Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Purple Paisley Suspender Skirt and Green Blouse (McCall's 7184)

 When I discovered the City Sewing Room, where they sew donated fabrics for $1 a pound, last fall, my fabric stash began to grow. The sewing room was very conveniently located on my way home from work for a few months, until I changed jobs. While very fun and a great place to find beautiful stash additions, this wasn't necessarily a good thing. I have a huge fabric stash and very little space at the moment. My fabric stash does not need to grow. 

Now, with the exception of wools, silks, and laces, I've actually been pretty decent at using up the majority of these new acquisitions before they sit in my stash for too long. Not perfect, but pretty decent. 

One of my fabric acquisitions was a 6 yard cut of purple paisley cotton. I have a soft spot for paisley. And purple. Another was a 3 yard cut of green and white pinstripe shirting. I did not pick up these two fabrics with the intention of using them together. In fact, I originally snagged the shirting with the intention of using it for my sister's 1890's shirt waist, until I decided I wanted something of a darker green with more pronounced stripes for that project.

I went through my pattern stash to pick a pattern for the purple paisley. With 6 yards my options were wide open! McCall's 7184, a 1950's reprint skirt and blouse pattern, caught my eye. The purple paisley and the green pinstripe were stacked together and I quickly realized the two fabrics would pair nicely for this ensemble.  According to the back of the envelope the full circle skirt with suspenders required over 5 yards of fabric and the blouse required just under 3. Good thing I had plenty of material to work with! 

After cutting both pieces out I discovered those fabric estimates were wildly generous. I used less than 4 yards of material for the skirt and right around 2 yards for the bodice. I guess I can't complain as it's better to have extra fabric than not enough, but it is rather annoying that the pattern would have you buy so much more fabric than you actually need. If you were to buy fabric specifically for this project you would probably spend at least an average of $10 per yard for fabric and that's an extra $30 that you could have saved for another project! This doesn't really apply to me since I used cuts of fabric I picked up second hand for this project, but still!

Anyway, other than the questionable fabric requirements, I quite like this pattern!

The blouse is really great! It's cute, doesn't take too much fabric, fits nicely, and goes together quickly and easily. Nothing to complain about here!

I've already made myself a second version of the blouse and can see myself reaching for this pattern time and time again.

I have way more woven fabrics in my stash than knits so I'm always on the lookout for good woven top patterns and this one fits the bill!

As for the skirt, I love this finished garment! It's so much fun to wear!

I added patch pockets to the front side panels, because I can't not have pockets!

The 7-gored circle skirt allows for an economical use of fabric, gives a fantastic shape and allows for plenty of personalization if one so chooses.

However, I feel like it's a little on the short side for the 1950's. A couple extra inches in length would not go amiss.

The other issue I have with the skirt is about the sizing. Most McCall's women's pattern are available in 8 different sizes with 2" difference between each size. This pattern combines sizes to include 4 different sizes with 4" between each size. This works fine for the blouse pattern which has a rather relaxed fit, but doesn't work as well with the skirt pattern, which has a fitted waist.

  If you fall in the bottom half of the measurements for your size, be prepared to take the waist in. I tried my skirt on prior to attaching the waistband facing and wound up taking an inch out of each side seam and adjusting the facing accordingly. This really isn't a big deal, just make sure to do a fitting before finishing the skirt if you decide to make this pattern.

I've really enjoyed wearing this outfit since I finished it! It's different from anything else in my closet, which is fun.

Since I still have a couple yards of the purple paisley left I'm considering using it to make a matching blouse to wear with the skirt for a two-piece dress look. Thoughts?

I think a full "dress" out of this fabric would be fun! 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Mrs. Hudson's 1890's Skirt and Shirtwaist (McCall's 8231)

Late last summer a herringbone cotton flannel in the Plaiditudes collection at Joann's caught my eye. It was thick, soft, and had an amazing drape. Immediately I started thinking it would be a fantastic fabric for a new 1890's ensemble for my sister. A few weeks later my sister told me she was going to play Sherlock Holmes' land lady, Mrs. Hudson, in an upcoming play.

 Well look-y there - A perfect excuse to buy the fabric and make my sister a new 1890's ensemble!!

I told my sister I had her costume covered. She came to visit me one weekend and we made a trip to Joann's and bought 5 yards of the flannel. It was happening.

My plan was a basic 1890's skirt and shirtwaist, and then, if I had enough of the the herringbone flannel left once the skirt was cut out, a matching jacket or capelet. I certainly had patterns in my stash that would work for this ensemble, but then the new Angela Clayton pattern caught my eye - an 1890's skirt and shirtwaist ensemble. Just what I needed! I snagged that pattern at the next pattern sale and cut it out in my sister's size.

The skirt panels in this pattern are HUGE! They give you a delightfully full and swishy skirt when all is said and done, but they're certainly fabric hogs. 

 Before I cut into the fabric I measured the length of the skirt panels and called my sister to have her measure the length of the last 1890's skirt I made her. I discovered these skirt panels were a good 6" longer than my sister needed. I folded that length out of the pattern pieces to save myself a bit of fabric - but even so 5 yards of 44" wide material was barely enough! A matching jacket or capelet would not be happening.

I flat lined all the panels with some midweight cotton from my stash and added a pocket, specially adapted to hold my sister's insulin pump, into the right side seam.

