Too Hot to Wear Cloths!

Three Finished Items

Summer has arrived in the Rocky Mountain region with a vengeance. Fires all around, and temps above 102 for days on end. Pretty unusual for the area. Air condition units are strained to the max. When the air conditioning does not work it really is just too hot to wear cloths.

Luckily, I took advantage of the recent pattern sales and made some comfortable summer items.  The first is Simplicity 2594 shirt. This is a quick and easy to sew pattern. I made view B in a blue cotton batik. I had not planned to wear it to work, but I found a neutral skirt hanging in the back of the closet that had been left unfinished. It turned out to be a very lucky find, the color is perfect for the blue shirt, so I hemmed the skirt and tightened up the waist elastic. Maybe that is why this never was finished. The elastic turned out to be very loose so the skirt didn't have a comfortable fit. I opened the elastic waist casing and tucked the elastic to reduce the size. Now I have a new comfortable summer skirt to wear with the new top. I think the skirt was from Vogue career wardrobe pattern 2637 which I am sure is from the 90s because of the size I purchased. The skirt is a simple straight skirt, with an elastic waist. My preference would probably be to have an actual waist band with a zipper and button/hook closure, but the elastic may turn out to be more comfortable. It is an ecru or light grey/tan-ish color that will wear well with almost any bright color and even white. 

Simplicity 2594 Blue Batik over light skirt
The second item is a really loud crazy red, peach, yellow, maroon, green and black cotton print that looks festive. Probably not a work dress, but almost as comfortable as wearing nothing in this unbelievable heat.  This is made from Vogue V8810, view A.  It is also a very simple and quick pattern with three options for the sleeves, just a dropped shoulder cap sleeve, short sleeves or long sleeves. The skirt can be either straight or full flair with options for a knee length or longer version on either skirt. The waist treatment is a matching fabric sash that runs through a wide casing at the waist and ties in the front. This is very forgiving, I think you could also use a wide grosgrain ribbon for a belt tie in a matching or contrast color. 

Vogue V8810 View A

I am surprised to have finished the shirt and dress so quickly but finding the easy to finish unfinished object (ufo) was just a bonus.  


Finished Vintage 1912 Pattern Ladies Blouse #0335

Except for sewing on snaps I have finished the #0335 Ladies Blouse from March 31, 1912. The pattern only includes 5 pieces which are the collar, blouse front, blouse back, and sleeve in two parts. In addition to these piece you will need to create your cuff and lace pieces from dimensions included on the instruction pages. I had completed the tucks on the fronts and back, learned how to make a lapped seam, completed the sleeves, including the lace trimmed cuffs and was ready to sew everything together. I thought it would be pretty straight forward except for the collar, which I could see would not produce the same results as the illustration.

At that time I told you I thought it was not a hard pattern, and up to that point I would say that is the truth. As I started sewing the pieces together I found out pretty early on that it was going to be much harder than I had anticipated. Most of the difficulties are because of errors on the pattern. 

Special Techniques - in order of use on the pattern

Tucks and Pin Tucks
Pin tucks are very small tucks made today with a cord sewn under the fabric with a double needle. I think when I make this this again I will opt to just press the pin tuck fold and sew a very narrow tuck seam, much like I did on the regular sized tucks. I found it easiest to mark the tuck fold, pres that line, then sew along the fold by amount of the tuck; this will be half the full width as measured on the pattern. I used a presser foot that was the exact width I needed to take up. This made it pretty easy to sew a straight  line on the larger tucks. You probably already have presser feet that will help you keep your seam aligned.

Tailor Tacks and Chalk Marks for Tucks and Pintucks

Large Tucks and Pin Tucks and Chalk Mark for More Pin Tucks

Double Needle, Pin Tuck Foot and Special Pin Tuck Plate with Cord

Center Pin Tuck Chalk Mark, with Pin Tuck Foot and Double Needles

Gathering thread
A gathering thread is usually a double row of large basting stitches. To pull up the gathers the bobbin threads are tugged to force the fabric into a gather. The double row keeps it from coming undone. My machine has a long basting stitch which will tack a knot at the start. I used this single line stitch for the gather across the mid back and the double row of large basting stitches for the sleeve cap.

