Tag Archives: sewing

The “unwearable” muslin is saved!

As recounted in my previous post, I attempted to make a wearable muslin of Simplicity 2151. I fell in love with the neckline, so it was supposed to be the first blouse I would perfect the fit of in my Vintage Separates Project. And when it was complete, it did fit beautifully; but unfortunately, with the fabric I chose, I was just NOT willing to wear it. It was an “unwearable muslin,” if you will.

Well, two of my delightful readers came to my rescue with suggestions on how to save it.

They identified the two main problems with the blouse: the sleeves and the lack of contrast. And although I did not fix the blouse with their exact suggestions, I did address the problems they noted. And now my “unwearable” muslin is wearable!

First, a refresher on the sad state of affairs before the fix:

Here’s the finished blouse. Dowdy! The sleeves are all wrong, and there’s no contrast.

The dowdiness is only exacerbated when the blouse is paired with the matching skirt. So sad!

And here is the new version!

This has much more of the 1940s vibe I was going for. I still LOVE the neckline.

Here’s the whole outfit:

So much better, isn’t it? It would be really snappy in rayon.

Let me share how this transformation came to be.

After my readers weighed in, I went searching for inspiration on my Vintage Style Pinterest boardThen I went about tucking and pinning my sad blouse until I had something I thought would work. Then I began to sew.

The changes I made:

  • Sleeves: The sleeves looked too full at the top (more so on me than on the dress form) and more suited to the prairie than the vintage look I had in mind. Part of the problem was that the shoulders were too wide. I took those in by ripping the armhole seam from dot to dot, trimming the bodice from dot to dot, then reattaching the sleeves. I also hacked off the sleeves and hemmed them.
  • Contrast: The blouse suffered from a serious lack of contrast, so I changed out the clear buttons from my stash for some vintage blue buttons that were recently acquired. They came from an intact button card with great graphics of a man’s suit. It killed me to use them, but that’s what they’re for.
  • Hem: I changed the hem to a V-shape (to echo the neckline) so the blouse would look like it was supposed to be worn with the hem outside.
  • Pockets: I added some fun pocket details. Since the button card had two sizes of buttons, I used the larger ones on the pockets.

The change I didn’t make:

I had also planned to shorten the 30-inch skirt to 28 or 26 inches (just below knee length on me) to be more in line with the mid-1940s, but I had done so much work redoing the blouse that I was out of gas when it came to redoing the skirt and lining hems!

The change I still need to make:

I still want to change the two buttons that close the skirt to the same buttons on the blouse (I have four left), but that’s for another evening.

This disappointing project turned out to be a good exercise in transforming a garment. It turned out to be really fun to change a top that I wouldn’t wear into one that I will. It feels pretty powerful to have those kinds of skills.

Since I have perfected the fit of this princess-seamed blouse, it has many future possibilities (a sweetheart neckline comes to mind), but I’m not sure how I’d style the sleeves in a nicer fabric. Meanwhile, I just received Sense & Sensibility Patterns’ Romantic Blouse pattern. The short sleeve version looks like a great 1940s blouse, as shown by Katrina of Edelweiss Patterns. So that will become a (hopefully) wearable muslin some time soon.

Next up: I think it’s time to move on from wearable muslins to my first quality garment for my Vintage Separates Project: a simple navy poly-wool blend version of the A-line skirt. But first I think I need to take in the waistband an inch. It’s always something.

Vintage shopping therapy

I needed a little vintage shopping therapy, and since I missed the most recent Sacramento Antique Faire, off to the antique mall I went. I don’t go often, so I’m very thorough when I do. I carefully examine every stall in my quest for hidden treasure. And I got quite a lucky haul this time:

This is the majority of the goodies I found.

The gloves were the first things I spied. I’ve been obsessed with finding a pair of crochet lace gloves since seeing a vintage-styled photo of Amy Adams wearing a pair.

I’ve had no luck tracking down any gloves on the Internet, so once I determined they fit (being 5 foot 9½ comes with long fingers), I knew they had to be mine. As for the buttons, two sets are for using, while the third is all about the button card. Here’s the title page of the book since you can’t tell anything from the outside:

This gem is copyright 1943 and was less than $6. I found it in the very last stall.

Here’s a peek inside:

How dreamy are these pages?

I also found these three patterns:

The Advance pattern looks like I just pulled it out of the drawer at the fabric store.

I love the collar and neck pleats of the Advance pattern (not so much the puff sleeves). The middle pattern has a belt that is sewn on most of the way around. I would love to use a vintage buckle on it. The one on the right turned out to be a maternity pattern! But it looks easy to take out the special features that make it adjustable, and I LOVE the neckline. It could make a great blouse.

But I think the find of the day was this book:

A 1951 Girl Scout Brownie Handbook.

And inside were these:

Girl Scout membership cards from 1954 through 1957. How awesome is that?

