Tuesday, 30 October 2012

1940s Jeans: Finally Finished!

They're finally done!

Overall I'm happy with how they've turned out. The reputation of this pattern for its perfect fit is well deserved! My only issue is of my own making. You may remember I added some to the crotch length of the pattern in my toile; as it turned out, I didn't need as much as I added, so they are a little long in the body.  They could also possibly stand to be taken in half a size over the upper hips, mostly at the front where they're a bit baggy over the tummy. No matter: these are designed for comfortable everyday-wear, so a little extra space is probably a good thing.

The fit over the back is better. I took a bit extra in at the darts on the back to account for my hollow back, and lengthened them by about half an inch. 

I also added six belt loops on top of the waistband. After my initial doubt over the colour of the buttons I used, I actually rather like them now they're on there. As a rule, I just don't like brown as a colour. I can think of precisely three brown garments I've owned since my early teens, none of which got worn much. However, this small amount as an accent seems to be acceptable. The tan shade works well with the denim, and is neutral enough to wear with any colour top I might put with them.

There seems to be a small hand counting my buttons in the bottom of this picture!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Haslam System of Dresscutting: Two Books of Draftings

These two treasures are my recent covetous eBay win. As much as I am meant to be saving for Christmas buys, these come up so rarely I just couldn't hold back. There were a good twenty plus books listed as separate lots, something for which I am very grateful, and I allowed myself two. I bid on a few of them, but these were the two I came away with: books number 9 and 21. Though they have no dates they will most likely be late '40s.

If you haven't come across the Haslam systems before, it was designed as a three part drafting system, requiring a chart of your measurements, a special drafting curve/template, and a set of draftings like these. Having finally got to see the draftings for myself, however, you could easily draft these pattern up without the chart or the template, as they are very thorough with the measurements on the diagrams. The original curve templates do come up on eBay occasionally, though they can be hard to find amongst listings as people so rarely know what they are if they are found out of context. Alternatively, I came across this blog post, where you can download a PDF version to print at home! I love the generosity of the blogging community.

Book number 9 is for "Lingerie: with blouses, skirts, overalls and maternity wear".

There are several dressing gowns and house robes



And lots of lingerie, including slips, bras and different styles of knickers.

I love the pockets of this skirt, and the blouse is a classic 1940s style:

There are also some maternity styles including dresses and smock tops. This lovely swing jacket would be beautiful for non-maternity wear too- it looks so comfy!

Book number 21 is for "Spring and Summer" wear, and has pages of full colour illustrations in addition to the black and white sketches.

The ruffled peasant dress is so feminine and sweet.

Beautiful scalloped details. I'm also in love with the simple shawl collar and clean silhouette of the pink dress below: I'll be on the hunt for some winter fabric to make this one up soon I think.

Suits and coats. My favourite is the ruffled peplum design on the pink jacket.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Butterick 9955: Little Winter Coat Finished

Allow me to show off a little- I love this coat!

After my first post about it here, I managed to get my main machine to an acceptable standard of working. I've put the speed issues down to the motor, which has likely never been properly cleaned in its near fifty years of service. It's quite heavily carbonised on the wire coils and goodness knows how much old oil there might be in there. A good repeated dousing with an electrical contact cleaner spray seems to have freed things up enough that I'm happy to use it, though I still struggle to get it to run at a constant slow speed when necessary. Dear boyfriend has offered to overhaul the motor for me when I decide I can live without the machine for a few days.

Back to the point, it means I was able to get everything done more quickly, and completed the coat in another 3 days of sewing.

First up were the bound buttonholes. I used a black cotton for the binding to minimise bulk as this fabric is very thick. For the openings in the facing, I used the recent Colette tutorial from their Anise coat sewalong running currently. This uses another fabric patch, as you do for the front of the buttonhole, pulled through to make a finished window in the fabric. It's one of those pure simple genius ideas that seems so obvious, but that I never would have thought of myself! Usually the back of bound buttonholes can look a little messy, but these are beautifully clean.

I managed to do the buttonholes and all the major seams in one afternoon sitting, then it was a case of hemming the two layers, and putting them together. I finished the edge of the outer fabric with bias tape and slip-stitched it down, using a gathering thread and lots of steam to ease out the fullness. The lining hem was then catch-stitched onto the hem of the outer, between the layers.

I added a velvet collar to keep the wool away from her face and break up the tartan a little. I made the detachable hood too, which buttons on below the collar, though I have yet to add the buttons- the last little job to do!

And of course, there's that crazy lining choice of hers:

With it's wide swing shape and extra sleeve length from the turn-back cuffs, I think this could easily fit for a few years as a shorter coat too.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Jeans progress and two new brooches

I'm making steady progress on my jeans, though I would have liked to get a little more done today than I did. I just have the inseam, waistband and hems to sew, and the buttons to put on. I also need to try an remember to add belt loops, something I often forget until it's too late to do them neatly. Excuse the poor lighting in my house on these photos.

The buttonholes and button plackets are done, with gold contrast thread. The centre front and back seams actually have two rows of top-stitching in slightly different shades, both vintage cotton threads that were Nanna's.

I also picked up a couple of new brooches whilst running errands in town, from one of the charity shops. True vintage jewellery is a pretty rare thing usually, so I was happy to find these two. I've been after a little flower basket brooch for a while now, and nearly payed several times the price of this one on a few occasions. The leaf has a lovely detailed texture, and is made by "Hollywood", a British brand based in Birmingham in the mid 20th century.

