Sunday, March 18, 2007

Two New Posts All of a Sudden: Why the Delay?

To put it plainly, life has changed a lot since last fall. Back then I was working on an Edwardian corset cover in batiste, with a 26" waist. That waistline is temporarily no more, as my husband and I are expecting twin boys late this spring. So all the sewing action is centered around maternity wear and baby wear. Plus wear for the house...curtains and London shades, crib ruffles. Mom and I are very busy on that score. Yes, that's the other big change: my mother retired to our town and is now close by. It's delightful.

The maternity wear is still retro inspired: I prefer high-waisted loose dresses, not the clingy fashions now current. The two posts below make that clear.

If a chance presents itself, will show the embroidered saques I am making for the boys. The patterns from them come from the World War II era.

Well, dinner calls. When you're expecting, dinner times have a new urgency and it's best not to wait too long.

New Chocolate and Mint Polka Dot Maternity Dress! Brief Dress Diary

Barely five minutes before my friend arrived yesterday so we could go to our ladies' tea society St. Patrick's Day tea, I finished this new maternity jumper. My heart was in my mouth...wasn't sure she'd ring the doorbell and I'd still not be quite dressed and at the ironing board.

Had a favorite jumper that I outgrew a few weeks ago, and loved the bodice. So simple and you just slip it over your zips or buttons or strings. When you get bigger, twisting and turning is less easy than it was.

Plus, the high waist is very slimming. Some of my other dresses have a natural waistline and I look much, much bigger -- I kid you not! Plus, most maternity dresses today highlight the shape too much: I am happier with flowing curves, not tight delineations.

Thought to use the Threads magazine pattern-making trick that uses painter's tape. I placed tape over each piece of the jumper bodice in turn. I made sure to cover each piece entirely and carefully so that when I pulled it off it would retain the shape of the original. (Exception: center front and center back pieces I just did half of, like one would in a regular pattern.)

Then I flattened them all out onto Kraft paper and made adjustments. I added extra room, lowered and widened the neckline, as the original was a little claustrophobic looking, and added 1" seam allowances for fitting. Voila: pattern pieces!

This jumper had no darts, but curved seams instead. They are easier to pattern and produce a lovely line, but are harder to sew.

After that I made a muslin toile, found I had too much room, and cut everything down, and made sure to adjust the pattern.

Using the toile as a full lining, I made up the bodice in the chocolate and mint polka dot polished cotton from Hancock's. Unlike some of their quilter's cotton, this is tightly woven -- it didn't fray much.

For the skirt portion, I used pattern pieces from a maternity dress pattern I already own, but because that pattern was not for late pregnancy, much less a twins pregnancy, I added two panels, one to each side of the front. I fully lined the skirt as well for better body and durability.

Only the front is gathered, and the gathers were handsewn at about 5-6 to the inch, as I think finer gathers look better. Sadly, some of them flattened out a bit too much when I machine sewed over them for durability. Phoo.

The dress has room to grow in both bodice and skirt yet because I have several months to go. It's loose in back. I wanted a straight back line, nothing clingy, but this looseness was too much, so I tied on a ribbon on the waist and it created two back bodice pleats naturally, one near each underarm, so the back still looks smooth (phew!). Now that was a nice, unexpected result.

The only thing I am unhappy with was part of the original: the back bodice seam between bodice and skirt is lower than the front; the ribbon tie accentuates the sliding line. I should have changed that too but wasn't thinking. Oh well.

Yes, the front hem rides up: I have a temporary hem there, but room to hem it properly. Just didn't have time yesterday!

If energy allows, would like to make the Regency dress pattern from Jennie Chancey's Sense and Sensibility pattern line, slightly shortened, as another springtime dress.

Regency Chemise Made into Maternity Nightgown Brief Dress Diary

At long, long, last, I completed the Jenny Chancey's Sense and Sensibility Regency chemise...tweaking the pattern to make it into a maternity nightgown with lace and a ruffle.

Here is the gown on my dressmaker's form, with pillows added to simulate the, um, maternal, look. I howled at the result; maybe you will too.

Here is the gown from the back:

You can see that there is plenty of room. Indeed, when I wore it the other night it turned out to be a great fit: it doesn't bind or cling or bother your torso. Most maternity wear these days has a waistline and I find that soooooooo uncomfortable.

I used the Simplicity version of Jennie's pattern, which as we know has more ease. Then, per her instructions on this site, I added width to the front and back panels.

The gown made of 99-cent natural muslin. Sure, it's a low thread count, but it softens up in a hurry. Let's hope it doesn't disintegrate.

The gown is trimmed with cotton lace hand whipped on at the neckline; it is gathered with Offray pink cording. I added a ruffle at the bottom too, set on wrong side to wrong side, and overlaid with cotton beading threaded with Offray pink and white ribbed ribbon to hide the join. All seams are flat-felled. Sleeve hems are hand rolled and whipped and the hem behind the ruffle made using a machine hemmer.

The gown was sewn on two antique machines. For the flat felled seams I used a 1911 Wilcox and Gibbs treadle machine that you see in the background of one of the pictures. It looks very small up top and has the prettiest cast-iron legs, all scrolls and leaves. It produces remarkably tiny, perfectly precise stitches.

I also used a Singer hand crank of the same era. That machine you crank by hand, as the name implies. It's actually quite a fast, reliable machine, doesn't tire your arm, and can go literally anywhere with you.

I used a Singer ruffler attachment to create a fairly tight ruffle. Have attached pictures of the ruffler on the machine and the results. The ruffler is actually older than the machine: ones made after the 19-teens have more settings.

Here is the ruffler. The regular sewing foot is behind it so you get some idea of the difference:

and the results:

There are a few more photos of the gown minus those silly pillows at

Lastly, because I couldn't resist, here is Zip kitty, our darling who had bone cancer and a resulting amputation, napping in our laundry basket.