TCM’s Summer of Darkness

1944's "Laura" starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews is playing this Friday on TCM's Summer of Darkness.

1944’s “Laura” starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews is playing this Friday on TCM’s Summer of Darkness.

Being a film noir lover (the costumes!), I’m spending the warm months hiding in the shadows of the TCM Summer of Darkness. Every Friday in June and July, Turner Classic Movies is showing nothing but noir.

I’m even taking the free online course TCM is hosting in conjunction with the Summer of Darkness, called “Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir.” We’re in Week 2 of 9, and I’m learning a lot already about one of my favorite film genres — or is it a style or even a movement? There’s still time to register for the class and catch up on the fun homework (or just learn more about noir and what movies TCM is showing) at summerofdarkness.tcm.com.

Vintage style bicycle-print blouse

I saw a shirting fabric with a bicycle print at Jo-Ann’s and couldn’t resist:

How cute is this bicycle print?

How cute is this little bike?

I decided it was perfect for a shirt, and since I had already altered dress pattern Butterick 5846 to be a blouse, I used that. I did move the tucks down an inch, because I think they stopped too high, and I also made each tuck a little shallower. (As it turns out, the fabric has some stretch to it, so I probably didn’t need to make the tucks shallower. I really need to start paying closer attention to the information on the bolt ends.)

Here’s the finished blouse:

The fabric didn't seem like it would stand on it's own, so I also bought a coordinating blue for the collar.

The fabric seemed like it needed a little something extra, so I decided to use a contrast fabric for the collar. I forgot to take photos when I finished, so these were taken after the first wash.

And the back:

I do like the yoke on this pattern, but I am over making all those tucks!

I think I am over making the 12 tucks called for in this pattern!

Detail of the collar. The light area is just the sun through the shrubbery in my back yard.

Detail of the collar. The light area on the collar is just the sun peeking through the shrubbery in my back yard.

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I bought the buttons a while ago from a Jo-Ann’s clearance bin at 50 cents a card. They are octagon shaped and faceted. A good match for the bicycle wheels, I thought.

I’ve worn this blouse a couple of times — once with my wide-leg denim pants and once with some navy capris — and I really like it. But I usually wear blouses untucked with pants or capris, and this really flairs out below the tucks. In short, it makes my butt look big. And I don’t even have a butt.

But this blouse will be fab tucked into a navy skirt. I need to get on that, but the sewing project list is long!

Update: Welt pockets for my denim pants

I couldn’t stop thinking about welt pockets, so after consulting about three sewing books from my library, I finally broke down and added them to the back of my already completed wide-leg 1940s denim pants from Simplicity 3688.

Welt pockets were so much easier than I thought! I plan to put them in every pair of pants I ever make.

The outside:

My first single-welt pockets!

My first single-welt pockets! I used vintage buttons and white top-stitching to match details elsewhere on the pants.

You can’t tell from this picture, but the pockets are really low. Not stupid low, but pretty low. My books said they shouldn’t cross a dart, and the darts were long. But after my pockets were complete, I examined a few suit jackets in my closet and found that the welt pockets cross right through seams and/or darts! Next time I make these pants, I’ll put the welt at least an inch higher up.

And the inside:

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I had to use scraps to sew the pocket bags, so they are smaller than they should be.

Although I was able to add the pockets after the fact, they would have been more successful had I done them during construction. I examined the single-welt pockets on my husband and son’s khaki pants and found that the top of the pocket bag extends into the waistband seam. I think anchoring them at the top would keep them from sagging, so I’ll try that next time.

Also, in some of the pants, the sides of the pocket bag were sewn BEFORE it was pulled to the wrong side, then they were sewn again to make French seams. They were very tidy inside.

Since I made these, I’ve been noticing all sorts of interesting variations in welt pockets. (Which means I’ve been staring pretty intently at a lot of butts. “Pardon me, I’m not a perv, just a seamstress.”) I’ve seen pocket flaps of various shapes, button loops, and different top-stitching details. Some of these variations will make it into a future pair of pants.

