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Apr 6, 2010

Back in the saddle

So I sewed yesterday! 

I finally cut my fabric for Simplicity 3873, my two-piece dress from 1941, and started putting this puppy together.  I decided to do the whole thing in the YELLOW cotton-poly sheet I'd found at the Salvation Army a few weeks ago.

I enjoy the challenge of working in a color I despise would not normally choose, and there are some great complementary colors (at least I think they're complementary) like purple that will find their way into the finished outfit, no doubt, and play down the YELLOW.  I may even find a way to use this:

Putting together the eleven-panel skirt was challenging, but I'm getting used to working with pattern pieces that have no printed markings.

What's amazing is that all the little holes and V-shaped cuts still make sense after all these years. So far this seems like a splendidly drafted pattern. 

While the individual panels look symmetrical, they are not, so I had to pay close attention to fitting each piece correctly to its neighbor.  A dirty little secret (I have a lot of those) is that normally I don't mark anything unless I have to, but rather just eyeball what lines up with what.  That wasn't possible here.

Today I'll attach the waistband and insert an approximately 8" invisible zipper.  Here's the skirt on the pattern envelope:

And here's mine, from the inside.  Did I mention that the eleven panels are five different sizes (i.e., two of each pattern piece, with one additional piece)?

I've been pressing the dickens out of this skirt because cotton-poly doesn't "give" the way cotton does.  I don't want puckers.

It fits me, so it should fit Cathy too if she hasn't put on weight since I saw her last.  She's shooting a pilot out in L.A. -- would you believe they're re-making "It's a Living?"

I fear "Small Wonder" is next.

But back to the skirt.

I wish I had more to show you, peeps.  I'm very excited about tackling the top, which currently looks like this:

Oh wait, I almost forgot -- I do have something to show you!  Look what I bought yesterday on Etsy:

Who can resist a vintage Forties Hollywood pattern?  Not I.

Have a great day and happy sewing everybody!


  1. Kathy's skirt is coming together nicely. I have to say I LOVE your new/old pattern. Can't wait to see that one made up.

  2. The skirt of that frock looks fabulous. (And I don't mean to be rude, but I do feel that the yellow will suit Cathy a little better than you, with her beautiful complexion).

    Looking forward to seeing the rest of the dress!

  3. I rather like the colour and you will be surprised by what Cathy can wear with it.

  4. Gorgeous, Peter! I look forward to seeing the finished product. :)

  5. Looks awesome.
    I'm a little confused about an 11panel skirt though. I've never seen skirts with odd numbers of panels except for maybe the GibsonGirl era skirts which I think were 5 panels.

    I guess if the waist fits, then it's correct, but the pattern instructions you showed leads me to believe that it's suppose to be a 12panel skirt though.

  6. Your ebay found is even better than you thought: it is definitely Thirties, I would guess it is 1934 or something like this :-) So this is real old Hollywood Glamour for Cathy!

  7. The dress is great but I had to laugh about the It' a Living clip. I had completely forgotten about that show!

  8. Lookin' good! I'm calling the color "Jonquil" . . . sounds so much nicer than YELLOW! Eleven panels . . . sigh . . . I think I'dve thrown thrown in the towel after about six or seven!! Can't wait to see the finished garment . . . the right accessories could knock this one out of the ballpartk!

  9. I love the new pattern you picked up. I usually just drool over the Hollywood pattens (never bought one), so I am very jealous.

    The yellow is very yellow. But, I have hope Peter. I think bringing in purple will hopefully tone it down. The skirt is coming along great!

  10. That is definitely a YELLOW skirt. But it's Spring in NYC and quite appropriate, no? I have to ask - does Cathy take her outfits with her on her travels or do you store each one? If the latter, I'm wondering if she maybe had an ulterior motive for your style makeover and thus thinning of your closet? ;-)

    Seeing the It's a Living pic (didn't look at the clip yet) tells me you are inside my head. I was *just* trying to remember Ann Jillian's name a couple of weeks ago. There was a girl on American Idol - voted off now - who reminded me of someone and it took me forever to place who. Yep, Ann Jillian was the answer.

  11. Ann Jillian was the original Baby June in "Gypsy" if you can believe it. And the REAL Baby June, June Havoc, died only last week. Ah, trivia, trivia.

