Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Fall for Cotton

A couple of days ago, Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum, By Golly announced their latest sewalong: a joint endeavour called Fall For Cotton. It's a fairly open sewalong, with the only rules being that participants use a vintage pattern ('20s to '70s) and that the fabric used must be 100% cotton.


I really enjoyed Rochelle's last sewalong, Sew For Victory, so I've decided to put my name in for this one too. Having had some time to consider, I think I've settled on what I'm going to make. As I already sew frequently with vintage patterns, and with pure cotton fabrics, I wanted to up my game a little for this. Taking part in a sewalong always seems to demand more effort of me than my normal sewing would. Not a bad thing. I've decided to make my first ever garment using vintage fabric! Properly old vintage fabric, anyway. With the exception of making dolls' clothes with my nanna's scrap fabrics as a kid, I don't think I've ever knowingly used vintage fabric for anything.

A few months ago I bought 4 yards of a blue and red on white printed check fabric for next to nothing. The photo in the listing was terrible and out of focus, but I decided to take the gamble based on what I could make out and the low price. When it arrived it was actually very pretty, but also very grotty! I can't decide how old it even is. It's only 27" wide, so OLD. That's for certain. I'm thinking 1940s or maybe even '30s. What do you all think? The weave is quite coarse and a little uneven in places, so I wonder if it was hand-loomed or just low quality. The latter is a possibility if it was produced during wartime, I suppose. I don't really have enough experience with vintage textiles to be sure though.

So, on to washing. The whole length had spots and stains and little rusty marks on it, and had that typical old smell that always puts me in mind of the inside of the cupboards at my Nanna's house when I was a kid. I dunked it in a bucket of warm water and oxy stain removal powder, and this was the result after two minutes' gentle swishing:

Gross, I think you'll agree. Two more buckets and a soak later, followed by a good rinse with clean water, and I hung it out in the sun for a few hours. Most of the stains have come out, except for a few spots on the worst area (pictured above), and it's also a lot softer now the starch has all been washed out. It's certainly a lot brighter at least!

So, looks like the fabric's a goer! The next important question: what pattern am I using?

This one:

I bought this one a few months back and have been saving it for my Autumn wardrobe. I'll be making it up in a polycotton check first to test it and find out any fit issues before cutting my precious vintage fabric. It's a very rare thing that I find decent yardage of vintage fabrics that I can afford, so I don't want to waste it!

And yes, I'm very susceptible to influence from pattern illustrations regarding fabric choice, heh.

You can join in and keep track of everyone's makes for the sewalong via the Flickr group.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Fashion in Film: The British Film Annual 1949

I picked up a copy of The British Film Annual: 1949 from a charity shop this afternoon and couldn't wait to share some images with you all. Period cinema and film-related literature is a great way to get inspiration for vintage styles, and for the couple of pounds I paid this book does not disappoint. This book was put out by British newspaper The Daily Mail, in connection with the National Film Awards.

The book has a couple of pages each dedicated to a total of 54 films released in the previous year, with black and white and colour images. There are screen shots, studio portraits and promotional images. I've picked out a selection of my favourites to show you.

Valerie Hobson, Blanche Fury
Valerie Hobson as Blanche Fury

Greta Gynt, Pat Parsons, Easy Money
Greta Gynt as Pat Parsons in Easy Money

Young actress Hazel Court

Gene Simmons as Ophelia, Hamlet, Ophelia
Jean Simmons as Ophelia in Hamlet

Anna Neagle, Judy Howard, Spring in Park Lane
Anna Neagle as Judy Howard in Spring In Park Lane

Patricia Roc, One Night With You

There are, of course, some beautiful hats being worn.

Margaret Lockwood
Margaret Lockwood

Beatrice Campbell, My Brother Jonathan
Beatrice Campbell as Edie in My Brother Jonathan

Greta Gynt, The Calendar
Greta Gynt as Wenda in The Calendar

Of course, you can't have 1940s fashion without some novelty prints!

Sally Ann Howes, My Sister And I
Sally Ann Howes in a beautiful leaf-motif dress.

Sheila Sim, Robert Flemyng, The Guinea Pig
Sheila Sim in The Guinea Pig

Paula Valenska
Paula Valenska in a beatiful leaf print with contrast collar.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Butterick 5895, Again!

No, I haven't made another pair of trousers (yet!). This time it's the blouse!

