Sunday, 25 July 2021

Toiles and trouble

New Look 6594 feels like the dress that doesn't want to be made. It has been 'next on my list' twice, and was knocked back by this and this. And right now, I'm wishing that something else would come along to make it third time unlucky.

It all looks so simple . . .

Even though I use New Look patterns a lot, I knew that I had to make a toile for at least the bodice for this one - with the V neck and two-part bodice front there was just too much that could go wrong. I decided to go back to basics and make the toile direct from the pattern, without my usual short torso adjustments.

The bodice pieces

As expected, it was too long, and also as expected, the amount varied - 5cm/2" at the centre back and 2.5cm/1" at the centre front. The neckline was fine, though. I had intended to just shorten the back and midriff pieces (2 and 3), but there seemed to be some odd excess at side of bodice top, so I also shortened that a little by adjusting the curve.

The first toile, modelled by Nancy

Bodice adjustment

I made a second toile with these adjustments, plus a little extra width in gathered section of the bodice. It also seemed like a good idea to add a sleeve on one side, to check what if this had any effect on the bodice.

The second version mostly worked. There is still a slight pouffe in the bodice top, but it turns out that it's necessary if I want to be able to raise my arms!

The sleeve sticks out a lot, mostly because the fabric I used is quite stiff. However, this did make me wonder if the shoulder seam is too long, as the sleeve head seems to be off my shoulder. The usual solution will be sought - a trip to my mum's for a second opinion!

Sleeve and shoulder

I've decided that I also need to toile the skirt. After the (still unresolved) fit issues I had with my 1930s/1970s mashup skirt, this is necessary, but not appealing.

Once the skirt is added, there's one more thing to consider. 6594 has a 1940s feel and this extends beyond just the 'look'. Unusually for a modern pattern, it has a side zip, and no centre back seam. This makes it, like Vogue 9546 (a true 1940s pattern), a bit of a fight to get on and (especially) off. So, do I resign myself to the struggle, or do I tweak the pattern even more and add some sort of front opening to the bodice section?

Do I replace faux buttons with real ones?

All in all, this project is starting to feel like a lot of work. I've always had to alter patterns to fit me, but previously it was just a case of making the bodice 2" shorter all round, and I was good to go. I found I was really starting to begrudge the time it’s taking to fit this pattern, and that got me thinking about why I make clothes.

I have plenty already, so I don't really need more except to replace actual worn-out items. I make clothes because I enjoy sewing, and I take pleasure in creating things which fit properly. I've known for over a year that I need to devote some time to understanding how to fit to my changed shape, and have been putting it off as 'too hard' and just tinkering round the edges instead. So, rather than resenting the time it's taking to get this pattern right, I really ought to be looking at it as learning new skills - skills which I'll then use for everything I will make subsequently.

I'm still not looking forward to fitting the skirt, though!

Sunday, 18 July 2021

New Look 6093 completed - and a new venture

My fourth 6093 is finished, and looks likely to meet the fate of the dress it replaced - being worn until it's worn out! I love it. The fabric is perfect for a self-confessed fan of all things blue, and I'm very happy with the fit.

The completed dress

After leaving the facing until the very end in case I needed to adjust the neckline, I discovered that it fitted fine as it was - no need for darts at the back. Most of the extra skirt length I'd added ended up in the hem, but this didn't feel like a waste of effort as I've had to make do with tiny hems on previous versions. The biggest win, however, was the bust alteration. It was only slight, but it subtly changes the dress from 'OK but snug' to 'just right'.

Look! I can move my arms!

Taking photos gave me a reason to wear my gorgeous new hair flowers from Pin Up Curl - thanks to Ms1940McCall for the recommendation. The necklace, meanwhile, qualifies as 'vintage'; that's to say I bought it new in 1980! I remember spotting it in the window of a gift shop in the town where I grew up and saving my pocket money for several weeks, all the while anxiously hoping that it wouldn't be bought by someone else in the meantime. I've not worn it for a while, so it's nice to have a dress with the right neckline and colours to show it off.

Showing off hair flowers and necklace

Completing this dress has also neutralised the fabric purchase on the Stashometer.

Back down to a 3.8m deficit

While I was taking the photos, I remembered this article I'd read on the (now sadly ended, but still available to read) Sewcialists blog. Although pattern envelope illustrations are becoming more diverse in terms of size, skin colour and age, models are almost exclusively able-bodied, and pictured standing up. As Michelle, the author of the article points out, this means that wheelchair users who sew have to guess whether or not the pattern might work for them.

The pattern envelope for New Look 6093 is fairly standard in this respect.

Standing model, and upright line drawings

This has been the accepted mode of illustration pretty much since pattern envelopes began featuring clothed bodies rather than just completed garments. I had a trawl through my collection of vintage patterns, and even those for blouses and tops mostly feature standing figures. When people are drawn sitting, they normally appear perched on the edge of something rather than fully seated.

Almost all the seated figures on my patterns for dresses are 'perchers'

Obviously, the point of a pattern illustration is to show the completed item(s), and the clearest way of doing this is on a standing figure. Very few patterns, however, only contain one version of one garment: there are usually variations included. Where these are for necklines and/or sleeves, there doesn't seem to be any reason why they can't be shown on a second, seated figure, as on this 1940s Style example.

The only vintage pattern I own with a fully seated figure!

Which brings me on to my new venture. From now on, I'm going to include seated photographs of me wearing what I've made, as well as standing ones. I wasn't quite sure how best to go about this but fortunately Michelle explained exactly what's required. "Draped poses are not helpful at all. I need straight-on, forward-facing seated poses because when you're in a wheelchair that's what you see."

