Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Progress Report

First off, I want to say hello and welcome to all the new visitors who have come over from BurdaStyle! It's a pleasure to see so many new faces alongside my familiar friends here. I hope that you'll all feel free to jump right into the dialogue. And there's going to be a lot of said dialogue . . . I have some discussion posts up my sleeve that I think you'll all enjoy! So stay tuned for some stitching and bitching (and theorizing and debating and scheming).

Secondly, I thought it might be a good time to have a sort of progress report on my Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing (aka VoNBBS) project. (If you're new, you can read about the conception of the project here.)

There are 14 core projects in the book, which you can see scans of here. I have completed six of them (click the links to see the finished projects!): the chemise dress, the full skirt, the portrait neckline blouse, the sheath dress, the bolero, and the slim skirt. Some of the projects have what I'm calling "bonus projects," or extra variations of the patterns. For example, there was also a bonus halter dress variation of the full, gathered skirt.

I am currently working on one of the bonus projects: an awesome variation on the bolero, with short sleeves and lapels. Here's a little illustration:


I'm making it in a plum-colored gabardine with a matching skirt (Vogue #8603 from the current collection) for a smart suit look. I'm almost finished with the skirt (and it is to DIE for - I can't wait to show it to you!). Here's a swatch of the fabric:

And then next up is the bow-tie blouse! This has been one of my favorites from the start.

But I have questions, so many questions . . . First of all, VoNBBS strongly suggests making this blouse in a wool jersey, as it "will teach you how to handle knitted fabric" and is "so wearable." Isn't that interesting? I don't associate knit fabrics with the 50's. But then, it's helpful to remember that Coco Chanel popularized the use of wool jersey in 1916, so wool jersey would have been old news by 1952.

But what's really interesting is that there are no special instructions for sewing with knits other than how to cut open fabric that had been knit in a tube. In fact, it's sewn with regular techniques just like any other project in the book, and it even includes bound buttonholes, which I would not have thought to do on a knit either. And my 1952 Singer certainly doesn't have any zigzag or stretch stitches, so I'll just be using a regular straight stitch.

I picked out two wool jerseys (I got indecisive) and I made sure they were both relatively stable so they would be easier to sew. Here are swatches!

The one on the left is a pale blue wool jersey, and the one on the right is a teal wool/angora blend. Doesn't angora just scream 50's somehow?

So. What do you all think? Do you have a jersey preference? And what do you make of sewing this blouse in a knit? I guess I'd always pictured it in a sumptuous 4-ply silk . . . but I suppose that can come after I've perfected the pattern! In fact, there is a darling variation with a Peter Pan collar . . .

30 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous colour that gabardine is. Can't wait to see your photos.

    The teal angora looks rather fab. That's the one I'd start with. And then I'd try the other one.

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  2. I like the baby blue! I can't wait to see the bolero suit!

    Can you help me style a black bolero I got as part of a vintage 1960's set with a sheath dress?

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  3. I'm a little afraid of knits ever since a disastrous attempt to sew a fitted diaper without a serger. That said, I'd still try it. The drape is going to be amazing! I like both colors, so obviously you should make two.

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  4. Although teal is my favorite color, for the blouse, I'd start with the pale blue.

    I learned to sew on a '50s straight stitch machine during the early '70s when there was a lot of knit sewing happening. My mom showed me how to gently stretch the fabric as you're sewing the seam (left hand grasping the fabric behind the presser foot and right hand in front as it's feeding through). Then run another line of straight stitching a scant quarter inch parallel to the seam line (probably more like 3/16 inch), then trim the seam close to the second line of stitching. It worked like a charm!

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  5. I love to work with knits! So forgiving and the drape will be fabulous. I love both colors, I'd pick the one easiest to work with first.

    Have you considered cashmere jersey knit? That would give you the scrumptious "silk" feeling and still stay in the knit family.

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  6. Gertie, you're totally playing to my color scheme with both of those swatches and I think either would make an awesome blouse. Is wool jersey itchy? I always see it and it feels so wonderful but most wool is hard on my skin in a hivey kind of way.

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  7. My vote is for the teal, what a beautiful colour! Especially now as winter is coming ever closer, it's nice with lots' of colours =)

    And thank you for the nice summary-post! Even though I've been reading your blog for a while, it was fun to browse through the projects.

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  8. I vote for the baby blue. Before I made it in the jersery, though I would buy a cheap knit and try it and make sure the ease and such is right.

    Otherwise, I like the idea of 4-ply silk!

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  9. The angora is all the tight lana turner sweaters! I love the teal! it is one of my favorite colors. but the pale blue would go with everything and be really versatile.

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  10. For staight stitching on knit jersey fabric, may I recommend using a double needle? If your machine can't do that, then a second best would be making a second seam a scant 1/4 inch (or less) inside the seam allowance.

