Third challenge in a row, I am optimistic to really meet my goal of doing half of this year’s challenges
The theme for this fortnight’s challenge was “HSF Inspiration”. So basically you could do anything, as long as it had been inspired by some project previously made for the HSF. I started from the back and began looking at the old HSF-photos of 2013, so at the projects I hadn’t seen before, because I didn’t participate last year (I am not sure if you have to be a member of the group, but here is the link to the fb-albums).
After having checked what I had in stock concerning lace and ribbons I decided to try this design:
I was able to use a leftover from a long forgotton project, a wide, mat bias binding in a pale lavender. I paired this with a matching rose satin ribbon and black bobbin lace. The tutorial had asked for black lace and velvet ribbon and green grosgrain ribbon, but neither did I have these colours nor did I want it to be that dark.
Because my satin ribbon was so narrow I doubled it, a third bow would have crossed the line to a gift-wrapping-effect
I roughly followed the instructions of the tutorial, but my main focus was the picture: The whole thing is based on a circle (the tutorial says half circle, I completely overlooked this), the original of buckram, mine is grey felt. A part of the rim gets covered with pleated ribbon (I cut the bias binding in half) and a layer of lace on top. Now the long piece of lace is attached, as you see it is doubled and sewn together at the straight edges. I had to iron and wrinkle the lace to make it lie flat at the end, I am sure with a tulle lace as shown in the original drawing this was much less bulky. To completely cover the felt I added a rest of the lace to the whole thing. On top of it all I placed the bow I had formed out of the two different ribbons. The lace and the ribbon might be a tiny bit shorter as the tutorial asks for, but first this is all I had left of the bias binding and second I didn’t want to make it too extravagant, so I can maybe wear it without full 1870ies attire.
If you would like to make your own, I tried to translate the istructions for you:
To make this bow arrange a 76cm length of 6,5cm wide green grosgrain ribbon on one end into narrow box pleats of 1cm width each until you end up with 11cm of pleated ribbon. Sew this folded part of the ribbon onto a half circle cut out of buckram (3,5cm diametre), 1cm away from the outer rim.This is covered as the image shows with 5cm of pleated black lace. Now add a length of two laces that you connected at the straight edges, ruffles the last part of it so it forms a half circle. The final length of the lace should be 20cm. Additionally ad a 40cm piece of the green grosgrain ribbon, a 10 and 6cm loop of the same ribbon as well as a small loop and a folded knot of black velvet ribbon. The latter covers all ends and seams of the other loops.
The rest of the satin ribbon I used as a loop on the bottom side to attach it to the head with bobby pins.
The Challenge: #19 HSF Inspiration
Fabric: a small circle of grey polyester felt
Pattern: tutorial without a pattern found in “Der Bazar. Illustrirte Damen=Zeitung, Nr. 21, June 3rd 1872
Notions: black and lavender thread, rose satin ribbon, lavender bias binding (both synthetic fibres), black bobbin lace (maybe cotton or linen).
How historically accurate is it? Not too much. I roughly followed the instructions, I made everything by hand and the result looks remotely like the image in the tutorial. But I used modern, artificial fibres instead of silk ribbons.
Hours to complete: 1-1,5
First worn: not worn yet.
Total cost: Felt and bias binding were leftovers from other projects, the ribbon had been in my stock for years, I assume it cost around 0.50-0.80 €/m. The lace was bought either at a flea market or a charity shop, can’t remember when or how I bought it, I assume I found it in a sewing basket or bag of laces I bought. All in total not more than 1-2€.
Usually there are two things that make it impossible for me to participate in the Me-Made-Mittwoch (= me made Wednesday, like me made may, but once a week): first,I forget it and only remember it took place when I read my blog feed the following morning. Second, even if I remember it I am not content with my outfit or do not wear anything selfmade that day.
Miraculously today was a day were both premises met, so welcome to the first pure outfit post in months!
The shirt was sewn after a Burda-Pattern (issue 2/2010) and I already made it in july 2012. There were a few holes in the sleeves’ seams I fixed a few days ago, so this feels nearly like a new garment.
Yes, I was in a really good mood, although I had just come home from work. And no, I didn’t wear these shoes for work, but they look so much better than the burgundy loafers I wore during the day.
You know, one thing is to find time to participate in the HSF-challenges, the other thing is to find a matching project.
