Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Art and Needlework by Rebekah: March 2013

Mar 30, 2013

3/30/13: Finished - Vogue 9668 Dress

I casually mentioned this dress in a couple posts ago, (this one precisely). This dress has a very long history and took me forever to sew up, but it was a labor of love for sure. So here is Vogue 9668:

As you can tell from the long, wavy locks, this isn't me modeling. ;) I sewed this dress up for my sister Catherine. She's been waiting a very long time to see this dress made, three years in all! Let me explain.

Do you remember this?
You don't? I wouldn't blame you. Haven't mentioned this pattern (Vogue 9668) since March of 2010. My original post talked about how I would take Vogue 9668 and make the dress on the far right for my sister using a beautiful jacquard cotton in a dark blue. The fabric has an all-over, subtle flower design. I don't know if the photos really capture it because you can only catch glimpses of the flowers depending upon the light.

So back in the spring of that year I took on this dress project. At the time I knew this was a big undertaking for me (especially when I didn't have much knowledge of pattern alteration then), but I dove right in. I altered the pattern to my best ability, sewed up a muslin, and had sis try it on. Oh boy. That's when the trouble began. There was some big problems, things like the armscye not positioned correctly, excess material under the arm, wrinkles radiating from the neckline, and on and on. I tried assessing the trouble areas for days and asked people on forums and such, but it amounted to nothing. I just didn't know where to begin. So the muslin was put away and sadly, the dress, too.

Then after finishing up my pair of jeans this past February, I got into the mindset of completing something I put down long ago. Of course my sister was the first to point out the Vogue dress, so I got to work.

OK, you got the background story, now for some details.

The Dress's Features: Vogue 9668 is a fully lined dress that has a separate midriff piece, waist and side bust darts, a uniquely shaped neckline, and a bias cut skirt.

The Fabric: The fashion fabric--which I bought from in 2009--is a medium weight, 100% cotton jacquard that has an all-over flower design that resembles hibiscus blooms. I used a black, polyester lining from for the skirt and lightweight, black cotton for the bodice's lining.

The Pattern: Vogue 9668, a very popular pattern according to a lot of sewing blogs, was given to me by a kind member on a group. The pattern I was given was one size too small for my sister so there was need for some changes. I followed Casey's tutorial on how to grade up one size (I added 2"), and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Never ever graded before, been scared of doing it to be frank, so you can well imagine the one happy camper that resulted from this smooth grading venture! I then added 2" to the length of the bodice, 3 inches or so to the length of the skirt, and minuscule amounts to the waist area, i.e. midriff, bodice, etc. I also added inseam pockets to the side seams of the skirt.

Construction Process: After making changes to the tissue pattern, I made up a bodice muslin. Sis tried it on and there was only small problems to solve--nothing catastrophic like before. I guess the tissue alterations paid off. I only had to lower the side dart, take it in a little bit at the side seams, and re-sew the shape of the neckline because the original was too low. I noted that the bust darts that start from the midriff looked fine. I found out later that they were to reek havoc!

After cutting and sewing the bodice together I had Catherine try it on. It was then when we noticed that the bust darts--the ones that I just mentioned--looked wrong. They were positioned correctly but their points were not smooth in the least. I tried a number of recommendations I gathered from the net and sewing books; things like shortening the dart, narrowing the dart, etc., but nothing made a smooth point. Actually, these endeavors made things worse. In the end, Catherine pushed me into trying a technique she found on It is redrawing the straight-legged dart into a dart with curved legs. See the tutorial here. I gave it a go and it worked! Was elated. I'm so glad she made me try it out, it saved the day.

So let's take a looksy at the dress's interior.
[ bodice front ]
[ bodice back. I used an invisible zipper instead of the centered zipper ]
[ dress front ]
[ dress back ]
[ the top of the invisible zipper ]
[ the inside of the inseam pocket. I used the same lining that I used for the skirt's ]
What was my hem of choice this time? This dress's skirt is cut on the bias so I had to give the hem some extra attention. I first made sure that it had time to drape and relax. I then had Catherine put the dress on and I asked her to point to the place where she wanted the hem to fall. I took a yardstick and found that her chosen hem level was 16-1/2" from the floor. Using pins, I pinned every couple inches to mark this 16-1/2" level all the way around the dress.

