Monday, February 25, 2013

My Sew for Victory project: first steps

I know I don't frequently talk a whole lot of shop during the construction of the garments I sew or knit, but I was thinking of doing it a bit with my Sew for Victory project. It's the biggest project I've ever undertaken, and I know a lot of you seemed excited by the idea of this project, so I thought I'd do more than simply show how it turns out in the end. And if you're new to sewing coats or jackets too, maybe you can learn a little something along with me. Are you game?

As you may recall, I'll be sewing Hollywood 1678, a jacket modeled after WWII battle jackets and very similar to a windbreaker style at the time.

I like the collared version of View 1 the best but decided to do standard buttons up the front instead of the fly front. It will look like View 1 but with buttons, looking more or less like my mock-up below. 

I ordered two fabrics, and decided on this forest green wool flannel. It's really hard to capture correctly, but this is as close as I could get. It's a really deep, dark color.

For the lining I opted for a beige rayon bemberg. Rayon is of course a very appropriate choice for 1940s, and lots of people love this lining. Of course I managed to stain it within 2 minutes of it being in my possession so don't ask me why I went with a light color...

The problem with the fabric is that it's so dark green, the vintage buttons and the silk buttonhole twist I ordered are too light. The buttons might still work, but the thread... not so much. I'm going to handwork buttonholes for the first time so I really don't need to call that much attention to them. Ha ha.

I ordered it from Britex and it was the darkest green they had (labeled Forest, but not really forest green in my book). Any ideas for an alternative? Maybe I should do black buttons and thread. (Wish I had thought to order black buttonhole twist too!)

Where am I so far? Yesterday I cut out my muslin pieces. I didn't want to have to do a muslin but there was no way I was going to work my first jacket without one, especially as I want to make sure I work out the gathered cuff sleeves correctly and do my melding of Views 1 and 2 right. Just for fun, here's the chart of pattern pieces for my unprinted pattern. I'm slightly boggled why the sleeve cuff band is taller than the band on the bottom of the jacket (when it's clearly the opposite on the cover picture), but we'll see how that plays out when I'm sewing.

Can you see the crazy deep dart on the Front A and B pieces? It ends inside the pocket. The photo below shows the dots for where to line up the pocket, with the center dot in the middle being the end of the dart.

By the way, see that pink pen? It's a Pilot FriXion erasable highlighter and oh my goodness, I'm in love. My mom got me a set for Christmas, having heard that they work well on fabric and that the ink disappears when you press it. So far I've found that to be the case on every natural fabric I've tried it on (of course, I always test first). As someone who seems to be plagued by disappearing ink reappearing, chalk either rubbing off before I can use the mark or not coming off, etc... can I just say I love these for light-colored fabric!

Anyway, the only change I made prior to the muslin was to narrow the sleeve towards the bottom. Even though it's gathered into the cuff I didn't want it quite as billowy as the pattern shows. For everything else, I decided to leave the pieces as-is to see how the muslin fits.

My original intention was to construct the jacket and the lining as written in the pattern, in part to stay true to the pattern for the sew-along and in part because I've never made (or lined) a jacket before! However, I've been a good little study bug lately and have been reading everything I can get my hands on relating to constructing jackets, lining jackets, and tailoring. I'm going to change how the jacket lining is constructed. Mainly because I don't want to insert the entire lining in by hand like my pattern suggests. But here's an interesting historical factoid about that! I've had the incredible fortune of reader Nadine sending me tons of photos of an actual military Ike jacket she owns so I could see some of the construction details! (Nadine, I can't thank you enough for that!) She owns more than one and the construction details aren't all the same on each, but the one she showed me has the front lining pieces sewn by machine to the front facings, instead of being sewn by hand. Pretty neat!

Anyway, since this jacket business is new territory for me, I decided to take a cue from Liz, who showed the list of couture techniques she wrote out when she was sewing her Macaron Redux. I started notes on techniques and ideas that I plan to use in this project.

I know this list will get a lot longer soon!

Friday, February 22, 2013

1942 inspiration: Finnish fashion & knitting drawings

Happy Friday!

Thanks so much for all the comments on my Curlicute cardigan! ♥ That pattern was from 1940, which I'm going to use as a nice segue into today's post. Earlier this month I shared with you some scans from a small collection of vintage Finnish knitting booklets that a Finnish reader was gracious enough to send me. That post was from 1952, and this one is from 1942. I know I said I'd scan 1951 but the results weren't as nice, so we're jumping back to the 40s instead.

The really interesting thing about this publication is all the truly amazing drawings! It's the only vintage knitting resource I have that actually has more drawings than photos. Some of the knitting was photographed in it, but more often than not, just drawings were shown. I've kept the original color in the scans... I don't mind seeing the actual age of the old paper.

