Sewing Vloggers

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The House Dress, ca 2021


Redemption! Not the most exciting garment but but this simple dress redeemed me from the sewing debacle I endured with my last sewing excursion. Coming out of Covid had me craving nicer clothing to wear at home. No more fleeces. No more letting comfort reign supreme without the slightest regard to style. No more wearing clothing I wouldn't be caught dead in beyond my front door. I want clothing that is comfortable, feminine, and would look like I gave &*$(#@ if I decided to run to the market or Post Office and bump into friends. I wanted to look pretty at home and pretty going out. I don't want to look like I just came from yoga class. I respect that others may feel differently  but enough  feel like I do that the NY Times did a big article on it in it's fashion section about a month or so ago. I want dresses. 

To honor all those who have gone before, the likes of Lucille Ball and even my own Mom, and all the women who wore cotton "house dresses" with snaps up the front to quickly get in and out of or to whip open on a moment's notice for a nursing babe, and for all the women, again like my Mom,  who surrounded me back in the day, I  wear my best bandana, a la Lucy. While my Mom would have used it to cover up criss crossed bobby pins that secured spirals of thick black Irish tresses, mine is merely hiding a bit of gel and wet, washed locks. But I like my bandanas too and wear them a lot and to honor the "house dress". 

In my opinion, the house dress should:

*  Not be tight around any part of the body, particularly the waist

* Should be easy to get in and out of

* Should be an easy  to maintain fabric

* Should never give off a slovenly vibe and be able to get you from home to public view nicely

* Should be out of natural fabrics and never sweaty or sticky

* Should be very comfortable to wear

* Can be accessorized and "upstyled" if need be. 

Simplicity 8856 fit the bill perfectly for me, but first the fabric!


For fabric I used my most favorite fabric after linen: Kauffman's Essex Linen yarn dyed linen blend. The weft is linen and the warp is cotton and I use this fabric repeatedly. It is linen if it could be perfect and the addition of the cotton makes it so. it reacts like denim in that it does not wrinkle up and if it does any wrinkles just seem to fall away. You can wear it all day and look great for the duration. It is comfortable, breathable, easily washable and easy to sew. I have made more garments out of this fabric and literally have two large stacks of it in my stash. It is my go to. It is perfect for house dresses, washes beautifully and would need very little if any ironing right out of the dryer. If you do iron, it responds beautifully with no fuss as you will see in my photos. 


Simplicity 8856 is one I grabbed off the stand at the store. What you don't get from the picture above is that it is available in this one envelope in sizes for children and women up to size 24 which they call XL. It has deep pockets and is not gathered all around as the front bodice has a flat center panel extending all the way to the hem. I liked how the volume was reduced by this. There is a lot of volume in this skirt. I took two inches from the  side front pieces  each and another two inches out of the back panel. 

I have found that when I do this type of skirt with the raised waist it can very poufy and billowey. I topstitch down my seam allowances toward the bodice which you might be able to pick up in this pic. I also, upon completion, go back and press down the top inch or so of the gathering, otherwise  all that gathering can swallow me right up, petite hint there, sewists.  

Another change I made to this pattern to accomadate fit was to add darts, small ones. In the past two years I've made two garments with raised waists like this one. I have found that they do something interesting that you need to watch for. If you wear a B cup or smaller, the garment  seems to hang from your shoulders, It will look loose and be comfy and that is generally the intended look. If you are larger than the B cup of the pattern, the garment will hang off  the tip off your boobs and is just not that flattering. when I put together the bodice of this dress, I pinched out a couple of small darts under the breasts. That pulled in the bodice enough to look much more flattering and like the dress was hanging from my shoulders more. I decided to put the short darts in and you can see them here before pressing. No regrets and I recommend with these loose bodice dresses which are all over right now. 


This was a very easy construction and one beginners could succeed at. I had no issues with the directions and pattern either. All was clear. The closure is simple. All of my seams are stitched together,  serge finished  and pressed open. The directions have you turn them under in the area of the back slit. With serged edges there was no need for that so I just pressed them open. 

