Sweet Betty Blue Kimono – Part 1

I made a lot of New Years resolutions. Like most people in the world, most of these resolutions fell through the cracks in the first five days.  However, one thing that I refuse to let fall apart is my new and improved sewing schedule. I’ve decided to start working with me archives. Between vintage patterns, vintage pattern magazines, and some really stunning (I think) vintage pieces I have salvaged from attics and thrift stores, I have a pretty good base to start from.

Most of the vintage dresses, coats, etc. in my archive are more involved than I would like to start off with, so I’ve decided to finally finish a project that I swore I would make- this awesome 1920’s kimono robe!!! (I bet you remember it! Don’t you?)

The Betty Blue KimonoWell, to refresh my memory, it’s this little number, from the 1925 Spring Fashion Services Magazine. Kimonos are fairly straight forward in their construction; they are just rectangles of fabric sewn together in a specific way. The instructions for this one say to use McCall pattern #3825. Given that this would have been in the 1920’s, and that it has long since been out of print, I have instead decided to use the kimono pattern in my go-to lingerie sewing seer: Sewing Lingerie, from the Singer Reference Library.

Sewing Lingerie

It’s should go together pretty quickly. And I even have the fabric for it! It’s just a polyester crepe that I picked up at Ye Olde Jo-Ann Fabrics, but I think it will work just fine. For the closures, I think I’ll see if I can pick up dome wooden or metal hoops at the craft store, and wrap them with ribbon. But we will see.

Betty Blue embroidery

I’m also finally going to be trying my hand at embroidery. This pattern is from “Pretty Pretties”, a wonderful little e-book available on Etsy, from MrsDepew. If you haven’t checked out her store, you should! She has an absolute treasure trove of vintage patterns, magazines and digital reproductions!  Anyway, it needs a special needle, which I have, and I even picked up two different shades of blue that will look lovely with the fabric. I think I might put it on the tails of the sleeves.

Well, check back next week to see if I have made any progress! 🙂

 

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The Strawberries & Champagne Series is DONE!!!

So many things have happened in the past week! Classes started for the Spring Semester, just in time for a HUGE snow storm, which effectively cancelled classes for two days straight. So I got an extra two days of vacation. No complaints here, though.

Over my winter break, I tried to really knuckle down and do some dedicated work on my first collection. Of course, I did have to work around family commitments and parties, none of which I factored into my ludicrous sewing schedule. As a result, I’m a week behind schedule on getting the first part of the collection out.

But, hey. Better late than never, right?

And so, with no more ado, I give you “The Strawberries & Champagne” series!!

The series is one of four in the collection, and features two different vintage bra styles

Strawberries & Champagne bullet bra

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Tap pants

A camisole

A slip

And a garter belt corset, all crafted from luscious satins and vintage lace, following vintage style lines. The items are currently all sewn by me, in the little workshop that is sometimes known as my mother’s living room, and are sewn to fit the unique measurements of each of my customers. No need to battle it out with your clothing to make it fit.

The items will be going up for sale later in the day in my shop. I hope you like them! 🙂

When Life Gives You Lemons….

It’s been a while since I’ve written. The good news is that my puppy, Beasley, despite Murphy’s Law, survived his ordeal and is doing wonderfully. Thank the goblins for small favors, because if I lost him or Jack the Parrot, I think I would be utterly lost.

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I have recently been working on a series of sample bras. They are very pretty vintage designs, and I bought beautiful, slinky, silky satins, and stunning kimono fabrics to make them. Being the genius that I am, I took my pattern, and cut out all the pieces in all of the fabrics I had, all in a 36B.

Right there was the first series of mistakes. I should have cut the damn thing out in muslin and sewn it up to make sure the pattern was okay. But I didn’t. My new fabrics filled me with excitement and perhaps more optimism than I should have had for such a daunting challenge.

And then I sat down to sewing… having NOT made a test muslin first, to make sure I knew exactly how to assemble these beautiful bras. And having not put a SINGLE MARK on the pieces to help me in the assembly.

At first I thought I was on a roll. I had a bit of trouble with my darts, but I forged ahead at reckless speed. Once the first one was done, and only needed to have some hand stitching down, I noticed that it just looked… well… it looked WRONG. Because I had sewn two pieces BACKWARDS, and had done the most beautiful, miniscule French seams the world had ever seen. There was no salvaging or fixing my mistake.

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So I surrendered that bra, and continued on like a run away train. I put together two new bras, still in the glorious (expensive) silks and satins. Another one suffered the upside down fiasco, but I was determined to fix that with the cunning use of lingerie elastic (on non-existant seam allowances, because I trimmed those off…). There were nightmares with trying to encase elastic with bias tape, which created horrendously bulky underarm seams (because both the bias tape AND the elastic were all wrong). There was my failed attempt a what could have been beautiful piping detail, because I had no idea what I was doing.

