Thursday, February 21, 2019

Final Sewalong Post: Attaching the Bodice, Inserting the Zipper and Hemming the Dress

A massive thank you to Rachael from @ms.carnivale for co-hosting (e.g. leading) the's the LAST post!
Ok we are onto the home stretch now!

Let’s get this bodice attached to the skirt: now the 1940s way to do this is via a lapped seamed, which I will explain below. If you don’t want to do it thus, you can do a normal right sides together seam for ease. But I’ll behave and follow the pattern instructions.

1) Fold the skirt part along the 1/2” seam allowance and baste.

2) Overlap the skirt on top of the bodice and match key points such as the open edges where the zip will go and the notches. Make sure to match the raw edges. Pin.

3) Topstitch (sew neatly coz you’re gonna see it!) along the edge.

4) Press and finish the edge as you’ve done before (I used pinking shears on mine)

Before you can complete the hem, you should really allow the dress to hang for around 24 hours. This is so the skirt will lie evenly and is really important if your fabric is loose weave or on the bias as this will mean it ‘drops’ differently and you don’t want a wavy hem!

This pattern called for a ‘slide fastening’ aka a zip. There are various ways you can insert these, and most vintage patterns just write ‘refer to zip manufacturer’s guidance’. Yeah thanks for that 🙄

Generally though, your zip should zip up to under the arm, not the other way! And it’s usually on the left side of the body when worn, so hopefully you haven’t sewn up this seam (don’t laugh, it’s incredibly easy to forget about this!)

I’m going to describe my preferred method which is a hand picked zip done away from the machine. Honestly I find this this easiest (and I can do it whilst watching the telly so win) but if you want to use your machine, a quick google will give you a million zip tutorials. Just make sure to use a zip foot on your machine and do a lapped zip (unless you want to do an invisible zip but they are the work of the devil). Personally I like using vintage metal teethed zips and doing a lapped zip.

1) I start by folding over and pressing the seam allowance in so I have a nice clean edge to work with.

2) Ensure the zip is flat and straight by giving it a quick iron too.

3) Test the zip works! But keep it closed for now.

4) Working on the right side of the fabric, fold over the top fabric edge of the right side of the zip so it sits out of the way between the zip and the fabric. Pin.

5) Start on the right of the zip and pin the fabric against it near the teeth, continue down the side, using vertical pins.

6) At the bottom, use a pin horizontally to lock it in place at the bottom.

7) At the stage I spin the garment around to work on the other side.

8 Open the zip.

9) For this side, we want the fabric to cover the teeth, so pin it so there’s enough to cover the teeth but ensure the seam allowance won’t come loose.

10) Continue using vertical pins up and I close the zip as I go.

11) You need to ensure that whilst pinning the zip in place, that the bodice seam line will be matched on either side of the zip. Otherwise it’ll look stupid and won’t lie nicely. Adjust until it behaves.

12) Continue to the top and remember to fold the zip tab as you did before.

13) As long as it zips up and down fine, you are ready to sew.

14) Thread your hand needle and knot it so you’re working with double threads for strength.

15) I start on the underside on the easier right side of the zip (where it sits against the teeth) and start on the further side of the tab to ensure it is stitched down nicely.

16) Insert your needle to the right side and then immediately back inside, with only the tiniest dot of stitch on the front. Take a normal small stitch on the inside back to the front. Repeat tiniest dots on the outside and small stitches on the inside all around the zip.

17) Basically you should barely see stitches from the outside.

Not the fastest method but I find it never goes wrong which is nice.

For the hem, pop the dress on and check where it’s sitting versus where you want it to sit. There’s always a hem guide in the pattern, but as a shortie, I usually have to do more than this. A 2” hem for example is super easy.

Fold and press 2” under for example.

Then fold your hem in to the fold line and pin.

Slip stitch by hand inside so that no stitches are seen from the outside.

Press and DONE!!!

Well done folks, enjoy your new dress!!

Monday, February 11, 2019

McCall 3888: The Town and Country Cape

This is one of my favourite me-made ensembles ever. The cape, jacket and dress are all made using 1940 McCall patterns and the hat is from a 1941 McCall pattern.

I made the cape using McCall 3888 and opted for Version B which is the longer version.  It features an awesome coat lapel, two buttons and amazing square shoulders.

I made the cape using the same fabric as my Town and Country suit dress jacket--an amazing wool that I got in Birmingham.  I bought tons of this wool not really know what I was going to make but because I loved the colours!

And I'm super chuffed to use the same dress fabric as the lining fabric for my cape!

Here's a reminder of what the hat pattern looks like!

I'm feeling very Scottish in this ensemble--which ironically we took these photos on Robert Burn's Birthday! So perfect!

This is one of my favourite places in Edinburgh called Dean Village. It's a small hidden enclove of really cool old mill houses and a gorgeous river (the Water of Leith) running through it.

This is the suit dress pattern (blogged about here):

For me, the cape really completes the look and makes it feel like a proper 1940s ensemble.  I just love looking at old fashion photos of the time period with a suit that has a big matching coat or cape.  I want to make more matching outwear for my outfits now :)

Overall, super pleased with the ensemble. A coat would have probably been more wearable but there's something really special about a cape!

I might even have enough fabric to make a matching skirt! That would be awesome!!  And reminds me to always buy lots of wool fabric when I get a chance (not that I need any help buying fabric! hahaha)

MUAH: Vanity Thrills
Photos: Darja Bilyk  
Shoes: Bait Footwear

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Marlene Waistcoat

So delighted to add another piece to my Marlene suit--this awesome waistcoat made from a 1941 McCall pattern.

I just adore this pattern--McCall 4091 from 1941.  It features a very neat waistcoat design that has a split at the waist in the bodice front--which actually works great with high-waisted trousers.

I made view B but without the faux pockets. I like the streamlined front better and maybe I was also being lazy and just wanted to fit the waistcoat! haha.

The back is straight with a little belt and buckle. I probably should have taken some of the length out of the back but overall, I love the fit. Though waistcoats don't leave much room for holiday eating! hahaha.

The idea to make this waistcoat came from finding more of this fabric in my fabric stash.  I still have more too--so maybe I should also make a matching skirt!!

I made the jacket from a 1939 McCall pattern and the trousers from a reproduction 1941 pattern (both are blogged here and here) about seven years ago, so this entire outfit is from my favourite years of 1939-1941.

The fabric is an amazing lightweight wool with a great design. I ended up picking up maybe 6-7 metres of this on a half off sale and then decided it would turn into the perfect suit!

I just love the menswear 1940s looks--popularised by Katherine Hepburn and actresses like Marlene Dietrich (who I named this suit after!)

I just love the whole look and the waistcoat makes such a great difference! I now want to make waistcoats out of all my fabrics!!

We took these photos at a grand house just on the outskirts of Edinburgh and I love how well all the colours match.

I'm sold on making more 1940s suits and they are so wearable too!

What about you? Vintage suits, yes or no?

MUAH: Vanity thrills Photos: Darja Bilyk 
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