1940s · Finished! · Sew alongs · Vintage

Sew for Victory Apron!

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Feeling rather victorious

Just in the nick of time I’ve finished my project for Sew for Victory! For those not familiar, Sew for Victory is a non-competitive 1940s-themed sew-along hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille where participants recreate a sewn item from the 1940s using authentic or reproduction patterns. There are some fabulous garments over in the Flickr pool that you should definitely check out!

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For my entry, I decided to I really wanted to make a reproduction 1940s apron after watching one of my favorite documentaries, Time Warp Wives (the series follows vintage-enthusiasts in Britain and is a much-watch for those interested in the vintage lifestyle). The apron was such a ubiquitous part of everyday life for women in the 1940s, and I really wanted to pay homage to that (plus, heart-shaped pockets!!!!).

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The pattern I used is this reproduction one by Wearing History. This was my first time using a Wearing History pattern, and I had a little bit of trouble with the directions (it probably partially was my own fault, as I’ve been sewing for so long that I tend to skim over instructions, which sometimes backfires). My apron is made from a reproduction 1930s fabric that I found locally at Fabric Depot. I used olive green bias tape to both finish the edges, as well as provide a contrast to the red, black, and green in the print. The method I used for bias binding (and there are several options included in the pattern) is to sew the bias binding right-sides together to the fabric, then open and press to the back, and stitch-in-the-ditch on the right side to secure all layers.

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With my 1944 Life Magazine!

By far, the hardest part for me was mitering the corners (I don’t quilt nor make napkins, so I don’t really use this technique). After some seam-ripping, I finally consulted the Googles, and found this really helpful tutorial on how to miter corners with bias tape.

While I loved the finished apron. there are definitely some things I would change if I were to make this again (which probably won’t be for awhile, as OMG! So much bias tape!), namely making the waist ties a little longer (they were a bit on the short side for me, although the yardage requirement for this pattern is definitely in keeping with fabric restrictions of the time).

Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing

A Starburst Yellow Moneta

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Look, Ma! I made my first knit dress!

Living in Portland, I was fortunate enough to be a pattern tester for Colette Pattern’s first knit dress pattern, the Moneta (which made its debut this past Tuesday). It was *so* hard for me to keep this from you guys, because I love this dress so much! I made Version 1, which is sleeveless and has a really neat collar.

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It is incredibly comfy and soft and so easy to wear (no zip! Just slips on over the head!). I think that has a lot to do with fabric choice. I wanted to make my Moneta out of a fabric that was the highest percentage of cotton I could find (easier to work with, and a lot of the poly knits out there are just too slinky for me), and so I snagged this starburst printed cotton by Robert Kaufman. Luckily, I was able to find my fabric locally at Fabric Depot, but you can also find it online here.

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Regarding my experience sewing knits prior to this, I’ve made a basic cardigan before using this Simplicity pattern. Not having a serger has always detracted me from sewing knits, but luckily, my machine as a stitch that is specifically designed to sew seams on knits (you can also use a zig-zag stitch, as well).

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Besides the relative new-ness of sewing with knit fabric, there were also several techniques that this pattern uses that I had never done before. For example, the skirt is gathered using clear elastic, a notion that I had never used before (luckily, the Colette Patterns blog has a handy tutorial about how to use it).

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I definitely plan to make this dress again (I already have the fabric!), but there are a few changes I would make:

  • Shorten the bodice by about 1/2″. I don’t know if it’s the stretchiness of the particular fabric I chose, but the bottom of the bodice doesn’t hit quite at my natural waistline (hence the belt).
  • Edgestitch along the neckline. Right now, the collar has a tendency to roll up, and edgestitching would help it lay flat.

Despite these future changes, I’m completely chuffed with my first knit dress, and would definitely recommend this pattern to any seamstress (or seamster!) wanting to get started with sewing knits.

Finished! · Modern Sewing · Personal

An apron for an Englishman, and courting cake!

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Hey, readers! Long time no sew, eh? I’ve been going through some major life changes as of late, including both moving AND changing jobs, which meant that I wasn’t really in the mood to whip up a modern skirt or sew a repro 50s dress. However, I finally unpacked all of my sewing stuff from moving, and so was able to whip up this dashing apron for Peter, my British Boyfriend (and before you ask, yes, that is a picture of Shakespeare on his t-shirt, and the wording below it says “You discussed me.” Isn’t that awesome!?)

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I *love* the fabric so much! It says “A Gentleman is Always Well Dressed”and features mustaches, umbrellas, and letters. I picked it up locally at Mill End last month when Peter’s mum was here visiting from England (she sews, too!). I have some extra fabric leftover, so I think I may make a matching oven mitt or potholder.

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Peter is actually very good at baking, and made this courting cake for me (entirely from scratch!) to celebrate our 6-month anniversary today. Isn’t that so sweet!? Courting cakes, for those not aware (and I certainly was not until recently!), originated in Lancashire (NW England) and were baked by girls for potential suitors as a token of love, as well as proof that she could bake! However, in the 21st century, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for a gent to make his gal a courting cake. 😉

1960s · Finished! · Millinery · Vintage

Treason! Animals. (AKA The Fur & Feathers Luncheon)

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Readers, I had  fabulous time yesterday at the annual Fur & Feathers Luncheon hosted every January by Julie of Fab Gabs. Everyone looked smashing in their vintage dead things, and it was so lovely catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones (I even learned about Portland’s swing dance scene!). I really wanted to wear a red 60s suit with leopard accessories; however, the cost of vintage leopard can be quite prohibitive, so I decided to sew the accessories myself using vintage patterns. In true annaintechnicolor fashion, I waited until the last minute to start sewing, and so the pillbox hat was actually made the day of (using Simplicity 4124 from 1962. I plan on making the muff, too, when I have time!) and the wrap was not able to be lined yet (I used Simplicity 4216 for that).

Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to expired parking downtown and a date with Peter. Fortunately, when I got to his place, this happened:

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Readers, after all these years of trying to make friends with cats, I finally discovered the secret – dress like you’re one of them! And I made friends with not one, not two, but three cats!

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Alright, hope everyone had a great weekend (whether you pet 3 cats or not!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the odd post title refers to this Franz Ferdinand song off of their latest album, which I’ve been listening to on repeat. Definitely looking forward to seeing them live when they come to Portland in April!

Finished! · Modern Sewing

The Black & White Rachel Berry Halloween Dress

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Happy (almost!) Halloween!

Well, readers, I’ve finally finished this one after working on it for more than a year (you can see the original post here). This dress was definitely one of those projects that totally overwhelmed me at the time (I majorly messed up on some of the fitting and waistline placement, even though I made a mock-up first), but after I put it away and came back to it a while later, went together like a piece of cake.

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The pattern is Vogue 8723, although I altered things a bit with the striped yoke at the top and striped hem at the bottom. I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of square necklines, but I do like how this one turned out.

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I got the fabric from Fabric.com quite a while ago, so I’m not sure they even have it listed on their site. In any event, the fabric is 100% pima cotton, and I spent forever trying to find a black and white striped fabric that wasn’t for home dec! I finally settled on this one, although the stripes could be a bit narrower, IMO.

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And, finally, very special thanks to my dear friend Lauren of White Rose Photography for the pics! If you’re in the Puget Sound Area, I highly recommend her, she does fantastic work!

cover halloween.

Alright, everyone, have a happy (and safe!) Halloween.

Finished! · Modern Sewing

Black and white border print rayon skirt

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So, I’ve already missed two sewing deadlines: the PR application and the Sew for Victory Challenge (I tell you guys, I’m a hot mess when it comes to sewing lately!), so I figured, “What the hell, I’ll just sew a modern skirt!” So, that’s what I did.

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The fabric is this great rayon border print that I picked up last month at the Sewing Expo from Vogue Fabrics Store, although unfortunatley, they don’t have it on the website.

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The construction was super simple on this one – just a basic gathered rectangle with a zipper and waistband. I did put a lining in, since the fabric was a bit sheer.

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Oh, and the shoes! I finally got a pair of red patent Mary Janes. Aren’t they cute!? A little high, but it’s always nice to be taller when you’re petite. 😉

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And speaking of exciting things, did anyone else watch the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men last night!? I won’t give out spoilers to those of you that haven’t, but I will say that I was a bit hesitant for this season to start. The late 60s (and early 70s, for that matter) are not my favorite when it comes to 20th century fashion history, but Janie Bryant has done some amazing things with the show’s wardrobe, and definitely did so last night.

1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · Dress · Finished! · Reenactments

The Spring Ball

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Readers, yesterday was probably one of the best nights of my life. The combination of great food and friends, excellent conversation, amazing costumes, and fun historic dancing made the Spring Ball probably my favorite reenactment to date! I now understand what all those gaggles of giggly girls in Jane Austen novels are so excited about!

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Anyways, I did finish the dress (and thank you all so much for your lovely comments while I was working on it this week!), although I was sewing up to about a half hour before I left. Making a reproduction ballgown in a week while also working full-time is something I definitely do not reccommend. But, it came out so fabulously and fulfilled a personal sewing goal of mine – to make a ballgown.

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By far, the most time-consuming thing was the bertha (which is the front swoopy thing on the bodice). I decided to make a tucked bertha, as I’d read that this was the most common style during the project. And since I got so many questions from the ladies last evening on how I made this (surprisingly, the guys were not interested in this, lol) I thought I would try my best to describe it, as in my mad rush to finish this thing, I forgot to take progress pictures. Anyways, I basically made a bodice facing piece that would go on the outside (those familiar with modern sewing techniques have, no doubt, encountered facings). I cut this out of cotton batiste, and then sewed rows and rows of bias strips of fabric to this. I then sewed lace around the edge, and finally, pinched the whole thing in the CF, so it looks like I have two swoops going on. This whole process is very similar to what Katherine did on her Eugenie project ballgown, which you can read more about here. The results are lovely, but very time consuming, and was the most labor-intensive part of the whole dress.

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Now is the time when I must confess that this is not actual silk. I just couldn’t justify the expense of $20/yard silk taffeta for a dress I will probably wear once a year. Instead, this is a really good fake iridescent silk that – get this – only cost me $5 for all 6 yards of it. It was an amazing thrifted find last year, and the lace on the dress (6 yards @ $3/yard) cost more than the dress! With thread and notions added in, I probably spent around $30 total on this project. Not bad!

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As for the accessories, I wore my grandmother’s pearl necklace (from 1943! Eep!) and the head decoration was made by one of the gals at the museum. I won it in January at the silent auction (when I knew I would be going to the ball) and the white and pink coordinate perfectly with the dress.

My plate also matched my dress, so of course we had to get a picture of that!

A plate is an accessory, right?
A plate is an accessory, right?

Anyways, I came home exhausted last evening and am still recovering today (the whole moving the clocks forward thing is defintely not helping!). My feet seem to be healing, they were quite sore from having danced almost every dance last evening. There were a shortage of gents (as there usually are at these types of events), so some of us gals had to pir up. Which inevitably led to more silliness and fun. 😉

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As for my next project? I’ll be working on a reproduction 1940s novelty dress, so skipping ahead about 100 years in terms of fashion history. Should be a fun little project, with way less fabric!