Category Archives: dresses

Slow Sewing and Dyeing

The start of leaf printing – I hope! Those are sage leaves taken from a plant outside the door and laid out on the tunic. It looks white here but it is a pretty, pale yellow. I have read that garden dyes are hard to photograph unless there is plenty of sun: unfortunately, it’s been dismal here this week so I’ll have to make do.

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The tunic parcelled up ready for steaming.

The tunic is very damp and sitting in the cupboard with the hot water tank. It’s not really drying so I’m thinking about opening it out and using the iron to dry it. I’m in unknown territory here so I can’t quite make up my mind. Interestingly, the copper pipes in the cupboard are leaving their mark on the fabric. I don’t know whether it’s permanent or not. I’m recording everything in detail so I can post about it afterwards.

And this is the result of painting with egg:

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The white strip (actually pale grey) shows the before colour of the linen contrasted with the dyed colour.

After two weeks sitting in a pot with dandelion heads the painted lines have absorbed most of the dye. I am thinking of adding another colour to the skirt – one that’s too pale to colour the painted lines further but will add a little something to the background. Maybe dock leaves?

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This is the dress I’ve made from the same roll of Irish linen as this top and the painted skirt. It’s the Curlew dress pattern from Merchant & Mills: a lovely bias cut pattern. I’ve made it mostly by hand but used the Singer hand crank for staystitching and also (oddly – no idea why) for the the bias binding round the neck. I’m planning a milk mordant this weekend and then it’ll probably go into the solar dye pot with bramble tips (expecting a pinkish colour but we’ll see).

It has been lovely to slow down the sewing in this way.  I’ve thought about every step so carefully and it’s limited the unpicking. Am I the only sewist to race away with my machine only to unpick later? It seemed very simple to ease the sleeve into the armhole by hand whereas it’s a stressful process for me by machine.

Well, I think that’s all to report. Please feel free to ask questions as I haven’t put lots of detail into this.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

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Filed under Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, sewing, Singer sewing machines, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing

The One Hour(ish) Dress

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Em of RetroGlam sent me the book for fun and I thought I’d have a go. I like a challenge.

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Let no one say that I only show the successes….it’s ok but not really wearable. So what happenned?

The dress on the cover looks as if it’s made of lovely soft fabric but the advice is to  use “medium firm” fabric – which this is. I would say that you could not get the drape with it but if you used soft, drapey fabric most sewers couldn’t make it in an hour or even two.

I am probably not the shape (or age) of woman envisaged in the book – I don’t really think straight up  and down clothes are the thing for me. Of course, I knew that before I started but the idea that I might be able to make a dress that quickly spurred me on.

And the sash? I do have a photo taken wearing the sash but I couldn’t face showing it to everyone.

What makes it so fast?

The fabric is torn rather than cut and it’s all rectangles so that saves a lot of time. There’s no real shaping to worry about.

I think the seams were left unfinished or the selvedges were used in places.

The fabric for the bodice is one piece back & front with a hole cut for the neck.

How long did it take? Two hours! Why?

The pattern on the back of the bodice would have been upside down if I’d followed the book’s plan, so I had to make shoulder seams. In fairness, the author did point out that it wouldn’t work with a one way design but I didn’t have anything else suitable.

I don’t like raw edges so I zigzagged them.

I pintucked the fabric for the skirt to narrow the waist. The book suggests side plaits (pleats) but I thought they would look awful on me.

I had to feed the hens and walk the dogs part way through so I lost track of where I was.

The bobbin thread ran out & I hadn’t thought of preparing a spare beforehand.

I am not a fast sewer.

So, what to do?

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A skirt and top. An improvement???

I split the dress at the waist, took a bit of the skirt’s fullness out and added buttons along one seam so I can still get into it.

There’s also a knee high split so I can walk.  I’m thinking of making a black cotton petticoat to flash a bit of lace as I walk along.

The red skirt is my latest version of the 1934 skirt – for everyday wear.

The black teeshirt is me made – I traced a favourite shop bought teeshirt to get the pattern. Tracing existing clothes is one of the ways I get patterns I like.

What did I learn?

That a sewing challenge can be fun even if you’re pretty sure you won’t want to wear the result.

That with a few modifications I could get a dress I would like out of this. I would add darts to create shaping, add fastenings because it would be hard to get in and out without the loose shape and use a soft fabric. I would also make my own bias binding to match the dress because I think it would look classier.

I’d like to say a big “Thank you” to Em for sending me the book. I enjoyed the challenge and I’ve learned from it.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, blogging friends, Clothes, dresses

Pattern Design Books

Two very interesting pattern design books just received from Em of Retro Glam.

The draping book needs a lot of study – I’m a bit frightened of draping, it’s so different to anything I’ve ever tried. Em is making a 1930s dress and used draping to get her lovely pattern. I recommend taking a look at her blog for a real learning experience.

The one hour dress though is just my thing. I love making clothes without patterns. I can already see one of these beautiful 1920s dresses as the “thing” for a summer wedding I’ve been invited to. In lawn or a supple silk perhaps. I think I’ll make a very small scale version first to be sure I’ve got the hang of it.

Anyhow, lots of excitement for me thanks to Em.

Thanks for sharing the excitement with me.

Norma x

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Filed under 1920s, Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, sewing

No pattern tops for starters

Following on from my posting here, I thought I’d show my no pattern tops. They are very good tee shirt replacements for everyday life. This one used 1.5 metres of 1.2m wide fabric. As I’m trying not to save scraps, I’ll make the remainder into one of my fabric pots and some bias binding – both to sell over the summer if I’m lucky.

