Sunday, 20 September 2015

Style 1961 for daughter, using mother's fabric.

When I went to London last month,  I took a toile of Style 1961 for Helen to try on. It was a little snug around the upper thigh area and I modified that on my pattern (I traced it!). A sign of her getting older is that she wanted the finished length to be as it was, unhemmed - so I added a further 4 cms to the length. It's also an indication of how long ago I promised her this skirt, though, too! I don't have a photo of the pattern envelope - I gave it to Helen to take away should she wish to make another for herself, not that she's started sewing. It's an old pattern from the 80s I think, of pencil skirts with vents in two lenghts, with and without separate waistbands. I have another very similar from the same era. I went to a 'night class' hoping I'd learn how to sew but it didn't work out that way.

Finished skirt

The fabric for the skirt is wool, tweed, checked. My mother cut out a long straight skirt from the fabric but didn't continue. As you may know, my mother is registered blind and has been for the last 9 years - so this must have been cut out around 10 years ago, I think. Unfortunately, she hadn't thought about pattern matching and I had only the pieces she had cut out. (psst - don't tell Helen, but she didn't use a nap layout and should have done so!). I didn't have any selvedges but the checks were longer lengthwise than widthwise. The pattern pieces were still pinned to the fabric. I washed the wool to pre-treat and shrink. I'm not sure if that's the best way to pre-treat wool but thought that perhaps Helen was more likely to wash than dry clean so that's the route I took.

Anyway, I went ahead and cut out my modified pattern,  The front fitted onto the fabric relatively easily and I was able to get a suitable stripe in the centre. The skirt I was making was much shorter, so I had some length to play with. I cut the front out on a single layer, which made it much easier to match the pattern.

The back was a different story, though. There was exactly the right width available for the body of the skirt but no spare fabric for the vent extensions. I was not able to accurately match the lines in the back, the vertical lines, but did my best with the horizontal lines.

I forgot to get a close up of the vent and of the lapped zipper

I decided to use the lapped zip recommended by the pattern. While making the toile, I had some problems with this but managed an acceptable zip at the end of the process. I started using the pattern's method again. Unfortunately, I kept getting into trouble - that zip was in and out several times. I considered doing an invisible zip but decided against that. Before I inserted the zip, I finished the edges and interfaced the zipper seam allowance.

In the end, I used the method from Reader's Digest and this went ahead without a hitch. I will be using this method from now on for a lapped zip. The two important factors are 1) the seam is tacked closed and 2) the zip stays closed at all times.  This should have meant that my stripes stayed where they were supposed to but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I did use a dual feed foot where I could to help, but couldn't with the zipper insertion. I also have double ended pins which are helpful in matching stripes.

I had problems with the waistband. Although there was a waistband with the fabric pieces, this wasn't suitable and I didn't have a piece of fabric large enough - eventually, I pieced 3 pieces of fabric together and used preformed waistband interfacing.

I had intended to line the skirt but with all the problems and wanting to get on to the next thing in my long list, I decided not to. H can make herself an old fashioned under slip to wear with the skirt if she wants. I will also give her the modified pattern and she can have a go at one that starts with the right amount of fabric in the right places!!

Because I wasn't lining the skirt, I went ahead and joined the waistband to the skirt and stitched-in-the-ditch from the front to hold it in place.

I then decide to use a hook and eye closure instead of buttonhole and button.

I asked PR readers advice about my extension-less vents. I got some helpful replies. However, I had said in my post that I would be lining so some of the posts highlighted that area. In the end, I decided to go with my original thought of sewing an extra piece of fabric on each side where the extensions should be. This was tricky with pattern matching and also because the fabric is a little too thick for this treatment. However, needs must!

I decided to keep the fold at the right side of the vent as I thought that would look better than seeing the seam. I slip-stitched down the length of the fold to keep it in pace. The left side was folded back so I made sure the seam was a few mm in from the edge.

I then hemmed the skirt. I chose to overlock the edge,  turn up by 4 cm and handstitch the hem in place so that it's not visible from the outside.

This should have been an easier task than I made it appear! The lack of fabric width was certainly a hindrance. I had to cut out my pieces the way I did - even if the back is upside down compared to the front! I wanted to practice lapped zipper, waistband and vents. I also wanted to use up the fabric my mother had given me. So, all in all, success.

