Friday, November 27, 2009

party like it's 1949!

I never really thought much about 20th c. vintage fashions in the past. They just seemed too "normal" to me, and I preferred to research and recreate more exotic historical costumes from the Edwardian period or earlier. But then last year I was invited to a 1940's themed costume party, and as I started poking around on ebay for something to wear, something strange happened. I fell completely, hopelessly, madly in love! Now I'm quite obsessed with vintage clothing, and I've spent the last year on a treasure hunt for old patterns, fabric, dresses, notions, and accessories. My long-term goal is to start making pieces that I can incorporate into my everyday wardrobe. As an art teacher, I tend to dress very casually most days because it is so easy to ruin things while working with messy art supplies. But I have this incredible urge to be girly right now, so I'm trying to find more excuses to wear cute dresses and get my retro groove on. I want my outside appearance in the day-to-day world to finally match how I feel on the inside - quirky and creative and fabulous! ;)

One of my favorite things about retro sewing is that you can still find yardages of amazing old fabrics to work with, and most aren't even that expensive. I have a mad love for vintage novelty prints, so I snatched up this kooky mid-century modern gladiator print (how did they come up with this stuff?!?) last winter when I saw it on etsy. It was listed as rayon, but it is super shiny and feels more like acetate, so I almost abandoned this project after cutting out the pieces because I was worried that it looked too dressy for me to wear to work. It probably would have languished in the abandoned projects pile indefinitely if it wasn't for Sewretro's party dress contest this month. I decided that it would make a great party dress if nothing else, so I dug out all the pieces and got it assembled in just two days while I was home for the Thanksgiving holidays.

The dress pattern is Vogue 6788 from 1949, but I switched out the sleeves with another pattern from that year because I liked the 3/4 length better. It all went together like a dream, and this project gave me an excuse to use some of my vintage notions as well. The hems are done with some old turquoise iron-on hem tape, and the belt is made with a fabric-covered belt kit - both found at estate sales. I also got to play with a nifty little contraption that marks both sides of pattern pieces at the same time, which worked great with this pattern since it had the punched holes for the markings instead of being printed. The buttons are vintage as well, and I'm pretty sure thy are bakelite.

And now, on to the pictures!

Since this was my first try at sewing with vintage patterns/fabric for myself, here are some of the things that I discovered:
- I really need to learn some proper techniques for putting in a zipper. The pattern didn't include any instructions for that, and I thought I could just wing it, but it looks pretty crappy on close inspection.
- I also need to figure out what techniques they used for interfacing collars and such during this period. Again, the pattern didn't mention anything about interfacing. I ended up flatlining the collar with some stiff cotton fabric, but I really don't like the way it feels. It's too heavy now.
- vintage acetate (if that's really what this stuff is) is NOT fun to work with. There are old storage fold lines running across the entire dress that absolutely refuse to press out, and it shows every little crease and pucker where my tailoring is a bit lacking.
- I can't sew a straight line to save my life! I did a bad, BAD job of attaching the fabric to the belt backing, but I'm scared to take it off and try again, because the belt backing is a bit like cardboard and I'm afraid it will fall apart with more stitching holes. That was waaaaayyy harder than I thought it would be!

But all in all, I think this dress was a success.  I wore it out today and had several ladies squee over me, so I think that's a pretty good sign.  :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hello, world!

Most of you who are reading this blog probably know me from my costuming website, festive attyre. You'll also probably know that I have been horrible about updating my site since my son was born two years ago.  I finally seem to be finding more time for sewing and creative pursuits lately, but I still have a hard time making myself get it all uploaded to my website.  Dealing with dreamweaver is just such a chore!  But hopefully blogger will make that part much easier, and eventually, I plan on embedding this page into my homepage and using the layout for a much-needed site redesign.  Anyhoo, I have some fun new stuff ready to post tomorrow.  I can't wait to show y'all what I've been working on!

Happy Thanksgiving!