I received some helpful comments from several people. Mari (@ddisciplines) of Seamster Patterns suggested fish-eye darts and others suggested inverted pleats or tucks. Of course this meant I needed to remove/replace the pocket. Gee, I had done such nice top stitching on it! Poo.

Refashioned shirt belted - csews.com

I had finished one side seam with a French seam and I didn’t want to unpick it (lazy). Thus I decided to go with fish-eye darts, which would provide some waist definition. I decided to take an incremental approach so the dart was no more than 3/8 inch at its widest point (measuring from the center of the dart). And at some point in the process, I decided to go with a curving hem so it’s shorter in front and is longer in back as you’ll see in the finished photos below.

Fish eye darts added to shirt refashion - csews.com

Here’s the shirt with a total of six fish-eye darts. I started out with just two on each side but that wasn’t enough. Then I sewed six inverted pleats in the back, which brought in the waist a bit more and then it looked like this. Still a bit roomy but I decided to call it quits.

Fish eye darts sewn - shirt refashion - csews.com

By this time, I think I’d been tinkering with this shirt for a couple of weeks. If you follow me on IG, you may have seen some of my WIP photos. I didn’t expect to get so involved in it but I was having a lot of fun changing it as I went along.

OK, you might remember that I mentioned cutting off the curving parts of the original shirt hem. Here they are.

Shirt hem trimmed - csews.com

I took one of them and gathered the edge…

Fabric flower with gather - csews.com

… and made it into a flower, which I pinned to my hat.

Fabric flower for hat - csews.com

Now, drum roll please….

Here’s the final version without the belt. (Note on the pose: I’m trying out a “shoulders back, hips out” pose here  – not realizing that it makes the shirt stick out in front. Whoops. It I were standing normally, it would lay flat.)

Refashioned Shirt - front view - Get Shirty - csews.com

And here it is with the belt.

Refashioned shirt - left view 2 - Get Shirty - csews.com

And all those inverted pleats! I should have taken more fabric out of the back. It’s a little puffy there. I used the width of the original pleat sewn in the back yoke to set the width of all the waist pleats. I started out with three and ended up with six! There’s another photo below without the belt.

Refashioned shirt - with belt - back view - Get Shirty - csews.com

And a few before and after photos.

Before-After - front view - Refashion - Get Shirty - csews.com

Before-After - side view - Refashion - Get Shirty - csews.com

Before-After - back view - Refashion - Get Shirty - csews.com

And a full frontal view with the belt….

Refashioned shirt - front view with belt - Get Shirty - csews.com

… and a final shot here.

Refashioned shirt with belt - Get Shirty - csews.com

I think I like it better with the belt. What do you think? I wore it to work last week and when I told people that it had been a men’s shirt, they couldn’t believe it. I showed them the before pictures and they were amazed.

To see other refashion projects, use the hashtags  #therefashioners2015 #therefashioners #refashfest #getshirty. Ceck out the official Pinterest board for The Refashioners 2015 and see some lovely tops and dresses. And it’s not too late to enter the Refashioners 2015 contest! You have until Sunday, Sept. 27 to submit your project. See the rules (and prizes!) here.

Last but not least, if you’d like to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Stylish Remakes, just comment below by September 30, 11:59 pm, Pacific (California time). UPDATE: This giveaway is open to everyone around the world. Tuttle Publishing will be shipping it so if you win and live outside the United States, you’ll just need to give me your address and phone number for the customs form.

If you don’t want to be entered, just say, don’t enter me. Have you done any refashioning? What did you make?

Thanks so much for visiting and happy sewing!

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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Fabric Swap – Meetup!

Fabric Swap - Bay Area Sewists meetup group
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

Last Saturday I organized the Bay Area Sewists Fabric Swap Meetup. It was our biggest fabric swap – about 50 or so people came. This was the third fabric swap I’d organized for the group, and the first one where we also had tables for fabric scraps. At one point we had 70 RSVPs(!) and I confess that made me a bit nervous. But I knew that there would be last-minute cancellations and by the meetup day we had 60 RSVPs, which seemed slightly more manageable.

We hold our large meetups in the Community Meeting Room at the Berkeley Public Library. As a citizen of Berkeley, I can reserve this great space for free. It has cool tables with wheels and plenty of chairs. By the time security unlocked the room, it was about 10:15 am and a few members were already starting to arrive. Yikes.

