Saturday, 31 May 2014

New Skirt Project For My Birthday and A Gift

I don't like being celebrated on my birthday, but I love to make treats to myself. Yes, I'm a big girl now and it has become kind of a tradition to spoil myself on that occasion.

First of all, I plan to make a new skirt. I need new clothes as I lost weight (guess I mentioned it), and there's a gorgeous fabric I have in my stash that is perfect for summer. So I want to have that garment ready when summer is here. The fabric always was a little bit on the more expensive side, until I finally found a seller on Etsy that had it on sale.

It's "Frida's Garden". I guess I never wrote that in my youth (haha, I'm getting older!) I had a soft spot for Mexican culture and food, and I guess I somehow still have, even if not so much for the food anymore. This fabric is so gorgeous!

I bought 4 yards, knowing it should be enough to make a lovely full skirt. I was very happy when I got my order, as the seller sent quite a few inches more (how generous!), but I knew it was going to be difficult as it's a large-scale print. This is not the easiest fabric to deal with if you want the finished garment to look really nice.

I chose Simplicity 3033 from 1949 for the skirt. However, when I wanted to prepare my stuff for cutting, I found that my measuring tape was destroyed by my little son...

The pattern was still in factory folds. I think this is always one of the most amazing moments, unfolding  such pattern pieces that have been untouched for so long... Like opening Tutankhamun's coffin. Or almost. (Ah, the historian in me...)

I spent almost 2 hours placing the pattern peaces on the fabric and moving them around, again and again.

Finally, after discussing it with my husband, I decided not to make the pockets as shown for view 1 on the pattern envelope, but to rather chose the other style without. That made it easier and I finally could cut the fabric.

Now the pieces are ready and I almost can't wait to sew. And I still have some fabric left to make a halter top or a bolero to go with the skirt. However, we have still some garden projects to finish today and some laundry to wash. And tomorrow it's my mother-in-law's birthday, so we will be out. Argh, bad timing.

Finally, I would like to share a picture of another vintage fabric I found on Etsy some days ago. Yes, right, that's my own gift to myself, and it arrived so super-fast! I love border prints, but they're not easy to find, or they're incredibly expensive. I was lucky to find this one, it was affordable for my rather small budget. And it was in decent black and cream, colours that match well with others and are always nice to wear. A wonderful 1950s or even older cotton... The lace border looks like an applique, but it's only printed.

I'm looking forward to show you the finished skirt. In the meantime, while working in the garden and doing the laundry, I can think about the final decisions for the VPSA

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Vintage Scottish Skirt Out

I promised when I finished my skirt made from a 1950s vintage fabric with a lovely Scottish pipers and drummers print to show you later some pictures when I wear it. It was made for a special event, and as usual there was no time to make some pictures before, during or after.

Today, Ascension Day, it's a public holiday in Switzerland and my husband has a day off. As the weather was sunny in the morning, we decided to go to the Zurich airport which is a 10 minutes drive from our place away. There's a huge terrace for visitors and you can show your kids all the things that are happening. Even if they don't yet understand (like our son) or don't are too much interested (like our daughter), there are some attractions for kids that are fun for them.

This is my family. My 3 treasures.

Is there a better place than an airport where people leave for their travel destinations to wear this Scottish themed skirt? Scotland is my favourite country one of my favourite countries, so we hoped to take some nice pictures there.

In the end is was rather difficult. Wearing vintage is a bit of a dare in Switzerland. People stare. Always. Mostly women wearing leggings. I let them stare, but being photographed is intimidating anyway for me. So I thought it would be nicer and more relaxing to make some photographs in our garden, as it's in full bloom currently.

So here you go.

I am wearing a petticoat, but it's not very full, and I will have to try how it looks with another one.
The waistband is a little bit on the wide side, and unfortunately it's even made of a poplin that has some stretch to it (totally not-vintage, I know, but it was the only fabric that matched the black of the skirt and the fabric weight). As I still would like to lose 3 or 4 kilos, I maybe will have to make it a little bit smaller later. Until then I feel quite good with the skirt, even with the petticoat. A little bit "poofy", especially as the skirt is white.

Looking at the pictures now I think I will cut my hair by some centimeters... And I realise wearing this kind of skirt I look smaller somehow. Is this normal?

Ok, I can't pose, but I can make silly faces...

A detail I love particularly is my 1940s celluloid jewelry. The earrings have roses, and the clamper even has some orchids on it! As you may guess from my garden, I love flowers. 

skirt: made by me after this pattern
fabric: vintage fabric form the 1950s found on Etsy
peasant top: off-the shelf
shoes: Swedish clogs from Moheda toffelen (my favourites, veeeery comfortable!)
jewelry: true 1940s celluloid jewelry from Ebay / Etsy
lipstick: Russian Red by Mac

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Vintage Playsuit Sew Along - Pattern Inspration from my Collection

As I pointed out in my last post about my first attempts to get some ideas about the planned VPSA, it will take some time to prepare this project, as it consists of several garments that should not only suit my measurements and meet my needs, but should also make a matching set in the end.