The end result is acceptable, I believe. Certainly not couture (and I hope she doesn't think this is a good example of any of the techniques!) but should do Helen a turn or two. With tights and boots it should be cosy for the winter, which is, alas, too close!

I wrote the above when Helen was due to be visiting  two weeks later and decided to keep the post until she cam and I could try the skirt and modify if necessary and of course take photos.

Helen and her fiancé were here from the early hours of Friday morning until after lunch today.

On Friday, Helen to tried on the skirt. We found that the extra added to the toile when I was visiting London was probably mainly unnecessary. I had to take in a part of the side seam on each side - H's hips are longer and smoother rather than having a definitive bulge. Anyway, she liked the skirt and plans to wear it to work tomorrow. She read the part of the blog I had already written and approved it and said she'd send a winter photo of her wearing boots and tights.

On Friday afternoon, I was able to visit my pattern cutting tutor with Helen to get advice on the fit of her dress toile and how to modify that and my little dressmaking model (Missy). I'm pleased to say that was pretty successful - we finalised our wedding dress ideas, taking my tutor's input very much into account - no further details on my blog, though!

A was able to try on his second waistcoat toile. Interestingly, I had modified the first toile by pinning at the time and then making the changes to the pattern and the existing toile, but also produced a second 'cleaner' toile. These were very different in fit, with the second being much superior. I hadn't copied the changes over directly as DH pointed out that A, a sportsman, was fairly strong and more developed around the shoulders, so I took a tuck in the gaping front rather than raise the shoulders. The length was much better, though I will have to modify the position of the tabs on the back. A thinks it is still a little too loose (I took in a lot) - while I don't agree, I think that is a personal choice and I will make some further modifications. I noticed, too , that the right side seam was not completely vertical so I will work on that, too.

On Saturday, yesterday, we were holding the 3rd annual family golf match around Invitation Weekend at our club. I play with my daughter's fiancé, A,  while DH plays with our SIL. This year, DH decided to up the ante by having a trophy made!  Unfortunately, A had his golf clubs and bag, containing golf shoes and other accessories , stolen on Friday, discovered when he went to get them from their supposedly secure storage. He and H nearly missed their late night train as locks had to get changed, insurance company contacted etc. A managed to buy new shoes etc on Saturday morning and DH loaned him some golf clubs, by splitting his set with him.

Yesterday was a beautiful late summer/early autumn day with temperatures as high as 19 deg C - warm for us but maybe not for our southern living family! I golfed in crops and golf shirt until close on 6pm when I had to put on my jumper. A managed the round without developing any blisters - a positive with brand new shoes. A and I managed to win the match, though our scores were poor in comparison to the other scores entered. My SIL and A are both very competitive and are already planning more practice before next year's round now that a trophy is involved!

Today my oldest daughter Alison tried on her dress toile and I made a few minor modifications. I'm pleased to say that the bust area fitted pretty well. However, I think she'd suit a princess seamed bodice better and I plan to modify the toile further. She takes a 32FF bra and as a result, the side bust dart is rather large, which might not look so good in some of the bridal fabrics.

Helen and Alison added a couple of tweaks to the drawings for the bridesmaids' dresses, approved by A, and I'm pleased that I now have a clear way forward. DH took some photos of Helen in the skirt and some photos against a measuring stick for reference later.

I've just started back at my sewing classes and I'm excited about the next stages of these projects.


  1. Lovely skirt, it looks great on your daughter. It also looks like you made a lot of progress with all wedding related sewing!

    1. Thank you. Yes, good progress in that some decisions have been made. An essential first step but still a long way to go!

  2. Lapped zips can be quite tricky to master, but once you've found a method that works for you, stick with it. I think the skirt is a good save and you have done well with the limitations you had.

    I think that with a full cup size a princess line is the only way to properly fit the curves.

    1. Thank you, Sarah Liz
      This was a much better method for the lapped zip and gave such a nice finish that I won't use another method now! I think that a lapped zip is better than a concealed one in these situations, do you agree?
      Yep - princess line it's going to be!

  3. I agree with Sarah Liz. I watched a great lapped zip video and now only do it that way (Sandra Betzina), also I agree about the princess line. I really like the skirt - it looks nice on Helen, and the black background makes her look like a professional model.

    1. Thanks, Kate. Mine is the Readers Digest method not sure if same or different from Sandra Bettina's.
      Helen likes the skirt and got compliments when she wore it. A keeper!

  4. This is ever so lovely. And your daughter is beautiful.


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