I cut out the front bodice using my SBA altered pieces and basted the darts and side and front pieces together.Then I basted everything together to get a better sense of the fit.

The fit is very good except for some wrinkling at the side front and at the back waist. I’m not sure if that means I need a swayback adjustment or if it means the back-waist length is too long.

The neck is much wider than expected so I’ll have to add lingerie guards at the shoulders to keep my bra straps hidden. The dress is closer fitting than expected, too, so I’m glad I decided to put in a 16 inch zipper instead the 14 inch one recommended on the pattern.

DSCF3454 - Copy (2)

DSCF3456 - Copy

DSCF3455 - Copy

DSCF3464 - Copy


Two down, two to go…

Can you tell I’m really enjoying making this dress..

Last evening I took the plunge and machine stitched the insets on the back bodice.  I have to say, they look awesome.  No puckers or pleats at the point. Reinforcing fabric not in sight on the right side.

outside back bodice


inside back bodice

inside back bodice

DSCF3439 - Copy

Tiny tight basting stitches made it work.

The fabric is incredibly hard to photograph and get its true colour, either with or without flash. In most photos I’ve adjusted the exposure, colour or contrast so the details show up a bit better.

Next onto the front bodice and hope my bodice pattern pieces with many slashes and folds for the SBA works the first time. Though I know I can do it all again with the remnants if the first one is too baggy.

Vogue 8875 bodice inset

Last week I did a quick and dirty trial of the inset with its extreme pivot.

Now I’ve basted the insets on the back bodice.

Right side of bodice showing the reinforcing fabric, pressed towards the seam allowances:

reinforcement at pivot point

reinforcement at pivot point

A pin poked through the match point/ pivot point of the centre back and side back pieces:



Pieces basted together.  Machine stitching will wait until a sunny day. Hope it works out on first try as picking open stitches isn’t easy on this fabric – the thread gets buried  in the crepe threads.

back inset basted together

The skirt has been basted at the side seams- fits well with my typical Vogue alterations- flattened out the curve over the hip and add at the waist.

Radical pivot


None of the notions purchased for the dress are an exact colour match: the grosgrain ribbon for the waist stay is ivory, the seam binding for the hem is “camel”, the thread is a shade darker and greener than the fabric and the zipper is more grey than green.

I’ve done bits and pieces of the sewing this week: the neck facing, sleeve facing, darts, pleats and back seam on the skirt, basted the skirt pieces together and lots of stay stitching.

I made a trial of the bodice-sleeve inset. Since I didn’t cut the full lengths, I started pinning from the match point to the lower edges.  It’s a radical pivot of more than 300 degrees. I couldn’t quite figure out where to go after stitching the first side so I stopped at the point, took it out of the machine, figured out and pinned the other side and then stitched that side from the lower edge to the point- the end result is a great looking point but exposed reinforcement fabric (printed cotton silk voile used to line a dress) on the first side I stitched.

DSCF3424 - Copy

It will require absolute precision with basting and machine stitching on the real bodice.

My machine is behaving badly. The tension looks fine with straight stitching, but is off with zig zag despite my attempts at adjusting to correct it. Something must be off with the upper tension – I need to pull hard to pull a length of thread from the spool.

The art of dress

I finished reading The Lost Art of Dress this week. It was an enjoyable, interesting read. The author reviews how certain American women, particularly home economics teachers and professors, advised young American women on how to create a wardrobe within their means for all the different parts of their life, ie day, formal wear and “sport“ The Dress Doctors, as the author terms these women, founded wardrobing on five art principles.  They also advised thrift in wardrobing. Their influence and the home economic programs they taught in waned with the rise of youth culture of the 1960s.

There`s interesting illustrations and photos from various decades, showing suitable and unsuitable choices, or showing designs of a certain decade.  One illustration shows a girdle from the 1950s – it looks to be an instrument of torture with its straps to pull in the waist, and panels to conceals the straps.  The author sardonically notes that Spanx is the modern day equivalent. The sophisticated, flattering clothing designs of earlier decades disappeared in the 1960s when it was replaced by adult sized versions of childrens clothing – think 1960s A line mini dress. Throughout the book the author has pithy comments.

Reading the book has me hankering to sew up elegant sophisticated dresses like this vintage Vogue (8851) circa 1952.V8851

or this vintage 1960 Burda, 1960 Burda original boucle dress

The book also had me thinking about the comment that a lot of modern clothing design isn’t far from a simple dress sloper, like this new, early fall (sigh) Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern I’ve been admiring:Simplicity Creative Group - Cynthia Rowley Collection 1314

Then I come to my senses and remember that most of these dresses are too fancy for my current work life and social life.

Ormond cardigan

Although I cut out and marked the pieces for the Simple Modern Japanese wrap top over a week ago, I have yet to make a stitch on it.  I’ve been having too much fun knitting Ormond.  The pattern is one of the most clearly written knitting patterns I have seen.  The cardigan is a delight to knit – the yarn is easy to handle, the stitch pattern is easy without being boring, and with the bonus of minimal seaming – the fronts and backs are knit in one to the underarm. I’m near the end of the third ball and have completed the waist shaping. I decreased stitches at the sides as I didn’t want to invest in two smaller sizes of circulars to achieve the shaping, as is done in the pattern.

ormond body

Rusty L. Lewis

DSCF3397 - Copy


Love the colour and the feel of the linen.  Sleeves were made much narrower- about 12 inches of width and several inches shorter.

