Tag Archives: Fantasy Sewing

Fantasy Sewing: World’s cutest blouse edition

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Yup. I can’t be certain, of course, but I think this just might, possibly, be the world’s cutest blouse pattern, EVER.

I love every single detail of every single view. And (unlike some patterns of a certain era) it really is three different views, not one view in different fabrics. And it’s totally my size. I love the collarless view with the serious little bow. I love the wide neckline with the stand-up collar. I love the ruffly, deliciously silly little white view (although I think those sleeves should maybe be puffed. Or would that be overkill?)

And yet, I fear this one will remain relegated to fantasy for longer, rather than shorter. Why? Because that nagging, insidious part of my brain that likes to keep my sewing practical is reminding me that, despite the adorable illustration and cute collar details, this is really a basic, boxy little blouse. The only shaping comes from those teensy bust darts.

It’s a blouse that, in fact, is made for tucking in.

I don’t tuck.

Seriously, I enjoy my body, I don’t obsess over my weight, I have about as healthy a body image as it’s possible to have as a woman in the western world. And few things send me into the pits of body-loathing despair quite like a tucked-in blouse. Actually, anything cinched in at the waist. It’s something about the shortness of my waist, or the fact that there’s no discernible taper from my underbust to my waist, so anything blousing out around there just makes everything look wider than it is. I know loads of people who love the look, who look drop-dead gorgeous in it. I just can’t do it on myself.

Although, that cummerbund look is cute. And possibly a really wide cummerbund could make tucking doable (OK, in honesty it needn’t be really wide. My bra line is only about three inches above my waist at the best of times). Especially if the cummerbund were shaped to extend below the waist… but then you’re venturing into territory where the cummerbund becomes, not a fancy belt, but the mainstay of the outfit, and that’s a bit of a different look altogether.

But you can rest assured, tucked or un, this blouse will certainly keep its place in my fantasies…

(And yes, there has been a little bit of progress on the Hallowe’en costume front and other sewing, but it’s been in haphazard and piecemeal little increments that make it really hard to talk about. And I bought a new seam ripper, but I lost it already.)

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Fantasy Sewing: McCall’s 8858

McCall’s 8858

All right, while I remain in sewing limbo, let’s fantasize a bit more.

This is McCall’s 8858, which I got from the thrift store in my hometown (now once again my home), back in the spring. It’s © 1952, and is just my size.

I mean, exactly my size. Bust, waist (well, on a good day, anyway), and hips. I am trying to figure out how companies, in an era that championed the wasp waist and idealized the hourglass figure, where women still wore girdles as a matter of course (or at least, my grandmothers did), put out patterns that match my own rectangular measurements. I’m pretty sure that I do not have a “vintage figure.”

Now, when I bought it, the envelope to this pattern was totally trashed. Well, still is, really. I took the front and back (since they were already completely separated) and ironed them on to some cotton iron-on interfacing I had around. Is interfacing archival? If not, well, I doubt it’s worse than what they’ve been through already. At least those shredding edges are reinforced.

While I was messing around, I sorted through the pattern. By some miracle of the Sewing Gods, it’s all there. Every little facing, as far as I can tell. Furthermore, it had been folded in the most awesome way imaginable—skirt pieces together, bodice pieces together, bolero pieces together. How cool is that? Whoever last used this pattern is obviously a far more meticulous lady than I.

McCall’s 8858 envelope back

Here, since I was in the mood for scanning things, is the back of the envelope. Ok, so there’s one measurement I’m pretty sure won’t fit, which is back length. It’s not listed, but I presume it’s on the order of 16″ or up, as it usually is, and my back length (nape of neck to waist) is 15 at best. Also the hip measurement indicates it’s at 7″ below waistline, and my full hip is more like 10″ below my waist.

Now when I make this (and I will make this, although I make no promises as to timeline), I will need to figure out how to petite and square shoulder a kimono sleeve. I’m not too concerned about the dress itself, but the bolero is a little more scary. And I really like the bolero.