I loved the little loop for the button, vintage, which I made from a bias  tube and my fast turn tube set. 

There is so much conflict in the sewing world over bias binding versus facings. There is a lot of  HATE for facings. Personally, I make the judgement on each individual garment and have no quarrel with either. Here, I followed the pattern and did the facing.  Sorry, sewists, but it is hard to complain about a well installed facing. Done right, it stays put and you don't know it's there. Now I had my issues at one  time but with the wisdom of Nancy Zieman pushing me on I think I've mastered this one. If you would like to master your facings evermore, click here for Nancy's method; Here

I didn't want to overload this dress with topstitching. I didn't want it to look like jeans remade so I kept the TSing down to just the pockets and hem. I love my topstitching.  I only say it that way because I am not sure that every one is aware that the heinous "stretch stitch" that jumps over itself three times and should never ever be used on a knit (per experts Linda Lee and Nancy Zieman both) makes the most wonderful, thick topstitching that you can see here on the pockets. This is at a 3.0 length. Use if for TSing, NOT KNITS!

I also veered a bit from the patterns style wise with the sleeves. I sewed in the required hem but folded it up about an inch. I had machine stitched the hem in but then hand tacked the cuff in so it wouldn't turn down, turquoise arrow.  The red arrow points to the small dart which is not in the right spot as I am lifting up the skirt in this cropped pic. The original sleeve hem was not at the best length for me. The pattern also comes 3/4 length which is what I will do if I make another. 

In Conclusion: 

    Find your bandanas. Get out your patterns and make yourself some house dresses! I hope to make more, Let's make Lucy and Ethel proud!!!! ........................Bunny

Friday, July 9, 2021

Vogue 1387, The Ditsy Blouse


Well, the Ditsy Blouse nearly drove me Ditsy. This blouse is finally finished. I was so excited to make it.  Lucy of Sew Essentials made one for herself and I was immediately smitten. The style was totally out of my wheelhouse but it snagged me.  It offered the following:

* All the current trends and rarely do I jump on trends but what the heck!

* Tiny ruffles

* Big, puffy statement sleeves

* Tiny,  ditsy print fabric

* The opportunity to do a little creative fabric "painting"

* Details I haven't sewn or worn in a long time and looked forward to sewing and wearing. 

I was in on this full bore. I watched Lucy's videos on her ruffle making and the blouse several times and then did my thing. She suggested a specific pattern but surely in my stash there was something similar and there was. This Vogue Rebecca Taylor blouse on the left was a near match with just a bit of of alteration. That became the understatement of the year. I changed this pattern tremendously and often it wasn't just because of design decisions. It just didn't make sense logically at times from a construction standpoint as you will see. This ended up being the most frustrating item I have made in years and it came so very close to visiting Waddertown.  As I go through my experience you will see how this pattern has some serious issues, at least in my opinion. That opinion does not seem to be shared by those on Pattern Review or the model on the envelope, so go figure.

I do intend to try the sleeveless blouse on the right, however, as it is a totally different top and unrelated at all to the other view. Let's get started. 

Description: "Top has self-lined yokes, front pleats, shaped hemline, and very narrow hem. Back longer than front, loose-fitting, front bands with snap closing, and long sleeves with pleats, placket and snaps cuffs. A, B: Wrong side shows."


This is Vogue 1387.  As we go along here, notice several things.

First, watch the shape of the yoke seam in the front. Next, keep your eye on those tiny pleats. Most of all, watch that button band! Ok, also, look closely at the bottom edge of the front yoke. it is hard to see but there is a thin bias cut strip between the yoke and the pleated bodice. 

ETA several hours after posting: I just really looked closely at the yoke on the pattern envelope and the pattern pieces for the yoke and my sewn  yokes. You can see them closely in a photo below. They each have an entirely different shape.  The yoke on the model ends mid-armscye. The yoke pattern piece's bottom edge ends two inches below the armscye.  It is not sewn in backwards. I made quadruple sure of that and had tapes on each piece to direct me. You can see how it matches the paper pattern in the pic. Hmmm.......

