Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bound buttonholes... success!

After having inspired costume-talk at an Afternoon Tea the other day, I decided I was ready to cut into my 1940s shirt dress and make these crazy things called bound buttonholes.

I followed Wearing History's simplified instructions and seemed to have some success.  I marked out the little 1/8-inch lines on little squares, pinned them to the appropriate places on my dress and stitched the outlines.

Then, SHAKING, I cut into the fabric and flipped the square through to the other side. I  then made the little "lips" and voila: Bound buttonholes:

Making ten of these took me about 6 hours.
Here is a pic of the very messy inside. I still haven't mastered blind stitching.  I am, however, very proud of the covered buttons. I LOVED MAKING THEM!

So, my dress is done now except for hemming the skirt. I'll post a photo of it when I am in a better mood. I was so proud of my work on the dress until I put it on me. I'm not liking the dress on me as much as I like it on the dress form.  

I'm a little disheartened at the moment, but I am hoping getting adjustment advice from Heather tomorrow will cheer me up.

EDIT:  It did!  Here's a fabulous pic: 

I still need to hem the bottom and re-press those pleats, but there it is.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How NOT to sew a 1940s Hat.

For the play I am in, I really want to make the beautiful View B hat from pattern V7464.  However, everyone says it's impossible to make. In order to gain the confidence to attempt that hat, I decided I'd make an "easier" one first. Big mistake.

The following is a transcript of how NOT to sew Vintage Vogue's Hat Pattern # 7464 (view c).

Don't snip the FOLDED edge of the buckram crown, no matter now much the instructions make you think you should:

If you do, it will cause you to want to sew the crown on upside down like I did.  This is very bad. When you do this it will not wrap completely around the entire donut hole and it will look like a pope hat:

The instructions say to sew the self bias ribbon by machine. I thought that would look ugly because I can't sew in a perfect circle. So I opened the tape up and machine sewed the inside. Then I hand-sewed the outside. Don't do it the way I did:

If you do, you will then trap the stupid pope hat in so that you can't easily fix your upside-down mistake once you realize you had made the upside down mistake.

Next, do not keep messing with the buckram crown trying to find some way to make the darn thing work the way it is. It will get uglier the more you mess with it:

Next, do not decide to cut the stupid crown off and start again. Because, in your frustration, you will then resort to using fabric glue to affix the next one (because remember, you sewed that stupid self-bias on so well it can't be easily removed). Then, the glue will dry and you will realize you glued the pope hat crown upside down. Again. And realize that now it can't be removed at all. Because you glued it:

Then, after realizing you're screwed, don't decide to completely cut out the inside layer of buckram from the messed-up fabric crown in an attempt to make it flexible enough to complete cover the ugly white buckram stay.  Because it still wont cover. And it will look ugly.

However, DO write a Picasso quote on the top of the soon-to-be-covered "buckram stay"
to make yourself feel a little better. It works.

I chose the quote, "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."  I wrote this quote because I like the idea that theater costumes are symbolic of the character they belong to. My 1940s shirt dress for Miss Fischer has a subtle blue stripe. The stripes themselves represent her conformity, her towing the party line, so to speak. But the teal blue color represents her individuality and the part of herself she is desperately trying to deny.  The Picasso quote I have hidden inside the hat is another nod to Miss Fischer's personality. She is an art critic for a reason: She loves art, though must destroy it in order to preserve her way of life.

Anyways, back to the un-tutorial. Don't think it would be a good idea to hand-sew some random scrap of fabric onto the un-buckramed crown in order to make it long enough to cover your Picasso quote.  If you do, it will look like a flying nun's hat:

Do not then spend hours trying to hand sew the extra fabric in place so it doesn't look like crap.  Because it will look like crap. And then you'll have to keep fixing it and keep fixing it.  Then, don't sew the bow to the ugly seam line you created in an attempt to hide the ugly seam line. Because you won't actually hide it. At all. 

Unfortunately all of this frankensteining will make your hat not tall enough to look right on your head, and will also make it look rather bunchy. So, it ends up looking something like this:

So, yeah. Don't do any of that and you should be fine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

1940s fashion and style

1940s Makeup by GoforKat - Makeup Artist Kat Ramirez
Here are just a few photos that have inspired me in crafting my 1940s dress. My character in "a Picasso" is somewhat of an intelligent beauty, and I hope to have even a sliver of the glamour contained within these images.
Betty Grable... stunning.

Below is one of the very first images I came across when researching 40s work clothes. I fell in love with the clean lines and stunning cape/coat. To me this represents my character, Miss Fisher as the suit itself is very sensible with no decoration or extravagance, yet the coat shows her style and true self (though I won't reveal here what that is!).
Green tweed cape over sand silk shantung suit. (ca. 1941)

I am in awe over this one as well:
Vionnet (ca.1933)
I cannot explain what this picture of Lucille Ball does for me... It is so beautiful it makes my eyes water!

Lucille Ball in a splendid HAT!

I want that hat so badly I have considered making this one below (and have already bought the pattern) ... However the only mentions of it online are by people who cannot decipher the pattern instructions.  *sobs*
My dream hat from Vintage Vogue 7464
 And this image. I don't even know what film it comes from yet it seems to demonstrate the stubbornness of Miss Fischer and Picasso very clearly.
This definitely reminds me of our characters.
I don't know if it's just because I have been studying the play these past few months or if I have just never seen 1940s style before, but I cannot tell you how obsessed I have become over this time period!  The glamour is just more than I can bear! I really think I was born in the wrong time period.

If you would like to see the rest of my style inspiration for this play, visit my 1940s Pinterest page and add me for updates! I also have pages for other decades as well.

From 1940s mockup to shirtdress reality!

The mockup is complete and I am progressing nicely on my final 1940s shirtdress for a play I'm in. However, before cutting into the fabric I began panicking about the striped design of the fabric. In my limited sewing experience I confess I have never worked with stripes and didn't know if it would ruin the stodgy, sophisticated design I was attempting for my character.  It turns out stripes are manna from heaven! I loved having lines to follow, and through the cutting process I ended up discovering how many errors the original vintage pattern contained. 
Remember this mess from the mockup?  Stupid perforations!!!

 The perforations for the pleats were off by as much as and inch and a half by the time I got to the hem. So, I just corrected a few things and voila:

I still need to hem the dress, finish the buttons and button holes and add snaps on the wrists of the sleeves. Also, I can't seem to find a belt buckle that isn't this God-awful leprechaun gold. So distracting, and I'm pretty sure not a wise thing to have on stage. Blinding the audience is usually a no-no.

Also, I am still debating about adding the period-appropriate bound buttonholes. I was inspired a few months ago when I saw a production of Light in the Piazza. They had the most beautiful dresses on display in the lobby including one that was very similar in design to my pattern. (See below!)

I couldn't resist getting up close and personal with those buttonholes. Exquisite! I am pretty sure I will regret not doing them, but it may just come down to a time issue as there is slightly more memorization involved in a two-person show.

Now about that hat...