Challenge #18 was “poetry in motion – bring to life a garment inspired by a song or poem.“.
This really gave me a hard time. I know many poems but not a single one that could inspire a garment came to my mind. And the ones I could think of were all pre-raffaelite medieval-themed ones, but I really didn’t want to sew a medieval dress, I already have one and never wear it, no use for a second.
After having consulted all my (english) books containing poetry I still had no concrete garment to put my finger on, but two poems that left me with some inspiration. The first got dismissed because I couldn’t find neither a matching pattern nor had I a matching fabric (R. Aldington – In the tube). So I was left with
Those of you who know it might wonder how this might serve as an inspiration for a garment.
The poem was written in late 1915 and tells about the horrors of war the author experienced himself in Flanders after having joined the British Army in August of the same year.
In a little London-Poems-Anthology I found an excerpt of this quite long poem, part VI, the last part. It describes how a crowd of women dressed in black waits for the soldiers at Charing Cross station, not knowing that their beloved are long since dead. Though they do not know there is no hope left in their faces, who appear as dead as the ones of their dear ones.
A great crowd, all black that hardly whispers aloud.
Surely, that is a dead woman – a dead mother!
She has a dead face;
She is dressed in black;
And there is another and another and another…
And little children, all in black,
All with dead faces, waiting in all the waiting-places,
In the dark of the night.
This is Charing Cross; it is past one of the clock;
There is very little light.
There is so much pain.
This black crowd with no hopes left, waiting in the gloom of the station at night created a very clear image in my head. The poem when read aloud has a very impressive rhythm that makes it appear even more vivid to me (I experience very similar effects when reading Paul Celan’s “Die Todesfuge”, maybe some german speaking readers might know the poem).
I can clearly see all that women facing the bare tracks, waiting. They have stood there too often to expect a train and still refuse to stop coming there. They face hunger, the salary of the beloved soldier is missing, they fear to think of the coming winter. The mothers miss their sons, still virtually children. The wives fear the loss of their Sweethearts and have long ceased to answer the whining questions of their children, missing their fathers.
I imagine them dressed in long, droopy robes with no colour, shine or elegance left. Maybe some still haven’t given up hope and have bought a new suit to welcome the homecomer, some may have to work hard to survive and come straight from their masters or in simple clothes they wore to clean the house or harvest some apples.
Therefore I searched for simple patterns with only few elegant touches and no decoration, something like this, imagine it in black cotton or wool, not ironed and without these laughing faces and elegant postures. This was the picture I had in mind.
In the end I went for a pattern from “The Ladies’ Tailor” from 1915, printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes” (fig. 50, for those who own it). Because I ran out of time I only made the skirt and not the matching jacket. The skirt is very tight fitted around the waist and the hips, below the hips it is wide and ruffled. I did not copy the Waugh pattern, but constructed a broad, corset-like shaped waistband on my dress form. A little calculating and dedusting of my geometry skills helped me to construct the ruffled, slightly flared lower part of the skirt.
The waistband consists of one layer of thick upholstery cotton tabby-weave, covered with the skirt-fabric, a black cotton twill with little stretch.
It is closed with a row of star-shaped buttons in the back. Not historical, I know. But when it was nearly finished and I first wore it, it reminded me of my black, goth teen years and I remembered that I had long wanted to sew a long black all-purpose-skirt. Very unexpectedly, there it was! And because I had used these black star-buttons on so many of my goth garments it seemed to be only appropriate to use the last ones I had for this skirt.
This is also the reason why I made it slightly longer as 1915-fashion would have been. Historically correct it would end just above the ankles. But I really liked the almost floor length look when first trying it, I couldn’t help but make only a narrow hem to leave it as long as possible.
The Challenge: #18 Poetry in motion
The Poem: Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp (esp. part VI This is Charing Cross)
Fabric: black cotton twill with a little stretch, waistband doubled with heavy grey upholstery cotton
Pattern: self-drafted after “The Ladies’ Tailor” 1915 as printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”
Notions: black thread, eight plastic buttons.
How historically accurate is it? The pattern is close to the original, cotton twill is at least possible for the time. I am sure the construction would have been done differently, with boning and stiff horse hair interlacing instead of upholstery fabric. Buttons aren’t historical at all, nor is the closure itself. A hidden row of hooks and eyes would have been more likely.
