Mixing Eras: Edwardian Dress Meets 1930s Slip

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A client recently emailed me to ask me about a dress that she had. She wanted to wear it for her wedding, but the petticoat needed to have fabric added to it, and the other dress needed a bit of mending. She said that they were antique pieces and I was intrigued, so I met her at the shop and looked over her dress. I was so excited by what I saw!

Her (wedding) gown was a stunning example of Edwardian fashion. It was a hand-sewn white cotton batiste dress with lace insets, pintucks and lots of delicate hand embroidery. The dress fit her like a glove! The petticoat that she intended to wear under the dress had an extremely tiny waist, so it was decided that I would add in a section of fabric with a zipper that could be removed later, if necessary, to maintain the original garment. We also decided that I would make her a slip from a silvery-blue satin, from a Mrs. Depew Vintage 1930s French lingerie pattern.

MrsDepewVintageI had never before used one of Mrs. Depew’s patterns, even though I have one that I purchased for my personal use waiting for me in my pattern box. It was very interesting to draft, and I had a lot of fun with it. I would absolutely buy another one!

You start off with a tiny piece of paper that has miniature pattern pieces on it. To make the pattern pieces in your size, you use a set of rulers. To read about the process, check out Anna’s post here: Draft At-Home Patterns. It was a fascinating process, and I loved that there was no size limitation on the pattern. The slip turned out beautifully.

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We ended up deciding to remove the ribbon and rosette, because they distracted from the lace pattern and it looked like a stain on the middle of the dress from far away.

She decided that after her wedding, she would wear only the slip and the petticoat, to better preserve the outer lace dress. Before I washed the petticoat and dress, I thought that a few pieces of the embroidery were a dark peach color. Umm… yeah, it turns out they were light yellow. I didn’t realize how dirty the garments were, because they were so much whiter after a good soak and some sunshine!

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Here’s a view of the slip and petticoat together. It looks really beautiful on her:

EdwDress3The star of this dress though is nothing short of amazing. The amount of time and detail that went into this dress… I can’t even imagine trying to guess how many hours it took to make. As it turns out, it once belonged to the Schlitz beer heiress. My client’s mother bought the dress at an estate sale in the 1980s.

EdwDress4Did I already mention all of the handwork on this piece? I stared at it for the longest time, trying to find any trace of where a knot was tied off, or to discover some small secrets about its construction. Every yard of lace and and cotton had been pieced by hand. Every pintuck required dozens of stitches, and the couched embroidery? I don’t even know where to begin.

EdwDress5EdwDress6EdwDress7The back had very interesting piecing. In order for the dress to have uninterrupted center back panel full of embroidery, the buttons and hooks that close the dress came down at and angle and then fell to one side of the center back panel. If you look closely, you can see the hooks and eyes hanging inside the cotton, where there is a fabric band that wraps around the waist. You can click on all of these photos to get a better view, by the way.

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The sleeves had a beautiful forward slant, held at the elbow by more pintucks. Just extraordinary!EdwDress9How do you feel about garments like this? Does it make you want to work that much harder on putting details into your clothes? It sure does for me!

A New FREE Online Class!

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A few months ago I flew to Denver to get back in the Craftsy studio.

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I had been working with their producers on developing a new free class, called Sew Ready. If you’re just learning to sew, or if you want to learn, then this class is for you! Even if you’d just like a refresher on different stitches or how to clean and oil your machine, pop on over and sign up- it’s FREE!

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Also, Craftsy is have a sale on their classes from 9/14-9/21, so if you see something you like, you should go for it! I’d love to see you over in my Beginner Serging class, or join me in my own classes as I work my way thru learning to fit my knitting, or knit toe-up socks!

How to Sew a Tank Top Pattern, Part 3

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The first two parts of making this tank top can be found here (part 1) and here (part 2). If you’ve already made your front and back pattern pieces, then you’re ready to sew them together! I used fashion fabric to make this tank top, but if you want to test your pattern out first, before using up yardage from your fabric stash, you’ll be able to skip most of these steps. To test your muslin, all that you really need to do is sew the darts, shoulder seams, and side seams together. Don’t worry about finishing your raw edges or sewing on bias binding around the neckline and armholes. You will want to stitch a line along the seam line of the neck and armholes, so that you can see exactly where the finished garment lines will lay, but that’s all. Let’s sew!

To begin, you’ll need to cut out one front pattern piece, and one back pattern piece on the fold. My fabric (a Liberty of London print) was wide enough that I could fold the selvedges into the middle of the fabric to save on yardage. I purchased 1.25 yards to make my top, so that I would have enough fabric to also cut my bias tape from the print if I wanted to.

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Before you move your pieces, use a tracing wheel and tracing paper to mark your darts. If you don’t have these, I have another tutorial up on how to use pins and a fabric marker to mark your darts.

