Monday, May 11, 2015

Embellishing for a Couture Finish

Threads Magazine June 2015 Back Cover

The latest issue of Threads™ Magazine features a 1940's evening gown on the back cover. The design of the gown is typical of the era. What sets this particular dress apart from the rest is the added embellished trim to the collar, sleeve holes and hem. This little attention to detail made me recall an earlier post about an otherwise ordinary dress from my collection that distinguishes itself through tucks and folds. (See The Smocked Dress here.)

This lovely gown sent me off to my closet to revisit a few other garments I treasure for their distinguished embellishments. This jacket, however ordinary in style and shape features a detail at the collar, pocket and cuffs that elevate it to a higher, more sophisticated level.

The faded stitching underneath reveals the mechanism for this unique flourish. Perhaps strips of bias cut fabric are rolled and stitched to secure, then looped, overlapping to form the lapped loop trim that is both restrained and elegant recalling the looped epaulettes of a high ranking officer. It also appears to have been attached manually and not sewn into the seam.

This lovely sheer bed jacket from the 1950's boasts a ruffled collar and band trim of pleated and embroidered chiffon.

This effect would not be difficult to achieve either with a ruffler attachment or folded and stitched by hand. But what a pretty frame for your face with that little bit of ruffle standing at the nape of your neck.

This 1950's peignoir and negligee ensemble of sheer chiffon adds a simple ruffle trim to the yoke, collar and cuffs.

That same ruffle treatment is repeated on the bodice and shoulder straps. Nothing screams wedding cake frou frou more than this sweet raised embellishment. 

These treatments do not require any extraordinary skills though they do demand a bit of patience and precision. The final presentation, however, will be worth every moment spent as you proudly wear your everyday garment that has been elevated to Couture with your embellishing technique.

Visit CynicalGirl on Etsy and CynicalGirl on eCrater for fine vintage and newer sewing patterns.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hannah Troy Designs for McCall Pattern Company

McCall's 5672 by Hannah Troy 1960©

Women have Hannah Troy to thank for figuring out that most women's figures were not the elongated ideal that most ready to wear was designed for. Instead, she observed, women tend to have shorter waists. She was the first to design for this shape and called it "Petite". This 1960 ad for Singer sewing machines (Woman's Day, December 1960) features a model in an Italian influenced bell skirt dress, McCall's 5672.

Hannah Troy designed a few dozen patterns for both Advance Pattern Company in the 1940's and for McCall Pattern Company in the 1950's and 1960's. Her designs are hard to find but worth every penny you will pay for that pattern because she designed for a good fit that would flatter any figure. 

Hannah Troy died at the ripe old age of 93 in 1993. Find patterns by Hannah Troy on the Vintage Pattern Wikia HERE.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Simplicity Fashion News April 1968 Pattern Preview

Simplicity Fashion News April 1968

1968 was a year in transition. The fashions were a melting pot of 60's Mods with a glimmer of the Hippie movement on the horizon. This Simplicity Fashion News pattern catalog included these patterns: Simplicity 7549, Simplicity 7574, Simplicity 7575, Simplicity 7576, Simplicity 7577, Simplicity 7578, Simplicity 7579, Simplicity 7580, Simplicity 7581, Simplicity 7582, Simplicity 7584, Simplicity 7585, Simplicity 7586, Simplicity 7587, Simplicity 7588, Simplicity 7589, Simplicity 7598, Simplicity 7600, Simplicity 7603, Simplicity 7604, Simplicity 7608, Simplicity 7610, implicity 7611, Simplicity 7612, Simplicity 7614, Simplicity 7615 Download Catalog HERE.

Find these in my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy

Simplicity 7598            Simplicity 7577            Simplicity 7600

Simplicity 7581            Simplicity 7591          Simplicity 7576 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ship 'n Shore - Refashioning a Man's Shirt For A Vintage Style Blouse

Refashionistas are everywhere. To see garments that are oh so blah and totally last year transformed into something awesomely today and actually wearable is a sight to behold. But not all refashion projects are created equal. Far too often I see transformations that look like a pillowcase with holes for head and arms and a belt holding it all together. Fine for a beach cover up but not a sustainable refashion and probably more wasteful than if it was just left to the rag bag. 

Would you attempt to make a cake without following a recipe? So why would you attempt to draft a garment without a pattern? Refashioning doesn't have to be the lowly cousin of couture design. Remember that every garment, whether in fashion or not is a potential resource - fabric. Consider the garment and visualize what sort of pattern you could apply to it to create a refashioned masterpiece.