Hours to complete: The waistband needed a lot of basting stitches, the buttonholes are handsewn. And the construction of the pattern took a little time. Maybe 5h in total.
First worn: not yet/for photos
Total cost: Fabric was a gift from a friend of my mother’s, lining upholstery fabric a gift from my uncle. Buttons were 25ct each, so 2€ in total, without the thread.
See you soon, love,
Sources: All information about the author and the poem as well as the excerpts from the latter I drew from: Adolf Barth (publ.): London Poems, Stuttgart 2001 (first publ. in 1988), pages 53f and78f
It’s been more than three months I last uploaded a HSF-project, oh dear.
After all the messy times I had this summer I was very keen to join the challenges again.
A little summary: I planned to make at least half of the challenges when I started to join. The last project I finished was my #10-ballerina-outfit, my fifth finished project, so I was right on track. Now we are already close to challenge #18 and I my counter is still at five projects. I need to do all coming challenges but one to eventually reach my goal of at least 12 completed challenges, puh…
In fact I did try to make something for #13 “Under 10$” but it became evident in a very early state that it was completely unwearable and so it never made it to the finish line.
Challenge #17 was “Yellow” and I am a few days late, I know, but please, I am so proud having at least finished it, so don’t let it rain on my parade, would you
Now you have to know, yellow really isn’t a colour I like. I own very few yellow garments, somehow they never appealed me. Additionally, my boyfriend works at an international furniture-selling enterprise using the blue and yellow colours of the swedish flag as their trademark, so naturally he doesn’t fancy yellow after closing time.
Therefore the title. I am not sure if I would have made that project without the challenge, this applies as well to the aforementioned ballet-costume and the 19th-century-fabric-box, this explains the “part 3″
The search for some yelllow fabric in my stash wasn’t very fruitful. I found a small piece of mustard-coloured cotton-velvet (too small to make a garment of it), an equally small amount of white cotton printed with yellow flowers and two metres of a light yellow polyester fabric I bought on sale when one of my favourite fabric shops closed. Don’t ask me why, normally I tend to ignore artificial fibres and yellow coloured fabrics.
The fabric has a little stretch and is quite solid so I thought it could become a nice dress for the approaching autumn days.I picked a dress from the march 1940 issue of “Beyers Mode für Alle”, one of the magazines I bought in Gotha last year.
The pattern itself came together quite quickly. A 88cm bust tends always to be a little on the large side for me, but the waist was fine and so I changed nothing and started cutting (as you see, the bust is ruffled, no use measuring this, if you ask me). I skipped the pockets because I couldn’t see the use of two very narrow pockets getting bulky right between my legs, there are few easier ways to ruin a dress.
Only during my sewing some problems began to show up. First, the construction of the shoulders hadn’t been thought through. The shoulder seams lie behind the highest point of the shoulders. That itself is not a problem, but the front part was ruffled and so the sleeve tended to fall off the shoulder in the front. In total the shoulders were slightly on the large side. So what I did was I attached a wide grosgrain ribbon to the shoulder seam, the ends connected to the sleeve cap and the collar. The ribbon itself was 2cm shorter than the non ruffled back, so I gathered the back part a little at the same time, making the shoulders fit better (besides the size being on the upper end of what fits me, the stretch of the fabric and its weight added to this dropping effect. So the ribbon prevents the fabric to stretch as well).
The centre front is far far away from the front edges. This makes the right front edge disappear below the collar and, if you don’t want your buttons to be far away from the edge, it places the buttons off-centre unless they are gigantic. Unfortunately I realized it too late, after I had already finished the two front edges. To solve this I attached the buttons and press fasteners on the right front edge, but only the lowest two counter parts of the press fasteners I sewed as far from the centre as the pattern had wanted them to be. The topmost one I placed as far away from the left edge as the button was from the right one (what means much closer to the edge), the two buttons in the middle I placed accordingly (additionally it looked so very severe with the collar’s edges touching).
Third issue was the very blousy fit. I have no before-photo, but I removed a total 14cm underbust-circumference to make the dress fitting as it is now, before the whole bodice part fit very loosely. Another 6cm circumference was removed at bust-height and the upper sleeves.