Isn't the cover fantastic?? A matching parasol, one-piece swim or play suit and purse. Yes please!

And aren't these swim suits just divine as well? I love this spread. Of course, I'll have to rely on one of my Finnish readers to explain exactly what this ad was doing in a knitting publication. lol

Here's an example of a drawing and the final sweater, too. I'm trying not to be scared off by the severe expression of the platinum blond. ;)

Lots more stripes were featured, too. (Don't you think the woman on the right looks a bit like Solanah?)

I love the entire outfit on the right below. I'll take those shoes too, thanks.

And more scenes at the beach. As we sit here with more snow on the ground, this is looking mighty nice right about now!

Don't you wish you could buy these purse kits? Check out the one with the sailor outfits. I want to make that!

But my favorite is a two-page spread of dresses. I had to piece it together, so click on it if you'd to see it a little larger! Aren't they amazing? Definitely inspiration-worthy for Sew for Victory, wouldn't you say?

Hope you've enjoyed this batch. I was so happy to hear from several Finnish readers who enjoyed the last post, so I've tried to keep more of the text in this batch. :)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Curlicute cardigan (and free vintage pattern)

My latest knit is a cardigan from a 1940 pattern and I'm kind of in love with it!

The pattern name is Curlicute. Which is adorable, but also a play on words for the original yarn the pattern recommended, Bucilla Curlicue, a mohair and wool blend.

Obviously I changed it to long sleeves, because a short-sleeved worsted weight cardigan just makes no sense where I live.

I changed the shape of the front of the cardigan to be a gradual v-neck. I like how it looks with collared blouses on my Bestway stranded cardigan, so I did the same thing. Instead of crocheting the button band like in the pattern, I knit it separately. I have several 40s patterns with crocheted bands and I admit it's not my favorite look. I thought I'd try it on this one but as I suspected didn't really like it, so I swapped it for a knitted band style that was also popular in 40s patterns. The band itself is just (k1, p1) over 8 stitches, with the first stitch slipped purlwise on the right side for a nice smooth edge.

My trick to getting the band the perfect length: I knit about 3/4 of it, sew most of it onto the cardigan, then eyeball it and sew an inch or two at a time as I finish knitting it. (Make sure to stretch it slightly as you sew it so it doesn't look floppy.)

The pattern gauge is 3.5 stitches per inch, but I knit it at 4.5 spi and then blocked it aggressively to open up the ribbed stitch pattern. If you like the traveling ribs more pronounced you could block it lighter. I wanted a trim look so I knit it with about 2 inches of negative ease at my bust. (I don't recommend this if you plan to wear it buttoned up a lot, or you'll get gaping over your girls!)

I always wet block my knitted garments. I knew from swatching that my gauge would change a lot after blocking, even if during knitting it looked like I was knitting it for one of my 7-year-old nieces.

I like how the ribs travel across the back and the sleeves although the sea of red was blinding on camera.

Thanks to Rochelle for helping me choose buttons. These are translucent red vintage buttons with rhinestones in the center. Love them!

I have desperately needed a well-fitting, basic red cardigan forever. So glad to cross this off my list because I already know it goes with eeeeverything!

outfit details
30s trousers: made by me
earrings & vintage bracelet: gifts from my mom

Interested in knitting this cardigan yourself? Download the free pattern from 1940!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I'll be Sewing for Victory, will you?

If you haven't heard yet, Rochelle over at Lucy Lucille is hosting a fantastic sew-along, Sew for Victory! It's a 1940s themed sew-along, so of course I'm in!

As you know I already do a fair amount of 1940s sewing, so I wanted to use this sew-along to really challenge myself in some way. I've thought a lot about it and have come to a decision that I hopefully won't be regretting down the road... ha!

I'll be sewing the jacket from Hollywood Patterns 1678:

In the pattern it's referred to as a battle jacket, but you'll also see it called an Eisenhower or Ike jacket, as Dwight Eisenhower was responsible for the military design that inspired my pattern. The Ike jacket became standard issue in the United States military starting November 1944. It was in part modeled after a British military dress jacket, but you also see similar jackets in other countries.

{source: Kansas Historical Society}

At a time when patriotism was high and catalogs were filled with "man-tailored" women's suits, slacks and jackets, it's probably not surprising that this style of jacket made its way into women's sportswear!

This is one of my favorite styles of jackets, but I don't own any. Several months ago I squirreled away this amazing Hollywood pattern for the future. I'm going to sew view 1 with the collar and fly front (like the Ike jacket above):

I can't actually find anywhere in the pattern where it has you add buttons in the fly... it might just be assuming you know enough to add them when it's explaining them for the buttoned up view 2, but would you really do bound buttonholes inside a fly? It does say you can work them by hand or machine, so perhaps that's what it assumes you'll do for the fly?

