Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern

A frock for the end of summer

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of August, readers! I mean, Saturday will already be the first of September. Normally I would be doing back-to-school shopping right now, but this year I’m not. I have to say that it’s really nice to not have that dread, but it’s also really odd. I mean, for the first time since I was 5, I won’t be starting school in September. I figure I will go back to do grad school at some point, but for now, it’s nice to not have to worry about that. Instead, I’m worrying about unemployment (though, there are a few neat job opporotunities that I recently applied for and am hoping to get. Please cross your fingers for me!). Alright, enough about boring real life things and on to my new dress!

I finished this little number today, after deciding that I desperately needed wanted a new summer dress. The bodice is a really heavily altered version of Simplicity 1779, which I originally was going to use to make a shirt for the 1938 picnic. As you can see, the bodice goes down a bit low, so when I was mocking it up in the blue and white polka dot fabric (which I knew I would eventually turn into a dress), I decided to scrap it for a 1930s shirt and wear something from my closet instead. Which actually worked out really well, since I didn’t finish the suspender skirt until the morning of.

I made View D of this pattern. The collar was really wide (it looked like I was wearing a low-cut version of a judge outfit), so I actually turned it under and sewed it down after I had already sewn the collar in (which is why those little wing things are there on the ends). Both the waistband and skirt are just rectangles, so nothing too spectacular about that. 😉

Yes, my legs really are that pale . . .

The best part about this project is that with the exception of the patterns and buttons, everything I used came from the stash, and both the fabric and thread were from Nona (thanks, Nona!).

The hat was a lucky find at my favorite antique store downtown. I picked it up last week on my way to get a straw bag for the picnic.

Anybody else trying to get some last minute summer sewing in?

Pattern · Tutorial · Vintage

Tutorial: Grading up (or down) a vintage skirt pattern

As promised in yesterday’s post, here’s my tutorial for how I graded up my 1946 Advance suspender skirt pattern. Grading is a necessary evil when it comes to vintage patterns, as more often than not, the vintage patterns you find online or in antique stores are either too big or too small, because patterns back in the day were only printed in one size as opposed to the multitude of sizes our patterns have today. Luckily, grading up a skirt pattern is pretty easy to do (much easier than a bodice!)

Alright, let’s get started!

First, gather your supplies:

You will need: measuring tape, pen and/or pencil, scissors, pattern paper (I just use butcher paper from the office supply store), a ruler, and your vintage pattern.

Next, carefully take out your pattern pieces and instructions. Decide which view you are going to make, and which pattern pieces you will need. I’m using Advance 4780, and making View 2 (the suspender skirt).

Now, we’re going to carefully trace the pattern pieces onto the paper (Casey has an excellent tutorial on how to do this here!). To do this, first iron your pattern pieces very carefully. Then, working one pattern piece at a time, place one of the pattern pieces on top of the paper. Lightly trace the pattern piece, being sure to transfer all those geometric shape markings (like notches and circles) to the paper. I prefer doing this step in pencil, as it’s lighter than pen and erasable if need be.

After tracing the pattern, remove the vintage pattern piece. Label your new pattern piece with its number and size, and pay attention to the pattern markings you transfered (for example, three large circles on this pattern indicate the grainline, so I connected these and drew a straight line through them with arrows at either end).

Your pattern instructions should have a guide as to what the various perforations in the pattern mean. Also, if your pattern piece doesn’t have the seam allowance included (which some of them don’t), go ahead and add that now.

Next, it’s time to do the grading and some simple math. First, measure your waist. For the purpose of education, I will let you know that my waist is 28″. My pattern was made for a 26″ waist, however. To decide how much I need to add to each pattern piece, first subtract the pattern waist measurement from your waist measurement:

28 – 26 = 2

Next, divide this number by the number of pattern pices that you have. So

2″ / 4 pattern pieces = 1/2″

So, I need to add a 1/2″ to each pattern piece. There are two ways to do this, depending on the pattern piece:

-If the pattern piece is on a fold, add the extra to the side not on the fold.