Thank you Ali and Michael (I’m using many of his photos in this post) for your help with getting the tables in place! Other members pitched in as well  but I can’t remember because I was in a flurry of preparation. Thank you all for your help!  And thanks to Lindsay for setting out the name tags. (Ali is on Instagram @sewmsboncha; Michael blogs at Line of Selvage;  and Lindsay blogs at Baking, Making, and Crafting. You can read Michael’s post about our meetup here.)

I have a general process for our fabric swaps. We have four rounds of choosing fabric (one piece of fabric per round) and then one more round that lets anyone can pick anything they want (no limits). You can only participate in the first four rounds if you brought four pieces of fabric (or at least 1/2 yard of scraps). Plus, you get one entry in the pattern drawing per piece of fabric you bring.

Each round lasts the length of a song. I play a song on my phone and when a song is over, the next round of choosing begins. We use the same process for our pattern swaps and I began noticing that it was getting harder and harder for people to hear me say “Round 2! Round 2 is starting!” because this is a very chatty group. I don’t like to shout so last week I got this bicycle horn.

bike horn

It’s kind of obnoxious – think circus clowns. HONK! HONK! Heheh. But it does get everyone’s attention. I honked once to begin round 1, twice times for round 2, etc. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until the end. I was running around collecting dues, explaining where to put fabric, etc. Luckily, Michael took many photos during the first half of the meetup. As you can see, members brought a LOT of fabric. I asked members to label their fabric with yardage and type of fabric info – most nearly everyone did so in advance and some when they arrived.

Looking at the selections - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

We had so much fabric to choose from! Everything from silk and wool…

silk fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

to knits and cotton wovens…

knit fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

… to mystery fabric! I created this category because after the first fabric swap I realized that there will always be fabric that has unknown origins. Thus “Mystery Fabric” became a label. 😉

Mystery fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

We didn’t really have much leftover to donate to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Thank you Jill and the other members who volunteered to drop off the leftovers!

After the fabric swap was over, it was time for the pattern drawing. (Yes, I’m wearing my first Chardon Skirt, and no, I’m not looking at the names in the bag as I picked the winner.)

photo by Michael Portuesi
photo by Michael Portuesi

 

The happy winner of the Christine Haynes Marianne Dress was Jeanne! Thank you Christine for donating your latest pattern!

Jeanne won the Christine Haynes Marianne Dress - Bay Area Sewists

We also had a lovely surprise when member of the Walnut Creek Chapter of the American Sewing Guild brought a few books and a thread catcher to give away. So I drew names again for a book on shirtmaking, a book on batik and other dyeing techniques, a book on color and the thread catcher – a handy thing that you can put near your sewing machine and toss your thread  bits.

After the drawings were over, we broke up into small groups and discussed our various plans for our fabric.

small group discussions - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap meetup

Here are a few of the folks in my group. Daphne (in the brown boots) is wearing a top she made from Burda 6990. She said it was really easy to make – only four pieces…

small group discussions - Bay Area Sewists fabric swap

…and she actually had the pattern with her so I took a photo of it so I could buy it at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. (Bay Area Sewists members get a 20 percent discount there on meetup days! Thank you Stonemountain!)

Burda 6990 - knit top

Here’s what I got at the fabric swap: 2.5 yards of this cool home dec zebra cotton print and some orange knit fabric. The print could be a skirt (another Chardon?) or maybe I’ll use it to experiment with a pattern for my ideal tote bag, which I want to make from the cool oil cloth I got at Britex Fabrics last fall. You can see a photo of the oilcloth in My Sewcation post. The knit fabric will be muslin number 2 for the wool jersey dress I want to make (also mentioned in My Sewcation). I brought three pieces of fabric and several scraps to share. Two of fabric pieces were somewhere between 1/2 yard and 3/4 yard and another piece was 1.5 yards or so. So I actually came home with more fabric that I left with. Hmmmm. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Thank you to all the members who brought fabric to the swap!

fabric from Bay Area Sewists fabric swap

Afterwards some members went to get lunch and others headed to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric to shop. I went to the store and bought the Burda pattern 6990, some sew-in woven interfacing, and a couple packages of hem tape. After making my first Chardon skirt, I really like the technique of using hem tape to finish a skirt hem. I’ll use this for my third Chardon skirt, using a Dutch wax print I got at Britex Fabrics.

hem facing tape, interfacing - Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Have you participated in any fabric swaps? Did you make anything with what you got at the swap? So far I’ve made one thing using fabric from a swap. The sleeves and front piece of my tunic top from a French sewing book are from fabric I got at a swap earlier this year.

