Thursday, April 15, 2010

A New Girl Needs A New Home

The other day, I found this lovely dolly up for sale. I have not had the privilege of seeing up and close one of these vintage dress forms. She's in very good condition and I was happy to snatch her up. However, I think she needs a new home. My poor children are starting to think these dress forms are multiplying at night when they sleep. ;)

I have a home for her, but I didn't want to give her away looking like she is, so I decided she needed a new cover. Now she looks fresher and tidier. Plus, it's stretch velvet so the dress form can be padded up to size should her new owner choose to do that.

Here is what she looked like before

Here is what she looks like now, much nicer, don't you think?

She's already to be dress up or used to drape garments on her. I think she will be very happy going to her new home. :)


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Construction Of The Dress Shirring

Here are a few pictures with a bit of a description on what I did with the pattern to make it into a shirred dress.

First, I traced off the size bodice pieces I needed from the pattern. I drafted out the back side piece and brought the shoulder seam up to the true shoulder. By doing this, I now had one piece for the front bodice and one piece for the back bodice. I have used this technique for several outfits I have made with this pattern.

Next, I split the bodice front and back into two piece, horizontally. I did this right under the armscye. This allowed me to keep the fullness at the top at a much nicer fullness from the much needed fullness over the chest. I took the upper portion of the bodice pieces and moved them 2" back from the fold, giving a total of 4" for my gathering. I took the lower portion of the bodice front and the back and I moved them out to meet with the side seam of the skirt pattern piece, which was lined up on the fold of my fabric. I was working from a 2 to 1 ratio of fullness. That means I needed the fabric at the chest to be twice the width of Olivia's measurement, to work with the shirring. I used her chest measurement and made sure the front AND the back, both measured this amount. I think her chest is about 23 1/2", so the front, from the fold to the side seam was about 12 1/2", giving me a bit of room for seam allowance. The back was done the same way. I believe the skirt top piece was about that width, so it worked out perfectly!

**Side note* I did scoop out the front neckline, a wee bit deeper to give a bit more neck room....just a thing I have about the neckline feeling like it's going to choke me. I did that AFTER I took this picture.

Here is the front

Here is the back

This is essentially what the front and back looked like, one long piece of fabric:

I used the long sleeve pattern, but I shortened it and widened the bottom portion of where I cut it off, allowing for the fullness in the shirring.

I first stitched my front to back at the shoulder seams, then finished off the seam allowances. Make sure your serged edges are not serged together, or you will make it very difficult to get the elastic through the casing. ;) Next, I took my self bias binding and stitched it to the neckline preparing the casing for the elastic. I threaded my elastic through, but had not tied it off, not until I could test it on Olivia. You can wait to thread the elastic through, until you are done with your shirring.....I was just anxious to get a feel for what things were going to look like.

There are several tutorials on the internet on how to do shirring. Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for the results you are wanting and for your machine.

Next, I did my shirring. For my Pfaff machine, I used a 4 for stitch length and about a 5 for tension, this gave me quite the fullness. I tested the fullness on scrap fabric, first, to make sure it was what I wanted.

I did 7 rows of shirring, keeping them at 1/2" apart from one another. I did mark my first line of stitching, and after that, I used my markings on my plate and and pressure foot to keep it at the right place. As I stitched the 2nd-7th rows, I would stretch the fabric, carefully, as I sewed.

Here's my tip that I have not read anywhere when I was reading up on this process. I needed to make sure the fullness was not going to be too tight, or too loose, so I left my starting and ending threads long, allowing me the ability to manipulate the fullness, as needed. When I have done this lots more times, perhaps I will have a better grasp of how much fullness is happening with the fabric, but for now, I don't want to take chances, so this is how I did it. Once I had my fullness in place, I stitched in the seam allowance, many times, back and forth over each elastic thread. I was going to make sure it was secure and not going to come undone. I also used my serger to finish off the ends, so essentially I secured my ends, many times over, preventing the elastic thread from slipping out.

