Saturday, May 31, 2014

That's a Wrap! Vintage Vogue 1549 DVF Dress

Feel Like a Woman...Wear a Dress. Diane Von Furstenberg

I have never felt like a wrap dress was my style. When I purchased ready to wear, I would try them and  felt they were not flattering on me. As I began to sew, I would not gravitate to this style as a first choice. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress. 

I own an original Vogue 1549 pattern and thought the Pattern Review Vintage contest was a great opportunity to give this pattern a try. This month, I have seen this pattern sell on Ebay for $199.00. My curiosity has been piqued about why it would go for so much. Is it the iconic element of the pattern? The act of making a dress from the original? The pattern envelope? The renewed interest from the movie American Hustle? I don't know, please tell if you do.

Okay,here is my detailed review and photos.

Pattern Description:
Vogue American Designer Original 1549; ca. 1976; Diane Von Furstenberg - Front-wrapped dress, three inches below mid-knee or evening length with fitted bodice, slightly gathered at front and tucked at back into waistline, has fitted and flared skirt and attached tie ends that tie at side front or center back. Full-length sleeves have pointed cuffs with button trim. With or without pointed collar, topstitch trim.


What year is your pattern from? (Or decade if you can't date it precisely)

What made this pattern different/more difficult/easier or more interesting than a modern pattern?

The instructions explain how to put a non-stretch tape along the neckline seams so that the bodice won't gaping. The wide cuffs and collar are indicative of the time.

If you used any vintage techniques or fabrics please tell us about them.
I used vintage fabric that I purchased at an estate sale of a 90 year-old former sewist. I used a vintage polyester knit with a funky print and in neon colors. It has 2 way stretch and I used it for the body. I used a black polyester knit for the contrast. 

I also used 2 sets of ruled hem clips that I bought at the same sale for $1. You can find similar ones in a set of 6 here and a set of 24 here.

These go for $19.99 today.
They are so wonderful to use! I love these clips. They made hemming this a snap!

Twin Needle Hem
Pattern Sizing:
My pattern is a size 10 Bust 32.5"; Waist 25"; Hip 34.5" 
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Somewhat. I think it looks more like some of the modern dresses on the DFV website with my added contrast band and belt.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The two page instructions were clear and easy to follow. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
*I like the idea of making such an iconic dress. I really wanted to see if THE dress would make me a wrap dress wearer. 
*I like that it is an easy, stylish dress to wear. It would be great for travel and can be dressed up or down.
*I dislike the depth of the neckline. It is too low for my lifestyle. I have 2-year old who remembers nursing and any chance he gets, he has his hands in my top. This would be too much of an invitation for him ;P

Suggested fabric types: Soft Fabrics such as Challis, Chambray, Pongee, Surah knits, single knits, such as cotton jersey.
 Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
*I added a 1 ½ inch contrast border to the front openings because I felt it was too low. I added a contrast belt.

*I reduced the sleeves to 3/4 length and secured it with a twin needle stitch.
*Because this pattern was not my size, but by not much, I reduced the seam allowance to ¼ inch throughout. In the lower bodice, instead of pleating, I gathered it to meet the skirt pieces.  I sewed it on my serger where I could.
*I reduce the hem to 2 inches rather than the suggested 3 and secured it with a twin stitch.

Contrast  Trim

Side Ties

Right side tie opening.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I like my version of this dress. I am not sure it has converted me to a wrap dress wearer. If you are and can get this pattern, I say go for it. This pattern is suited to woven fabrics and I made my muslin in it. I did not love it. This is a 2-way stretch and I like it okay. I feel like I want to get some high end jersey with more stretch and make the maxi length for evening wear. If that does not make me a wrap dress fan, I don't think anything will.
Happy Sewing,

Monday, May 26, 2014

Do you want to build a Snowman? Elsa Inspired Dress from Frozen

Our Little Miss is in love with Disney's Frozen. I do not know any five-year old who is not obsessed with it. We have gone to a few Frozen themed birthday parties, seen her Pre-k graduation perform songs from the movie and seen the movie in theater in 2 and 3D. We have kept the Frozen mania at bay in our lives.We did not own the movie until last week and that purchase was packaged as a meaningful gift. Even on our recent trip to Walt Disney World we avoided Epcot Center altogether. I am not standing in a line for four hours to see ANYONE.

That being said, when Mccalls Patterns debuted their version of the pattern last week, I knew I had to make one for our darling. Mccalls 7000 has the Anna and Elsa inspired dress and Little Miss insisted on the Elsa dress.

After checking my fabric store flyers, I saw that Mccalls pattern were on sale for $1 for the Memorial Day Holiday. When I arrived at the store, they did not have it in stock. I guess they are waiting for the sales to end before shelving it. If you know five-year olds, you cannot promise something and then delay delivery. I knew I had to find a substitute or live with being ask 100 million times per hour, "When are you going to make my Elsa dress?" I chose to modify Mccalls 6829.


