Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sewin' a Satara Shirt Dress

Shirt dresses.You know, the dresses that resemble a button down shirt with a skirt attached? Such a classic style.Yet, one that’s never really appealed to me. However, in the past few months, shirt dresses have been growing on me. I’ve found myself picking up shirt dress patterns at Joann’s during pattern sales. I’ve admired shirt dresses others have made online. I’ve pinned shirt dresses on Pinterest. Then, in November, Winter Wear Designs put out a testing call for a shirt dress, and I was very tempted to apply. But I didn’t. Couldn’t. I was too busy costuming A Christmas Carol to even think about testing a pattern.

Then, in December, the Winter Wear shirt dress, the Satara Dress, was released, and, once again, it appealed to me. The slightly non-traditional collar. The fun, swingy, ¾ circle skirt. Oh yes, I wanted that dress - clearly I needed to add a shirt dress to my closet! I started hoping the dress would fit with the theme of a future blog tour so I’d have an excuse to make it!

Well, here we are, the first Winter Wear Designs blog tour of 2019 and Suzanne delivered - the theme of the tour is plackets! Button plackets! Long plackets, short plackets, plackets in dresses, plackets in shirts, plackets for girls, plackets for boys - all the plackets! And what does a shirt dress have? One long placket, right down the front. My shirt dress came to be!

Once it was established I would be making the dress, I did a quick look through my stash to pick my fabric. After considering stripes, plaids, and a handful of florals, I settled on this red large floral print quilting cotton - given to be by my grandma at some point last summer. The 3/4 circle skirt would show off the large print beautifully!

I only had 3 yards of this 44" fabric, and, in my size, the pattern calls for 3.5 yards of 60" fabric, so clearly this was going to be a tight squeeze. Originally I wanted to do 3/4 length sleeves, but there simply wasn't enough fabric for that, so I did short sleeves instead.

I also had to cut the bodice with a center back seam, rather than on the fold, and all the facings, plus the yoke lining, are cut from a coordinating green fabric. If you choose to use 44" wide fabric to make this dress, rather than the recommended 60" fabric, I highly recommend having at least 4 yards of fabric to use for the size medium!

Once the all of the dress pieces were eeked out of the fabric I had, the sewing commenced. The construction of this dress is pretty straight forward - assemble the bodice, set the sleeves, assemble the skirt, sew the skirt to the bodice, attach the placket, attach the collar, then sew buttons and buttonholes and hem.

I made the bodice, then tried it on, prior to attaching the skirt, in order to get an idea of the fit before I finished the dress. If there was anything I wanted to change, this was the time to change it! The Satara is a relaxed fit shirt dress - fitted through the bust then loose and comfy after that. Well, I tried on my completed bodice and decided I wanted my dress to have a closer fit through the waist. Thankfully, with the princess-seamed bodice, this was an easy alteration to make.

I put on the bodice inside out, then pinned along the princess seams until the bodice had the fit I wanted.  The front seams now have nearly a 1" seam allowance at the waist, tapering back to the standard 5/8" seam allowance at the bust, and the bodice front fits like a glove!

Rather than take in the back bodice seams at all, I just made a single inverted box pleat in the center back at the waist. This makes a nice little design detail while bringing the waist in to fit the way I wanted, without affecting the fantastic fit I already had through the upper back and shoulders.

Once the waistline was taken in, I tried the bodice on again and decided there was one more little alteration I wanted to  do before attaching the skirt. I'm long-waisted, which is something I often forget to account for when cutting out patterns. (Seriously, I've learned to always, always, alter for my wide shoulders, yet I still consistently forget to alter for my long torso so I have several dresses in my closet with a slightly too-short bodice!) The Satara bodice is meant to hit at the natural waistline, the narrowest point of the torso, an inch or so above the belly button. Well, my bodice hit me right at the bottom of my rib cage rather than at my natural waist. Thus, I decided at add a band to the bottom of my bodice, bringing it down to my natural waist.

I thankfully had a couple scraps of fabric left over that were just wide enough for me to piece together a waistband from!

With the bodice fit altered to fit my tastes, I was ready to attach the skirt. There was just one slight issue. Since I'd taken in the bodice a bit, the bodice waistline was now shorter than the skirt waistline. So, I ran a couple rows of long basting stitches along the upper edge of the skirt, and used those to ease the skirt down to the bodice waist measurement.

Finally, the skirt was sewn onto the bodice and it was down to just the finishing work! I attached the long front placket and collar according to the pattern directions.

Since I'd added length to the entire dress by adding a waistband, my placket, which I'd cut out prior to sewing, much less altering, was a little shorter than the front of my dress. This was no problem, I just trimmed the excess length off the bottom of the skirt after sewing on the placket. My skirt is still plenty long enough - it's my torso that's longer than average, not my legs.

