Altered Dresses (May 2012)

I have finally been able to edit the fotos I took in may of the dresses I altered. I find altering can be just as hard as sewing from scratch, or even harder, as you’re not starting with a length of fabric, so you’re limited in what you have to work with.

The first dress I altered (my first time sewing again!) was simply shortening the waist on this dress:

I got it over the internet, and now that it fits me (well, it became a little short in the process, but I always wear legging-cut-off-shorts underneath) I wear it so much! it’s very comfortable. It’s amazing how much better and more “expensive” cheap clothing looks when it fits right!

above, before altering (but with a couple of pins in it), below: after


This one I got in Paris for € 45, and I did quite some altering. It seems to me that this dress was handmade by someone! A lot of the hand stitching had come undone, and some more of it had to be opened to alter the dress. I really like how it turned out! I did make the waist a little too tight for it to be as comfortable as the polka dot one above (which has elastic shirring around the waist), but it should work fine for cooler summer days at work.

after:


Ok, this one I got on ebay for $24(!!!) and it’s my favorite! Buuut, it’s also the hardest to work with fabric wise. I made the skirt waaay to tight the first time:

Couldn’t sit down! Second time around is better, but I’ve worn it once and I really have to put in a walking slit at the back, I had to take tiny steps! Plus, I was too scared to cut off the hem when I shortened it, I just folded it and it become quite thick, which explains the wonky hem. I’ll have to fix that. Quite a bit of altering had been done on this dress. It was originally made in Hong Kong, in the early 60ies probably. It reminds me of Joan from Mad Men! She had on this Asia-Inspired Floral Dress on in season 5 if I remember correctly… (oh btw, how dark was this past mad men season? I mean, no feet chopped off, no wild affairs for Don, and still, the season went very gradually from “hey, everything might actually work out this time!” to “everything’s so depressing and I can’t put my finger on how it happened exactly”. Very much like real life though. I really liked Megan, even though I didn’t think I would at first, and now that marriage is over, they made that pretty clear in the end… ok enough with the Mad Men talk!)

Blue Sheath Dress

Pattern: Butterick 2952
Year: early 60s
Fabric: ca. 1.6m blue cotton broadcloth
Notions: zipper, petersham ribbon and hook and bar for waist-stay
Time: ca 4-5h
New Techniques: Lapped zipper
Cost: about 15$




I know I know.. NOT AGAINN! But this was a quick dress I made in mid-october.

I made it sleeveless like the red one, but with a scoop neck like the pink one. There’s not much to say about this one. It’s the first time I tried a lapped zipper (so it wouldn’t break like the one on the pink sheath), and it was easy to do with this fabric. The only problem is that the tap stands up at the top. I would attach a hook and eye, but the whole point in lowering the back was that I could zip it up on my own, and hook and eyes are kinda hard to close on yourself (or well maybe that’s just me :)).

Also, the skirts angle at the hem isn’t quite right, it stands out too straight. And I’m not so sure about the color, it’s a lighter shade of blue than I expected. I guess it’s just a very “cool” blue, and I think warm blues are better for my skincolor :) (plus I don’t like the red-blue combo too much in this outfit, I just couldn’t find other accessories that would work.. which isn’t a good sign haha)

I’m happy with it, but I don’t think it’s going to be my favorite or get that much wear. Then again, it’s winter, and this is more of a spring/summer dress.

The Lucille Bluth Dress – Finished!

Pattern: Butterick 2907
Year: early 60s
Fabric: ca. 1.5 – 2 m purple double wool crepe
Notions: zipper
Time: pre-treating: 3-4 hours, sewing: 4-5 hours
New Techniques: working with wool crepe, raglan sleeves, bias strip making (for the tie-belt)
Cost: about 35$ (the wool crepe was expensive but so worth it!)





(I realized looking at these pictures, I really need a haircut!)

Finally took pictures! They almost show the color accurately, it’s still a bit more purple in real life.

I love this dress so much more than I thought I would. It’s veery comfortable, it has a nice color, it’s not too fancy for everyday wear but still elegant somehow (at least I think! It has that “Old Lady” vibe, and I mean that in the best way possible!). A “comfort dress” that doesn’t involve sweatshirt materials! I really like the raglan sleeves, and the crepe moves so nicely! And it’s was easy to sew. the only hiccup I had was putting in the zipper. I tried making a lapped zipper using Gerties tutorial from her online course and it didn’t work very well, just cause the crepe got a little warped (I find that wool, after it’s been pre-treated, has a tiny bit of “stretch” to it, I noticed this with the Houndstooth Sheath Dress too!). I then followed the Butterick instructions (where you baste the zipper opening first) and it worked really well! It gives you a smaller overlap than Gerties version, which might make it a little more obvious (especially with this fabric, you can see the zipper very well), but I don’t mind with this dress.

