8.31.2015

A Gingham Grainline Archer

navy gingham archer | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Doesn't Gingham & Grainlines sound like a blog? There are so many _____ & ______ blog names. If you wanted to start a sewing blog but didn't know what to call it, you're welcome.

navy gingham archer | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Anyway, this is the famous and beloved Grainline Archer button-up shirt. I think everyone in the universe has made one. There are a million different version of this all over the place, in everything to Liberty lawn to black silk to quilting cotton. Mine is a navy Robert Kaufmann gingham. It feels nice and it was easy to work with as I approached my first sleeve plackets and collar stand!

navy gingham archer | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I've been growing my skills like crazy this year and really trying to do new things, and having lots of fun with it. Sometimes you're just like, sewing is so great!!! you know?

navy gingham archer | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I spent all weekend in the car with my husband Alex and Wooster the dog and my friend as we drove down to Athens, Georgia, for a wedding. It felt interminable and my brain is totally gone right now--my friend and I are writing a middle grade fantasy-ish novel and we spent about 10 hours reading it to each other (and Alex, and the dog) to try and spot any weird phrasing and typos and stuff. We were all a little loopy at the end. The wedding was really fun but the driving and reading aloud were tough! All of this just to say that I don't really have much to add to the Archer canon. It was great to put together, well drafted, etc etc. I made a straight size 4, no modifications, and I'm pretty happy with the fit. Next time, I'll make real sleeve plackets--I think this style would be good for a silk blouse or something, but I don't like it for a menswear-style shirt. Then even in my remake I will be learning a new skill. I did seem to have a lot of extra cuff fabric--I may have done my pleats wrong.

navy gingham archer | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I was thinking about making Alex an Archer, just in a larger size. I tried googling but I couldn't find anyone who made one for a man! I think it would work fine though--there's not really any drafting that would make it inappropriate for a man, especially if you use the alternate steps Grainline provides to make a real sleeve placket. Has anyone seen a men's Archer, or have a reason why this would a bad idea?

xoxo,
allie

ps: if anyone knows a middle grade fiction agent that would like to read a manuscript, send me an email! our quick pitch is: "reverse harry potter, or, what would happen if the malfoys had a squib daughter and decided to send her to boarding school in america." i'm biased, but it's awesome.

allie J.

8.24.2015

Victory Patterns Hazel

Look at this, y'all, sewing plans come to fruition! Given that I didn't even finish last year's modest #vintagesewingpledge, this may be an unprecedented amount of sewing plan follow through, for me. I said before I wanted to make a couple cute retro dresses, and here we are with a cute retro dress. It's like magic.

navy & cream hazel | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

It's like magic, but it's actually Victory Patterns' Hazel dress in a rayon challis. And isn't it sooo lovely?

When this pattern first came out, I immediately loved it, but I was so scared to sew anything in a fabric more delicate than stable woven cotton, so I shied away, thinking it would be too hard for me. Then I won 2nd place in this year's Shorts on the Line (with my cool nani IRO playset--and really, I have Naomi Ito to thank for that win) and got a whole bunch of gift certificates to amazing online sewing shops, including Fancy Tiger Crafts and Imagine Gnats. When I saw the rayon challis in the Imagine Gnats shop and the Hazel pattern at Fancy Tiger I knew I had to at least give it a shot!

navy & cream hazel | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

This pattern is nicely drafted--all the bits and bobs line up--and I love the design. The instructions were a little weird. They all made sense and were easily followed, but like, there's no finishing techniques even suggested for the sleeve seams and then you are supposed to hand sew the cuffs? I would think that you would either go raw edges only OR super finished insides but generally not a mix of both. YMMV, but you may want to deviate from suggested construction techniques. Also, I have never heard of a dress in which only the skirt is lined, and this seems super weird to me! The top as written is finished with a neck facing. But my cream rayon challis was a bit sheer, and you could have totally seen a facing under there, and also, ugh, facings!, so I totally did my own thing, ignored the rules, and lined the top but not the skirt. I'll wear a half slip. I do what I want!

(The way to do it, really, is to tape the top and skirt portions together at the sewing line (there's no shaping there) and make that your lining piece, but maybe Victory wanted to minimize pattern pieces and didn't want to make people do anything crazy like taping two pieces together to make a lining piece? I don't know. In the future, I will either make it fully lined following the above method or just leave it unlined and french seam the whole thing (and wear a slip).)