Once the placket and collar were on, I made button holes and sewed one long line of buttons all down the front - spaced closely together on the bodice for maximum security, and farther apart on the skirt where there will be less strain applied to the buttons. 

Finally, it was time for hemming, then my Satara shirt dress would be done!

Typically I hem circle skirts, and partial circle skirts, with bias tape - and that is the recommended hemming method in the Satara instructions - but this time I decided to do something a little different.

First I serged around the bottom edge of the skirt with differential feed set on my serger to just slightly gather the material. This brought the overall bottom hem circumference down to about the same circumference as the skirt was a couple inches above the hem. The hem could now be pressed up about an inch without any little tucks or pleats forming due to excess material. So, that's what I did!

I pressed the hem up an inch and a quarter, all the way around. Then I pressed the serged edge under so it wouldn't be seen and I'd have a nice clean hem. Finally, I topstitched the hem in place, and the dress was done!

All done!

And just what I'd hoped it would be!

Full skirted, with a non-obtrusive collar, and a pretty placket of buttons all down the front!

Yes, the Satara was just the right shirt dress to add to my closet!

Now, Check out the rest of the plackets blog tour to see all the other fabulous placketed Winter Wear Designs makes!

January 29
Aurelie of Maglice&So (guest posting at WWD)

January 30

January 31
Alyssa  of The Sewing Goatherd
Jessica of Jot Designs USA

Feb 1
Meriel of Elli and Nels

Friday, January 25, 2019

Plaid Wool Eastbourne Trousers (by Scroop Patterns)

I'd decided no pattern testing this year, or very little. I did a ton of pattern testing last year, over the summer especially. (Not every pattern I tested has been blogged yet, there were too many!) While it was fun, and I wound up with some garments I love and wear often, it definitely took time away from other sewing projects I wanted to do.
That said, I've already participated in three pattern tests this month. Yep, apparently I'm not too great at sticking to my resolutions, but I've had a very specific reason for testing each pattern. And I have a clear favorite of the three.

They have big pockets! Really nice big pockets! Like, the pattern already has big pockets so I didn't have to make them bigger myself like I usually do! Awesome, can hold whatever I need, big pockets!

These are the Eastbourne Trousers by Scroop Patterns. Scroop Patterns are made and owned by Leimomi Oakes, also known online as The Dreamstress. This is one pattern company I'll always be up for testing for. The patterns are very professional and well drafted. The instructions are awesome. And the designs are just a bit different, in a good way, than everything else out there. Eye catching and fun to wear. Plus, I've read and enjoyed the Dreamstress blog for several years now, so it's really fun to get to make her patterns. 

All that aside, even if I hadn't been already excited about the pattern company/designer, this design would have interested me. Last year I made myself a pair of wide-legged wool trousers. Despite initial reservations, I love them and still wear them all the time. The year before I made a split skirt to take on the World Race. It's also still getting worn. For the past 6 months or so, I've been wanting to make myself another pair of wide-legged pants. They're just so fun and swishy to wear! (Plus you can hide much larger pockets in loose, flowy, pants than you can in form-fitting jeans!) However, these pants I've been wanting to make for over half a year have never made it to the top of my "to make" list.

Thus, when I saw the tester call for these trousers, I applied immediately. Get something made off my never ending list, and test a pattern for a favorite designer? Yes please!

As I've loved my wool trousers from last year so much, I opted to make this pattern up in wool as well. Once I was selected for pattern testing, I looked through my wool stash and found this plaid wool/polyester blend suiting. It would work well, I decided.

There was only one problem, I had just over a yard and a half of the fabric, and the pattern called for about two and a half yards of 60" wide fabric for my size. Well, it would be close, but I thought I'd be able to make it work.

I did, barely. Both front and back leg pieces got squeezed onto the fabric!

After the challenge of pattern tetris, sewing the trousers together was a breeze. Scroop pattern instructions are always very clear with excellent diagrams!

The finished trousers are just as fun and swishy to wear as I'd hoped they would be! And the pockets are huge! Have I mentioned how great the pockets are?!?!

Personally, I really like the look of the front pleats - they're what makes this pair of wide legged pants stand apart from the other two pairs in my wardrobe.

And the pleats lay even nicer with the finished version of the pattern than they did with the tester version of the pattern I used!

So, there's another garment off that never ending list of mine! 

The Eastbourne Trousers pattern includes two different lengths and both a high rise and a mid rise yoke. I made the long pants with the high yoke. This pair of pants was made using the tester version of the pattern, which was pretty good, but the final version of the pattern has been adjusted for an even better fit. (I hope to find the time to make up the final version of the pattern soon, because I still want a couple more pairs of wide-legged pants!)

*I received this pattern for free in exchange for testing, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I was not required to write this blog post in any way, shape, or form.

