Painting: Mother Reading by Lee Lufkin Kaula 1865-1957
Hello Dear Ladies,
While I was looking at paintings of ladies in light blue dresses, I thought how challenging it would be to try and sew some of the dresses, like the one in the above 19th century painting, and the one in "The Shell" by Bouguereau, seen on the left side of this blog. Both garments consist of a blue dress worn over a white blouse or dress.
I finished the China Blue dress and jacket but the photos of me, wearing it, were very blurry, so after I have checked the settings and dressed up again in the blue outfit, I will add better photos to this post.
To describe this fabric would do it an injustice. It is cotton by Waverly, silky yet linen-like, as you can see the grains, and a dream to sew. It comes in all colors, so just in case there is a shortage, I think I should get some more!
Here Is the dress without the jacket. It is composed of pieces from several old patterns, so I cannot show you the pattern. I plan to get more of this fabric and make another style, or two piece outfit from one pattern. On the dress-form the skirt area looks slender but it is quite a full skirt. I was not able to drape it to show how big the skirt really is, but it is quite a swirly, twirly skirt.
Below is the pattern envelope of the jacket, printed in 2011. I have saved this pattern several years and finally got around to sewing it. It is not available in the stores anymore but you might find it online.
The jacket is made of fleece, a synthetic, but I successfully sewed it with a machine needle for woven fabrics. In fact, it worked better than a ball-point needle designed for knits.
You can see what I mean about the photos. I went to a lot of trouble to get dressed up for a photo shoot, and something was not quite right on my camera. All the pictures looked like this:
Here are the hat ingredients. I still have the purse cut out and a fascinator hat in the works and maybe a pair of fabric-covered shoes. If I finish them I will add pictures to this post.
Supplies and Costs: (From Walmart unless indicated otherwise)
Fabric - Waverly cotton, "China blue" 4 yards. $3.00 per yard, total $12.00
Thread - $3.00
Zipper - $3.00
Fleece - 2 yards for jacket and accessories - purse, hat, hair accessories, total $6.00
Ribbon - $1.00
Gloves - $7.00 from an antique shop
Fabric dye from Walmart -$1.50 per packet (see details below)
Shoes - $5.00 (I plan to cover in matching fabric)
Purse - left over fabric (to be shown later)
Time - I bought the ingredients before January 20 but have worked on it a few hours at a time since then. About 18 hours total. I see why stitchers charge such high prices, as it is time consuming and a lot of work. One thing that will help, is choosing a very easy pattern with no zipper or buttons and very few or no tucks and darts. I will sketch a pattern I once had, with no set- in sleeves and was very easy to make in all prints and colors. It is not so much the pattern, but the fabric which makes the dress interesting.
Patterns: previously used.
I will try to include a water color sketch of the idea I had for this ensemble.
The photos were disappointing, but this one was redeemable enough to use. It does not really show all the aspects of the dress and accessories, for example, the sweeping circular fullness I added into the skirt area. It is hard to catch a photographer when I need one, and it seems more difficult to get anyone to take a picture when we are away from home, even when we are all together, so even blurred photos are okay.
The main point here is the color and the design. As you grow older, too many horizontal lines and changes in color and prints on the same garment, or extra trims, seem too fussy. That is one reason I make dresses rather than separates. Separates, unless they match color and texture of fabric perfectly, visually cut the figure in half, thicken the waist (with all those layers meeting at the middle), sometimes make the closet more complicated, and make it hard to decide what to wear with what. A dress is a complete garment and can stand on its own.
I mentioned growing older, but I think you can still dress youthfully and wear things the younger ladies would also enjoy wearing. I think we have to present ourselves in a good way to the young if we are to ever teach them about good principles of design, art and the dynamics of clothing in life.
What I am doing here is trying to keep a feminine look without cluttering the dress. I will wear this in church, sometimes even shopping, and at home with an apron. I hope to make an apron to go-with and show how to match up the color with a print.
I Will try to get the painting posted here later.
Did you notice the old gloves?
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In a future post I will demonstrate how to find the straight grain in fabric and determine the different qualities by pulling out a thread and seeing how long it is. This should never be done in a fabric shop, but at home with your own fabric.
Sewing area: the headbands are for making fascinator hats, and I take ideas out of catalogs in the mail
As for a recommended sewing machine: you just need a new one every so often, but not an expensive one with all the bells and whistles and fancy stitches. However if I ever got the opportunuty I would get a Jenome, which I think is made in Georgia or Alabama. I used one in someone's home and she said they do not break down or wear out. However I suppose that depends upon the workout the stitcher is giving it. People say having a cat for a pet helps you feel calm, but I do not sit stiil very much and that would make a cat nervous.