(Anyone have a vintage fly-front jacket that can tell me how the buttonholes are worked inside the fly?)

Anyway, if I can't figure that out, I may just do the buttoned-up version like view 2. Or maybe do a mock fly where there's no real fly, but with top-stitching and hidden snaps on the inside.

Did I mention I've never sewn outerwear? The pattern has instructions including the lining, and I've ordered a couple of books specific to tailoring and jackets, and have been generally getting myself pumped to try this.

Here are a few inspiring pictures of other women's short jacket styles from the 1940s. Fly front styling on the windbreaker on the left, and two lovely double-breasted wool jackets:

{Source: Sears & Roebuck, 1943)

I need both of these skirts, jackets, blouses (or knit pullovers) and shoes, thank you.

{Source: Sears & Roebuck, 1944)

And these sports jackets (another fly front on the left) would be great for hiking and camping this spring!

{Source: Sears & Roebuck, 1943)

I also found a jacket from almost my exact pattern... but I'll save that for another post. ;)

I'm really excited about the Sew for Victory sew-along, so hopefully I hope I'm up to the challenge of sewing my first jacket!

If you haven't heard about the sew-along yet, pop over to Rochelle's intro post, her post on links to get your creative juices flowing, her post on authentic 1940s resources, and the Sew for Victory Flickr group. Join us!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Finished: Sew Grateful Week 1941 trousers

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my pinafore skirt! I actually can't quite believe I'm here 3 days later to post another finished sewing project. But friends, I did it. I finished a project for Debi's Sew Grateful week! Keep reading and you'll find out why these are for Sew Grateful, as there's a whole slew of reasons and people to thank!

Now, I managed to space out that Sew Grateful week was coming up until Monday when I was reminded about it on Debi's blog. Monday afternoon, I said, "Rats, too bad I don't have time to finish a project in time for Thursday's project day."

An hour later I was washing 4 different fabrics and trying to decide on a pattern and a fabric combo.

A few hours after that I was cutting fabric.

Tuesday night before bed I was prancing around in these.

Behold, my new favorite trousers, in lightweight corduroy. A totally appropriate vintage fabric choice and great for cooler months. (I'm pretending the blue is closer to cadet blue than it probably is, it was a very popular wartime color for women's clothing in the 40s.)

The pattern is Simplicity 3688, a reproduction pattern from 1941. If you read any sewing blogs, odds are you've seen at least someone make or talk about these trousers. Prevailing opinion is they're easy to sew and they're flattering.

And my opinion on the prevailing opinion? AGREED.

Because I intended to sew these faster than the speed of light I pretty much followed the pattern instructions to the letter. I think the only things I did different was to change the zipper application and to hand stitch the waistband shut on the inside instead of stitch in the ditch.

I also sewed one size down from what I would have normally after measuring the pattern pieces and realizing they'd be gigantic!

I love them. LOVE THEM. I'm totally making them again and again.

I did a centered zipper instead of lapped as I thought the fabric might be too heavy for a lapped zipper to look nice, so I took a queue from the Wearing History Smooth Sailing pattern. I have no idea where the instructions came from because I wrote them out by hand in my sewing notebook when I made my Smooth Sailing trousers, but wherever I got them, the results are great.

I love the vintage button that closes these. I have several more, so someday they'll make it onto another project. Though I may need to add a hidden snap on the inside of this pair to keep the button from meandering over the edge of the waistband.

I cut off about 3 1/4" off the length of the pattern from the bottom, turned up 1/2", then 2" again for the hem, and blind stitched by hand. I may do a folded up cuff next time but it wasn't in the cards with my tight deadline.

Now, here's the lengthy Sew Grateful elements!

I think I first saw this pattern when Debi sewed them, but have also seen them on the likes of Jane (twice!), Karen and Lauren over the last 2 years. I bought the pattern at some point after reading about them so many times, but hadn't sewn them yet. Fast forward to early January this year, when Rochelle personally recommended the pattern to me. That stuck in my mind and when I was trying to come up with a project, I remembered Simplicity 3688 and what she had said. So I owe a huge thanks to Rochelle for putting up with my last-minute emails about fit and sizing, these wouldn't fit as nicely as they do without her!

As for the fabric? I bought it during our Chicago blogger meetup last summer, with Liz, Lauren and Meg. That was such a wonderful day and I knew the fabric had to turn into something special.

Last but not least, I was inspired by several of the deadlines Debi herself has set for some of her sewing projects. I channeled Debi to get these trousers done and photographed in time! If you haven't been following her posts this week, you simply must go check them out. Her Sew Grateful project is stunning!