So I had a look at my collection of patterns. I have this one-piece playsuit or swimsuit, but the longer I'm thinking about it, the more I'm convinced that a two-piece suit would be better for me.

This pattern, Advance 6742 (circa 1954) makes a gorgeous set, however, the bloomers will definitely not come into consideration. The top is fantastic, summery, but still decent enough to be wearable in town or for lunch. I think I would make the front buttons as a fake closure and insert a zipper, as button closures on fitted garments tend to look always a little bit, well, not fitted...
Also the skirt in its shorter version is fine, however, I would prefer a buttoned skirt for the longer version, or a wrap skirt.

This Butterick 6535 would be a nice pattern for the pants, they come along in two lengths. The bustier as an addition to a top that shows less skin... I could wear it on the beach. (If we manage to go to a holiday to Italy, for example...) If I have time and enough material (which is still not chosen), I will definitely make this cute bustier, would look certainly great on the beach.

This gorgeous Simplicity 3160 from 1950 offers another pattern for short pants and a full long skirt. Also the sleeveless blouse would be an option... Both patterns are size 14, so I would have to upsize them anyway for the pants.

I think I bought this 1950s Simplicity 1125 mainly because of the skirt and the top - not even realising that it's actually a playsuit set. It was also rather cheap, and looking at the prices asked for playsuit patterns - an excellent buy! I still think the top is great, as well as the wonderful wrap skirt, but also the pants would be worth thinking about. (Ah, yes, and again upsizing is necessary...)

The view 2 top of this pattern (it's a Simplicity 3891 from the 1950s) would look great, depending from the material I will use, and it's also simple to make!

This 1957 Simplicity 2072 dress pattern is not a typical playsuit set, but I will have to check the pants. And of course, a bolero would be a nice option!

Late 1950s Simplicity 3427 has a nice pattern for short pants and a lovely top. I certainly would not make the coat, but I love the striped and plain fabric combination!

I guess I have enough patterns to make short pants. And some nice options for halter tops and blouses. (I have not checked my separate blouse patterns so far...)
Anyway, I will certainly have to decide weather I would like to make a full skirt or a wide and long wrap skirt, so the playsuit set would look definitely more 50s. Or if I should, for a more 1940s style, make this wrapped front skirt from my 1944 Hollywood 1356 pattern with cascade at the left side front and the tied belt that looks very much like a sarong skirt. Just chose the right fabric, such as a tiki or Hawaiian fabric. More questions...

Here are two more options for wide skirts. View 2 from Advance 6327 would be great for a very summery look, choosing two contrasting colours...

Then I remembered my vintage sewing magazines from the very early 1950s. And I had a slight idea that there could be a playsuit pattern as well. But there's not only one, but several of them and so many ideas!

The top left design is fabulous! I love the skirt, the slightly longer pants, the blouse... Would definitely call for one of my tropical fabrics or something with a large floral print, combined with summery solid colours. Could be accomplished by the striped bustier and short pants on the right.

Dealing with the multiple pattern sheet is not such an issue - that's how I made my very first clothes back in the late 1980s when I was a teenage girl, so I guess I can handle it still.

There's plenty of inspiration from my own patterns. I must admit, I was a little bit tempted to have a quick look around Etsy or so, just in case there was THE pattern I was looking for. But then, as my collection has been growing over the past few years and still does, I think I will limit myself to what I already have. I'm pretty sure it will take a long time to chose all the patterns for my playsuit set even that way.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Vintage Playsuit Sew Along - Styles

1954 playsuit

I was very excited when I read that Stephanie Lynn from the Girl with the Star-Spangled Heart was planning a sew along for a vintage play suit. For such a long time I wanted to sew a playsuit for me, but never had time or the right "occasion". I was afraid to participate, as last time I wanted to be part of a sew along, I broke my toe, so I really didn't have any chance to make my planned dress. And it's still unfinished, sadly...

This time will be hopefully different. I have some time to chose the patterns and materials, and I hope that I will also have time enough to tidy up my studio a little bit before starting this project, as it currently looks a little bit - uhm, well, messy untidy.

