I've always been a snob when it comes to natural fibers, and for many good reasons. However, lately I have been branching out to consider, when it makes sense, exploring the use of blends or just straight up POLY, what!?
For example, I wanted to make this shirt in a drapey, silky fabric but wasn't sure if I was ready (and if there was a demand) for real silk, so I used this polyester shantung. This gives me a great way to test the design at a low cost and has the added benefit of being easy-care for the wearer.
This skirt was made with a poly/rayon blend called ponte de roma. I was thinking a lot about working with a double knit and that search led me to this fabric. It has a great drape and soft, brushed hand. I like that you can use it for patterns traditionally made with wovens (it has give but not stretch), but it has the weight and drape of a knit.
Overall, I think I will still stick to natural fibers. I would love to do the blouse in a silk crepe, or even just in a cotton voile or lawn.
While I've always enjoyed vintage inspiration, I decided over the summer that I wanted to retain that while starting to work with fabrics/create styles that were relevant and could be used in modern contexts, such as work. All too often I find that vintage inspired fashion either makes one look like she IS from another time period, or looks costumey. So, I'm keeping the "sweet" factor but trying to move toward a "smarter" more accessible style versus my older POLKA DOT fashions.
This dress is clearly inspired by a 40/s silhouette. I used a gunmetal grey sateen and trimmed it with Swiss Army Red to create what I hoped would be an eye catching but fairly versatile color scheme. I've been working hard on this dress and its variations for a few months now, and I will be making a very similar dress in stretch knit with a slightly different detail at the shoulder.
The dress has a mock wrap bodice, cummerbund, and a side zip. The bust darts are shifted to shoulder gathers.
With this skirt I think I may have missed the opportunity to "modernize"--that's just a big ole, high waisted flare skirt, totally retro inspired!!! You know you won't catch any Vermonters wearing a skirt like this any time soon!!
In a previous post I described how much I loved Amy Adams' wardrobe in the Muppets--it was so cute and vibrant. I flat out copied a skirt I saw her wearing in that movie. This is a simple high waisted flare skirt but the dart control is worked into a yoke/panel combo--the seam follows the hip and dips down to the front middle panel, leaving two side panels cut on the bias. It's a flattering design line--hard to see in this picture!!!
This is the same exact pattern as used for the skirt below. you can see what a difference it makes using soft stretch cotton knit, versus this crispy, stiffer cotton sateen!!
It was my unfortunate fate to become adolescent right around the time that extremely low-waisted jeans became popular. Throughout history, fashion had done a lot of different things with pants--made them wide, tapered, tight, loose, pleated, darted, long, knee length and short-short-short. But never before had they made the waist so low (I don't think). Low waisted pants can look pretty darn sexy if you're in impeccable physical shape. But beyond the fitness factor, I've never found that low waisted pants are all that comfortable to wear. The way my body is built, even if I'm in good shape, low waisted pants tend to leave me with the dreaded plumber's butt every time I sit down. Even if no one can see, I find this uncomfortable. Sometimes it isn't even just that the pants are low waisted, but poorly fitted in the rear and NOT made for people with any kind of padding back there.
Welp. As many of you know I shut my etsy shop down temporarily. Why? I was feeling that the shop needing a lil something extra, and even though I've been creating pretty regularly, it wasn't fast enough to fill the shop with current designs. I felt that the old designs I was trying to put on sale were clashing with new designs. I also elicited some help from fellow etsians on the success blog and got some really helpful feedback regarding my shop cohesion. So, I decided to close shop in order to give myself time to test out some new patterns without the pressure of listing them, and in the process develop a cohesive set of designs to reintroduce just in time for fall.
In my last post I described the design process of developing a 40's inspired short sleeve kimono shirt. I got the basic pattern completed then went on to try to make a version of it with a wrap front. I wanted shirring at the side, where it would connect, as well as at the shoulder.
As I was plotting this, I got the sense that there was some pattern drafting rule I was violating. It made sense to move the dart excess to the shoulder, or to the side but not both. I went ahead and did it anyway.
I like the way it looks from the front, but as you can see from the side view, the gathering is a bit bulky. It kind of gives the effect of a swaddled baby.
