HP Deneuve Tuxedo Shirt – Take Three (Part I)

Good morning readers! Well, let’s first get the obvious out of the way: yes, I’ve been gone for awhile but nothing’s wrong. In fact, everything’s right because I finally, finally, finally got a JOB! Yes, I am once again among the gainfully employed – woohoo! It’s a little tough getting used to a set schedule once again but it’s getting easier every week. This past Sunday I was actually able to spend a couple of hours in my sewing room. I know that’s not a lot but it was very therapeutic. Thanks again to all of you who emailed to check on me during my absence, I’m quite flattered. 🙂

Sooooooo, when I went into my sewing room last weekend I thought I’d work on the dress pattern I’d been altering. But, I just didn’t feel like working on that so I pulled out one of my summer favorites, the HP Metropolitan Deneuve Tuxedo Shirt. I’ve made two already and every time I wear one I wish I had a couple more. It’s hot as blazes right now and I can barely stand to have anything touch me so this cool but chic tunic fits the bill.

I bought this Irish linen at Maggi’s For Fine Fabrics about 15 or 16 years ago so I thought it was high time I did something with it. Since it has a woven stripe I decided to cut the bib on the bias for interest. I eliminated the placket and will use bias ties instead (like I did on my heirloom version).


I used Japanese straight tape to stabilize the front edge and the shoulders. At the front edge, I simply cut it in half with the rotary cutter so it would be hidden under my binding.


Then it was just a matter of running the front edges through my 1 1/4″ binding attachment and then running the neckline through. If you don’t have a binding attachment, you would simply use your trusty Clover bias tape maker.


To make the ties, I started binding at the shoulder and then just ran the excess length through the binder.


The ties are very long so I will cut them down later. Stay tuned!




Filed under Hot Patterns

A New Baby!

I was gifted this beautiful Singer 401A (mid-1950s) about a year ago by someone who is well aware of my obsession with vintage machines. She knew that I would cherish it and that it would be a treasured piece in my collection. It’s been sitting in my friend’s shop since then awaiting restoration so I was extremely excited to finally bring her home today. Isn’t she a beauty? Aside from a couple of scratches on the back of the top cover she is as bright and shiny as the day she rolled off the assembly line.

Whenever I watch one of these old girls being restored, I marvel at the craftsmanship of yesteryear. These machines were made with pride to last a lifetime or longer – I hope I look this good when I am nearing 60!



Filed under Sewing Machines, vintage

Vogue 1224 Tracy Reese Dress

Things have been very busy for me since I returned from Couture Boot Camp! I am still working on my strapless dress whenever time permits but found myself with a free day today so I thought I’d whip up a simple summer dress from Vogue 1224 by Tracy Reese.


I have always loved a peasant style blouse or dress for summer and this is such a cute casual dress that will work well with a pair of flats, don’t you think? As soon as this pattern was released I knew I’d use this jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics that has been in my stash for a couple of years. I’m such a copycat!


I made a size 8 with a 5/8″ full bust adjustment (which I really didn’t even need since there’s a lot of ease) and added 2″ to the length of the skirt. I found the skirt to run pretty large and ended up removing 2″ from the circumference to get the slim look as shown on the envelope. Since this is a very busy print, I omitted the lining. I certainly don’t want that extra layer if I don’t need it. Lastly, I allowed 1.25″ for the hem as I find 5/8″ to look very skimpy.

The directions have you stitch a separate elastic casing into the waistline seam. Since I didn’t want any unnecessary bulk at the waist, I omitted this step and simply pressed the skirt seam allowance up and used it to form the casing. I also made a belt from the leftover fabric to give it a more finished look. The belt was cut 2 yards by 6″ wide and stitched in a 1/4″ seam – perfect to wrap around my waist twice.

I’m really pleased with the way this turned out and the almost instant gratification I got from this pattern!

I also just finished another New Look 6429 which I have made several times already. I needed a summery interview dress that would work well with my white pique jacket and this fabric was perfect.


Instead of a facing, I bound the neckline edge – very fast and easy!



Filed under New Look, Vogue

New Look 6454, The Couture Version – Part III

Once the bodice had been hand basted together and I had another fitting, I stitched the dress together by machine. Notice that I took a smidgen off the bust curve of the Princess seam.


All of the seams were then trimmed, well clipped, pressed and


catchstitched to the underlining.


The next step is to insert the zipper – yay, we are coming down the home stretch! I pinned and then hand basted the zipper opening and will now insert the zipper by hand. Notice that I included the silk crepe de chine lining in my pleats to give them additional fullness and support. The skirt is also underlined with muslin.



I hope to get back to this by the weekend. I have no a/c right now and the thought of standing over a hot iron isn’t very appealing!

Phyllis had asked about my underlining yesterday so I thought I’d go into that a little more. Since my dress has a waist seam (it’s actually slightly low waisted but that’s fine) I was able to sew the boning channels through the two underlining layers. Had I not had two layers I would have stitched separate channels to the underlining. The underlining/boning unit is then treated as one with the fashion fabric. My waist stay will exit the lining (through the use of buttonholes) a few inches from the zipper opening.