-If the pattern piece is not on a fold (all my pattern pieces were not), then divide the amount you need to add by 2. So, 1/2″ divided by 2 is 1/4″.

Using a see-through ruler, add your amount to each piece:

Repeat the process with the rest of the pattern pieces (iron-trace-label-grade) until you have all your pattern pieces done:

Of course, you can repeat this whole process if you need to make your pattern smaller, but in reverse.

And finally, I highly recommend making a muslin mock-up of your graded pattern. I did this last night and was surprised to find that my skirt was slightly bigger than anticipated (though, this could have been due to the fabric). In any event, it’s good to make a mock-up anyways, as simply changing a pattern to your waist measurement won’t necessarily guarantee fit, and you might want to change things (like length).

Some other posts about working with vintage patterns that you may find helpful:

Happy grading!

corset · Finished! · Pattern · Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

The Bastille Day Picnic!

This past weekend was the Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society Bastille Day Picnic. We ate tons of yummy food, chatted lots, and even learned how to make lavendar wands!

Isn’t Nona’s shawl just fabulous!?

As I mentioned before, due to time constraints, I decided to go Regency. My dress is made from about 3 yards of black and white swiss dot, using Simplicity 4055 (which a few of the other ladies at the picnic had used, as well!). Despite lowering the neckline about an inch, it’s still a bit too high for my personal preference.

The other issue I had (which luckily you can’t see in the photos) is that the dress wouldn’t close all the way in the back. Luckily, the drawstring ties kept it together, but there was a gap back there (and interestingly enough, I always seem to have this issue when I costume for other eras, most recently, my Lady Mary dress for the Titanic tea).  Since I can’t lace the stays any tighter to make my top half smaller and I don’t want to go through the bother of taking the dress apart and re-doing it, I’ve decided to let this one go. If anyone is in the market for a Regency dress, please let me know!

The hair was quite an experience! I totally forgot to get a picture of the back of it during the event, but, luckily, my friend, Kristen, snapped a photo of it.

I used this fabulous tutorial for most of it, although instead of pulling the front part of my hair to the back, I curled it, as this was fashionable in the Regency.

Also, I finished the stays on Saturday. I really like them, although this is the first corset I made where I can definitely feel my lungs being pressed together. 😉

Anyways, I’m back to working on mid-19th century stuff for the epic Civil War Reenactment I have coming up this weekend. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited for an event in a long time. Luckily, my fake auntie has decided to rent a hotel room for the occasion, so I won’t be camping out.  I’ll get the intense mid-19th century camping out experience next month at Brigade. 😉

Dress · In-Progress · Pattern · Regency era costuming

Regency dress sneak peak . . .

Just a quick photo of the Regency dress I spent most of today working on (though I started it yesterday)! I’m using Simplicity 4055, which luckily isn’t out of print, and since it’s supposed to be hotter than hades this weekend, I’m using a sheer black and white swiss dot fabric. The photo above is the lining (cotton batiste!) on the inside being whipstitched, which I did this afternoon. I loved how the pins looked.

Ok, off to go finish the eyelets on the short stays. They’re taking so long, but they look so lovely when they’re done, and unfortunately, I can’t finish the dress without finishing the corset first, since the bust of the dress lies wierdly without the stays on.

Also, with all this hand-sewing, I’m running out of costume dramas to watch! This week alone I’ve already rewatched some of my favorites, including Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Hours, and Becoming Jane, and last week I watched Hemingway & Gellhorn, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Birdsong. Suffice it to say, I totally have a thing for Eddie Redmayne now and I definitely need to see My Week with Marilyn. 😉

Anybody have any good suggestions of costume dramas to watch? Or good films in general?

corset · In-Progress · Musings · Pattern · Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

Regency short stays are totally the sports bra of the 19th century

I’m buried beneath a pile of costume sewing here at Chez Anna. This Sunday is the Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society Bastille Day Picnic, the weekend after that is my first Civil War reenactment (hard to believe, but I really haven’t been to one of these before), and then 3 weeks after that is the weekend extravaganza known as Brigade Encampment.