Some other observations about the pattern:

It calls for the skirt to be cut with the grain paralleling the side seam. Interestingly, this is something that my 50s sewing manual cautions against; I’d never actually seen a pattern call for it before. Most everything else I’ve read on pattern-drafting and selecting grain suggests you should put the straight of grain midway between the two angled edges, unless you’re going to put one side on the fold, anyway.

In classic 50s style, it also calls for a self-fabric belt. I’ve never made one, as I generally don’t find that I “cinch” well. I feel like it always creates a certain blousing effect that just never seems to work for me. Of course, there is also the question of whether this should become part of Project Drop-Waist, but I think I may just possibly be able to pull off a waist seam as long as the skirt is un-gathered and sleek, as it is here.

I’m excited about the bolero, in particular. I’ve noticed (now that I have a small plethora of full-skirted dresses) that the style of jackets they work with are pretty limited. It has to be either a huge opera-style coat that can completely cover the skirt, or a petite, cropped bolero that doesn’t impinge on the skirt. I guess in theory something like my Lady Grey coat should work, but in practice I find I only like it with skinny bottoms. My empire-waist jacket is a complete fail, and the situations where it’s cold enough for my winter coat, but warm enough that I might wear one of my full-skirted dresses are very, very limited.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between View A and View B is that the bolero is made out of a different fabric in View B. Hmm.

The skirt will be a half-circle when all is said and done.

Of course, no Fantasy Sewing interlude is complete without musing on fabric. The problem is, I don’t think I have any lengths in stash that would be adequate for a dress like this—most of what I have is in 2m lengths. And I am not buying fabric right now, having just been traumatized by how many freakin’ boxes it actually filled.

It would be fun to make up even just the bolero, though. I have some black poly twill that would work (actually, I have a crap-ton of that, probably enough for the whole dress, but I have no desire to have a whole 50s dress in black poly twill suiting.) This is when I begin to wish that I’d catalogued my fabric stash more thoroughly… Not only do I no longer have everything on a shelf to paw through, I don’t even know which box most of it is in (I did label my boxes things like “Coating” and “light weight fabrics & interfacing”, but what exactly is where is pretty unclear.

Simplicity 4232

While I’m rambling, I might as well add that a little more recently I stumbled upon this sixties pattern with a very similar neckline, although this one has raglan sleeves rather than kimono, and your choice of full pleated or wiggle skirt. It’s quite adorable too, although the size is rather further from mine. Also, I love the cummerbund-style belt in the left view. I wish I looked good in those…

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Fantasy sewing: Underwear

I still don’t have a sewing room (although there have been some signs of progress). It’s been an all-day-every-day job getting things even as close to “settled” as they are (it took me two weeks to find my eyeliner). The fact that half of our stuff is remaining in storage at least for the short term is not helping, either. But when I DO get it set up, what will I make? The season for the adorable sundresses I had been banging out has emphatically passed, and while there’s several fall-ish dresses I’ve had in mind, the lack of a closet I’m currently dealing with is making any clothing that needs to be hung distinctly less appealing than it was before. I could, of course, make a sweater or bunnyhug, but that would be like practical and stuff. I’ve bought a fair few thrift store patterns recently, in a ridiculous and counterproductive attempt to soothe the creative itch, but I’m not sure that any of them are absolutely screaming to be made. And I’m not quite willing to dive into the list of coats for winter without a bit of a warmup.

One thing that has been on my mind is the perennial, elusive, underwear. Underwear is kind of my unicorn—attempted several times, but always elusive, usually due to sloppiness on my part. There’s the failed, self-drafted pair I blogged here. Before that, there was a pair from this pattern:

Lekala Panties:

Lekala panties—tried but failed.

