Thursday, August 27, 2020

Sleeves for the Hot Pink, Fur-Trimmed, Edwardian Evening Gown

My hot pink, fur trimmed, Edwardian evening gown. I haven’t forgotten it. It’s still happening. The pandemic to took away my motivation and delayed its completion a bit. But. It. Is. Happening. And now it has sleeves!


Back in June, a spurt of motivation hit me for this project, and I successfully mocked up and fitted my bodice lining. I used the Black Snail 1890’s Evening Bodice pattern for this step. This pattern had approximately the right shape for my bodice lining and gave me a good starting point. Previously I'd thought I'd need to make all my own patterns for this project, and that made me nervous. Finding a pattern which would work for one part of the process took away a bit of my apprehension when it came to making the bodice.



I got the bodice and sleeve lining fitted to my satisfaction. I cut the bodice lining out of cotton twill and the sleeve lining out of silk organza. Then I lost my motivation again and the cut out pieces went into a bag in my sewing room for another couple months. 


At the end of July, motivation struck again, and I decided to make the sleeves of my gown. Patterning/draping the front bodice overlay is rather intimidating as it’s different than anything I’ve ever done before and I have nothing resembling an existing pattern to go off here. The sleeves however? I knew exactly how those were supposed to go together, so I decided to just make them and get another portion of this gown completed!


As earlier mentioned, I used a Black Snail pattern for my bodice and sleeve lining pieces. On first fitting, the sleeve was twisting weirdly and not behaving properly! So, I looked at late 19th century and early 20th century sleeve patterns in Norah Waugh’s Cut of Woman’s Clothes and Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2 to get an idea of what shape my sleeve pattern should be. I traced out the Black Snail sleeve pattern on some scrap wrapping paper, free hand drew in a new sleeve cap, based on the patterns I looked out in the books, cut it out and sewed up a second mock-up.


The new sleeve pattern had a slightly shallower sleeve head, with the fullness shifted to the back of the sleeve, and a closer fit overall. It fit well enough for me to feel confident proceeding to the next step!



I used my altered pattern to cut a sleeve lining out of plain white silk organza. The poofs, lace, and fur trim of the finished sleeve would be mounted to this layer.


Next, I traced out my sleeve pattern onto more scrap wrapping paper, then cut up this copy and used the slash and spread method to make a sleeve pattern with more fullness and length. This was the pattern for the poofy part of the sleeve, and I cut it out of the white crinkle silk chiffon I had left over from my 1920’s inspired silk dress.

I used my Frixon pens (marks from these disappear with heat) to mark a line about halfway up on both the chiffon outer layer of my sleeves and the organza lining.

Then I picked some lace for the ruffles on the bottom of my sleeves, and I was ready to actually make these things!

First I sewed up the underarm seam of both the chiffon and organza layers of the sleeves. Then I gathered my lace ruffles to fit the bottom of the organza sleeve, and pinned them in place, right sides together.

Next, I ran gathering stitches in the chiffon sleeves at the bottom, top, and in the middle where I’d marked.

The bottom got gathered up to match the bottom circumference of the organza sleeves, and the bottoms got pinned together, right sides together with the lace ruffles sandwiched between the chiffon and organza layers.

These three layers got sewn together, and then the sleeve was turned right side out. The middle row of gathering stitches on the chiffon layer was then gathered up to match the circumference of the middle of the organza layer. Matching up my Frixon Pen markings, I pinned together the two layers, then sewed the chiffon to the organza with a zig-zag stitch.

The top of the chiffon sleeve likewise got gathered down, pinned, and sewed to the top of the organza sleeve. This gave me sleeves with two lovely chiffon puffs and a lace ruffle at the bottom.

Now it was onto the fur trim and bands of pink silk!

First, I zig-zagged around the bottom of each sleeve to make the chiffon layer a little less bulky and easier to apply trim to.

Next I cut four 1” wide strips of fur from the collar section of the fur coat I was re-purposing for this project, and whip-stitched together the short ends of the strips to make 4 rings of fur to trim the sleeves with.

The bands of fur then got folded in half longways and whip stitched onto the sleeves. 

One at the bottom of each sleeve, and one in the middle of each sleeve where the chiffon was gathered and sewn to the organza.

Then I cut 2” wide strips of my pink silk, and folded in the edges like you would for bias tape to make 1” wide bands of silk. (Yes, I did use my 1" bias tape gadget for this step - it made things easy!)

Using my sleeve lining pattern I cut 4 bands of silk the approximate lengths I needed to go around the bottom and the middle of the sleeve.

The silk bands then got slip-stitched in place at the top of each fur band.


It was hard to hand sew through all the layers of silk and fur! In some places I had to use pliers to yank my needle through all the layers.

