Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Graduation Ball

I'm so excited to share some of the photos from the Graduation Ball.  It was definitely one of the highlights of the week! 

It was a black tie event and originally I was planning on making a gown, but I decided to wear one of the gowns I'd already made!  David helped me choose between the two gowns (this one--a 1934 pattern from Wearing History and my 'Serenity' gown) and the Wearing History gown was the clear winner.

This one has really neat art deco detailing on the back.  What's that in the background, you ask?

Why, it's a giant ice sculpture of one of the university buildings....

It's not just any ice sculpture, but one that has a long straw inside.  You can pour your drink in the top and then catch it in your mouth at the bottom (eeeewwww....)  As you can imagine, the ice sculpture had its own guard (teehee).

While we didn't put our mouths anywhere near the ice scuplture, we did partake of another cool treat--ice cream!  There was also live music, free champagne and lots of socializing!

And of course, fun photos! Hats off to all the grads!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Big Day

Ta da! Here's David on his graduation day in the Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket, white tie vest, bowtie and kilt hose flashes!  Doesn't he look dapper?  It was such an amazing day (and yes, I did get more than a little teary-eyed) and I'm so incredibly proud of what he has accomplished!  I was so happy to be able to share in making the day special!

Here are a few more of the details of the garments:

For the graduation ceremony and garden party, I wore my "Royal Wedding" dress with my "Birthday Dress Suit" jacket and my 1930's hat.  You won't be surprised that it was raining heavily all day long--but it did let up when we took the photos (yay!)

The garden party was in a large marquee tent complete with adorable snacks and champagne!

We are very happy with the way it turned out and I look forward to sewing up more of these jackets and waistcoats.  I have to give a shout out here to my darling friend Meg (who blogs over at Meg the Grand) who heard I was tackling welt pockets sent me a fabulous book (by the legendary Claire Shaeffer no less) all the way from Chicago.  We didn't end up having time to do the welt pockets but this will certainly not be the last waistcoat I make--both David and I love how they look!

Phew! What an amazing day!  Thanks for all your lovely comments on the last two posts--it means a lot to us to share this with all of you!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

{Guest Post by David} Sewing up the Graduation Kit

Jacket shell front (the pattern called for fusible interfacing--next time we'll go with hair canvas and handstitched tailoring).  There was a good fit at this point and a nice roll on the collar.  Our first was the funky darts in the front.

Hey, all!
Debi has asked me to write a bit about our recent joint project - the Prince Charlie Jacket and White Tie Vest that we made for my graduation ceremony.  It was a trying experience at points but it was great working through the hurdles together.

We went to Edinburgh Fabrics together two weeks ago, as they have a great selection of British wool.  Debi picked out a great medium-weight wool with a fine weave and texture.   It looked black but we realized later was actually dark midnight blue.   We decided to go with it, as deep, dark shades of blue are my favourite colours anyway.

As it turns out, midnight blue was often used for formal wear in the 1930s and 1940s, as it appears "blacker than black" and is especially rich in daylight or twilight.   As this was a morning ceremony, I thought it would look very sharp, especially in contrast with the black duchess satin lapels and white piqué (marcella) fabric we were making the vest and tie from.

We used Folkwear Pattern No.152, which was easy to follow but had a few steps we would probably do differently next time, but I'll get to that.

The back of the jacket taking shape.  Debi did a great job on the details.

I cut out the pattern pieces first in some nice spare fabric Debi had in her stash.  It was wool with kid mohair in Air Force Blue.  We'll probably end up putting it together at some later point.  The fitting went well, and we made markings for alterations, which I transfered to the new fabric before cutting.

I had the pieces cut out in the midnight blue wool before I left for work, and came home to find the jacket hanging from my desk chair.   Debi was restless and upset, because she'd had a very difficult time with the collar and lapel.   She was able to get the roll just right but because the method for lining the jacket in the instructions made things a bit difficult.  It involved attaching the undercollar to the lining and the overcollar to the jacket, sewn inside-out, then flipped through the armhole, so she was sewing it blind.   It's basically a bagged lining, which was easier for the rest of the jacket but the time it saved us was spent tenfold while trying to fix the collar and lapel.

In the end, we had to pull the stitching out and cut a new lapel front (luckily, we had extra satin) because with all the handling, the original had begun to fray.  I spent the rest of the night steaming, stretching, and pressing the lapel and collar into shape.

Button detail:  Lion Rampant with Gaelic inscription, "Clann nar Gael, An gralli bra crelle."  I've looked it up extensively and cannot find a translation - it's neither modern Gaelic/Gaeilge nor can I find the words translated in middle Gaelic.   It must be ancient.  The first bit is "Family of the Gaels" but I cannot find the words "gralli," "bra," "óra" "crelle" or any combination thereof.  Anyone know?

