Monday, January 28, 2013

Spicy 1930s Dress

What: The Paprika Dress!  Made of warm, spicy deep orange polyester crepe and satin, from a pattern from Eva Dress Patterns:


The main body of the dress is crepe, while the scarf tie, belt, skirt flounce, and flutter sleeves (more on that below) are satin.  A mix of both Views A and B.  Closes with snaps along the side.

Le dress:


When: This dress made up pretty quickly--all the work has been done in the past week.  I cut out the pattern one evening, and did most of the sewing save some prep and finish work in one day, off and on.

Where: The dress was made at home, on my trusty little sewing machine, and debuts next weekend.

Why: I love the 1930s, but haven't had much of an excuse to create an outfit.  A friend is having a 30s themed party for her 30th birthday, and it seemed like the reason I've been waiting for to dive into a new decade!

How: I loved working with this pattern--it was easy to follow and make up, and the pieces are deceptively basic.  I could see myself making a dozen different iterations of this dress just by tweaking the details.  (For the sake of my sewing budget and my closet, I'll try to refrain, but--wouldn't a black suiting-weight wool with  white chiffon sleeves and scarf tie be just scrumptious?)

One word of caution--the pattern's directions are the originals, and vintage patterns tend to go light on the instructions.  If you're used to modern patterns' pages of directions, expect a much less guided experience making this.  That said--it's very simple.  And sometimes figuring things out for one's self is much more fun!

A few notes on my stitching experience and what I changed from the original pattern:

I decided to mix the views and do the scarf tie as seen on View A above, but the belt as seen on View B.  And then I decided to incorporate the satin in the skirt flounce as well.  I really loved how that detail turned out:

Then came the sleeves.  I made them up and everything, even screwing one seam up, ripping it out, and redoing it:

And then I tried on the dress and thought...how cute would this be with flutter sleeves?  Especially for a party?  And then I glanced at the pile of satin scraps and found two Cheshire-cat-smile shaped bits perfect to use as sleeves.  This departure is one of my favorite details of the finished dress:




One thing I would do differently: I wasn't very judicious in selecting fabric--this project needed to go from pattern to done in just a couple weeks, no time for online fabric ordering, and my only nearby fabric stores are big-box types with iffy selection.  I'm mostly quite pleased (especially with the crepe and satin skirt!) but the satin bow is a bit stiff and doesn't look flowy and scrumptious the way the pattern does.  It makes a jaunty, Girl-Guides-esque knot, but I'd love a re-do of this design using silk charmeuse or another drapey fabric.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What I'm Sewing Now : January Edition

I thought a lot about my last post--wanting to sew but being on the fence about having time.  Well, I figured that it's pretty darn useless to decide whether or not you have time for something without trying it first.  So I decided to start 2013 out with two projects that are more failsafe than others I could try:

1) A new 18th century gown.  My reenacting clothes are getting a touch ragged, so it's needed (needing something is a plus for finishing it!).  Also, it's something I know how to do already--I'm confident I can complete it without major snafus because, well, I've already encountered most of the snafus one can encounter.

I made the linen lining/fitting muslin (this is probably round two of about four of tweaking):


and cut out the fashion fabric:


and the bodice is now completely constructed but I don't have pics of that.  More to come along with the Super Fabulous Best Ever Slipstitch method I tried out for this piece!

2) A 1930s dress.  I love the 1930s, I love how so much of the clothing is eminently wearable today, and I love that so many gorgeous patterns exist.  I have spent more hours than I care to admit drooling over reproduction patterns on EvaDress and the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

The reason it's failsafe?  It's relatively simple so I can get it finished.  I'm excited about it, but it shouldn't take long enough for that excitement to wane too much.  And finally?  I have a 1930s party to go to in two weeks.  That's the motivation to finish I needed!


Cute, eh?  It's getting done up in a spicy, pumpkin-y orange crepe and satin a la View B here, except with a thin belt instead of the sash.  Maybe it's because I got my latest Penzey's spices order the same day I cut the dress out, but I keep thinking of it as "the Paprika Dress" for the reddish brownish orange color!

Can't wait to get back to sewing....and to wear these new pieces...and to update you all!

What winter projects are keeping you busy?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stuff to Make in 2013

I have mixed feeling about creating a lofty goal list for this year.  Usually the New Year has me all gung-ho, ready to enjoy last year's creations and spur myself ahead to take on more challenges in the next year.

This was before having a baby.

These things keep you busy.  Seriously.  Love her.  But when it comes to looking ahead to the coming year, my optimism is at odds with the reality of squeezing projects in between baby care.  

At the same time, Baby E is opening up avenues of creativity that I haven't really explored.  For one, the obvious--clothes for her.  But there's also the reinvention of my reenacting persona that comes along with having a little person to watch out for all the time.  I foresee fewer battlefield escapades and more downtime (by "down" I mean on the floor with a kid, not resting) in camp.  So I started thinking about that some more, and who I'm "supposed to be" per my reenacting bio, and I thought...

...I need nicer clothes.  Most of my campwear is workwear.  Yet I'm an officer's wife who is visiting an encampment near her home.  Now with baby included.  I'll still get plenty of use out of the workwear, but it sure would be nice to fit the upper-middle-class sort of persona I've created for myself.

So I decided to start working on a new gown and plan a riding habit.  And I got really excited thinking about those two things.

And got excited thinking about other things, too.

Is it all going to get done?  Of course not.  Is it fun to think about, and does writing a list help motiviate me?  Most definitely.

The Too-Lofty 2013 Project List

1) 18th Century Baby Clothes.  We're going to need more as she gets bigger, and possibly something on the nicer end if we end up doing the baptism at an event as we plan on doing.

2) The Gown.  The gown is just a basic 18th century linen gown, but it's the pattern and the draping that are going to make it The Gown.  I'm creating a pattern that works--really works--and doing things more *right* than I've done before.  Less fudging.  More good stuff.

3) Accessories for The Gown.  I envision doing The Gown in pale blue, and making a sheer white kercheif, cap, and apron to go along with it.

4) Riding Habit.  Who doesn't know this piece:


Except I want to do it in green and white, Continental Marine colors.  I can't document that anyone did that, but it was trendy in Britain to copy one's husband's unit's uniform in habit styling...so I can't see why a young, stylish wife in the colonies might not do so as well.

5) Work on the House.  I need to paint the laundry room, and I have dreams of taking that dingy cave of a room and turning into a bright, well-organized, clean space.  This is my One Big Project for the house for this year.

6) I think I want to make new stays.  Again.  They're sort of addictive.

7) Curtains.  We need curtains in about half the rooms in the House.  Am considering ordering a bolt of cotton voile and going to town.

8) Fun vintage pieces.  I love 30s, 40s, and 50s era clothing, and sewing it up is often the work of a dedicated weekend afternoon.  Yet I never do.  I should.  Because it's fun.

How much will I get done?  We'll see.  What are your 2013 plans?