This is a straight size 4. I thought it was going to be on the large size while tracing but then panicked during sewing thinking it would be too small! In the end, I think it fits fairly well. I feel like it's a little tight across the back, I don't have "doing your hair" range of motion (always a good test), but it isn't anything seriously encumbering.

navy & cream hazel | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I really like bow-neck (or pussy bow) blouses, and so I'd like to make this again. I would really like to make it all in one color, splicing the pattern pieces together to ditch the color blocking. I'd also be interested in making it top-length, and lengthening the sleeves to basically make a version of the Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse. I don't think it would be too too tricky. (Or I could just pony up the $10.)

I'm also interested in ditching those darts. This dress would be about 500 times better if it didn't have bust darts, in my opinion (because I am lazy). I'm thinking about sizing up and doing an SBA to ditch them. Bad idea? Do you have better suggestions? I could also rotate them into the shoulder seam and ease them in, maybe, but I've never done that before. Perhaps it is time for this experiment!

I think I have turned a corner in my sewing where I want to try a lot of things I was scared of before and gain some more skills. I already tackled knits for my Coco, now I have used a lovely silky fabric, and coming up, tailoring a jacket and a coat and making a proper collar and stand. I have plans, I have fabric, and I have motivation. Let's do this!

dress: post title | cardigan: link | shoes: link

xoxo,
allie

ps: when i saw this pattern, i totally assumed that you couldn't really make this in a cotton, but in my researches i discovered i was totally wrong, as evidenced by this great chambray version by Sew Charleston! 

allie J.

8.19.2015

A Classic Navy Blazer: The Muslin

You may remember that I put a "Classic Blazer" as #1 on my list of fall/winter sewing plans inspired by Kate Middleton. I decided I need to jump into it before I lose my nerve, so this is the very first post in what may end up being a long-ish series as I muddle through tailoring for the first time. If you aren't interested in watching a novice make a blazer, avert your eyes!

You may also remember that I had picked Simplicity 1421 as my blazer pattern. Again, here's my inspiration blazer and my pattern:

Kate Attends SportsAid Line Drawing

However, I've already changed my mind! Simplicity 1421 is an unlined blazer with a construction method that relies on bias binding (i mean the tipping) to enclose exterior seams. This is pretty different from what I have in my tailoring books (well, the library's tailoring books), and I'm going to need all the guidance I can get, so I picked up a copy of Simplicity 2446 in the $1 pattern sale. It is a more traditional style and looks more like the example garments in my books. I didn't pick it the first time because I thought the lapels were a little too wide and the buttons were too high.

 

These patterns are pretty similar, but in addition to the lining & construction, there are a few differences between the two: 1421 has a center back seam which 2446 lacks, and 2446 has shoulder princess seams instead of 1421's armscye princess seams. I hate all these pockets so I wont be adding any, but 1421 has patch pockets, and 2446 has in-seam pockets (that seem pointless) with added flaps (that look stupid).

Additionally, the sizing seems to be pretty different between the two. For the record, I should be a size 10/12 according to my body measurements. In my muslin of 1421 (yes, I muslined that as well) I made a size 10 A based on a finished garment bust measurement of 35 1/2". I actually really liked the fit on that muslin, so I thought I would try for a similar size on the 2446. Looking for a bust of 35 1/2", I decided to cut out a size 6 B. A six! Now that I have my muslin all made up, I'm not sure if I'd like to size up and make an 8 (A, probably), but I do want this blazer to be fairly slim-fitting.

Oh, you want some pictures? Here you go:

DSC01353 DSC01358

DSC01355 DSC01357

This is the pattern with no alterations at all in the front or sleeve, which I think is a pretty good start! I took in the back a lot (it was practically straight down originally) but I think I'll let it out a little bit so it is a little less dramatically curved.What do you think about the fit? Should I size up one for ease's sake? And secondly, do you think the lapels are too wide? I was thinking of shearing them back about 1/2", tapering to nothing at the buttonhole, but I can't tell if I've just been looking at them for too long. I should also mention that I forgot my little shoulder pads for these pictures. Oops! 

xoxo,
allie

ps: as far as i can tell, you can just move buttons wherever you want to as long as you adjust the lapel roll line. can anyone confirm this?

allie J.

