On my Sewing Table – 1920s Evening Dress

Oh my word, how fast is this year spinning by?  I still have a pile of fabrics to use up and patterns to find, not to mention still ploughing through daughter no2’s summer wishlist.  I have done pretty well using up stashed fabric this year, I haven’t calculated any totals yet, not measured anything, but I’m feeling positive that I’m going in the right direction!  The project I’m working on at the moment is also a stash bust, but only half.

Earlier in the year, I was asked by a friend to make a 1920s evening dress for her to attend a charity ball in September.  At the time I said, yes, why not?  Sounds like fun.  I started looking at patterns online and had a few ideas, then when I won a pattern of my choice from Decades of Style I thought I might as well pick something useful.  So together we decided on the Zig Zag dress.  I duly ordered it and promptly forgot all about it.

A couple of months passed and said friend mentioned that we probably ought to make a start on the dress…  OH DEAR!  I admitted total forgetfulness and then thought, where’s that pattern??  Decades of Style assured me that it had been sent out long ago, so someone else is enjoying my pattern – grrrr.  They sent out a new one, but of course, now we’re getting twitchy.  In the meantime we bought what we thought was the perfect fabric, but it was all Croft Mill Fabrics had left, and it was less than the Zig Zag dress required.  We needed to figure out contrast areas.

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Ideas based on the Decades of Style Zig Zag Dress

So I went back online, made a few sketches, had a few ideas.  Eventually we settled on a new design and I started to draft from her close fitting bodice block.  I drew a panel at the hip, divided the skirt into three and added 3cm of flare to the hemline of each panel.  The front and back bodice both got a v-neckline, the back deeper than the front.  Because the fabric has a zig-zag sequin motif I decided against any curves, so the hip panel is straight and angular.  The pattern pieces fitted comfortably on the fabric, I had enough black silk charmeuse in my stash to use for the lining, we were sorted.

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Top left, curved hip panel and fuller, non-paneled skirt with straight hip panel and 6 gored skirt. Right, straight hip panel in plain black with 6 gored skirt. Zig Zag sequin fabric, bottom left.

Except that we couldn’t decide whether the hip panel should be sequins or plain.  A general agreement on Instagram was that it should be sequins, you can never have enough!  I had only one way to make sure we were on the right track.  I had my friend hold the fabric up against herself and I tied a width of black chiffon around her hips.  Folding the fabric up to the finished length, we then looked in the mirror.  We liked what we saw, then I removed the chiffon…  Not so dramatic.  Even though we thought sequins would be better, turns out we both preferred it with a plain black hip panel!  Go figure.

The lining has been made up, all seams French seamed and the neckline stabilised with Vilene bias tape.  As of now the sequin fabric has been cut and I was left with masses of chopped sequins on the cutting table, and everywhere else in the sewing room where they’d ricocheted after being cut.  Thankfully my new vacuum cleaner made short work of the stuff on the carpet, but I’ve a feeling I’l be hoovering up sequins for a while yet.

Now my task is to hand baste the skirt seams, remove the sequins that are in the way and then machine the seams.  The sequins are attached to mesh, so there won’t be any fraying.  I’m tempted to run the seams under the overlocker, but I’m not sure it’ll play nicely with that fabric.

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Sequin casualites everywhere!

The Decades of Style pattern eventually turned up on Friday morning, sadly, too late for this project, but hopefully I’ll have occasion to use it.  I really appreciate the company sending out another pattern, who knows where the first one ended up, but I hope the person who has it eventually gets a conscience.  So, this is my task for the weekend and into next week.  I want to get it all finished by next weekend, partly so I know it’s done and partly because there are lots of piles of things still waiting on my cutting table!!

Pyjama Party!!

Here we are, “P-Day”!!  I got all garments finished last night, and all have been well received!  So here they are, in no particular order…

Daughter No 2:

Blue and white cotton shorts and baby-doll top

I used a turquoise and white floral print cotton and some vintage white lace with a heart design for the shorts, pattern cut from the trouser block.  I used Ann Hagar this time, as I hadn’t used a block form her book yet.  It was interesting…  I have drafted so many trouser blocks from Winnifred Aldrich, and Ms Hagar does hers so completely differently!  The top is drafted from the close-fitting bodice block, fullness added at the centre front and back and darts left un-sewn, naturally.  The fabric is white cotton poplin, again with the vintage lace.  To identify the fronts and back, I sewed on a small length of white ribbon to the front of the shorts to tie in a little bow.  The top has a grouping of sequins and beads.

Sequin and bead detail to mark the front of the babydoll top

Daughter no 2 is presently re-re-re-reading the Twilight series, and is halfway through Breaking Dawn.  The whole series has been very popular with her and her sister.

Nighty-night all!!

Daughter no 1:

Black jersey top with crochet trim & print cotton shorts

For these pyjamas I used black cotton jersey for the top, with a length of black crochet trim from my ribbon box.  The pattern was drafted from the close fitting bodice block again, with pleats added to the front neckline at 2cm intervals to add fullness.  On reflection, I could make these wider than the 2cm I used, bit for now they’re fine.  This top took a while to get right, as the trim needed much manipulation to take the various curves!!  She is so pleased with it she’d like more – to wear out!  In public!  😀

Neckline and strap using crochet trim

The shorts are made from a black, white and red cotton print left over from lining a handbag…  The black lace with little circles matched the print quite nicely, and is also from my stash, and is a piece of vintage stuff I got from the Ironbridge Victorian Village a few years ago.  Leave it to me to find the teeny tiny sewing shop!!

Daughter isn’t reading fiction at the moment.  It’s crunch time for finishing A-level coursework and projects, so her reading material is for her Art coursework and her Extended Project Qualification.

Daughter no 2's reading material

And me….  I used a black and white paisley print cotton I liberated from a student at a fabric swap we had at our Sewing Sunday at the beginning of April for the trousers, and black cotton jersey for the top.  I haven’t added any lace or other trims.  The trousers were adapted from the trouser block from Winnie Aldrich, but for the top I had to use a Burda pattern.  Just not enough time!  I used Style no 113/4 from Burda 12/2008.

Black jersey and paisley print trousers
Picot edge to jersey hems

The top has pleats on the curved front neckline and raglan sleeves.  Because I had no trim I used the overlock stitch on my sewing machine to make a little “picot” edge on all the jersey hems.

Pleats on the top. It's so hard to capture detail on black jersey!

The pleats on the top make it really comfortable, and not too full.  10/10!  Thanks Burda!

My reading list is Natalie Bray’s “More Dress Pattern Designing” and “Paper, Metal & Stitch” by Maggie Grey & Jane Wild.  I picked it up for just £7 at a 2nd hand booksale.

My reading at the moment

Natalie Bray is on the list because I want a new jacket pattern and I fancy a Kimono sleeve.  She has the best instructions!  Paper, Metal & Stitch is just to get some creative juices flowing..  I never have any time to actually play with this stuff!  Hope you all have a fabulous pyjama party, and thanks to Karen for being such a great hostess!!