Monday, January 30, 2012

Anne Adams Slip

With such shear fabric, I felt my dress form needed to
model this one.  Doesn't leave much to the imagination!
A while back, I decided I really wanted to make a 1940's style slip to wear under my swing dress.  Since the dress was unlined (as was common in the 40's), I thought it would be nice to have a slip to go with it.  Not long after I decided this, I found the perfect pattern for my slip.  But instead of using it sew up a slip, I sewed up a sundress.  

Pattern used (with the fabric used to make my sundress)
Not having just the right fabric had held me back from sewing the slip I wanted.  Do any of you ever have a great pattern in your stash, but just can't find an equally great, deserving fabric for the task?  This happens to me quite often, but eventually I find what I am looking for.

For this particular project, I was looking for an affordable piece of silk in a nude color.  I wanted to make a very basic slip that could go under just about anything.  If you've been reading my blog since November, you know that I found that perfect piece of silk.  After taking the time to properly wash it, I even found a way to share the precious yardage with another project.

A apologize for the boring photos here - beige walls, nude slip and natural dress form.  My next project with have some more color, for now this suits what I was looking to accomplish.  I'm even thinking this will be a great piece to go under the jumper that I am knitting up.

View of the side placket where I used snap fasteners to hold it closed.
Some of my vintage snap fasteners were used for the side placket.  I'm really please with the way this turned out, it looks almost as good as an invisible zipper.  I also added snap fasteners to the straps to make it even easier to get in and out of.

Close up of the strap and the snap fastener used.
And just because I can't have a post with only impersonal dress form photos, here I am wearing my new slip underneath my swing dress :)

Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

German Pattern Experiment: Day 4

Welcome back once again to my series documenting my attempt to sew through my German pattern magazines from 1936.  Today I will actually be sharing my approach on how to go about starting to use these patterns.  Here are the tools you will need if you find yourself in a similar situation with these types of patterns:
  • Your pattern magazine - including the pattern sheets
  • A Sharpie or other type of permanent marker
  • Clear plastic wrap (something like these cello roles)
Here you can see my patterns, Sharpie and plastic wrap.
To be honest, I was a bit stumped when I first thought about starting this project.  After carefully unfolding my pattern sheet, my initial thoughts were to quickly fold it back up and forget that I had purchased these patterns.  As you may know from other bloggers, these pattern sheets are one piece of paper with multiple, overlapping patterns (97 pieces on one sheet!).  Meaning, one cannot simply start cutting out your pieces; you must find a way to trace them.

My typical tracing method is to tape my pattern sheet to a large window and simply place butcher paper over and begin to trace my patterns.  In this situation such a method will not work.  The pattern lines are quite faded from time and there is a lot more activity on these sheets than with a modern pattern.  What's this, you may not believe me?  Well here is a visual for you:

Spools of thread are included for size reference and a bit of color.
You can see that there really is a lot going on in these patterns.
So you may have noticed that my supply list is rather odd for tracing delicate vintage patterns.  Well in a moment of brilliance I, myself a friend thought it would be great to take my pattern sheets to a copy shop and have them make a copy!  Yes, this was a brilliant idea.  Now that I have these copies, I do not have to worry about my pattern sheet disintegrating in my hands as I try to trace them.

My next moment of sheer genius came when a coworker was cleaning out the supply cabinet at work and offered to let us take anything she was clearing out.  To my luck, I found two rolls of clear plastic wrap and thought that it would be perfect for tracing my patterns (especially since butcher paper was not doing the trick).  Because the plastic doesn't take well to a pencil or any ink that smears easily, I tried using a Sharpie - and it worked perfectly.

Aside from the giant flash, you can see that it is really easy to see the pattern through the paper.
Cute paper dress-form courtesy of a darling friend.
So here are my steps to tracing out the pattern pieces - I hope you find this helpful if you own any of these kinds of patterns and do not know where to start.  First you will want to locate your pattern on the right panel of the pattern sheet.  It should have a number which corresponds to the pattern images in the magazines (for my May and December images click the links).  From here there should be a list of pattern piece numbers associated with your chosen pattern.  You will want to trace all of them:

Here is a glance at some of the pieces and the descriptions
Here is an even more zoomed in photo so you can get a better idea of what to look for:

For my pattern I will need pieces 36, 37, 38, 39 -
plus a few more that got cut off when I took the picture.
Here you can see the 39 which represents one of the pattern pieces that I need to trace.  The slightly wavy line to the left of it is the line that I need to follow to trace the piece.

 It is helpful to refer back to the tiny images on the right panel to help you see the shape you are looking for.  From the photo below you can see that piece 39 is shaped slightly rectangular (geometry experts, please do not point out my faults with this explanation - it is a rough description).  These little images also contain some other important information.  You can see that the right side of piece 39 is a dotted line, this means that it will be placed on the fold.  It also means that you will see a dotted line when you are tracing the pattern.

