Friday, July 11, 2014

Butterick 6049: A Festive Halter Dress

When this pattern was released on the Butterick website, I was instantly smitten. In fact, I loved it so much I made a near-replica of the model garment.

I think the bust detail is so cool. It reminded me immediately of this Tatyana dress from Modcloth. (Warning: those points are a little tricky to sew!)

This is one of the quickest projects I've sewn in recent memory. I was at my parent's house in Arizona and decided to give it a try. I made a muslin and then the rest of the dress in half a day. Super satisfying. I got the fabric at the local quilt shop out there. The white halter is Kona Cotton and the rest is a quilting broadcloth cotton print. It softened up nicely by prewashing.

I would definitely recommend making a bodice muslin of this design. The bodice was significantly too long for me, both in the halter portion and in the midriff. It also was very wide underneath the armpits, so I narrowed it. The size 14 was too big for me overall. I took it in at the side seams, but wish I had taken more out at the waist.

If I were to make it again, I would put a bit of boning in at the side seams and on either side of the zipper for support so the lower back doesn't wrinkle. I didn't have any of that stuff with me in Arizona, so I decided to do without. I did add bra cups, post construction.

The skirt is a full circle (with pockets, yay!). I wore it with a crinoline peeking out for dramatic effect, since I wore it for a 4th of July performance. It looked pretty great on stage (if I do say so myself). The skirt kept blowing up, since it was a windy day, so I was glad to have the crinoline underneath.

Overall, I highly recommend the pattern but do know that you'll probably need to spend some time fitting it--and you may wish to size down altogether. I'll probably be making this again this summer--aqua and white, perhaps?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Slip Kits Are 20% Off!

Hi all! I have a bunch of slip kits in stock and ready to ship. All the steps for the slip sew-along are posted, so I thought I'd have a little sale. I still have kits in black, red, and yellow, in both regular and plus sizes. Please visit my Etsy shop for details. The kits include everything you need to make my vintage-inspired slip pattern, Butterick 6031.

Use the code YAYSLIPKITS to get your 20% off! And check out the slip sew-along posts here:

Slip Sew-Along #1: Inside the Kit, Plus Other Supplies
Slip Sew-Along #2: Pre-treating Your Fabric
Slip Sew-Along #3: Picking a Size and Making Adjustments
Slip Sew-Along #4: Bust Adjustments
Slip Sew-Along #5: Cutting and Marking
Slip Sew-Along #6: Sewing the Bra Top
Slip Sew-Along #7: Sewing the Front and Back
Slip Sew-Along #8: Sewing the Lace Hem
Slip Sew-Along #9: Introducing Gertie's Sewing Show!
Slip Sew-Along #10: Sew On Your Bow

Friday, July 4, 2014

I Have a Theme Song!

When I started doing Gertie's Sewing Show, I asked my friend/bandmate Mark if he would do a little guitar intro for the show. Not only did he do that, he wrote an entire freaking jingle and it's possibly the best thing I've ever heard. It's basically my blog in a song. Have a listen!

Here are the lyrics, in case you missed any. Because they are awesome.

Your gal may be a beauty
She might be tall and lean
She might have shiny golden hair and eyes and teeth that gleam
She might ride around in Cadillacs and only buy top shelf
Well my gal drives an Elna
So she dresses like herself

You might think that yours is perfect
But pal you oughta know
My gal is the finest
'Cause she's sew, sew, sew! 

There are beauties who are bigger and honeys who are small
If pretty comes in every shape, who needs one size fits all
One'll go for Hayworth, the other loves Monroe
Me, I want the gal who's just sew, sew, sew!

Mark told me the idea came from pondering how every woman doesn't think she's pretty enough, or she's just "so so." Which evolved into "sew sew", which evolved into the awesomeness that is this song.

Another thing you should know about Mark is that he's an amazing hand embroiderer and he made all the guys in our band custom shirts. This is from a little show we played last night. Those stars are hand appliques!

(More to come on my dress, which is a modified version of my pattern Butterick 6019. I made it for the show and haven't had an opportunity to have good pictures taken yet.)

Hope you enjoyed the theme song! Thank you, Mark!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gertie's Sewing Show, Episode 2!

It's here! The next installment of my new sewing web series. This one is a sewist's review of the exhibit Charles James: Beyond Fashion, now showing at The Met Museum. I'm joined by my lovely fellow sewing nerds Allyson and Fleur.

The purpose of Gertie's Sewing Show was to be "nonstop excitement for the sewing nerd." Not just tutorials, but a dialogue about the things that make us go "Ooh!". Infotainment, if you will. I hope you enjoy it.

Check out my snazzy new intro! Music courtesy of guitar genius and songwriter extraordinaire Mark Ellison (thanks, Mark!). Editing and such done by dear friends Martin Kemp and Fleur Hoare. Entire series made possible by Elna sewing machines.

Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you never miss an episode. Upcoming episodes include a tutorial on using spiral steel boning and a look inside some really awesome vintage dresses. Sewing nerds unite!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wanda Jackson-Inspired Fringe Dress

I made this dress in April and never blogged it, can you believe it? This fringe dress was directly inspired by Rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson, who used to wear the hell out of cute little fringed sheath dresses.