I will not write about the playsuit as a typical garment of the 1930s until the 1960s. Sewing vintage, everyone runs in a playsuit pattern sooner or later. I have some in my collection as well, not many, as most of them are incredibly expensive. Most of the patterns available consist of a one- or two-piece suit, the latter could be with a short skirt or short pants, and usually the outfit could be completed by a blouse, a bolero, or a jacket, and a loner and wider skirt. Of course the length and fullness of the skirt changed a lot in the course of the decades, as did the rest of this iconic garment. On the other hand, there were always many different styles of fashion at the same time. Obviously, it will be very difficult to make a choice. In the end, I guess, I will build my own playsuit set from different patterns, according to my liking.

So I will have to plan carefully, what type of playsuit I would like to sew. Should I make a one-piece short suit or some short pants with a halter top? Both will certainly be accomplished by a matching skirt, but I guess the latter version would offer more possibilities. With the short pants, I could wear a halter top, a bustier, a blouse. Made from the same material or a matching contrasting fabric.

Let's start with the "under garment". A two-piece playsuit would be best, but should I make shorts or a short skirt? Well, not THAT short, I don't want to expose my legs too much. And then, my belly should be covered, after all, I'm a mother of two, and I would like to keep some decency.

Love MM's pants...
...but definitely too short for me!

Different styles of tops

A detail I love here about this pattern is the buttoned bolero and the wrapped band of the long skirt.

The pattern on the left has a gorgeous halter top, and I was happy to see that longer pants like these "pedal pushers" were an option for playsuit sets as well.

A knotted blouse or an asymmetrical halter top? A skirt with darts, pleats or a gathered one? How full? It will certainly be a buttoned skirt, as for me, the sense of a skirt to wear over the playsuit as such is to change your "sporty beach outfit" in a decent day dress, so there's no way to display a bare leg.

There are countless possibilities...! I will certainly have a close look at my pattern collection to get some more ideas.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Almost a Vintage Scottish Pipers Skirt

When I say "almost", it's just because this skirt isn't really vintage. Well, but it IS, somehow. The fabric is a true vintage fabric from the 1950s. I spotted it when I was browsing Etsy for vintage border fabrics. Most of them were unaffordable for my small budget. Or they were too short to make a decent full skirt. First I was thinking about flowers, something not too bright, and certainly not on a white background. (I always feel fat when I wear white...)

But then I was hit by this beauty, it was really love at first sight. You may wonder, but Scotland is my favourite country. It' not just my preferred travel destination, it's a deep love I feel for this particular place on earth for it's history and culture and it's inhabitants. I used to travel there several times when I was much younger and always felt like coming home. If I had not married my husband, I probably would have left Switzerland to live there. Breed sheep. Grow turnips. Knit sweaters. Make whisky. Something like that.

Anyway, I have a good live here, I have a lovely husband and two marvelous kids. (I guess I mentioned it before.) But sometimes I'm a little bit homesick. And then I need something to comfort myself. Instead of drinking myself with a good bottle of single malt (believe me, I have a few!), I buy items that are Scottish. So I had to have that fabric. It was certainly a little bit more expensive than what I planned to spend on a border print, but then, it was just gorgeous. A truly Scottish-themed border print, vintage, unique! And despite the ecru background - well, at least there's some green and black on it, two of my favourite colours... The seller was delighted to hear I was going to make a full skirt. I think, it would have been a pity to cut this beauty.

When it arrived I was amazed how crisp it was. I would say it is a kind of pipeline, as the crispness remained after washing. It has some small greyish spots that didn't wash out, but I think this is part of this skirt's history, and it vanishes mostly in the fullness of the skirt.
The pipers and drummers are just fantastic! Have you ever seen a band of pipers and drummer perform? Of course they are in full gear. (I guess at this point I should admit that I think men in kilts are very attractive.) There are sketches of monuments etc., tiny drums and bagpipes, coaches, pedestrians with umbrellas (come-on, the weather is NOT that bad in Scotland...). The selvedges are done so well I was thinking about leaving them unhemmed to keep as much of the dotted border as possible. But then, after asking an expert, I decided to take it up one inch. The skirt would fall nicer than without hem.

I was uncertain about the pattern for this skirt. I didn't want just an average gathered or pleated skirt. And I knew I would make a black waistband, as I didn't want to waist some of the border print fabric to make the band of the same material, keeping as many of "my pipers" and making the skirt as full as possible!

Finally I found this pattern I had bought on Etsy for only a few dollars as the instructions were missing. It's a Butterick 7617 in size 12 from 1956. The same year as my wedding gown!

The skirt is made of a very long part that has several darts along the waist. The spaces between the darts are gathered. I made pleats instead, except for the front part so the belly would look a little bit flatter.

I took the lower part of the bodice pattern to create a pointed waistband.

I'm not sure if it would have turned out better by gathering the fabric, maybe I will undo the waistband and try it out, but I needed something to wear last tuesday for an event so I definitely HAD to finish the skirt.