I had her take off the dress carefully, (didn't want to lose a single pin!). I turned up the hem following the pins and basted the hem in place using long hand stitching. I wanted a 2" wide hem so I measured 2" from the hem's fold and chalk marked all the way around. I cut along the marks I left. After searching out for three yards of some navy, stretch lace hemming tape, I sewed that to the raw edge of the hem I had just cut. 1/4" seam was used. Then, using a long basting stitch on my sewing machine, I basted along the edge of the entire length of stretch lace. I did this to allow me to pull up the bobbin thread and ease the hem into place. After easing and steam pressing the hem in place, I hand stitched the hem down using a loose catchstitch.

[ the skirt's hem. I used stretch lace hemming tape ]
For the lining I did something simpler. A half inch narrow hem this time around. I cut the lining on the bias as well so a narrow hem such as this is really the best option. 
[ I used a narrow hem for the lining ]
I trimmed the lining so it would be 2" above the hem of the dress.

Whew! Lots to talk about this dress. I do hope I covered everything! It has been a lot of fun sewing up dresses these last two months. Not many chances arrive to do this sort of thing so I fully enjoyed the opportunity I had. Next up on my list of things to craft would be more along the lines of farm clothes. Like jeans and t-shirts. It's getting to be that time of year again so a little more practical sewing needs to happen, and happen soon. Thankfully, I have a tried and true jeans pattern and a t-shirt rub off. Everything should come together smoothly--I hope!

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Mar 29, 2013

3/29/13: I'm Sewing for Victory! - Final Part

I was true to my word. The photos just came in. . .

[ By the way, I'm not wearing the shoulder pads in these photos.  I discovered that the weight of the skirt solved the shoulder issues! ]

Catherine and I just took these photos this morning. When I was sewing up this dress I was worried that I would need to take photos with a snow covered background. Thankfully, some warmer temps have arrived!

Now onto the details!

The Features of this Dress: Topstitched, knife pleats in the skirt, pleated sleeves, shirt dress type bodice, and an inset belt at the waist.

The Fabric: A light to medium weight rayon crepe in a navy blue color, was used for the skirt. A cotton lawn with printed polka dots was used for the bodice. The crepe was bought from three years ago and the cotton lawn was given to me by a neighbor.

The Pattern: Simplicity 2106 from 1949 was used.
This vintage pattern was bought three years ago on Etsy. Envelope is tattered for sure but the pattern pieces are in great shape. Also came in my size which was a real bonus! I tweaked the style a bit by removing the button band closure on the skirt. I opted for an invisible zipper instead. Not many alterations had to be made for this one. I only needed to add 1" to the waist and 7" to the skirt's length. OK, that second number is large but it was an easy one to make!

The Construction Process: Let me first talk about the underlining. As I said in my previous posts, the cotton lawn I used for the dress's bodice is much too transparent to wear on its own. That's why I decided to use an underlining for the bodice area and omit it from the sleeves. A medium weight cotton in white was used. So what is underlining? Underlining is a second layer of fabric that is basted to the fashion fabric, (the main fabric that is seen from the public side), which is then sewn in unison. The public layer and the underlining are treated as one layer throughout the sewing process. You can see the underlining in action in this photo:

[ Picture of the inside of the dress. You can see the white cotton that was used for the underlining ]
So what type of hems did I use this time? For the hem of the skirt I used my traditional method: serging the raw edge, turning up the hem, and slip stitching in place. I used a 2" hem this time.
For the sleeve I used a narrow hem. It was the best choice for such delicate fabric.
As I said up above, I replaced the buttons that ran down the front of the skirt with an invisible zipper.
The zipper stops at the inset belt; right near the belt's button.
The inset belt was a tricky little devil to sew in. The pattern instructions told me to topstitch the belt entirely. I gave it my best shot but the layers kept on twisting on me so I wound up slip stitching a part of it. It looks great so it was worth the extra effort. I also want to point out here that I sewed both seams with twill tape and I used sew-in interfacing for stabilization. 
[ An interior shot of the inset belt ]
 Two of my favorite aspects of this dress are the buttons. . .
 And the pleats with their topstitching.

