Monthly Archives: May 2006

Another new dress!

While going through my stash the other day I found a treasure:

These are beautiful, high-quality rayons from Doncaster. A few years ago, I was teaching a week-long fitting workshop at Bernina Says Sew in the Charlotte, NC area with my former teaching partner and friend, Emma Seabrooke. The manager of the shop raved about the Tanner Outlet in Rutherfordton so, naturally, we had to go there. We were so anxious to get there that we ate fast food (I never eat fast food) in the car instead of stopping for lunch! Aside from Doncaster clothing, jewelry and accessories, the shop also sold past-season fabric ends. The fabrics were exquisite and we ended up buying quite a lot.

So, these two fabrics will become another McCall’s 5137. I will be using the small print for the neck band and for narrow piping at the waist and hem band. I will use the large print for the main sections – I didn’t want it to be too busy. The fabric has a heavy drape and is thick enough that I can probably get away without a slip – always a bonus in my humid climate.

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Filed under Fabric, McCall's

Collar on stand – Part 2

Today we are going to finish up the band. Pin the outer band onto the inner band, right sides together. As you can see in the photograph, I have carefully tucked the front edge of the shirt up into the bands. This will allow me to stitch around for a nice neat front edge. I’m normally not big on pinning but, in this case, it helps to keep the layers in position.

Here is where your accuracy in attaching the inner band will pay off. I begin my stitching about 3/4″ in from the front edge (or as much as the fabric will allow – sometimes more, sometimes a little less) and pivot exactly where my previous stitching ends.

Always check to make sure you haven’t accidentally caught anything you shouldn’t have in your stitching before trimming.

I simply cut across the corner and then trim the curve with pinking shears. When using 1/4″ seam allowances, it isn’t necessary to do any additional trimming.

The front edge is nice and neat from the outside.

And from the inside.

The last step is to edge stitch around the band, closing up the remaining neck edge at the same time.

That’s it! This entire process, with practice, should take you no more than a few minutes and will give you a great result every time. I hope you’ll give it a try.

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Filed under Tutorials

Collar on Stand – Part 1

I published this tutorial on my GigiSews.com site a few years ago and thought that perhaps it was time to revisit the collar on stand. So many sewers seem to have trouble with this (especially the stand/band) but it’s actually quite easy. I recommend you use 1/4″ seam allowances in the collar, stand and neck edge of the garment. You can use 3/8″ but I find 1/4″ so easy to sew with a patchwork or 1/4″ foot. The main thing is NOT to use 5/8″ seam allowances. If you are new to shirtmaking, I really recommend that you try a Kwik-Sew pattern to start. Kwik-Sew always includes separate under- and upper-collar pieces so that you can educate yourself on the differences between the two. This will make it easier to modify patterns that only include one collar pattern piece later on. I will show you my super-easy cheater method next week!

Interfacing: I like to use fusible interfacing on both collar and stand pieces. My favorite interfacing is Palmer/Pletsch Sheer. It is lightweight yet crisp and bonds extremely well. If you are making a dress shirt and desire a very stiff collar you may want to use something like ShirTailor. I’m not fond of an overly stiff collar and prefer to use collar stays instead. This is a matter of personal preference.

Collar construction: Complete the collar. Go ahead and topstitch the edges and baste the neck edges together at 1/8″ (you don’t want to have to remove any visible stitching later).

Step 1 The first step is to attach the inner band to the garment using (in this case) a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Notice that I have stopped and started exactly at the shirt front edge – this is
imperative. Do not stop one stitch short or sew one stitch too many as this will be your pivot point when attaching the outer band. It is more important to stop exactly at the front edge than it is to have an exact 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 2: Attach the completed collar to the inner band using an 1/8″ seam. Again, you’ll want to use the 1/8″ seam to avoid having to remove any stitching later. Use a regular stitch length to hold the collar securely. Note that the upper collar will be against the inner band.

Tune in tomorrow for more!

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Gwen Stefani breaks finger!

Thanks to Kathleen Fasanella over at Fashion Incubator for alerting us this story. Apparently, Gwen broke her finger while sewing samples for her new line. While I don’t always like her style, no one can argue that she is a modern style icon – and she knows how to sew!

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Filed under This and that

Heart sick, just plain heart sick

Imagine my delight at finding yet two more vintage I Love Lucy patterns on Ebay last week! Not that I’ll ever sew them but the Lucy apron is my size and the Desi apron was my husband’s size – destiny! I love the fact that Desi is going to barbecue in a shirt and tie. As luck would have it, I was unable to be home last Thursday night when the auctions were scheduled to end. I put my highest bids in and crossed my fingers. Happily, I won the Lucy apron for less than half of my highest bid. Imagine how sad I was upon discovering that I lost the matching Desi apron by one bid. Yes, it’s my fault. I should have put a higher bid in but I never thought it would go as high as it did. I honestly thought Lucy’s apron would go for more – silly me! I was so upset that I couldn’t even enjoy winning the Lucy apron because Lucy without Desi….well, it’s just wrong. Now I will have to spend the rest of my life searching for the Desi apron.