So, no to this . . .

. . . but yes to this

I'm very aware that as I rarely use currently-available patterns (even New Look 6093 is now out of print) my seated images will be of limited use to other sewists. However by including them, both on this blog and social media, along with the hashtag #SewnShownSeated, I hope that can play a tiny part in making it more normal to see self-made clothes shown off in a seated position.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Tweaking a 'TNT' pattern

Tried-and-trusted New Look 6093 is officially my most-used pattern. The version I'm currently working on is my fourth, nudging it just ahead of Simplicity 1777, which I've made three times. Plus, I used the sleeve for my New Look frankenpattern anemone dress.

My current project

Obviously, one big advantage of a TNT pattern is that you can just take the pieces out of the envelope and crack straight on. I'm actually making a few alterations this time however, both to the pattern pieces and the construction methods. I'm keeping the slightly raised neckline I tried out in version three, lengthening the skirt a little, and making the whole dress a fraction wider - those covid pounds are proving hard to shift. I'm also aware that, thanks to this change, the earlier versions are now very close-fitting around the bust. So, I'm attempting to (quite literally) accommodate this by altering the curve of the bodice piece.

My alteration for a fuller bust

I'm also completely ignoring the instructions - something which is easier to do with a pattern you know well. Much as I like the design, each version has required a few fitting tweaks in the skirt. To make these easier this time round, the very first things I did were sew the centre back seam and put in the zip. Then, I attached the skirt side panels to the front and back.

I'm making view A - again

Next, I added the bodice pieces (discovering in the process that I hadn't thought to check how I’d positioned the pattern piece on the fabric, and as a result I have perfectly positioned boob flowers - oops!).

The real reason why you should 'avoid large florals'!

The shoulder seams came next, then adding the sleeves. Now I can just pin up the side seams, and use the zip to try the dress on for fitting.

I have deliberately left the neck facing off so far, in fact, I haven't even cut out the back facing yet. New Look patterns do sometimes gape around the neck on me, so I want to get the fit right before making and attaching the facing. I might need to add neck darts, a fit detail which appears quite often in my vintage patterns but seems to have been abandoned now.

Naturally, all of this has been noted in my project notebook, in case I ever need it for version number five!

Monday, 5 July 2021

'Follow by email' is no more

So long, farewell, etc. etc.

As readers who have their own blogs on Blogger will know, the 'FollowBy Email' option is being removed shortly. This means that if you have signed up to automatically receive new Black Tulip posts in your inbox, they will stop arriving some time this month. I will still be posting every Sunday, but the posts will only appear on the blog itself. So far, I've not been able to find anything in the blogosphere which would provide an alternative email service. If and when something comes up, I'll announce it here. And if you're a fellow Blogger user and have found an alternative, please let me know.

Sadly however, it looks as though this is yet another element of the general move away from blogs and the written word towards more image-based platforms - just don't expect to find me on TikTok any time soon (and by 'soon', I mean 'ever')!

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Vogue Pattern Book, November 1940

There has been almost no sewing this week, so for today's post I'm looking at one of my older copies of Vogue Pattern Book.

Excellent pattern matching on the skirt!

It was originally sold with the November 1940 issue of Vogue. The magazine itself (which I don't have) probably covered the subject more but looking through the pattern book, you would barely know that the country had been at war for more than a year. There are statements throughout that prices may be subject to purchase tax, but I could only find a couple of specific references to the reason why this new tax was necessary.

On the final page, below the details of patterns featured, there is a warning that fewer copies of each issue are now available.

"Every issue since the war has been sold out"

The advertisement for Vogue's knitting books on the back cover mentions the war in a couple of ways.

The back cover

Do knit for war workers

But don't waste wool

The only impact that the war appears to be having on Vogue Patterns, however, is in the "Dressing for winter" feature. This showcases "five of the newest patterns specially chosen for their up-to-the-minute fashion news and because they are all in step with our lives this winter".

Five patterns for winter

Alongside a coat, a suit, and dresses for day and afternoon is pattern 8852, a shelter suit.

For taking refuge during air raids

Other than the oblique reference to the magazine's reduced print run (this, and the move to being a monthly publication are covered in more detail in this book), there's nothing to suggest any difficulties or restrictions with printing. In terms of use of colour, the magazine is fairly similar to the 1934 issue which I wrote about here. There are some page spreads in black and white, some in a single colour, and some in multiple colours. The insides of the front and back covers both feature photography.

Black and white

Blue only

Multiple colours

Photographs on the inside back cover

The feature on "23 new designs on sale early in November" starts with pattern number 8843. This suggests that the Vogue Patterns leaflet which I wrote about here, and which has a highest pattern number of 8728, was issued several months earlier.

Brand new designs

Other than the shelter suit, the patterns featured in this pattern book suggest life carrying on very much as normal. There are couturier designs, patterns featuring the 'new slim lines', furs a-plenty, and evening gowns. The dinner gown which appears on the inside front cover takes a whopping 8¾ yards of 35” wide satin to make. I wonder if anyone who bought this pattern had any idea that in just a few months' time clothes rationing would be introduced, and would last until well after the war had ended?

Couturier designs 349, 348, 352, 347, 350 and 355

The suit on the right (8783) has a detachable fur collar

Pattern 8796, and another fur

Plenty of evening gowns to choose from

Pattern 8825 (and lots of satin)