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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Laced Up Empire - Alley Cat - More Betsey Johnson Inspiration

Since I fashioned my Alley Cat trousers from a modern pattern, I'm thinking about recreating another vintage Betsey Johnson Alley Cat style. If I use modern fabrics, it's not going to be obviously vintage. But you could recreate a vintage look if you change the material.
An empire style emerges once a peasant blouse pattern is secured below the bust line.  I like the crossover look to form a more fitted torso. Either this tunic or a dress - maybe knee length - would work for my modern stylings. A basic peasant blouse pattern (examples belowwith judiciously arranged loops or rings as guides for the cord  would be my guess for recreating the sense of this. I'd cut my pattern a good bit longer because that cord is going to pull it up. I'm partial to the hairstyle in the middle too. I wore my (long thick) hair like the model in the short dress back in the 1970's ! I used little barrettes. It was not attractive! 

 Some ideas for a basic peasant blouse that could be converted into an Alley Cat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Vintage Flared Trousers - Alley Cat Inspired - Betsey Johnson - Mid Weight Denim

Back in the early 70's - We sewed  flared trousers with front pleats and high waists.
Designer Betsy Johnson's Alley Cat label exemplified this look. I was in high school then, and I sewed a lot of  Alley Cat patterns.

McCalls 6403 - May be out of print, but several online vendors still sell this pattern
It's really fun to recreate this now vintage look, by altering a favorite trouser pattern, I've used for five or six pair of long pants and shorts. Back in August I created my first flared leg version - Floribunda Bouquet's black linen  pants. I found myself reaching into the armoire for those cropped - ankle  pants again and again in the late summer and fall. In my Enchanted by Sewing audio podcast  for August, in the techniques/technicos section, I talked about how I added the flares. You can listen to this 'cast directly on the web, or download it from iTunes.
http://enchantedbysewing.blogspot.com/2016/08/ench-by-sew-46-ready-set-sew-sewing.html

McCalls 6403 - Pleated Front Trousers
Made up in mid-weight denim  -  Full length - Flare added at both inseam and side seam
(Yes - I hope to take a bigger photo and update this posting)



Saturday, December 31, 2016

Victoria's Secret Versus Albert's



We all figure Queen Victoria went to bed wearing frothy, delectable muslin night gowns.
But what about her consort Albert?
I'm pretty sure it was something like this charmer I made my husband for the festive season. He has been wearing out flannel nightshirts year after year since we first got married. 
Not glamorous, but warm and cosy. He wears them over regular pajama bottoms. 
We couldn't have him modeling the look anymore than you ever see Prince Albert dressed in his night gear!

McCalls 8379

Monday, December 12, 2016

Queen Cordelia: My Latest Princess-Seamed Shirt M6076

My sixth Palmer and Pletsch Princess-Seamed shirt. I'm definitely on a roll with this pattern!

Been wearing Cordy (excuse me - I mean Queen Cordelia) a lot since I finished her a few days back. I lengthened her sleeve from the quarter length I did for Princess Periwinkle and Marigold, into a three-quarters length. Perfect for a warmer weight fabric.

Cordy thinks she's royal because she's made from corduroy (cord-du-roi /cloth of the king), but according to wikipedia, that was something folks used to just say. Apparently corduroy is just as everyday as I am.

Don't tell Cordy, OK?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Green Sewing: Tote Bag for Reusable Grocery or Gift Bag


I figure it's green sewing because the fabric was a small remnant I had in my inventory for three or four years.

Pinking shears on all the edges makes for easy seam finishing.

1) After seaming side and bottom seams I cut out a 1 inch by 1 inch square from both the left and right hand corners
2) Pulled across to make a flat box corner and seamed
3)Used a decorative blanket-type stitch to add strength to the corner/box seam
4) I used this same stitching on the top edge of the bag

Wide black gros-grain ribbon (glad to find in my trim inventory) made handles. I stitched an 'X' shape to hold those in place.


The bag is all ready to hold a present of biscotti from Diandras Bakery in San Mateo. Diandra's was started by a gentleman who came over after WWII on a boat from Italy. I know that because a wonderful Italian teacher I had one summer came over on the same boat! Diandras makes great baked goods. The giftees might then use the bag as a grocery tote, a dog toy bag, a dirty clothes bag or ????

Friday, November 25, 2016

Pattern Work: Disneyland with Princess Periwinkle de Nîmes (M6076)



Another M6076, Palmer and Pletsch princess-seamed shirt. I've been altering the pattern (off and on) for a year now, working to get the perfect fit for me.
I think the original sleeve-into-torso seam was somewhat more dropped than what I've ended up with. I'm quite happy with the fit of this shirt - it really conforms to me, and the long curved princess-seams are flattering. Below is a photo of me wearing the Princess, recently,  at Disneyland.

Note that this denim is the very, very light weight variety, it looks more like chambray. Princess Periwinkle comes, of course, from Nîmes, the origin of our modern denim fabric.

A trip to see the holiday decorations at Disneyland with Cousin Martha, motivated me to get the Princess finished!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denim Discusses source of denim in Nîmes 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periwinkle_(color) - Periwinkles seem to be related to vinca - a rather invasive European flower a lot of people plant around here, and are then often sorry to have done so! I love the blue color though, much like the one in this shirt. It's also referred to as 'lavender blue' - I wonder if that's where the Burl Ives  song (it's really an old folk song but he popularized it in the 1960's) comes from? I always wondered about that, because all the lavender I know is purple 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Marigold's Machine Button Hole Sewing

Yup - Even with care,  this buttonhole is a little crooked at the bottom edge. This doesn't show because the button covers it, but it's more proof that buttonholes are tricky. Frankly if I want perfect openings, I sew them by hand. Also, I don't stress about perfection!
1) I used a contrasting thread on Marigold's buttons holes, so I sure didn't want crooked threaded openings! Yes, modern machines are programmable to sew buttonholes neatly and repetively, but I'm often challenged by accurate placement. So I draw my buttonholes on medical supply tissue paper and sew them one at a time.

I make test sewing samples first 
Fabric Test Package - I make sure to include a piece of the same interfacing between two pieces of the shirt's fabric, so that I'm testing the same situation as my shirt

2) First I laid the buttons down on tissue. In theory you add maybe 1/8" over the width of the button. I try by theory and I try my gut reaction. Then I sew, cut and try the button in each hole

3) I make sure to put a wide pencil line at top and bottom - this is where a programmed buttonhole knows how far to go - but I  making the decision in each case to stop or turn. 
That's because of experience. Sometimes the fabric or interfacing gets stuck in the machine (even though I always use the right presser foot), and the programmed stitches aren't even on both sides. I use my buttonhole machine setting, but I make the choices each time as though I'm sewing the first, and I no longer use the programmed setting.
4) When I cut the button hole, of course I put a pin across the top so the seam ripper I'm using to open the buttonhole,  doesn't slice past the top of the opening. Again... experience!
5) When test sewing these buttonholes, I found I needed a piece of tissue underneath, as well as on top, in order to make the interfaced fabric test package (in preparation for the actual shirt) move unstickily along. I don't usually need the underneath tissue, but this fabric is a kind of loose, rough weave, and I found this quite helpful to keep my machine sewing smoothly.
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Marigold - A Princess-Seamed Shirt - Terminado - http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2016/11/fall-colors-marigold-princess-seamed.html