THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 27, 2009

First Fitting, Vintage Sheath

Filed under: Dressmaking,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Georgene,sewing,Vintage Sewing — georgene @ 12:02 am

The first fitting of the vintage Vogue sheath dress went as well as could be expected, I guess. I like to fit with both sleeves, so I asked for help. Thanks to Jennifer and Rose for giving me a hand with it.
sleeve fitting
The right sleeve was pinned in with the seam allowance of the sleeve folded inwards, and the armscye on the body adjusted from the pattern. You can see my left side the sleeve is pinned up the way it was cut (right side on your screen)– it looks too wide at the shoulder and cross chest, really falling off the shoulder. On the next test garment I will work out the new armhole.
– It may be less of a radical adjustment than this fitting indicates. I won’t really know until I can look at the actual bodice and sleeve pattern on the table. I think the sleeve fits well, I don’t want to increase the bicep… I just have to work on the armhole on the dress side.

I had cut the muslin bigger along the side seams, but not nearly enough for the waist and high hip – I will have to add at least ¾” on for a total of 3” (gulp!)
The bust darts need to be dropped down about 1 ½” – 2” – both at the side dart, and at the bust point of the French darts. I will drop all 3, and lower the waist point as well. There has been a major change in the undergarments one would wear since the 1950’s. I am not just ready for a long line girdle or waist cincher other than for a costume.

The 3 little elbow darts on the sleeve are not in the right place for me. – I will have to raise them higher, so that the center one falls at the blue line marked. Since I have a lot of turn back for the cuff at the hem, I will probably just fold out the excess above the elbow all the way across.
elbow dart
I think I am going to like the dress length, but will peg it at the hem. You can see the difference in these 2 photos – on the right photo I am holding the skirt in as if it were pegged. Without that, it looks almost A-line as it is originally cut.

not pegged pegged

July 19, 2009

The Making of Chanel Couture

If you are interested to see how The House of Chanel made this gorgeous dress and fabric  you should watch this video, The Making of Chanel Couture  ( shared from NY video)

You will see Madame Jacqueline and Madame Céline at work,( draping the jacket and draping the dress from muslin fabric) plus the exquisite embroiders from Lesage. You probably remember them from watching the video Signé Chanel which I did a post about in 2006 House of Chanel




July 15, 2009

Hemming stitch by hand

Hemming can be done in a lot of ways, by machine or by hand.

If a garment needs an invisible hem like in woven fabrics, I prefer to hem by hand and to prevent any ridges from the outside I fold the hem edge back about 3/8 inch (1 cm) and work from the right to the left using a fine needle size 11 or 12 depending on the fabric weight. In this example I used Guterman thread and a needle size 11.

The sample pants is just one leg so it is small and can rest in my lap.

The stitches are sewn about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart and with loose stitches.

I used a yellow thread for better view to show.

The hem allowance I use is a bit more than 1 1/2  inch ( 4 cm) , the hem allowance is marked with chalk and fold down and steam pressed.

For this example I used the same sample which I showed you for the post Fine Men’s Tailoring: pants hemming




For unlined garments I sew an extra stitch every 3th  or 4th  stitch,


Inside view,


Outside view,



When you want to press the hem again do it from the inside and press only the hem fold edge.  Do not touch the hem edge with your iron to prevent a show true from the right side .

Sometimes it is easier if I keep my garment away from me on the table instead of in my lap so it looks like this.

For hemming this lightweight satin I used a size 12 needle and extra fine thread




Wrong side view:                                                                       Right side view:


For a hem in garments where the lining hem is attached to the fabric hem,  I use a 2 inch (5 cm) deep hem allowance and use the same hem stitch only this time I fold the hem edge back half way so 1 inch (2,5 cm) and use longer stitches  about 3/8 inch (1cm) , there is no need to sew an extra stitch because the hem is secured by the lining hem.

