Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Mary Walker Dress

This is actually a draft from a post I wrote exactly a year ago in late March. Since that time, I haven't made any progress on this dress. My new long-term project is to finally finish this dress! Since I am still stuck in the same part I'm going to post this post and then start posting further progress and information I figure out. 

“Misses Organdie Dress with Over-Skirt”
“the collar, cuffs, and piece in over skirt are made of tucked material of the same material or of another color (To avoid tucking material, I decided to just do a decorative stitch, now I'm thinking I should go back recut the overskirt and instead make it in another color so that I will still be following directions exactly) . The dress opens in the back and the sash ties in the back in a big bow. The hem of the bottom skirt folds back to top of top skirt”
Besides the description it has the amount of material needed, the seam allowance, symbols used. and the name “Mary Walker” and “Bust 36”. It is is a brown envelope and the back has a cutting diagram and vague directions.

I got this at an estate sale along with two 1930 sewing catalogues. I thought it might be from the 1920’s but as I’m making it im not so sure anymore. It is not a drop waist, it has a normal waist line. I figure it must be from somewhere between 1910 and early 1920's. 

With this pattern there were two others in the same brown type envelopes. The other is torn and the picture isn’t there but it is a “Ladies Envelope Chimise” that has just two pattern pieces. I found references to these envelope chemises in the 1910’s and 1920’s. The third is mostly torn and only a small part of the drawing remains and the name of what it is is gone. Though on the back there are two main pattern pieces and a sleeve piece (I'll get some pictures and do a post on the other two patterns later. I plan on making the chemise for under this dress)

The front has her name on the bottom of the envelope and “Sec. III” so I wonder if these must have been for a class.I also considered this being a pattern for a younger person but the size being a bust 36 it couldn’t possibly be.They are homemade patterns and I’m really interested to find out anything more about them. It would certainly help me to more accurately decipher the dress I’m making since the instructions aren't a ton of help.
This is my attempt at the pattern.
The bodice and skirts are not connected and the top is not finished at all. Instead of the pleating I did a decorative stitch on the overskirt that I will also do on the sleeves and possibly the collar.
Right now my biggest problem is the bodice. It has no darts, it’s just gathered and the neckline wont sit flat. I don’t know if the gathers are not in the right places or what.
Besides that, the skirt has no opening. The back buttons down the back so I can't figure out how you would get into it. The blue belt is leftover from my white 1860 ballgown from maybe 4 or 5 years back.

Since even the bodice I can't get to sit right, I think this will have to be started over from the beginning. On the front of the envelope under seam allowance, it gives very specific instructions such as "on top skirt, 7 inches fullness allowed in back. 6 1/2 inches in front." The first time I didn't measure seam allowance exactly figuring it wouldn't make much of a difference, though perhaps it did? 

I am still working on other projects as this is going to be a long term project with lots of stops to research and make sure I'm doing the next step right, but I do want to get this done after sitting on it for a year! 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

1940 Quilted Back Rest Pillow

I finished up my 1940 quilted back rest pillow tonight! 
It was my first time hand quilting so I think I did it mostly right, my stitches could have been smaller but I got tired and anxious to finish it towards the end of quilting. 

I drew the design on the white back fabric and layered two layers of batting in between. I loved the bow design but in the end it didn't turn out very prominent  I'm not sure if it's because of the way I quilted or it's just not meant to stand out that much. 

I made a pillow in the same shape from plain white cotton, I used leftover pillow stuffing I had laying around and it wasn't as stiff as I think it should be but I wanted to use it up. I definitely think though the stuffing is a huge part of this. In the picture where the outer blue covering is still being made, you can see how the pillow stuffing puffs out and doesn't give it the straight line it should be.
I always hate making my own piping especially in a slippery fabric like this, but afterwards I'm always glad I did. I did really like how it turned out though! I'm glad I used this blue fabric, I can't remember what it was, but it looks like those quilted satin 1940 bedspreads! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I switched over to Bloglovin ! After google reader announced it was shutting down I tried out Bloglovin and The Old Reader. The Old Reader is a lot like google reader but it was going really slow at the moment from everyone switching over so I tried out Bloglovin too. I didn't like it at first but then I started to like how you get to see the actual blog pages as you are going through your daily post readings so I think for the moment I'll be sticking with Bloglovin! 

If you click the link above you can follow me there! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Quick Weekend Sewing

This weekend I got some time and I printed out the new Laurel pattern from Colette Patterns and started that when I got almost done except for the sleeves. I had to stop because it was looking like a sack on me and not flattering at all. So far it had been a great quick sew but I needed to stop and think about what I wanted to do with it next because adding sleeves was not going to improve it for me.

I almost hate to post this picture.... because it really just didn't turn out well but I'm determined it will! I thought I could make a shift dress work but I think with my body type it's just not meant to be. So my plan is to try to basically cut it in half since it's a bit long anyways and gather the front half of the skirt and probably add two more darts going down the front bodice. Then add it's sleeves.  Though I'm indecisive about this plan too, but I've promised myself next weekend I'll get back to it and take some course of action to make this better!

