Friday, January 9, 2015

Introducing My New Fabric Line, With Sewing Contest!


I'm so happy I finally get to share this with you, readers! I've been working with Fabric Traditions on a line of retro-inspired apparel fabrics that will be available in Joann Fabric and Crafts this March. To celebrate, Fabric Traditions and Butterick (home of my pattern line, Patterns by Gertie) are teaming up to do a fantastic giveaway.

First, a little about the line:

  • It's a collection of 17 designs on apparel fabrics: cotton sateens, cotton poplin, rayon challis, Swiss dot, chambray, and more. 
  • The designs range from classic vintage florals to 40s- and 50s-inspired novelty prints (cherries and strawberries and bows and poodles!). There are also some super fun novelty weaves especially intended for retro dress patterns. 
  • The idea was to create special vintage prints that are hard to find, produced especially on apparel fabrics. (Retro kitty cats on a textured chiffon, for instance!)
I hope this all sounds interesting to you, because it's pretty much my dream come true. I will be sharing more of the fabric designs as we get closer to the actual release date. 

Now! More about the contest. For a grand prize, we're giving away a bolt EACH of all the designs. (That's over a hundred yards of fabric, and worth $2100!) Have you made any of my Patterns by Gertie? Because to enter the contest, all you need to do is send in a photo of the garment. I will be announcing the winner in February at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. The winning garment will be displayed in the Butterick/McCalls booth. All the rules and details are right here. If you want to make up a garment specially for the contest, there's time! Submissions are due January 31st. 

I hope you will consider entering, readers. I can't wait to see the submissions! And I can't wait to show you more of the fabric designs. There's a stunning large-scale rose print I'm dying to sew with. Hmm, I wonder if  I have time to make a dress for myself for the expo . . . 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sewing Your Own Retro Lingerie: Are You Into It?

As you may know, last year I released a lingerie pattern with Butterick for a vintage-inspired knit slip, cami, and panties.

Since then, lingerie has been on my mind: sewing it, researching it, shopping for it. My Butterick pattern was easy to sew and super simple. A big part of me wants to go deeper into the whole subject: more complex designs, more authentic retro styling, more lingerie knowledge for everyone! I love the vintage-inspired designs from Gossard (see the Retrolution collection at the top of this post), What Katie Did, Dita Von Teese, Agent Provocateur, and Kiss Me Deadly--to name just a few.

Agent Provocateur Abby Basque
What Katie Did Valerie Cathedral Bra
Dita Von Teese Star Lift collection 
I suppose this post is an informal post of sorts. Do you share this interest in sewing retro lingerie, readers? How into it are you: would you make your own slip? Your own bra? Your own corselette? Would you buy a whole book on the subject, or maybe just an individual pattern?  

If you are interested in sewing lingerie, what has stopped you up to this point? Difficulty finding patterns, notions, and instruction? Lack of time? Fitting concerns? 

I'm so looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Several years ago, I brought up the idea of writing a lingerie sewing book, but there's always been a concern that it's too much of a niche topic. What do you think? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Comfiest Ever Pencil Skirt


I keep meaning to write about this skirt because I'm so darn proud of it! I made many prototypes trying to get to a casual wear version of a retro pencil skirt for my new book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. I knew I wanted it to be made out of a knit fabric with an elastic waist, but still have the structured look of a classic pencil skirt with a high waist and a tapered silhouette. Many test versions later, I came upon this: the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt.


For me, the real triumph is the hidden elastic waistband. It's smooth and lays completely flat so you don't get that sweatpant look around the middle. It looks cool on the inside, too. At first glance, it looks like a facing.


But flip it up and you'll see the secret!


One of the reasons the skirt is so easy is that it just has one pattern piece: the skirt front/back. It has a cut-on facing. You serge or zigzag the elastic to the facing and then flip it in.

I've made several more of this skirt for myself, including this floral version.

(Excuse me, I was having a bad face day.)

P.S. The book also has a '60s inspired mini skirt version and a '40s gored, flared version!



Friday, November 21, 2014

Victorian Era Sewing?


Weirdly enough, we seem to be heading right into the holiday season. And I have a party to attend which requests Victorian period dress. Now, there is nothing I love more than an excuse to sew something totally frivolous and extravagant. However this is totally out of my comfort zone in terms of time period. But I just know that some of you are historical sewing enthusiasts and experts, right?

I've fallen quite in love with Butterick 5823, with its beautiful bodice and sleeve draping.

Here are my concerns: First, historical accuracy. Now, I suppose if the theme of a party is "Victorian," you really have a wide berth when it comes to that, right? When I think Victorian Christmas, I think Dickens. I have no idea where this Butterick pattern falls in terms of era. It's in the Making History pattern series, but there's no more info than that. Thoughts?

Secondly, fabric choice. The pattern recommends lightweight cottons like voile but I'd really like to do it in something more winter appropriate, maybe a crisp shantung with a drapey silk for the ruched insets. What do you think?

Third, foundation garments. I'm assuming one wears a corset and petticoats underneath this. Overbust or underbust?

