26 March 2015
So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I finished making my first ever garment from a vintage pattern! (Well actually I finished it at the end of last year but it’s taken me until now to work out how to take decent photos without the assistance of a friendly photographer! I know, shame on me, call myself a blogger and all, how embarrassing!)
I did cut out a muslin/chair, sewed it up (including very roughly putting a zip in the side), and was actually quite pleased with the result. I also learnt a bit about putting in a collar, I was glad of the practice so that when I came to sew the real thing, my collar went in much easier than it might have!
The top has kimono / dolman / magyar sleeves. I think it depends what source you look at to determine which term is correct, but basically the sleeve is just an extension of the bodice, not a separate piece of fabric. This creates extra fabric in front of and behind the arm, but if your fabric is quite drapey, then it still looks fine (oh, but my fabric isn’t drapey, never mind!). The fit around the waist was quite snug, but I quite liked it as it emphasised the shape of the bust and since it’s cut on the bias, it stretched quite nicely so I didn’t feel restricted. No photos of the muslin/chair – too boring.
One hurdle I had to overcome was the see-throughness of my orange flowery fabric. I found an orange poly-cotton which would work as a lining, but I didn’t really want a lining as such, I wanted it to be a sort of a backing fabric so it stayed nice and close to the top layer. I’d never done anything like that before so after some research I discovered that what I wanted was to flat line my top. This is a way of putting two layers of fabric together and then using them as one, but without fusing them together. I found an absolutely wonderful explanation and tutorial on flat lining at The Dreamstress. Thank you so much for your tutorial Leimomi!
Oh, I just remembered, the flat lining procedure didn’t go quite as smoothly as it should have, which was totally my fault, not the fault of the tutorial. It was a few months ago now so I can’t totally remember what I did, but it was along the lines of: I washed my two fabrics, cut out my pattern pieces from both fabrics, then decided to press them and found they were no longer the same size! I should have pressed the fabric before cutting out the pieces. So then I had two different sized and shaped pieces of fabric, but which one was the right size and shape??? Instead of comparing them to the pattern, I assumed the under layer was right as the top fabric was very slightly puckered (a bit seersuckery if you like) and could have easily stretched. Oh, but then I came across a piece where the top layer was smaller than the under layer. Phooey! So I just sort of evened it all out and fudged it really. That was a lesson on how NOT to do it, but my top turned out ok in the end so I couldn’t have messed it up too much!
I decided that since this was a vintage top and overlockers (sergers) weren’t available to home sewers when this pattern was produced, that I wouldn’t use the overlocker to neaten my seam allowances. Out came the pinking shears which I haven’t used for . . . well, I can’t actually remember the last time I used them (had I ever used them?) However, since the top was cut on the bias, that meant the pinked edges weren’t on the bias which sort of defeats the whole point of pinking. Oh well, never mind.
So I really wanted to make this top the vintage way, so I followed the instructions quite carefully. Oh but then came the armholes which were to be neatened with bias binding. So far so good. But then it said to hand sew the inside of the binding so you couldn’t see any stitching from the right side of the garment. REALLY??? I HATE hand sewing (you may have heard me say that on more than one occasion!) But I decided to give it a go and I was quite impressed with the result. Funnily enough, the day I finished the top I wore it briefly and a friend (who is not a sewer) saw me and the first thing she noticed was the smooth finish to the armholes – “there’s no stitching!” she exclaimed! That made the effort worthwhile
Ah, now I want to tell you about the zip. I’ve never got on with the traditional method of inserting a zip. It’s never worked for me, it is always uneven and I’d given up on ever putting in a zip tidily. Then I discovered invisible zips and they are so much easier to put in and end up much neater. So I was planning on putting an invisible zip in my vintage top. Oh, but that’s not a very vintage thing, is it. Darn!
Then I had a look at the seam where my zip was to go, the side seam, the very curved side seam. Oh, *enter expletive here*. Not only did I need to put in a normal zip, but into a curved seam!?!?
Enter my saviour, Janet Pray. I now have three of Janet’s classes on craftsy.com. I’m sure I’ve raved about Craftsy before and I will definitely do so again in the future, sorry! Janet teaches you how to sew using garment industry techniques which you can use at home and the number of things I’ve learned from her which have improved my sewing no end, are many. The the class which saved my bacon this time was: Sew Better, Sew Faster: Advanced Industry Techniques. She shows you how to insert a zip, simply, easily, with no tacking in place, and IT WORKS!!! I tried it on my tricky zip and it’s probably the best looking zip I’ve ever inserted! Really!
Do check out Janet’s classes on Craftsy, and by the way I’m not an affiliate, I just like giving credit where credit is due and if just one person learns just one thing from a Craftsy class I’ve recommended, then that’s good, isn’t it?
Right, this post is far too long already, I do seem to get a bit carried away when I have a keyboard at my fingertips!
So what am I working on now and what have I been up to since finishing the vintage top? Well I made one of the infamous walkaway dresses, more on that soon. And now I have about four projects I’m getting started on, all at the same time, which is not a sensible plan at all. Maybe I’ll settle for two at once and then the other two straight after. So one of the first two projects is a simple wraparound skirt in a funky fabric I got from a trip to Lee Mills fabric shop in Swansea – that was a very entertaining afternoon! And the other is another Great British Sewing Bee inspired, foreign in origin, garment. Can you guess what it is yet?