Take note of all the small markings they are all used in the construction of your garment,
and are just like markings on modern patterns (more scarce of course).
Sorry for the shadow, sun still sets early . . .
Here is another example of an important marking.  You can see the little asterisk by the number 65.  This represents where the dotted line ends and you need to follow the wavy line again.  You will also need to cut a slit in your fabric up to that asterisk.

 When you are done tracing and cutting one piece you might have something like this:

This is piece 36, you can see near the pile of thread spools that I have also drawn
in a dart.  It was traced from the pattern, but I knew to look for it because it was shown
on the pattern key in the right panel of the pattern sheet.
 If your pattern magazine is similar to mine, you should be able to use this tutorial to trace out your pattern pieces and get started sewing!  I've got my muslin pieces cut out and will be making my way through that.  I will also be back next week with a few more tips on using these magazines.  Keep your fingers crossed that very soon I will have my first completed garment, followed by a free pattern for you.

Do you have any specific questions about using these kinds of pattern magazines?  I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I am pretty excited about the progress that I am making!

Live in this moment and love life!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pre-washing Your Silk Fabric

Hello my dear readers!  I was really hoping that this post was going to be showing off my latest sewing project, unfortunately work has gotten much busier and I find myself with less and less time to sew each week.  Do not be too sad though, I am sure that I can get my project finished up in this coming week - so I will be able to share it with you quite soon.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a post on pre-washing silk fabrics.  Since many of the patterns from my German Pattern Experiment involve lingerie, pajamas and robes - it only seams appropriate that silk is a first choice when it comes to sewing up these patterns.

Here is my current silk collection.
When I first started shopping for fabric at my local shop, I noticed a remnant bin with luxurious silks for as little as $5.00 a yard.  I quickly scooped up a yard of pastel blue charmeuse.  From time to time I would see other great deals like this, always taking advantage of prices that seemed to good to be true.  I soon amassed a small stash of silk fabric and found myself not choosing to sew with them because I was afraid to ruin the fabric.  Well, after much on-line research, I came across a method of pre washing silk that seemed very reasonable.  An now silk has become one of my favorite fabrics to work with.  It is my favorite lining fabric, it's perfect for lingerie and it makes an elegant blouse.

I realize that not everyone has easy access to silk, but if you do I encourage you to take advantage of it.  Should you find yourself with a bit of silk on hand, here is my process for pre washing it.  This can also work for the final garment if it is all silk.

On the right is a charmeuse and the light green is silk habutai.
Here is the excerpt from the website I found that convinced me to give this method a try: Did you know that just a few trips to the dry cleaners noticeably dulls your silk? Hand washed silk, on the other hand, can be counted upon to continue looking its best, typically becoming softer over time.  Umm, after reading this, is there really as question as to whether or not to hand wash you silk?  That was my conclusion, so here is my process:

Start by soaking your fabric in lukewarm water with a bit of mild soap.  I actually use shampoo (my sister would freak if she saw me using her salon shampoo to care for my fabric, but I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to my hair, so I would rather splurge for my sewing).

Here's some of my silk fabric with the shampoo I used to wash it.
Next I rinse the fabric to remove any soap residue.  Since I want to make sure that all of the soap has been removed, I follow up with a second rise in vinegar water.  (Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar per gallon).  Since no one likes the smell of vinegar, my fabric goes through one more rinse of clean water.

Here is my purple silk I used for lining my pencil skirt.
It just looks so pretty!
Do you like how I wash my silk in a cooler?  I didn't want to fill up my washing machine for such a small amount of fabric and the kitchen sink just seemed wrong, so I found our cooler and made sure it was squeaky clean before trusting it with my silk fabric.  Notice how the water is actually soaking up some of the purple dye - don't worry, this is normal.

After rinsing my fabric, I gently press the water out of the fabric, then lay it on top of towels.  I like to roll up the towels and silk and let it sit until the fabric is just damp.   Then I unroll the fabric bundle and iron the fabric on my silk setting.  I also like to use a bit of muslin between the iron and my fabric to prevent any damage.

Lay the fabric over some towels to help soak up excess water.
I like to roll up my fabric like a giant burrito :)
Once silk is ironed, it is ready to go.  Make something lovely!  Should you find yourself with more questions on the properties of silk fabric, I encourage you to visit the post where I found this information.  It is a very interesting read that I find myself referring back to when pulling out my silk fabric.

Have you worked with silk before, what have you made?  What are some of your favorite fabrics to work with?  If you had access to all-things fabric, what would be your ideal choice?

Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

German Pattern Experiment: Day 3

I want to thank everyone who has left comments on my last post.  I am going to try really hard to make PDFs of the patterns that you call out.  Today you will have another chance of looking through the patterns, this time from my May 1936 issue.

Like the December issue, the May issue starts out with some lingerie and sleep wear.  There are a lot of feminine details like bows, lace and embroidery.  The second half of the patterns are beach wear; I love the way scenes are set up.  Take a peak and let me know if anything catches your fancy.

Nightgowns and slips.

More nightgowns.  I think that 15119 looks like a cami that you or I would wear today.

While the top right (15122) pair of pajamas looks cute, 15121 just looks odd.

More pajamas.