We looked in the shops for the buttons but ended up getting them online.  They're made in many finishes now, including chrome and black, in addition to gold, "antique" and silver finishes.   Since it's formal, I thought it should be shiny but the chrome finish has too much of a sheen.   I was glad to find them in silver, as I prefer the hue of polished silver to chrome.  

Attaching the buttons.  Debi did a wonderful job on the flap details - the seams were sharp and the shape was perfect.

Debi went off to bed and I stayed up, sewing all twenty buttons in place.  It became almost like a meditation after a while.   I put on some music, and the third button in, the song was a Cherokee version of Amazing Grace, complete with pipes.  The frustrations of the early part of the night faded, and I knew we would get through this project together, as problematic as it had been.

The song also reminded me of when we went to the Clan Grant International Gathering in Grantown-on-Speyside in the Highlands two summers ago.   Chief "Corntassel" Smith of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation accompanied a contingent of Cherokee Grant descendants to meet the Scottish Clan members and the current Clan Chief, James Grant of Grant, Lord Strathspey.  It was a great visit, and planted a lot of seeds in my head for my own work/research.

You can hear the song, by the group Walela, here.


The next problem came with setting the sleeves:  The sleeve caps are larger than the sleeve opening on the main body of the jacket, so there's a lot of work required to get the cap to fit just right.

The first of many seam rippings: The right sleeve cap...

We finally got it right (third time's the charm), and I, in celebration, reenacted a favourite scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

Taking a break from the complicated bits, I turned to the construction of the flashes, which hang from garters under the top fold of the sock.   I tried to make it as simple as possible - of course, I could have used the proper width elastic, but that would be far too easy...

Debi did a great job sewing these up and even made an extra pair for my friend, Stephen.

Sewing up the Flashes

Hand-sewing the bowtie...

I'd been looking for a bowtie in piqué/marcella in town to no avail.  Some of you will remember that I'd sewn one to go with Debi's creations two winters ago but it's time-consuming and piqué is stiffer and more frail than silk or satin.   Debi had suggested overstitching but it wouldn't look right and the fabric frays easily.  In the end, she stitched the top and sides, leaving the bottom open.  I flipped it right side out, pressed the hem, and hand stitched the rest.

As it turns out, on our way to the ceremony, we passed a shop that sold white piqué bowties.  But as you know, there's nothing like wearing something you've made yourself, and this will now join the other pieces of my kit, all of which have special meaning.

Graduation Day, 3AM:  sewing up the waistcoat.

Debi got to work on the vest.  It was past 3AM and we'd decided to just make a go of it and not sleep.  It wasn't the best idea but the snags we'd hit cost us many hours and there was simply nothing for it.

I put on the Puppini Sisters, and we did our best to steel ourselves for the long night and day ahead, put our heads and fingers to the task, and soldiered-on.  The music soon put us both in a better mood, and we used the loopiness that came with staying up so late to our advantage.   We finished it together and were very pleased with the results.  Debi did an amazing job tackling the unfamiliar and tricky aspects of sewing a men's jacket, and both the jacket and vest ended up looking very professional.

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished outfit!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Starting at the Beginning: The Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacket

I've been a busy bee sewing up a storm over here at My Happy Sewing Place.  You may recall that I set out at the beginning of June to make the Big 4.  I hope you're not too disappointed that this became more realistically paired down to the Big 2 including the Bonnie Prince Charlie Kilt Jacket and the white tie waistcoat.  I know you're probably bummed that I didn't have time to make up my Gilda gown or garden party dress but I know you're a resilient bunch.  Plus, given that I already have two gowns in my wardrobe and quite a few dresses (and hats) that could pass for a garden party, I figured it was best to focus my attention on the man who would be crossing the graduation stage!

So let's start at the beginning...

This was entirely a joint sewing project with David (and of course help from our esteemed sewing assistant, Echo).  David cut out all the fabric for both the muslin and the final jacket and waistcoat.  The Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacket has a lot of pieces including jacket, lining and interfacing pieces.

Echo was the perfect pattern weight.  Any time we laid out the fabric she was on it in 5 seconds flat!  We used a nice mohair/wool blend for the muslin (which we will revisit to make another Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket) and 100% British wool for the final jacket.