The sleeves are puffed and have a dart in the lower half. If I wear long sleeves I want them to be a little more on the long than on the short side. So I decided to keep the length, though it caused a few wrinkles when letting the arms drop. Because the dart was very narrow it was impossible to close it completely. I left the 7cm open and added buttons and press fasteners as well, not at the hem, but 3cm above. Like this the sleeve can slide down a tiny bit more and wrinkles less but is still as long as I like it to be.
A flaw you wouldn’t have noticed but I see at a first glance: the collar! Do you see that slightly darker colour? That’s because my interfacing is green. Wouldn’t have thought it could shine through, but obviously it does.
The length is a little short for 1940, I know. But the dress is so high-necked and well behaved, I thought it needed this length to look less severe.
The Challenge: #17 Yellow
Fabric: light yellow synthetic fabric
Pattern: magazine “Beyers Mode für alle”, march 1940
Notions: various cream and yellow threads (got rid of three different small spools^^); interfacing for the collar, grosgrain ribbon to stabilize the shoulder seams and a narrower one for the waist seam; seven burgundy buttons and different coloured press fasteners, short zipper for the side seam, fusible interfacing
How historically accurate is it? I fear the material of the fabric isn’t authentic, nor is the length of the dress and the interfacing. The pattern and the changes I made are accurate, the buttons and the zipper are old, though not that old, but both plausible for the time (plastic buttons and coloured metal zipper).
Hours to complete: Maybe 6-8. Sewing itself went quite fast, but all those adjustments and the handsewing (zipper, buttons, hem, shoulder stabilization) took their time.
First worn: for the photos today, still too warm outside to wear it all day long
Total cost: I know I bought the fabric not long ago, but I have no idea what I paid for it.I assume not more than 10CHF/m, otherwise it wouldn’t have been appealing to me. All notions enlisted came from my stash and were bought with haberdashery convolutes, so different to tell. Only the interfacing was bought new, I think I paid 2€/m.
Though I said yellow is not my favourite colour, I am really happy with the result and looking forward to wear it a lot as soon as it gets colder.
Well, I promised a report on my SIAB-night, the Sew-In-A-Bookshop-night
To understand what will happen next, a short explanation: Normally this bookshop, as most shops in Berne, closes at 7pm, on thursdays the majority of the city is opened until 9pm, that thursday was Ladies Night, takes place only once a year, shops closed at 11pm.
We installed my table with sewing machine, a little decoration and the book I was presenting at around 6pm. And until 7.30 everything was fine, lots of people in the shop, many curious clients asking what I was doing and so on.
Then it became a little quiet, still some people were passing by, maybe because I sat right next to the doors through which you can leave directly into the railway station. Some stopped and looked interested, I chatted a little, about my sewing, about the book, about whatever they wanted. It was sad it was comparably quiet, I had really hoped for a roaring night.
Only few were interested in the sewing, even less in the book. Most only gazed at the sewing machine and noted that her grannies had machines like this or asked if it was already electric.
At 9pm we had to close the doors to the station (contract conditions) and the last two hours were very quiet, because I sat literally at a dead end. The sentence I had to repeat most often in the last two hours was “No, sorry, exit closed, please use the main exit on the ground floor”. Every now and then somebody spotted me from the far end of the shop and screamed something like “oh, mum, look there” *teenage daughter with mum approaching*staring*smiling*leaving*.
At least this left me plenty of time to sew and I really nearly finished, only the zipper and the hem were missing.
To conclude, I assume a couple of things went wrong,making it less successful than we all had hoped it to be.
First, the event itself wasn’t promoted enough, neither the presenter nor the bookshop succeeded in making people aware that this night was to be meant as an event. A friend who lives in the city of Bern told me she wouldn’t have known of this Ladies Night without me (and this true friend stayed with me the whole five hours and made the long hours past 9pm appear much shorter as they could have been). So I fear the whole event hasn’t grown big enough yet to attract large crowds of clients and ladies, strolling through the shops on high heels buying lace underwear whilst drinking prosecco (we wouldn’t discuss this cliché here, would we? ) The few clients who came were not what I would call the target audience of Retro sewing, in contrast, most knew the sewing machine or the dresses in the book from their own childhood or youth (one middle ages woman was gleaming with joy when spotting Farrah Fawcett in the book. Not because she liked the dress, but “Charlies Angels”) and had no interest in buying such a book.