But I have several other projects to complete before I can even think about another pair of pants.

Vintage-style denim pants from Simplicity 3688

My second attempt at Simplicity 3688 is a success.

This is a distinct improvement over my first go at the pattern. Nearly two years ago, I tried (with a few tragically cut corners) a fitting technique that didn’t work out for me. I decided to go back to my favorite way to fit a pattern: Make a muslin and figure out what I need to change from there.

For those who aren’t familiar, here is the rather famous Simplicity 3688.

Simplicity 3688

Simplicity 3688.

It’s a reproduction of a 1940s pattern that is well-known among people who like to sew vintage styles. I’ve made the skirt twice.

For the pants, I cut the pattern a size smaller in the hips than in the waist, but that’s the only change I made before the muslin.

From the muslin, I determined that it was an inch too long in the crotch and that if I took that inch out through all the darts, they would end in much better spots. I also needed to add two inches to the length. That’s it.

I made the pants from a dark denim (that turned out to be stretch) with white top-stitching thread and a white vintage button at the waist. Here are some closeups of the details.

 

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Top-stitching on the waistband.

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

Adorable vintage button closure.

Note that the buttonhole isn’t stitched with the usual satin stitch. The buttonhole was a new-to-me technique on my sewing machine. The Fancy Damn Sewing Machine has an automatic buttonhole function and fancy foot. You tell the machine how big your button is, set the wheel on the foot so it starts at the beginning of a buttonhole-sewing cycle, and press the foot pedal until your buttonhole is complete. Works like a charm (except on silk).

But I had told the machine I was sewing on heavy denim, so it changed the buttonhole stitch style from a satin stitch to Xs, and it wouldn’t let me go full automatic. I used a regular buttonhole foot. I had to hit the reverse button when the first side was long enough, then the machine made a bar tack and started sewing the other side of the buttonhole. When I pressed the reverse button again, it finished with a bar tack. Amazing.

The pants are very comfortable, and the fit is close, but there are some things I already know I want to tweak for the next time around:

  • I thought at first that the crotch was still too low, but then I realized that my waist is lower in the front than in the back, and if I fixed the pants to match, the crotch would fall where it should and the pants would hang better. I have already adjusted the pattern at the waistline to accommodate this.
  • The waist may need to be taken in. Since my hips have always been a size smaller than my waist, I am used to wearing pants very tight in the waist so they aren’t crazy loose in the butt. These pants have zero ease in the waist, but I may want a half-inch to an inch of negative ease. I’m going to wait on that decision until I’ve worn them a few times.
  • Somehow I made the pattern too long. I don’t think I’ll bother to change that, better to err on the side of too much length than too little.
  • I’d like to add single-welt pockets to the back. I’ve never made them before and am dying to try the technique. I actually could still add them to these pants.
  • The top-stitching length gets shorter the more layers I went over. I think I’ll need to lengthen the stitch in thicker areas so it all looks the same. I also think I should use a longer top-stitch length overall.

And here are the pants on me, with the blouse I most recently finished (and a new pair of shoes).

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Jeanne Marie Tokunaga.

The finished pants.

I don’t normally wear blouses tucked in, so here’s how I wore the pants on my recent visit to the Legion of Honor Museum.

Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846. Photo by Robert the Husband.

Simplicity 3688 and Butterick 5846.

The blouse is in a quilting cotton whose print I couldn’t resist, so it doesn’t drape well, but next up is the same blouse in an adorable bicycle-print blouse-weight fabric.

And here are the pants on me a few days later, with a knit top, cardigan, and loafers. So comfortable! I’ll probably wear them like this most of the time.

Simplicity 3688. Photo by Mark the Brother.

A different way to wear the pants.

I really like the silhouette and comfort of these pants. I’m definitely going to make at least two more pairs in denim and dial in the fit before I eventually make a lined pair from the really nice navy wool crepe in my stash.

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