Wednesday, July 30, 2014

HSF14 Challenge #14 - Paisley and Plaid

I'll be honest, this challenge was a disappointment.  I made a plaid dress for Christmas last year, so I thought I should do a paisley for this challenge.  When I a little girl, I had an adorable red paisley dress, but I had no idea what "paisley" was.  To me, they looked like tadpoles.  So I called it my Tadpole Dress.

Yup, that's me at 3 years old.

 I thought it would be so much fun to make a grown-up Tadpole Dress for this challenge.  For weeks I searched for the perfect paisley to resemble my childhood dress.  I found a great pattern on Etsy and decided to take the risk of buying something online.
So close to the original!

My risk did not pay off.  The fabric is thin and not particularly pleasant to the touch.  It pulled and ran with every stitch.  I went through three needles trying to keep it from pulling.  It showed every spot where I'd ever pinned it, and looked tortured and messy wherever I sewed.  Under normal circumstances, I'd have given up and just bought a nice plaid cotton and started over instead.  These were not normal circumstances (cue ominous music).  Just about the time I started work on the project, I got very suddenly ill.  I was out of commission for over a week, some of the sickest I've ever been in my life.  No working, no sewing, just bedrest.  So I lost a huge amount of time on this challenge, and had to work with what I already had.

I mocked up the 1936 afternoon dress from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 2, but didn't care for the way it hung on me.  So I used the bodice only and combined it with a shortened version of the skirt from Evadress E30-4327 (1930's Evening Dress).

1936 Afternoon dress used for the bodice.  I had to lengthen it to bring it down to the natural waist.
The 1930's evening gown, with the skirt shortened to make a day dress.

 For the sleeves, I wanted a flutter sleeve, which seemed closer to the look of my Tadpole Dress.  I borrowed the sleeve from Simplicity 5190.  I lined the bodice only of the dress, with some lining I found in my stash.  The Janet Arnold pattern calls for a zipper in the side and back.  I did the side only, and closed the back with a single green and gold button.  I serged only the hem before turning it up, afraid of the affect of the serger on the crappy fabric.  I hand picked the zipper, something I never thought I'd have the patience for, and have now done twice.  It looks pretty dreadful in this particular fabric, but I think the technique is something I'll keep doing.

Final thought on this dress?  I hate the fabric, so I'm not terribly happy with the dress itself.  I doubt I will ever wear it again.  On the other hand, I did like the pattern, and I will definitely come back to it with a fabric that doesn't make me want to punch babies. (Disclaimer: I have not, nor do I plan to ever punch babies.)

The Challenge: Paisley and Plaid

Fabric: No idea of the fiber content; definitely poly of some kind.  
Pattern:  A blend of Evadress E30-4327, a 1936 day dress from Patterns of Fashion 2, and Simplicity 5190
Year: 1930something
Notions: White lace, green button, red zipper.
How historically accurate is it? The fabric is poly, and I used a plastic zipper instead of a metal one, but the pattern itself is cobbled together from period patterns.

Hours to complete: ::shrugs::
First worn: Not yet, except to model.   And possibly never again.
Total cost: About $25

The finished product

My Grown-Up Tadpole Dress

The poor tortured zipper side

And the back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HSF14 Challenge #13 - Under $10

This challenge threw me much more than I expected it to, mostly due to my chronic indecision.  I have some fabric that was gifted to me, which I thought would make a pretty dress.  Not enough yardage.  Then I decided to make a cloche hat, using an old felt hat I've had for so long, I think maybe my mother bought it for me in high school.  I spent an entire weekend steaming and reshaping and pinning this hat, but I just wasn't happy with it.  So I set it aside, with plans to come back to it during a future challenge.

Finally, I turned to a 1920's pattern that I mocked up previously from The Cut of Women's Clothes.  It's actually a 1924 day dress, but I cut it off at the hip to make a blouse.  The only other alterations I made were to add a waistband and change the collar.  The original pattern had a large dramatic collar that took up most of the top.  I liked in on the mockup, but didn't care for it in the fabric I used.  Instead I made a simple long scarf collar that I could tie at the bottom of the neckline.