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A younger me wearing one made from a charity shopped Liberty print skirt

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And the whole collection…

They are all different, but all made by tucking and manipulating fabric to fit my shape. Buttons are my favourite fastenings so they always feature in these tops and dresses.

Odd? Yes, I suppose so, but they can be quite pretty, they are cool to wear and they don’t use much fabric. The dress was made from only 1 metre of 1.5m wide fabric.

Meantime on the 1930s front, I have a blouse I made a while ago which I think will make a good starting point for this:

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Thank you to all those of you who offered sugestions as to where I could find a pattern – I think going through all your suggestions helped me to realise that I actually had something that I could use. I’ll show you soon.

EmilyAnn has some interesting pointers to share on her 1930s dress toile. I am learning a lot from her methods.

And for the #oneyearoneoutfit project, I’ve started sewing the bias Irish linen top. I’ve unpicked some of the threads from the fabric to use as sewing thread as I’ve been unable to source any suitable linen thread. To make it usable I stick to short lengths (about 12 inches)  and pull it through a beeswax block. It seems strong enough. Obviously, handsewing is the only way to do it.

Once I’ve made the top I plan to dye it with plants from my garden (or maybe my neighbours’ fields).

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

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Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, sewing, textiles

1930s Dress – Fitting Begins

The pattern for the 1930s sewalong.

Fitting photographs. This is a version I made a few years ago and I’m using it to fit the new linen version. It fitted a lot better then – I am a bit heavier now.

I think the bodice is too tight and I should start one size up. Does anyone have any other suggestions, please?

EmilyAnn is making her own 1930s pattern using some 1930s draping techniques – I highly recommend going over and taking a look.

Norma x

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, dresses, dressmaking, sewing, textiles

Sew it begins – 1930s Dress Fabric

Italian linen in lavender – medium weight (but still quite light enough for a dress).

This arrived on Friday and the colour nearly took my breath away when I opened the package. Just as well, because I didn’t send for a swatch. Today was perfect for laundry and I washed the fabric. At last I feel I have really started. Next step is my toile.

Jackie from Nuhn Handmade is going to be joining this very relaxed 1930s sewalong. She has done a very interesting post about which dress to make. I think you will enjoy the pictures very much.

EmilyAnn has posted here about making a gored skirt pattern for the 1930s sewalong. I learned a lot from it having recently taken apart a (charity shop bought) gored skirt to make a pattern.

On another topic, I accidentally posted to my old blog again. I wish I could get my act together. Anyway, if you are interested, this reverse applique waistcoat can be found here.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, dresses, dressmaking, sewalongs, sewing, textiles

1930s Dress – Some Progress

Thanks to Jackie at Nuhn Handmade I had the idea that I should make the 1933 dress using my 1930s Singer machine. I don’t use it often enough and this is a perfect combination – prevents any accidental use of non-authentic techniques. So no cheating!

I’ve decided on lavender(ish) linen to make my dress and I tried quite hard to source Irish linen but that didn’t work out. I’m expecting a parcel of Italian linen some time in the next ten days.

Emily Ann at Retro Glam is progressing with her 1930s outfit research. Why not pop over and take a look?

Meantime, I’m working on a large scrap quilt and I’ve got a piece of Welsh wool to turn into a dress or a tunic (depends whether it will stretch to a dress!).

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

 

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Filed under 1930s, dresses, dressmaking, history, sewing, Singer sewing machines, textiles, Vogue Patterns

Just a little thing

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Star Cushion

I made this a while ago now and never blogged it. I used English paper piecing to make the star and then machine appliqued it to the background. The quilting was by machine – just an outline, nothing fancy. Some of these dressmaking fabrics will also be part of my ongoing scrap quilt.

Another stash bust! I’ll get the room sorted in the end.

1930s Dress Progress

After much thought, I am pretty certain that Irish linen will be my fabric. I have just requested a sample in any lavender / purple shade. I don’t want to start my toile until I know what the fabric’s going to be.

I would like to use more local fabrics in my wardrobe – I have been reading about One Year One Outfit here and here – and I am very tempted to sign up. I’ve made a pinstripe skirt from wool fabric woven in Yorkshire and I know there are knitting wools from UK sheep but I think it would be really interesting to find more local fabrics and use them. What about local buttons and threads? It would take a lot of research.

Have you ever thought about dressing more locally?

Solar Dyeing

I took some fabrics out of jars today – results to be posted soon.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

 

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Filed under 1930s, dresses, dressmaking, patchwork, quilts, sewing, stashbusting, textiles

Sewing a Bit of History

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Sewing 1930s – I’ve a few sewing books from this era and a keen interest in the clothes. I don’t think clothes from the 1930s necessarily translate well into modern times but I’m anxious to have a go at just that over the next few months.

I’ve made the dress before as a rather unsatisfactory wearable toile and I’ll be using the old version to improve the fit and workmanship on this one.

I am thinking of wool / wool mix crepe in a plain colour but I’ve got to  find some first. I’ll be attempting to sew using original methods – no zigzag seam finish for instance – that way I’ll get a better feel for the techniques. Living history!

Emily Ann Frances from Retro Glam is also going to be sewing 1930s and we’re going to discuss problems, progress and triumphs on our blogs. If you are also keen to sew 1930s then why not join us – there’s no deadline (and no rules).

Norma x

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Filed under 1930s, dresses, dressmaking, history, sewing, textiles, Uncategorized, Vogue Patterns