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There were seams and stitches that were picked out so many times that the fabric disintegrated, and then there with the horrible, ugly , visible seams that you could SEE, because I ran out of the appropriate colored thread.

I was like a zombie mindlessly hell bend on finishing. Or a lemming, DETERMINED to charge off that cliff if it was the last thing I did.

The first sensible thing I did, was take an enforced two week break from the projects, to get ready for two back to back events I was privileged enough to be a vendor at. For two weeks, my sewing area sat fallow, and dust covered, while I barreled through 200 lb.s of origami paper to make these stunning hair creations and more (not that I’m tooting my own horn, or anything…). And I was equally as maniacal about these pieces as I had been with the bras… the results were just better.

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After two weeks, I returned to my derelict sewing area, and picked up the bras. They looked wretched. So I did the second most sensible thing I could think of. I went online, to the wonderful vendor of vintage patterns, and found a tutorial for sewing a vintage bullet bra.

And there, before my eyes, in black and white print, and colored photographs, I saw EVERY SINGLE ONE  of my mistakes spread out before me.

Such as including seam allowances in my pattern pieces.

Such as using an iron to press seams before barreling ahead.

Such as understitching.

Such as matching seams before you sew them.

It was embarrassing. I know better. I’ve known better for years. But I was so excited with the gorgeous, dazzling fabrics I chose, that I was determined to skip all the appropriate steps, and convinced that the end result would be just as good.

The sewers, seamstresses, and designers out there will not be surprised to learn that I was disappointed.

Over 100$ of supplies were chucked into the garbage, the fabrics now too degraded from abuse to be salvaged for anything more than cleaning rags.

This week I sat down, resigned to the fact that I have not yet achieved Alexander McQueen perfection with my “sewing-by -eye”, and cut out a muslin that fit my fairly hefty 38DD torso. I figured that if I was going to drag myself through hell again, I was going to make something I could wear.

The muslin, including all of the tweaking and pattern redrafting, took me thirty minutes. Just thirty minutes.

Then I cut into my beautiful fabrics again, and spent an extra two minutes marking all of the pieces. Just two minutes.

And then, before I could do any damage, I called it a day, and spent the rest of my time drawing up an sewing order, so that the bra would go together nicely.

Had I bothered to take 32 minutes out, before I let myself loose on the project, I could have saved myself an ENTIRE MONTH of needless cursing, tantrums, and tears.

And 100$.

The moral of this story is that, yes, “Time is money”.

By which I mean that you will WASTE money if you do not take the time to go about things the proper way.

 

 

Think Pink, A Better Way of Life! :)

All this lingerie sewing might have just gone to my head. I finished the Pin up bra I’d been working on, and then made a pair of cute little tap pants that matched. I wanted photos for my store, and since I’d made the bra and tap pants in my size, I thought “what the heck? I’ll model them!”Image

Am I a trained (or even self taught) model? No, I’m not. Do I have any understanding of modeling? Well, no… Not really. Am I even model proportions? Nope. Not even close.

But some times, A girl’s just got to say “screw it”, and be silly and have fun. As it is, some of the photos actually came out good enough for me to use in my shop!

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Am I trading in my sewing machine and tailor’s chalk for the bright lights?

Nah.

But I got to admit- It was fun! 🙂

Photos by G. Dunn

Bra and tap pants are available here, as a set: Pin Up Lingerie Set

Bra available separately, Here: luxurious bombshell bra

The Pin Up Sew Along Project Pt. 2

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Last week I put some serious effort into the bra project- I even went as far to time myself, to see how long it took me to make… I know. I know. I was a little bit obsessive… :$

Once I perfected my pattern and sewed half of the sample, I simply couldn’t wait to make the final glorious product!!
I used a decadent, reasonably priced polyester charmeuse. On the upper part of the bra, I did a lace overlay with one of the wider galloon laces from my huge stash.

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Obviously, it’s an asymmetrical pattern, so I tooka good hour trying to figure out which way I wanted to lace pattern to go.

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I eventually chose to cut it with the scalloped at the top, mainly because it created a pretty icicle effect.

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The sewing was pretty straight forward. A little tedious, maybe. But with 8 cups of coffee and Katherine Hepburn movies, I managed to get the cups done in about and hour!! 🙂

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Pretty, don’t you think?

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Now I will admit that I made a mistake- I forgot to attach the back of the bra to the cups before I sewed in the lining… So I ended up sewing it like an insert , which didn’t work out as bad as it could have, but definitely not as good as I hoped. Live and learn.

Instead of using hooks to close the bra, I decided to do a ribbon loop button closure… And didn’t think to look for directions… Not too bad!!