**Paired with the Eastbourne Trousers in these pictures is the Miramar top, also by Scroop Patterns.
I bought this pattern and made it a few months ago, and eventually I'll get around to blogging it. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

A Little Pink Silk Bag

The Historical Sew Monthly challenge for November was "Purses and Bags". My first thought for the challenge was I could make a carpet bag. That would be a really cool project!!

Unfortunately, knee deep in costuming "A Christmas Carol" at the time, I most certainly did not have time to attempt to make a carpet bag. Nor did I have any idea how to make a carpet bag. So, that idea got scrapped, and I decided to make a reticule instead.

A reticule is a small purse. They came into fashion in the regency era, when skirts became slim and hard to hide pockets in, and remained common for at least the next 70 years, into the 1860's. Eventually they morphed into our modern purses. A lady must have a way to carry the essentials, and if her clothing doesn't thoughtfully provide her with that necessity, than she must carry a separate pocket of sorts. Thus, the reticule.

Now, pocket-loving me did not put any pockets in the skirt of the 1865 pink and lace ball gown. (Yep, I kind of failed there.) Thus, I decided to make a reticule to go with the dress instead. A pretty little bag my sister could carry with her while wearing the ball gown. A place to stash her necessities - the things she couldn't be left without while waiting backstage for her scenes in the play. Specifically, since my sister has type 1 diabetes, her blood sugar checking kit. Yes, a reticule would be the perfect thing to store that essential in for the duration of the play. 

Once I decided I was making a reticule, I had to figure out what it would look like. What shape should it be? How should I embellish it? What fabric should I use?

I began by looking at pictures of reticules from about 1830 to 1865 (the year the ball gown was from) on Pinterest, and stumbled upon this reticule pattern. It was from a book published between 1831 through 1865, making the design plausible for an 1865 reticule. Thus, I used the instructions and drafted my reticule pattern.

With the pattern figured out, I moved on to finding materials. Silk would be an accurate fabric choice. Luckily, I had recently stumbled upon a scrap of pink silk dupioni in my fabric stash which coordinated perfectly with my ball gown fabric. So I pulled out that scrap, a bit of lightweight floral cotton canvas to back it with (looking back I should have used something lighter than canvas, like a quilting cotton, or even a cotton lawn, for the interlining, as the canvas is bulky and stiff.), and a scrap of striped cotton for lining.

I cut the pattern out of both the silk and the canvas, then basted the two together.

Then it was back to the question of embellishment. Reticles were often fabulously embroidered, but I didn't have the time, skill, knowledge, or patience for anything too elaborate. So I searched for period examples of reticules with simpler decoration. I found a drawing of a reticule with just three simple lines of embroidery on each panel in Costume in Detail by Nancy Bradfield, and decided to base my reticule embellishment on that.

I found instructions for a similar looking embroidery stitch in (possibly my favorite sewing book of all time) Handsewn by Margaret Rowen, and worked this stitch, called a fly stitch, all the way around each of the three panels. Once that was done, I decided one row of embroidery per panel was enough, so I moved on to the other embellishment - tassels!

I made the tassels by wrapping pink silk thread tightly around a sewing machine needle case - just the way you would wrap yarn around a book to make a yarn doll.

I tied all the threads together at one end using tan silk thread.

Then cut the threads at the other end using a craft knife.

I tightly wrapped more tan thread around the top of the tassel, and then it was done.

I made four tassels, three small and one slightly larger, to be sewn onto the bottom of the reticule.

Once the tassels were done, it was on to construction! The reticule is comprised of three panels and I decided to pipe the seams between each panel with pink moire fabric left over from the ball gown.

I used a chain stitch all along the top edge of the reticule to make a channel for the drawstring.

I inserted a bit of rayon ribbon into the casing, tied it off, and the reticule was done!

A little silk bag - a 19th century appropriate way to deal with a lack of pockets in clothing!

And a pretty looking accessory - just right for finishing off the ball gown look!

Challenge 11: Purses and Bags

What the item is: Embroidered Silk Reticule 

How it fits the challenge: A reticule is a purse 

Material: silk main fabric, cotton lining and interlining, mystery fiber moire for piping

Pattern: One I found online, apparently from a period pattern:

Year: The pattern was published from 1830 through 1865.

Notions: Vintage silk thread for embroidery, modern silk thread for tassels, all-purpose polyester thread for construction, cotton yarn for piping, rayon ribbon for drawstring.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is accurate, the embroidery is plausible, construction is all by machine, so not accurate. Materials are all accurate with the exception of the rayon ribbon, moire, and polyester thread.

Hours to complete: Around 8

First worn: November 19th for the "A Christmas Carol" cast photo shoot at a local theater. (The reticule was done weeks in advance, but dress wasn't completely finished until about a week after the photo shoot! Look closely at some of the pictures in this post and you'll see straight pins holding the dress together!)

Total cost: Almost Everything was from stash, remnants of previous projects. The only thing I had to buy was the pink silk thread for tassels, and that cost $2.50