I was a kid in the late 50's and early 60's. Nothing said summer more than the little cotton Ship 'n Shore blouses we wore. They remain a staple in my wardrobe for their easy wear and easy care. 

My husband outgrew one of my favorite shirts - a pinpoint cotton button down oxford. The fabric was in great condition and the tiny blue and white stripes would make a perfect little cotton blouse for me using the Advance pattern for a front button blouse. I carefully removed the collar buttons.

This shirt had one breast pocket and I very carefully removed it by pulling up on the threads and not ripping the seam to ensure a nice clean removal. The tiny stitches make this step a bit tedious but those tiny needle holes will vanish after a couple of washings so it is well worth the extra time. If however, you are making a blouse that has no bust darts and you want to keep the pocket, just skip this step.

Depending on the size of the shirt and the size of your pattern, you can cut the collar and sleeves off and cut the side seams. If you think you may need that little extra seam allowance for size you can carefully split the seams as I did here.

I folded the back of the shirt to resemble the fold of a length of fabric.

I laid out my pattern pieces, adjusting the position so the shirttail hem would be equal - I wanted a longer shirt than the pattern allowed. I used my nifty DIY Pattern Weights covered in Plasti-Dip. You can find the instructions to make your own set of weights HERE.

The front bodice for this pattern had a button band which I lined up with the seam allowances and pinned to the bodice piece. This helped me line up the buttonholes on the front of the shirt with the buttonhole alignment of the pattern.

Using tailors chalk I marked the front and back with cutting lines and markings for darts and tucks. Tailors chalk washes out easily and allows you to mark the entire stitching line which makes sewing straight darts a breeze.

And then simply follow your pattern instructions for sewing darts and seams. I chose to add armhole facings cut from the shirt sleeves.

But decided on white bias tape for the neckline.

 A single little snap keeps the front neckline intact.

The bias tape gives the neckline a crisp, finished look to a front buttoned blouse that didn't require any buttonholes!

This blouse buttons opposite of a woman's blouse. There are a couple of things you can do if you prefer a blouse that buttons correctly. One thing you can do is to find a much larger shirt than the size you require and simply turn the front of the shirt upside down after separating the sections. Another thing you can do is to turn the front of the blouse to the wrong side. (Inside out) For most plain weave fabrics it won't make a difference but you will have to move the buttons to this side of the shirt and be comfortable with the button band on the inside.

However you plan to refashion-up a garment, use a pattern as a guide. It may require a bit more preparation but the finished product will be something you will be proud to wear again and again. 

Find vintage patterns to pair up with your next refashioning project in my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cone Thread Nets From Upcycled Produce Netting

I love garlic and buy it fresh at my local grocery store. The heads come packed three in a sleeve. It's not because I am OCD that I cannot throw anything away, it is that I often see something as a resource instead of a liability. Many things that begin with a particular purpose can be adapted to serve another. 

So it was no surprise to me that when I removed the garlic from these sleeves that I knew immediately how I would put them to use. I have purchased thread nets and though not expensive, these garlic sleeves were essentially free!

These sleeves are finely webbed with just enough elasticity to cover standard thread cones as well as these larger commercial cones. 

Just slip them over the top, pull the thread through and tuck in the excess on the bottom. Easy! And the best part is that you have just saved another piece of plastic from the landfill.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pattern Weights - A DIY Tutorial for Covering Metal Washers

Whoever discovered using weights instead of pins for layout and cutting was a genius. Though it does not allow the pattern tissue to "stick" with the fabric after cutting, the ease of cutting alone warrants great praise. I have seen pretty weights at fabric stores and have seen tutorials for wrapping with fabric strips or Washi tape. Is there anything you cannot cover with Washi tape? It's the new duct tape. 

I found myself wandering the aisles of Ace Hardware one Winter day admiring the ingenuity of so many varieties of wing nuts and washers and happened upon these large washers and thought, aha! I have found my pattern weights. But the smooth side slides on the tissue and the edges on the perimeter and in the opening are rough and can tear the tissues. This is why they are normally covered. As I wandered down the aisles I came across Plasti-Dip, a liquid plastic that you dip the handles of tools into to get a better no slip grip. Light bulb moment.

They had red and black. It would have been fun to have more colors to play with but this would have to do. I lined a box with newspaper and placed a dowel through the handles.

I dipped the washers into the coating. It was kind of thick and there are directions for thinning it which I may try next time. 

These hang to dry for a couple of hours.

Dip again and allow to dry for about 4 hours and Voila! You have no slip sure grip covered pattern weights. Hmmm. I wonder what else I could dip.