THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 23, 2010

Apron, Vintage Style Customized

cross posted at The Stitchery by Mary Beth

I love strong color and I love to cook. My kitchen is full of primary colors: yellow, orange, red, green and blue. Yellow and orange are the main colors.

The dining area is attached and there the colors are more muted into pastel shades but dark blue, bottle green and red glass makes it’s presence known against a proper unbleached Irish linen table cloth and white china.

Life's Treasures

The yellow orange theme kitchen theme is based upon a wallpaper border I put up a while ago. it’s a variation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with lovely colors and navy background.

sunflowersKitchen Colors

The kitchen is a place of activity and high energy and when I cook I am working as quickly as possible. I cook in batches so dinners can be frozen ahead of time. I make most things from scratch, depending on how much time I have. And, well, things do go flying! The other day, after splattering cherry juice down the front of me, I wished for an apron, one with a bib on top.

I’ve never made one (that I can remember). I have aprons but they are all inherited from Mothers and Grandmothers; you know, the full skirted half apron, that, on me, makes me look “like a potato sack with a string around it” as Ma used to say.

I wanted fullness, like the sense of fullness and abundance that a kitchen should exude. I wanted “feminine, and fun, but serious fun”. I am not a cute cook. I get dirty. It’s more fun that way ūüôā

I had yellow/orange cross dyed linen in the stash and some navy so the challenge was to make a full apron with as much covering on top as well as the traditional full skirt in a way that would be more flattering to my short, full body than the outline of a lampshade on two legs. Oh horrors, that is such a bad look on me! So, what did I have on hand????

Ah, the easily disastrous pattern, View D of an old McCall’s 2947:

View D McCall's 2947

Here is the result:

front Back

But I noticed the shoulder “wings” were trying to slip down my arms

Shoulder Straps Slipping Off

and that would drive me nuts. So to make sure I would want to wear this apron I made a shoulder stay Stay

that would make sure I could tolerate wearing my new kitchen “tool”. It’s set across the back of the top of the shoulders so it’s easy to get over my head without having to button and unbutton.

Full Back Front Full
I’m moving quickly when I am cooking so I’ve got to be able to throw this on without hesitation. I think it will work well, now.

The second issue for me in this basic design is the fullness of the skirt. I need no extra fullness in the tummy or at the sides. Taking a cue from the spacing of the gathers in the Anna Sui pattern I made earlier

I made an inverted pleat across the belly of the apron, allowed gathers over the pockets, smoothed the fabric at the side seams and put maximum fullness at the back. Can you see the spacing?

Spacing of Gathers

Here’s the side seam and back

Side and Back Gathers

Here’s the front inverted pleat, top stitched down on each side of the fold. This apron will not be ironed so things must be anchored and stay put. The most I’ll do is to try to smooth out those shoulder ruffles with a quick tug as the apron comes out of the dryer. Maybe.

Inverted Pleat

The peaked front of the waist band was a design detail that insisted on being part of the apron. Seriously, it demanded to be included to counteract all the straight lines of the color blocking. It made me work late.

I drew the curves and stitched them on the waistband, then pulled out the stitches and ironed the shape into the interfaced fabric. Then I could easily applique the shape onto the bib. I like it.

I’m relieved: it cute but not “cute”, decorated but not “decorated”. Hope I remember to put it on before the disasters happen!

Kitchen work

Happy Sewing and Happy Cooking

January 15, 2010

Pumping Up The Volume of a Flat Collar

From this partly shirred polyester taffeta fabric I made a blouse.

I drafted a princess line blouse with a large wide shawl collar to add some drama.

When the blouse was done and I tried it on I was not happy with the collar design and appearance, to me it appealed too flat . I wanted a more voluminous collar and although the fabric has a bit of volume itself due to the shirring it was not enough to my taste.

I¬†shared my dilemma¬†to my good friend and colleague Neeltje¬† to change the collar design into a more voluminous collar, and she remembered seeing a voluminous collar¬† in a pattern magazine “Knipmode” where the outer edge of the collar was flat and a narrow tape separated the¬†ruffled upper collar¬†part from the flat outer edge.

 I used my self drafted collar pattern and made a new one by using a so-called slash and spread method to add some volume.

