Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ottobre magazine; invisible zippers; 1904 Singer

I have one Ottobre magazine, from Winter 2007, that I've been sewing from for a year or so.  It has so many great patterns in it that I haven't bothered to get a newer one.  Ottobre  magazine is like Burda World of Fashion, with many styles in it.  You trace the patterns from a big pattern sheet that's stapled into the center fold of the magazine.  My Ottobre magazine only has kids' clothes, but they publish two a year with women's clothes.  It is published in Finland, but there are editions in English and other languages.

I am making this dress for my niece:

The pattern called for printed velveteen fabric.  I couldn't find any at my local fabric stores, but apparently there are European manufacturers of printed velveteen, notably a company called Hilco.  A few online fabric stores sell Hilco fabric, but it was pretty expensive, and they didn't have the exact colors I wanted, so I got some fine-whale corduroy at Hancock's locally.  It's soft and cozy like velveteen so I thought it would work.
The magazine also has some clothes for boys.  One outfit is called "Oliver," because it's supposed to look like Oliver Twist's clothes.  Presumably this is what Oliver wore after he was rescued from his life of pickpocketing and living in an orphanage.  If he'd been dressed like this in the orphanage, he wouldn't have needed to beg for more gruel; he could have sold his fancy linen shirt and bought cupcakes at Whole Foods.

You can make a little boy  wear anything. I confess to making flowery Liberty print shirts for Will when he was too little to understand the indignity of it.  But what big boy would wear drop-front trousers like these?  Ok, maybe if you make them "Goth," like Ottobre did for the big boy version, by sewing them up in black denim, some rockabilly wannabe Man in Black might wear them, but I think it would be wise to get his approval ahead of time before putting too many hours into this outfit.

I did actually see a guy in his twenties wearing pants like this at an English Country Dance ball once.  It was an effort to achieve the Mr. Darcy look.  It almost succeeded.  But you can't help wondering:  doesn't it take a long time to undo all those buttons when you  have to go?

Enough of pattern reviews, and on to the sewing.  I am making the dress in pink corduroy as mentioned above.  It has adorable rick rack and ruffle details.  For example, at the bottom of the sleeve, you baste on the big rick rack, and then attach the ruffle. When you fold up the seam, the rick rack overlaps the ruffle!  How cute!

Also the pattern involves an invisible zipper.  I tried to put one in last Christmas, in a skirt, and failed miserably, because I didn't have an invisible zipper foot. It turns out that this is pretty essential.  So this time I bought a plastic invisible zipper foot at Hancock's that had adapters that supposedly made it fit onto any machine.  Well, it didn't fit on my Bernina. did fit on my 1904 treadle-powered Singer!  I knew I had kept that machine for a reason!
I used that machine for the first time in years today.  It's older than my oldest camera.  I got it when I lived in Chattanooga in the late seventies, at an auction.  An ancient Singer repairman was able to put a new bobbin case in it.  He just reached into a drawer labelled "1904" and pulled out the right part! How amazing!  It has run like a top ever since.  I got it because back in those days we were worried about energy prices and running out of oil and silly things like that.
Here it is all outfitted with a brand-new plastic invisible zipper foot.  Nothing else on this machine is remotely plastic:

Winding the bobbin on this machine is aerobic exercise.

I did insert the zipper and it is invisible.  Pretty much.

However you may have noticed the little issue with the two yoke backs not lining up.  Oh well.
The problem is, I was planning to write about how European patterns like the Ottobre patterns and Burda patterns are better because they don't have seam allowances.    I like this system, and I read that this is how couture is done:  you draw around the pattern pieces (I draw little dots) and this is your seam marking. Then you cut one centimeter or more away from that when you cut the fabric.

Theoretically, this should make for more accurate marking and sewing than the method of that horrible wheel and tracing paper system that American pattern manufacturers want you to use.  And usually, it does make my sewing more accurate to do it the European/couture way.  But for some reason it didn't work this time, on that yoke piece.  I guess I marked incorrectly somehow. It could have something to do with the fact that my disappearing ink disappeared overnight instead of in the wash like it's supposed to.  (I  re-did it for this picture on a different piece.)  Maybe it's too old, or the air is so humid that it somehow evaporated it.
Anyway, the next step in the dress making process is to attach the rick rack to the neck and the hem, and to attach the bottom ruffle on the hem. Then there's an underdress with a contrasting ruffle.
I wish there were grownup patterns this ruffly and girly.  I was thinking that the structure of this dress is not that different from the Folkwear Afghani Nomad dress, which I've made before.  Maybe I could make it again, but with extra ruffles and rick rack.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dinosaur shirt

When I went fishing with my nephews and my dad last week, I was wearing my coolest pants:  a Marcy Tilton pattern that I  made with a knit I found at Hancock's, a "juvenile" print that was just too wonderful to be off-limits to adults.  It was in my colors--various shades of indigo blues--and it had dinosaur skulls and the word "Dinosaur" (in case you didn't know) all over it.

My nephew Jack, who is a naturalist, of course noticed the pants and said, "Did you know your pants have dinosaurs on them?"  He said he would like to have a shirt made out of the same fabric, and some pants too.

Hancock's was out of the fabric, but I found it quickly online, at an Etsy shop and also on Ebay.  How wonderful the internet is!  I ordered the fabric and the one yard from the Etsy shop came in two days.  The other packet, of 1 5/8 yards, accidentally went to Houston because I had not changed my address at Ebay or paypal or something.

So today I made up the shirt, using an old pattern from a Kwik Sew book of children's clothes.  It was very easy to cut out and sew.  I think the whole thing took a little over an hour.

I really like Kwik Sew patterns.  They don't have too many bells and whistles, particularly the patterns in their books.  Also, they keep most of their older patterns in print.  I've noticed a trend toward more fitted, tighter clothes in all the pattern companies, but Kwik Sew keeps their old, loose-fitting, eighties-style patterns in their book, the ones with the dropped shoulders and no darts.

Of course, kids' clothes pretty much stay that way, regardless of fashion trends.

As for the pants, I'll have to make those at Christmas, since I don't have the fabric here, and I'm going back to Houston soon.  I wonder if Marcy Tilton designs clothes for children?