Sunday, June 23, 2013

We have bound buttonholes . . . and more!

 My personal coat sew-along continues with Butterick 5824, and if you recall, I felt my two biggest challenges would be 1) all the cutting out, and 2) the bound buttonholes.  Well, after the cutting out, the first thing you do is the buttonholes.  So for better or worse, I would be getting the hardest part (I felt) out of the way at the beginning of this project.  I used Gertie's instructions from her book, and practiced with some cotton from one of my shirtdress projects about a month ago.  Not bad for a first try, although I machine stitched around these; I just wanted to get the order of the technique at first, so I didn't bother with handstitching:
Gertie recommends that you use scissors called tailor points to cut your buttonholes.  Gingher makes some good ones, but has re-named them "craft scissors" these days, probably as a wider marketing technique since there are few tailors out there, but lots and lots of crafters.  I bought them at Joannes and they are the most awesome scissors ever made because they are wickedly sharp right up to the points.  You need them to cut the little triangles in the ends of the buttonholes.  

I found that making the buttonholes in my drapey camelhair fabric more fiddly than making them in stable, and thinner, quilting cotton.  But I pressed onward, and was reminded once again that perfectionism is not only the death of creativity, but the death of productivity as well.  So without further ado, here are my coat bound buttonholes:
 Okay, not great.  But they will be covered by, you know, actual buttons.  Plus, I am fairly confident that these bound bottonholes will not become unbound, so I think we have achieved the goal.  In the end, I was pleased enough, but then I remembered, I'm not done with these bound bottonholes - stage II occurs at the end of this project went you have to make the corresponding openings in the facings.  I'll worry about that later.

After the bound buttonholes were done, the bodice came together fairly easily.  I was very glad that Gertie posted a video on how to sew the bodice front to the bodice back at the neckline.  I guessed right, but I liked having the video to confirm I was on the right track, rather than silently worrying that I had done it all wrong and one day my coat would fall apart.

After getting the bodice together, the only thing left to do was sew the skirt portion to the bodice portion (because, remember, I sewed the skirt first) and voila, I have a coat facsimile:
 The above photo was taken indoors.  This photo was taken out of doors:
 I tried it on and it looks awesome, but the 90 degree heat did not allow any photographs of me actually wearing it - one of the drawbacks of sewing your winter coat six months early.  I am really pleased the way this project is coming along.  My biggest challenge has actually ended up being trying to mark the fabric.  Alone, my usual white pen is useless, as is carbon paper, and tailors' chalk.  I ended up using all of these devices to mark darts, circles, and buttonholes:
I used the red thread to mark the circles - I don't know if my thread marks could be call tailors' tacks, since I'm not sure I did them right, but I got 'er done.  I found the best method of marking on this fabric was to use the tailor point scissors for marking notches, and then, right before I was going to sew a dart, use the carbon paper and tracing wheel between the pattern and fabric.  As soon as I removed the pattern, I traced over the dart with the tailors chalk, and then immediately pinned and sewed the dart.  Even as I pinned and sewed the lines were disappearing on me.  And ironing removed all marking entirely. 

So steps 1 through 16 are done!  I'm letting the coat hang for awhile to see if the skirt stretches before I interface the hem.  The next steps for me will be to cut out the lining (cutting out again, sigh), and making the lining bodice and skirt, attaching them together.  Bascially, I have do everything I just did, but with lining fabric.  It's like making the coat twice.  Good thing I started this six months early!

Parting shot:  A photo from the early 1930's from the Library of Congress.  It was taken in Coffee County, Alabama, which is one county over from Cotton Creek, AL, and I like it because it reminds me of the house my father grew up in.  (He was born in 1936.)  His childhood home looked just like this - no paint, with a fire place and a stove.  I imagine this is how his mother cooked:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Shirtdresses Continue . . .

After my last post, Gwen asked if I was doing a study of shirtwaist dresses . . . why, yes I am!  Actually, I'm hoping to produce the definitive work.  So in the interest of research, I reached in the far recesses of my closet and found a shirtdress that I probably made in 2008 or maybe 2007, before I started blogging.  I made it from this vintage Simplicity pattern, number 5877, circa 1965:

 I have no idea where I got this pattern - probably Etsy.  Maybe.  I can see what I liked about it - the buttons only went to the waist, the full skirt is pleated and not gathered, and there is a side zip.  I made it up in a cheery striped fabric that had a great hand and a slight brushed nap:
 Please forgive these photos in office cubicle-land;  Aimee and I were just too busy at work to find some place with natural light.  I made the dress with yellow buttons just because I could, and who doesn't like yellow buttons?
 I even made my first (and only belt) to match!
 The belt is mostly held together with glue and velcro (no lie):

 Here's a shot of the side slot (centered) zipper:

But here is the thing:  this dress has been worn only about a half a dozen times in its lifespan.  Why?  Well, the bodice is a little too loose and too long; the pattern is a Bust 36, and I'm really more of a Bust 34 kind of gal.  In 2008, I wouldn't have known how to go about altering it to fit, and I can't say that I know now either.  Or that I am willing to learn - there are just too many shirtdress patterns out there made for a 34 Bust.  Also, the skirt is very full, and pressing this baby takes about 15 to 18 minutes, which doesn't sound like a lot, but we all know that in ironing time, one minute ironing is equal to about four minutes of your life that you will never get back.  My pressing patience is about 5 minutes per garment, max.