The main fabric was purchased several years ago at a very special sale.  Several friends of mine (and myself too at various times) worked at a nearby theme park.  Their costume shop decided to hold a sale to get rid of some of their excess materials and costumes.  Costume shop employees could bring a guest to the sale, and my best friend was working there at the time.  I came home with a lot of great stuff, and a lot of stuff that has just sat in my sewing room since.  I bought an entire roll (8-10 yards?) of drapey blue fabric with circles on it for $5.  Not sure what I intended it for at the time, but it has come in handy for mocking up garments that would be finished in silk or chiffon.  I don't really love the pattern anymore, but I thought I might dye it into something subtler.  I normally just guesstimate the amount I spend on each project, but given the parameters of this challenge, I had to count much more closely.  Since I needed barely two yards for the blouse, and I was able to use scraps from other projects for interfacing the cuffs and waistband, I could spare the money for some purple dye.  Truth be told, I wanted blue, but the store was out.

Original color

Dyed purple

The original collar that I didn't like.

I was really happy with the way the color turned out, and the blouse went together pretty smoothly after that.  I French seamed most of the garment, with just a couple of seams overlocked with my serger.  Towards the end, the fabric got a  bit temperamental and starting pulling; hopefully it won't be noticeable.

The Challenge: Under $10

Fabric: No idea of the fiber content; probably a poly or rayon.
Pattern:  1924 day dress, The Cut of Women's Clothes
Year: 1924
Notions: None
How historically accurate is it? About half and half.  The pattern is a period pattern that I sized up, but the fabric is synthetic.  I also used my serger on a few seams.  
Hours to complete: 6 hours maybe
First worn: Not yet, except to model.  
Total cost: About $8

And the finished product:

Hiding under the overhang on the porch.

Because of course it's raining on the day I wanted to take pictures.

And the back, with my faux-bob fallen down.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

HSF14 Challenge #12 - Shape & Support

My choice for Shape & Support was made early; by Challenge 6, I knew I'd be making a 1910's gown for the Yellow challenge.  But it would be my first garment for that era, so I would be needing the foundations first.  So my choice for shapewear was easy: a 1910's corset.  I initially intended to make the 1911 corset from Corsets and Crinolines, and I remembered there being a sew-along for this corset a while back.  I managed to find it again at  Instructions were provided for both the Norah Waugh pattern, and a post-Edwardian corset drafter by the blogger herself.  I decided to go with the latter of the two, since it had no hip gores and would likely be a bit easier for someone new to the era.  Jo (the creator of the sew along) provided ample and detailed instructions that I was glued to every moment I wasn't sewing.  I don't have much to add to from my own experience; I highly recommend this to anyone looking to make a similar corset.

I suppose I should add that there are a number of "firsts" in this garment for me.  My first corset of this era, my first time using all steel boning, first time using coutil, first time using a front busk closure, and first time flossing.  Why so many firsts?  Well this would be the first corset I've ever made that I don't expect to be fighting in.  No rolling around on the ground, swinging swords, or flipping over people's heads.  And thus I am finally able to make a corset using proper techniques.

It's a pretty basic corset, nothing too fancy.  It took me about six tries to stitch around the tapered busk, and I pulled out the flossing more times that I can count.  The fabric pencil I used to mark the grommets didn't entirely come out, so there are some unsightly pink splotches at the lacing.  I also somehow mismeasured my grommets, so there is an extra on one side.  And despite multiple fittings that seemed perfect, on modeling the corset for photos, I couldn't get an even lacing gap.  Still I'm pretty happy with it.

The pattern

With alterations

The mockup

Tapered busk (because I wasn't smart enough to stick with a simple straight busk) and flossing.

Lace detail on top.

Other side of busk

The finished product

The back, with the weird lacing gap.

The Challenge: Shape & Support

Fabric: Herringbone cotton coutil
Pattern:  Post-Edwardian Corset: Pattern
Year: 1910-1914
Notions: Steel boning, bone casing, grosgrain ribbon, bias tape, and grommets*
How historically accurate is it? The pattern was drafted from an antique corset, and I used period-appropriate materials. 
Hours to complete: Couldn't say.
First worn: Not yet, except to model.  
Total cost: About $60, give or take.  Most everything had to be special ordered.

*I used grommets from, and I never will again.  These were not good grommets.  My usual source is Landco Leathercraft, and I will be sticking with them from now on.