I am absolutely delighted for my dressmaking teacher that the Sydney Morning Herald decided to do a story on the rising popularity of dressmaking in a vintage style. I’m sure there are many dressmakers and many sewing teachers out there in Sydney but I doubt any of them could rival Bev. As she says to me, if I re-told half the stories she’d told me, or some of the things I’ve seen her do and say, no one would believe me. To top it off she’s an excellent teacher. Some people teach you how to do something. Bev teaches you why and that I think is much more valuable as you can learn to adapt it. Best of all, she knows my likes and dislikes so well that if I come to her with a pattern – vintage or otherwise – and a concept; if she thinks it will look awful, she’ll tell me! I’ve watched her be diplomatic with other students. It’s only us lucky long term ‘permanent fixture’ students who get the warts and all version.
Lastly – because I know Isobel will say it – I’m not looking at the camera because we were instructed to pretend the photographer wasn’t there.
It’s official. It will be 2012 before this 1940 dress is complete. Sleeves appearing this side of Christmas? Not likely. Self-facing the neck line by next Saturday? Yeah, right!
In between now and Christmas Eve, I have 5 days of Santa avoidance to complete. 3 whole days and 2 half days in the office dodging Christmas cheer in order to finish work I need to complete in 2011. As such I doubt that I’ll be coming home to sew!
The centre yoke piece on this 1940 Simplicity pattern is what attracted me to it. It rises up to create a diamond shape under the bust and below the waist forms an upside V. (It’s most easily seen in the drawing on the pattern picture below).
The under bust piece, inclusive of the gathers, was actually very easy. The pleats in the skirt, a snack. Getting the bottom of that yoke attached to the skirt part and to line up with the yoke piece at the back – a real challenge. The original Simplicity pattern recommends to join the centre yoke and back yoke first. I can see the advantage in that approach – after the fact. It seemed, at the time, worth giving up having the yoke attached in order to avoid the fiddling at the sides. In the end, it’s a line ball call on what is easier. Quite simply, this style of pattern on a sheer fabric (which the pattern suggests), is a recipe for unpicking! Even with interfacing in that centre panel, the piece moves as quick as John Travolta’s hips in Grease.
If any vintage junkies out there are considering this style of 1940s dress, I urge you to ignore the pattern (Simplicity, my foot!) and go with cotton! True, it won’t fall as beautifully as the sheer however you’ll escape the need for a slip and a few hundred expletives. Your unpicker will thank you as well. Mine has removed the zip twice before I let it off the hook with a case of third time lucky.
Finished dress in the new year I hope!
It’s the end of a long week and Saffron and Licorice seem to be settling on the bed getting ready to ‘assist’ in writing my blog post… much like in the ‘photo booth’ pic on the right… impeding keyboard access!
Tomorrow I’m off to the Vintage Show at Canterbury racecourse. I’d like to say that I will be wearing a dress made from my newly acquired vintage patterns but alas no!
I have completed the top and bottom of the toile and now have to join the dress through the centre yoke piece.
The original pattern suggests top stitching this semi-diamond yoke shape into place. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it on the final dress but for the purposes of completing the toile and finding out if the pattern needs adjustment, I think I’ll just hand-baste the pieces together.
It’s not a fantastic photo but below is the toile in its current state. The original pattern has a side opening. While normally I’d leap at the chance to change it to a back zip given the sheer fabric I’m going to have to go the authentic route.
As this is only the toile, I’ve cut off some of the length – so don’t think this is the 1940s dress mini skirt style! As it is I think I’ll be lengthening the pattern because I’m sure that the average height of women in 1940 was shorter than today.
Meanwhile, over at chateau de Andrew, packing is in progress. Pickle is doing a good job of living up to ‘curiosity killed the cat’. So far he has checked out a number of packing boxes before deciding today to climb the tower of milk crates and settle in for an afternoon nap. Personally I think he’s done us a favour and packed himself for the move!
I must remember to adjust my wristwatch to daylight savings time. In this digital age, every other appliance seems to have adjusted the time for me. Then again, being an hour behind probably won’t matter to much. I’m 70 years behind on my clothing!
This is my next sewing project. The plan is to make a black slip and then two dresses out of these sheer floral fabrics. I had wanted to use cotton sateen, also known as polished cotton, for the slip. I’ve made slips from this previously (to sleep in) and they have a lovely feel. Unfortunately obtaining black is a wee bit tricky! I bought a georgette instead but I’m not convinced that it will work. I’ll have to check with my sewing master.
As for the top part, I’m confident that these fabrics will look lovely. The black one on the right I bought at a vintage show (although the seller was honest enough to tell me that it wasn’t actually an old piece of fabric – just an old look!). At the same show I bought a piece of unused 1940s black crepe. I’m saving that for a special piece. The brown print I bought on the left yesterday. It reminds me of the ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) Thienhuong’s family gave me for her wedding. The flowers on the ao dai are far prettier than on this fabric but given all those ‘soft pleats’ I don’t think it will matter. I’m intending to use a ‘cross’ of the pattern on the left and the one on the right. I don’t want the puffy short sleeves which are on the left and I’m not fussed on the large collar. That said, while pretty, that high ‘boat’ neck would look silly on me. (I’d look like a giraffe in a floral print) In the end it will probably be more like the one on the left but with more subtle sleeves and a small turn back collar. I have some calico to make a sample bodice which I hope to cut the pieces for this weekend. Of course this depends on whether Saffron and Licorice choose to assist with the fabric. The last time I cut something at home, Licorice curled up in one end of the fabric which was draping off the end of the cutting table. It took me some time to realise she was there… I just couldn’t fathom why the fabric wouldn’t slide across the table.
Cat assistance aside, I shouldn’t really be cutting fabric, I should be tidying as I have guests coming next Saturday. Well, actually, I’m not ‘the host’. Andrew and I were invited to dinner at a friends house. They have a lovely single storey old style house. Unfortunately that means it comes with a small bathroom with a narrow door which Andrew can’t access. When I told my friend that Andrew couldn’t make it but I could come, she and her husband offered to cook all the food and bring it over the my place. I now just have to clear enough art and sewing stuff out of the way to set-up the table. At least I don’t have a Pickle cat in permanent residence on my table like this one…
…although Licorice did some table top dancing last time we dined.
Woohoo! I found some 1940s patterns today. I actually searched through over 2000 items on etsy to select these 3 patterns. There are more patterns out there than I thought however many are very similar or could be made from an adjusted modern pattern. These 3 were a little different and I couldn’t pass them up. My day got even better when one of the sellers I bought 2 patterns from emailed me a pic of a third pattern which was also a gem. My new purchases, all yet to arrive, are all below. To my delight, I could date all 4 of them to a year by using the pattern dating guide in “BluePrints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s” by Wade Laboissoniere. A book which has been drooled on whilst in my possession!
Blouse pattern Butterick 1939
Blouse pattern Butterick 1940
Simplicity Dress Pattern 1940
McCall’s Dress Pattern 1944