That's how the print joins in the back middle seam. One drummer has 3 arms and is also a piper. How weird is that? But at least I didn't have to cut away the poor guy. :-)

I decided to sew in the zipper only in the skirt, not the waistband, and to close the band with some buttons. Mainly because a white zipper would be too visible in the black waistband, and buttons could be moved, just in case I lost or added some weight. Of course I had some black vintage buttons.

True vintage buttons. I bought them on Etsy.

After all I'm quite happy with the skirt. It's certainly a unique piece, and it's absolutely me.

Vintage and Scottish. My son was fascinated by the pipers and drummers. While the skirt was still put on my dummy (her name is Kunigunde), he was walking around and around pointing at each of the kilted men. Priceless!

Sorry about the blurry pictures. We have currently such a bad weather here in Switzerland... I will post very soon some better shots of me wearing the skirts with a petticoat. Promised!

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Nursery Wrap Dress - Reloaded

As I honestly dislike Mother's Day (despite being now mother of the two most wonderful kids), my husband and me began a new tradition some years ago to avoid later that the kids buy silly gifts when they're older. So each Saturday before Mother's Day, we go to a plant nursery or a special gardeners' event, depending on the weather and the things we intend to buy. And we get us something lovely for our garden, a rose, special tomato seedlings or other vegetable rarities and seeds, or, as this year, a dwarf apple tree and a crabapple. (We ended up with 3 more roses and a new clematis as well...) I think by doing this, we all benefit of this special day, there's something for us all to see, and we spend usually a great time with our little family.

Exactly 3 years ago I made a wrap dress after a probably later 1950s pattern. With its kimono sleeves and worn without a petticoat it looks surpsingly like late 1940s. Unfortunately, I'm not sure which pattern it was. My pattern collection then was only very small, but my daughter, who was 2 years old then, destroyed some of the tissue paper pieces and I put them aside to fix it, but somehow I mislaid the pattern and  - well, it must be somewhere in my tiny and terribly crammed studio.

Anyway, I wore the dress only once, as I was unsure about the accessories to wear with it. I didn't have suitable shoes then, and I felt this was not the right way to wear this garment. Even though I was not yet into vintage sewing so much as today, I had chosen a reproduction fabric of a print from the 30s or 40s, from a shop that unfortunately has closed down in the meantime. It's a medium-weight black cotton, maybe slightly heavier than average medium weight fabrics, but still a nice quality.  It has almost filigree white flowers and butterflies on it, just perfect for a gardener like me.

The occasion I wore it to was for a trip we made to a rose breeder's nursery called "Landhaus Ettenbühl" (or here), just across the border in Southern Germany. If you happen to live somewhere in my area, it's worth visiting especially in early June, as they have a huge park full of roses and other plants, and a lovely restaurant. It must have been around my birthday, as it's the time of year when roses bloom for the first time and abundantly. I remember it was a splendid day, we had our little daughter with us, and it got very warm. A black dress probably wasn't the best choice, but cotton is always much more comfortable than many other materials. I was very proud of my home-sewn dress, and my beautiful daughter looked lovely in her sweet white dress, so we got some compliments from mostly elderly people.

Well, I guess I looked very silly somehow...

This year it was a little bit different! After losing some of my extra-weight I had put on with each pregnancy, I was finally able to wear the dress again. I styled my hair properly, which is always the most difficult part when I prepare for going out. (I have terribly fizzy curls.) I had authentic 40s celluloid jewelry that looks like carved bone. A pair of gorgeous and very comfortable wooden clogs. A 40s purse with a wonderful "carved" plastic handle. I really enjoyed the dress and felt entirely "vintage styled". (Many people, mostly of my age and younger, stared at me - I realised again that Switzerland is not the best place for vintage lovers.) The weather was fantastic, it was a lovely sunny day, and my husband took some pictures of me and the kids.

This is me (obviously) with my lovely kids

I'm not used to be photographed and I usually don't like it, so please do not mind my silly face. Unfortunately we forgot the close-ups, as our daughter fell and hurt. She cried for about half an hour, and our son cried with her (he's very empathic), so we could be hard all over the nursery...

Dress pattern: most likely late 1950s wrap dress
Fabric: printed reproduction cotton fabric from the USA
Shoes: Swedish wooden clogs "Ally" in black by Moheda Toffeln, the best ever! They ship worldwide. 
Purse: vintage 1940s corde crochet purse with carved plastic frame
Clamper: vintage 1940s faux carved bone celluloid from Ebay
Earrings: vintage 1940s faux carved bone celluloid from Etsy
Watch: vintage 1940s watch from Ebay
Glasses: H&M (men's department)
And in case you would like to know: Lipstick is "Russian Red" by Mac, my favourite ever...
Location: Garten-Center Meier 
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