Now she wears the hell out of fringed jackets.

Anyway, I made the dress for a performance at our local bowling alley, where I was lucky enough to get to sing several Wanda songs (this was for one of the rock band boot camps at Beacon Music Factory, if you're curious).

I managed to get 40 yards (!) of red chainette fringe at Daytona Trimming in NYC--if you buy the bolt, you get 50% off. How could I resist? I had enough fringe to make a test version, the dress itself, and trim some really cool shirts for my band mate fellas.

And I still have a ton of red fringe.

The pattern is, believe it or not, the Sultry Sheath from my first book. I just re-drew the front and back necklines to form a scoop with peaks at the top, and then added rhinestone straps.

The dress itself is made out of silk zibeline, which I'd never sewn with before. I originally wanted faille, but they were sold out in red. I knew I needed something strong enough to support several pounds of fringe, and the zibeline was perfect. It has a lot of body, so it was the perfect base. Here it is, mid-fringeing. It was almost a shame to cover it up.

I put the dress together in the base fabric first, then sewed fringe rows so they were overlapping by about 1". The top was trickier, since it needed to follow the lines of the the bodice. I did a test in muslin first.

I found that the fringe worked best when it ended at the waist, and then started again at the skirt, so that the fringe doesn't obscure the waistline.

Chainette fringe has a braid at the top, which I left exposed at the neckline. 

Then, I just turned in the neckline seam allowances at hand stitched them in place. The silk crepe de chine lining is hand stitched on top of that seam allowance. (Or it would be, if I'd gotten around to sewing the lining in before the performance. Whoops . . . It's on my ironing board, still waiting to be sewn in.)

Fun fact: It's called chainette fringe because it comes with a row of chain stitching at the bottom of the fringe, which holds it together during construction. Once the fringe is sewn in place, you get to pull out the chain stitch, releasing the fringe. Honestly, that's the most fun thing ever. 

The best thing about the dress is the way it moves! So much fun to wear.

The other great thing is that I've now gotten over my obsession with fringe, so I don't have to fondle it longingly every time I go into a trim store.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Slip Sew-Along #10: Sew Your Bow!

Hey sew-alongers! I am writing from Arizona, where I'm helping out my parents for a bit. (They are a mess: Dad has broken ribs, Mom has a broken wrist.) I don't have my sew-along materials with me, but luckily there's only one step left: sew on your bow!

It's pretty self-expanatory: just position the bow at the center front seam at the bottom of the neckline lace and sew on by hand securely.

You have a finished slip now! I'll do a tutorial on the panties next week, when I'm back home.

Mom and I set up her sewing machines last night. Don't worry, she can still sew with a broken wrist!

Previous Sew-Along Posts:

Slip Sew-Along #1: Inside the Kit, Plus Other Supplies
Slip Sew-Along #2: Pre-treating Your Fabric
Slip Sew-Along #3: Picking a Size and Making Adjustments
Slip Sew-Along #4: Bust Adjustments
Slip Sew-Along #5: Cutting and Marking
Slip Sew-Along #6: Sewing the Bra Top
Slip Sew-Along #7: Sewing the Front and Back
Slip Sew-Along #8: Sewing the Lace Hem
Slip Sew-Along #9: Introducing Gertie's Sewing Show!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finished Butterick 6019 in Shocking Pink

Yay--a dress made just for fun! This is my pattern, Butterick 6019, which I've been dying to make for myself since it came out last month.

Here's the line drawing, so you can see the two different views.

This pattern was inspired by the designs of Alfred Shaheen, and I developed the pattern by draping it, which was both challenging and fun. 

One of the main features of the dress is the bias strip that crosses over the bust. In the pattern, the instructions tell you to tuck the right side of the bias band into the side seam, but I decided to experiment with seaming it and leaving it out. I think it looks pretty cool!
The fabric is an amazing silk shantung woven from hot pink and orange threads. It practically glows. I bought it in Salt Lake City maybe three years ago, and I'm thrilled to have finally sewn it.
There's a lot of understructure in this dress. Let's start with the skirt. I underlined in in silk organza, and used hem lace at the bottom. I decided to use horsehair braid on the skirt lining--I saw this recently when I was lucky enough to look inside a couture gown. It makes so much sense! You get the structure of the horsehair braid, but you can't see it on the outer fabric. (For instructions on sewing with horsehair braid, see this post and this video!)

Here's the dress inside out. The horsehair braid is hidden between the skirt layers. 

(Oh, BTW! The pattern doesn't call for a skirt lining, but I added one made of cotton broadcloth.) I also lengthened the skirt by about 3 inches, for a more tea-length vibe.

The bodice has all sorts of stuff. 

I added a grosgrain waist stay, underwires (see tutorial here), bra cups, and interfacing. There's fusible batting to support the outer cup, and steel boning throughout. 