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I’m working on finishing up the bra this week for a little pin up photo shoot!! Stay tuned for my finished project and the next part of the sew along I’m working through!!

For more information on the Pin Up Sew Along, check out Anna’s blog : A Few Threads Loose
And Sarah’s blog: Ohhh Lulu

The Pin Up Sew Along pattern package can be purchased here: Ohhh La La Pin Up Sew Along

Or you can purchase the bra pattern I’m working with separately, here: 1950’s Pin Up Bra #2001

Sunshine & Cinnamon,
Mack 😉

Pin-up sew along project pt 1

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The holiday season is now drawing to a close, and with it my vacation. To fill in the gaps of free time I have, I have finally started working on the pin up sew along project!!!

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I have drafted out the pattern pieces for the bombshell bra to my size and am currently working on my second muslin sample/toile.

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I’m going to make both bra designs from left-over pink satin I found in my fabric hoard, with pretty antique lace overlay with lace from my huge barrel-o-lace!!

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So far there is much fun being had in my little workroom 🙂

Learn more about the sew along by Anna: A Few Threads Loose
And Sarah: OhhhLuLu blog

Pattern available at this link as a sew along package: The Pin Up Sew Along Kit on Etsy

Or separately: French Bra Pattern by MrsDepew on Etsy

The Lie of Lace

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word “Lace”? Some people think “The curtains my cat ripped to shreds”. Others think “Something I wish my wife/girlfriend/finacee/lover would wear more often…”. Still others think “I wonder if they finished altering my wedding dress yet”. And of course there’s a plethora of people who think in abstraction : Sexy, pretty, girly, flirty, soft, decadent, expensive… the list probably keeps going on into eternity.

Now, with a show of hands, how many of you thought “I hate you”? Not many, am I right. Maybe a few new sewers, who are in the same boat I am. Those of us who are still getting the hang of working with lace twitch in horror. I have nightmares. I’m being chased by a bolt of lace that is screaming “SEW ME!!!!”, and I can’t escape.

My fear of lace is actually pretty logical. It gets pulled down into my machine while I’m sewing, and then rips. And if it doesn’t do that, then it stretches while I’m sewing (now matter how many pins I use), and then has a bubble effect. I can’t mark it very well when I’m cutting the pattern. And let’s not talk about how many times I’ve sewn something together backwards and then had to take out every. Single. Seam.

I recently encountered a new problem with lace. This time my problem arose with the lace trim. Those dainty strips of gorgeous lace that you can use to trim skirts, and dresses, and socks and gloves, and, well, anything at all. The sewing instructions called for lace that was 1″ wide. I’ve got a HUGE drum full of vintage lace, in every width, and color and pattern. So i dove in to this barrel-o-lace (literally and figuratively) and like a cat with yarn, I started unrolling the lace until I’d made an ungodly mess.

And not a single lace was 1″ wide.

Sure, there was scalloped lace that in PLACES was an inch wide… But in other places it was 2-3″ wide. i had lace that was straight edged and 1.5 ” wide, lace that was .75″ wide, lace that was 6″ wide… but no 1″ lace.

“What the heck,” I said to myself. “Does it REALLY matter? I’ll just use a thinner lace!”, and so I did.

Now is when I should probably say that the lace in question was going to be used for inserts. What is this “insert”? you may wonder. Basically, I was supposed to sew the lace flat against the finished dress (or stitching line on each side of the lace), and then slit the fabric behind the lace, fold it back, and sew it into place, thus creating sort of windows. Doesn’t that sound pretty?

Now that you know what I was supposed to do, please divide .75 by 2. If you don’t want to, that 3/8 of an inch. That’s not a whole lot of a seam allowance to be sewing on, especially with a machine.

My machine agreed. It sucked the fabric down into the hole for the needle, and ripped a big old hole in the dress. I screamed a little. Then I swore a black streak. I stomped my feet, and pounded on the table, and, after three more failed, and destructive, attempts, I surrendered and threw the dress into the garbage.

This week, I decided to try the dress, all over again, with many modifications on the sewing instructions. As for the question of lace, I took two thin trims and sewed them together with a zig-zag stitch. The machine enjoyed this, and did NOT try to eat the lace. And while I have not yet gotten around to doing the inserts, I have a feeling that this time, with the help if a zig-zag stitch and a WHOLE lot more patience, I will be much more successful.

In conclusion, I offer these words of advice on using lace: patience is a virtue. So is a fresh needle and a zig zag stitch. And if you feel like I did, and want to eradicate lace from the face of the planet because it just DOESN’T BEHAVE, do as I did. Take a break. Drink some decaf herbal tea. Do some yoga. play fetch with your dog. Take the time to unwind, and then, once you feel calmer, return to your project. It will go a whole lot better. I promise!