One of my favorite outfits of the two magazines is the top left of this page.  It is an overalls type pants with a short sleeve jacket.  I think it looks equally great with or without the jacket.  I'm not sure if I would make it in ankle length or the shorter length.

Why is it that men's wear just seems odd?

Awe, isn't the little chunker in the middle too adorable?

I guess there was a time when people wore robes to the beach?

The dress at bottom right is another one of my favorites.  I probably wouldn't make the cape, but I love the pockets and side buttons.

This is just bad birth control.  I want a bunch of little girls so I can dress them up like this.
That's the last of the pattern pages I have for you.  I think we have plenty of patterns to choose from going forward with this experiment.  My next installments will hopefully start to have a bit more substance to them.  I'm still wrestling with how to approach that actual patterns, but I've got some ideas.

Have any of the images here inspired you to sew something?  What do you think of the family-style approach with this magazine?  I know today that we can buy patterns for the whole family, but I feel like more often books (or magazines) are made with a target gender and age in mind - which would be mostly women.

Live in this moment and love life!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

1930's Jumper

Oh, it has been too long since I've actually posted a finished project - and this is still not the post for that.  I've been working on some knitting and thought it would be fun to share my progress on that - since it has been distracting me from sewing lately.

I've been working on a 1930's jumper with a delicate lace pattern from the yarn I bought back in September.  It's been a challenge to do my first lace pattern, and I can honestly say that I've been doing just about as much reverse knitting as actual knitting.  However, I am still really pleased with my progress and can't wait to have this sweater finished.  I'm at the point where the pattern says I should start the armhole decreases, but I need to decide how much more knitting I want to do before starting the armhole shaping.

Here's what the sweater looks like right now.
And this is what the pattern should look like.
As I mentioned above, I am still trying to decide how much more knitting that I want to do on this.  From looking at other 1930's sweaters, it looks like the bottom ribbing ends at the natural waist and the sweater has a loose fit above that ribbing.

I am pointing to my natural waist, showing also that there is
still some knitting before I can start the armhole shaping.
What really surprised me when I went to try this on, was how much ease there is.  With my gauge swatch, I had more stitches to the inch than the suggested gauge - implying that if I made no changes, the sweater would come out on the small side. As you can see from the photo below, there is still plenty of ease in this sweater.

A bit more ease than I expected
Just for fun, I thought that I would point out that my dental floss is actually thicker than the yarn I am knitting with.  I am used to knitting in a fine gauge, but this is the first time I have knit from lace yarn!

Hehe - this sweater will take forever!
Oh, and this sweater isn't the only thing that has been stealing my sewing time.  Knitting gifts for some wee-little ones has occupied a bit of my time as well:

The pink and orange hat is for my little niece, while the Packers hat is for my cousin's little boy.  It was quite delightful to knit something so precious.  (I can't wait to someday have my own little ones to knit things for . . . but don't worry, that is not any time too soon)

For more on Emma's hat, you can visit my ravelry page.

For more on Jake's hat, you can also visit ravelry.
Well, these are the things that I have been up to lately.  What's been keeping you occupied?  Have you been working on anything special?

Oh, and if anyone has any advice on fitting my 1930's jumper, please do share.  This is my first time working from a 1930's pattern and I'm a little unsure of myself.

Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

German Pattern Experiment: Day 2

Welcome back for my second installment of the German Pattern Experiment.  It was really exciting to see all of the positive responses on my first post!  Today I have for you a few scans of the images from the December issue - to give you a little idea of what is in store with my German Pattern Experiment.

The funny thing about this issue is that it is all sleep wear, lingerie and children's clothing.  I suppose the best way to face a cold winter is to lounge around all day in our sleep wear, or perhaps a silky teddy.  This is sure to catch hubby's attention, resulting in the need to sew up children's clothing . . .

Knickers, a bra and two nighties.  I like the attention to detail with the lace.

Night gowns, teddys and a pair of underwear that looks like bloomers.

I actually really like the pajama set with the pants and short sleeve shirt.  

I'm not quite sure what these patterns are all about.  The pants and vest look like a day outfit, but the one on the left with the black fabric and white polka-dots looks like pajamas gone wrong rather than something I would wear in public.

And here we have a house coat and robe.  I think the robe would be every elegant if made from a lovely silk.  The house coat however, screams mu-mu.

Don't forget about hubby, he needs sleep wear too!  Can you believe that men wore body suits back in the 30's?  I almost want to make it just to see if I can find someone who will wear it.  On second thought, that's a lot of work, with the possibility of no reward.

Ah yes, the children's clothing.  Save for the coat, these look more like spring time outfits rather than winter.

More stuff for the little ones.  I personally love the little sailor outfit - when I someday have children, I will subject them to cute little outfits like this.

That's all for the patterns in my December 1936 issue of the German pattern magazine.  What do you think - anything here that you would love to make up?  How about those men's patterns?  Is there a pattern here that you would like to see me made?  I'm feeling a little partial to the robe in the fourth scan.  But, I also like the idea of starting with something that uses a little less fabric.

Live in this moment and love life!