Friday, April 26, 2013

My 40s gray wool skirt & feedsack blouse

As I mentioned in my last post, while I'm in bathroom-land I'm going to catch you up on some of the things I sewed towards the end of winter and beginning of spring! I think after this post I still have three things (with a possible soon fourth) left to show you, one of which may even result in a mini tutorial when I come back up for air in June after our trip.

What can I say, sewing has really become a big deal for me in so many ways, especially this year. And speaking of which, if you haven't already you need to go read Rochelle's beautiful sewing manifesto, especially if you are new to sewing. I just love the online sewing community!

Anyway, today I'm sharing a gray wool skirt and feedsack blouse, both from 1940s patterns I've sewn up before.

(Oh and hello, welcome to my step-grandmother's hutch. Remember how I said my mom and step-dad drove it across country a few weeks ago? You'll be seeing lots more of it, for sure! And yes, I still 'squee' every time I look at it, thankyouverymuch.)

I finished this skirt and blouse back in—my goodness, I think the skirt was completed in January and the blouse in February. I actually wore this outfit (along with my Curlicute cardigan) to the Chicagoland Vintage Clothing, Jewelry and Textile Show at the end of February, so Liz and reader Molly and her friend are the only ones who've seen it!

In fact I actually bought these shoes at that show. Navy blue heels from the 1940s, and pretty comfy. Swoon!

The skirt is a second version of Simplicity 2211 from 1945 (the first was my diamonds skirt), using a nice gray wool, lined with poly lining. I usually don't bother lining skirts as I wear slips, but I'm starting to come around to the idea of doing it here and there. This was the first one I did before moving to the wonderfulness that is rayon bemberg lining. The skirt is a little big, because I sewed it before discovering I was wrong about my waist size (it was just after this and before my pinafore skirt that it dawned on me), but with the belt I can cinch it in slightly.

Due to a boneheaded cutting error, I ended up having to piece together the waistband, with a seam strategically placed at the side seam of the skirt. Due to said same boneheaded error, I also had to do that with the belt. But while a seam in a waistband isn't the end of the world, you really don't want to see that on a belt! So wide belt carriers were my answer to that. (I'd call them belt loops except they aren't very loop-like.)

The seam of the belt is hidden exactly behind the back right tab. Pretty sneaky, huh? Boy was there some math to get that just so.

I think the first time I noticed similar belt carriers outside of Western-wear was about 6 months ago, on a 30s-style skirt from Nabby's Vintage Life. I loved her skirt so much I pinned it for safe keeping. While I was trying to decide if similar belt carriers would look nice on my 40s gored skirt, I encountered this circa 1940 Hollywood pattern online, and that sealed the deal!

{Source: Vintage Patterns Wiki}

I created my own little pattern piece to sew them. I find for fiddly things, pressing is way easier with a cardboard template inside. You can see the difference it makes below!

The top of the tabs are machine-stitched to the waistband, but my mom had a great idea for how to attach the angled part of the tab to the skirt: since I hand pick-stitched the lapped zipper, she suggested I mirror that in the tabs and pick-stitch them, too. I love it!

I couldn't decide on a buckle for the self belt, so I used a blue plastic vintage one and just tacked it down in the back with contrasting thread. That way I can easily remove it and swap it to something different if I'd like down the road! In the meantime, it's a swell match with this blouse.

The blouse is my first button-down made from a vintage feedsack, sewn using McCall 4820 from 1942. Can you believe how vibrant the colors are??

Now seriously, it's been a goal of mine since I started to sew again in 2011 to be able to make myself feedsack blouses, but the yardage is really skimpy on them (we're talking around 37" x 46"). I knew it would be next to impossible unless I had a very slim-fitting pattern. But once I sewed up my inspired-by-Debi blouse with this pattern, I suspected it might be The One. And I was right! You don't know how excited that made me! I have at least three other feedsacks lined up to turn into blouses now. Hallesewinglujah.

To figure out the cutting layout, I had to cut out doubles of all pattern pieces that required two and open up pieces on the fold, just so I could see it all placed out on the fabric together. In the end I can get every piece but an under-collar on one feedsack! So the under-collar is just muslin.

I modified the pattern pieces to have a straight hem instead of the westkit-style hem in the original pattern, but that's it, so this pattern has now moved into tried-and-true territory. You'll soon be seeing a third version recently completed in vintage fabric, and I could easily make a dozen more... and likely will! What can I say, I like winning patterns.

While I never explicitly meant for this blouse to go with the gray skirt, I think they make quite a smart pair!

Along with the vintage feedsack fabric, I used vintage buttons from my stash that just happened to match perfectly.

Overall I'm quite happy with the skirt and the blouse, and have worn both several times in the last couple of months. Both are great everyday pieces for me. I guess a sewist can't ask for more than that!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The subject of my radio silence

My apologies! As you may or may not have noticed, I have been mostly absent from my own blog, reading blogs, Instagram, Twitter (not that I'm on Twitter that much)... you name it, I haven't been there. This has been going on a couple of weeks now. But I promise it's all for a good reason and not bad: we're suddenly involved in a very exciting but somewhat stressful and very time-consuming home project here at the Golly Ranch!

