Phoning Home {Joan Dress}

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There really isn’t much of a reason to blog this, other than for documentation purposes because it’s such rare and amazing fabric.

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Recently my lovely friend Phoebe (Flaxen Vintage) messaged me to let me know she’d found ET sheets still in their original packaging and asked if I wanted her to grab them for me. Whoever had them obviously knew their value because they weren’t cheap, but c’mon, how could I pass up this opportunity? I answered in the affirmative in under 0.07 of a second.

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Upon further contemplation, the price wasn’t too bad when you consider:

  • they were brand new in their 1982 packaging
  • 100% cotton
  • 60″ wide and however long a single sheet is
  • two flat sheets (no fitted)

In fact, it’s probably on par or better than what I pay for designer quilting cotton. Ok, slight shoppers guilt averted.

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Jks. I didn’t feel guilty at all.

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Since my Joan pattern is my current favourite dress pattern (it’s comfortable, it fits well, it has sleeves and a neckline that I love and it’s something I’m damn proud of), I knew that’s what I wanted these rad sheets to be turned into. But I wanted to take it a bit next level, maybe mezzanine, I don’t know. So I drafted a Peter Pan collar. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would even look right with a boat neck, but it’s grown on me.

Full disclosure: I drafted matching navy sleeve cuffs too but felt they were too much so left them off. Maybe another time.

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And this is what might make this post vaguely useful to you, although there’s about a million collar drafting tutorials out there anyway. To draft the collar pieces, I taped the front and back bodice pieces at the shoulder, then taped it to much kitchen bench (to stop it moving) and traced the curve of the neckline. I made sure the front of the collar ended at the centre front and finished about 3cms before the centre back, leaving space for the zipper plus a bit extra. I just free handed the curve, but if I could find my french ruler I would have used that. Or you could maybe use a dinner plate or similar. I decided to make the back collar end at a point, just because. Then I added seam allowances (everywhere but the top) and hey presto – a collar!

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You’ll need to cut four collar pieces from your fabric and two of interfacing. Sew the collar pieces together precisely and carefully, trimming your seam allowances and clipping your curves so that every sits as nicely as it can. Use a chopstick to push out your corners so they’re nice and sharp. Then baste your collar pieces to your neckline (your centre front pieces will overlap slightly here but they need to) before sewing your facing (or lining) over the top. Flip your facing up and check that the centre front collar pieces meet, fix them if they need it. Clip and trim those new seam allowances carefully and understitch them to the facing pieces. When I first started sewing, I hated understitching and would ignore it because it seemed so pointless, but now I do it all the time – it makes such a difference! Do it. Then give everything a good press. This collar sits so nice and flat and I know it’s because I put in the extra effort to make it happen.

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I cut the front and back bodice pieces pretty carefully so I could get the most out of the large print. The front waist darts are hidden quite well in the tree trunks of the print and I managed to avoid full moon boob, so that’s a bonus. I aslo wanted a really full skirt on this one, so used the full width of the fabric front and back. That’s 120″ of fabric on my 32″ waist. For the first time ever I used three rows of gathering stitch and it was so worth it. I might even do that for all my gathered skirts from now on, it made such nice even gathers.

I feel so lucky to have scored this amazing fabric. It’s one of my favourite things ever.

 

 

 

 

That 70s Dress That’s A Gunne Freaking Sax {Vintage Simplicity 9008}

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If you’re all like ‘WTF is a Gunne Sax, ya big weirdo?!’ it’s totally fine. Here’s a bit of info –  basically it’s a clothing  label that was successful in the 1970s and known for its prairie, Victorian and Edwardian styled designs. Gunne Sax only came to my attention recently when I watched the Netflix series ‘Girlboss’, which is based on Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography and tells the story of how she started selling vintage clothing on ebay.

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Obviously though, by the time 1979 had rolled around (the year Simplicity 9008 was published), there was less lace and high collars and more of the above. Apparently the designer had moved towards creating dresses with prom dress features. Still, I was kind of taken by this baby when I found her in my vintage stash yesterday. It was originally given to me in about 6 boxes of vintage patterns which is why my memory of it is a touch hazy.

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So I was digging through my vintage pattern stash, wanting to make something different and found this one right at the bottom. That 50s shape spoke to me – the full skirt and that collar are beautiful. I very rarely wear dresses without sleeves, but I’m making an exception for this one. Plus I thought it might be cute with a little tshirt underneath or I can always wear a little wrap top over it.

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Deciding on fabric was hard. I wanted something I wasn’t hugely attached to as this would basically be a muslin – one I hoped would be wearable, but considering the grading up I had to do, I was unsure. I hate wasting fabric but I also hate spending hours sewing without being able to wear the finished product. Another thing – it’s bloody massive. I had 4m of the bear cotton/linen and I only just managed to tetris the dress out of it (I did use plain black lawn for the facings). Being directional obviously added to the challenge. The fabric was originally intended for dresses to sell, but after I washed it the black faded really unevenly and I didn’t really want to pass that on to paying customers. So in the end it was perfect for my sorta muslin.

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See that skirt? There’s eleven panels in that sucker. Thirty pattern pieces in total. Thirty-four if you count the pockets. I think it’s fuller than a normal circle skirt, my petticoat barely makes a difference.

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I didn’t change a whole lot beyond grading it up. I just followed the pattern pieces of a princess seamed dress that fits me well and it worked pretty successfully. Once I’d redrawn the bodice pieces, I lined them up to see how much I had to add to the skirt pieces (not much surprisingly, although the 3cms added to the bodice is spread pretty thinly over all those skirt panels).

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Redrawing the bodice pieces meant also redrawing the collar and facing pieces and I ended up slightly off with my collar pieces unfortunately. They just don’t quite reach in the centre. Not a big deal though and I’ll correct that for next time.

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Next time? Oh yeah. It’s taking all I have not to make another one of these ASAP.

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