Second, I chose the wrong approach. Promoting a book that is all about how cool, modern and timeless vintage and retro sewing is, well, you can’t properly do this when sewing in full 30ies attire, looking as if you stepped right out of a time capsule. The group of people interested in the latter one is even smaller than the few people interested in retro sewing. So a more Gertie-like approach with a stunning bombshell dress or a cool modern looking 60ies style would have been more convincing.
Which leads me to this night’s project. Because I was a little scared this would all end up in a catastrophe I chose a really simple design from the book without too many tricky details to pay attention to (well, I had hoped to chat a lot more with clients than I had the chance. Did I mention I did not sell a single book?).
Lets talk about the book for a second (I bought this copy already when it was published in German some time ago, this review isn’t sponsored by anybody. I just think when talking about a pattern in it, I can as well give you a short summary and my opinion on the book itself). The book Famous frocks, in German Stilikonen, presents ten women of the 20th century which are connected to a special and distinct style of dress and became iconic for the fashion of their time (the Link to the German version allows you to have a look inside, just klick the “Im Buch blättern” button left of the cover). It starts in the 1930ies with Bette Davis (now you know why I bought it ), the 40ies are represented by Rita Hayworth. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic 7-year-itch dress is included as well as Audrey Hepburns little black one from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Jackie Kennedy and Twiggy complete this 50ies/60ies group. The younger dresses are inspired by Diana Ross, Farrah Fawcett and Stevie Nicks (the only pattern I had realized from the book until now, you saw it in my Sicily-Post). The last and most recent one is Madonna’s corsage-and-petticoat-style. Each woman is accompanied by one dress pattern, that was inspired by her style. So you won’t find an exact reproduction of an Audrey-Dress in this book, rather the authors took what they considered the distinct features and lines of a style and translated it into a pattern. This makes a total of 10 different patterns, all of them come in a closer-to-the-original-version and a more modern variation.
The only photos in this book show the icons that inspired the patterns, the patterns themselves are only shown in drawings, a technical and a fashion illustration for each version.
All patterns are included in their original size, but because the sheets are printed from both sides, you have to copy the cut pieces. Sizes go from XS (79cm-62cm-88cm) to L (94cm-77cm-103cm) (so really not a wide range, in my opinion, you will see later that XS is already too small for me).
The instructions are very detailed with many drawings, so even beginners could cope with the simpler ones, as long as they know the basic sewing vocabulary.
To conclude: patterns are easy to work with, good instructions, nice layout. Unfortunately size range is very limited and the dresses are only inspired by historical patterns, some stay pretty close but some don’t (don’t expect to sew a 30ies gown with this book, what you get is a knee-length bias-cut dress, for example). The patterns are modern, not based on historical ones, at least that is my impression and I didn’t find a hint that they used actual contemporary patterns for this book.
So much about the book. The pattern I chose was the, who would have guessed after the title , Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The classic variant comes with a very high and stiff neckline I don’t like that much, so I chose to sew the modern version with a slightly lower neckline and pockets. Pockets not because I needed them (well, I do need pockets, but I try to avoid dresses with them because I tend to bury my hands in them and stand quite crooked), but because I feared to finish early without them.
As already mentioned, I chose to cut size XS, stupidly enough looking only at the waist- but not at the bust-circumference. Because I had no chance to try it on in the shop I only realized it was too small when I had inserted the zipper the next day and wore it for the first time.
Fortunately, the pattern included 1.6cm seam allowance, so I shifted the side seams of the bodice as far as I could, approximately 1cm. These additional 4cm were what it took to fit, thankfully. It still fits quite snug, you see the pockets are slightly gaping, but it is ok, considering that I already had given up hope because it seemed to be so very much too small.
I don’t like the fit in the back, but I don’t quite know how to get rid of these wrinkles. I tried to pin in different ways (normally I would remove some fabric from the waist seam in such a case), but still more wrinkles show each time. Now I will leave it like that, it is not that bad when standing upright, at least I’am trying to convince myself about this.
As a fabric I chose a lavender-coloured cotton (or viscose, I am not sure) from my stash. Facings and pockets I made from a gingham of the same colour, printed with little flowers. A leftover I had bought years ago, I used it to make headbands from it and sold them via Internet. It wasn’t that successful, so I quit and went back to work as a shop assistant to finance my studies^^
The matching bias binding was an old unfolded one that had lurked in my stash for a very long time, I must have bought it once with a sewing basket or something similar. It was quite narrow and, as I said, unfolded and I always considered it being too narrow to work with it properly. But then I saw the bias binding foot in The Sewing Machine Attachment Book, asking for 24mm wide, unfolded bias binding. That was exactly the size I had. It worked really well, only the very sharp curves around the armholes caused some difficulties.