Slip-stitching the silk bands in place was probably the single most time consuming part of the entire sleeve making process. The sleeves went everywhere with me in my sewing bag for a week! (Admittedly I haven’t had much hand sewing time in recent weeks.)

Finally, the pink silk bands were on and my sleeves were done!

They turned out beautifully! Almost perfect replicas of the original dress sleeves in my opinion.

Now I just need a bodice to attach them too.

With the way this project has gone thus far, however, it may be a couple months before that actually happens.



Monday, August 17, 2020

The Floral, Stretch Denim, 1970's Pinafore Dress

The first time I stepped foot in an antique mall again (after over a 6 month break from thrift stores and antique malls due to the pandemic), I immediately saw a basket full of sewing patterns, and made a beeline for it. I then spent a very enjoyable 10 minutes seeing what this basket had to offer, and went home that day with a very nice stack of “new” patterns.
Some of these patterns were from the 50’s, some from the 60’s, one was from the 70’s, and a couple were more modern historical costuming patterns.
I took these patterns home, put them away, and then kinda forgot about them as I made my way through my list of already planned sewing projects. That is, until one evening a few weeks later when I was looking for a pattern I needed for one of said planned projects, and the 70's pattern from that antique mall trip caught my eye.

It was Simplicity 7580, a pinafore/sundress pattern featuring patch pockets and a long row of buttons down the back. Suddenly, I wanted to make this dress. I figured it would be a very useful item in my wardrobe, wearable in all seasons - as a stand alone dress during hot weather, or worn over a top during cooler temperatures. Other projects on my list got pushed down. This dress was happening now - or as soon as I decided what fabric I wanted to make it out of. 

The pattern envelope showed examples of the dress made up in both a denim and a print. I really liked the idea of making my version out of denim, but I didn't think I had any light weight denim in my stash. Maybe a print version would be fun, but did I have any heavy enough prints? As I was contemplating this, I remembered the floral stretch denim I made my mom's Easter jeans out of last year. That would be perfect for this dress! I knew I had some of that fabric left over, but did I have enough?

I pulled the fabric off the shelf and unfolded it. 2 yards of 55" wide fabric - just enough! It was happening! 

The pattern was one of the early multi-sized printed patterns (As opposed to the earlier single-sized un-printed patterns.), and it came in two sizes. My copy was a size 10/12, and the measurement chart matched the modern Simplicity pattern measurement chart. In modern Simplicity patterns I measure a 14, but a size 12 usually fits me perfectly, so I was hopeful that a size 12 would fit me with this pattern. (And I figured the fact I was using a stretch fabric would give me a little bit of wiggle room as well.)

The pattern was uncut and pretty much brand-new, despite being over 40 years old, so I cut out the size I needed and was good to go. I sewed up the bodice and then tried it on to check the strap length before sewing down the neckline facing.

The straps were a couple inches too long so I shortened them accordingly. The bodice was also really loose above the bust so I took that in about an inch on either side.

Once I was sure the fit was just right, I sewed the facing down with gray top stitching thread.

I added top stitching along the edges of the straps as well to tie everything together.

I really liked the patch pockets the pattern came with, I just made mine a few inches deeper than the pattern indicated because small pockets are no fun!

The dress closes with buttons all down the back, and oh boy was it hard to pick which buttons to use! My facings and pocket linings are pink to match the roses on the denim, so originally I wanted pink buttons to match. My button stash was lacking a set of 10 pink buttons however, so something else has to be found. I considered black buttons, white buttons, bright green buttons, and metal buttons before I found a set of sage green buttons with a flower petal-like design on them which perfectly matched the green leaves printed on my fabric.

I'd rejected these buttons for several previous projects because I thought they looked dated, but for this dress they were just the thing!

Unlike my normal practice, I actually took the time to transfer the button placement markings from the pattern onto my dress, and sewed the buttonholes where they were *supposed* to be, rather than just winging it.

Was taking the time to mark button placement worth it? I don't know. It didn't take that much extra time, but it was king of annoying and I'm not sure the results are any better than if I'd just sewn the button holes where ever I thought they should go. That said, not having to guess on button placement was strangely comforting. So maybe I'll take the time on future projects to transfer button placement. Maybe.
The hem might be my favorite little detail of this dress. It was "Sew Something With a Unique Hem" week in the 52 week sewing challenge group, so I choose to use pink lace hem tape on the inside of my hem and I sewed it in place with gray top stitching thread to match the top stitching on the bodice.

The lace tape doesn't add any extra bulk the way a double fold hem would, and it's just plain pretty!

Lace hem tape, top stitching, all the buttons, patch pockets, and floral stretch denim.

It's different than my usual dresses, but I really like it!

I may not be sure if it was worth taking the time to transfer buttonhole markings, however I do know it was worth making this dress!

It's cute, comfortable, fun, and fits well. A very welcome multi-season addition to my closet!