Which didn’t work out either technically—wonky construction—or fit-wise (the rise was way too high). I’ve tried and failed at least one more time in the past, I think with this Burdastyle pattern:

Bikini style underwear

Bikini-style underwear

 Which was similarly disastrous, although I don’t remember exactly why. The odds are it was me, though, rather than the pattern.
Beyond these free patterns (I downloaded the Lekala one back when they had a free demo size that just happened to be more-or-less mine), I have a few possibilities in stash—I’m pretty sure that the differences between panties and bikini bottoms are in fabric and finishing rather than cut, so I’m including them here.

In the retro category  is this one:

Simplicity 9933

However, only the one-piece is designated “designed for knit fabrics only” which makes me rather scared of the two-piece bottoms.

Kwik Sew 2100

Most recently, I found this Kwik Sew pattern. It has the advantage of several reviews on Pattern Review, although they’re not overly positive in terms of fit and sizing. (I’m a bit confused how you can rate a pattern “highly recommended” and then write that you had to go down two sizes and reduce the width of the crotch panel by an inch.)

McCall’s 4471

Possibly the best candidate would be this McCall’s pattern. There are several helpful reviews, and it’s the general bikini shape that is kind of my fall-back.

Of course, there’s no shortage of other underwear patterns, too. Aside from the old staple of tracing your favourite pair (I’m still not convinced my problem was the self-made pattern), there are several free options available:

Cheeky panties? (click for source)

This cheeky panties one is cute, though I think the finishing leaves a bit to be desired. I go back and forth on the whole cheeky panties thing. Same with the lace tanga panties. Sew You Said is in the midst of a series on drafting your own, as well.

If you want to pay for a pattern, a couple I’ve seen recommended are:

Jalie 2568

Jalie’s underwear pattern (does anyone ever say not-good things about Jalie?)

And several of the Kwik Sew lingerie patterns.

And I’ll throw in a link to the Ohhh, Lulu patterns for thoroughness, though I think I’ll be wearing high-waisted panties about three days after hell freezes over. No offense to everyone who loves them… just not my thing. And I’m so over thongs.

Oh, and there’s probably something that would work in the Merkwaerdigh line, which I also generally hear good things about, although more about the bras.

Which is not to say that I’m totally convinced that underwear is my next-up in things to make (and if I do it would probably be from one of the patterns I already have). But feel free to throw in your favourite pattern, and any technique tutorials you find super-helpful. Because apparently in this department I need all the help I can get. 🙂

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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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Fantasy sewing: Fantastic Menswear

A little while back, Peter posted one of his periodic dirges discussing the dearth of stylish modern menswear patterns. However, not one to be a negative Nellie, he went on to highlight one of the more exciting periods, historically, in menswear, the 1970s, and, in particular, the patterns Butterick—the Fashion One—put out for men during this time period. (And the ready availability of said patterns today, often in uncut condition—which probably says something about why they don’t still make ’em like that)

This touching paean niggled something in my memory. Something about 70s menswear.

Butterick 4711

Aha! there it is, folks, Butterick 4711, a men’s suit pattern I thrifted for, as you can see, the princely sum of a half dollar, uncut except for the vest. And designed by, or at least approved by?, Robert L. Green, whoever that is. (Ok, apparently he was the style director at Playboy during the 60s and 70s, among other things.)

While I certainly couldn’t resist this pattern, especially in the size 40 (exactly my husband’s size! Well, for the jacket, anyway), the odds of me actually making it up are, ah, infinitesimal. My husband, despite being only a couple of years older than me, came of age firmly in the 80s. He’d be much more likely to wear this pattern (image also courtesy of Peter) than a very 70s suit.

That being said, Peter’s post prompted me to pull out the pattern and peruse the instructions, as one does, y’know. Some nifty details emerged:

A very nifty fly indeed.

French Fly! (Or at least, that’s what Carolyn called it. See her tutorial. See it now. (durr, I wasn’t paying attention and scanned the picture of the fly, but not the part of the instructions concerning it. Oh well. Go read Carolyn’s tutorial instead.)

Welt pockets!

Welt pockets that hang from the waistband–COOL! Maybe you’ve seen this detail elsewhere? I don’t think I have, not that I’m overly versed in fine tailoring. Still cool.

