Friday, December 14, 2012

McCalls M5591 - summer skirt

So, I fell in love with this white broderie anglais skirt by Jigsaw. I have some similar fabric in my stash and I am currently obssessed with piping. It's hard to see in the picture, but the yoke and pockets are piped in white satin.

I found a pattern that was pretty close to the Jigsaw skirt - McCalls 5591. By this time I was distracted by another similar skirt I saw on Pinterest with box pleats and horizontal stripes, which seem to be everywhere on the web lately.

The Awning Skirt :: Navy
The awning skirt

Wouldn't you know it - I have some vintage fabric just like this in my stash too! It's more of a cornflower blue, in a one inch stripe, in a beautifully stiff cotton with a touch of sheen to the surface. (I keep calling them stripes but my husband corrects me that officially (in sporting uniform terms) horizontal stripes are really 'hoops'!)

Now the dilemma, which one to make? I decided to do both of course, but started with the hoops first as a test version. Not that I don't love it just as much, but I want my white embroidered version to be perfect and a lot can go wrong with piping (though not if you concentrate).

So here's version one - it's view one of the pattern, with soft released pleats. I just piped the pockets and am really happy with how they turned out.


My version of the awning skirt - McCalls M5591
 Working with stripes can be finicky, even big ones like these. You just have to pay more attention at all steps - cutting, pinning, seam stitching, zipper insertion. I'm not sure I made the right choice with the stripe placement on the yoke, but I can live with it. That was a tricky element because the yoke is curved and it's hard to picture where the stripe will end up near the side seam once its all sewn together.

Now I feel ready to take on the broderie anglaise version - guess who's spending this weekend making white satin piping?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Custom-made mid-century fashion - is it cheating?

I had a real moment of clarity this year - about vintage fashion and how I wished I could wear it more often. I have to admit that for everyday wear, vintage just isn't that comfortable compared to modern clothing, not when you sit in an office most of the day. Finding quality vintage professional-looking items in good enough condition that would fit well and stand up to being worn at least once a week just is not that easy.

Pre-loved clothing is, well, wearing out, and wearing it regularly isn't going to help its longevity either. I learned that the hard way in a lovely black eyelet wiggle dress that was just perfect for the office. After about 5 outings, the fabric just gave way. It had been so weakened by its age and previous wear.

So discovering the world of vintage sewing was a real moment for me. I could make things in my size, in my choice of fabric and make little tweaks for comfort too. And what's not authentic about that? That's what our grandmothers were doing - making their own, from the very same patterns I'm now collecting! As long as I make good fabric choices its as good as the real thing - heck it IS the real thing!

I hunt down good quality fabrics, even vintage ones when I can. I buy up vintage notions when I come across them (zippers, buttons, deam binding, piped cording) and I take my time to make a good quality handmade garment with proper vintage techniques. To me, that's just as authentic as a garment made in the actual 1950s. While it's true we don't always have the same fabric choices, there are some amazing retro prints around and some great online vintage fabric stores to explore.

I'll still buy actual vintage when I see something I can't live without (usually something I'd never have the patience to sew myself!). Sewing my own helps the skill to stay alive, while I create an authentic wardrobe of wearable items that suit my lifestyle.

How do you see vintage sewing? Is it 'cheating' to a vintage enthusiast? Do you consider it an authentic way to express a love for vintage style?