    The colors are beautiful and I know you'll be pleased with the result. I'm so jealous that you have access to such gorgeous fabrics where you live. Here, we're lucky if JoAnn's orders a little real wool suiting one time per year. Other than that, it's fakey polyester and rayon fabrics only. Ick.

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  11. Both of those colors are GORGEOUS! I'm sorry, I can't be of any help picking one to start with -- teal is my favorite color, but that baby blue is lovely. I would picture the blouse in silk as well -- will be very curious to see how it turns out.

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  12. The only thing I ever change when I sew knits is the needle. Make it a ball-point one (but I'm sure you knew that already!). Using a longer stitch length helps a bit too.
    I've also been looking forward to you making this shirt so can't wait to see how it turns out!

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  13. I can't wait to see the suit. It would be interesting to see another version of the bolero, but what I'm realy eager to see is the skirt: I liked the gather detail on the hips very much!

    I hope you'll model the blouse with the supple skirt and the bolero, as I really like the way VoNBBS suggests entire silhouettes and all the garments composing it. This is really a plus, to me, like really stepping into a fashion magazine...

    And as for the peter pan collar version, may I suggest electric blue, to match your beautiful Carolina Herrera grey and blue wool?

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  14. When you said wool jersey, I immediately thought of a charcoal gray, but I love the two swatches you picked out! I never would have thought of doing it with a knit, I like my bows to be very structured!

    I can't wait to see the bolero with a matching skirt, I love that color!

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  15. Gertie, nice roundup. How are you doing locating your missing patterns?

    Second, this blouse -- I love it. Pale blue gets my vote as the first one.

    I think as long as the seams themselves don't need to stretch, you don't need much stretch in your stitch. I would use P.'s advice to sew it. Current practice would include putting clear elastic on the shoulder seams to prevent them stretching, so I think you'd want to reinforce those seams.

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  16. Angora is considerably warmer than wool, which makes me think that it would be less appropriate for a short sleeved blouse.

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  17. I LOVE the color of your suit - I am sure it will be smashing!!

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  18. A wool knit fabric for a blouse seems a bit unusual, but I can't wait to see the result !
    The teal one is very nice.

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  19. I too would follow P's advice for the side seams, but not for the shoulder seams, which you do not want to stretch at all - so I agree with ejvc, why am I commenting!. You can reinforce those seams with a piece of woven selvage, silk organza or light cotton is good for a fine wool jersey. It will look gorgeous in either, but I fancy the teal more.

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  20. I'd go for the pale blue, which means you should go with the teal.
    And Doris wants long sleeves, dang it!

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  21. I love the baby blue. I think it would fit the blouse perfectly. I would never dare sew in knits without a zig-zag. At least I would make all the seams non-streachable with a stabilizer. Maybe this is possible with this blouse? You mentioned buttonholes? Love your blog by the way.

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  22. Hello
    I like sewing in my free time.Bright colors are my favorite colors.Thank you very much for sharing this new book with us.I will buy it soon.

    vitamine e

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  23. if you're going to be wearing the blouse under something most of the time, pale blue.

    If the blouse is going to be worn on it's own most of the time, teal.

    I don't know why, that's just what I'm imagining...!

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  24. I completely agree about the angora! Plus, the bolder colour seems to fit more with your style, going by what I've seen anyway. I think it would really suit you! The idea to make it in knit is really nice, I think it will work really well, can't wait to see!

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  25. I made an empire dress out of jersey knit with just the basic straight stitch. Didnt even use the special "stretch jersey" needle I had bought. And it turned out lovely if I do say myself. I love all the colors you showed- use them all!

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  26. Oh, I am so thrilled to have found out about you and your blog on BurdaStyle. You are uber cool and I just love your style. What a great blog project and I am now following you. I look forward to seeing how you progress through the book. So far, your projects have all turned out gorgeous. I am inspired to try at least one of the box full of vintage patterns I have been collecting and dreaming about.

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  27. This is the very first blog I have suscribed to and, boy, is this fun! Thank you Gertie for all the great tips, information and general sewing wonderfulness. I wish I had access to Mood and all the other great fabric stores you have. I have been searching the internet for 4 ply silk and it's pretty hard to find or it's $50 yard. Any suggestions?

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  28. Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions, everyone! I especially appreciate the tips on sewing jersey.

    Fashiontramp (love the screen name!) you can buy 4-ply for $30 a yard from Mood online. You can order swatches too!

    http://www.moodfabrics.com/index.php?file=categorylist&icatid=2&imsmat_id=8&posms=16&frompage=menu

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  29. I vote for the angora knit--it looks so luxurious! I really love the blouse pattern--those simple, sweet styles always catch my eye. I have a similar pattern from the 40s that has been waiting for either a really nice silk or the luck of finding a couple matching (vintage) silk scarves to use. :)

    Can't wait to see which fabric you choose--both would be lovely!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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