But this explains a lot: When sewing machines do not come with these feet anymore, no-one will buy unfolded, 24mm-width bias binding in consequence. Or, vice versa, if you can only buy pre-folded bias binding, why should a machine include a bias binding foot? I don’t know what happened, I only know that such a foot is not to be found with modern machines anymore and that unfolded bias binding has become quite rare, I assume a connection
The upper bust darts end a little too high, maybe this was meant to be a really historic pattern after all and I should have worn it with period appropriate undergarments? Or maybe they just don’t fit my bust and I should adjust them ;-).
I am eager to announce you something a little different, something huge for me:
Next Thursday, September 11th, Bern City is hosting a Ladies night. Many shops in Berne will be open until 11pm and most of them do offer special discounts, events and similar things.
And I will participate! I will be sewing with my little Singer Featherweight in the Thalia-Bookshop inside the Loeb department store. If you happen to be in Berne, I would love to meet you!I keep it a secret what I will sew and I can’t predict if I will be able to finish it, but be sure, it’s a classic, a pattern from the book Famous Frocks (well, the german edition).
As promised, here is the only project I was able to finish in the past weeks (aside from some curtains for our staircase and the bathroom).
I bought the pattern, Vogue 2859, already quite some time ago on sale, a 30ies set, consisting of a dress, a coat and a wrap blouse. When the HSF-challenge “#3 Pink” was coming closer I decided to realize the blouse in a pink, floating fabric I once had bought for my prom dress, but not used entirely (like the black fabric I used to complain about). After I had cut the pattern and the fabric something very unexpected and devastating happened in out family and I was neither in the mood nor had I time to sew. So I never completed the challenge, but was very amused (well, as amused as I was able to be back then) that some other participant had had the same idea: Black tulip made the exact same pattern from a very similar fabric.
But even this wasn’t enough to get me back on track, so the pattern pieces lay cut in my stash until I decided to get rid of this project before moving, because I was already suspicious if I would really like it and feared to never finish it. So close before moving into our new apartment I was able to fool myself, prohibiting me to start something new and so, forcing me to face this project.
The pattern is quite tricky. The pattern pieces do look very unfamiliar and you really have to stay concentrated not to make any mistakes. But after you have sewn the few large parts together it comes together comparably quick.
A thing I did not like was the instruction to hem the ties, in my opinion you will always see the hemmed inside and never the right one, Murphy’s law. So I doubled them and turned them over instead.
Please note that the pattern is very short, as it is to be expected from a 30ies design. It is meant to be worn with the dress underneath, so at the moment it just sits on my sewing mannequin, waiting for me to buy or make a simple black dress to go with it (a problem I face with a beautiful antique 30ies blouse I own as well, I would so love to wear it but own nothing to pair it with).
But maybe this will never happen, because there are some other features I am not quite confident with: I don’t like that you see the seam of the scarf. My fabric is quite shiny so it is even more evident than in other versions I saw. A different fabric could help, but I am sure as long as I can see it, it will never be ok to me. If I am going to make this blouse again I will have to find an alternative to this way of sewing the scarf. But I would have to anyway, because the other thing I am not happy with, is that it sits too tight for my taste. I am very sensitive when it comes to clothing sitting close to my throat and this blouse is just too close to feel comfortable for me. So maybe it will never make its way into my wardrobe.
I am going to announce you something really exiting (at least for me) soon and it is connected with some new projects!
So see you soon, love,
I am really sorry for having disappeared from the screen without saying anything at all.
It all began when someone else was chosen for a job I had so longed to get. This made me hit the ground really hard, not only because I had hoped to be the lucky one, but also because so many people had encouraged me to apply and had given me some positive signals regarding my success. Most of the weeks passed in a blur, I felt terrible, unmotivated and I have to thank my costiveness and my last bit of reason for not letting me buy my first pack of cigarettes in eight years.
