Friday, April 9, 2010

Summer Fashion: A Completely Handmade Goal

I love dresses. I need a large amount too, because we have Bible study several times a week. I wear a lot of skirts, but it's not always easy to find a matching [clean and ironed] top or sweater to go with them. Dresses are really hard to find these days, I mean pretty ones that aren't up to my you-know-what, or ones that don't require a tank underneath to keep from showing your you-know-whats. And if I do find some that are modest, they don't fit me right because I have a weird-shaped body.

So this year I'm really going to buckle down and learn to sew right. I'm an ok seamstress as long as it doesn't involve a pattern. Last year I made matching dresses for me and my daughter without a pattern and they turned out so cute. They both had elastic smocking (eww gross word!) so they didn't require much fitting. For the top, I just laid the fabric under one of my blouses and cut around it, then made elastic puffy sleeves and neckline. When I eventually dig it out of the ironing basket I'll show you.
So that's an option. But how many smocked (Ewww!) dresses can a grown woman own? It's time to learn to do this the right way. Etsy has lots of great vintage dress patterns:

A big fat bow and puffy sleeves. Does it get any better than that? (We all share a secret love for puff sleeve dresses from watching Anne of Green Gables since age 4. And a wish to be named Cordelia. Just admit it.)
Alas, the pattern is for a 32" bust.

I adore these necklines, but again the pattern is for a 32" bust. Seriously? And is there any way to alter that?
Here's a great alternative:
Omigosh so cute!

So nobody in 1955 had boobies? Wait, maybe they ALL had them and that's why the only vintage patterns with small measurements are still intact? In either case, I'm probably not going to get a summer wardrobe out of them. So I looked around at the Mccall sites...

This straight skirt style isn't something I'd normally even try on at the store, because I already know it wouldn't fit me. Those pleats in the front though, maybe they'd help? Or maybe it would still be skin tight around my bottom and gap in the front. It gets a "very easy" rating, so maybe I'll try it anyway.

Vogue 8577
I love the sleeves and the lower waistline on this one. I have an oddly long waist, so it's hard to find anything fitted through the middle because it always hits me around the ribs.

Vogue 2787
I am MADLY in love with this one, but Vogue give it their "Advanced" rating. What does that entail, exactly? Read on...

Perfect for those who like the sewing challenge of professional tailoring and fine couture techniques. Expect intricate fashion shaping, hidden construction details, couture inner construction, fine touches of hand sewing and bias draping.

...Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh! In other words, sewing hell. That's really all they had to say. But I want it so so so badly! "Hey Mom.....!" I mean seriously, can you just imagine all the cool vintage hats I could wear with it??

Vogue 2960
This one, thankfully, is rated "easy", although that's not quite as comforting as it sounds since Vogue also has a "very easy" rating. Sheesh.
I'm not sure I like the low back, but I love the fitted waist, graceful neckline, and delicate sleeves. The website also shows a picture of it made up on a live model, and the length makes the dress a bit overwhelming, especially in the floral print which of course I'd have to have too. So either the line drawing was an exaggeration, or women had really long legs back then. I'd try to shorten it to knee-length, if such a thing is possible (?)

This one is probably my favorite- Look at the peter pan collar! So cute. It gets an "easy" rating, again, a little nerve-wracking for me, but I'm definitely going to give it a try. It also has a cap sleeve version instead of the puffy elasticized ones, which I like just fine. I'm excited that it comes with belt directions. I love belted dresses.

I already have the fabric picked out too! But the truth is I am completely clueless when it comes to translating the pattern suggestions into real choices. The fabric store just says polyester. Or sometimes they might add charmeuse. What??
She doesn't know it yet, but Mom will be taking a trip to the fabric store with me!
I might try one in broadcloth first, and if all goes well then I plan to hack into some of these lovelies...

From Joanns:
1. Simply Silky Print-Riviera Floral (Polyester)
2. Simply Silky Print- Coral Watercolor Floral (polyester)
3. Chiffon Print-Monet's Garden (polyester)
4. Bayou Collection-Abstract Palmetto (polyester)
5. Linen Print- Tidepool Diamonds (60% linen, 40% cotton)

They also had a really pretty lightweight linen printed with line drawings of houses, so cute! And it's all 40% off for the next couple weeks, so I'm dying to do this now!

Vintage from etsy:
1. Floral and Paisley
2. Vintage Floral
3. Vintage Flower Barkcloth
4. Cottage Flower
5. Vintage Floral

I'd be really nervous to try anything vintage until I'm sure I can make the dress, but these are so adorable! There are three yards available of that sweet cottage floral, wouldn't it make a gorgeous long flowy skirt for summer?

PS. What's barkcloth?


Lisa said...

You are one brave lady. I'm not sure I'll make me anything from my store bought patterns again. I thought I was just a crappy seamstress but apparently my patterns are just sized poorly. I have found a couple of really cute things at though. The fabric you picked is awesome, and I have the same issue... I can pick a pattern, but I am clueless on fabric. Why is it the pattern calls it one thing but when I go into JoAnns it's called 5 different other things? How am I supposed to know it's the same thing?

Good luck! Please post pics! *bats eyelashes*

Waterrose said...

Those are cute patterns. I remember my mom in dresses like those. I have altered patterns up one size, but never felt comfortable doing more then that. Although expert seamstresses can. Usually the pattern has markings where you can alter and sometimes even tell you how.

You don't want to use barkcloth for a dress or a blouse. It has a texture like bark (hence the term). It was used mainly for curtains back in the day. It's a heavier fabric, but not as heavy as upholstery, but it is used to make throw pillows. I guess you could make a skirt out of it if you like the texture. I made these Roman Shades with a vintage tropical print.

Down To Earth News said...

WOW, aren't you ambitious!!! You are always amazing me.

There was time when I did a lot of sewing, now I let Maddiebee do it for me.

But, seriously if you run into any problems or have any questions, I know she would be glad to help

Jo Ann

Melissa said...

LOVE the Vogue 2960 and 8577...feels sort of "Mad Men"-ish. Man I wish I was around to wear those dresses they had. (though I certainly do NOT have the skinny waist to show off).

Any of the vintage florals would be great...but I'd have to agree that trying it on something else first would be best until you are comfortable making it.

Good luck w/your dress making! Wish I had that kind of talent.


SewSweetStitches said...

Thanks everyone! Lisa I totally agree, it is SO irritating to have to decipher fabric-speak!
Thanks Jo Anne for the offer, if I do decide to go through with this I'm sure I'll be begging her for help!
Good to know Rose, only now I'll have to think of something for that awesome vintage fabric!