TankSew2Then cut out enough bias tape to go around your neckline and armholes, plus at least 12″. I know this looks like a lot, but I cut small strips from some leftover navy rayon I had for a contrasting look, and then pieced them together.

TankSew3Once you’re done with your cutting, sew your tank top darts. Use a tailor’s ham or seam roll to press your darts in the right direction.

TankSew4Sewing together one shoulder will make it easier to finish your binding in a bit. I usually seam the right shoulder, and then finish the raw edge with a 3-thread overlock on my serger. On this tank top, I used a 2-thread wrapped stitch, so that the wooly nylon in my lower looper would create a nice soft edge.

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Apply the binding to the neckline. My binding was narrow (1.25″ wide), and I sewed it on with 1/4″ of seam allowance. After you sew it onto the neckline, trim the seam allowance down to 1/8″. If your neckline has any sharp curves, you may want to also clip the seam allowance, to allow it to lay completely flat.

TankSew7Next, press the binding up to open the seam between the binding and the tank top. It’s okay if your seam allowance is also pressed up, because we’ll press it back down in a minute.

TankSew8After pressing, seam the other tank top shoulder, matching the seam line and raw edges of the binding. Finish the shoulder raw edge, and then sew the binding onto the armholes in the same manner as the neckline.

TankSew9Next, pin the side seams together, once again being careful to match the binding seam line and raw edges. Finish the side seam raw edge.

TankSew10I don’t have pictures of these next steps (darn it, I have no idea why I don’t), but you will press your binding edge under by 1/4″ and then fold the binding in towards the inside of the garment. This is not the type of binding where the bias tape is exposed on the outside of the tank top. Jen from Grainline has a great tutorial on applying bias tape if you’d like a more detailed look at the steps involved.

Once your bias tape is done, hem your tank top. I folded mine up by 1/4″ and ironed it all the way around, then folded it up again while sewing and stitched the hem in place along the first folded edge. The curve in my hem means I had to do a bit of easing to get the hem allowance to lay flat, but with some steam from my iron to help shrink the fabric, it laid down just fine.

TankSew12Now you’re done! Give your tank top a final press and try it on. What do you think?

Learn create a pattern and sew a tank top on ReallyHandmade.com!

How to Make a Tank Top Pattern, Part 2

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Why, hello there!

It’s been a whirlwind past few weeks. I was in Chicago for an interview, visited my family for a few days and the headed to Cleveland, Ohio, to film two segments for It’s Sew Easy. I believe the segments will air sometime in December or January.

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Speaking of segments, if you’re interested in catching my Sew It All episode on sewing and matching plaid garments, it’s airing in September! Check your local PBS listings to see when it airs in your area.

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Now where were we before I left on my trip… ahh yes, the tank top pattern! I’ll tell you what, I still can’t stop making these. I’ve added another 3 to my collection, although one of them found a new home in my mom’s wardrobe when I visited her.

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If you didn’t already make the front tank top pattern, you can read about that here. You should already have your pattern front drawn up before you start on your pattern back. It will be much easier to compare the shoulder and side seams this way.

FrontBodiceExtension5Looking at your back pattern piece, you may notice that it has a dart on the shoulder seam. Some fitting shell patterns and sloper pieces do not have a dart at the shoulder, and that’s okay. If your shoulders aren’t very rounded, you can still have a nicely draped top without this dart. It is up to you as to whether you decide to keep this dart on your garment or remove it.

BodiceBacksIf you follow the front tank pattern instructions, the neckline and armhole of your back tank pattern should already be adjusted for a more scooped neck and the shoulder seam of the back pattern piece should match up with the width of the front shoulder seam.

BodiceStrapAdjustmentsBodiceStrapAdjustmentsBTo adjust the length of the pattern back, begin by lengthening the center back seam from the current waistline down to the hip line.

BackBodExt1From the bottom of this line, just as you did with the front pattern piece, you will draw a line that is perpendicular to the center back along the hip line. Measure out on this line one HALF of your BACK hip measurement, and make a mark. We only use half of the back hip because we’re only making half of the back pattern, as the pattern piece is cut on fold.

BackBodExt2Now, your waist width does not match the width of half of your hip. If it does… well… you may not have a butt. In that case I’m sorry about your lack of a rear end, because they are fun, but at least you’ll get to skip this next step and just draw a line straight down your side seam from the waist to the hip.

For those of you with rear curves, draw a line on your back pattern piece from the waist to your armhole that is about 1.5” in from the side seam. Cut along this line, keeping the pattern attached at the armhole.

BackBodExt3Pivot this piece out until the side seam could create a straight line to match up with your hip measurement. Draw the line to finish your side seam length, and smooth out your adjusted armhole curve.

BackBodExt4Compare the side seam length of your front and back pattern pieces, and also double-check that the shoulder seam widths match. The necklines, shoulder seam, armhole, side seam and hemlines should all meet at 90º angles, even if they only hold the 90º for a very short distance.