Reinforcement seam
This is the little v-shaped line of stitches to reinforce the area for the cuff vents, just shorten your stitch length sew along each side of where the slash will be, starting at the bottom of the cuff.  Sew to the point the slash will end, then pivot with the needle down and sew back down the other side of where the slash will be. Once the reinforcement stitches have been sewn the slash can be cut. Cut the slash just before the bias binding is attached.
Back side of fabric you can faintly see the reinforcement seam

Sleeve Vent Slash with Reinforcement Seam
Bias binding
The bias binding is a narrow one inch wide bias strip, cut from the blouse fabric. It needs to be twice the length of the slash at a minimum and a couple of inches longer will make it easier to handle. Press the bias strips in half length wise, then press the edges to the center. With wrong side of blouse fabric facing up and wrong side of bias strip facing up and open, sew along one of the pressed folds from the bottom of the sleeve to the slash stopping point. Pivot with the needle down, then sew from the end of the slash point down  the other side of the slash to the end bottom of the sleeve. Now with the right side of the fabric up, fold the bias tape with all edges to the inside center and top stitch along the slash, it helps to open the slash to form a straight line. Trim the bias binding edges to be flush with the bottom of the sleeve.

Pressed Bias Binding, Top and Bias Binding Before Press, Bottom

Bias Binding Pinned

Bias Binding Attached

Bias Binding Ready for Top Stitch

Bias binding Fully Attached

Bias Binding, Trimmed Flush 
Tailored lap
A tailored lap is another style of sleeve vent treatment that is easier to find on men's sleeves. There is a specific shape to cut and sew to the vent. The result is a much larger opening at the cuff. It is easier to roll up a sleeve with this treatment. There are several steps and the July issue of threads has a good article on this, or an internet search will probably turn up instructions. I did not use this method but can find some more instructions if anyone is interested.

Lapped seam
A lapped seam is made with both right sides up and placed specifically as the pattern requests. Sew on a marked seam line. You can mark the line with tailor tacks or tailor's chalk, a disappearing ink marker or even a basted line. Once you have stitched this first line you may need to grade the seam. (trim to a specific size) or the placement may have taken this into account and may not be necessary. I found this next part of this step easiest to do at the ironing board. Press the seam, then fold the right side over the seam so that both right sides of the fabric are touching and now all of the garment is left side of the first seam. A quick press along the original seam at this point is recommended. Turn the whole folded garment over, like closing a cover of a book, and fold fabric side that was on the bottom, but is now on the top, to the right, like you are opening the cover on a book. Both right sides are up now, press the seam at the fold, pin to keep secure and sew down each folded side of the seam.  All of your unfinished edges should be encased in this seam. Nothing is exposed to ravel and it is a very strong seam.

Lapped Seam Finished on Sleeve - threads indicate where to look
 Practice swatches

Sample for learning how, mark seam lines

Lap seam lines one above the other

Orange stitches over marked seam line for first seam.  From this step lap right over to left and left under to right side, the whole piece will be upside down, turn right side up and stitch along each folded edge, see below.

Finished lapped seam. the original orange seam thread can be seen near the top 
Set in sleeves
With the blouse still wrong side out, and the sleeves right side out, pull up the gathering stitches on the cap of the sleeve to fit the arm hole opening and sew the sleeve into the armhole opening. Make sure you match the proper sleeve to the correct left/right sides. The lapped seams at the top of the front and back of the garment will match to the lapped seam on the sleeve.  The under arm sleeve has a mark to match it to, it does not line up the side seam of the garment where the front meets the back.