I'm not going to go into any details about it all until it's said and done and I tell the full tale, but I thought you might at least like a glimpse into what's going on right now...

I created this mood board over a week ago, and 5 of the 9 things have changed slightly since then (vanity color, entire tile plan in the shower, paint color, floor tile, faucet). But the basic concept hasn't changed, so hopefully you can pick up on the fact that it'll be a mix of retro and modern, and will hopefully do our 1955 ranch proud. I'll be excited to share the details with you once we're on the other side!

To pass the time in my mostly-continued-absence while I obsess over this project, I'll soon be sharing some winter and spring sewing projects I never got a chance to blog about. Hopefully that will tide you over until I'm back to a normal routine. Which may or may not be before our trip to the UK at the end of May... boy, it's going to be a busy month!

Bear with me, and hopefully you'll see a bit of me from the trenches here and there. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My birthday wrap dress

Happy Birthday to me! :)

I wanted to finish up a sewing project in time for my birthday today! With my megaproject jacket complete, I was able to resume some regularly scheduled sewing. Which right now is all about filling in my spring and summer wardrobe!

I pulled a pattern out of my stash that I'd been wanting to sew forever. It's a 1962 McCall's pattern for a wrap dress. But some of you who collect vintage clothing may recognize this as basically a Swirl dress.

It's okay if you don't have any idea what a 'Swirl dress' is. I didn't either for a long time! I'd see bloggers referring to Swirl dresses and wondered if it was just a geographic-specific name for a wrap dress. Ha! Instead, Swirl was a brand name that started in the 1940s. By the 50s they were making tons of variations of a wrap house dress. I know that Fleur de Guerre is so well known for loving them that Heyday's wrap dress is named the Fleur after her (and dag nabbit, I can never seem to manage to get my hands on one when my size is in stock!). Original Swirl dresses are collectible and tend to be pretty expensive for a cotton frock.

Sometime in the last year or so I picked up the pattern above in the hopes of making my own Swirl. It's such a perfect pattern to jump off from! I'm envisioning different necklines, different pockets, different skirts, all with the signature overlapping back and tie front. Brilliant. Seriously, I think I've planned about 5 in my head so far (and have bought fabric for 2 of them already). And all slightly different.

But the first one is my birthday dress!

I only made one major change. I don't wear many 60s styles, but the pattern definitely transcends decades (especially when worn without a flip hairdo like the envelope, ha ha). To help it along, I drafted skirt pieces from a 1946 dress pattern in my stash with a gathered (instead of pleated) skirt, a feature in a few of my 40s skirt patterns. Especially worn without a full crinoline, the dress definitely has an earlier look, I think.

When all was said and done, I think the left back piece was about 1/3 wider than the right piece, and 1/3 of the gathers fall to the right of the lap and 2/3 to the left (there was math and little sketches to get me to that point). According to the measured pattern pieces I had to add 1" of ease to the waist of the bodice since a 14 in 1940s McCall patterns has a bigger waist than my 1962 pattern, but it turns out I can cinch this in much tighter anyway (so some of my math was moot).

The fabric is cotton from in my stash, nothing particularly special but I bought it ages ago specifically to test drive this pattern (I knew even when I bought it that once I sewed it, I'd want to again and again). It's supposed to look like a repro of 1930s floursack fabric.

As I can finally see spring around the corner, the tiny floral print feels perfectly in season (even if the temperatures keep dipping back to winter periodically). After my Alma blouse and pink diamonds skirt I kind of swore off sewing with pink, but with this dress under my belt and pink appearing as an accent color in a future version of this dress, maybe I like pink more than I think I do. Hmmm!

It does go quite nicely with my new rose china, don't you think? A week ago my mom and step-dad drove across country to visit. They brought me my step-grandmother's Danish modern hutch and rose china, which you may have seen on Instagram and you'll definitely be hearing more about soon!

I now know why Swirl dresses were/are so popular. So comfy and cute. This would be pretty easy for a beginner sewist, too! There are facings (which are always a pain in the rump if you ask me), but only one buttonhole, with no other closures, and no sleeves to set in. And with the wrap style, it's a forgiving fit.

It closes with a simple vintage button at the back of the neck. On future versions, I'll probably handwork this buttonhole... just because!

The right tie slips through a hole in the left side. I edge stitched it per the pattern, but also reinforced my stitching a couple of times on the seam opening since it'll see a lot of action.

I lined the inside of the pockets with rayon bemberg leftover from my Sew for Victory jacket. In fact, I used the same lining technique I used on the jacket pockets. I just ordered more in fun colors!

The pockets do tend to stick out a bit (more in person than the photos show). I already made them smaller than the pattern, so I may tweak that even more in future versions. Since the only things I tend to put in pockets are my cell phone, a measuring tape or my hands, they don't need to be quite so big. But I do like them as-is, too.