When working with a dress that doesn’t have a waistline seam, a separate corselette must be made (which will end at the waist). The corselette can simply be two layers of cotton which are stitched wrong sides together and then boning channels made through those layers. Once the dress and lining have been put together, the corselette is attached to the dress at the top edge only. The corselette has it’s own closure (I like hook/eye tape the best) and is tighter than the dress itself. Here are some photos I took of one of Susan Khalje’s dresses to illustrate:



Notice that the waist stay is incorporated into the corselette whereas mine will simply be hand-tacked to each bodice seam and is otherwise left loose.


Filed under Couture Boot Camp, New Look

New Look 6454, The Couture Version – Part II

Once all of my muslin underlining pieces were traced and cut in mirror image (so that the markings would end up next to the body) they were hand-basted to an additional underlining of silk organza. Having two layers of underlining meant I could stitch my boning channels through the layers rather than having to add separate boning channels.


Here is my bodice all laid out in order. Looks gigantic, doesn’t it?


I then used these pieces to cut my fabric. I cut from the wrong side since my underlining pieces were in mirror image. The left and right side of my body are just a little different, something that is very noticeable in a very fitted garment. The narrow rows of parallel stitching are my boning channels.


Next, I removed each previous row of basting and hand-basted all three layers together on the stitching line.


Notice that here on the center front panel, a fisheye dart was pinned out and marked. I did not stitch it in this dress but may use it on a future version.


A few pins with your almonds, anyone?


One of the highlights of the week was dinner with Cidell. Finally, after all these years we meet! Left to right are Gretchen, Anna, Susan, Robin, Barb, Me and Cidell (photo courtesy of A Little Sewing). Great fun!



Filed under Couture Boot Camp, New Look

New Look 6454 – The Couture Version, Part I

I decided to make a very fitted strapless dress in Couture Boot Camp because a) that’s a tough thing to fit on yourself and b) I’d never done it before!

I selected New Look 6454 as my starting point because I liked the shape of the bodice.


Since I knew I was going to drape my own pleated skirt I only made a muslin of the bodice. I began with my usual size 8 and altered for a full bust on the front.


On the back, I made a broad back adjustment and added a seam allowance at the center back for the zipper. I tend to prefer a CB zipper over a side zipper because it’s easier when you have to fit yourself (since no alterations are made at the CB).


At the muslin stage, the side front was split into two pieces and more material removed through the waist (the shaded area). Notice that all of the stitching lines and grainlines have been machine stitched onto the muslin. One inch seam allowances were added throughout. The parallel lines marked with a “B” are the boning channels.


After the final muslin fitting, I traced my muslin pattern onto a muslin underlining, again marking the seamlines/grainlines (with tracing paper only this time) and adding 1″ seam allowances. Note that, since my body is not symmetrical (whose is?) I traced the pieces in mirror image so that the markings would end up next to my body and be visible from the inside of the garment.


The fabric I am using is a lustrous Vera Wang brocade from A Fabric Place (Michael’s Fabrics for you internet shoppers). Isn’t it gorgeous?



Filed under Couture Boot Camp, New Look

Eight days of wonderful

Of course, the week leading up to the eight wonderful days was filled with stress and buckets of tears as I said my final goodbyes to my sweet little Winnie. I can’t believe how quiet the house is without her; that will take a lot of time to get used to.


Thankfully, being in Susan Khalje’s Couture Boot Camp kept nearly every one of my brain cells busy for six glorious days. This was my little corner of the world for the week. Robin sat right in front of me. Another week and we would have been finishing each others’ sentences!


Left to right: Louise is a beginner of two years and lives not far from me in Vero Beach. She dove right into the deep end of the pool with a beautiful Marfy sheath dress. In front of her is Jeanne who made a beautiful Alencon lace jacket underlined in charmeuse and then moved on to a linen blouse with a fagotted neckline.

Then we have Diana who made a stunning two-piece dress consisting of a bias camisole with a cowl neckline and a long cascade-ruffled skirt for her daughter’s wedding.


Here we have FIT-trained Kimberly working on a gown of her own design. I’ll never drive by a Starbucks again without thinking of her! Some people run on Dunkin’ and others need a good Green Tea Soy Latte, ya know?


Supermom Anna made a strapless silk charmeuse evening gown for her daughter’s prom (that’s her form – made by Anna, of course!). The gown is stunning as it is but will be hand-beaded later. I get tired just thinking about that!


As if she needs any introduction, here is the adorable Gretchen of Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing with Best Baster Barb behind her.


The delightful twins, Debby and Dianna. I fell in love with this little Givenchy number from the 1980s. I’ll be making one for myself sometime this year.



Last, but certainly not least, our fearless leader Susan advising Robin on her beautiful guipure lace jacket. Notice Susan’s Million Dollar Suitcase in the background, full of treasures to make you gasp!


As if this wasn’t already more fun than a girl could handle, I came home and had the loveliest weekend in a fitting workshop with two of my students. Fit, fit, fit. Fit, fit, fit. Fit your pattern, fit your pattern. Sing it, KC!

I have to apologize for the terrible quality of my photos. “New camera” has been moved to the very top of my wish list! I simply can’t subject you, my dear readers, to these substandard photos any longer. I still have many more Boot Camp photos to post so stay tuned!


Filed under Couture Boot Camp, Miscellaneous