Lately I have been working on developing a pattern for a 40's style kimono shirt. You will probably be wondering, "why is that called kimono style? I don't see her with a big boxy piece of brocade bowing reverently!" It's actually a very short sleeved kimono. The effect is a cute sleeve that is one with the bodice. It has a nice drape over the shoulder, almost like a mock sleeve. I haven't officially read this anywhere, but my guess is that part of the reason for their popularity in the 40's was that they didn't require cutting a separate pattern piece for the sleeve. Before the extravagant fashions of the New Look, which required yards upon yards, this style might have made sense in harder economic times. But that's just a guess.
Anyway I think it's a slick look. Above is my first muslin draft. As you can see it's being tested in a hideous cotton poly blend taken from an old sheet purchased at Salvation Army. Don't you just love that against the also-floral backdrop of my sewing room? It feels VERY Darkness on the Edge of Town to me, what with my somber expression and Springsteen-ian gaze. Also, I know you're jealous of my Cocoa Beach OFFICIAL LIFEGUARD short-shorts--but they're NOT for sale! I call them my diaper shorts because they ride up and I look like Baby Huey.
If you can bear to look any closer you'll see that my kimono-shirt-in-progress has pleated darts at the shoulder and I've marked where I need to take in excess at the front neck. The crude line just under my muffin top marks where I want the shirt to end. I made this longer than a typical vintage pattern (which would end right at the true waist) but shorter than tunic length.
Just in case you haven't had enough, check out what I caught with my ghost camera last night--it's the phantom of sewing nerd!!!! Ooooooo
Look at all this great new fabric!
I recently purchased some fabric of different weight and finish than the fabrics I typically use. I started out in 2011 using quilting cotton because I could easily obtain it wholesale and it comes in such a great variety of colors and prints. However, this fabric has a limited amount of applications. I want to start making blouses as well as more pants and skirts and quilting cotton just doesn't work best for all of those things, for all seasons.
It's hot out! If you don't believe me, just take a look at this sloth. Only a hot day will cause Gus to neglect his usual scheming and loaf around like a useless blob.
Anyway, this really wasn't intended to be "just another post about my cat." I made a romper and I'm excited to share it.
I'm more excited about my new favorite spot to take photos and my newfound ability to frig with the levels in iPhoto, producing good results!
This is a short romper with a button opening. It's fitted, with bust, waist and "butt" darts. I made the original pattern about two years ago and since then my muffin top has expanded. This could easily be made with front darts on the shorts to accommodate women with freshly baked muffins (fuller abdomens).
It has breezy, full legs, which isn't surprising given that most of my slopers were made with the help of a pattern making book originally printed in the 40's, when womens' pants were VERY wide legged. These could be made with elastic at the leg hems if someone wanted a real "bloomers" or night time kind of look.
Lately I've been in battle with myself regarding next steps to go with Ready Ruthie. In case it isn't painfully obvious, I'm very much influenced by early-mid 20th century fashion, particularly 30's-50's and sometimes a lil 60's/70's.
I've gotten pretty good at pattern drafting since I started to teach myself about two years ago. Sleeves, however, have continued to befuddle me. I see the ability to make a good, well fitted sleeve as a distinction between beginning and advanced pattern makers. It also opens up possibilities for the types of garments I can make and their appropriateness for womens' wardrobes. Living in Vermont, it's not fair to expect to make cute, sleeveless sundresses all year round!!
I've done some short sleeves that look fine (see above), but as you can see, they fan out a bit. That means that they don't work as extended long sleeves. They result in a comfortable yet baggy and unflattering sleeve appropriate only for cave dwellers.
I've been sweating it out with my long sleeve pattern for a long time now--I started on my vacation last September, fiddled w/ it some more in January, then said AHGHGHGHG I can't do this anymore and set my sights back to sleeveless summer designs.
Here is one of the earlier patterns. Once I got a good look at the back I realized it was sagging and drooping. It seemed that once I fixed that issue, it was too tight. And on and on and on.
Today, June 17, I think I finally got it! A combination of coffee, DBT skills and reviewing some helpful alteration books got me to "as good as it's going to get for now" with my sleeve.
Plus don't you just love the awesome brown floral I'm using for muslin? It is a sheet set I got at Salvation Army--hence why I'm not using it to make anything for sale. Please excuse my looking like an ancient troll that just climbed out from under a dirty rock. It's Sunday morning after all.
To those struggling to make a sleeve sloper or modify a commercial pattern, I wish I could offer hard and fast advice. Unfortunately what you'll need to do is entirely contingent on the shape of the wearer's arm and torso. I found The Perfect Fit
and Fit for Real People
quite helpful. Sewing books and even pattern drafting books don't offer much in the way of alteration except in a pretty basic sense.