The second thing that was really killing me was our apartment. I had to go by train so early each day and came back so late. It was dark, gloomy and because of its size and the little time I had left in the evening it was neither comfortably tidy or clean, in the end it was really a dusty mess. It was so loud, in the few quiet moments where no train or motor truck made it impossible to hear myself think I was able to listen to every word and every step of the landlord living above us. Our cat was so bored, being not allowed to go outside and having to wait so long until we came back from work. In the evenings, when I was barely able to cook dinner, she wanted the attention she had longed for all day. She even started to scratch herself until it bled because she didn’t know what to do with herself (not unlike me, my skin looks like a mixture of a mars desert and a volcanic eruption aftermath at the moment).
Now we moved last week into a much smaller appartment, but it is so bright and lovely, much more quiet and at the same time much brisker. You hear the street a little, but not a word from the other parties living in the house. If you open the window you can hear the distant humming of the motorway, but also chatting neighbours and playing children (the old house was completely isolated, only the landlord with his partner and us two).
Though it is smaller, all my stuff is so much better accessible (simply because I had put everything in a locker and had closed the door back in the old flat, now I had to think about how to organize my things with less space and worked a lot with boxes and magazine files on top on shelves, so I see them).
I have only lived here for little more than a week, but it still feels more like a home than the old apartment did after a whole year. In this first week we did all the things we had planned since moving in the other apartment a year ago, bought furniture for the balcony and a barbeque, decorated the walls with photos and pictures, I even sewed curtains. Somehow we never had the motivation to do it in this dark cave of a flat and now it is as if we cannot wait to catch up with everything.
All this ill-feeling, moving and life as a whole made me forget about blogging, reading and posting. So I was welcomed by 5781 spam comments on my blog and 349 posts in my bloglovin-feed, please excuse that I won’t read them all, I am sure I will miss a lot. And please excuse that I didn’t answer your comments on my last posts, Jeannine, Jen, Draped in cloudlets, Amy and Anthea !
I didn’t have much time or motivation to sew in the past few week, but I finally finished a blouse I had already started in january (you see it on my sewing mannequin). I will show it to you in a separate post.
I have to confess, the title wasn’t chosen only because I feel like being home again, but because two topic related beauties also are. My Singer Featherweight went to see the sewing machine doctor for a check-up and sews like she left the factory only yesterday. And another sewing machine made its way into my collection. My father had found a 1920ies General Electrics Sewing machine in America earlier this. The seller claimed it to be the precursor of the Featherweight, the patent being bought by Singer and turned into the now iconic small sewing machine. My father bought it and had it sent to his girlfriend’s son, who lives in the States. This was all a few months ago and when he wanted to pick it up last month he had to see, that the seller had sent the wrong machine, instead of the small early 20th century GE one a heavy and complex 1970ies Bernina record 730. All attempts to contact the seller failed and because he didn’t want to throw it away, brought the Bernina with him, back to Germany. Last week my brother visited, helped me with moving and gave it to me. I haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet, but it looks great. It is signed with “made in Switzerland”, so this, too, is back home. If the man who assembled it somewhere here for the American market could have imagined that it will find its way back, some 40 years later?
Some weeks ago I strolled across the market in Berne. One seller is a little different than the others, his stand looks more as if he mistook the event for a flea market. All he sells is old books, fabric scraps,90ies pop cds, more or less old and/or interesting haberdashery and some, mostly ugly, clothes. Fabrics and clothes are sold in umbrellas turned upside down and he always sits behind his goods smoking a incredibly large cigar.
Somehow I like it and I have bought multiple fabrics from him.
This time I found a red tshirt in his clothing-umbrella. Nothing special, but good quality and obviously only slightly too large (I hate altering shirts, especially the sleeves. So only a little too large means I can avoid re-modeling the shoulders and get away with shifting the side seams a little), for 1 CHF quite worth a try.
At home I altered it to my size only to realize it had some small stains on the front (yes, of course I had washed it before altering). Seemed as if it hadn’t been that good a deal at all.
Well, there is always room for improvement and I could still throw it away, so I thought why not give it a try and cover the stains.
My inspiration was Elsa Schiaparelli herself. The starting point of her career was a knitted jumper patterned with a large bow on the front, today in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Well, there is still this tiny little white spot in my crafting universe, I can’t knit! I tried it, it’s ok, it worked somehow but not good, maybe I will try again but I didn’t want to wait that long to make something inspired by this garment.