    There are 6 skirt panel pieces but one -- "D" is cut on fold and becomes the center back panel. All the others are cut double. I think the photo above shows that (you can click on it to see it a bit bigger).

    Jonquil...I like the sound of that.

    I ALSO thought this looked more 30s than 40s, but the seller said 1944. We'll see when it arrives. The left-most illustration looks very late 30s to me.

  12. That IS a screaming yellow zonker yellow, isn't it? Don't you wonder who wanted to have bright yellow sheets on their bed? I would stay away from purple, though. Purple is complimentary to yellow (they are opposites on the color wheel). Put those two together and you might explode! Try using a red-toned fabric instead. It may soften the effect of the yellow.

    Will you be attempting the welt pockets on the jacket?

  13. I love the Hollywood one, which may be '30s. Checked the Blueprints of Fashion, the number fits in the mid 40's, but the style speaks late 30's to me, and the cover/printface looks like 1940, so not conclusive, but maybe it helps to create/unravel a mystery :)

  14. Lynne W RatherBeSewingApril 6, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    I'm happy you decided on all yellow rather than a two-tone, and confident this will be a knockout like the others. What I really covet is that fabulous blue floral coyly flirting in the background. Be still, my heart.

  15. I love the Joan Bennett dress! CoPA dates it as 1937, which sounds about right to me. And it's a Pattern of Youth, to boot!

  16. Wow -- thanks, Sarah. I had never even heard of CoPA (Commerical Pattern Archive, I have since learned).

    Aha! -- a "Pattern of Youth." How fitting!

    Who said this dress was matronly?

  17. That is a BRIGHT springy yellow and I love the skirt pattern you are using it with. The panels and shape of the skirt make me think of a daffodil. Although the mental image of it paired with the faux tiger fur has me a little scared. No one asked me, but I'm thinking don't go there...

  18. You in the skirt is just priceless. Can't wait to see how this turns out! Tonight I have the third of four classes Beginning Sewing class - reading your blog has really gotten me motivated to take this sewing thing to the next level! Thanks!

  19. Lovely jonquil outfit! Lucky Cathy ... I just finished a two-piece dress from a mid-1940s Simplicity pattern, and didn't find the unprinted pattern pieces too intimidating. (I traced them onto Swedish tracing paper, because I had to grade the pattern up a bit around the tush. Sigh.)

    Definitely go for the bound buttonholes. They aren't as fearsome as they sound, and a vintage pattern calls for classy buttonholes. I had to make 5 for my dress. OK, I have the Dritz bound buttonhole tool (Mom started sewing in the 1940s and has nearly every sewing tool known to man), but it's mostly just a matter of careful marking and stitching. Peter, you can topstitch like nobody's business, so you can do bound buttonholes!

  20. I remember staying at the Westin Bonaventure back in the late 1990s for work and being totally bummed that none of my co-workers (most of whom were born in the late 1970s) had no idea what I meant when I babbled about It's a Living and Ann Jillian!

  21. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog!! I'm a professional costume designer and cutter/draper....I spend all day, 5 days a week making patterns or sewing...its is so great to see other projects (I don't work with store bought patterns much, so its super great to see people using them). Sewing is unfortunately a dying art and an almost dead skill. Its so sad that most people can't even sew on a button (let alone a bound buttonhole - those even scare the crap out of me!)...I'm totally in lust with your vintage machine collection!

  22. Can you imagine waking up to brilliant yellow sheets? Makes my head hurt....

    Cathy will need a hat, the derby is around the corner you know. (Like you need another excuse to go hunting!)

    Oh, and I'm crushing on the Etsy purchase.

  23. I love Ann Jillian... and I love your blog... I wish I had an identical cousin.

  24. The dress will be fabulous I'm sure. I think that you are on the right track with the purple contrast, but what about toning it down a notch with a cornflower colour from the purple family? I reckon that you will get it right anyway. I love your work.

  25. Yeah, it's bright, but it's also kind of fun. I'm impressed with your patience at putting all of those panels together. I hope the top goes smoothly, too.

  26. I heart that skirt and saw somewhere that "yellow" is really IN for Spring. Great job.

    Sorry to hear about June Havoc. Had no idea. Mitzi is still here, isn't she? Yikes, I hope so? The "Donald" to me is Donald O'Conner and I really miss him.

    Cathy is going to look FAB in that dress! Have you thought about accessories? I like black patent with yellow??


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