Monthly Archives: August 2012

Carol Evans’ Wardrobe

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Moving stress + running errands our last day in Cow Town + 50% off sale at Value Village facilitated a bit of a splurge on vintage children’s patterns, I fear. How can you resist a bit of retail therapy for a quarter apiece?

The patterns range in size from 4 to 6X, and all seem to have been intended for wear by a girl named Carol Evans, who I presume was a vampire trapped eternally in a child’s body, since the patterns range in vintage from 50s through 70s. Or they might have been collected more recently by a mom-stitcher with a thing for vintage patterns, not unlike myself. But really, I think it’s the vampire thing.

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This fifties housecoat just may be the child’s version of this pattern, which Peter and Cathy rehabilitated so stunningly into an “Opera Coat.” I’m going to assume that our little vampire was at least as capable of turning something so drab and basic into something luxe and glamorous as Cathy is.

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This might just be the quintessential fifties little girl dress. According to this website, it’s from 1954, as is the preceding housecoat. Also, I love the little capelet. Every vampire (child) needs a capelet. Not to mention plenty of variations on a dress, for when she gets blood on it. Also, those of you who did time in Vampire: The Masquerade, dig the black satin version with the rose.

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Something about the white version of this sweet little sailor dress just makes me squee. Presumably this had a similar effect on Carol Evans. Or possibly she ran away to sea to hide her lack of aging. You have to keep moving when you’re a vampire child.

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Doesn’t this one looked sophisticated? I want to say very Jackie O, but I wasn’t around back then to observe and haven’t really researched, so you can correct me if necessary. Or maybe it’s Chanel. Doesn’t that little jacket need to be made of boucle, with a quilted lining and chain in the hem? Poor Carol has been size six for at least a decade, after all—she has to be feeling more grown-up inside than out. This is just the dress for when she wants to look like a miniature (and very chic) adult

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These two McCall’s patterns fascinate me, not so much for their contents as their style. I had instantly pegged the dress as sixties (based on the illustration style, the dress itself is such a classic I think with minor hem-length variations it would look at home in any decade since 1900. Possibly 1850.) The pants wardrobe, on the other hand, I had pegged as classic 70s. The fashions, the art, the bell-bottoms, the gingham. Then I checked the dates on both patterns. The 60s one is indeed earlier—1968. But the “70s” pattern is 1969. I kind of feel like I’ve captured the cusp of a decade in pattern form—a snapshot of the transition from one style regime to another. Especially since both are by the same company. As for Carol, well, they both obviously cater to her need to appear childlike and innocent to manipulate the adult humans around her. Can’t have anyone suspecting, after all.

The patterns go on (It appears later in the 70s Carol headed somewhere chilly and needed some serious winter gear) but I think I’ll leave it at that. Speculation on the life of Carol the vampire child welcome in the comments! 😉

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Moving Home

I imagine all of you who’ve been reading this week have realized we’re in the throes of moving.

In particular, we are Moving Home. After five years in the Big City (or the Western Canadian equivalent, anyway, which my American co-workers assure me isn’t anything like actually big), we’re moving back to our hometown, which thinks it’s a big city only because there’s no comparison within easy driving distance.

As with any such move, I’m a little torn. Part of me is excited to be back around the friends and family I’ve missed so much. Part of me feels like we’re admitting failure, running back to the small and familiar. Part of me is sad because I know it won’t be the same, regardless.

But on the sewing front, despite the intense tragedy of losing my in-home sewing room (current plan is to set up at my mother-in-law’s house, a few blocks away), I’m actually pretty excited. About (I know!) sewing for other people.

Aside from my the assortment of nieces, I am excited about sewing for my sisters-in-law and my mother.

My stylish sister-in-law is close to my size, but she’s a classic pear shape, very different from mine. We’ve been stealing each others’ clothes since we were teenagers (yes, I was still a teenager when I met her…) , with varying degrees of success. And she’s kept my children for a full month every summer for the last five years, with little or no recompense, so a bit of sewing is the least of what I owe her. Also, I’m pretty sure her figure is more-or-less what Tyo is going to end up with in a few years, so hopefully I can get ahead of the curve there. 😉

My crafty sister-in-law is a little bigger than us, and curvy, with a classic hourglass shape. She’s the only person I’ve ever measured who actually has bust, waist, and hips in the same size by the pattern envelopes, although probably she needs a smaller size in the shoulders. She’s also one of those people who never wants to spend the time and money on herself to look as good as she could—she wears oversize clothes, whatever she can pick up cheap. I’d like to help her feel as beautiful as she actually is, although how receptive she’ll be remains to be seen.

And then there’s my mother. The woman who taught me to sew. The woman who sewed the Grad Dress. The woman I learned style from, even if my style has never been on the same planet as hers. And one of the biggest crimps in my mom’s style over the years has been fit—she has the same short waist, long limbs, and square shoulders that I have,  plus a full bust—so I’m excited to get her at least a few items that actually fit, both her body and her style.

Then there’s my (almost) fifteen-year-old niece (daughter of Crafty, for those attempting to keep track). Not sure if I want to sew for her or not. I mean, I’d love to if she wanted to. (I’d love even more if we could sew together and it could be that rarest of things, adult-teenage bonding time) But it would have to be very niece-led. I have zero interest in creating something for a teenager they’re not going to wear.  And of course there’s my little nieces, who are enjoying their new dresses.

Don’t worry—I promise I’ll extract blog-modeling promises before embarking on any of this non-selfish sewing.

 

But first I need to get that sewing room set up!

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On the road.

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August 28, 2012 · 5:12 pm

The New Dressmaker: Altering Yoke and Drawers

I confess, I haven’t really had time to read this chapter over. I wasn’t even aware that drawers required fitting other than the most basic does-this-go-around-me kind. Do they cover trouser fit for men and boys? Does yoke mean the yoke of a skirt, or any kind of yoke or something completely different? You’ll have to read to find out!

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Prezzies! (4)

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Thank you, Meadowsweet Child! I can’t wait to try some of these out. Except that everything I own is in a box right now, so I have to wait. Also, packing vintage sewing machines with the old cases totally beats packing modern, caseless machines, but moving them is still the pits. 🙂

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August 27, 2012 · 7:10 am

The New Dressmaker: Altering Waist Patterns

Once you’ve altered the length of your pattern, according to the New Dressmaker, the next step is to do fitting in a muslin.

Ah, terminology. As I mentioned last post, “Waist” means, as far as I can tell, “bodice.” The focus is on making the changes in the muslin. And, it appears that (quelle surprise!) women in the early 20th century had the same figure issues we’re always talking about today: large or small bust, square or sloped shoulders, straight or curved back… The only one they don’t much go into is waist. I guess the corsets were still taking care of that.

Voila!

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The New Dressmaker

A while back, my mother (antiquer and thriftarian par excellence) presented me with several vintage-to-antique sewing related books. I thought I’d try to feature a few things from (at least one of)  them while I’m In Transition from one city (and province) to another.

The New Dressmaker

Meet The New Dressmaker—Copyright 1921, but with illustrations that hint at their earlier origin.

I like several things about the New Dressmaker—for one thing, it’s very well-illustrated. I’ve read (or tried to read) several early-20th-century sewing books and between the terminology differences (“plait”=pleat, “waist”=bodice) and the lack of illustrations it can be fairly flummoxing. And while it doesn’t have much in the way of pattern-drafting information (it is, after all, produced by a pattern company), it has lots on sewing techniques, and everyone’s favourite—fitting. 😉 So I figured I’d share the various fitting chapters over the next few posts.

This first fitting chapter discusses making basic length adjustments to the pattern itself.

See what you think

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