Simplicity patterns, as I’ve mentioned before, just don’t work for me. And yet, if you shop for vintage patterns, you cannot escape them. There are so many of them, and some are just…so…cute. I have vowed several times not to sew from a Simplicity pattern again, but I had this lovely blouse pattern staring at me…and I’ve wanted to make it for so long…and I had a truckload full of new pattern paper and muslin…etc, etc. You know how it goes.

O, Simplicity 3358, View 1, how you defied me from the very beginning! I made a real muslin that required extensive alteration. And here I was, thinking a 32″ bust would fit me nicely…silly me! I traced my patterns onto pattern paper before making the muslin (first mistake) and then basted away. I cut down the neckline, as always, changed the darts and tucks into something more friendly to my body (okay, okay, it was a small bust adjustment), and decided it needed to be a bit longer. It wasn’t a good tuck-in length, and I need to tuck things in, you know?

I had some beautiful teal silk crepe de chine, which I had bought just for this project.  I went to work cutting and made my first mistake quickly by not adding length. “No problem!” I thought, sewing away. “I’ll just wear it with a high-waisted black skirt. I’ll need to make one, but that’s okay.” Other than that mistake, all seemed to be going well from Day 1 to Day 3.

On Day 3, I became frustrated. I read Susannah’s post in which she detailed a significant number of issues with–you guessed it–a vintage Simplicity blouse. Eek. Did I take it as an omen, as I should have? No. I carried on. Day 4 was horrible, but I was determined to finish. On Day 5, things improved somewhat. And here is the final product:

I didn’t even notice that it was coming off of my shoulders until I looked back at the photos, but I was rushing to take them…it was in the 40s and raining outside! I just couldn’t bear re-shooting the photos.

I only managed to complete this blouse by trashing (by which I mean folding and nicely putting away) the instructions after the first direction, which was to sew the darts in the front and back. There was a crazy treatment for the underarms (don’t ask), and the topstitching the pattern called for around the neck and armholes looked truly awful. Because I’m a one-trick pony, as you already know, I did a catchstitch on the armholes and finished the neck with an understitched facing, which I had to draft a few times to get just right.

The bow turned out much larger than I expected, and since I don’t look right in precious details because I have a baby face, I’m not sure what is the overall effect on me.

As with everything I make, the ratio of hand- to machine- stitching was about even, which was (in my mind) necessary for a polished look. The entire front placket, bow detail, and hems are sewn by hand. I learned recently that my machine has a blind-hem function, but I’m afraid of it…have any of y’all ever used your machine’s blind-hem stitch? Hand-sewing my hems makes me happy, is consistent, and is fast, so I see no reason to change yet.

At the very least, I’m pleased that it was a technical success, even if I’m not sure how wearable it is yet…time will tell.

Signs of spring!

April 12, 2010

I have been so inspired by some of the beautiful tops in Spring Top Week, I really wanted to have something to enter. I know I could never win (have you looked at the tops!?!), but I thought I could challenge myself to contribute something. Here is what I came up with:

I used the main pieces of Butterick 5177, which is actually a dress pattern. I just used the top section of the three basic pattern pieces (front and backs) and modified the rest. I’m very happy with it.

I know I look sad, but I had just woken up and the light was good, so I had to run outside with my camera as quickly as possible!  The top came together very easily, and the part of the directions that I followed was clear. Other mods: no lining (necessary for a dress, not for a shirt), so I just catchstitched the armholes. Even as I was sewing it, I didn’t think it would get much wear, but now I’m rethinking that 🙂  It’s nice and flowy and work-appropriate…and fast! It came together completely during the two-part Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre.

I’m relieved that Butterick patterns seem to fit me…previous experiments with Simplicity have failed, although I am getting much better at making alterations to the shoulder/ armscye/ bust area and am about to set to work on a vintage Simplicity blouse.

I made it extra long in the front because I like my tops to tuck in nicely and it’s a cute, blousey look. I had planned to tell you that this passed the “Would you wear it?” test, but not the “Would you buy it?” test, but that is untrue.  I’m actually wearing it today and have already been told by a colleague that she couldn’t stop looking at me because I looked so radiant in my top! Yay! How wonderful that feels.

I didn’t take a picture of the back, although you can tell that the bow is fairly large. Here is a detail shot of the front casing:

In the pattern, the casing is flat and lies underneath of the main body piece, but I chose to ruffle it up and put it on display. The fabric is a poly chiffon from Winmil. Y’all know I don’t like to use synthetic fabrics, but I loved how spring-y this one was–and it was unbeatable at $5 a yard, and I already had thread that matched, etc. etc. Serendipity.

Fabric close-up

There’s not much else to say about it! Sorry for the relatively boring post, but it was such a quick sew!

Sweet success

April 1, 2010

I had some motivation yesterday and today and I successfully made a garment. Yes, it’s true! A real garment that’s actually wearable and doesn’t look like a paper bag. I am so inspired. I still have to sew on some buttons, but here is a sneak peak:

It’s the Sencha blouse from Colette Patterns. Remember the time I said I would never sew with any other pattern line again? It was a slight exaggeration, but it really is a wonderful company.

I love sleeveless blouses. I wear them year-round, regardless of their seasonal appropriateness (and I do live in Boston, so they really aren’t appropriate). Usually, I try to find them deeply discounted at J. Crew and such, but it’s difficult because their discounts are still quite expensive, and they don’t wear well. I’ve worn many of them out, and I worry that it’s starting to show :(.

Unfortunately, the blouses at major pattern companies don’t feel quite right for me, either. Vogue does not have a single blouse pattern I like. Not one. So I began scouring Etsy and eBay for vintage patterns, but these too are hard to find. Luckily, I wear a common (in vintage patterns) size. This morning, I bought three gorgeous patterns:

1. Advance 6710:

2. McCall’s 8929

3. Simplicity 3358

I love the scalloped neckline on McCall’s 8929! It might be a little above my level for now, but I am armed with a library full of Adele Margolis and Claire Schaeffer books, so we’ll see.

I am in the process of designing a quilt (in my mind) for a charity called Wrapped in Hope (we are also doing one as a guild; it is a truly wonderful and worthy cause). Maia, the child for whom I am quilting, likes “pink, purple, and flowers.” Happy to know my tastes run like that of a nine-year-old. I think I am going to use a lot of Heather Ross fabrics, and I picked up a yard of this discontinued fabric from the Westhill Wildflowers collection:

Also…drum roll, please…I bought some Flea Market Fancy. I really want to know what the fuss is about, and it was reasonably priced ($4 for a half-yard). I wouldn’t have bought it if it was going for, say, $45 like some FMF fat quarters on Etsy (go look if you don’t believe me). It will blend well with my stash, which is increasingly pink.

I have another finished quilt to show you (and a new improv design project), but they’ll have to wait for another day.