Vintage Vogue 8875 – Cherry Blossom Dress

I mentioned a while back that I wanted to make up Vintage Vogue 8875 in a silky poly floral fabric I had been saving for a special project, and I decided to jump right into it and make myself a new dress for my cousin’s wedding. The wedding was set to be a very classy affair in black and white — much fancier than the usual Southern Baptist weddings I’ve attended where people sip punch made from ginger ale, pineapple juice, and orange sherbet while nibbling on a cake baked by the bride’s aunt.

In other words, MUCH fancier than my own wedding.

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Altering a Ready-to-Wear Dress

In some ways, I am still a slave to ready-to-wear.

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Small Victories

I’ve been wrapped up in all sorts of projects lately so I haven’t been able to sew very much (let alone update my blog), but here’s an update on what I’ve been doing.

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Second FBA on New Look 6107

Thanks to the guidance of my mentor Claire Kennedy, I finally figured out how to fit New Look 6107 to myself!

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Sewing Project: Dress-up Bedlah and Play Veils

I finished a project! Hooray! After weeks — no, months — of being afraid of working with chiffon, avoiding sewing anything, and suffering from sewing project ADD, I buckled down and got something DONE. I made a bedlah (bellydancer costume) for my daughter, who is currently in love with bellydancing. Bellydancing is a new hobby for me and I love it. My daughter has picked up on it and, being a fearless child with absolutely no hang-ups about her body or her abilities, loves to dance with reckless abandon.

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Chasing UFOs

No, it’s not a new show on the History Channel. It’s my current sewing dilemma: unfinished objects, or UFOs as they are called in the sewing community.

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Busting through the FBA Hurdle! And Some Exciting Vintage Pattern Finds!

Excitement! Enthusiasm! Exclamation points galore!

Thanks to my amazing teacher Claire Kennedy, I can do an FBA for myself!

It turns out I was doing the FBA correctly, as I thought, but I needed to do a second FBA to the piece, moving it only 3/4″ instead of a full inch, and add a second dart in order to make it fit. I was soooo close and definitely on the right track, so that was a relief to know. She also very confidently and sincerely stated that I can do this, which meant a lot to me. We talked a bit about adjusting princess seams, and while those are a little intimidating, I think I can handle it.

My “homework” is to do a double FBA to the blouse I’ve been working on and make a muslin. I think I can make it fit this time!

In other news, I’ve just acquired some more vintage patterns…all for free. It’s kind of a funny story. The other day at a fabric store, I was considering getting a reprinted Vintage Vogue pattern and a sweet elderly lady commented on it. We started talking about vintage patterns and she mentioned that she had a bunch of them at home. She said she wanted to get rid of them, and I asked her how much she wanted for them. She said I could have them for free because she was thinking of just taking them to a thrift store.

Yes, I nearly passed out.

She gave me her contact information, and I went over to her house last night to check out the patterns. She had three file cabinet drawers full of patterns! Many of them were from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s — styles that I don’t particularly like — but I rounded up two grocery sacks full of patterns from the 1950s and 1960s! Almost all of them are too small for me, but I don’t mind. I can grade them up or set them aside for my daughter when she’s older, especially the ones that are too “youthful” for me anyway.

Here’s a sampling of what I found.

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And this is the grand prize of the entire haul.

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I did a happy little dance right in the middle of this lady’s sewing room when I found this one! I’ve been wanting a dress like this for quite some time. It’s very 1950s — a la I Love Lucy — and the lines are quite flattering. According to the back of the envelope, you can make it up in almost any kind of fabric: cotton, shantung, rayon, crepe, linen, gabardine, and much more. So, it’s a very versatile pattern. Dress it up for a go-to-town or church look. Dress it down for a summer picnic or relaxing at home. It’s in my size and it should fit well once I do an FBA. Look at the buttons all the way down the front! Look at the little pockets! Wouldn’t they be lovely with contrast piping? Look at that collar! And the little cuffs on the sleeves! I can just picture this one in a pretty little print with solid color piping on the pockets (and maybe the cuffs and collar as well) and a matching bakelite buckle and button set. Add shoes, a purse, gloves, and a broad-brimmed straw hat and the look will be complete!

FBA on New Look 6107 = FAIL

Just made another muslin of New Look 6107 with a full bust adjustment using the Palmer Pletsch slash-and-spread method, and it was another failure.I had to add a side dart, which was very difficult because I couldn’t even tell where it needed to go so i just put it on the horizontal slash. I thought I needed to move the vertical dart, but it seemed to be in the right place. The final result was a shirt with bust darts that were too long and a vertical dart that looked like it was in the wrong place. I didn’t take a picture of it because it looks really horrible and I’m too angry to deal with the process of editing, watermarking, and uploading a photo.

I have no other choice — well, other than just completely giving up — but to get real help with this and have someone teach me. This makes me unbelievably angry. My self-confidence is taking a huge hit because I’m accustomed to teaching myself everything. Almost everything I know about sewing is self-taught; I figure out how to imitate techniques, I do research and follow diagrams or written instructions, or I use trial-and-error. I really don’t like having to get someone else to teach me something that isn’t even that difficult to comprehend. Other sewists have figured this out without having to take a class or get someone to show them, but apparently I’m just not that brilliant or talented.

Second Fitted Blouse Attempt: New Look 6107

In my continuing quest for a fitted blouse, I made a muslin from New Look 6107. I tried a size 16 to see if I could avoid the tent-like appearance of a size 18 and let the gathers at the shoulder provide some ease for my bust so I could skip the FBA.

That was a stupid idea.

newlook6107_01

The design of the blouse is quite flattering for my figure (though the darts and side seams could use some adjusting) and I like the pseudo-1940s yoke-plus-gathers look, but…yikes. It’s tight in the bust…

newlook6107_02

…and it has those telltale signs of needing a full bust adjustment. Note the gaps at the back of the neck and the front of the armhole.

Unfortunately, this damn pattern defies all standard FBA tutorials. It’s like it has a dart in the shoulders, only it doesn’t. It has a yoke with gathers and a vertical dart. Clearly, I need to trace a size 14 and add to the bust, but I don’t know if I need to add at the gathers, or fudge in a bust dart.

I think I may need to talk to Claire Kennedy again and make arrangements for one of her classes. I want to bring in different types of patterns — a blouse, a dress with bodice and skirt, a sheath, maybe something with a gathered bust, and something with princess seams — and have her break them down and show me how to do the FBAs. Normally I can teach myself all kinds of crazy sewing techniques, but this is so specialized and challenging that I just can’t do it on my own. I hate admitting that, but it’s true.

Side note: this pattern is more evidence that Simplicity patterns SUCK. It has the dumbest method of sewing facing to the neckline that I have ever seen. I can’t even describe it. It’s just outright mind-blowingly idiotic.

Vintage Focus: 1960s Red Paisley Wiggle Dress

I thought I’d step back from sewing today and launch a new series called Vintage Focus. Each post will focus on a wonderful piece of vintage clothing from my collection. I’ll share commentary and up-close photos of the item’s construction that show external features (embellishments, collars, and buttons) and interior details (darts and seam finishes).

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