With any luck I might finish my jeans tomorrow so I can show them off to you all! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch Wartime Farm on BBC HD.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

1940s Jeans: The abandoned saga!

Readers who have been with me for a while may remember the series of posts I began on making 1940s style trousers way back in February. You might have wondered what happened there. Well, I finished up the planned project from Simplicity 2654, in a soft black cotton twill with black buttons on the pleats, sailor-style. I loved them, wore them and washed them. And shrank them. Drat. I was so annoyed; hours of work ruined by something so simple before I even had a chance to get photos to prove their existence. Yes, I had even pre-washed the fabric before making them, but obviously one wash wasn't enough!

Lesson learned.

Come forward a few months to September, and my last shop-bought jeans finally gave up the ghost. The high-street shop I used to buy my (relatively) well fitting and cheap jeans from has changed their slopers recently so they fit as badly as any other pair: too slim in the thigh and low rise. Ughh. On my last trip fabric shopping I picked up some denim ready to finally make my own jeans. On a side note, I had the project put off even further by the fact that the girl cut my fabric a metre short and I failed to notice until I got home three days later and over a hundred miles away. Mum to the rescue with a trip to get my forgotten metre and post it out to me. Thanks Mum!

After all the hype I've read around the blog world about Simplicity 3688, I decided to get myself a copy for these jeans. I wanted a waistband rather than the faced waist of 2654, and I was hoping for an easy make with as little fitting trouble as possible, which the reviews of this one promised.

All those other bloggers were so right! The one change I made to the flat pattern was to add 1.5" to both the front and back crotch depth since I have such a high waist, then whipped up a quick thigh-length toile from an old sheet. Perfect fit straight off! I cut my denim immediately, and began sewing today.

I've added hip pockets, with a straight diagonal edge for the pocket top. I plan on making them with a button closure, mainly because I don't want to wait for a zip to arrive in the post. I'm not particularly keen on the colour of these buttons, but they're the best I have. Ideally I'd wanted either a nice dark red or mother of pearl, neither of which I have in the appropriate size. I can always change them at a later date I suppose.

I'm using gold cotton for the topstitching, a vintage thread that came from my Nanna with her sewing things. I'm hoping to get the majority of these done tomorrow. I want my jeans!

Here's a recap of the previous posts from the series:

A 1940s Trousers Saga. Part 1: Patterns

A 1940s Trousers Saga. Part 2: Photos and sources

A 1940s Trousers Saga. Part 3: Tips, Tutorials and Makes

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Le Petit Echo de la Mode, June 1951

Today I have images from the 24th June 1951 issue of Le Petit Echo de la Mode. A bit out of season at the moment, so perhaps one for my southern hemisphere readers!

This one is a bit tatty, mostly due to the fact that it has no staples so the pages have slipped out of line, but it still has some lovely pages. Hopefully some of you may have use for French knitting patterns, because this issue has lots!

All images should open up full size if you right click > view image.

Crazy collar anyone?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Woes and Winter Wool

I'm currently facing most sewists' worst nightmare: an ailing sewing machine! While I'm competent enough to fix most mechanical issues, having maintained and fixed my own machines for several years now, when it comes to the electrical side I'm far from expert. The current issue is, of course, something electrical- a lack of speed control. Booo. My first instinct was a blown capacitor in the foot pedal, the usual suspect with this problem, but the usual fix of simply removing it has made no difference in this case. I'm now suspicious of the very carbonised motor or dodgy wiring, so will be trying to figure out how to pull the motor out. Even if that isn't the issue, it needs a good clean anyway so can't hurt!

Of course, this had to happen when I have a huge list of things to make, including the necessities of the advancing cold weather. While my own coat can wait a little, Little One is badly in need of hers making soon. Luckily my house is full of machines in various states of repair, so I went through them to find one that works adequately, and settled on my 1950s Frister and Rossmann Model "R", first blogged about here. She's incredibly grubby still, but the movement is smooth after a lot of WD-40 and fresh oil (the movement was seized solid when I got her) and the working areas are clean enough.

This is the pattern and fabric I'm using:

The pattern is Butterick 9955 dating from the early 1960s, a raglan sleeve coat with patch pockets, peter pan collar and a detachable hood. For the fabric I wanted something with a high wool content. This was one of the main reasons for making her a coat rather than buying one: of all the shops I've looked in, I've only found two children's coats with any wool content, and those were minimal at 10-15%. Polyester just isn't warm enough, however fuzzy it might look! This fabric came from eBay at just £3/m, and is a heavyweight wool blend, most likely with acrylic. I'll make the collar in black cotton velvet so it isn't scratchy.

I gave her free raid of the stash to choose a lining fabric, and of all the suitable fabric in there she went with this cotton print:

Mmm, crazy. I've used this for the body pieces, with a slippery poly lining for the sleeves. I've also interlined with cotton flanelette, cut from a cot sheet. Considering how often I use these sheets on the cot, I had an awful lot of them, so one won't be missed. The lining and flannel layer have been treated as one and sewn together.

It's a little slow going with the hand crank, but at least I can sew at night without waking anyone! The Model "R" still has slight issues with the tension, but the thick fabric here minimise them. I've also found that this machine is happier with a thicker thread, not unusual with vintage machines.

I've also just realised that I never did a detailed post on this machine like I did with the Jones I acquired at the same time. I'll get that written up soon!