I have no idea where the wrong side spoken of in the description  shows.  I did like the idea of the snaps and ended up using Kam snaps and was pleased with the results. 


For this project I needed one of the currently popular "ditsy" prints. These are small prints, often floral, but not always, that repeat all over the fabric to blend into an allover effect. My ditsy print was a bit abstract and I liked it's more contemporary colors.

The actual fabric was a 100%  poly charmeuse, a fabric I usually run from fast and hard, but in this case  it had the perfect look I wanted and so many are out there saying out these polies have improved. Have they? Not sure because I haven't worn this blouse for several hours in the summer heat but it was not too, too  bad to work with using careful techniques. It did not ravel too badly either. I starched every seam before sewing and that helped a great deal. I used my serger throughout and french seams on all vertical edges.  I can't say I had any issues that I wasn't prepared for and it worked out fine.  It was in the print and texture I wanted for my impulse project and I went with it.  One thing about poly charmeuses, they shine, A LOT. I do not care for that shine so I constructed this blouse with the wrong, matte side of the fabric being my "right" side. 

For interfacing, which is only used in a thin strip in the button bands and collar band, I used SF101, a fusible woven that worked  fine. 

To get the ruffled edge effect I loved in Lucy's blouse I needed to replicate her ruffles. She did a black rolled hem edge on the edge of her small ruffle and I wanted the same. Unlike Lucy, I wanted a simpler, to me, way of doing the ruffle edge. 

I tried various stitches, lengths and techniques, and in the end painted the folded edges of the ruffle with my black sharpie and also zig zagged them so a bit of the "zag" creeped out of the painted edge.  I did lots of samples and washed and dried them and they held of beautifully without the slightest of fading. 


Due to the complexity of the yokes I did not do my usual Petiting of the pattern. I did not do an FBA either. I carefully flat pattern measured everything. I never take for granted the measurements given by the pattern company. I did choose to add some additional width to the bodice and hips by adding gathers at the fold on the center back. I ended up with 40 1/2 inches for my bust and hips. I measure 37 1/2 at my last measure but know I have lost a bit lately as you may tell from pics. Also, on this lazy, very rainy day I wearing a sports bra. My fit issues with this pattern were the same with a well engineered underwire. I also chose to shorten the bodice but I did that at the waistline. This is the result. 

The top snap, installed as per the pattern, twists and sinks into my mid chest and forms a cone. It is weird and awful looking. I followed the pattern exactly for snap placement.  Not happy. 


I will go through this section by section as it is rather involved and each section had it's challenges. 


The yoke and yoke facing are curved on the bottom edge. The front yoke is longer .  It is stitched to a rectangular bias strip that will fit between the curved bodice front and the curved front yoke. The yoke facing will then be hand stitched at that curved edge and cover everything. 

There are small pleats in the bodice that were not easy to deal with using this slippery fabric. On my first attempt I did not have a ruffle planned for the yoke but halfway in decided I  really wanted one. I  needed to pin the wiry ruffle into the seam. Above you can see the pins and basting tape used to help. I got this facing completed and realized that, #1, you could not tell if there were pleats or gathers under the ruffle so don't waste your time on the pleats if you plan to ruffle and #2,  that added bias strip detail just made no sense. It was practically invisible on the print and greatly complicated the yoke construction. I realized that the yoke FACING was longer to accommodate that bias strip so I re-did the yokes without that silly bias strip detail which served no purpose and did not even show and just used the yoke facing as my yoke front. It worked out perfectly, was the exact same finished length, and easier to install. No size of anything changed. I ditched the pleats as well and used gathers.  Upon completion and wearing I realized the pleats and gathers seemed to point toward that first snap, just thinking, here. 


