New Years Eve in the Capital

This time last year, my husband was my boyfriend. We lived in separate towns and longed for the weekends when we  could be together. Flash forward 12 months, we are married with a two month old son who lights up our world, we share a home in my hometown and with any luck we will be snuggling up with a bottle of champers when midnight arrives and 2012 dawns. So much can happen in a year and 2011 was certainly a magical, happy year for both of us. Our honeymoon in the US was also wonderful. I loved staring out at the waters of Alaska looking for a whale and dinners at Mon Ami Gabi in Vegas.

To that end we have decided to have one of my husband’s favourite dinners which he ate many a time whilst we were away… steak and fries! With champagne of course. There will be token green beans for nutrition! (I actually love green beans in the Summer)!

Todays dress pattern is therefore perfect for those outbound diners who are sampling cuisine atop revolving restaurants in skyscrapers everywhere, or wowing the throngs at New Year’s Eve parties in glamorous locales… Are you wearing THIS? …Vogue Special Design 5835. Glamour, glamour, glamour!

Step out like a goddess with Vogue

Hubbie hates to cook… and yet tonight I know he will cook for me… so my night will be perfect. To all the vintage pattern and dress lovers and home seamstresses… have a delicious New Years Eve! Leave no glass unemptied and no chocolate wrapper unfurled!

Nothing like a cute red button

Red is the colour of love

I had to post about these today, which arrived in the post,,, right before Canberra appears to close down for the New Year break. I found them on etsy on loved loved loved the retro factor. I spotted them when I purchased McCall 6383, they were not unfortunately 4 cents, but well worth it to add a little bit of feminine zing and spice to an otherwise conservative outfit (ie I am thinking black and white polka dots, white starchy collar and these at short sleeves and bodice or to liven up some classic black and white houndstooth…).

The pattern of the day has an unusual ruffled flounce… and in being unusual, I thought it was interesting and”bloggable”. McCall appear to have put out a few patterns with this style.

McCalls 3621, dated 1956, sundress with feature pleat at neckline

Today’s pattern of the day is McCalls 3621 sundress which I ambitiously thought I could whip up before Christmas, for Christmas Day… again, like the sheath dress, I got stumped when I hit the facing step… partly because I endeavoured to alter the pattern slightly so had to think about whether to cut a new piece, alter the existing piece etc… and the vintage seam binding I ordered on etsy in a khaki to match the design arrived this afternoon. Throw in caring for a two month old baby, and you have a much slower progression on the project.

In the interim, I made the decision to buy Marian Corey’s book from a US bookseller… I mean, can you really have too many reference books??? Methinks not.

The fabric I have selected is bizarrely similar in pattern to one worn by one of the models- I found a lovely long swathe of crisp, light cotton, possibly lawn. It was big enough for a dress with a six gore skirt as with this dress… I fell in love with it because the unusual paisley design was so very retro… seventies… possibly sixties.

New vintage seam binding... woven edge rayon... hot off etsy...

Vogue Paris Original 2016 – Sixties style, Bond girl glamour

Day 3 of 366 days of patterns… and so many choices!

As hubbie watches the cricket (and takes a turn changing a diaper on bub) , I have made today’s choice… a very pretty pattern which I managed to secure in an uncut form. Every time I faun over the envelope cover I am reminded of Bond Films like Gold Finger and Octopussy featuring svelte and mysterious starlets, oozing sensuality and glamour.

This dress is right up Bond Girl Alley with a touch of class… Dior’s elegant dresses are often beautifully shaped. This is a great example.

Worthy of the silver screen

New vintage

“New vintage” sounds like a contradiction in terms… and yet, what else can one call a “new” factory folded pattern from 1945? Today sharing two patterns I love, not because the design details are so indicative of the eras in which they were produced, but because I can’t help imagining the place the world was when their first owners cast their eyes over the “latest” fashions. The considerations for ones choice of dress would have been totally different, ie. wartime fabric availability.

New Vintage... styles that defined their decades...

The pattern on the left is from about 1939. The McCall pattern is dated 1945.

Bub and I journeyed out this afternoon to the National Library and to my surprise, he fell a sleep! This left me with a bit of browsing time and I was glad for it having requested a preview of Marian Corey’s “McCalls Complete Book of Dressmaking” published in 1954. The book had some great ideas on interfacing that could be used to stabilise different fabrics.