8.17.2015

A Coral Coco

coral coco | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I did it, y'all, I made a knit thing!! Yay!

Everyone has made a Coco already, like years ago. I bought the pattern when it came out and even bought fabric and everything. It took me a few months to buy a twin needle, but I did. And then I let it sit for like a year because I was irrationally scared of knits.

But I'm a member of the Stashbusting Sewalong 2015 facebook group, and when I heard that this month's challenge was "Face your Fears!" I knew that it was time for me to pull out that coral double knit I had bought and try something out.

And guess what?

coral coco | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

It was easy!

Tilly's Coco pattern was really easy to make on my regular sewing machine and I even used my double needle on the hem without incident. This Coco took me a few hours to make since I traced my pattern and everything (I made size 3--I am right between a 2 and 3 but I wanted to err on the larger size. The version shown here is totally unaltered), but I can see how this could be a really, really quick project.

coral coco | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

My fabric is showing up as very orange in these pictures, but it is not orange. It really is a coral-y pink! It was a double knit so it was fairly stable to sew, but I still wish it was a little less drapey. I think it looks better belted in this fabric. If it were more stable, it would have more of that triangle shape that Tilly seems to lovvvvve.

coral coco | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Here I am trying to do my best Tilly pose (also seen in picture #1 up top). Wooster has no respect for blog photos.

I really want to make the top variation, and do an old-school breton/mariniere version of Coco, but I'm looking for a really thick, stable, 100% cotton in stripes and having no luck. Does anyone have any leads on this type of fabric? What is this thick cotton even called? I'm about to just buy a Saint James and forget about sewing it at all! Finding fabric can be so frustrating, especially fabric that is common in RTW.

xoxo,
allie

ps: this is your sign to sew some knits if you are also scared of them :)

allie J.

8.14.2015

Sewing & Style Inspiration: Vintage Prep

Last week I talked about my first source of inspiration for this my upcoming sewing, Kate Middleton. Today is part two!

1950s-Students-Laugh-on-Sofa-Vassar
via

A lot of vintage bloggers (sewing and otherwise), if they wear 50s & 60s styles, tend towards the sort of pin-up, cheesecake styles popularized by clothing companies such as Pinup Girl. I really enjoy this look, but as a slender pear (read: non-busty) lady this look doesn't always flatter my best features. I also feel like it can veer towards campy/novelty. Besides, there are so. many. different styles from this era--by focusing on just this one (and a sort of pastiche at that), we lose a huge diversity of styles!

So today, in order to do my little part in diversifying the 50s/60s styles we see running through our blog feeds,we're talking about preppy.

Some of you are thinking "noooo, not preppy!" but I encourage you to hang out--I promise there are no critter covered burmuda shorts in my sewing queue! My vintage prep-inspired plans include:

1951 Students Select Dress
via
1. A Menswear-style shirt: The foundation of any Vassar girl's wardrobe in the late 50s and 60s. Period appropriate colors would include white, blue, or pink, just like the boys--because they began by buying the small sizes straight from the men's section at Brooks Brothers. Despite the several little 60s blouses I've made, I still usually reach for my ancient Ralph Lauren OCBDs. I think it's time I get over my fear of making proper plackets and collars, and make a real shirt! I've heard awesome things about Grainline's Archer (everyone but me has made one), so I think I'll start there since they have a sewalong. I need some hand-holding on this one! Does anyone have good sources for oxford cloth?

Simplicity_5627_a_64S4109A

2. A Practical A-Line Skirt: I have several vintage skirt patterns that I always put aside in favor of a quick and easy (and twirly!) dirndl, but I would like to make another a-line skirt like the yellow one I made last year. I really like the shape of the one on the right here, but I don't have an exact pattern in mind for this project yet. I do have some nice plaid though... Am I ready for some serious plaid matching? We shall see.

3. A Pair of Navy Cigarette Pants: Since Gertie's pants were successful, I'd like to make another pair of those in navy. I'll probably eventually make another pair in black since the puppy poked holes in the original, but navy really does coordinate with most of my closet, more so than black, actually.

1956 Students Lounging
You might notice that I left a classic blue blazer off this inspiration list--that's because I already covered that in my Kate Middleton post! I'm hoping to make the items on both lists mix-and-match, so I guess expect a lot of navy in upcoming posts?

