Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Collage of Shame

A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to tidy up my workroom. (Translation: my cutting out/work table, which is a conference table from IKEA and therefore large, had a usable area of approximately 6" square.)

In the process of putting stuff away, I found a length of fabric which I'd sort of forgotten I'd got. And then another. And another. So I hit upon the idea of photographing all my fabrics, printing off the result, and pinning it somewhere prominent so that when I'm tempted to buy more fabric I'll remember just how much I've already got.

How could this possibly not work (answers on a postcard please)? But in an attempt to increase the chances of success, I'm posting the evidence here. That way if I do buy any more fabric, I've got a whole lot of explaining to do.


I should explain that the photographs were just quick snaps taken as a record, so don't accurately reflect colour, are not always entirely in focus, and aren't to any consistent scale. But let's take a look at what we've got, shall we?

In no particular order:

This is a vintage fabric; 1920s, French. It's cotton, quite stiff, very narrow, and printed slightly off-grain. I've had it a while and am not sure what to do with it. Probably I'll use it for something very simple, from the period when it was made, and padded out with a matching plain cotton.

This is a modern synthetic fabric, but it always makes me think of eighteenth century wallpaper! It's destined for Butterick 6018, but I've not decided which version yet.

This is actually a georgette, and will need some sort of underlining. Ignore the shadow at the bottom. I'm thinking floaty, bias-cut, possibly 1930s?

The first of a great many dress-weight cottons. No idea yet.

This is going to become Vogue 2903 . . .

. . . this view.

This is a really fine cotton, so fine that it will need underlining. I'm planning a self-drafted 1950s dress from this, but first I've got to stop the colour from running!

Another print which simply begs to be made into a 1950s dress. And I have just the pattern, Butterick 6877.

Pale green with white spots. No idea.

More 1950s-inspired. It's actually a pale blue background, it got a bit washed-out in the photograph.
I haven't decided yet what to make from it yet, it's quite crisp.

Separates! I very rarely make separates, but found this lovely warm brown viscose in Venice (ooh, get me!), and bought enough to make a skirt. The top fabric is a printed silk, which was being sold off in a shop in Goldhawk Road for a mere £5 a metre. At that price it seemed rude not to buy some.

More dress-weight cotton. So 1970s that it can only be used for one thing.

Yes, it could be time to break out this.

If you wait long enough, you will find the perfect fabric eventually. I've had this Maudella pattern for several years now. Some pieces are cut on the bias, the rest on the straight grain, so it really needs a fabric which will show this off to effect.

On my most recent trip to Goldhawk Road last December, I found this. Matching the stripes down the centre front will be a challenge!

This incredibly complex print came from Fabrix in Lancaster.

I'm going to use it for Style 2170; a pattern which I've had for so long that it might, just, qualify for the Vintage Pledge!

This fabric is more green than the image suggests, and quite a thick cotton. I'm thinking 1960s boxy.

I've posted about this before, but not made it up yet. It's going to be Vogue 8875 (and it should look a lot more pink).

I want to make this remnant into Butterick 5707, but there's not quite enough, so I'm going to have to get creative somehow.

There's also not enough of this sightly bizarre viscose bird print remnant to make up the full-skirted version of New Look 6094, so I'm planning to include some contrast sections.

The only thing I've decided about this 1950s style print from John Lewis is that I'll use it for a dress with buttons, because I've got some vintage buttons in the same green.

I've had this fabric since, ahem, 1993. Yes, it's been in my stash for 23 years! The problem is, it's fallen victim to Special Fabric Syndrome - where you end up saving fabric for something really fabulous, but nothing is quite fabulous enough, so it never gets used.

This red/green shot silky fabric was really hard to photograph, but you get the idea. I'm going to use it for Vogue 9126, because I think that the gathering will really accentuate the shot effect.

This is another remnant, and quite a small one. However there should be just enough for the centre panels of New Look 6209.

This small flowery print will probably become another CC41 dress.

This was originally intended for Vogue 8850, but now I'm not so sure.

Finally, another remake. I really want to make Vogue 9546 again, this time in two different fabrics. I'd been eyeing the red and green print in my local fabric shop for some time, but couldn't think what I could make from it. Yes, this is occasionally enough to stop me! Then I found the plain red below, which was a perfect match, and it all became clear.

So that's the stash, in all its embarrassing glory. I don't expect to make up all of it, or even most of it, but at least now that I've put it all out there, I've got an incentive to get some of it made. Certainly I'm not short of ideas for this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

#VintagePledge - it's back!

Woohoo! The Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge is back for 2016. Last year I pledged to make up three of my vintage patterns, but only managed two. I did make up several reproduction patterns, though.