So, Bastille Day Picnic. Originally, I had grand plans of making a whole 18th century wardrobe and wearing a Chemise a la Reine (for those interested, you can read more about this garment here), but I realized this past weekend that I only had a week to put an outfit together, and a Chemise a la Reine was just not gonna happen. I mean, I’m a crazy costumer, but I’m not *that* much of a crazy costumer. 😉 Instead, I decided to go with a Regency outfit, since a) the clothes are incredibly simple, b) I already have all of the materials needed for an outfit, so this would be a great stash-busting project and c) I’ve been watching a lot of Jane Austen costume dramas lately.

Anyways, yesterday I went over to Nona‘s and we did a ton of sewing on our Regency costumes, since both of us are new to this era. I started the short stays this past weekend, and almost finished them yesterday, except for the eyelets (which will be done by hand). I’m using the now out-of-print Simplicity 4052. I read a lot of reviews about this pattern before I started sewing and heard that because it’s a Simplicity version of this pattern from Sense and Sensibility, it runs big and to cut out a smaller size. Well, I cut out my regular size 12 (after doing a quick tissue-fitting) and it fits totally fine. I didn’t have any issues at all with the dreaded 4″ of ease that everybody claimed it would have.

The eyelets will go between the binding, and the bone (which is actually just a cable tie I used in a pinch).

 So, the short stays are made from 3 layers: the outer fabric is cotton sateen, the interlining is cottom duck, and the lining is pima cotton. The trickiest (actually, it wasn’t tricky, just tedious) part was sewing in the gussets. that, and sewing so many layers of fabric together (especially the cotton duck, which, if you’ve ever worked with it, it’s like tent fabric). I’m used to my machine being pretty loud when sewing, but it was especially loud when working on these yesterday, and Nona asked me if my machine always made that noise when I use it, so I’ve decided to nickname my sewing machine “the clunker.” 😉

Luckily, there wasn’t too much machine sewing, as I spent most of my time hand-sewing the binding to the inside of the lining, using a whipstitch:

I tried these on today, and the fit is so interesting – they’re like a sports bra with the comfy shape (no belly constricting!) AND a push-up bra, since and they push the bust up to give the fashionable Regency “shelf” look where your boobs are basically under your chin. An added benefit is that since there’s so many layers and they’re so stiff, I’m pretty sure they have bullet-proof functions, as well. Pretty important if you’re in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Yeah, I totally just made an Alexander Hamilton duel joke. 😉

1960s · Dress · In-Progress · Pattern · Vintage

Toile-ing away on a frock for my graduation party

In terms of graduation parties, I realize that I’m having mine a bit late in the game (the party is this Saturday and I graduated, oh, 2 weeks ago?). That being said, having mine later means that I get to channel my inner Bree Van de Kamp and make sure that everything will be perfect (and I actually will be baking a pineapple upside-down cake). The theme that I’ve picked is “1960s Garden Party” based on the photo “Summer Pleasures” taken in 1960 for Life magazine:

Anyways, I’ve already planned the food and decorations, and now I’m working on the most important part (he hee): the dress!

I’m using a shot silk synthetic blend fabric that I got from the fabulous Kendra of Demode during her last blog sale, coupled with Butterick 5748 (a modernized reprint of an original pattern from 1960).

I’m really glad I made a toile/muslin mock-up of the bodice before I cut into the fabric, as there was a ton of ease added in to the pattern! This was my first time using a reprint pattern, so for those of you with more experience: is this a common issue with pattern reprints? I didn’t have to do too many alterations, except take extra fullness out of the center front (I just made a 5/8″ tuck) and take in the shoulder seam 1/2″.

