Sunday, 10 January 2021

Off at a tangent

It’s a new year, and I'm back sewing again - yay! I'm not short of projects, either. Last year's December dress is still outstanding, I've got some brushed cotton waiting to be made into a cosy winter dress, and there's also the first challenge for the Sew A Vintage Style Dress Community (the new name for the Vintage-Sew-A-Dress-A-Month, which has now moved to quarterly challenges). Oh, and I really should do something with that black velvet remnant before it creases too much.

So, am I cracking on with any of these? Reader, I am not.

Yes, it's happened again

Debi, aka Ms1940McCall, who makes the most wonderful vintage clothing (see it here and here), has come up with the idea of a monthly theme for her sewing and has invited others to join in. January's theme is 'loungewear', which she has expanded to include underwear. Which prompted me to think about a project I have had in mind for years, and make myself some slips.

I love full, rather than waist, slips: they have the same effect as lining a dress without the hassle of having to add a lining and, of course, one slip can be worn with multiple dresses. Naturally, I'm talking about the proper, old-fashioned, shaped sort of slip, not the modern ones which are essentially a tube of stretch fabric with shoulder straps. Without really meaning to, I have acquired a selection of vintage slips, mostly from the 1970s.

My slip 'collection'

The two on the left are both 'St Michael', which was Marks and Spencer's own-brand label. They are both too small for me, but I have kept them with a view to copying the styles someday. The other two are labels I have never heard of. The blue one is (rather haphazardly) made from cotton, and like so many RTW clothes it doesn't fit me well due to my short torso. Which is why making my own is the way forward.

These are the patterns I have to choose from. I own a couple of others, but they are for a 32" bust and redrafting to my size felt like a job too far until I know more about lingerie making.

Patterns from the 1940s to the 1970s

The Blackmore pattern is very fitted and has a side placket closure, which is more work than I want for this particular project, and Simplicity 9115 requires stretch fabric, which I don't have. I love Simplicity S20, especially the contrast cup details, but the main part is cut on the bias and so is a bit of a fabric hog, and I've got limited supplies of suitable fabric in my stash. Style 4905 and Maudella 4267 look as though they are essentially the same pattern. I decided (for once) to start with something easy, so narrowed it down to Style 1565 or Style 1462.

Reducing the choice to two

I was amazed by the difference in bust dart size between the two patterns. There is no suggestion on the patterns taking cup size into account, so I'm guessing that 1565 fits far more closely to the ribcage.

That's quite a difference in bust shaping

As an aside - Style had clearly not long moved to printed patterns when 1565 was produced, and I love the way that it uses the same markings as older punched Style patterns; for example the long oval to mark the fold. Obviously, Style decided to stick to what their customers were used to, but printed.

Sticking to the old punched symbols

In the end I went for 1462. It's very simple, so a good way to start, especially as I'm using a drapey, slippery, fabric. Also, my love of late 1970s Style patterns isn't going anywhere soon, so a 1976 slip to wear underneath seems like a good idea. I left the bodice section unchanged, and took 5cm/2" out of the 'skirt' length above the waist.

The pattern itself is straightforward. Join the backs together, join the fronts together, dart the bodice pieces and join them together, attach the bodice to the front, sew the side seams, neaten the raw edges, add straps - done. The trickiest part was attaching the bodice to the front: despite my best efforts it ended up slightly off, and with a minor pucker. If I make this pattern again (and I probably will), I'm tempted to experiment with attaching the bodice pieces to the front pieces separately, and then sewing the centre front seam in one go.

Smooth on one side, slightly less so on the other

I finished all the seams with a narrow, three-thread overlock, and was on track to have a plain but perfectly serviceable slip made up. Until I decided that it was a little too plain.

Usable, but nothing special

So, off I went to trawl through my laces and trims. I found a lovely scalloped lace which I bought years ago for a project, but in the end couldn't use because it was slightly too short, and the shop didn't have any more. It will look perfect round the hem of the slip, but my machine sewing skills aren't up to attaching it, so it will have to be done by hand. Gulp. I see a lot of box sets in my immediate future - and all those other projects may have to wait a while longer!

With the trim laid over

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