The machine stitch line at the bottom is the attached lining .silk jacket hem

July 11, 2009

Sewing Economics: Butterick 5333 Lifestyle Wardrobe

Filed under: Fabric,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Mary Beth,Pattern Reviews,sewing — Mary Beth @ 1:31 pm

I’m watching every penny these days so I wanted to know how it would be to make a wardrobe from one pattern such as Butterick 5333.

Can a wardrobe be made from 10 yards of fabric, one pattern and cost less than $100 including buttons, interfacing and linings? I think the answer is Yes.

Another, more personal, question I wanted to answer: Could I be happy with just one pattern? Naw, not me. I frankly don’t see an end to my pattern addiction. But that is, as they say, a personal problem 🙂

However, given my self-imposed parameters, it was fun to work out all the kinks and have the results work so well with the rest of my wardrobe. This is functional sewing with rich results if you can make the alterations your shape requires to achieve a well fitted garment. The more I worked with the pattern and became familiar with the Butterick sloper the better I liked my results. Had I not known how to alter, I would have been quite disappointed with the results and might have given up on economy sewing, or sewing, all together.

To begin at the beginning: Butterick 5333 Lifestyle Wardrobe


Unlined jacket has princess seams and three-quarter length sleeves with cuffs.
Top and above mid-knee length dress have self-lined upper and midriff front and back.
Straight skirt, above mid-knee length, has waistband, darted front and back, back zipper.
Pants have front pleats, back darts, mock fly zipper, side seam pockets and waistband.

My results without making a muslin first. Yes, I am hiding my face…you don’t want to know, and no, I wasn’t in a fight, LOL!


(I added the buttons on the sleeve cuff as my only embellishment)

The photos have been greatly enhanced so you can see details and wrinkles of the dark navy jacket, pants and skirt. All these pieces are made from 5 yards of the darkest navy silk/lycra summer weight suiting. It was part of a $8.50 per yard bundle from Micheal’s Fabrics.

The fabric has a formal, vintage feel. There are jacquard stripes running in varying widths down the length of the fabric but it doesn’t really “read” as a pin stripe since it is so dark in color. While the lycra gives it some body it also wrinkles easily. I’ve never worked with a fabric quite like this one.

I made up the pants first with major alterations to the crotch curve and back leg width. Here’s the finished hip information and having made the pants I can say that the hip measurements do include the pleat width.


These finished garment measurements are posted at each major figure measurement circle with a cross. Very helpful! You can compare it to the measurements for each size to determine the ease. However, that is not the total solution it seems to be as my measurements most closely match size 20 but that proved to be too big even figuring in the ease.

I made the navy jacket in size 20 with no alterations. It is easy to see (as I saw after I’d finished) that this fabric really needed to be underlined and lined so it would have enough body to support all the extra ease. I think it is too big but the dark color and shoulder pads allow me to get away the fuller fit. The sleeves, however, are a mess! As I worked through construction and fitting I had to continue to down size until the white jacket, my last piece, is a 16 through the bodice, flaring out to an 18+ at the hemline.

The skirt also had to be altered to fit but I like the pattern because from the front view it is a narrow skirt but has enough flare in the back that a kick pleat is not needed. It was underlined with organza. It is what I would call a “traditional suit skirt” with plenty of ease for sitting.

I then did the dress pattern, the tropical print in silk faille and the aqua one in linen. I ended the tour with another version of the jacket in a white cotton canvas, shown here with a dress from last summer. I didn’t fancy the empire style for a top so I didn’t sew up that option.

The finished measurements information turned out to be the best gauge of how the garment would fit when completed.

Things to think about and alter for if you are going to make up this wardrobe:

the sloper used

1. has a well developed derriere with much of the hip width low and to the back of the body.
2. the skirt and dress length is very short
3. the sleeves of the jacket are very long
4. 4″ ease has been added to the finished jacket width
5. the width of the pant leg falls from the thigh, slightly narrowing to the hemline
6. the front pleats on the pants may need to be moved to produce a front pleat that continues on down with the pressed crease to the hem.
7. Major shaping on the sleeve pattern may be needed to produce a well fitted sleeve

I chose to have the pleats open to the side seam. The instructions tell you to choose which way they open.