Sleeve, sewn in
Sleeve  reveal
I honestly could not find anything to let me know what this meant and it is optional so I did not do it. I thought it might be have meant to add something like a lace inset, but if so I think it would have said lace inset. It does mention narrow ribbon or pipping, but I did not do that either, on a more fancy fabric than I used this might be a very nice touch.

Placket for button and button holes
This is their very abbreviated instruction for adding button and button holes. It is also not mentioned that button holes should be worked on the right and buttons sewn on the left since it is a woman's blouse. I am not certain when button holes on the right for women and left for men became the standard, and a quick internet search did not shed any light on this either. It makes me think that it was not standardized at the time this pattern was originally produced. This pattern is designed to have a self facing placket that would fold back about an inch on each side. Also, I would not sew on a button hole or button without some type of interfacing as the fabric might be unstable and tear or pull. My plan was to add a muslin strip on the self facing portions, finish the edge, turn, press, tack then make the button holes. Watch for more instructions regarding this placket when I cover pattern difficulties.

Thread loops
A loop made from a chained (as in crocheted or tatted) thread to fasten over the button. On a fancier garment this might also be a piece of small decorative cord, sewn on to fasten the buttons.  I opted for snaps so I did not make any thread loops. Today, these could still be sewn from a decorative cord, or even chained from a sergered thread.

Tricky Areas and Problem Spots in order of realization

To make this fit me, I will need to enlarge the pattern by so much that I do not want to mention it here. Plus I don't have anyone to help with exact measurements so, I opted to make this fit my daughter. Her measurements are within an inch of the pattern size. A simple 1/8th of an inch increase at each seam point will correct this very easily. I added 1/8th inch to each side of the front, and the outer edges of the back. At the center back, I pulled the pattern 1/8th inch off of the fold, this added a 1/4 inch to the width of the back.

So good so far, but these changes mean that there are two more places I will need to alter. The sleeve width has to be corrected at the underarm seam, I opted not to alter the lapped seam on the outside of the sleeve because the sleeve cap gathers would hide an alteration this small. And I was not adding any thing at the shoulder seam.

The collar also has to be corrected because of the extra width at the center back and at the front. I pulled the  collar fold off of the fold by a 1/4 inch, this added a half inch to the back of the collar and I added a half inch to the front of the collar. The collar was going to have it's own needed alterations beyond this, but for size, this was a start.

When laying out the pattern pieces I could see that the collar as designed and placed by the pattern was not going to result in the collar that is included on the illustration. I opted to completely redesign the pattern collar to fit the illustration as best I could. Because I opted to have the buttons be on the left and the button holes to be on the right, I knew that I would need the collar to lap over the front and fasten on the left side. To make this work with the right straight of  grain I marked my pattern at the side seams and cut a new front collar on the fold to sew on the right side at the side seam and over lap across the front to the left side seam. I also allowed extra for the front size alteration. Because I knew to anticipate this problem, I did not cut the font collar section until just before I was ready to sew and attach the collar. I wanted to be sure any unanticipated fitting problems were known before I cut this last piece.

The instructions indicate that the lace is attached to the wrong side of the cuff, then turned right side out. I opted instead to have two sides of the fabric and use the lace as an overlay on one side.  I decided this would work better for the collar too.  It is just a more finished look, and the wrong side of my fabric is not as dark as the right side.

Sewing fronts to back
Here is the first problem I encountered that I did not see coming, although, had I paid a little more attention when I was laying out the pattern I would have seen it.  Sewing the tucks down the front of the blouse takes up some of the fabric. The width of the front shoulder seam is now much shorter than the width of the back seam. My first thought was that I had made my tucks too big. So I pulled out the original pattern print out and carefully folded the larger tucks and compared the results to the pattern for the back of the blouse.
Did I make the tucks too large?

