Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pattern Cutting Guilt

Does anyone else experience pangs of guilt when cutting into an unused vintage pattern?   My Simplicity 4732 from '43 arrived a few days ago, followed by the fabric I intended to make it out of.

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I opened the pattern envelope.....and it's still factory folded. Uncut, unused, in pristine condition. I couldn't bring myself to unfold it.  It's over 70 years old, how could I be the first to use it?  So back into it's protective bag it went.

My Simplicity 1625 from '56 also arrived, so I decided to start on that first.  I'm making View 3.  For fabric, I'm using this feedsack from Etsy.  I've had it for a couple months, but it's been a little too small for any other pattern.  According to the envelope, it should juuuuust fit!

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I open up my pattern envelope....and it's also uncut. Perfect. Factory folded. Guiltily, I unfold the pattern.

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It looks so nice.  So crisp, so new!  With a heavy sigh, I lay it on my fabric.  Perfect! Just enough.

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I get all my pattern pieces cut out, and start to assemble the bodice.  What's that?  I was supposed to cut FOUR of each facing piece?  Uh oh.  Dig the scraps out of the storage bin and see what we're working with.

Hey, just enough.

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The construction is pretty straightforward.  There's four darts in the front and two in the back, and instead of a neckline facing, you simply fold it over.  I left off with the bodice done and saved the straps for another day.

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Maybe someday I'll get over it and unfold my Simplicity 4732.  For now, I'm happy just to have it in my collection.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

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I'm so excited to be bestowed this honor by Molly of Molly's Sewing and Garage Sale Adventures.  The only thing I had been previously nominated for is "Most Likely To Forget Which Class I'm In" in middle school.  So, thanks!

The deal is, you post 7 things about yourself and then list 7 blogs you are reading.  Here goes.

1.  I used to be the pickiest eater in the world.  Up until a couple years ago, I hated strawberries, cream cheese, sushi, most cooked vegetables, hummus, tea, tomato products (I would scrape the sauce off pizza, seriously), mushrooms, etc.  I've gotten much better and I now love all those things on my former hate list.  My only holdouts are organ meats, ketchup, and onions.  No thanks.

2.  I have freakishly large hands, with really skinny fingers.  They're as big as my husband's but I wear a size 4.5 ring.  I should have become a piano player. 

3.  I was not allowed to have pets growing up, except for a bird, so the first thing I did when I moved out was procured two cats.  Their names are Bone and Lamb and they are 9 this year!

4.  My New Year's Resolution in 2009 was to not eat fast food and I haven't broken it yet.  I count "fast food" as anything with a drive-through, so like McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy's, and so on.  The only time I sort of cheated was about a year ago and I was in the middle of nowhere, and it was either Dairy Queen or starvation.

5.  I haven't bought clothes at the mall since I started sewing.  New clothes don't excite me at all.  I prefer sewing my own lately and I also like thrifting and vintage stores for the thrill of the hunt.

6.  I have the cutest husband in the world.  Fact.

7.  I live for warm weather.  In the summer, I am outside as much as I possibly can.  Nothing makes me happier than sunshine on my face and a pretty sundress, and having beers on a patio.

Blogs I am currently loving:

Ellie from Good Morning Idea
Sara from Ohhh Lulu
Kate from Orange K8
Astrid from Sew Sixties
Vintage Girl
Camelias and Crinolines
Sam from All things quilty....and sewy

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  Mine was pretty great, actually my whole weekend was good.  Friday, Mike and I took off work and drove down to Chicago for the day.  We hit two antique stores and the outlets on the way and bought some decorations for my sewing room (me) and jeans and two pairs of sneakers (Mike).  Then we went to see Arcade Fire!  I've been to hundreds of shows in my life, and I am declaring that one in the top five.   Probably #3.  The energy from the crowd was so good and I wanted to dance and sing at the top of my lungs and I wanted it to never end.  Mike said afterwards that he knew it was a good one because his face hurt from smiling so much.

Saturday we met up with some friends for breakfast, and then stopped at another antique store on the drive home.  It was mostly overpriced furniture and kitchen stuff, but then I found this in a basket full of old linens.  It's from the early 1900's and it fits great and is in nearly perfect condition.  No holes and only one small rust stain.  And it was $18.  I've been trolling eBay and Etsy for Edwardian dresses for months and I never find one my size, and never for that cheap!

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I can't wait until it's warm enough to wear it! I also bought this 30's Vogue pattern catalog page to hang in my sewing room. I would love to own either of those dresses!

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I bought a couple pieces of fabric and they're not the most interesting, but they were big pieces for cheap.  Both were around $3, and each are 4 yards.  I could use the feedsack print for an apron, and the striped seersucker could make a cute summer skirt. I could try to get fancy and do a chevron?

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We didn't leave with this fur hat, although for $10, maybe we should've. Everyone needs a hat that makes them look like Big Bird, right?

