Tag Archives: Sew and Save

Measuring Patterns

Pattern measuring---Click through for full-size image

Before I forget, thanks EVERYONE for your wonderful comments on my blogiversary yesterday. It made for a completely warm and fuzzy day (in between wrangling children, appointments, and driving clear across town six times… and mine is not a small town :P)

One of the most interesting things I learned asking my mom about home-sewing in her youth was that the rise of the muslin is a comparatively recent event. I’m sure fine couturiers have always been making them, but when my mom was learning to sew, they were considered a waste of time and—worse—fabric.

Sew and Save by Madeleine Hunt (published 1953) seems to agree—I don’t think there’s a single mention of making a test garment in the entire book, despite a lot of emphasis on fit (and minimizing figure flaws, can’t have our flaws showing, ladies, 😉 ). Instead, they measured.

And measured and measured and measured.

The book has twelve full pages dedicated to measuring patterns, going over every common type of pattern at the time—princess seams, kimono sleeves, gored skirts, sleeves. I’m too lazy to scan them all right now, so I’m just including the ones that are relevant to me right

Pattern measuring---Princess Seam; click through for full size image

now, as I sit here trying to fit Built by Wendy’s “Fitted Jacket” pattern to me: Measuring an armhole princess seam. Sorry for the poor look of the scans, the browser (or at least, the one I use) does a craptacular job of shrinking B&W scans. If you click through for the full-size version they look fine.

So I should probably back up a bit. I want to use Wendy’s “Fitted Jacket Pattern” as the basis for my Springy Coat, which it is more-or-less perfect for, but I’ve never made any of Wendy’s patterns before. Stage one, of course, is picking my size.

So, scanning through her sizing chart, I settled on XS. I know, smokin’ the crack. But the bust and hip measurements were both right. Shoulder and waist measurements are in the small-to-medium range (typical for me).

Built By Wendy Fitted Jacket pattern pieces

What I SHOULD have done was take out my handy-dandy tape measure and follow Madeleine Hunt’s advice (made extra-easy by the fact that the Wendy patterns don’t have seam-allowances.) It would have revealed to me that the 33″ bust and 26″ waist on the pattern chart is the actual size of the pattern pieces. As in, without wearing ease.

So, yeah, the pattern’s a mite small. I will throw up the initial muslin shots for your amusement. The top of the front is the only place where it closes. The rest varies from a wee bit too small to way too small (like 3″ too small at the waist).

Jacket bodice muslin, front view

The upper bust actually looks about right. Below there it gets… well, snug.

Muslin---side view

On the up side, the length of the armscye and the level of the waist (areas I often have to modify) feel about right. I’m a bit torn on the shoulders—I have a feeling they should be about 1.5cm wider, so that the seam falls about where the end of the seam-allowance is. I like where the princess seam falls, though.

Muslin---back view

The back fits fairly well, even with minimal swayback wrinkling (this won’t be an issue in my coat, but I imagine if I get this fitted I’ll want to use the pattern for other things, too. You may have noticed I have a thing for princess seams? The side-seam does tug to the back a little bit, although not much. I didn’t clip the seam-allowances at the underarm, which is contributing to the diagonal wrinkling on the side panels, as is my tugging on the front.

I now have two options, of course—start again with, say, a size S, or just grade up the pattern as traced. Since I’m happy with the lengths in this one, I’m tempted to just grade up–adding a slice of width to the CF and CB pieces could easily give me most of the width I need, both around and at the shoulders, and reducing the taper of the princess seams below the bust (equivalent of narrowing the dart there) can give me the rest. Also pulling out the big tissue sheets to trace is annoying.

So next step—sleeves. The sleeves as drafted are really slim, one piece with a symmetrical sleeve cap. I’d prefer an asymmetrical cap (I’m borderline on needing a forward shoulder adjustment) and a two piece. I’m torn on the slimness—I like the look and have pretty scrawny arms, but this is going to be a lined jacket, too. And yes, I have compared them to the sleeve I used for my winter coat (which is pretty darn slim) and it’s about 2″ narrower around.

… time to get measuring. 😉

In Me-Made March news,

I wore my fluttery cowl again, but it spent most of the day buried under the Kimono Lady Grey (boo hoo). It’s warm enough that I don’t really have an excuse for the wool pants, except that I wanted to make sure they got an airing this month.