No, It matches the pattern

No, that was not it, the original pattern pieces now have the same problem I have with the shoulder seams. Was the extra width on the back for a dart? Should there have been more tucks on the back too? My first thought was to gather in the difference, but then I couldn't make a proper lapped seam so I took out the gathers.  Then I tucked it in three places thinking that might work. When my daughter got home I draped the front and back shell to see how that had effected the fit. I found that it really needed to be near the width of the original cut for the back so I took out the tucks and sewed the front to the back, matching the outer width on each side, this left a big difference at the collar attachment area that I knew would be a problem until the very last step.

Neck and front facing fit
After draping the blouse, without the collar attached, I marked the center fronts. I discovered that the front was not going to fit as expected.  There was not enough fabric on the fronts for the planned fold-over plackets for the buttons and button holes. I cut two strips for front facings, created a muslin sew-in interfacing and attached these two strips in a seam down the front edges. Now I had enough to face the fronts and move the center fronts for better fit. I draped the blouse again, marked the placement for the front lace panel, and the new front overlapping collar section. I sewed the button holes on the right side and attached the buttons on the left side.
New front facing with muslin interfacing

Trimmed extra wide back of shoulder seam, where pins are
I cut the odd triangle bits off of the back shoulder and attached the new corrected collar, making sure to attache the front lace panel so that it was properly centered over the buttons. I sewed down the outside of the collar, then I faced the collar with the regular blouse fabric.  After trying it on one more time for photos and fit, I probably would have cut into the center back neck a little bit more. I will correct that, but the fit turned out very nice. For it to look more like the illustration I believe she would have to be wearing the bra style of 1912, but overall I am happy with the result.

Marking where to add the collar front

Inside of collar front and overlap treatment

Where the overlap fastens
Recommended Skill Level

After having this much trouble at the neck with fit  I would not recommend this for a beginner. It takes a little bit of extra time for the tucks and lace trim, but the problems with the fit at the neck are for someone with at least intermediate to advanced skill and experience. It is an attractive blouse. By modern standards there is a lot of fullness in the front and there could be some extra length in the back. I would recommend corrections to the back shoulder width and probably trim down the neck opening in the back by another half inch. This fit problem would have showed up in a muslin test, however, because I had run low on muslin I made the blouse from a piece of fabric that had fallen off into the stash box and did not seem to have any near term chance of for redemption.


Sewing the 1912 Project E0335 Blouse

E0335 Pattern Illustration from the 1912 Project

I have been busy this week sewing the E0335 Blouse and I will have a much longer blog later with more details on this blouse. This blouse has small tucks and pin tucks down the front, small tucks down the back, lace collar and cuffs with lace and tucks, lapped seams on the sleeves and at the shoulders. I think it is very pretty, but the pattern and instructions are not quite complete.

So far this week, I have added a special pin tuck foot for my sewing machine, learned how to make a lapped seam and now know the difference between lapped seams and flat felted seams. It is not a hard pattern, or not as hard as I thought it might be, but it is time consuming. I have completed the tucks on the two front sides, the tucks on the back, the lace and tucks on the cuffs. I am ready to make the front lace button cover and start sewing everything together.

Tricky Areas

As you can see in this image, the collar looks like it must fasten on the side or back because there is not a seam or button showing in this image on the front. The pattern for the collar would actually fasten down the front without an alteration. The cuffs are made with lace according to the instructions, but the image looks like they are made with the blouse fabric with tucks and a little bit of lace or scroll work of some kind at the lower edge of the cuff.  The instructions and pattern pieces don't exactly match up with the illustration so it leaves questions as to whether to change the pattern to match the instructions or to change the instructions to match the illustration. It is one of those which came first kind of questions. Did someone draw up what they wanted to make then set out to make it or did they make it and someone else illustrated it with little regard to the actual garment?  Or I suppose a third possibility is that there were several options, like modern patterns with choices for collars, cuffs, trims etc.

Once I complete this blouse I will share more observations and how I opted to resolve these types of questions. Sewing with these older patterns really gives me an appreciation of how sewing is now compared to how it must have been in 1912.  Most things were probably sewn by hand, or on a treadle machine and probably not much sewing at night as lights would have been candles or lanterns in most places. Makes me really appreciate the electric power we take for granted.