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Bay Area Sewists Meetup – August 2014

Bay Area Sewists August 2014 meetup - csews.com

On August 17, Bay Area Sewists held a meetup at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. The second floor, where we met, is where the store holds its many sewing and crafts classes. It’s also where you’ll find many sale fabrics (50% off!). This was one of our smaller groups; we were limited to 21 RSVPs because of space.

I had been trying to hold a meetup at this store for a while but they have so many classes on the weekends, it was a challenge to find a block of time to hold a meetup. But regardless of where we meet, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics gives Bay Area Sewists a 20 percent discount on our meetup days, which is really wonderful!

The topic for this meetup was fabric choices – discussing fabrics we’ve used to make garments and showing what we’ve made – successes and failures. Parish brought a couple of things she’s made, including a dress made of a pale turquoise fabric with large white polka dots, which she considers a fail because it reminds her too much of Minnie Mouse. (Here’s a plush Minnie Mouse to give you an idea of how Parish felt – though her dress’s white dots weren’t that big.) Needless to say, the scale of the dots didn’t work for Parish. Members asked if maybe she could use the bodice and change the skirt but she didn’t think that would help. She’s never worn the dress.

Lindsay made the Polly Top, which is a free pattern from By Hand London. She said it was easy to make. The curve of the front inset”was a bit fiddly” but once that was in, it was easy. Here’s the image from By Hand London’s website:

Polly Top - By Hand London

Margarita bikes to work so she only wants to make things she can wear on a bicycle. So for her, skirts are out, as are tops with low necklines. She loves cotton knit fabric but after learning about the negative impact of creating cotton fabric, she doesn’t want to buy cotton knits. So now she goes to thrift stores and buys large men’s long-sleeved t-shirts to make her own knit tops. She made some great tops from those repurposed knits. [Check out this site Make Do and Mend, if you want to read about the overconsumption of clothes and the Impact on the Environment and the Impact on Workers.]

I was really interested in what folks had to say so I kept forgetting to take photos. The  photos below are just a few of the Bay Area Sewists members who had plenty of interesting experiences to discuss.

In this photo Dorothy is talking about a costume she’s busy making from a pattern by Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It was quite elaborate with lots of cording. She brought the bodice to show where she is on it.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

And here’s the pattern envelope.

Sense & Sensibility sewing pattern

And Melizza of Pincushion Treats made her very first trip to the East Bay to come to this meetup! She’s wearing the fun dress she blogged about here.

Melizza's dress (600x800)

Ali wore a skirt she made from fabric she got at a Bay Area Sewists fabric swap! She brought a few of the patterns and fabrics she’s considering.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

Angela brought some pleated fabric, asking members what will happen to the pleats if she were to wash the fabric. She was assured that if she washed it the pleats would stay – just don’t put it in the dryer. 😉

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

Angela also has this upholstery fabric, which she’s thinking could be a coat. She also wondered how do clean this fabric. Dorothy pointed that that if it’s a coat, it won’t need to be washed very often. Dorothy also mentioned a trick she learned about refreshing a garment – lightly spritz with one part water and one part vodka. She says the San Francisco Opera does this with musty costumes.

home dec fabric

Annamarie brought a couple of things made with some colorful fabrics, including this velvet wall hanging, which became the main fabric for this top with kimono sleeves accented with this metallic gold fabric. The waist tie (in her right hand) made from the same gold fabric of the sleeve edging. Annamarie suggested this meetup topic earlier this year at our first fitting meetup. She doesn’t pay attention to using suggested fabrics and likes the challenge of making different fabrics work with a pattern.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

Sara made the dress she’s wearing – it’s the Moneta from Colette Patterns.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

I brought a partially sewn jacket made from a beautiful red wool crepe that I got from Britex Fabrics. I’m not happy with the seams in the middle so I stopped working on it a couple of years ago. I should have used a fabric that had more structure to it. The advice I got from members was to try a good pressing with a clapper – or maybe cut a strip of the same fabric to go over that seam. I need a clapper and then if that works, maybe I’ll finally sew in the sleeves (once I remember where I put them!)

