Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vogue Patterns: Sewing the New Spring Vintage Looks

Michael Kors Vogue 1176 Pintuckstyle
The newest collection of sewing patterns from Vogue has some great retro dress styles. Sewing dresses can be the perfect way to have your own vintage style, with a great fit too. Off the top, a cool little retro styled dress by Michael Kors (Vogue 1176) is just about my favorite. I love that neat twist at the neckline. It is like having a real vintage dress, but with a custom fit. The sewing level doesn't look too advanced and I would guess that the fitting part will be what makes the look a success.

Anna Sui Vogue 1178
This Anna Sui dress (Vogue 1178) has a soft retro look from the late 70's and 80's. In fact, it seems somewhat familiar, alot like the chiffon and georgette Diane Fres dresses from that era which are so creative with fabric patterns and drape.

Cynthia Steffe Vogue 1174
This Cynthia Steffe dress (Vogue 1174) has a classic bustier bodice. Although the fittings are key with this style, once you have your fit, it should be a smooth project to complete. I think a contrast colored bodice could really add to the retro look of this style. Another point: this bodice could be paired with other skirts to create a huge range of looks, from straight pencil to circle skirt, so consider this bustier design worth the try, regardless of how much you like the skirt.

Vintage Vogue 1172
This Vintage Vogue style (Vogue 1172) is alot like an earlier pattern (Vogue 2903), but with fewer pieces and an easier skirt to sew. The princess bodice is a great fit, especially for a larger bustline, since those seamlines allow for finer tuning during alterations.

All of these styles offer timeless silhouettes with great retro details. If you plan to try one, go the distance by making a fitting sample first.

Muslin: This is a fitting garment of cotton broadcloth (muslin in the 50's). When cutting, add additional width to the pattern's 5/8" seam allowance (1" wide is preferred). Mark the actual seam lines with chalk or pencil so you can easily match them up, and see them when you alter.

Sew: Use the largest machine stitch possible in a contrast thread.

Fitting: Find someone who also sews to fit your dress.

Pattern: Once the muslin has been fit, there are several options: use the cotton broadcloth as your pattern, or use the broadcloth as under-lining behind the fashion fabric.

Underlining: For a 'one off' dress, using the now altered broadcloth as underlining would be an easy way to duplicate that perfect fit. By simply layering it under your fashion fabric and sewing it as one.

Transfer pattern: If you plan to make more, you will want to transfer those alterations first to the original paper pattern.

Okay, not an afternoon project, but good things take time!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vintage Jacket: Sew Your Own Couture Jacket

This Vogue Pattern by Claire Shaeffer has the potential to sew up into your own vintage inspired couture jacket. Sewing a jacket is a great project for someone who is learning to sew fashion and wants to advance or those with more experience.

The front view has simple darts to fit, with a smooth peplum 'skirt'. That would be easy enough to fit and sew. By working with the main design elements, it would be possible to venture into a more dramatic look. Consider yourself a fledgling Adrian: Slant the buttons to follow that diagonal front closure. Alter the pattern with a cut and spread technique on the back peplum to create a half circle. That is how my own Adrian is styled in back, so you would be creating something spectacular too.

Consider using this pattern to make a wedding jacket. It would be perfect over a bias slip style wedding dress for the ceremony or outdoor reception.

There is a novel diamond cut-out in front. It could be 'filled' with a contrast tone or color for visual interest, or the diagonal edge in front could be cut in one with the neckline, eliminating that detail entirely. For a more feminine style, try the front peplum without the welt pockets for a smoother look.

The shoulders have an early 1950's roll to them, with a more rounded kimono cut in the back view. The one piece back has a gorgeous look, and captures a true vintage style we don't see often in tailored jacket patterns.

This jacket lends itself to wool crepe and other fine wools, although would be interesting to work in silk crepe or faille. Don't let the 'hair canvas' interfacing requirement scare you off this pattern. Fusible tricot interfacing would create a great look with less trouble.

If you go the route of using a lighter weight fashion fabric, just be sure your lining is soft as well. Avoid fit problems by whipping up a muslin fit garment first. Consider it good practice in getting to know the pattern. If you do that, the final garment should sew up much more quickly, since you won't need to stop and do any problem solving.

Vogue 8621, (currently marked on sale)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lilli Ann: 1950's Jackets that Inspire

If the Lilli Ann company during the 1940's and 1950's is known for anything, it is their fearless use of eye popping details and dramatic flare for contrasting trims. These two lovely wool jackets from the 1950's are examples of how far jacket design can go.

The lavander wool crepe jacket has a swag of drapery that falls to a pom-pom of fur at the end! This is accentuated by a diagonal hemline around the jacket. It appears to move on it's own with the swing and swirl of this design. The drape with fur trim seems to be a popular Lilli Ann trim, and it can be found in other jackets as well.

The second slide shows an early tailored silhouette that is spiked with diamond shaped appliques of the same wool in various shades. These are zig-zagged onto the jacket, around the hips and at the collar points. In fact, the collar diamonds overlap into 'space' and aren't entirely bonded to the jacket structure. This style is part of a line, having seen one go up on Ebay recently, I know that the diamond appliques were used in more than one style.

Plain tailored jackets from today might take note of these two looks. Wouldn't it be fun to re-style a jacket with diamond appliques? Or a swag? Don't let plain jackets fool you, there is a wealth of possibilities, if only someone would try!

(To get a closer look, click on the image)

Both garments were found at Etsy in forward thinking shops who recongnized the glory of a Lilli Ann jacket, even though it might be spiked with moth holes to the point that it can't be worn. Keeping them for study and inspiration is a perfect way to use such unwearables.

top photo: lavander wool crepe with fur trim and rhinestone button, c. 1955, from Fabgabs on
second photo: tan wool with diamond applique trim, c. 1950, from Vintagekttn on