Flat collar pattern

                                             volume collar pattern

Copied the collar pattern included the in and outer edge seam allowance and added 6 inches (15 cm) in length for a half pattern by slashing and spreading the pattern towards the outer edge only.

I also added 1 cm in width and used a scare ¬Ĺ cm seam allowance for the outer edge.

 So I had to remove the neckline facing and the upper collar at the neckline.

I kept 1 inch (2,5 cm) wide from the  flat upper collar outer edge intact  and  basted it towards the under collar.

Copied the collar pattern included the in and outer edge seam allowance and added 6 inches (15 cm) in length for a half pattern by slashing and spreading the pattern towards the outer edge only.

I also added 1 cm in width and used a scare ¬Ĺ cm seam allowance for the outer edge.

Since the outer edge of the upper collar will be flat the upper collar needs to be eased in for the extra length and the volume effect is due to the added width total 1 1/4 inch (3 cm).

Made a test sample from another piece of polyester taffeta fabric.

and made a  new voluminous upper collar.

I stitched the 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide bias tape on both outer edges with the new eased in upper collar lying underneath the tape butted at the flat cut off outer edge and finished the collar and facing as usual.

The bias tape and facings for the front, neckline, sleeve and blouse hem are

made using the same fabric but without the shirring (removed the elastic thread shirring with my seam ripper) because I wanted a smooth fabric for the facings and hems.

detail picture back side elastic shirring:

Facing center front:

                                  facing  hem:

The seams are finished with a three-thread serger and bound with a very lightweight nylon tape.

For a more dramatic way I can wear the blouse with the collar standing up:


I like my pumped up volume collar and it was worth the effort the work involved.

Flat collar versus voluminous collar:

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)‚Äď 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.
РIt 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 ‚Äď I will have to add at least ¬ĺ‚ÄĚ on for a total of 3‚ÄĚ (gulp!)
The bust darts need to be dropped down about 1 ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ ‚Äď 2‚ÄĚ – 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. ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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 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 ūüôā

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.

June 25, 2009

Vintage Vogue: Sheath Dress Pattern

pattern face

I feel certain that I acquired this sheath pattern on EBay, probably in a lot with a few other ‚Äėlarger‚Äô size 18 [ note that the bust is 36‚ÄĚ with a 39‚ÄĚ hip] no doubt thinking that it would be easier to adapt to my larger measurements than most EBay vintage patterns. I know that it came in a batch with several patterns, the same size from the same era, probably from an estate sale where well-meaning relatives have no idea what treasure lies in these old patterns. This one is from 1956.

I love the darts, not just one huge side bust dart, but also the double French darts on the front and back. This gives ample opportunity for fitting. When I traced off the pattern, I added a bit at the side seams as well as the sleeve underarm. I curved out a bit more at the bust, but with all these darts, I can surely find a way to redistribute the necessary ease in a flattering way, all without princess seams.

The long sleeve has 3 darts at the elbow, and there is ease at the back shoulder, without resorting to a dart. The finesse in this simple dress pattern is heart-warming.
pattern obverse
View A is the epitome of the simple stylish sheath with the addition of a wrap. I would kill for the accessories ‚Äď long gloves, a small pocketbook, and the kitten heels, too. Note the notch slit at the center-back neck for a little intrigue at the neckline.

View B is long sleeve with a button-out contrast dickey at the neckline, for a modest daytime look. The marvelous notch-collar stole has buttons that give it the effect of a jacket.

You can see the pattern pieces clearly on the ‚ÄėIdentification chart‚Äô included with the instructions.


I have cut my muslin and put together the dress. I am looking for a fitting buddy to help me pin in the sleeves. Looking at it with both sleeves on for fitting will be important for the over all fit. One sleeve will not give the true picture.

I‚Äôll take pictures and report back soon [hopefully]. I have the soft micro polyester crepe that wears like iron and never wrinkles already lined up for the first piece [bought a 25 yard bolt from Kashi at Metro Fabrics in NYC about 3 years ago ‚Äď this stuff never goes out of style, and is the best for travel.]

SB2I also want point out the length of this dress ‚Äď pegged and below the knee. It reminds me of the Sandra Bullock posters from her latest movie ‚ÄúThe Proposal‚ÄĚ. Love that longer length! SB1

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