Here's what the dress was looking like once I have the front and back shirred and before I had the dress sewn together.

right Side Of Fabric

Underside Of Fabric

Next, I prepared my sleeves. First finish the hem of the sleeves. Then, do the shirring. I used three rows of shirring, a little bit closer together then 1/2", more like 1/4" apart. After that, I put in my gathering stitches for the sleeve cap. I gathered my sleeve, and inserted it flat, not in the round. Once it was in, then I stitched my side seams of the sleeve and dress all in one stitching.

The finished product:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Shirring Regency Girls' Dress Pattern

At Expo this year, I took a class from Sew It Up and learned about the different children's garments and patterns that are in fashion these days. I really liked how she gave clear descriptions of the various different pattern maker's patterns. She listed the pros and cons of the various patterns, which I find extremely helpful in decided on whether or not I want to invest money and time into using a particular line of patterns.

One of the techniques she mentioned that is popular right now, both in children's wear and women's wear is, shirring. Shirring is a very old technique, I had just never used it, until now. There are several tutorials on the internet that can help you find your way around how to do this. You need to practice and see how your particular machine handles the elastic thread in the bobbin and what setting to use to get the best results.

I decided to use my tried and true pattern, A Girls' Regency Dress Pattern. I used a nice weight quilter's cotton that I purchased a few years ago, for $1.50 a meter. I shirred the front and back of the dress as well as the sleeves. Thankfully, Olivia's blue spencer still fits her so she can wear it with this dress as well. I took an old straw bonnet frame and put some blue satin ribbon on it and put on a lovely silk flower that I learned to make down at Expo as well.

Here is Olivia all dressed up in her new shirred Regency dress with spencer and bonnet.

I hope those of you who have been wanting to try this method, take the plunge and give it a's lovely!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Edwardian is the theme for Olivia's Easter dress this year. Her coat comes from an antique pattern I purchased several years ago. I have seen this style listed in 1910 and 1912 magazines, so it's comes from around that time period. I originally sewed this coat up about 3 years ago. It is a size 7 and even at that, it's still a bit big on Olivia who is 8 years old. She was very happy to be able to wear it today. I finished up the coat with sewing on the button and making the buttonhole, along with a hook and eye for inside the coat, so not too much work was left on it to get it ready for today. ;) I did learn, at least with some of the antique patterns, you are suppose to measure the model with their garments on, unlike today, where we measure in as little as possible. It's always interesting to learn the little unique qualities of patterns from years gone by.

The dress is a reproduction pattern from Vintage_Pattern_Lending_Library that I purchased several years ago. It's a size 4 so I did have to grade up the pattern, but it's such a basic pattern, it was an easy adjustment.

The hat Olivia is wearing I purchased from a seller and fellow member of Sense and Sensibility Patterns forum. I figured the hat frame must be from about the 1940's. When I was taking off the old adornment of a wired flower wreath, it had a small tag on it and it reads, "Made in Occupied Japan"! :D That means it was made during the time of 1945-1952 when the US occupied Japan. Neat little piece of history. I have kept the wreath for now, but Olivia's hat looks much better and fresher with new flowers adorning her hat. I also added two ribbon flowers that I made, being inspired by my silk flower class that I took at Expo this past February. One is pink and the other is an apple green colour, but you can't see the green one in this picture.

The hat really isn't Edwardian, but it's Edwardian inspired. To be a bit more true to the Edwardian period, I should have had a cloche style hat, which Olivia has, but she really wanted this one, since she remembered that's why I purchased this hat in the first place. So, we worked with what we had that was inspiring for Olivia. She had fun picking out the assortment of flowers to purchase so I could make the wreath for her new hat. Here are some pictures from an Old 1912 Ladies Home Journal magazine that I have to give you a more accurate look at hats from that time period.

She was one very happy girl to get to wear this coat, dress and hat. I love making things for my children to wear, especially when they have such joy in wearing them.

I hope you all had a blessed Easter!