Wednesday, September 24, 2014

See You in Novi this Weekend?

It's time for the American Sewing Expo again! This show in Novi, Michigan is one of my favorite sewing events ever and I've been going every year. I'll be there this Friday and Saturday, hanging out in the the McCall's booth. Please come by and say hello!

I will also be signing my new book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, in the social media lounge Saturday from 10:00 to 11:00. Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Giveaway! Gertie Sews Vintage Casual!

My new book is out! Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s just released this week. It's a collection of techniques and patterns to create a vintage-inspired wardrobe for your everyday life. To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway right here.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by the end of the day on Monday, September 22nd. In your comment, make sure that I have a way to get in touch with you (i.e., make sure your username links to a profile with contact info, or just leave your email address in the comment if you like). The giveaway is open to all countries.

I'll announce a winner on Tuesday.

Good luck, readers! Thank you for all your support on this new endeavor. I hope you love the book. Look out for some upcoming posts on the designs from the book too!

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Here: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual!

My new book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, officially releases in just 4 days! However, it does seem to be shipping early and some of you have reported receiving copies already. How exciting!

To celebrate, I thought I'd give you a little sneak peek into some pages of the book.

Title page!

Illustrations are done once again by the amazing Sun Young Park. Just like in my first book, there are many illustrations of my beloved cat Henry hidden throughout. Rosie the dog also makes an appearance now!

The book was inspired by the American Look, an era of practical yet chic fashion that spoke to women's everyday lives.

There's lots of technique stuff.

The emphasis is on solid vintage-style construction, with added content on knits and pants!

And, of course, the wardrobe! Ten patterns are included on heavy duty paper.

There are plenty of skirts and dresses, pants, jackets, tops, and sweaters.

I had modeling help! Here's the Halter Top and Flared Skirt on gorgeous Atayla.

The Sailor Blouse on lovely Dani.

And the Shift Dress on my adorable friend Allyson.

Here's the patterns and their envelope, which bound into the spiral spine.

Look out for lots more info on the book. I'll be showcasing the patterns and garments, as well as doing a giveaway. A big thanks to everyone involved in the book!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Black Lacy Dress for Summer

I love black dresses for summer, especially with a full skirt. I've been working on developing a princess seam bodice pattern, and I decided to test it out with some beautiful black stretch sateen from B&J Fabrics. It's a basic sleeveless scoop-neck bodice with full circle skirt, and then a straight-grain ruffle sewn all around the hem.

Let's discuss the neckline. I ended up trimming it with some gorgeous black Venice lace.

This, however, was not originally the plan. I was working with my student Rachel, who has been a wonderful constant in my life for several years now. I mentioned I was making a basic black dress and was thinking about trimming it with some cool trim, like rick rack or mini pompom trim. This launched Rachel into an idea about an Italian countryside/Dolce & Gabbana inspired neckline with lace that gives a sort of lingerie-inspired vibe. We discussed. (I think the dialogue included something like, "It's like you're Sophia Loren: 'Oops, my dress is too small!'" Have I mentioned that Rachel is hilarious?) I was instantly on board. 

I found the lace at M&J Trimmings. It's a 2 inch-wide Venice lace with tiny roses. Perfect. It would have been ideal to sandwich the lace trim between the bodice and the bodice lining--but that was difficult to maneuver. Instead, I fully lined the bodice with the outer dress fabric and then cut the lace into small pieces and pinned it behind the neckline. Then I secured the lace to the lining with very tiny hand stitches. Here it is from the inside.

I ended up adding a little bit of narrow clear elastic into the neckline seam (between the two layers of the bodice) to keep it hugged close to the body, which resulted in a slightly gathered look to the neckline. I'm trying to decide it if bothers me or not. 

The skirt is not lined, since the fabric is medium weight and opaque.

Back lapped zipper. Please excuse the wrinkles. I'd been sitting for a bit. 

The ruffle on the bottom is a strip of fabric that had to be extremely long. I made it 2.5 times the circumference of the skirt, which is a full circle. Daunted by the hemming, I tried out the narrow hemmer foot on the eXcellence 760 that Elna is lending me. 

It was so easy. Luckily, it was a straight grain hem. Narrow hemmers tend to be much more difficult on curved areas. 

The best part? Bike pictures! My friend Shari took these pictures on my new Bobbin bicycle (dude, it's called a Bobbin!) which I think completes the Italian summer look. Watch out, Sophia Loren. (Just kidding. There is just no competing with Sophia Loren, especially when it comes to plunging necklines.)

