A little bit of help

With my belly reaching gargantuan proportions, but still having things I want to get done, the whole fabric cutting situation needed a big rethink. So who should come to my rescue but Dave!

Normally it is best if I leave the room when Dave does anything DIY related as I’m not very good at biting my tongue when I can see a ‘better’ way of doing things. But in this case, I had to be present, and the whole exercise proved that we do indeed have a strong marriage – bringing up a child should be a breeze now!!

Although Dave did tackle the pattern master, when it came to measuring it was the tool box tape measure rather than the sewing box tape measure that was used, just to keep things a bit more manly.

Hopefully I’ll be able to show you what all this was in aid of soon!!

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My 1940s Dress

Just like me in general, my blogging has become awfully slow recently! With only two months, almost to the day, to go until our little wriggly baby arrives I am feeling somewhat cumbersome these days and everything is taking me a bit longer than it used to!

Even though I’m not making very much at home, I’m still going to college so I thought I’d share with you where I’ve got to with my 1940s dress.

Having found a squillion patterns that I love at The Vintage Pattern Store, I managed to narrow the choice down to this one.

Originally I was going to use the existing pattern to make a toile and then a final dress, but a couple of factors changed my approach:

1) The point of a toile is to check for fit before making the real garment. However, when you look like this, it is unlikely that many things are going to fit you no matter how many toiles you do…

2) Pattern cutting is the element of all the courses that I do that I enjoy the most, and want to learn the most about. So just using an existing pattern won’t help me develop those skills very much.

SO, instead I am creating the dress pattern from scratch using the image above as reference. I have my pre-pregnancy measurements so am using them in the hope that one day I may shrink back to normal size! I can then compare my pattern with the original at the end to see how we approached things differently. I’ll also make a toile once I’ve done the pattern, but won’t be able to fit it for a while!

So far I’ve used the same bodice block as I did for my 1930s dress, and created a basic dress block. It is then from these that you make adjustments to create the different elements of the dress – that’s the fun bit!

This is the front of the dress, with all the different bits still in one piece. The next stage is to isolate each section (eg skirt, or bodice), and then make any adjustments needed.

This is the bodice pattern piece.

I then moved the bust dart to the shoulder to allow me to create the pleats on the shoulder of the dress.

There are a few stages in between, but in the photo below I have added the shoulder pleats to the pattern, and opened out the bottom of the bodice to create the gathers at the front of the dress where it meets the waist.

 

See, I look just like the model in the illustration!

Jack Sprat would eat no fat…

… And his wife would eat no lean…

No, it’s not baby brain finally taking over completely, it’s my favourite textile design from an exhibition I saw a few days ago at the Fashion & Textile Museum, London.

Called Designing Women: Postwar British Textiles, the exhibition shows the work of British textile artists working after the Second World War, and how they radically changed the industry with their modern designs.

The exhibition mainly focuses on three women: Lucienne Day, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler. Ever since finding out about Robin and Lucienne Day at Uni and then learning more on my Masters, I have admired their work for its influence and simplicity, its use of innovative materials, and the fact that they seemed an awfully glamorous couple!

So this exhibition was a good chance to see a large selection of Lucienne Day’s textiles in one place.

Here are some of my favourites from the exhibition. Considering these were mainly done in the 1950s, I think they’re still remarkably modern. I’d definitely have them in my home!

Calyx
Lucienne Day
1951

Calyx was Day’s most popular design, and launched at the 1951 Festival of Britain. It was manufactured by Heal Fabrics, who initially were skeptical of the avant garde design. However, after winning awards and international acclaim they soon embraced this new modern style.

Too Many Cooks
Lucienne Day
1959 

Miscellany
Lucienne Day
1952 

Fall
Lucienne Day
1952 

Magnetic
Lucienne Day
1957

Composure
Paule Vézelay
1967

The textile design above is by Paule Vézelay, who I had not heard of before. Her designs however were some of my favourites in the exhibition, I love the bold colours, and the shapes are far less fussy than some work done by the other designers. Nice and simple!

The exhibition is on until 16 June if you fancy it, and a full price ticket is £7. While the textiles are undoubtedly nice to look at, there is quite limited information and interpretation so I did leave a bit disappointed, and felt like I didn’t really find out too much about the period or the designers themselves. For that you should go and see the monster British Design exhibition on at the V&A at the moment!

Image sources
http://designmuseum.org/design/robin-lucienne-day

Gathers

Last term in my clothes making class I found out why my gathers never really worked. Although I may be the only one who didn’t realise how to do them properly I thought I would share with you what I learnt!

I am using a sleeve from my Mum’s maternity top to demonstrate.

The three stars show where the tailors tacks are. To create a gather, you need to sew two lines (not one as I had previously thought) of long stitches, without reverse stitching the start or finish of each line. This is known as basting (another thing that I thought only applies to turkey’s at Christmas for quite a long time :-)).

These lines of stitching should be between the left and right tailors tacks. They should also be within the seam allowance (normally 1.5cm on commercial patterns).

To create the gathers, you take hold of the threads at one end of the stitching and gently pull them. You can spread the gathers evenly using your fingers or a pin. By sewing two lines of stitching, the gathers lie much flatter and therefore sit better when you join them with another piece of the garment, in this case the sleeve joining the sleeve hole (not sure that’s a technical term!).

I hope that’s helpful to anyone else who, like me, was only doing one line of gather stitches, and then finding it very difficult to make them look nice!