I also gleened the following fabulous sewing tips from Corey’s book, worthy of sharing here:

– When basting, use silk thread, it won’t leave holes when pressing the garment;

– Baste the entire garment and try it on BEFORE finally zipping it through a machine;

– Always pre-iron tissue patterns prior to use and lay out on a hard surface like a table or the floor (never a soft surface like a bed);

– If pins are used to secure the pattern when cutting the fabric, always pin ALONG the grain, not in the shape of the pattern;

– DO NOT RUSH a sewing project; (can this ever be heard enough)???

– Press, press, press … at every step.

The last piece of advice is reminiscent of advice given in Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing. Today I finally received the professionally digitised, colour copy of the latter book which cost an arm and a leg but that I am sharing with others on etsy through my new online shop, VanessaLovesVintage. The book is a hens tooth, and prior to obtaining my own copy through a specialist bookseller, I was reliant on the copy held at the National Library. It would have been marvellous to just order a digital copy on CD!

Well, the darling bub stirs… And there is yet more reading to be done! But what an interesting day!

Bats, brooms and Vogue Special Design

Saturday night, bub fell a sleep in my arms and is now enjoying his bassinet. WOW. So this is what a quiet evening to do stuff is like. Strangely familiar and yet so foreign! Saturday came and unfortunately went all too quickly. The drama  of the evening was the appearance of a bat in our living room. Needless to say I made a b-line for the nursery and closed the door (with babe in arms of course) whilst hubbie chased it out the front door with a broom. Yep, that was enough for me to freak out! Our home is tucked behind  a canopy of trees, largely unseen from the road and moments from a nature reserve. But tonight I was not overly enthused by the all-to-authentic country style living! (I don’t think I am being precious… we ARE talking about a BAT)!

Anyway, with the evening at our leisure, I have the opportunity to reflect upon the progress of the sheath dress done incrementally over the last week.

Having marked the cut pieces with dressmakers chalk, I did a few of the darts on my beloved ELNA SU… very naughty, I know, not basting them first. The fabric is so gorgeous, I wondered if this was a big mistake… particularly from the perspective of ensuring eveness. The rest of the darts, I did take the time to baste, pressing the cut pieces before and after.

The dress has a low v-neckline at the back. The front is essentially one piece and the back has two pieces allowing for the inclusion of zipper during assembly. With the darts done, the next step is interfacing which may cause the project to halt temporarily… Initially I had thought to use the same fabric reinforced with fusible interfacing but after some meandering on the web, I am thinking that light cotton voile or a light satin could be a better answer. Honestly, I am not sure! But the fabric I am using is very light (possibly rayon)? Any ideas from cyberspace? I have some lining on order from America (and some cotton voile)  so it would be a matter of waiting until it arrives to get a sense of texture.

Sadly, it sometimes seems that knowledge of this kind is limited and shared to semi-professional courses, so if “the home seamstress” is not extinct- and in fact online (?)- I would love to hear thoughts and/ or experiences on this somewhat less exciting but critical dressmaking topic.

The good news is that the front of the dress in now pinned to Sherry (the dressmakers dummy) and when my older brother popped around for a visit (life loves: motorbikes, karate, macho stuff) he admired it and even observed the fabric. So that inspired me with some hope about the direction of the project.

The beauty of vintage sewing with vintage patterns, notions and fabric is that what we create is really a one off. The downside is that I can’t run out to a fabric store to by more of the outer dress fabric… I am using what I was able to acquire in one glorious piece.

Well, here’s hoping that the bat is well and truly gone! And that I can pull off the sheath dress… to put it on later.

Decisions, decisions… for a late Summer wedding

My pretty sister-in-law came to Canberra for a visit with her fiance today. Their wedding is on the horizon, scheduled at the end of the Summer at a small country church and a reception at a vineyard in the Southern Highlands. I suddenly realised that this is a matter of months away and I had not start making a vintage dress which has been a long time plan.

Decision made… for the ceremony anyway. In the beautiful lavendar and purple floral vintage fabric I bought less than a couple of months ago for a song. I am sure I can find an excuse to change into something more fun for the reception! The main pattern pieces are now cut, though I hope the type of fabric won’t make sewing a nightmare and lead to a mini disaster (its very fluttery and difficult to handle unlike the recommended fabrics… ie linen… but so so pretty!. My husband gave me an hour to do so whilst he watched the bub and the cricket… of course!

A sheath dress... a vintage classic