P.S. Biking in 4-inch heels? Do not try this at home, readers. Believe me.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gertie's Sewing Show, Episode Three!

Episode Three is here! In this new installment, I look into a '50s dress, complete with boned inner corselet, waist stay, built-in crinoline, and horsehair braid. This is a beautiful example of workmanship (workwomanship?).

Hope you enjoy the episode, sewing nerds! As always, special thanks to my sponsor Elna. And endless gratitute to my production peeps Fleur Hoare and Martin Kemp, and songwriter Mark Ellison.

Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel here. More episodes to come soon!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Butterick Designs for Fall!

I have two new Butterick patterns out--just released yesterday! The first is B6094. This is a dress with two skirt options and a surprise in the back.


Party in the back.

Version A has a full circle skirt, and an organdy petticoat sewn to the lining. View B is a simple pencil skirt.

The front of the bodice is simple and classic: a boatneck and a midriff. The contrast facings form the fold-back detail in the back, accented by two decorative buttons.

I made the sample version in a very lightweight corduroy, in teal and navy. The buttons are self-covered.
Second, a jacket! B6105 is a cozy wrap jacket that's a great transitional piece.

It has a shawl collar, peplum, pleated sleeve caps for a '40s silhouette, and a bow tie.

It looks great paired with a full skirt. Very Dior, 1947! Just as easy to wear with trousers, a dress, or a slim skirt.

There's a second version that is a coat-length. I envision it being made as a coat dress as well.

The sample is made in a cozy boiled wool with a taffeta lining. This would also be great in a stable ponte knit, or other snuggly wool. Crepe, charmeuse, or even cotton work for the lining. The lining fabric forms the contrast shawl collar and tie.

I hope you like the new designs!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Butterick 6031: Panty Tutorial!

Panties, at long last! Here's a step by step tutorial for making the undies from Butterick 6031, my lingerie pattern. (See the slip steps in these posts.)

Before we start, perhaps you're wondering, "why the heck would I make my own panties?" Let me tell you, the reasons are numerous. After you make one pair of these, you can tweak the pattern to your personal preferences. I designed these to be my perfect undies: boyshort-esque, with adequate butt coverage, flat lace trim, and a higher-than-usual rise (though not Bettie Page high). The design came from my frustration at finding lingerie I liked the fit of. Second was my frustration at the cost of lingerie. $23 for a pair of panties that rides up all day? No, thank you. Once you get the technique down, you can make a pair of these in about 20 minutes and the cost of supplies is incredibly economical.

Convinced? Okay! Let's get started. First, make sure you have a stretch needle in your machine. 

You'll have three pattern pieces cut out: the front, the back, and the lining. You'll also need a length of wide stretch lace trim.

With right sides together, sew the front to the back at the crotch seam: set your machine to a narrow zigzag (about 1 mm wide by 2.5 mm long) and stitch with a 5/8" seam allowance. Then stitch again with a 1/2" seam allowance. Trim next to your second line of stitching. Finger press the seam allowance toward the panty back.

Get out your lining. Place the lining over the crotch seam, on the wrong side of the panties. Pin in place.

Baste the lining to the panties with a narrow zigzag (1 mm wide, 5 mm long). Use a scant 1/4" seam allowance.

Now get out your stretch lace. On the upper edge of the panty front, place the lace on the right side so that it's overlapping the edge of the panties by 1/4". Pin in place. The lace should not stretch at all as you're pinning or sewing it.

Stitch in place close to the lower edge of the lace with a square zigzag (2.5 mm x 2.5 mm).

Repeat with the upper edge of the panty back.

Now open out the panties and repeat the lace pinning/stitching process with the leg openings. Here's how it will look pinned.

You have lace on all the edges, and the side seams are still open.

With right sides together, pin the side seams together.

Stitch in a double-stitched seam with a narrow zigzag, and then trim away the seam allowance.

Finally, place a bow at center front (at the bottom of the lace) and hand stitch in place.

That's it! Pretty easy, huh? After you've worn them for a day, you'll have an idea of changes you want to make: you can have them cut higher or lower on leg openings, have a higher or lower rise, etc. If you want a retro high-waisted look, you can also use super-wide lace just at the waist opening.

Hope you enjoy! Now go forth and make panties.

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