I feel sorry for this dress though because it is good dress and just doesn't get the wearing it deserves.  And the pattern is a very good shirtdress pattern and I believe such vintage shirtdress patterns are sacred relics that should be preserved and treasured, but because of the size, I know I will never make it again. 

So here is my solution:  I'm offering this dress, the belt, and the pattern to anyone who wants to have them (remember the size is Bust 36).  I would really love to give these orphans a good home. And since tens of people read my blog weekly, I am hoping someone can take them off my hands.  Just email me at:  kapayne3*at* and tell me you will welcome this dress and pattern into your home and give me your address.  They'll be there before you know it.

Update:  This pattern and dress has been claimed by Debbie, who found an incomplete copy of the pattern at a yard sale.  She is currently planning her awesome version now!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Look 6180

I finished my third shirtdress of 2013 last weekend, this time from New Look 6180, and wore it to work on Tuesday, with a belt, heels, and a gray cardigan.  (Didn't get a photo since I was in a meeting all day.)  But today I wore it the way it was meant to be worn:  sandles, no belt, no worries.  This is a run-errands-on-Saturday-afternoon-while-wearing-Keds sort of dress:

 (You can see who photo-bombed . . .)  It's no secret that this New Look pattern has crappy cover art:

 There is really no way the model can make the longer length dress attractive in any way.  I was drawn to the pattern though because the button front only went to the waist - I prefer this to a shirtdress that has buttons all the way down to the hem.  Of course, if your pattern doesn't call for buttons from collar to hem, then you will need either a zipper or elastic to get into the dress.  This dress has elastic, of which I am not a great fan, but I decided to give it a go.  I found a cotton I was mysteriously drawn to at Hancock's:

 It was cheap, probably about $ 5.00/yard, and I liked it in the weirdest way possible.  It whispered to me, "Psst, pick me; I promise I won't wrinkle, and I will become your coolest dress this hot, humid summer."  I believed it, and bought four yards, even though the pattern only called for about two and half.

And I am glad I did.  This pattern only instructs you to cut one back yoke and two front yokes, which would make your inner bodice a big ole' mess inside.  Instead, I doubled those numbers and used the burrito method to put it all together.  It made the inside much nicer:
 And I made my own bias french binding to bind the armholes, cutting the bias bands 2 1/8 inches wide and folding them in half to make double binding:

 I tried a new method of turning the collar I found out about through Brian.  Look at that collar point!

 I'll be using this method from now on.  I hadn't tried it before because the first step of the instructions is to reduce your seam allowances to 1/4 inch and I'm too lazy for that.  This pattern had 3/8 inch seam allowances for the collar, so I figured it was close enough to try it.  Worked like a charm.  I think this method will even work on collars with a 5/8 inch seam allowance - you just have to do a little more carefully trimming.  I recommend this method of turning a collar to everyone!

Of course, I attached the collar David Coffin style, and did way more edgestitching than the pattern called for - the collar, the stand, the yoke and shoulder seams, etc.  Since I was making the shorter version, I lengthened it by 2 1/8 inches to insure that the the skirt would cover my knees, and avoid that awkward right-in-the-middle-of-the-knee length.  Unfortunately, the gathering of the skirt and my slight miscalculation resulted in a skirt that was still an inch too short for my liking:

But I will live with it.  The elastic did prove to be the PITA that I thought it would be. It took multiple tryings-on to get the elastic snug enough to be presentable, but not so tight so as to be uncomfortable.  Interestingly enough, this skirt is pleated AND gathered.  You pleat first, attach the skirt to the bodice, and then insert the elastic.  I left the waist fairly loose for comfort as I expect to wear this through out the summer.

I won't even recount the dithering I did on the buttons, but I'll just say that in the end I went with my original choice - basic gray buttons from Hancocks.  I'm glad to report that this fabric did not lie - it is indeed cool and resists wrinkling (this dress has already been washed in the photos above).

I'm tempted to make another one of these, but my no repeat rule is still in effect and there are still way more shirtdress patterns out there!