Beginning Steps, 1912 Project

I signed up last week to test sew patterns for the 1912 Project. I can hardly wait to get started sewing the patterns, but there is a little work to do first. A free version of Pattern Maker is available through the end of the year for those who are test sewing. It comes with a shirt and pants pattern you can use as a block pattern. This is great because you can enter your measurements and get a fairly accurate block pattern customized to your body. With most of that work done for you it is easier to customize the test patterns to your size.

Once I test the block pattern I will be ready to start adjusting the sizes on the patterns I picked. I added in my measurements first and printed a blouse with princess seams. If it fits it will work for two things:making sure I have an accurate block to use to adjust the patterns and the outer shell for a dressmaker form that I need to re-size to my own measurements (see new project blog, June 2, 2012).

Once downloaded to Pattern Maker, the patterns will print on 8.5 x 11 paper or a size compatible to your printer if you have a printer that will print larger paper. Then you fit the pages together by grid number and alignment registration markings. I have printed out the block pattern pieces and taped them together. Now I have to test sew a muslin copy to see if  I measured correctly. If not back to make some changes, if so, then I will be ready to move ahead on the project. I am pretty sure I will be making large alterations because the sizes seem to run small compared to current sizes. People must have been much smaller then. 

This stack of papers is a  block pattern ready to tape together.

Block, taped together and cut out.
If I have to adjust this I will use paper with color to print the pattern.  That will make it easier to see under the 1912 patterns and help make it easier to make size adjustments on the vintage patterns.


New project - Dressmaker Form

My new dressmaker form

Sewing is easier when you can use a patterns right from the envelope. It gets a little harder when alterations are necessary and just discouraging when figure changes are outside the bounds of the average pattern. If you sew for someone else it is easy to see what and where to alter a muslin item and you can mark the alterations with chalk and or pins. But when you sew for yourself alterations are much harder. 

Earlier this year I found several websites and blogs with instructions for making customized dressmaker models.You will need a helper for these and the first try may not turn out like you want. I gave it a try. I even devised a way to make a stand on wheels with pvc pipe, but my attempt with the dress form was not what I would call successful.  Threads version of how to Clone Yourself a Fitting Assistant 

Last month much to my dismay, I discovered my favorite dress shop was closing. After I left the store, I realized they would probably be selling the store fixtures, including the dress models. The next day I went back to the store to see if this was indeed the case and purchased one. There were some on stands and some that just rested on the floor, I figured the ones on stands would be more, but the shopkeeper suggested that I take one on a stand.  My first questions was if they came in several sizes, but they were all the same size.  

I was pretty sure I could pad the model up in such a way that I could get the fit I needed. It has been an idea on a back burner for a couple of weeks. I just about had it figured out. I would make a very tight fitted bodice that fit me and put it on the new dress model, then stuff it to fill in the space between the dress model form and my actual form. If this worked, sewing for myself would be much easier again because I would have the benefit of draping the garments to see where it needed alterations.  

Last weekend I was in my local fabric store, I went specifically to find a special ruler, and look at the magazines. I picked up the July 2012 issue of Threads because there was a beautiful stripe dress with a chevron pattern at the bodice. Inside the magazine there was also a shift dress with a special stripe embellishment down the front and around the back and another dress with embroidered flowers sewn to the bodice. Almost unnoticed, there was an article by Kenneth King, about how to make removable covers for dress forms so that one dress form could fit multiple figures. He has photos and instructions for how to do this and seriously, it is a little bit easier than the idea I had, plus, it will not limit my dress form to just one size. ("When the student is ready the teacher will appear."  - Buddhist Proverb)

July 2012 Threads Cover 
If these four items were not enough to make me just elated that I picked up this copy of Threads, there was also an article about the 1912 Vintage Pattern Testing, so I signed up to do that too.  Now I really need to be working on my dress form!  Happy Sewing.