Once all the panels were seamed together, the pocket was added, and the waistband was attached, all I had left to do was add the waistband closures and the hem facing.

 I'd grabbed some green-ish polished cotton from my fabric stash to make the hem facing from, but upon unrolling the fabric I discovered something interesting.

This polished cotton came to me second hand and I'd never bothered to unroll it before and see how much fabric there actually was in the bundle. Well, upon opening it up I discovered this wasn't some plain cut of fabric, but a partially assembled 5 gore skirt - longer in the back and shorter in the front. Amazingly, it matched up almost exactly with the hem shape and circumference of the skirt!

I decided to just use the whole thing as an extra deep hem facing on the skirt - why not??? It saved me the work of cutting a hem facing and gave the skirt a nice shape and body - even without petticoats.

To go with the gray herringbone skirt I had it stuck in my head that a green and white striped shirtwaist would be just the thing. However, green and white striped cotton proved rather tricky to find.

After weeks of searching, I finally came across some with the Christmas fabrics at Joann's. Unfortunately, the stripes are just printed on, rather than woven in - but it works!

My sister doesn't like tight collars so I shortened the collar piece and made it to open at center front rather than buttoning off to the side the way the pattern recommends. The collar still looks good this way, and my sister finds it comfortable!

The other change I made was at the waistline. The pattern has you make fabric ties to cinch the waist in - fairly historically accurate, but a bit too fiddly for a theatre costume. I want the easy route and just put elastic at the waistline of the shirtwaist so my sister wouldn't have to mess with it when she put the costume on.

Other than those minor alterations, I pretty much made the pattern exactly as written, and my sister and I couldn't be more pleased with the results!

The waistband of the skirt dips a bit in the back, due to the weight of the pleats, but that can be easily fixed with a small bumpad. 

The skirt has a fantastic shape and swoosh factor, and the blouse is a wonderful basic 1890's or early 1900's shirtwaist. I can certainly see myself using this pattern again.

My sister played the role of Mrs. Hudson to perfection in the ensemble!

She crocheted herself a beautiful shawl to wear in the "outdoors" scenes, and topped the outfit off with a hat I wore in one of my high school plays, once upon a time. 

Along with acting and looking fabulous, my sister also made quite a few of the props for the play - including crocheted dead geese! Her crochet work is quite impressive!

When not on stage, she quite enjoyed frolicking about in her skirt. If you're looking for a skirt that has some flair to it - this one really can't be beat!


Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Red and Gray Flannel House Dress (Butterick 6482)

Over the past several years I've discovered what the ideal winter wardrobe is for me. Teenage me, who could never find long sleeves shirts that actually had long enough sleeves, and who got in trouble over dress code violations at school because her pants were "too tight", would be amazed. It's really crazy what making your own clothes that ACTUALLY FIT can do for you!

So here are my preferences: Jeans and long sleeve tops for work. Wool skirts and nicer tops/sweaters/blouses for church. And comfy flannel dresses for those marvelous days where I don't have to leave the house.

My supply of long sleeve tops, jeans, and wool skirts is decently healthy. My stash of flannel house dresses? That one could use some work.

A couple years back I came across a beautiful, thick, soft, red and gray plaid cotton flannel on clearance at Walmart. I got everything that was left on the bolt, and added it to my stash. Last winter, in a burst of inspiration, I decided to pair the flannel with Butterick 6482.

I thought the tea length skirt and 3/4 length sleeves would make an ideal house dress.

I cut the pattern out in my size that very evening! But then I got distracted by things (such as getting engaged and spending the next 4.5 months planning and sewing for my wedding), so I never did actually make the dress.

Last time I was back at my parents' house, the pattern and fabric still stacked together in one corner of my old room caught my eye. That dress really would be nice to have. . .

I brought the pattern and fabric back home with me and spent the next couple days I had off work sewing it up.

The finished dress is exactly what I wanted - comfy, warm, and cozy.

Slightly terrifying face - but it's a great picture of the dress!

I specifically cut the waistband and waistband facing on the bias, not only for the visual interest, but also because I thought the bit of stretch given by the bias would make the dress extra comfy and non-restrictive.

And it is comfortable! That said, this dress doesn't have as much shape as I thought it would from looking at the pattern envelope. The bodice gathers are a little skimpy.

This might just be due to the fact I used a stiffer, heavier fabric than what was recommended. However, if I make this pattern again I'll probably add a bit more fullness to the bodice and I might make the waistband a bit tighter for more of an hourglass shape. As is, this dress is almost tight through the bust and rather loose in the waist. Just fine for a house dress, but not what I generally go for when wearing something out and about.

The only pattern alteration I made on this dress was to move the zipper from the side seam to the center back. There was already a center back seam on the dress so this was super easy to do. I find dresses with back zippers easier to slip on and off, so unless there's a really good reason for the zipper to be at the side, I move it.

My favorite element on this dress is the full raglan sleeves.

The pleats and the top stitching? Fantastic!

And they're the perfect length - long enough to keep warm, but short enough to stay out of the way when you're working.

Overall, despite the fact I don't love the rather shapeless silhouette, I'm calling this dress a success.

I think it will receive plenty of wear this winter and for many winters yet to come!