(By the way, I did this photoset without my glasses, obviously. I've been toying with getting contacts again for the first time in years so I wanted to see what I thought but I don't know, I think I like glasses best.)

As I'm finally sewing regularly, I'm starting to think more about the things I do and don't wear in my wardrobe (vintage or handmade). Last summer was so hot that almost anything with a collar was out because the extra fabric on my skin made me crazy. Set-in sleeves weren't high on my list for the same reason. So the slightly scooped neckline and kimono sleeves are a great summer match up! Some kimono sleeves on vintage patterns have turned out too big for my narrow shoulders, but these are just perfect.

Right now it's definitely too cold to wear this outside, but with a cardigan I think it'll do just fine until summer!

I must admit: I'm completely smitten with wrap dresses now! And I think this one makes a perfect birthday present to myelf. Speaking of, this weekend Mel is taking me on a road trip to a state park along the Iowa/Illinois border so we can get some hiking in. A perfect gift if you ask me!

But wait, I have a birthday gift for you. The owners of Popina Swimwear are offering my readers 15% off after the giveaway. Use the coupon code 'tasha' when you check out!

Anyway, I apologize in advance if all you ever see me wear this summer are variations of this dress. What can I say, I'm in love!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

And the giveaway winner is...

Well goodness, with the volume of entries on the Popina retro swimsuit giveaway, my plan of putting all the names into our ice bucket was quite a bit more of a chore than I expected! But dear readers, I plowed on, cutting tiny little strips of paper and wondering all the while if I should have devised a plan to have our paper shredder do it for me.

Not-so-fine print: I actually used my hands instead of our silver ice tongs, because it quickly became apparent that I'd be playing the miniature version of those maddening claw crane games. But hey, it looked cool.

But I digress! The winner of the fantastic retro swimsuit of her choice is...

Desirae of Dolled up Desirae Day! Please email me since I don't see your contact info your web site.

Congratulations, lucky lady, and thanks so much to everyone who entered and to Popina Swimwear!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Popina Swimwear retro swimsuit giveaway!

Hi everyone, do I have something fun for you today.

I was contacted by the husband-and-wife team that runs Popina Swimwear, a small retro swimwear boutique in Portland. When I personally am out in nature I'm more likely to be found hiking on a trail or camping than playing in the water on a beach, so I declined to do a review... and one of you lucky readers get to benefit from that!

So what does that mean? You could win one of any of the swimsuits featured on the Popina web site. That's right, it's a giveaway!

If you like to be a more covered up (like me!) they have the Retro Sadie, modeled after a 1940s sun suit, a retro halter inspired by the 1950s, or more modern tankinis. Vintage fans will also recognize the Jantzen swimwear styles, too! They are some of my personal favorites of all time. (Esther Williams, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe all wore Jantzen swimsuits at one point or another... doesn't the Jantzen Vamp Maillot look familiar?) They also have a few styles of their Seafolly Swimwear, which is kind of like the Retro Sadie meets Jantzen, as well as other one-piece vintage swimwear that's inspired by various decades past. And don't worry, those of you who like two-piece suits will find plenty of options, too.

Seriously, there are just so many cute styles! Polka dots, solids, patterns... sure has me longing for summer!

What I really like about Popina and why I was happy to do a giveaway for them is that it's a small business, started by owner Pamela Levenson, who got her start in the garment industry. Pamela later followed her dream to open up a swimwear boutique. I love stories like that. (Hello budding sewists out there, this could be you some day!)

Here's a little more about the inspiration behind Popina:
Popina Swim is swimwear inspired by the past and the great woman who wore them. Born from a vacation to the Mexican Rivera, one of the first swim suit styles was created because Pamela could not find a fashionable swimsuit that fit and flattered. Pamela has always had a passion for styling of the past (40’s and 50’s in particular) and the swimwear is no exception. Reaching back to those areas Pamela has created styles with the influence of days gone by but with the modern convenience of today’s fabric innovations and bathing suit construction. What’s great about Popina Swim is that you can be active or just relax on the beach in style. You will find Popina Swim somewhere between the Copacabana of the 40’s and Ipanema today.

Now if you're sipping on a Mai Tai or a Scorpion and dreaming of warm, sunny beaches with clear blue water and white sand, you're ready to enter!

1. Go to the Popina Swimwear web site. Pick which swimsuit you'd like to win (one-piece or two-piece), and come back and leave a comment on this post saying which one.

2. Please include your email address in your comment if it's not obvious on your blog.

3. You can get up to 2 extra entries by doing any of the following:  follow Popina on Twitter, like them on Facebook (um, I'll trust you on that as I don't use Facebook, lol), pin a swimsuit from their web site onto Pinterest, or post about this giveaway on the social media outlet of your choice, linking to this post. Then come back and leave a comment saying which of those you did, with a link. If you do two, leave two separate comments.

Easy, right? Better yet, this giveaway is open to anyone in the world!

The giveaway will close Sunday, April 7th at 7pm Central time so get your entries in. The winner will be selected at random by yours truly.

Good luck!!

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