So there you have it. I'm so happy to have joined this sew-along and actually saw it through. I've joined a sew-along before and never even made it past the muslin! Now you see why! I cannot wait to see everyone's 40s creations on parade. Thanks, Rochelle, for being such a dynamic hostess and making this sew-along both motivating, inspirational, and fun. I think everyone has been victorious!

 See the other posts that are part of this series by clicking here.

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Mar 28, 2013

3/28/13: I'm Sewing for Victory! -- Part Four

The Sewing for Victory's deadline is almost upon us (April 1st) and I can happily state that my 1949 dress is done. Whew! I made it! I have been keeping tabs on the flickr pool and every time I saw a new finished project, I would start biting my nails. The end was feeling so very close and at times I wasn't sure if I was going to see this thing through. But I did!

I'm not totally finished, however, for there is a need of a photo shoot and that will be taking place either tomorrow or the weekend.

In the meantime, here are a couple teaser photos for those who like to imagine before the big reveal.

Yes, you see pleats! And what's this, buttons that look like polka dots? Yes! I was rummaging through my button stash and as soon as I saw these cute, black shank ones, I knew it was a match made in heaven.

I really, really wish I had more of a chance to show you this dress's construction. As it turns out, I had to go and get a cold a couple weeks ago and that slowed things down considerably. Yes, there were a few short spurts of sewing while sniffling but not much progress was made. No matter, the dress has made it to the finish line and I am very happy on how it turned out. In my next post I'll go into detail on how I sewed this dress up and how I changed the pattern, so be expecting that. I can't wait to show you!

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Mar 15, 2013

3/15/13: I'm Sewing for Victory! -- Tracing Pattern Tips

Popping in this morning with a few tips on how to trace patterns without marring the original. Very important when it comes to working with vintage patterns, like the 1949 Simplicity I'm using for the Sew for Victory! sew-along.
[ the Front pattern piece ]

I am using the Front piece of my pleated skirt and trusty, old brown packing paper to demonstrate. This is a good example because there's a lot of markings to transfer. So here's how I do it, step-by-step:

1. Pin the pattern piece, right side up, to your paper. I don't want to ruin the tissue paper so I use a minimum amount of pins. One to three pins usually works for me.

[ the pattern pinned down ]

2. Mark the outer cutting lines of the pattern by drawing dash lines around the pattern's entire perimeter. Make them close enough so you know where to cut with your scissors. I used to trace using a solid line, but really, that took me forever! Dash lines work just fine.
[ drawing dashed lines along the cutting edges of the pattern ]

3. Now its time to transfer those markings. I do it without the use of a tracing wheel because I don't want to leave indentations in the tissue. My goal is to leave the pattern tissue in the same state in which I began.

For for straight of grain line and markings like dots, I fold back the tissue and come in with my pencil.

[ folding back the tissue and marking the dot with a pencil ]
For the long, vertical lines on the pattern that are used to make the pleats, I extend the lines at both the hem and waist and number them accordingly. I also extend any horizontal lines on the pattern, like the shorten/lengthen line, at this point.
[ extending the pleat lines and numbering them ]
I need to draw these long pleat lines in but I don't have a ruler/straight edge long enough.
[ the pattern extends past my longest ruler--my rotary cutter ruler ]
I could go and invest in a longer ruler, but nah! In this case of events I usually whip out my tailor's tape. I extend the tape from the waist marking to the hem marking. In the photos below I am connecting line #9.
 While holding the tape in place with my left hand, I make a dashed line at one end, following the edge of the tailor's tape.
[ drawing a couple dashed lines along the tape ]
 I then connect the dashed line with my ruler and pencil.
 At this point, part of the pleat line is drawn in. My ruler now can complete the line.
So that's how I trace my patterns! It would, of course, be a lot quicker to use a tracing wheel and carbon paper (which I do use on modern patterns), but this is my tracing method of choice for the vintage ones. OK, off to sew!

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