If you’ve read my “About me” page, you’ve seen that I’m a Girl Scout volunteer. To be a volunteer, you must register, which means I’m a Girl Scout. That’s not something I had the opportunity to be when I was a kid, so I appreciate being involved now. My daughter has been a Girl Scout for nine years, and I’ve been one for about six. Did you know Girl Scouts USA turns 100 this year? I’m going to a 100th Anniversary Gala at the California Museum in Sacramento on Friday.

Obviously, today’s shopping excursion was meant to be. I’ll be curling up with the 1943 sewing book in bed tonight, to help inspire my next project. The skirt is almost finished, and it’s time to start thinking about a blouse.

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): I’m a Giants baseball fan by marriage, so my husband pulled me away from my computer Wednesday night to watch the ninth inning of Matt Cain’s perfect game, one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen in baseball!

Oops — “Facing” a mistake

My altered contour waistband for McCall’s 6438 is made of three pieces: the front, the back right (which extends to be an underlap) and the back left.

The waistband facing has the same three pieces; but because the two back pieces are asymmetrical, they are different from the waistband pieces.

After basting the skirt and skirt lining together at the waistband seam, I started pinning together the waistband pieces and the waistband facing pieces and made my frustrating discovery.

See these pattern pieces that look ready to go? Deceiving!

I interfaced the facing pieces, not the waistband pieces. Gaaah! The front piece is symmetrical, so the waistband and facing are interchangeable, but the back pieces are screwed up.

I am mulling over my damage-control options for what is only a wearable muslin anyway:

  • Use as is and have the underlap extend from the left under the right piece. Then the skirt waistband would open the opposite way. If I ever wore it with a back-button blouse with a correct overlap, it would look stupid.
  • Use the interfaced pieces as the facing and the noninterfaced pieces as the waistband. But then I’m afraid the hand sewing of the facing wouldn’t come out as well and seam allowance ridges would be more obvious at the front of the waistband.
  • Interface the back waistband pieces and cut new back facings. But that is a waste of resources since it’s not absolutely necessary.

I’m glad I made this mistake on the wearable muslin, so I can be aware of this issue when working on the good fabric.

The question is: Which one of these solutions do I dislike the least?

Hmmm …

Aha! The process of writing and editing this post helped me think through this problem. My solution:

Use the interfaced front piece for the waistband. Attach it to the non-interfaced back pieces. For the facing, I can use the noninterfaced front piece attached to the interfaced back pieces. It solves most of my issues without using additional fabric or interfacing resources.

I definitely dislike this solution the least. It only took me two days to come up with it.

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): After being on vacation and eating nothing but pricey and oversized restaurant food for a week, I just want to cook and bake every day!

Separates: Changing a contour waistband from a side to a back opening

In my quest for the perfect vintage-style skirt for my Separates project, I found McCall’s 6438.

Although the actual sewn garment looks terrible on the model (Why is she wearing a contour waistband so high on her waist?), this pattern has the elements I wanted:

  • A contour waistband, which isn’t strictly vintage but works better on my not-so-hourglass figure.
  • A long skirt that’s full at the bottom, but smooth at the waist. (I don’t need any extra fabric there, thank you!)
  • A seam at the center back of the skirt, so I can easly change the skirt to a back closure. The better to add side pockets.

Today’s task was to redraft the pattern from a side to a center back closure and create the pockets. First up, the skirt pattern piece:

To change the skirt pattern for a back closure was just a matter of moving the circle for the zipper end. This looks a little fuzzy primarily because the pattern is under the Swedish Tracing Paper, though truth be told, some of that is operator error with my new camera!

Next was redrafting the waistband. The back waistband had the underlap extension on the side, so I used the front waistband for my base pattern.

I traced the front waistband pattern to create two back waistband pieces, one with an underlap, one without.

I had to add a seam allowance to the center back line for the left side. I added a seam allowance and 1.5 inch underlap to the right side.

Overlapped at the center back, the new back waistband pieces are the same size as the front waistband.

With that done, I moved on to creating slant pockets. I could have used a piece from an uncut pants pattern, but instead I drew it freehand with a few of the dimensions based on the nicely sized pockets from a pair of ready-to-wear pants with a contour waistband that I have. (Don’t you hate pockets that can’t actually hold anything? I at least want my phone to fit in there.) It was easiest for me to envision if I drew all the lines right on the skirt pattern and then traced those to create the separate pieces.

To draw the lines for the various pocket pieces on the skirt piece, I used a combination of freehand and my design ruler. I can use this whole pattern piece for the back skirt pieces and trim off the little slant area for the front skirt pieces.

Here are the resulting pieces:

My new slant pocket pattern pieces.

In my head, I know how all this will go together because I’ve sewn a slant pocket before. I THINK it will work just fine. (If you see a flaw in my drafting, please let me know!)

The pattern piece that won’t show on the outside, marked A above, can be done in a lining fabric. I have an idea of using a self piping for the slanted edge. The skirt will be done first as a wearable muslin (some quilting cotton), but I just checked my project bag and found lining fabric, but no zipper.

Now the question becomes: Invisible or regular …

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): I am currently obsessing over the BBC production of Sherlock, gleefully egged on by my friend Kim!

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