Sorry for the shoddy quality on this one . . .

And in related graduation news, I just wanted to congratulate my little sister again for graduating from high school last week! We’re so proud of her, and she’ll be going to my alma mater in the fall. 😉

Alright, back to sewing!

Blog sale · Blogging · For Sale · Modern Sewing · Pattern

Spring Cleaning Blog Sale!

So, with Spring in full swing (nice alliteration there, huh?) and the end of the school year exactly one week away, I’ve been cleaning up my sewing area in preparation to move back home. As usual, I have way too much stuff for a 20-something, some of which I really don’t use or need, so I’ve decided to have a little Spring Cleaning sale!

So, here’s how this works: Leave a comment about what item(s) you want. Once you’ve done that, I’ll e-mail you with your total and a shipping estimate (you do have to leave an e-mail address to comment on any posts, but don’t worry, these are never shared!). Unfortunately, at this time, I’m only able to take cash or checks. Sorry for any inconvenience that may cause!

Alright, onto the goodies!

Reenacting clothes:

Quilted hoods: $45 each, or $80 for both

Purple Wool Quilted Hood – 100% hand-sewn hood made out of purple wool, lined with green polished cotton and quilted with cotton batting (click here for a view of the inside).

Grey wool quilted hood with red silk turn back – 100% hand-sewn hood made out of grey wool, lined with green polished cotton, quilted in a square design with cotton batting, and red silk taffeta on turnback, ties, and curtain binding. Click here to view a shot of the exterior.

Whitewaist – Young ladies sheer bodice made of white cotton lawn with a half-high lining made out of pima cotton. Bodice closes in the front with hooks and eyes and is accented around the neckline and cuffs with white cotton lace with a woven-in black ribbon. Very fashionable when combined with a wool or silk skirt. 29″ waist and fits a 34″ bust. $52

Fabric – Wool:

Grey Wool– this wool has an unusual but lovely square design woven into it. 1.5 yards and 62″ wide. $7 for the piece (I also have a remnant of a little under a yard available, too, if you are interested) SOLD

Grey and blue plaid wool: this wool would make a variety of lovely things, from a neat circle skirt to plaid gentleman’s pants, to a basic shawl for mid-19th century reenacting. Piece measures ~ 2 yards X 60″ wide and is $7 for the piece. SOLD

Black wool jersey – I have up to 5 yards available of this fabric, which is around 54″ wide. It is 100% wool,  and has a slight stretch. It would be great for a modern dress. $5 per yard SOLD

Fabric – Cotton and Cotton Blends:

Blue and white floral lawn; 100% cotton, 54″ wide. Piece is 2.5 yards, $10 SOLD

Blue, green, and yellow tie-dye fabric with a woven-in diamond motif. 46″ wide and a little over 3 yards, $5

Cotton/poly white glitter fabric with embroidered motifs. 58″ wide, 1 3/4 yards, $7

Yellow home dec remnant. Not sure of the fiber content, but it’s probably a poly cotton blend. Piece is 29″ x 64″, $5.

Green and cream poly trim, 3/4″ wide. A little over 3 1/2 yards, $3

Patterns, $5 each, or $8 for both:

Simplicity 9764, Martha McCain “Fashion Historian” Hoop and Over-the-Hoop Petticoat pattern, Size 6, 8, 10, 12

Simplicity 7215, Martha McCain “Fashion Historian” Chemise and corset, Size 6, 8, 10, 12

Modern Clothes I’ve sewn:

Hello Kitty Pink Fleece Hats, fits a 22″ head, although there is some stretch. $8 each or $15 for both

Hello Kitty Fleece scarf, 8″ x 63.5″, $6

Vintage clothing:

Red plaid skirt – Vintage Pendleton skirt made out of plaid wool. Closes in the back with a zipper and button (seen here); Waist: 32″, Length: 27.5″. $16