There are two sections of elastic shirring in the back. I used 1/8" strips of elastic sandwiched into channels rather than elastic thread, which I'm going to put into a tutorial soon. 

I'm super happy with how the dress turned out. Which is good, because I put a lot of time into it! 

This is a really fun pattern to sew, and it makes me feel like a movie star. So, two thumbs up! (Wait, I can review my own pattern, right?)

Has anyone else made this one yet? I'm looking forward to doing another version with the slim skirt.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Slip Sew-Along #9: Introducing Gertie's Sewing Show!

Cool news, readers. I've been working on a new series of videos that I'm calling Gertie's Sewing Show. The motto? "Non-stop excitement for the sewing nerd!" I've integrated episode 1 with our slip sew-along. We've filmed ten episodes so far, so there's lots more excitement to come.

Special thanks to Elna, and my amazing group of friends who helped make this happen. More to come! Subscribe to my YouTube channel to make sure you don't miss any episodes.

Previous sew-along posts:

Slip Sew-Along #1: Inside the Kit, Plus Other Supplies
Slip Sew-Along #2: Pre-treating Your Fabric
Slip Sew-Along #3: Picking a Size and Making Adjustments
Slip Sew-Along #4: Bust Adjustments
Slip Sew-Along #5: Cutting and Marking
Slip Sew-Along #6: Sewing the Bra Top
Slip Sew-Along #7: Sewing the Front and Back
Slip Sew-Along #8: Sewing the Lace Hem

Friday, May 30, 2014

Inspiration: Removable Halter Collar Dress

I have a bad habit of stalking the new arrivals on Modcloth. It can be an expensive addiction (damn all those cute shoes!), but it also yields lots of retro dress inspiration. When this yellow check number popped up yesterday, I had to take a closer look.

The cool thing about it is the removable halter. Lots of retro dresses have removable halters, sure, but I've never seen one that buttons on at the waist. (Usually, they have hidden buttons inside the neckline.)

(Hmm, what's with the hoodie-esque drawstring ties? Do not want.)

Upon closer inspection, there seems to be vertical rows of buttons up the bodice, along where the princess lines would be.

So if you chose to remove the halter, you'd have cute decorative buttons on your now-strapless dress. (Though you'd have to be careful with that button placement to avoid unfortunate nipple-button syndrome.) There's shirring at the waistline and back. I wish I knew if there were boning--there should be, but sometimes ready-to-wear dresses rely on shirring and that gross sticky rubberized elastic to hold up a strapless dress.

The other cool thing about the design is the rockabilly-inspired halter collar. I like the dramatic proportions of the lapels.

This is giving me great ideas for ways to spice up a sundress. I'd love to try my hand at draping a removable halter collar like this one!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Slip Sew-Along #8: Sewing the Lace at the Hem

Hello, sew-alongers! I’ve decided we’re going to skip the straps for now, and move on to the lace at the hem. But don’t worry; I’ll have a video for the straps to show you soon.

Okay, let’s get going. You need a long length of your wide stretch lace, the same stuff you used at the neckline and under the bra.

First, trim off the excess from one of the floral motifs on your lace. You want it to have a nice smooth edge around one of the flowers.

We’re going to start pinning the lace at the circle mark above the slit on the left side hem. Don’t have a circle mark? Me neither. No big deal, I consulted the pattern and you need a mark about 4.25” above the top of the cut-out wedge for the slit. Make a tiny dot there.

Pin the top of the flower motif in place so that it just covers your dot mark.

Now, pin it down the left side of the slit so that the edge of the lace is flush with the raw edge of the fabric on the slit.

When you get to the corner, fold in the excess to form a miter.

Keep pinning the lace around the bottom of the slip. 

Your lace edge is still flush with the bottom of the fabric. Go all the way around the slip until you get to the other side of the slit. Form a second miter.
Pin the lace up the right side of the slit. Temporarily remove the left side of the lace from the slit and place the end of the right side lace underneath it. Cut it off at the top, and then hide it underneath the floral motif that you trimmed down in the beginning of these instructions.

Get out a hand sewing needle and some thread. Slip stitch the fold of the miters in place, only catching the lace, not the slip underneath it.

Unpin the corners and trim away the excess from behind your slip stitching.

Pin the corners back in place. Now we’re ready to zigzag the lace all the way around the hem.

Put your machine on a square 2.5 x 2.5 zigzag stitch. Begin stitching across the top of the overlapped lace (at the top of the slit). Then stitch down the outer edge of the lace down the left side of the slit. If your lace is scalloped (like mine is) follow the scallops of the lace as you stitch as best you can. Hold the fabric slightly taut, but do not stretch it.

(Hey, check out my fancy new machine! More on that to come!)

Pivot at the top of the miters, and continue zigzagging along the upper edge of the lace.

When you get back to your starting point, backstitch and cut your threads.

Now we cut away the excess fabric. Start from behind the slit. Slash the fabric from behind the lace and cut it away next to the zigzag stitching. See how your slit forms an overlap?

Cut away the fabric all the way around, trimming closely to the zigzag.

And you’re done with the lace hem!

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