So, based on what I actually sew, rather than on what I'd like to sew if time were no object (I love pattern drafting, and really enjoy recreating my vintage patterns in my size, but there's no denying it's not quick), this year's pledge is:

I, Black Tulip, pledge to make up at least four of my vintage or reproduction patterns in 2016.

I've already got lots of ideas, but that's a subject for a whole new post.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Procrastination - Part 1, the pattern

The first Historical Sew Monthly challenge of 2016 is Procrastination,
"Finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting."

You can find the Facebook album for the challenge here.

It didn't take long to come up with a plan for this challenge, as I'd been sitting on the idea for seven months! Way back in June 2015, for the Out of Your Comfort Zone challenge, I'd planned to make the 1909 Princess Slip from Frances Grimble's The Edwardian Modiste. However every time I looked at the instructions, it all seemed far too complicated. In my head, it involved something like this!

Pollock's Garment Fitting Frame, from Macclesfield Museum

For the Procrastination challenge, I decided to stop being such a wimp, and just get on with it. And guess what? Drafting the pattern wasn't nearly that bad after all.

The patterns in the book are all from the quarterly magazine The American Modiste, and use the American System of Cutting. This is an ingenious proportional system which uses special rulers (reproduced in the book) to draft out patterns. You use the appropriate rulers for your measurements, and the same pattern diagram will work for all of them.

First, you need to take basic measurements, as described in the instructions. You then use these to select your rulers. For the slip I needed the length of waist (upper body), bust and length of skirt scales, but the last two were the same measurement, so I only needed two rulers. I traced the rulers onto heavy tracing paper, and found that these were robust enough to use without attaching them to card.

On a large sheet of paper, you draw a long vertical line. Then you draw a horizontal line at the top. Frances Grimble recommends pattern paper printed with marks at 1" intervals, but I found that working with ordinary tissue paper and my big quiltmaker's rule (pictured below) was fine.

Using the length of waist ruler, mark out the measurements given in the diagram, as far down as the waist.

First set of measurements marked out

Then, being careful to stay exactly at right angles to the vertical line, draw horizontal lines from these marked points. This time use the bust ruler to mark out the measurements given in the diagram (click on the image below to see it more clearly).

Horizontal measurements marked

I labelled all of my points as I went along, for ease of understanding later. In the image below I've also erased the horizontal lines where they extend beyond the marked point, to make the picture clearer. What you should end up with is a sort of join-the-dots.

Horizontal measurements added

And that's exactly what you do. You can use French curves or a pattern-drafting tool to do this, but I found that the easiest thing to use was a flexi-curve. These are quite easy to find; I got mine from W H Smith.

Marking out the curve

For the section below the waist, you use the length of skirt ruler. In theory using different scales for the upper and lower body should take care of my short-waistedness without the need for me to make any further alterations.

This particular pattern has ½" seam allowances added, but Frances Grimble suggests adding a 1-2" seam allowance onto any piece you're not sure about. As the slip has eight pieces, I added a 1" seam allowance all round; hopefully eight inches will be ample for any alterations.

With seam allowance added

And there you have it; one pattern piece. I've only shown the top part, because otherwise it would be an image of an awful lot of table!

Finished pattern piece

There was one moment of confusion. The width of the side front piece at the bottom is given as 22, which would result in an enormously flared skirt. Looking at the dimensions of the other three pieces, and the shape of the pattern piece in the diagram, I decided that 12 seemed more likely.

Next step - making the slip.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

New year, new toy

My friend F regularly goes to local auctions. A couple of weeks ago she came back from a viewing and told me that she'd seen something hat-related, and was I interested. Was I?! The auction took place while I was at work, but F kindly bid for me, and I'm now the proud owner of a heftly 10lbs / 4.5kg of millinery wonderment.

It's a hat sizer/stretcher. There are no manufacturer's details on it, but the auctioneer thought it probably dated from the 1950s. I've put my 6" rule beside it, to show the scale.

Fully opened, it comes to a 64cm / 25⅛" circumference.

The moving section is held in place by the stretching mechanism and the two runners at the bottom. It's slightly shorter than the fixed section, so that it doesn't rub off the numbering on the size plate. Some of the chrome has flaked off the handle, but it's in good working order.

The dimensions are shown in inches, centimetres and hat sizes.

This view shows the extra guide rail inside, and the substantial metalwork of the stretching mechanism.

The wood itself is almost totally smooth.

Another view, end on.

As you may just about have noticed by now, I'm thrilled with this! I'd been planning to get a basic wooden dolly head anyway, for working on trimming hats, but this is so much more fun.