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Today I ran three miles and went to Easter brunch with my Dad and sister Alisa, but I still managed to get in some sewing!  I finished Simplicity 5891 and it turned out adorable and almost a little sailor-ish.  I like it so much I'm wearing it tomorrow even though the high is only in the 40s.  Is it ever going to be Spring?

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In other sewing news, I think I'm abandoning my plaid Butterick.  The plaids don't match on the side seams, the neck band is uneven, and it looks huge.  I'm not too disappointed, I'm only wasting $6 worth of fabric, and I'll try the pattern sometime later with a knit.  It seems better suited for jersey.  Here's where I left off.

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Plaids match on the back, at least! The sides are a mess, though.

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I'm not too sad, though, because I already moved on to a blouse pattern from 1956. I'm finally using a feedsack I've had in my stash for months, too.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Patterns and Things I'm Working On

Hi!  I haven't totally disappeared.  I've just been up to my elbows in paint all week so I haven't gotten much sewing done.  Our downstairs bathroom was painted the darkest, angriest shade of red ever but now it is Beach White.  Behr Premium Plus Paint, I am shaking my fist at you!  Your commercials say you can cover red paint in one coat, so why did it take us three?  Nevertheless, it looks great and the paint itself smelled like eggnog.  It was making me hungry!

I am simultaneously working on two dresses and I've made good progress on both.  The first one is Simplicity 5891 again, this time in a white and blue polka dot cotton.

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I intended to make view 1, but I ran into some bunching issues because my sewing machine doesn't have a sleeve arm, so I took them off and made the sleeveless version instead.  I think I'll like that better anyway - I can go sleeveless on warm Summer days, or add a cardigan for work and not have to deal with bunched-up sleeves underneath.  I have the bodice completely done, but I haven't started on the skirt.

My second project I am in the middle of is a frankenpattern of the bodice of Butterick 4304 and the skirt of Butterick Retro 5209.

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I made a muslin and it turned out cute, so last night I cut into my real fabric. It's this crisp plaid cotton I got from a fabric.com $1.99 sale.

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Matching plaids is hard! I got them to match on the bodice back and right underarm seam, but the left one is totally off. I don't know what happened there. I also purposely made the bodice and the skirt plaids going in different directions, so hopefully once it is all together it will look cute and not like a total mess. I have the skirt done, and the bodice mostly done except for facings. Then I just have to connect the skirt and the bodice, hem, and zipper! Maybe one of these days it will actually be warm enough to wear all these Summer dresses I'm sewing.

I've gone a little crazy with pattern and fabric buying lately, but I'm justifiying it by selling dresses on Etsy.  I'm using whatever money I make from sales to buy new things for myself!

I am super excited for this project, but also a little scared.  I have never tried an unprinted pattern before.  It doesn't seem too hard, though.  It's a simple wrap dress so it should be pretty straighforward.  I'm using this awesome pear print fabric I bought on eBay.

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I also bought this blouse pattern (for $3!) because I am seriously lacking in tops and both views are adorable. I am going to make the square-neck version with this white cotton eyelet I bought from Etsy.

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Lastly, I bought this pattern from Etsy. I love the sleeveless version on the bottom left, but wasn't so sure about the collar. Then I read the description, and the collar is detachable. Perfect! Sold. I have some fabric options saved in my eBay favorites, but I think I should finish up everything I've started on before I buy.

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Have a great Easter, everyone!  I will leave you with a picture of a four-headed kitten pile.  I got to scoop and snuggle these babies last weekend!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh, Hi

Look what I found for $9 on a website I've never heard of named Bonanza:

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It's a couple sizes too small, but I have a book on pattern grading and this will be the perfect time to learn.  Bonanza seems just like Etsy and has all sorts of patterns and vintage fabric.  Just what I need, ha.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pattern Inflation

I'm sorry I was such a downer in my last post!  It's kind of inevitable that I would get a little burned out, considering how quickly and how completely I threw myself into the world of sewing.  I went from finishing a dress every year or so to trying to churn one out every week.  I think I was so enthusiastic in the beginning, and there were SO many things I wanted to make, that I stressed myself out instead of enjoying it.  I don't have to make my dream wardrobe in a month, right?  I have plenty of things to wear and it's okay if I get into a creative lull.

The other day I had a thought.  When did the cost of patterns start growing exponentially?  In the 1940's, a Simplicity pattern was 25 cents.  (P.S. that is the dream house dress pattern I was bidding on and lost.  If you are the lucky winner, wanna trace the sleeveless version for me?  I'll pay you for your trouble!)

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In the 60's, they were 65 cents.

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A 1960's Vogue pattern was $1.

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A current Vogue pattern will run you anywhere from $16.50 to $27.50!  That's a 2750% increase!  An inflation calculator tells me the actual rate of inflation was only 605%.  That Vogue pattern should only cost around $7, and a Simplicity would be a paltry $4.  I might actually buy a new pattern if they were that cheap!  The inflation adjustment between the 1945 pattern and the 1965 pattern is dead on, as is between the 1965 pattern and a 1985 one that retailed for $3.50, so what happened in the last 20 years?

