Friday, 1 January 2016

1937 Home Journal Pattern

Wasn't going to write about this until it was finished but every time I go to a Spotlight sale, I seem to bump into a fellow blogger. Same as last time, she was going through the patterns ($5 everything but Vogue sale ended today). I was not this time: Instead it was a frantic search for a zipper after realising I'd nearly finished and shops won't be open tomorrow (new year's day). Glad I did, thornberry is always fun, and seeing her reminds me of blogging for some reason :-)

So, a few months ago (okay, six) a friend asked me to make her a 1930s dress.

Here is the pattern:
The one on the right
Here's where I am up to now:
The finishing will take a bit of work, but need to add zipper, shoulder pads and facings.
It's after midnight now (happy new year) so I'm off to bed. I'll edit tomorrow and detail the details. This pattern was not easy and the bodice was quite challenging. Measuring the pleats was the most difficult. More tomorrow.

Okay maybe not quite :-)

Instructions are:

After the patternmaker adjusted the pattern for our friend, I went to work on making it happen. The fabric chosen was linen or a linen blend. Whatever it is, it takes the iron on maximum and with steam to rid it of a crease!
The first thing I needed to do was create those pleats. It was decided to make the contrast yellow so I decided that on my 1959 Pfaff 360 I could do zig-zags very close together (Pfaffs are excellent at doing this). I'd say about 85% of time and effort went into the front bodice and this is the hardest piece I've ever made. This means a lot to be learned.
I created the pleats first then the darts. The pleat measurements have to be extremely accurate. If not the neck facings (not in the pattern, but the depression was a while ago now, so splash out a little) won't fit. Use steel ruler, edge of your table or both to ensure absolute straightness of these pleats. Pin, baste and sew, and when everything is okay (you might well have to unpick - not worth it if you overlook anything) you need to create the contrast. Make sure the stitch width is almost zero and do a test before going near the production garment. The pattern is marked where you must stop. The bottom part should be pleated but the pleat edge is not attached.
I chose to put ric-rac (or rick-rack as it used to be called) on. I pinned and basted, but found it easier to attach it by hand than to machine stitch: The machine was too hard to keep between the waves and it would be almost impossible to get a zig-zag even close. A treadle may have given sufficient control for it to work, but honestly, with colour matched thread, the hand stitches are not seen anyway and I had absolute control.
The bust darts next. These are just as normal darts, and a hint with darts is that if the wearer has a larger bust, make sure the points of the darts come to a smooth point.
The rest of it was very straight forward, so we made another addition. Added some Petersham ribbon to the waist to prevent stretching. This doesn't show at all, and is just a nice added feature to ensure the shape is retained.

Seam finishes

I've been told that pinking looks terrible and makes clothes look home made. Well, in 1937 almost all garments were pinked, especially if they were home made.
Well, very few factories had overlockers back then. If you're thinking French seams, the linen is too thick and the seams would end up a bit bulky.
So I pinked every seam.
Pinked seam, with bias binding
That reminds me: Used this wide binding on the bottom edge. Sewn right sides together then blind hemmed it. This takes a long time but why else would it look as close to the picture? I don't take shortcuts.
Only the belt remains. I've ordered a load of original deco buckles from the U.K. (they seem very common there) and will update the entry when they come through. It shouldn't take long to make a self belt for this dress. Will update again after she's modelled it.


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  2. Very impressive! The almost finished dress looks so much like the illustration.
    I hope your friend will love it

    1. Thanks Lauriana. That certainly doesn't happen often!