Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Magenta dress lives! Now with mystery!

I don't want to jinx it, but we may be *almost* finished with the dining room. We pulled the painter's tape off last night and it looks pretty good. Need to cut in again in a few places, but overall I'm very happy with the result. All our painting (and painting... and painting... and painting...) finally paid off. Still need to paint the upper tier of the tray ceiling, but that's for Beau to do. I'm in charge of cleanup, which shouldn't take me too much longer. I've also spoken with my Beau's mother (who is currently keeping the furniture for us) and we should be getting the furniture in sometime soon. Very excited to have a place to put the china.

Next painting project is the sewing room! Yay! We used to have a roommate in that room, but she moved out and I've decided to claim the room for sewing and crafting. I'll also be moving my computer in there so Beau can have the office all to himself. Still trying to decide on colors though. I really only like to use the low or no VOC paints because paint smell makes me gag and I'm not super keen on inhaling toxic fumes. This sort of limits us on the color. This room also has a tray ceiling so I'm still debating on what colors I want to go with. I want the room to be fun and creative, a place for me to get my artsy on.

I'm debating between yellow walls with shades of red for the tray (very fung shui) or lavender walls with a warm green for the ceiling. Probably going to go with lavender. I love the color yellow, but as wall paint it tends to make things look like an office building. NOT the idea I'm going for here.

In any case it was back to the failed magenta dress this evening... Chalk this one up to my own stupidity again. I am so not a 38 bust, I still have no idea what I was thinking when I started it.

Soooooo.... First step. Unpin old pattern. Check. Next step, choose new pattern. I went and scrounged through a bunch of patterns and narrowed it down to these two patterns.

I went with 5616 because it's a much better fit for jersey. 4426 says you can use jerseys, but I am not making button holes in a stretchy fabric. Seriously? Buttons and cuffed sleeves with jersey... Not happening. So I picked the top left view of 5616. The collar is detachable, but I'm debating just sewing it on. It looks much cuter with the collar anyways. 

I'd never opened the pattern before and when I first peeked inside I was pretty sure it was still factory folded.

I was really excited to find that not only had this pattern had been used, but it was in GREAT condition. This pattern came from a lot at an estate sale. Whoever the previous owner was she was an excellent seamstress and very protective of her patterns. Every pattern of hers that I have opened (from a lot of 41) has had all the pieces and everything has been very carefully folded. This one was no exception and was neatly folded and returned to the envelope.

Bless you previous owner, whoever you were! This pattern is practically brand new and it's getting close to 50 years old! Even the instructions are barely yellowed.  So after quickly checking to make sure there was enough magenta jersey left I went to work. This jersey came in a 52 inch width so lining up the pattern was pretty easy. Did I ever mention how much I love jersey? The lady seamstress had also made the dress. The other parts of the pattern (jacket and skirt) were divided from the large sheet, but otherwise untouched. 

As I started to pin I began to notice some of this lady's alterations. She had shrunken and extended several parts of the pattern. Here you can see her alterations to the facing.

And the shoulder of the front of the dress.

And the back of the dress

But She only altered and cut out around the shoulder areas. As you can see here she stopped cutting around the pieces about halfway through the sleeve shaping. She obviously did something with these pattern pieces as her original pin holes are still visible.

Well, this pattern was a 32 bust. And all her other patterns were a 34 bust, obviously her size or the size of whoever she regularly sewed for. I also happened to know that there was a duplicate of this in with her patterns. So I fished it out.

As I suspected, the second pattern was a 34 bust. So my first inclination was that the pattern was not sized properly and she had to go back and pick it up in a smaller size. So I started rummaging through the 34 envelope, the pieces also very carefully folded.

My first inclination was wrong. In this pattern she had cut out all the pieces for the jacket and skirt, but nothing for the blouse/dress.

So I'm slightly baffled. The best I can figure is that she used the shoulders with a different bodice and traced them or she stopped halfway through the construction of the dress. I searched the instruction sheets for notes, but found nothing.

I've decided to go ahead and give it a go with her alterations though. I figure it couldn't hurt and the slope of the shoulder looks nicer than the original cut. So I'm trusting you Unknown Seamstress, hopefully you won't lead me astray. And the way I figure is that if it doesn't come out right, I'll just fudge it.


Trudy said...

I find the history of the patterns very intriguing; and when I see a note, I get excited and start to wonder about its previous owner.

My main reason for sewing vintage, though, is the styling. I collect patterns from the 40s to the 70s. The 40s are my favorite, though.

Myra said...

As you asked on Sew Retro, all of the reasons - love the styles, connection with the past, reminds me of the older relatives, etc. Like Trudy, 1940's are the best.

Anonymous said...

Sewing is a huge creative outlet for me. It's exciting, calming, challenging, and satisfying all rolled into one. I love vintage patterns as they are printed much better than modern patterns. More care seems to have been taken when making them.

Tilly said...

You articulate the beauty in recycling / reusing very well. I'm a newcomer to the world of sewing and vintage patterns and I developed the interest mainly because I finally admitted to myself that I don't like contemporary fashion - it's silhouettes and detailing from the 1920s to the 1960s that float my boat (I know, I know, a pretty broad spectrum!).

Nancy said...

Trudy and Myra: Don't we all love the 40s? The silhouettes are just so flattering and lovely. Dreamy is a good word too. If I had to pick a decade I'd say the 30s silhouette is my favorite, but that's so hard to choose.

Sarah: I definitely agree that the older patterns seem to be of a much higher quality. They also have a better fit. I think through time we've lost the ability to "fit" ourselves into clothes. With department stores trying to fit EVERYONE into S, M, L I think no one knows what a good fit is anymore.

Tilly: I hear you. 1920s to the 1960s is really my spectrum as well. It's a long time period, but I'm a modern woman and I'll wear what I want. (haha) I do enjoy the early 70s though, and *GASP* certain 80s looks. Note certain, I'm never going to be okay with oversized sweaters. Contemporary fashion doesn't do it for me either... I feel like I'm wearing a bag most of the time. Anything I buy off the rack tends to be vintage inspired. The clothing just flattered the female form much better in the past. I still don't know why fashion designers today think that the clothes they make for 6 foot 100 lbs somethings are okay for everyone else and why we all seem to think they're right!

Tasia said...

I love the styling of vintage patterns too - creative seamlines, interesting use of buttons and cool pocket details that you just don't see (as much) these days. Bonus if you get handwritten notes too! I love that someone else made the pattern first, and 40-50-60 years later we can recreate a look from the past and still have it be wearable and relevant today.

PS. How awesome is it that you get your own sewing room! That's fantastic, as I sew in a corner of my guy's home office. Lucky!

Marie said...

What attracts me personally to vintage patterns is a sense of nostalgia. I don't even know how it's possible to feel nostalgic of an era you never lived in, but that's exactly how these pattenrs make me feel. Like many of you, I also love the sense of crossing imaginery paths with the pattern's original owner.

Then there's the incredible detail they display, which you just don't see with modern patterns. I even weirdly like their musty smell.

My favourite decade is the 1940s (what a cliche eh), but I also like certain 50s and 60s styles.

Nancy said...

Tasia: I love my sewing room! I only get it because my Beau decided he'd rather have his own office and kicked me out of our shared one. But I now have my own space to clutter up! And you are so right about the wonderful details. There's something so special about the trims, darts, and pockets of the older patterns.

Marie: That smell is the best part. It reminds me of old books and antique shops, some of my favorite things in the world.