I hope you can see this. The green arrow points to the intersection of the collar band and the button band. Both connect to the now solid one piece bodice front but don't touch each other.  IMO, it is very important that the bodice, right at that ruffle intersection has a small bit of fusible interfacing for reinforcement. I would also stay stitch the  seam line there as well. It is not referenced in the pattern but you  definitely need to clip into the bodice if you have sewn to the edge. I did not see any dot signaling you to stop sewing at the seam line or any direction in the pattern telling you to do so either. So reinforce into the seamline and then stop sewing when you get to the seam line when you sew the yokes to the bodice.  Then you can cleanly connect your collar and after that and separately, connect your button bands. 


I did not want the sleeves in the pattern, but rather the puffy, elbow length sleeves that Lucy had on her blouse which sported elastic at the hems.  I dug through my patterns and thought I found a pretty voluminous sleeve but when I made them up they were far from being as full and pretty as Lucy's. Thank heavens I had purchased a lot of extra fabric for this project!  I measured and played and decided to just add a triangular godet to the center of the the failed sleeve and it worked beautifully. It looked intentional and gave me exactly the fullness I wanted. If you click on the above picture to enlarge you will get a better idea of how I did this, stitched and serged where you see the black lines. With all the fullness you can't even see the godet but it does look totally "design detail". 

Then I made two little poly organza sleeve heads to keep my puffy sleeves nice and puffy! 

I do hope I remembered how to do these correctly. It has been a while!  I ran an elastic cord through a 1/4 inch turned hem and that was that for the sleeves. French seams for the underarm seams. 

HEMS:  All hems on this blouse are done at the very start of construction. Sometimes I am comfortable with that method but this time I wasn't. It makes it difficult to make any length corrections when you get the end and have to place buttons or snaps in this case. No matter how perfectly things can match on the table, they may not match on yourself.  Do the hems at the very end. I don't think I am going to fall for that one again unless it's a knit. 


Look at this picture closely, as well as the one on the pattern cover. When I purchased the pattern I remember looking at and questioning these button bands. They are a strip of fabric cut on straight of grain. YET, they are installed at the side of the neck, come in at an angle, and at the upper bust button together and go straight down the wearer's body.  Physics was not my strong  point in school but something told me the neckline really needed to be cut at an angle above the  bustline up to the shoulder seam.  I laid out and installed the snaps exactly  where the pattern directed.  Now, normally I would have petited this pattern in the upper bust but with the curving yokes I decided that I would remove a bit of length below the bust level and at the hem.  I did not do an FBA either as there was plenty of room for my Ccup upon flat pattern measuring. Watch what happens when you button all the  buttons. 

You end up with a cone forming below it with the button band. 

If you button just the top button the button band wants to follow it's grain and keep moving on a slant as shown by the green lines above. The line on the right indicates where the other button band is sitting underneath. 

You can see how the under band leans to the opposite side, not falling down straight. 

Here you can see that if I leave the top snap undone it is a bit better but not much. If I leave two undone it is a lot better and cleave city! That takes it below the bra band. 

Do I dare take the snaps out and redo them all on the diagonal?????? It is the only way those bands fall on grain and the top looks right. This may not bother the rest of humanity at all but it bugs the crap out of me. This blouse is never ending. What would you do?

The whole thing is just crazy.  Is it my body that is making it do this? No FBA. No Petiting the upper chest like I always do. Is this shirt meant for the less endowed? That's fine but don't let me work out my fantasy shirt and all of it's quirks to end up with this because I simply am a Ccup, LIKE MOST WOMEN, if that is even it. Or is it just plain poorly designed? Did someone take a shortcut when all they had to do was shape that button band with a bit of an angle and it would be perfection. ?  This is the first time I have been disappointed in a Vogue Designer pattern like this. I will wear my top with my distressed skinny jeans like Lucy did but I'll know it could have been so much better. Please tell me if it is my sewing as well. I am open. My body? My sewing? My pattern?  Thank you. 


I am almost done my "house dress" . It is darling and coming along wonderfully.  Moving right along positively!

Happy Sewing!

Who owned this pattern?

Recently I've had the opportunity to charge ahead on a long anticipated project, searching down some great thrift shops. This has not be...