This may just be pure fantasy sewing since time is of the essence, but I'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you ever sewn anything from this era? Please share!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Shaping a Neckline with Horsehair Braid



Horsehair braid is not just for hems! You can also use it in a neckline to add shape and structure. This works especially well in strapless or strappy dresses, where the bodice is supported by boning. Sometimes interfacing the neckline isn't quite stiff enough to stand up to the structure of the bodice, especially when you want a lot of shape and stiffness around the neckline.

This red halter dress is a great example. As you can see above, it's boned around the bodice, but not over the bust. The horsehair braid keeps the neckline from collapsing above the bustline. It also keeps the neckline nice and crisp. I've seen it used in dresses like this pink chiffon one, where you need extra structure to support the ruching of the lightweight fabric.


To apply the horsehair braid, you'll want to stitch it to the lining neckline so that it's positioned just below the seamline. (Do this step after all lining seams are constructed and boning is sewn in.) Because my seam allowance is 5/8", I stitched my horsehair just a hair below that. 


The braid can go all around the upper edge of the bodice, or stop at the side seams, which ever you prefer. If you have it go around to the zipper opening, make sure that you cut it just short of the opening so it doesn't get caught in any seam allowances. 

Pull up the string in the horsehair braid so that it shapes to the curve of the bodice. It's a nice touch to stitch some scrap fabric around the short ends of the braid so the cut edges don't poke through the dress. 


Stitch the bodice to the bodice lining, right sides together. Understitch the lining, catching the horsehair braid and the seam allowances in your understitching. Turn the lining to the right side and press, and there you have it! A nicely shaped neckline.


P.S. Happy Halloween!






Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sheep & Wool Festival This Weekend!

I'm signing books at the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck this weekend! Though they might as well call it the Angora Bunny Festival, because I lose interest in all other things when I see one. It will be a miracle if I don't go home with one sooner or later.

I'll be in the author signing area from 12:00 to 2:00 on Saturday signing copies of Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Wrap Dress from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

My new book has been out for a couple weeks now and I've been wanting to show you some of the designs! Here I am wearing the Wrap Dress, a simple short-sleeve dress with a narrow shawl collar, gathers on the shoulders, and a gathered skirt. 

In the book, the design is modeled by my friend Allyson and she looks adorable in a plaid seersucker version. 

Of course, I wanted to make the dress for myself too! I chose a floral quilting fabric by Amy Butler. I love the big blue roses. 


Here you can get a better view of the shoulder gathers and the collar. 



The skirt has side gathers in the front, and is gathered all the way across the back. It has a slight fullness, but not a huge amount. In keeping with the casual theme of the book, I wanted something that felt very wearable on a daily basis.

This is one of 10 included paper patterns in the book. (Bonus: I also show you how to adapt the Wrap Dress bodice into a Rosie the Riveter style jumpsuit and a one-shoulder romper.) In case you're wondering, the sizes go from 2-16, and they're pretty equivalent to ready-to-wear sizing.

I have more designs to show you, so stay tuned!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Make a Bralette Using Butterick 6031

Hey, remember my lingerie pattern for Butterick? B6031 is a collection with patterns for a slip, cami, and panties.

I discovered last weekend that it's also shockingly easy to convert the slip/cami pattern into a bralette. This is a cute little piece for lounging or casual daywear, NOT aerobic activity. (Trust me.) It looks cute when made up with the matching undies. I made this in sheer 4-way stretch mesh for a little spice.



To convert the pattern to a bralette, all you have to do is make the back shorter. Take the bra pattern piece and the slip/cami back and align them at the side seam notches.


Then draw a line across the back pattern so that it ends at the same point as the bra. (See the blue line above.) Then cut off the pattern piece. I added a new "cut on fold" bracket since the original got cut off. (If you don't want to cut up your pattern, make a fresh copy!)

Sew the bralette as you would for the slip, except finish the bottom edge with wide stretch lace, after sewing on the straps. It helps to first hold a length of the lace snugly around your body, right under the bust. Cut the elastic to that length (plus a little extra for seam allowances). Sew the stretch lace into a ring, and then zigzag it to the bottom of the bralette, lapping the lace over the mesh by 1/4". Stretching the lace to fit as you sew. 

For a little more support, you can also zigzag some plain elastic to inside of the bra, at the top of the midriff lace, just below where it joins the bra fabric. Measure it to your torso, as you did with the lace, and then stretch it as you're sewing to fit the lace, if necessary. 

You may also notice that I made the neckline of the bra slightly lower than the original design. See how the center front meeting point of the lace reaches down to the midriff lace? 


If you want to try this, just lay some lace on the pattern piece where you want it to be positioned on the final bra, keeping in mind seam allowances and such. (There's 5/8" seam allowance at center front, and 1/4" at the bottom of the bra, so I placed the lace accordingly so it would end up at center front when the piece is sewn.)

Then fold in the excess at the top of the pattern and cut out with the new lower neckline. 

That's all there is to it! If you'd like more pointers on sewing the slip and panties in this pattern, check out all my relevant posts, including a step-by-step sew-along. 

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!



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