Lewis front

Lewis back


Each piece was blocked  before seaming. It grew in length after blocking, so I’m very glad I made it several inches shorter at the start. With linen, the comparative looseness and tightness of opposite edges is pronounced.  Seaming the sides wasn’t made any easier because I had about 5 extra rows on the back compared to the front

I made it with about 2 inches of positive bust ease but with the length it was hung up on my hips. I added knitted side gussets so it would skim over my hips.  The front slit was started much higher for my high bust and I left off the hooks and eyes on the slit.



side gusset


It took six balls of Katia Lino 100%.

Fish tacos

I tried this recipe for fish tacos today.  I don’t deep fry, so I pan fried the cod after dipping it in flour-beaten egg- flour.  It was good but missing something. I didn’t read the recipe properly – the white sauce was missing the spices – I thought the spices went in the beer batter, which I didn’t make. I added coarsely chopped cilantro, chopped red onion and grated radish to the cabbage.

fish tacos


Sewing simple Japanese and 1950s dress

After my frustrations in making the orange crush dress, McCalls 4769, I want to sew something easy.  Poking through my fabric stash and patterns while procrastinating on the collar,  I found a large remnant of floral print cotton poplin leftover from my failed Jasmine blouse. There is enough to make the cover blouse, a cap sleeve, wrap “baby doll” top from Simple Modern Sewing, a sewing book with patterns I purchased a few years ago, but had yet to use.

As the subtitle indicates, the eight patterns have variations, in sleeve or body length or other design features, to come up with the 25 patterns. The patterns are sized XS-S-M-L and are designed with enough ease to be fairly loose fitting. Based on what is called length (of 15 1/2 inches) in the sizing guide, they are designed for shorter women than the standard 5′ 6″ height of standard North American or European pattern height sizing. Like Burdastyle magazine patterns, they need to be traced out and seam allowances added.  For most seam allowances, it says to add 3/8 inch.

I traced out the small size of the top. I added 5/8 inch seam allowance because that ‘s the easy amount to add with the sewing curve/ruler I have.  With this design and fabric, it will be a casual wear top.

I will make a narrower seam at the horizontal body seam to add for my approximately 16 inch back waist length. I will use the facings from version 1a., a wrap dress, to finish the front and back neck edges, instead of finishing with bias strips. I hate cutting, making and applying bias strips to edges.

After this, the next sewing project might be Vogue 8875, a Vintage pattern circa 1955, for a September event. I have lovely stretch rayon poly lycra crepe in a lighter weight than that used for the unworn New Look 6000 dress. I think it is the perfect fabric to pattern match. Other than those intimidating insets at the bodice/sleeve seam, the dress is easy to sew.

DSCF3354 - Copy

Line Art

I cut out the dress pattern pieces over the weekend and spent more time looking at the instructions and the 1950s sewing details.  Both dress and coat have three inch deep skirt hems.  I double checked the legend to be sure about the lack of interfacing on the neck facing!  The dress has a grosgrain waist stay. Finally, the narrow shaped belt is stiffened with hair canvas.  I packed away the coat pattern pieces and instructions in a separate envelope.

Lewis getting closer to completion. I have to do more calculations to make much narrower sleeves compared to the pattern. Love the feel of the linen yarn and the rust red colour.

DSCF3364 - Copy


Orange crush ready

Here is the orange crush dress (McCalls 4769, out of print) in linen.  The sewing master (my mother) redid my collar insets, all of them, even the ones I thought were good- while the corner was okay, sort of, the straight parts of the corners weren’t passing muster in the length or were stretched out. SIGH – Collars and inset corners are my sewing bane.  The last few evenings were spent on the hand sewing, buttonholes and buttons, added crocheted thread chains at the side seams to hold the belt that is worn with the dress.  I found light coloured seam binding in my supplies to finish the skirt hem, but with the flared skirt it certainly doesn’t look terribly neat – I should have eased the edge of the hem before finishing it.  I won’t show anyone the inside hem!

I wore it today and received many compliments on the dress, the orange colour and how I look in orange (really good).  It makes what felt like a struggle to finish it worth it. These photos were taken at the end of the day, in case it was not obvious from all the wrinkles.

front finished


back finished (2)

belt loop, crocheted

belt loop, crocheted


Yesterday, I wore the “four corners” dress for the first time.  I wore it on a day where I would be at a conference, sitting, for most of the day.  Not surprisingly, I got lots of wows about it from my colleagues sitting at the same table, and even more when they learned that I sewed it.  Not everyone of my workplace peers know that I sew many of my clothes.  During the break I was asked to get up and show off the skirt. I wouldn’t twirl for them.  With the voluminous skirt, it works better for standing and walking than sitting- of course standing shows off the skirt. I had to gather up the skirt when sitting and figure out if I wanted to spread it out again or bunch up several meters of fabric on my lap.