On my last shopping trip I picked up a length of this cherry print polycotton with the intention of making the tie-front blouse from Butterick 5895. Between a lack of sewing mojo brought on by the hot weather and the necessary machine maintenance it got put off for a while, until I decided to tackle it last week.

The first dilemma was choosing which pattern size to cut. This thing has a full 7" of ease built in at the bust, which on one hand seems rather excessive, and on the other is part and parcel of the style of blouse: being a kimono sleeved blouse usually means more ease around the upper body. I went with it and cut the size I normally would, working on the idea that side seams are easily taken in if need be. 

That plan was scuppered the moment the iron came near my fabric though. Holy crap I have never seen polycotton shrink so much under heat! Often polycotton fabrics are either pre-shrunk, or they just don't because of the nature of the fibre content. Not this one, though. I lost a good inch in length off my side seams, so goodness knows what I lost off the bust measurement. Suddenly I'm glad of that excess ease! And the adjustable nature of the waist. It does mean it's come up a bit short though thanks to the vertical shrinkage. Even taking that into account, I think I might lengthen it an inch next time. It's riding a little higher than I'd like.

So, I still have no accurate idea how this pattern actually fits, other than I can probably cut a size smaller next time. 

For the most part the construction was fairly simple. I omitted the interfacing in the ties to reduce bulk, stopping it at the bottom of the button band instead. The only issue I did have is with the collar at the back neck area, which ended up looking like this at one corner:

Partly my own fault, partly that of the instructions. One step has you "clip to the small circle" in the corner of the neckline, which the collar is later inserted into. It does not, however, make it clear which of the TWO circles it means, and I'd forgotten to mark them anyway. So, it was a bit of a guess where I was snipping to. Accuracy is a necessity when attaching this collar! At least I'm not alone in this though. Just about every blog post I've read about this blouse mentions trouble with the collar and facing.

I chose some facetted plastic buttons in a red shade to match the cherries. As usual, I ignored the directions for button placement, and only used three!

Lessons learned:

1. Do a pressing test. Don't trust that your fabric will be fine under the iron!

2. Pay more attention when transferring markings. That dot was NOT just the top of a dart. 

3. Use a pressing cloth when working with white fabrics. Or clean your iron more often. Hehe.

4. Do not take photos with a small child around. You get photobombed. Repeatedly.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Tiny Knitting, with baby mitts pattern

I haven't done much knitting recently. It's not exactly a summer activity, especially in the weather we've had recently! It's cooled down a little now though, and we've had a week of much-needed heavy rain, so my fingers have been getting a little twitchy for the needles.

Luckily, I have the perfect excuse to do some small projects to ease myself back into knitting. My best friend is currently expecting, with her bundle of joy due at the end of September. I've been putting together a gift bundle for her in time for meeting up in a couple of weeks- our first and last chance to see each other in a long time, as we currently live at opposite ends of the country.

First up I made this little jacket in aran weight wool/acrylic blend. It is a very simple pattern from Debbie Bliss that knits up very quickly. I've now made it twice as gifts for people!

This set of hat and mittens are done in acrylic double knitting weight. The hat is the Pointy Hat from Cool Knits For Kids, by Kate Gunn and Robyn Macdonald. I made the 3-6 months size. Again, it's a very simple make, and is knit flat then seamed which is a bonus for me. I'm not fond of knitting in the round. I didn't use a pattern for the mitts: I did a quick bit of maths then made it up as I went. The pattern is below. I haven't written in the colour changes: I worked two-row stripes, changing to the grey after row 2 (the first purl row).

Baby Mitts

Approx age 0-6 months

With 3.5mm needles and DK yarn, cast on 28 stitches.
Work 6 rows of k.1 p.1 rib.

Change to 4mm needles.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Work even in stocking stitch for 12 more rows.
Row 15: K2tog, k.11. Work a double decrease- slip 2 stitches together, knit next stitch, pass 2 slipped stitches over together. Knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.
Row 16: Purl
Row 17: K2tog, k9, double decrease, knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.
Row 18: Purl.

Either cast off on the next row, or knit across half the stitches and do a three needle cast off, which I did. Seam the side. I used a mattress stitch which is almost invisible.

I'd wanted to make some socks or booties to complete the set, but as I already said about the hat, I hate knitting in the round, especially on tiny things. Of course, I cannot find a two needle pattern suitable for DK yarn. Can anyone point me towards one?