A few weeks ago, I treated myself to a new sewing machine, Singer heavy duty and it’s proving to be brilliant, helping me to get through a big pile of jersey fabrics I’ve accumulated over the years. First little project, a red marl T-shirt is documented here and I’ve also made a similar blue marl one with a straight hem since. Now that I’ve done a couple of basics, thought I’d attempt something a little more tricky:
This is a Helmut Lang dress that I looked at for several months and then eventually got in the sales last year. It doesn’t look that great on the dummy – the dummy is a size too big and the dress quite fitted at the shoulder/ neck so apologies for that.
Over the past year, I’ve worn it a lot as a tunic over jeans, it’s very comfortable and a good fit and I’ve been meaning to make a pattern of it for years. The front is cut on bias, which I am not hugely experienced with but I thought I’d try. Was actually a lot easier than I thought. The pattern itself didn’t take long and, because the petrol jersey I was going to make it in was cheap, I didn’t bother toiling, just cut it. I did baste the front and back first though (no sleeve at this point) to see if I’d gone completely mad and to my utter surprise, it actually worked. It then took around 2 hours to make up – I pinned it and basted first. Here’s the finished result:
I did a cowl neck because it was easier and I hemmed everything (Helmut Lang one is not hemmed at front neck, sleeves or hem, which is a bit of a piss take considering the cost). Really happy with the result, the cowl neck looks great on and it’s very comfortable. Good colour too. Still have a little bit of petrol jersey left, not sure if quite enough for a top but enough if I combine another colour. I still have quite a few…
I used to make lots of clothes for myself with varying degrees of success. For the past 2-3 years I haven’t made as many for several reasons, firstly with work and study it’s hard to find the time, the sewing machine I have is not that brilliant and frankly, sometimes I can’t be bothered to make patterns and toile properly. After finishing my last course in June, the first thing I did was a trip to favourite cheap fabric shop. The fabrics I bought have been sitting in a pile ever since. Two designated large fabric boxes also full… Obviously, drastic action was needed so I splashed out on a new sewing machine (singer heavy duty, just seen in the pic background) and it arrived on Monday, yay! So I made a simple long T shirt in this red marl jersey. Finished hems this morning but have worn it out already, unhemmed, to a glorious junk food feast at Rita’s the other eve. Miraculously, managed not to spill any food on it.
I made a pattern by copying a Uniqlo Laura Ashley T and managed to get a perfect sleeve/ armhole match, very happy with that. Stitching not bad either, considering I am not that great at it. It fits me much better than the dummy, dummy was cheap eBay purchase a few years back and a bit bigger than me.
Think I’ll make one in blue jersey as well, according to my clothes making notebook I have two different blue jerseys… Why? Obviously need to implement better self control methods when it comes to fabric shopping too.
Sometimes my vintage dress pattern purchases from ebay are a bit questionable. I’ve built a nice little collection of them but some I am not sure that I’ll ever make. I wasn’t too sure about this late fifties (I think but could easily be wrong) shift dress with a fitted midriff but then I thought below the knee length is quite big for winter and then I had this very soft charcoal wool with a bit of stretch that I thought could work. Anyway, for the past two weeks I’ve been working on the dress – again decided to make entirely by hand, otherwise would have been done in a day or two and, I finished it this afternoon. Here is the result:
Gathered front panel, fitted waist, pleated skirt (darts in the back) and a pocket on the right hand side too! Totally impressed with that. Also rather like the photograph – turned black and white and then applied lomo.
Side and back views.
Side front closer up.
The pattern also featured a cummerbund and a detachable collar. I originally really liked the idea of a cummerbund but now quite like the austerity of the dress so not sure if I’ll make one – should be in a different fabric anyway. Collar idea I really like. Beaded or sequinned so shall have a rummage through ‘crafty cupboard as am sure there are beads and sequins about.
The Guardian’s measure this weekend had a rather good idea of wearing below the knee skirts/ dresses with bare legs and ankle boots – it actually worked quite well when I tried it on. Beloved thinks it’s quite sophisticated, don’t you know.
An outfit (well most of the outfit) post – had a wedding to go to yesterday, this is what I wore. It’s a dress I made last year, using another vintage ebay pattern. I made a lot of it by hand while watching bad TV. Fabric came from favourite fabric shop in South London – I think they must have only just had that fabric in so I got very lucky. The white of the petals was added on later so you can feel the paint – someone who knows told me that means whoever produced the fabric didn’t do discharge – in any case, they ended up with a simply marvellous printed silk. Can’t believe it’s only the second time I wore this dress too, must give it some more outings.
In other news, am still working on the charcoal wool fitted shift, it’s nearly finished but must go out now before the shops close and get a zip – have loads of zips at home but none are long enough. With a bit of luck, will finish the dress by end of weekend.
So the late fifties fitted dress is coming along nicely. Top part is done:
Pinned to the dummy as fitted midrif too fitted to go over dummy (no collapsable shoulders, dummy a bit old). Was a bit worried that it wouldn’t go over me either as forgot to buy a longer side zip but have tried on and looks fine so far. Working on the skirt part now, finish this weekend is looking doubtful, never mind, the weather is still too warm to wear anyway.
While searching for best light in flat this morning to take photo, this nice little accident happened, love the colours:
I’ve built up a nice little collection of vintage dress patterns from ebay, mainly 40s dresses but, this summer I got a few late fifties and early to mid sixties dress patterns too. I get obsessed for about a month at a time, looking daily for anything with an interesting front, good cowl, draping, and so on but also try to control myself and not spend a fortune. This recent addition to my pattern collection:
is not what I usually go for but I liked the very fitted waist and the simple shape. I also loved the fact that it has a cummerbund. I’ve always wanted a cummerbund! Such a brilliant word that.
I’ve started making it in a charcoal wool mix – not sure of the fabric content, it’s definitely wool and has some stretch in it. Bought it last summer for a pair of trousers but never got around to making the pattern for them so when I looked at recent ebay purchases, it seemed right to forget the trousers and use the wool for this dress.
Making just the dress, not the cape, shortening the length a little – not mid calf but it will be below the knee. Also making it by hand. If I work v.v. hard I may finish this weekend but perhaps not – it’s quite hard going sewing dark fabrics by hand. Machine would have done it in a day (I started last Sunday). Undecided on what to make the cummerbund in and also thinking of possibly making the detachable collar – beaded or something. That would make a good transition from day to evening and also not make it look too plain. Think I’ll decide on that once I’ve made it up.
Last night I finished the 40s top I’d been hand sewing for two weeks in a lovely flower print chiffon. Although it takes ages, I find hand sewing very relaxing and a great evening accompaniment to crap telly. Actually, not all telly watched while making the top was crap – decided to watch all of Twin Peaks again as it’s been a very long time since I’d seen it.
Anyway, here’s the top:
Think I need a taller dummy stand as this pic makes it all look a bit squat – current dummy stand is old tins of paint. Think I need 3 instead of 2.
Love the fabric and the shape, it has a gathered front panel and a high cowl neck. Tiny bit loose in the back – pattern came from a vintage 40s dress pattern that had a sort of belt for the back but I decided against the belt. Lengthened the hem too, otherwise would have been too short.
Another soft side view:
Resisted temptation to pull clothes out of wardrobe and try it on with everything – only because I worked out what I could wear it with while making. Think it could prove quite a useful little number, as long as I don’t make it look to vintage-y.
Started a dress today, thought it best to get on with as much as can make before my next course starts in a few weeks time.