Thursday, 9 May 2013

Dressmaking - a beginner - but 'Vintage Vogue Very Easy'!?

I've fallen in love with dressmaking... and this is my 2nd dress (I haven't a picture of my first yet, as first was finished slightly after 2nd!). It's shown here pre-hemming and zip insertion, but I'm really pleased with it. The dress started a few weeks back when I found a Vogue pattern from the 1970s and thought it looked 
a.) simple (it said 'easy Vogue'), and 
b.) a lovely design for the fabric I had in mind and I'd picked up the day or so before.
Haha, now little I knew.

I've since found that 'Very Easy Vogue' doesn't mean that at all. This was a bit of a mare as a first project, and I'm so glad I thought to make a muslin. The fabric was taken from a pair of 1950s curtains, which were in pretty good condition, and I was lucky to find. They shouted dress at me immediately. But I didn't want to risk the fabric, so decided to make a muslin first. Thank goodness I did as I had to change the pattern quite a bit, especially under the arms. I also dropped the collar, but that was straightforward.

The first problem was princess seams. Until a few weeks back, I didn't know what princess seams were. The instructions were basic, but even I knew this wasn't right. Princess seams run up to the armhole and are curved to help the dress sit right at the breast. Pointing up into the armhole isn't the right way. But all my notches and dots and spots and bits and bobs and all those fancy dressmaking terms were sitting together.

No matter how many times I tried, how much easing I tried to do, there was no way these were going to sit against each other. I found a solution after speaking with somebody who's been dressmaking since the dinosaurs, and has been invaluable, and mentioned she'd come across one other pattern many years ago where this problem had happened. The online tutorials make princess seams look a doddle. They aren't and this one certainly wasn't - but please don't despair if you find the same. It's not you and there are ways around it. I ended up easing the extra into the armhole. This isn't considered good practise, but frankly, it worked. I defy anybody to have made it work another way. You cannot tell from the finished dress that this is what happened, and I'm very proud of the way my princess seams sit.

Then the armholes were too tight. I hate a dress sitting tight under the arms. So I had to mark up and cut to allow for this.

which eventually worked.

One thing that has been invaluable in all this is the tailors ham I made. These help with all sorts of ironing, but especially those tricky bits. I didn't find any others on a web search, so have put a make to order one in my Folksy and Etsy shops, here and here.

They are brilliant, and I can't rave highly enough. I used some of my lovely button print and a fabulous Cotswold wool, both of which seem totally appropriate.

So, the birth of my second dress. I've now finished the zip and almost done the hem. Already planning my next dress!

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