One thing I was a little confused about was the collar. I used to think, looking at the pattern envelope illustration, that it’s supposed to be a sort of turtleneck/cowlneck thing, but it’s really just a collar that lies flat. But I guess if you wanted it to stand up more, you could attach two hooks and eyes to the collar at the center back.

The only drawback I guess is that the fabric IS expensive, and I can’t really just sit down anywhere with this on (I know I know, sitting on the floor isn’t ladylike and all, but as GOB would say: COME ON!! It’s definitely a plus when a dress is easy to wash :))

The Houndstooth Poodle Sheath

Pattern: Butterick 2952
Year: early 60s
Fabric: about 1.5 yards houndstooth wool
Notions: zipper
Time: ca. 11 hours
Cost: about $20





(the shoes and tights arrived in the mail today! I got them from topshop.com and I’m in love with them :) the belt I made from some petersham ribbon and a “hook”-buckle I found at the thrift store)

Done! The zipper went in ok, at the bottom there’s a tiny weird fold, but I’ve decided I don’t mind :) I feel like I’ve already written so much about this dress, there’s nothing left to say! Except that I think it’s a great wardrobe builder, it’s simple with an interesting texture and can be styled in many different ways (with different colours and accessories!).

And with this dress, I’ve already crossed off two dresses from my list in October!

Lucille Muslin take 2 (+ low-quality photos of the dress)


 

I took in the sleeves by 1″ and the sideseams of the dress by 2″ from underarm to waist, and by 1″ from waist to hem, that seemed to fix the problem! The muslin still has some weird looking folds, but I assumed that it would be fine when done in wool crepe, and I was right! (phew…)

I finished the dress saturday evening, just in time for partying! It’s definitely not a “serious dancing” dress, (even though it’s really comfortable!) it does get very warm, which is good when you need to go outside for some fresh air. And I wasn’t even wearing tights!

I’ll post some more “technical details” when I take proper pictures, for now, here’s me trying to be Lucille Bluth:

Ice cream sandwich!! and me attempting a Lucille Bluth facial expression.

(the last two pictures show the color quite well, it’s an almoust blue purple)

Ah University…

I can’t believe it’s been over a month of not blogging about sewing. I’ve been busy (performing in a musical version of “the importance of being earnest” as Gwendolin & starting university in Zürich and living between Zürich and Lucerne) and unfortunately, the closest I can get to sewing lately is reading sewing blogs and books and instructions.

I did get around to sewing one dress! Nothing “exciting” though, as it’s just another version of the Butterick 2952 sheath dress, this time a mix between the red and the pink: sleeveless like the red, with a scoop-neckline like the pink, made from blue broadcloth. This was a “I really want something new to wear so I don’t just wear the same things all the time but I don’t have time or money to spend”-project, and since it was the third time making butterick 2952, it didn’t take very long.

One “interesting” thing I did do on this is a lapped zipper. I like that it’s faster than the hand-picked one, and after the hand-picked zipper on my pink sheath came undone when I first wore it (that’ll teach me to not put off sewing the waist-stay in!), I wanted someting with a little more “security”, so the machine sewn lapped zipper was perfect! I do like how it turned out, even though I could have done a better job ironing, and the overlap kind of sticks up a little which I don’t like.

Another thing I changed is the back neckline, since the zippers that go all the way up to the base of the neck are hard to zip up on your own (especially in tight sheath dresses with waist stays that don’t allow you to move your arms up over your head haha!). So I made a V-neckline in the back, and now I can get dressed on my own :)

I haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of the dress, but until then, here’s an instagram photo (because posts without pictures are less fun, I know :))

the instagram filter makes the blue look greyish, it’s brighter in real life! Better pictures soon :)

I really like having a pattern like this. I’ve adjusted the fit to be perfect, it’s simple and making it is so fast now! I just “know” this pattern very well by now, it’s great for when I want to sew but don’t have too much time.

Pink Sheath Dress

Pattern: Butterick 2952 (same as for the red sheath dress)
Year: early 60s
Fabric: about 1.5 yards pink cotton broadcloth
Notions: zipper
Time: ca. 12 hours
Cost: about $11

Compared to the last Butterick 2952 I made, I…

  • lowered the waist a little again in the front, I made it a little too high for the red dress
  • cut the skirt short enough from the beginning, to save fabric (I knew I wanted the same length as last time)
  • took about a 2cm off each side, also around the armholes this time (that was something I didn’t do with the red one since I had already attached the facings when I noticed everything was a little too wide)
  • made the sleeves smaller to fit the altered armholes (since those got smaller with the side seam adjustment :))




I think I’ll wear this for my first day of university on monday. Of course without the heels and fancy accessories :)

I really like this pattern! It’s quick, basic and flattering, can be dressed up or worn by itself. And it doesn’t use an insane amount of fabric! I have plans to make another one in blue, and then a houndstooth one (with an added waistband).