A quick image search online supplied me with all I needed to draft a bow onto the shirt front, as you see a much cuter and gift-wrap-kind-of-bow Schiaparelli used, maybe this is the key to her success, I still like it far more than my own version.
I used black fabric paint, first drew the outlines and afterwards filled it with paint. You can see some brighter spots and dark areas, it is less evident in real life. In addition I wanted to see how it looks after having been washed to make some final corrections.
Next time I will insist on taking the photos again with our real camera, this mobile always changes the colours and produces a weird angle.
Some of you might remember my slight obsession with Bette Davis.
Well, most of the time this makes me watch her films and read books about her. But sometimes I can’t resist and buy memorabilia. My most treasured item surely is an autograph my boyfriend bought me for my birthday two years ago.
But there is another kind of memorabilia that I am itching for. Do you know Hollywood Patterns? The company was founded in 1932 and sold patterns connected to stars and starlets (source). Simply by putting a little photo and the name of a movie star on the envelope turned a standard pattern into a collectible (a method that applies still today, though maybe not anymore for patterns). And as you can imagine, today they are worth even more.
Bette Davis had a total of 16 patterns named after her. Every now and then they pop up on ebay or etsy. To the more or less high prices of the patterns themselves adds the postage from the US to Europe, so to buy one of these is alway quite an expensive pleasure. (Now please don’t link to any pattern you found for sale on the internet, I don’t look at the mentioned websites very often, simply because I don’t want to tempt myself to spend that much money too often ;-). If I am in the mood and the position to buy one, I will search for it.)
Last year in late autumn I spotted a beautiful one on etsy, Hollywood 1221, published in 1934. And my boyfriend was so kind to give it to me as a christmas-present (darling, I love you!).
I already copied the pattern a few days after the holidays (because the pattern is so old I don’t want to use the original pattern pieces anymore), but it wasn’t until before our Sicily-trip I finally decided for a fabric and started cutting (this is the mentioned dress I wanted to sew for the trip but didn’t finish).
The choice of fabric wasn’t that intelligent in hindsight. I used a white spotted green cotton print I bought a few years ago in the odds-and-ends-box of a nearby fabric store that doesn’t exist anymore. I had already planned to use it for my Fall-for-Cotton-dress, but I had too little of it (appr. 1,5m). I chose it because I thought it was close enough to the spotted fabric on the envelope drawing and could look good (but it is not really appropriate for this time, in the sewing magazines I own polka dots don’t appear earlier than late 30ies, in earlier issues I only found them to be used for children’s clothing).
For this project it was just enough, I had to cut the lower back in two pieces, otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.
Well, the resulting dress is really…dotty. The matching of the pattern is at some seams better than at others, unfortunately where it didn’t fit was in the centre front (in contrast to the text on the linked page, it is a two-piece skirt. There is no seam in the pleat and I didn’t think of adjusting the width of it to match the dots).
The pattern asked for two zippers, on at the side and one in the centre back. I used a white nylon zipper in the neck and a light cream one in the side seam (because I had them in stock, I do know they aren’t authentic for the 30ies) Both zipper-seams are hand-sewn as is the hem.
I used white thread for all seams, this seemed to be a better match than green one.
The size is a straightforward 12, only thing I changed is I shortened the hem by 7cm.
Because the pattern was too weird with the stomacher in between I applied a rest of white cotton ribbon after having already finished it, now it is a lot better.
I used every bit of it. As you see, it wasn’t enough to attach it on both ends of the stomacher-part in the back as well, the rest I had was just enough to form the button-loop for a button in the neck above the zipper.
As I said, I didn’t change anything. Like the most american patterns, the seam allowance is included, something still unusual for me, because it makes it difficult for me to imagine how large it will be in the end (and in this case it was difficult to match the pattern as well). When looking at the result it seems as if the bodice is a little too long, when making it again I should try to shorten the stomacher-part.
I decided to take the photos outside, because it was quite a strange light and the appartment pretty gloomy. The day had been hot and only a little later there was a huge thunderstorm. So this may explain why our camera changed the ISO to several thousands without me noticing it (don’t know why it was set in the automatic-mode) and why the white is so flashy.
Well, to end this post: I love it! It looks quite special and still I think the fabric wasn’t the best to use for this pattern and to make it suitable for everyday-use I should reduce the volume of the sleeves a little, they are a bit on the emormous side.