Since preppy style is intended to be timeless and classic--you could find all of these items at a Brooks Brothers today or in their first women's collection in 1949--if you are going for a really retro look, I would amp up the hair. Now is the time for pin curls!

xoxo,
allie

ps: if you are dying for more information about this style, here's a little mini-history--"Ivy League" style began in the first quarter of the 21st century, but really gained ground in the 50s. Northeastern college men (notably at the Ivies, which gave the style its name) began dressing in a distinctive manner furnished by Brooks Brothers and J. Press. if you are interested in men's fashion, there are a ton of blogs devoted to this style, but i'll leave it at that and move on to the ladies. 

"Seven Sisters" can be thought of as the women's version of Ivy League style. it is named after a group of colleges (which were all at that point women only) that mirrored the Ivy League (then all men only). it is generally more androgynous (relatively, I mean, it was still the fifties!) than your average ladies' wardrobe and borrowed heavily from Ivy League menswear--in some cases, even wearing the exact same Brooks Brothers shirts as the men, just in smaller sizes. the photos i used here all came from the Vassar archives flickr account. 

Ivy League style has become popular in recent years, with the men's fashion blogging world really going nuts over ivy style. there seems to be less interest in the ladies' version, but if you want more there is a whole book about it!

allie J.

8.10.2015

Do it Yourself: a 60's Nightgown

A few weeks ago I posted a little 1960s nightgown that I made using McCall's 2137 from 1969. While the pattern is a little bit weird, it is super simple at its core. In fact, it is so simple that you don't really even need a pattern! I liked my first one so well that I made a second (patternless) and decided to make a little tutorial. I've never done a tutorial before, so hopefully this all makes sense, but if not, please ask in the comments! I read them all!

For this project I would suggest a lightweight fabric like a cotton voile or a rayon challis. I used a very light printed gingham that was printed horribly off grain--it melted my eyeballs a little bit to sew it--only acceptable for nightwear only worn at home! You'll want a 54" or 60" piece of fabric that is twice as long as you want your nightgown (measuring from your about your collarbone) plus five inches for hemming and then 3 inches for your tie.

Step 1: Snip your fabric about 3 inches down and tear all the way across. This will be your tie.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 1 1/2: Marvel over how crazy that gingham really is.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 2: Fold the remaining length of your fabric in half widthwise and tear it down the middle across the grain. You should have two rectangles the width of your fabric and the length of your dress + 2 1/2". One is the front of your nightgown, and one is the back. Fold both pieces so you have all four selvedges on one side (shown on the left side).

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 3: Cut diagonally through all four layers (5" horizontally by 7" vertically). (You are making the armholes.)

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 4: Finish the diagonal sides (the armholes) by folding over twice and stitching down. Do this for all four diagonal sides. Press!

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 5: Place the front and back wrong sides together, aligning the bottoms of your armholes. We're going to sew up the sides with a french seam.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 6: Trim the seam 1/4" from your stitching and press to one side.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 7: Fold right sides together and stitch 3/8" from the edge, enclosing the raw edges.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Ta-dah! Do the same on the other side.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 8: Next, we'll make the casing for the tie. Fold over the top edge 1 1/2" and press.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 9: Then fold the raw edge under about 1/2" and press. Stitch close to the fold line.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 10: Sew along the length of your tie, wrong sides together. Turn and press. Alternately, you could use a coordinating ribbon.

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Step 11: Finish your dress by making a narrow hem. Then, feed the tube you made (or your ribbon) through the back and front casings to make the shoulder straps. Try on your dress and fiddle with your strap to get the fit the way you want it. I tied the ends of my straps into a bow, but you could also sew them together, snip the excess off, and work them into the casing. Your nightgown is done!

gingham nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Optional: Put your hair in curlers, put on your fake lashes, fix yourself a drink, put a record on, and read a book feeling like a 60s starlet. OR wash your face, brush your teeth, and go scroll instagram in bed for an hour.

Any questions? I'm afraid I'm a terrible explainer!

xoxo,
allie

ps: another nightgown is useful for me right now because the puppy keeps jumping up on us and tearing our pajama pants, so when this turns into a pajama pants only blog, you can blame Wooster. 

allie J.