BackBodExt5I would recommend that you add a generous amount of ease to this pattern. Remember that after you decide how much ease you’d like to add, you divide that number by 4, since it will be distributed on both sides of the front pattern, and both sides of the back pattern. I added a total of 1” of ease to my pattern at the bustline (so 1/4” at the side seams), and 4.5” of ease at the hips (1.125” at the hipline).

TankEase1If you would like to alter the hem to have a scoop like I did, measure along your side seam from your waist down to where you would like the highest point of your hemline to be. Try to make your hem have a very gentle slope to it, or it will be a bit more difficult to hem the shirt. The curved hemline is really nice because since the hemline is higher than your hipline, it allows you to have more ease thru the hip, since the garment doesn’t have to fit over your hip width. My hemline is raised up 4” from my hipline on my side seam. Check your side seam lengths as you shorten the hem, to make sure they are still the same length on each pattern piece.

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TankEase4You’re almost done! The next step is to shorten your dart length. Right now, the dart on the front dart points all the way to the apex. Based on the flatness of your bust point, you will want to shorten your dart point anywhere from 3/4” to 2” away from the apex point. The pointier your bust is, the closer your dart point will need to be to your apex. The more rounded your bust is, the farther away your dart point should be. You may want to play around with how long your dart should be when you make your tank top muslin. The style of bra that you wear can definitely change the shape of your breast and affect the dart length.

TankEase5And lastly, your pattern needs seam allowance! Since I sew my tank top seams on my serger, I gave my pattern 1/4” seam allowance. You can give your pattern whatever seam allowance width you prefer. Many pattern companies use 5/8”, but that’s a bit much. I’d recommend you use no more than 1/2” of seam allowance.

When drawing the seam allowance around your dart ends, you may find that it’s easier to complete this once you’re cutting out your pattern. Draw your seam allowance lines all around the pattern, and then fold the darts closed in the direction they will be pressed and cut along the seam allowance line. This gives you the correct seam allowance shaping for your dart.

TankSeamAllowOnce you’re finished, draw your fold lines on the center front and center back pattern lines. Write any information you’ll need on the pattern, such as what you decide to name it (Really Handmade Tank Pattern is fine by me!), and perhaps your bust, waist and hip measurements, along with the date that you made the pattern, and list the amount of ease and seam allowance the pattern has.

TankSeamAllow2Next up in this tank top series I’ll show you how quick and easy it is to sew one of these up!

Little Theo’s Baby Quilt

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I’m currently out of town, visiting my family and drinking waaay too much coffee to keep up with the time change. Before I left Portland though, I made sure to finish a baby gift for a dear friend of mine. Her little boy was born a few weeks ago, so my gift to him was bit late. I don’t think tiny baby Theo will hold it against me though!

Usually when I make a quilt, I buy the fabric first, and figure out the pattern I want to make later. It’s pretty rare that I find a pattern first and then buy the fabric. That might be because I really don’t buy patterns at all. I feel like a cheater when I use one, as if I’m not being as creative as I could be. I don’t know why I tell myself this, because it’s ridiculous. But nevertheless, I picked up some fat quarters of the Indian Summer line, and some yardage of an Architextures print at Modern Domestic.

I was telling myself to make something that wasn’t too complicated since I have a lot on my plate right now, but I don’t listen to my own brain. I knew that I wanted to use half-square triangles (HST). I didn’t really have a plan for them, so I played around with the layout until I came up with nine different blocks.

TheoQuilt7Does anyone know what this block is called? I’m certain that I didn’t just make up a completely new and never-before-seen block. Each one uses 72 different triangles, and the white fabrics in the middle of each block make up a star.

TheoQuilt8Because of the tiny woodland animals, I wanted the quilting to have a Pacific-Northwest feel to it. However, trying to make little pine trees all over the quilt looked like Christmas, so I took a different route and just did meandering loops. It was much easier to do, especially once I remembered to lower my feed dogs. Does anyone else forget that after they haven’t quilted for a while? My stitching looked fine, but my arms were tired after one pass thru the machine!

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The batting I got from Modern Domestic (I can’t remember the brand name) and it puffed up and seems to have become thicker after washing the quilt. It’s incredibly dense, but soft and heavy at the same time.  I really like it, although it made the quilt more crinkled and lofty than I was expecting it to be. That’s not a bad thing, especially when it should be extra-soft for Theo to lay on.

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I used a solid teal from my stash for the binding. I hardly ever hand-sew the binding on, and this quilt was no exception. I know that some quilters consider hand sewing the binding to be their favorite part, but usually at that stage I just want to be done.

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The backing is made up of leftover tiny strips of fabric prints, white and a light-blue stripe of solid quilting cotton, and a print. I did put one tiny HST on the back too, but otherwise used large pieces of fabric.TheoQuilt4It was certainly a fun quilt to make, and now I have lots of ideas brewing for my next one. How do you plan out your quilts?