This project also marks a really important milestone for me: I've officially sewn more garments in 2013 than I sewed in all of 2012. I know. It's only February 7th. I think my sewing demons have been left behind for good. And I couldn't be more grateful for the online sewing community to help make that happen in so many ways. Tutorials, inspiration, friendship and support.

Thank you ALL!

(p.s. I promise you I haven't forgotten about knitting! ;)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Finished: Hollywood Patterns tweed pinafore skirt

My most recent sewing project that I'm sharing today actually preempts the previous project I finished just before this one. You see, I planned to take photos of both the same day, except there was 2 inches of snow on the ground and I could only stand being outside without a coat for so long. So you'll have to wait on the other one.

dog butt in the background

Look what I did for the love of this blog, my friends! I braved the cold and snow (and dodgy lighting—sorry).

When Lladybird Lauren visited Chicago last summer, she and I both bought the same brown wool tweed fabric at Vogue Fabrics. She turned hers into Thurlow trousers last fall, and mine became this pinafore skirt. I think it was the last they had of the fabric, because sadly when Liz of went back to see if they had more, they didn't. Sorry Liz. :(

I wanted an 8-gore skirt just to try something different, so I used the pieces of this Hollywood Patterns dress (pattern 407) and added a waistband. I'm nearly positive the pattern is from 1940. My sleuthing led me to Hollywood 402, just a few numbers down from my pattern. It featured "Betty Grable of 20th Century Fox" on the cover, and looking it up, she only joined 20th Century Fox in 1940, so it couldn't be earlier. The November 1940 Hollywood Pattern catalog has similar styles but numbers already in the 500s, the June 1941 catalog is going on into the 600s, so I figured it couldn't be later. So I bet this was from spring or summer 1940.

(Of course I'm totally sewing it as a dress someday, too!)

The art of skillfully cutting length off skirt pieces still rather eludes me. I had to cut off about 7", about my norm. Folding the pattern pieces around the hip-level and re-drafting the side seams would have dramatically altered the width of all those gores (making the skirt much wider), but taking it from the hem would make a much less full hem. In the end I decided just to cut from the hem. Maybe I'll split the difference next time. It still falls pretty nicely.

Would any (non-experts) sewists be interested in a post on my new favorite hemming techniques for using rayon seam binding and an a-line skirt? I was personally having some frustrations with getting it to look good on the inside until recently when I hit on just the perfect series of steps (using vintage resources as my guide).

I graded the pattern pieces down slightly to try and get a bit of a better fit in the waist but I went overboard, and after attaching the waistband realized it was too small. It fit, but it was a don't eat, don't breath kind of skirt. So I unpicked the waistband, let out several seams and re-cut the waistband. Now it's perfect. Fortunately I foreaw that it might happen so I serged the seam allowances separately and pressed them open un-trimmed, otherwise I would have been sunk! I may repeat that in the future just in case.

Anyway, because I couldn't leave well enough alone, halfway through the project I decided I wanted to make detachable pinafore straps. They're held on with red buttons on the inside that only I get to see.

Isn't the tweed great close-up? I definitely need more tweed in my life. Oh yes, it's lined too! Only my second time lining (first was the other skirt you've yet to see).  I started with cheap poly lining which I didn't mind that much, but I'm soliciting opinions for your favorite lining fabrics and why. (This is wrinkly because I took the photo after wearing it.)

For the straps, it was easy: I measured up and over my shoulder diagonally from back waist to front waist, added a few inches for insurance, and cut one piece for each strap twice the finished width I wanted for the straps (2") plus seam allowances. I interfaced, sewed up a back center seam and turned the tubes right side out (the interfacing proved a bit of a problem turning them but it's okay in the end). Then I pressed, top-stitched about 1/4" in from each edge, serged one raw edge and measured for buttonhole placement on the back. Once I had the straps buttoned in the back I flipped them to the front, marked buttonhole placement while wearing it, cut off the excess fabric, serged that raw edge and made the front buttonholes.

But I'll probably wear it more as a skirt because in weather when I want a wool skirt, I also want a sweater. Maybe it would work with a fitted pullover?

Taking photos in the snow wasn't so bad, but let's be honest, it went a little more like this.

It's a classic—a basic wool tweed skirt with removeable straps to transform it into a pinafore whenever I want. I love it. I'm already pretty sure I'll be wearing this all the time!

outfit details
 40s fair isle hat: knit by me
opera gloves: knit by my mom
silk blouse: Vacation Vintage
Scottish tartan scarf: thrifted
Bakelite bangle: Ginger Jindo Antiques
Bakelite thistle brooch and earrings: eBay
50s rubber overshoes: Fab Gabs

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