The half-finished red crepe jacket

Bay Area Sewists members get a 20% discount at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics on meetup days. Below Lindsay and Allison (in striped tee) look at fabric. in the background you’ll see Melizza’s hubby and son standing in the entrance. 😉

Bay Area Sewists - August meetup - csews.com

Do you have any fabric care tips to share? Or any other suggestions for what to do with my red crepe jacket?

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Tips on Tracing Sewing Patterns

Pattern Tracing Tools

Over the past several months I’ve traced a few patterns for various garments I’ve made so I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my experiences. I’ve mostly been tracing sewing patterns from books but in once instance, I traced a PDF pattern.

I’ve mostly been using a 60″ wide roll of pattern tracing paper (10 yards for $22)  from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley (love this store!). But I also used a few yards of Swedish tracing paper that I bought online a couple years ago but never got around to using it until last year. This tracing paper is sort of like interfacing and can be sewn. However it’s more expensive than paper. I’ve also read that the paper rolls used in doctor’s exam rooms could be used as pattern paper. You can buy it medical supply stores – and it’s fairly inexpensive. I”ll have to look into that when I’m done with the roll I’m using.

I like using a drawing pencil to trace. I’ve been using a Derwent sketch pencil from an art supply store — grade HB. Drawing pencils are graded by H (hardness) and B (blackness) — 9H is the hardest and 9B the darkest.  An HB is right in the middle of the range.

If you use a pencil that is too soft, your line will likely smudge and your pencil would get dull pretty quickly. You need a precise line for pattern tracing. For example, if you used a 5B pencil, you’d have a nice dark line but you’d have to sharpen it constantly.

You could use a 1H or harder pencil but I personally don’t like the feel of H pencils. B pencils are great for drawing, the higher the number the blacker the pencil.

My favorite eraser is this white Mars plastic eraser by Staedtler. It erases very cleanly and gently. You don’t have to worry about leaving ugly smudges or tearing anything when you use this eraser. The company also makes a great metal pencil sharpener – the blade never seems to dull. It’s just the sharpener – it doesn’t come with a container to catch the shavings.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Before you begin tracing, be sure to find out whether a seam allowance is included. Some patterns don’t include a seam allowance so you must remember to add that a 1/2″ or 5/8″ to your pattern or you’ll end up with a garment that’s too small. (After you trace out the pattern, use a ruler to measure out and mark the seam allowance. I pencil in little dashes every inch or 1/2 inch so and then draw the cutting line.)
  • Pay attention to the lines for your size. Look closely at the pattern piece before you put your pattern paper on top to trace it. Though you can see through your pattern paper, sometimes it can get a little tricky on those multi-sized patterns, especially on curving lines. I usually end up counting out the number of lines to get to my size (for example, if a pattern is sized from 0 to 18 and you’re a size 12, then you count four lines over (18, 16, 14, 12) from the largest size to get to size 12).
  • When you’re tracing the lines, it’s very handy to use a transparent ruler with a grid and a french curve, which makes it easier to trace hip and armhole curves. You could trace pattern lines freehand but you might not be as accurate unless you’re one of those people who can effortlessly draw a straight line without a ruler.
  • When you’re done tracing the pattern piece (be sure to include darts and other markings) don’t forget to draw a line indicating the grainline. This is critically important. I forgot to do this on an asymmetrical pattern piece and there was no way I could approximate where it would go. So I had to take out the original pattern, lay my traced pattern on top, line it up, and then draw in the grainline (so annoying).
  • When you’re done with the tracing, copy the words listed on the pattern piece. For example, write the name of the pattern – or your shorthand nickname for it – on each pattern piece (for example, “Cool Cape”) and then identify the piece, such as Front Facing, Sleeve, Skirt Front, etc. Also, write down the cutting instructions, such as Cut 2 of Fabric, Cut 1 of Interfacing. Then if your pattern pieces get mixed up with others, you’ll know which pattern it belongs to.

Soon I’ll be writing another post on the different patterns I’ve traced. I was going to include that here but it was getting too long so I decided to break it up.

In the meantime, please share what your favorite pattern tracing tools are.