Vest with odd neck bit.

Odd back-neck strap on the vest. Apparently whoever made the vest before thought it was odd, too, as it’s been clipped off the front pattern and pinned in place on the other piece.

I didn’t get into the jacket instructions, partly because they’re too involved for the amount of time/energy I have right now, partly because it’s for only a partial lining, which isn’t acceptable in menswear as far as I’m concerned, not that I’m any kind of expert.

Now, my husband won’t wear any element of this suit, as I said, except perhaps the vest. My husband does wear vests. And wear them very well, I may add. 😉 My very ticklish fancy is currently dying to make him a soft and summery vest in white slub linen. Of course, I don’t have any white slub linen… but a plain white linen would do (see photo at the top).

Of course if I propose this, he’s going to ask where his jacket is.

/sigh.

But it’s a good fantasy, isn’t it?

Oh, I also got, at the same time, the coordinating boy’s suit pattern:

Butterick 5205

If only I had a sartorially adventurous twelve-year-old boy to sew for. No? Maybe not.

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Fantasy Sewing: Spidey Dress Throwdown

Spidey and New Look

Ok, so a little bit ago when I shared my find of two metres of Spiderman fabric (probably quilting cotton, but oh, well), Cindy of Cation Designs (yes, she of the infamous Original Star Wars Dress, not to mention the Superman Dress and the Batman dress), suggested a super-quick Spidey sewalong, something we could wrap up in time for the movie’s release on July 3.

Dude, I totally want to wear a Spiderman dress to go see that movie. Almost more than I want to see the movie itself (which I do want to see, but I wasn’t going to sweat over, haven blown most of the summer movie budget already on stuff like The Avengers and Snow White and the Huntsman.)

That being said, July 3 is less than a week away, AND there’s Canada Day in the meantime, so the odds of this getting stitched up in time for opening night have become vanishingly slim. So maybe this is less of a throwdown and more of a forfeit, but anyway. I guess as long as I get the dress made in time to actually *see* the movie it would still be awesome…

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Fantasy Sewing—The Pink Dress Edition

The Pink Dress

It’s Pink Week over at the Sew Weekly. Er, that is, the theme is Tickled Pink. Now, I’m not a Sew Weekly participant/contributor. I do occasionally enjoy sewing along when a theme happens to coincide with something in my mental queue, but I’m rarely in touch enough to figure out what theme is when, except as other bloggers happen to mention it. And, obviously, I’m not actually sewing along this time.

Pink Stuff

But this fabric landed in my stash the other week, and while I doubt I’ll sew it up any time soon (barring a sudden onslaught of cocktail parties), it’s just screaming to be made into the ultimate little pink dress. The colour in real life is a pale baby pink, not quite what either image is showing, but maybe closer to the top one. It’s the oddest embroidered poly satin; it’s like it’s backed with a thin knit web that gives the embroidery an almost quilted look from (what I presume is) the right side. The embroidery pattern is paisley. I love paisley. This is yet another example of how I go nuts for texture.

Bodice A

I’m not quite sure what pattern in stash might be suitable for adapting into this. The bodice of view A from Simplicity 5549 might work, but the skirt is too A-line. The skirt from 6750 has more of the right shape, but has more seams than I think I want.

New Look 6750

Or maybe I could adapt the Collette Handbook Pastille Pattern to a sundress-type thing. Hmm.

The rear flounce and little collar-thingy wouldn’t be too difficult to add. I love the look of those rear flouncies, and also it might prevent me from totally destroying the cute pegged skirt when I forget myself and start taking stairs two at a time. Although I’m doubtful I’d have enough fabric to make it from the same fabric. Pink chiffon might be in order.

*shudder*

My drawing kind of implies that the waist slants up a bit in the front, going from true waist at the back to a touch of an empire line in front. It looks cute in the drawing—not sure how that would work in real life.

Thanks for bearing with me on the fantasy sewing. What are you fantasizing about today?

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