8.05.2015

Sewing & Style Inspiration: Kate Middleton

The tricky thing about sewing is that we have to plan way ahead. It's still super hot here but I'm already thinking about fall clothing--kind of. Thinking about wool makes me feel itchy but also productive. So I guess that's about even?

Anyway, I've been busily planning my fall/winter sewing. I've been on a big Kate Middleton kick after reading The Royal We (which is super entertaining, by the way!). She obviously looks gorgeous all the time, but I especially like her maternity fashion--the A-line shape she favors for maternity-wear (for obvious reasons) is more vintage-inspired. She's part of the royal family so we can't expect really bold sartorial choices from her, but she's worn a few coats that I would even call almost "mod"! My fall sewing plans are part classic Kate and part maternity Kate, for that retro flair. Disclaimer: none of these are promises! I'm super bad a follow-through in sewing since there's always something new to distract you--but these are a few things I hope to sew in the next few months. Call it my Kate Capsule wardrobe maybe (even though they don't really go together, necessarily...)

1. A Classic Blazer:

Kate Attends SportsAid
via
Simplicity Misses' Unlined Jacket with Collar and Finishing Variations 1421Line Drawing

I want to tackle some more challenging projects and expand my skills, no easing into it with a retro-inspired dress! I have a little white-tipped navy ponte blazer/cardigan but unfortunately I spilled tea all over it (on the morning of an interview, naturally) and I'm afraid the tea hasn't quite come out of the white parts. Kate looks great in hers, and its a good excuse to try out some tailoring techniques. I've been muslining this one already and I think it looks pretty good! I'll be making it in navy lightweight wool with self-bias instead of white. I'll probably ditch the buttons, too. This is an unlined blazer, but I've been thinking of trying to add a lining... is this crazy? Please tell me if this is crazy.

2. An A-line Coat:

Kate Middleton wears a yellow coat and ivory hat at the Queen's tea party
via
Simplicity Misses' Vintage Dress and Lined Coat 1197Line Drawing

Look at that coat! While I love the print on this one, yellow isn't really my color. I'd like to use this retro simplicity pattern as a jumping-off point for my version of this A-line coat: ditching the collar, swapping the buttons for interior snaps, and possibly adding a bow at the neckline like these two coats I've had pinned for ages. Also possibly in navy? I do love navy.

3. A couple great dresses:

Kate Middleton Child Bereavement UK
via
Size 14 60's A Line Dress With Mandarin Collar Simplicity Vintage Sewing Pattern 7737 Misses' Size 14 Bust 36 How To Sew Pattern

Here are the retro-inspired dresses I disparaged above. You knew they would come, after all, this is a sewing blog and sewing blogs lovvvve dresses, duh. You can't see her dress very well in these pictures, but its a plain black shift with a white peter pan collar--I picked this picture because I love the rounded hem detail on the coat she's wearing (with the peter pan collar poking out, too--adorable). The dress is apparently from Topshop and is a poly/elastane blend, but I think it would be nicer in a challis or a crepe or something.

I have made this pattern from 1968  once before (to look exactly like version 3) and would love to make it again in black with a peter pan collar. I'll have to draft the collar but that shouldn't be too tricky--I know Gertie has a tutorial on it. For a less spot-on Kate look, I have Victory Patterns's Hazel, which I got from Fancy Tiger Crafts as part of my winnings from Shorts on the Line. It's a pattern I've been drooling over since it came out, but I never bought it--because I was scared of using slippery fabric! I think it's time I got over my fear, don't you? I also got some lovely rayon challis in navy and cream to make it up with, also from SotL winnings, from Imagine Gnats.  

Bonus project:

Just look at this amazing animal print coat. If my A-line coat is a success and I find the right fabric, how fun would this be? Answer: so fun. Disregard the fact that I already have a leopard trench and really, how many animal-print coats does one girl need? Probably only one. I suppose I could also make a dress instead of a coat.
royal due date
via
Sewing plans can be much more fun to think up than they are to execute, but I really like these pieces, so hopefully I'll get through all of them and pick up some new skills along the way--some light tailoring and sewing with more delicate fabrics.

Do you love Princess Kate? If you live in the UK, do you think it is dorky that we Americans love her so much? Have you read The Royal We? If not, you totally should--it's very fun.

xoxo,
allie

ps: if anyone wants to mail me $5000 i'd also like her shoe collection. thanks in advance!

allie J.