Nitty Gritty Dress Details

Clockwise from top left: Gathering the skirt, detail of hand sewing the lining around the invisible zipper, the hook and waist stay near the zipper, waist stay attached to bodice
Clockwise from top left: Pinning gathered skirt to waist, detail of hand sewing the lining around the invisible zipper, the hook and waist stay near the zipper, waist stay attached to bodice

Yesterday I wrote a post about adjusting the neckline and lining the dress I was making from the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern. I also mentioned that I would be writing more about the dress details. So here’s the nitty gritty.

After I sewed the lining and the fashion fabric together, I turned the pieces inside out (wrong sides together). See this tutorial on Blithe Stitches for step-by-step directions on how to line a sleeveless dress.

Three-quarter view - turning in dressI sewed a couple inches down the left side seam below the armhole to leave room to insert the side invisible zipper. My next step was to prepare the skirt so I could attach it to the bodice. I sewed the right side of the back and front skirt pieces together so I had one long rectangular piece of fabric.

Then I sewed yards of seam tape to the bottom edge. The book instructs you to finish the hem edge by serging or using a zig-zag stitch. I don’t have a serger and I don’t really like the look of a zigzag stitch so I used seam tape.

[Side note: Britex Fabrics is only a couple blocks from my office so I went there on my lunch break to get seam tape but they didn’t have any in the off-white color I needed! Next I called Discount Fabrics and asked them if they had any in the color I needed – nope. My last hope was Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which is about a 15-minute walk from where I live. I called and they checked to see if they had off-white seam tape and they did! Yay – but that meant I needed to leave work early enough to get there before it closed at 6:30 pm. I got there about 10 minutes before closing. Thank you Stonemountain & Daughter!]

After that was done, I machine basted two rows of stitches at the top of the skirt, which would then be pulled to gather the fabric at the waistline. The book had a great tip — break up the gathering into four sections, which makes it easier to manage. You just take the front and back pieces, divide them in half, and baste each section separately.

After I pinned and sewed the gathered skirt piece to the bodice, I sewed up the left side of the skirt, leaving open several inches for the side invisible zipper. I pinned and sewed the invisible zipper to the bodice and skirt sections, carefully keeping the lining of the bodice out of the way. I found the  tutorial “Installing an Invisible Zipper” on Coletterie to be very helpful.

Once the zipper was in place, I realized the bodice lining might be a tad short to fold over the waist seam so I attached seam tape to the hem of the bodice lining. Then I ironed a crease in the lining so it lined up with the waist seamline and hand sewed the lining to the waist just over the seam and around the invisible zipper. When I hand sewed the lining to the zipper tape, I made sure that it wouldn’t get caught on the zipper teeth when the zipper was going up or down.

Bra strap holder and snap
Bra strap holder and snap

Next I hand sewed the hem in place — by this time I was getting really tired of hand sewing. And then I had two final details I wanted to add — bra strap holders and a waist stay. My mom first showed me how to make a bra strap holder many years ago. She grew up in Thailand, which has hot and humid weather so sleeveless outfits are the norm. Thus she was an old hand at adding bra strap holders to her clothes. She made them by crocheting a thread carrier and attaching a snap at the end. (See this post on Design & Style for how to make a thread carrier.)

But I didn’t have a crochet hook, it was after midnight and the photo shoot for the dress was on the following morning. I was out of time so I improvised. I looked through my stash of ribbons, bias tape and twill tape and found some off white twill tape that I could use in place of thread carriers. I sewed one end to the shoulder and sewed a snap to the other side.

I got the idea of adding a waist stay from a reissued 1957 Vogue dress pattern I bought a few years ago. I made the dress (it used four yards of fabric!), which got me really interested in construction details that I don’t usually see in modern patterns. A waist stay helps the dress keep its shape and also take away some stress from the zipper. You hook the waist stay before you zip up. The waist stay (I used Petersham ribbon for mine) has little ease in it so it brings the fabric edges of the zipper opening close together.

I attached the waist stay in seven places – near the front and back of t he zipper, at the two front and back darts and at the right side seam. I hand sewed it in place with small stitches at the top of the ribbon at the waistline. And then I was done with the dress.

On Friday, I’ll write about the photo shoot for the dress, how I found a photographer, and what it was like to be a model for an hour.

If you want to see more photos on the dress, see my BurdaStyle project page. My dress is a finalist in the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern Sewing Contest! To see the 20 finalists, go to this page. My dress is on slide 13. You have until Sun., Feb. 24, 5 pm ET to vote.