I bought my fabric got started on making an ice princess.
Ice blue satin (the fabric of the Devil's underpants) Knit Sequins and Organza

For this dress I made the following changes:
  • Lengthened the skirt to the floor.
  • Gathered the skirt instead of pleating it.
  • Added long sleeves with a triangle point and finger loop (she insisted on the point on the sleeve and and did not want it to shift when her hand moved.)
  • Added an overlay to the front and back skirt to create a train. This was tricky to maneuver because my pattern has the sequin area and upper bodice the reverse of what I needed. I had to flip it and add the overlay. I hopeful it is clear on the M7000 pattern, if you want to make one, wait a week and buy it :) 
  • Added lace trim to the seam separating the skirt from the bodice.
  • Added iron on teal snowflakes to the train (made in a desktop publishing computer program)  
Technically, this is an easy dress to make if you use basic non-specialty fabric. Specialty fabrics made this a horse of a different color.These fabric choices required serged edges and seam finishing. They also needed to be pressed with care and on the proper settings to avoid damage. These factors simply meant an increase in time to complete the dress. Additionally, novelty sequin fabric usually requires waxed paper on the seam to prevent the adhesive from gumming up the needle. I had no problem sewing this fabric regularly.

Here is Little Miss, I mean, Elsa, in her new dress.

Let it Go!

What is the point if we cannot play in it?

Perfect for twirling!
When all was said and done, she said she loved her dress more than the M7000 version and the one in the Disney store. She said she liked that no one else would have one like this. She says this will be her Halloween costume this year. It is May and with the way she plays, this will not make it. The joy on her face is motivation to make this again and again.

Update: I have also made an Olaf Backpack. You can see it here.
And another Elsa inspired Dress that can be seen here. 

Happy Sewing,

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sewing in my Time Machine: Retro Racer-back Dress

It is official, I have more vintage patterns in my stash than I do current patterns. I love the styles, the one size patterning, durability of the pattern paper and abbreviated instructions. When looking for a new sewing pattern, more often than not, I gravitate toward the retro. PR is hosting a Vintage Pattern Contest and I am thinking of entering it.

I have the iconic DVF Vogue 1549 wrap dress in my stash. I know, how fortunate am I? I have seen it selling for $150+ and I wanted to give it a try. I began working on a muslin (ack I never do muslins!) in hopes of perfecting it.

The muslin is working in that it is clearly showing me what does not work. The neckline is too low and deep for my taste. After failed attempts to correct it, I have converted it into a maxi wrap skirt, (read hacked the top off in frustration and left the skirt in a pile on the floor). I still have a few days to revisit it, so I hope to get it together and make it the way I want in my fabric of choice.

In the meantime, I needed a project to clear my mind. I reached for another retro pattern. This time I decided to switch up Simplicity 5308, a racer-back dress ideal for hand-sewing. It is a very simple dress that I jazzed up with a bit of light beading.

Here is a review of the pattern with the photos of me wearing it.

What year is your pattern from? (Or decade if you can't date it precisely)

Why did you choose this pattern?
I thought the simple silhouette and lines made it a good candidate for hand-sewing. The four seams and racer back are perfect for top stitching.

If you used any vintage techniques or fabrics please tell us about them.
I used the vintage technique of hand-sewing.

What made this pattern different/more difficult/easier or more interesting than a modern pattern?
I am not sure about the dart placement on this pattern. They are more like arrows pointing down to the breast. It didn’t seem to add to the structure of the dress. It is a short dart and did not take away from the dress, so I kept it in.

Pattern Description:
Misses’ Jiffy Knit Dress or Jumper in two lengths. The top-stitched short or long jumper or dress with “cut-in” armholes has “u” shaped neckline, pockets in side seams and button trimmed, snap fastened shoulder extensions.

Pattern Sizing:
My pattern is a size 12 bust 34. I made a single layer dress looser fit, I was happy with the fit of this dress. For a double layer jersey dress, that would be embellished and more fitted, this would have been too loose. My rule of thumb for close-fitting, hand-sewn jersey dresses. Is go up 1 from your RTW size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
In the shape yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I did not use them but, for the sake of answering this question, I looked at them. They are wonderfully clear.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
If you look at my Retro pattern reviews, you will likely see the same elements in them.

*Maxi length



*Interesting necklines.

My dislike is the snap closures at the shoulders. It is unnecessary in a dress with a deep scoop neckline and constructed in a knit.
Fabric Used:
A single layer of cranberry colored cotton jersey. 