Filed under Sewing

A fifties colour scheme

Among its myriad of styling tips, the Madeleine Hunt Sew and Save volume also includes some suggestions on colour. Now, those of you who’ve been following me for a while may have noticed that my colour palette is a bit, ah, limited, and I generally eschew prints as well (excepting the odd plaid). I prefer my fabric interest in the form of texture… anyway. I could obviously use some help in this area, so I thought I’d reproduce it for you.

It begins with a segment on colour combinations. Some of the combinations are pretty obvious (navy, red, white, anyone?) but others are a bit more unusual, such as pairing pink with “wine”.

Basic Colours Contrasting Colours or trimmings
Pink White, blue, wine
Blue White, pink, navy
Yellow White, mauve, violet, black
Beige Tomato-red, black, green
Green White, rust, copper, black, mauve
Red White, navy
Brown Green, yellow
Rust Brown
Wine White, pink
Mauve White, light grey, light yellow
Purple White, orchid, grey, green
Navy White, red, pink
Grey Purple, darker grey
Black White, pink, rose, yellow

They also have a section on colour for your complexion—years before Color Me Beautiful! :

White—very good for young and old. If complexion is brick colour or blotchy, no! no!

Green—excellent for red-heads or blondes (lightens the complexion)

Red and yellow—for brunettes

Blue, light red, geranium, red with rose cast—best for blondes

Mauve, violet—very becoming for platinum blondes and the grey-heads.

Is it just me or are “light red”, “geranium” and “red with rose cast” not all variations on “pink”? Also, apparently blondes can wear anything. I guess blondes really do have more fun. (I have no idea what you’re supposed to wear if you have black hair. Sorry.)

The page finishes with these words of wisdom:

Colour suggests personality.

pink, blue, shell-pink, rose—denote daintiness. These colours suitable for baby garments, slips, blouses, dainty summer dresses, lingerie.

Jade green, orange, red, bright blue—denote vivacity, energy, force, joy. Good for sportswear, housecoats, also dresses.

Beige, brown, grey, purple, navy, black—denote dignity, serenity, seriousness.  Excellent for your best dress or suit. Select darker shades when clothes are to be worn a long time.  Brigh colours may be used for trimmings which may occasionally be replaced.

I must admit, the subtler points of many of these colours are lost on me (and I probably could’ve spent more time tweaking the shades for my examples 😉 ). What is shell-pink? or geranium? (My mom has a zillion geraniums but I could’ve sworn they flower in all different colours). “Wine” I can just about wrap my head around (though I would’ve said “burgundy”. And what’s the precise difference between mauve, violet, and purple?

What do you think of their colour combos? What’s your favorite colour combination?


Filed under Sewing

Oooh, a goodie!

Sew and Save by Madeleine Hunt "The Key Book to Professional and Home Sewing"

My mother, in her assiduous trawling of the charity shops in my home town, stumbled upon this gem of a book, published and distributed by a local sewing school in 1953! It appears to have been the textbook for their course, which was available at least in part by mail as there is a note concerning a charge of $.50 to $1.00 plus return postage for correcting each assignment.

Assignment one included making samplers of tucks, pin-tucks, lapped tucks, gathers, gathered darts, and corded shirring. Assignment two was samplers of a shirt-waist collar, a plain sleeve, a hem with seam-binding, and a zipper at the side of dress. Obviously the target audience was not the novice seamstress, but the home sewist with ambitions of improving her craft.

Topics include fabric and style info (including non-washing-machine methods for pre-shrinking fabrics… apparently only linens and white cottons should be boiled; other cottons should be soaked in warm water, not wrung out, and hung to dry still folded). There’s an extensive section on fit (actually, about four separate sections… the layout is a bit confusing), with a large emphasis on pattern measuring (sensible since muslin-making was impractical and frowned on); at least fifteen different kinds of seams. Also a (short) section on lingerie, and a much longer section on sewing for children, with such highlights as “How to Dress the Stout and Slender Child” and “Styles to Suit a Stout Little Girl”.

I’ll post more once I have more of a chance to go through it, but I couldn’t resist passing on this princess-seam FBA (also suitable for a rounded back), which is a bit more free-wheeling than the Palmer-Pletsch method I’ve usually seen (not that I’m any kind of expert).

FBA, c. 1953

And also, this full-bicep alteration, which I know for a fact I’ve seen out there somewhere, but can’t for the life of me recall where.

Full biceps adjustment

And it begins with this lovely admonishment:

You are judged by your Appearance!

Dontcha just love the fifties?

If I were ambitious and dedicated, I’d do like Gertie or Megan and take up the challenge to sew my way through the course. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Sorry. But I will pass on whatever gems I do find! 🙂


Filed under Sewing