So I put it aside (for now), and decided to do something quick and simple. I had bought this purple minky fabric because I found it for a good deal a couple weeks ago. Did I need minky or have plans for it? No, but I can't stop myself with this fabric! I love it too much!  Then I thought to make them into pillow cases, used some dark purple cotton for the edges and made these up! I think the measuring and cutting the fabric probably took longer then to sew these together. Very simple, and I love how they look, never mind that my room is full of pinks and blues....
All seams are surged so they're easily washed which is great! I had some pink minky fabric too, but not enough to make a pair of pillow cases. Maybe the pink could be made into a cute throw pillow? 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Room Decorating

This summer I am moving into a house with some roommates, which means I get to decorate my room! So from the start I knew I wanted to do as much as I could myself. So far I know I want my overall color to be blue and I've even bought a couple bedspread patterns.  It all started with this cute closet organization pattern I got thats from the 1970's
I think I would maybe make the laundry bag and a couple hangers but what I really loved as the idea of coordinating the closet and lining the shelves with fabric hanging off, it makes it look so nice and put together!

This week I've been searching for bedspread patterns and here's what I've bought
I couldn't pass up this beautiful 1940 quilted bedspread! One of my friends has one just like this in a dusty pink satin that was her grandmothers and I've always loved it so much. I don't think I'll use it for my bedspread because my fabric is cotton and I'm not sure it would look very pretty, especially since the fabric isn't a solid color. When I find some dusty pink fabric and free time though, I want to make this up just to have as an extra blanket. You can never have too many blankets! 
This pattern is a lot more modern (probably from the 90's? )but I really love the look of the first little half canopy in pink. I couldn't fit a full canopy nor would I really want too ( I feel like it would make it too frilly) but I think one of these short ones will be perfect if I can make it!

Finally I bought these too. It's a ton of options and way more than I need, but I really have no idea how I want to do the comforter so I  figured I'd just buy a couple so I could study the instructions and how each goes together and pick from there. 

Finally my fabric! This photo has a yellowish tint to it so it's a more crisp blue than shown. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


This spring break while I meant to work on some projects, I got distracted by quilting. I've never done much quilting before but I was inspired by Nana Company to make this beautiful quilt square with embroidery in the middle. I made it as a gift and loved making it so much I started work on a lap size quilt.

I also found a quilt book at the antique mall and a pattern for a 1940 quilted back rest!

I have such a long list of things I want to sew and I'd like to make a full size quilt sometime soon, but they just take so much time! I'm really excited about this back rest pillow! I'm assuming it's from 1940 because of the illustration style. I think this would be so pretty and practical. I'm always reading in bed but I can't stand those back rests you see all over today, something about those arms that extend out are just annoying. Anyways, I love the wedge shape and the quilted bow design! 

I did finish a green sun dress, but haven't taken any pictures yet! And... before the weekend is over I'd like to start and finish a simple 1970 wrap skirt. My problem has just been finding a fabric I like for it. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The finished Pink Rose Dress!

I finally have some pictures of the Pink Rose dress! It's all done (except for buttons in the top pictures!) I did get someone to take my picture this time though, so it's not just hanging on a hanger!

I also finished up a pinner apron I started a while back which just needed the pieces to be sewn to the band.  I loved this blue plaid fabric but I didn't have enough of it for a dress so I just made an apron out of it.
Both pictures are shown with a hoop underneath
I think it's just my sewing, but while I am very happy with this dress I dont think I'd do the gathered bodice again. I think it looks kinda messy, maybe because the fabric is light so you cant see that it's a yoked bodice.
I like it so much better with the hoop but where I volunteer I'm portraying 1850 so I wear my corded petticoat which just doesn't give the same effect. Though I admit, I don't have my petticoat on in this picture (it would probably have helped a bit!) 

 I've heard such good reviews about those frixion pens lately that I had to try them myself! My marking pens always fade away and its frustrating especially when I'm sewing darts. I have to agree with everyone else they are amazing! I love that it's not a marker so you aren't getting a fat line and you can mark all over and the instant the iron hits it, it's gone! 

 I also ended up throwing together some long sleeves to attach to my dress and when I say throwing together... I really mean it. They came out pretty awful! But, I was volunteering this morning and it was  going to be cold and I was determined I'd wear my new dress this week.  They failed partly because I just made too tight a sleeve and partly (well mostly...) because I was literally using scraps of the fabric to conserve the whole squares I had in hopes of making a sundress out of those leftovers. sigh. 
So I got through this morning, but these sleeves are coming back off immediately! Since it is Texas, it's going to get very hot soon and I was always planning on using this as a summer dress.  This also gives me the excuse that I'm going to need to make another dress that has long sleeves!