Suggested fabric types:Stretchable double knits of polyester, wool or blends.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
*I hand-stitched the dress in a running stitch and using Navy blue button and craft thread. I top-stitched the seams and felled them to the inside.

* I omitted the need for the shoulder closures by sewing them together.

*I omitted the facings and chose instead to finish the neckline with bias bindings. The arm openings were secured using a simple parallel stitch. For the neckline, I added black glass beads to my parallel stitches.

*I did not add the pockets. I prefer floating side seam pockets on my jersey dresses and I thought they would add bulk at hip level.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I made the short version to mix things up in my wardrobe. I will likely make it in a double layer maxi length with embellishments. This is a really great project to wet your whistle in hand-sewing. It is sewn with a basic running stitch and the parallel stitch on the bindings is the easiest to learn. 

Dress front.

Dress with racer back detail 

Stitch and bead detail.

Back stitch detail.

As you know I have made many elaborately stitched pieces. I entered one of them in the SewStylish Spring Fashion Challenge and am 1 of the 5 semi-finalists. The voting closes June 6 and if you feel like sharing some love my way, you can do so by voting here.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Hand Sewn Alabama Chanin Dress is a Semi-Finalist!

This spring I entered my hand-sewn, fitted tank dress in the Threads Magazine SewStylish Spring Fashion Challenge. Today, they announced the top 5 semi-finalists and I am one of them! I am so excited! I really want to will this contest! The entry with the most votes will receive two fabulous prizes – a Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 25 embroidery and sewing machine worth $2,299.00, and a $100 gift card to GorgeousFabrics.


Please vote for me and relentlessly encourage your friends to do the same :) 

This dress took me ten months to make and I am so proud of it! Winning this prize would be icing on the proverbial cake.

Work in progress

Stitch details and binding

My label :)

On my dress form

On me :)
Happy Voting,

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hand-Sewn Trapunto and Reverse Applique Tank.

I recently won second place in a Pattern Review contest for my Trapunto Tank. Since then, I have had a few requests for custom tanks and DIY kits.  I have recently completed and mailed this custom tank to a customer. She choose an aqua top layer with a chambray blue bottom layer and white thread an paint. The tank was stitched with reverse applique and trapunto design elements. The bindings on the neck and arms were secured using a herringbone stitch.

I have to admit that I am nervous about this; I hope it exceeds her expectations.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday Thrifty Treasures: Retro Fabric and Antique Machines

In my home Tuesdays are  days with no plans. We usually have nowhere to go and are in no hurry to get there. The kids can sleep as late as they want and I pray for a cup of coffee before they wake. In the history of this family, that has happened exactly zero times :) 

Today, the kids were fed and dressed by 7:30 a.m. and asking, "What are we going to do today?"  On days like today making rounds at local resale stores is always a good adventure. The kids like the driving, looking a "new" things and the promise of choosing one thing for themselves. 

We made the rounds and I scored some awesome finds. First up we have fabric, fabric and more fabric. I have been on the hunt for Dutch Wax that can be purchased locally, but I have not had much luck. Today, I found a 1.5 yard panel with two drums on it. Would I be able to use for a pencil skirt? Not sure about having a drum on my bum. For $2, I had to buy it and figure its use later. (I try not to do this. I like to have a clear purpose when I buy, but I made an exception this time).

I scored 2.5 yards of this textured polyester. It has no selvedge information, but I get the feeling it is a 1970's hold over. I have few Vogue dress patterns from the era that would look great in this.

Little Miss is always ready to chime in on what is the "most beautiful fabric in the whole wide world". Her choice today was this cotton print that is perfect for mother, daughter, dolly outfits.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Man made a selection for comfort over style. His selection was a heavy weight charcoal grey jersey knit. It feels wonderful! There are at least three yards of 54 inch fabric! I think it may even be an organic bamboo knit, but I do not know why anyone would donate that.  Hubby bought me a new stencil recently and this is the perfect foundation for some hand-stitching.

Okay, I may be accused of burying the lead here, but I never posted about another antique sewing machine I bought while thrifting. This machine is an electric Singer from the 1940's. I think it is a 201 housed in its' original cabinet. I was advised in this post to buy one of these for sewing leather. I am enthusiastically excited to have found this one.
It looks pretty grungy as is, but I have read that these workhorses clean up nicely. The machine turns on, but the motor does not run. I have a contact who does restorations on these machines. I will call him and see what he can do. I would appreciate any information on this machine my readers may have.

The cabinet is original, but painted now.

The little drawer still has the key!

The lettering is in good shape.

I am sure this will clean up nicely.

The day started with me wanting just 5 more minutes of sleep and me feeling like never wanting to leave the comfort of my bed. In cannot wait for a few minutes in my sewing room. I cannot wait to put my treasures to use.

Happy Thrifting,