Have pity on me, if you have a Desi apron that you’d be interested in selling to a desperate, crazy collector, please contact me! Lucy misses him.

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Filed under Patterns, vintage

Dresses!

Aside from Simplicity/New Look, I rarely look at The Big-4 (or Big-2, whatever you prefer) patterns anymore. However, when Erin over at Dress A Day posted this pattern last week I couldn’t resist buying it.

It’s eerily similar to a vintage Vogue Nina Ricci pattern I bought last week. Which, BTW, I see Erin bought as well! A pretty dress is a pretty dress.

My one concern is that the gathering below the midriff band will be too much for me. I’m not small-waisted so I may have to reduce the fullness a bit. I have quite a few nice rayons and silks in my stash so I’m thinking of making the McCall’s (the Vogue pattern hasn’t arrived yet) dress to wear to a brunch on Sunday. I think the secret to this style is using very drapey and light-weight fabric. I like the tie because it will make the dress somewhat adjustable through my weight-loss journey.

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Not back in the sewing room yet….

I know, I know. Can you stand one more vintage pattern? Last-minute graduation stuff is taking up all of my time so hang in there. I’ll get to the sewing room soon, I promise!

A few months ago I had treated myself to an Elsa Schiaparelli book from Amazon. I received notice this week that they would not be able to fulfill the order. What better way to ease my disappointment than to buy this fabulous uncut (and in my size!) Schiaparelli pattern from the 1950s? This is the most I’ve ever paid for a pattern but Phyllis assures me it was a bargain. If I ever hope to make this for myself I’ll need an industrial-strength waist cincher, that’s for sure.

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A Sewing Treasure

Last week I noticed this book for sale on Ebay. The seller had posted beautiful photos of the inside of the book (like the one shown below), several of which caught my eye. As is my luck, it caught the eye of a few other bidders as well.

Before I bid on Ebay books I always hop over to Amazon.com first. Often I will find the same book for less as I did here. This book, as you can see, is titled clothing construction. The authors are Evelyn Mansfield (formerly of Michigan State) and Ethel Lucas (of Framingham State).

I don’t often get overly excited about sewing books but this little gem is truly a treasure trove of techniques. Loaded – and I mean loaded – with photographs, clothing construction covers a lot of ground. For example, Chapter 1 covers sewing equipment and setting up a work space. Chapter 2 contains lovely photographs of various machine and hand stitches. Chapter 3 goes into pattern selection, general fitting principles and fitting a pattern – including tissue fitting. Would you like to know how to sew a padded slot seam? Or maybe you’d like to make curved tucks on a collar. How about covering weights to control the drape of a cowl neck? It’s all in there! There are seventeen chapters over nearly 400 pages with photos too numerous to count. This is truly a wonderful addition to the library of any sewing fanatic, beginner or advanced. I notice there are still four copies available at Amazon….

UPDATE: I take that back – there are no more copies left! Wow, you guys are quick.

Clothing Construction, 2nd edition
(c) 1974 Houghton Mifflin Company
ISBN 0-395-16728-0

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Happy Mother’s Day to me!

You probably don’t know that I am a big I Love Lucy fan. I started watching ILL when I was about 4 years old (it was already in syndication then). Later I watched The Lucy & Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy but nothing can come close to the original. When my son was small, he was shocked that no one else in his kindergarten class knew about Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel and their hysterical antics.

One of my favorite episodes is #63 entitled Lucy Wants New Furniture (June 1, 1953). Ricky finds out that Lucy has purchased new furniture without his permission and refuses (my, how times have changed) to allow her to go to the hair dresser and buy a new dress for an upcoming event. What’s a girl to do but give herself a home permanent and make her own dress on a rented machine? That’s what I’d do! Well, maybe I’d skip the home permanent.

Anyway, when I spotted this 50 year old pattern on Ebay I had to buy it. I know it’s quite tattered and I may have paid too much considering the condition (at least my DH thinks so) but it was impossible to resist.

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Filed under Patterns, vintage

The Big Night

Here is the finished garment on prom night. My son was the only boy not wearing a tie – he certainly enjoys being unique. All the kids were calling him John Travolta and he humored them with a quick Saturday Night Fever pose or two. His date’s Chanel-inspired dress was made by her grandmother. I wish I had taken some close-ups of the gorgeous beaded and sequined lace used in the skirt. I like the way the lace with white underskirt goes so well with the pattern of the shirt fabric. That’s it for this project. On to my graduation dress!

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Filed under Patterns, vintage