You can sort of see from the photo that the British Wool is a delicious midnight blue colour and we used black duchess satin for the lapel.  I am super excited because David's going to do a guest post tomorrow about the whole process of sewing up the jacket, waistcoat and bowtie together.  It's a fantastic story filled with highs and lows, tears, sheer will, late nights, seam rippers and silly photos.  There were no divorce papers--on the contrary, doing what I call high-stakes sewing (i.e. big events like graduation, weddings, etc.) has been an amazing experience albeit one that we'll probably only do once (teehee).  But I'll let David tell you all about that story....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

I know I have posted this photo before, but I just love it!  Can you blame me? Isn't it the coolest photo ever?  This is my Dad in 1958:

Happy Father's Day to the most amazing, supportive and loving father! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To piqué or not to piqué

Is your interest piqued? Sorry, I couldn't resist ;-)

We are in the process of making David's white tie vest which is made of piqué.  As a vintage seamstress, this is a fabric type that I always see on the back of 1930's and 1940's patterns but not one I had worked with before.  Piqué, or marcella as it is also called, is a fabric that is characterized by raised weave (looks like fine ribbing or little squares).  It's synonymous with white tie and is (usually) the only fabric used for a white tie vest and tie. 

I love this fabric and can see why all the fashionable ladies' collars and cuffs and gentlemen's white tie garments are made from it.  Can you imagine something made completely in piqué?  I came across these delicious photos in the June 1955 issue of Vogue that caught my eye:

White pique--pure fit from the high square neckline to the firm line of the skirt.  To wear? Dancing the Merengue any evening; or, with a little cardigan, at the Jazz Festival at Newport (July 15, 16 and 17).  Dress by Harvey Berin, $70 Saks Fifth Avenue.

Pristine against an even faintly gilded skin--white pique, lightly-waisted, laced at the hip with more of the same. To wear: dancing aboard the S.S. 'United States' on her 66th crossing, June 10; or listening to 'Heart' on a terrace in Maine.  Dress by Pat Premo, $40 at Bergdorf Goodman.
I love these dresses and can see how piqué would be a fantastic fabric to use to make a dress.  I don't know, however, if I could wear something all white.  Have you ever worked with piqué?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

1955 Vogue Paris Designs

I have some fun pattern photos to share with you all today from the June 1955 issue of Vogue.  Here are the latest Vogue Paris Original patterns:

Vogue pattern 1298, Patou's pale-blue linen day costume.  It's a soft, short-sleeved jacket over a slender sleeveless dress cut in wide V's, front and back.

Vogue pattern 1299, a Paquin design for late-day.  The short-sleeved dress (black and white faille) has a black jacket with not-quite-long sleeves.

Vogue pattern 1303 from the Fath collection: a raspberry wool coal; an overblouse dress with a pleated skirt, of raspberry-dotted grey surah.
I found an image of the actual pattern on the Vintage Pattern Wiki:

The back-dipping jacket collar: Lanvin-Castillo's signature this year.  Natural shantung jacket over a slender black dress. Vogue pattern 1297.

This one was also in the Vintage Pattern Wiki:

Amazing designs, no?  I think the Patou design may be my favourite (though the Paquin one is in a close second for me).  I love how the Paquin one is for late-day as opposed to evening or early day.  Ah, to be Parisian in the 1950's....

Which one is your favourite?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Me-Made-May Week 4

Can you believe it's June already?  I'm catching up with the last round-up post for Me-Made-May...

The 1941 'Bold & Bright Blouse' made during Me-Made-May 2010 and the 'Versatile Skirt'.  Wearing them with my trusty pink Ness shoes.

The blouse is made with Simplicity 3688  (a reissued vintage pattern from 1941) and the skirt was made with McCall 3968 from 1940:

I'm still planning to make the jacket to match this dress from Butterick 2181:

This dress was made with 02/2011 pattern No.101 from BurdaStyle:

For Day 26, I paired two of my first garments together including my 'First Blouse' and my 'First Skirt'

The blouse was made with DuBarry 5327 and the skirt was made with Hollywood 1521 both from the early 1940's:

For this day, I paired two different 30's pattern garments together: My '39 Steps' dress and the jacket from 'My Birthday Suit Dress' worn with my Ness ballet flats and matching me-made (or David-made) belt.

The '39 Steps' dress was made with McCall 9089 from 1937 and the jacket was made with McCall 9156 from 1938:

 My 'Harbour Lights' Dress

Made with McCall 4114 from 1941:

The 'Hawk's Eye View' Dress and non me-made Ness jacket

Made with the dress pattern in the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook:

The end of Me-Made-May forced me to get creative with my ensembles and this is one that I just love: My 'C'mooooooon Poil' jacket and my 'Black Forest Meringue' skirt paired with a non me-made (but very 40's inspired) blouse from Monsoon.

The jacket pattern is McCall 3619 from 1940 and the skirt pattern came from the Colette Sewing Handbook:

My 'Marlene Trousers' coupled with my 'Betty Blouse'

The trousers are from my Tried-N-True Simplicity 3688 pattern and the blouse is from Maudella 1268:

I really enjoyed participating in the Me-Made-May this year and getting creative with my me-made ensembles.  Which outfit from this last week do you like the best?

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