Yes, I know that New Look patterns are around $4, and Vogue and Simplicity regularly have $4.99 sales.  I just think that more people would sew if patterns weren't so expensive.  It's just printed tissue, and poor quality at that!  I recently bought a Butterick pattern with a four-gored skirt, and it only came with one skirt piece and instructions to cut four.  It makes it really difficult when you're trying to lay out the pattern on your fabric to see if you have enough!

Wow, I've just veered into downer territory again.  How about something happy - my husband's parents took in a stray cat that was hanging around their house, and it turned out she was pregnant!  So I will get to play with a litter of tiny kitties when we go up for Easter.  I am going to take tons of pictures!  I hope they find a good home for all the kittens.  I heard there were no orange boys in the litter, so I'll leave you with my favorite orange boy, Bone.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Lacking Sew-spiration

Readers, when you get in a rut, where do you turn for inspiration?  Do you look at sewing blogs, current fashions, or your friends' wardrobes?  I need some ideas.  The last couple days I've gone in my sewing room and just stared at the wall.  I have no idea what I want to make next!  I have no patterns I'm excited to try, no fabric I'm dying to cut into, and a half-finished dress I've lost interest in.

I bought this pattern today, and while I'm sure it's going to make a cute summer dress, it makes me realize I am always buying "easy" patterns.  Why am I so scared to try a Vintage Vogue?  Why can't I tackle a dress with real sleeves?  Will messing something up make me think I'm a terrible sewer?

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I don't want to get to the point where I'm literally sewing through the motions, so I need your help.  Help me get back my sew-jo.  (Wow, I can't believe I just said something that lame.)

I did sew a dress last weekend I'm pretty proud of, so that is something good.  I used Simplicity 5891 and a thrifted bedsheet from Target.  My friend Ellie recently saw the bedding in a movie!

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I think it turned out great and it even got an outing to the Art Museum with my friends Ellie and Janie.

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I think it looks prettiest hanging in my sewing room, so that is where it will live until I get my inspiration back and something prettier takes it's place.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Simplicity 8684

Ever since I got back from Mexico, Spring clothes have been slowly making their way into my closet and long sleeves and tights are being packed away.  This is one such dress that has been sucessfully integrated into my Winter-to-Spring transition wardrobe.  It's shorter length looks great with tights and a slouchy cardigan, and the black base makes it a little more appropriate for chilly days.

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I bought it at my favorite vintage store, and the style is totally unlike what I usually wear.  For one, it doesn't have a waist.  Also, it has a super short pleated skirt.  It's exactly the kind of comfortable, easy dress I tried to make a few months ago and failed.  I'm a better sewer now, and I know what shapes are going to be flattering on my body, so I tried again.  I bought Simplicity 8684 from Etsy.  View 3 is perfect!

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The pattern is a size too small, so I graded it up and made a muslin.  I used a $2 sheet from the Salvation Army, which just happened to be the perfect 60's print.  I figured, if it turned out, I could wear it.

Since it's a sheet, I completely disregarded the suggested layout and just placed it wherever it would fit.  That short rectangle is the skirt!

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Okay, by "graded" I mean I cut an extra inch on the center back and facings.  I figured one size wouldn't make THAT much of a difference in placement of darts and armholes.  I would do it properly if it were more than one size off or if it was a super fitted dress instead of a belted rectangle.

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My machine went crazy and ate a dart.

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But once I got that taken care of, I put the bodice together in no time!  It was super easy.  I had no idea that you could sew on the armhole facings before sewing the side seam, and that has basically changed my life.  No more whining about not having a machine with a sleeve arm!  Here's my finished bodice inside out.

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The instructions had you hem the skirt before you sewed it to the dress.  Scary, right?  I mean, how do you know if it's going to be the right length?  I used an existing dress from my closet for reference and went for it.  I used this pretty Boiltex (that is an awful name) hem tape that matched the green flowers.

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The hem actually only took 20 minutes, and I did it while talking to Mike.  I enjoy hemming though, you all know that.

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The skirt portion wasn't hard, just kind of time-consuming.  First I marked all of the pleats with a pin.  Then I had to fold each pleat on the solid line, pin, and then baste.  I was expecting a disaster but it actually worked and fit.

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Lastly, I pressed my pleats into place.

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It still needs a zipper (I don't have one the correct length and color) but it fits and looks great and I gave myself the green light to cut into my vintage fabric.

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I'm definitely planning on getting a zipper and finishing it and wearing it. I already made the "real" version and I'm wearing it today! You can see the finished dress hanging on the wall here.

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And in typical fashion, I already have a similar pattern on it's way from Etsy.  When you find something you like, just go with it!

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