Pattern alterations made for sleeve of white jacket.

Sleeve Marked

The most economically satisfying part of this exercise? The navy pieces fill a big gap in my wardrobe. The value of having basic pieces in your wardrobe is difficult to monetize.


You can see larger pictures of each piece in the Butterick 5333 set at Flikr.

Your can also see larger pictures of each ensemble in the Mix N Match set at Flikr.

July 9, 2009

The Joy of Sewing: Part 2

Filed under: Georgene,Inspirations,Musings,Professional Friends — georgene @ 11:16 am

matisse blouse
Part 2 of my conversation with Elaine Lipson about Slow Cloth: the development of ethical fashion –

Ethical Fashion
In England, the sustainable movement in clothing is referred to as ethical fashion and textiles.

Greenwashing,”or efforts to get on the ecological bandwagon, doesn’t necessarily benefit the sustainable, ethical movement. Clothing or fabrics are marketed as sustainable, with no standards to support that labeling.

Certification and labeling?
Foods labeled as ‘organic’ have some sort of certification process – that is required by law in Oregon – and all organic products in the US that intend to be sold in Oregon submit to this standard. Are eco-friendly fabrics better when there is no attention to dyeing, finishing, or fair labor practice?

Lainie has a short rant: “Too many trendy tops, made out of bamboo softened by heavy doses of chemicals, marketed as ‘eco-chic.’ And if we’re going to make “repurposed” old clothes, we need a strong aesthetic – I see too many that look like a vision for a post-apocalypse novel. That’s potentially brilliant on the screen or the stage or the runway, but in real life it can be a bleak vision.”

She loathes some junior fashion producers’ “institutionalized objectification of young women in their ads and in their stores, and calling it sustainable fashion. All these things contribute to the green-speak fatigue that we’re already seeing.”

Education and Community

G: How can we engage people in expressing their creativity or culture? Is there a community model?

E: “Every community should embrace its creative class and invest in it…The movement toward creativity and craft is happening everywhere. Building live-work and studio-gallery spaces is a fantastic idea for any community with empty buildings. You also need local businesses that supply artists.

While we can buy a lot of things online, everyday creativity often depends on the materials readily available to you. If you don’t have a great fabric store with inspiring classes and workshops and a convenient place to get thread and elastic and zippers, you’re going to have a hard time learning to sew. The advent of knitting groups and public sewing studios is terrific. But we need to look at how to make these businesses viable, because so often they’re prohibitively expensive to run, and they’re based more on idealistic dreams than business sense. We need both.”

What people are doing now
Lainie mentions what Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin is doing with locally produced fabric and fashion.

E: Chanin’s philosophy is linked to organic food and sustainable agriculture “in a very graceful way. Her model is to create high-end, inspirational and aspirational handmade clothing, but also write books that show you how to make it yourself. She has a lovely, elegant yet raw, very authentic aesthetic that people are clamoring for. And it truly seems to come from the heart, her love of handmade and her commitment to her roots and community.”

Here’s Lainie’s recommendation for further reading on subject of ethical fashion:

E: Charty Durrant has written “The Tyranny of Trends,” a terrific article for Resurgence magazine on the need for rethinking fashion. This is a powerful statement from a former fashion insider. She mentions some multinational brands, and notes that it is important to acknowledge the small independent and local companies that are being very conscious and innovative.”

Elaine Lipson is a writer, editor, textile artist and craftsperson. She is the author of The Organic Foods Sourcebook (Contemporary Books, 2001) and The International Market for Sustainable and Green Apparel, a comprehensive market research report published by Packaged Facts (2008). She blogs about textile art, craft, culture and sustainability at Red Thread Studio . Her work with the organic food industry and the Slow Food movement has led her to translate some of her thoughts to the fiber arts and publish her manifesto Elaine’s 10 Qualities of Slow Cloth at her blog.

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