MIA and new projects

I have been too swamped with life’s many happenings to update my blog these couple of weeks. I have not been feeling as well physically and the symptoms still require further investigation. That was followed by quite a few public holidays, school holidays and hubby on leave which left me less time to sew and even less to blog. Apologies also for not responding promptly to emails, I will respond to them shortly 🙂

This week for the Sew Weekly Challenge, we were to sew a 1920s/early 30s creation in line with The Gatsby Summer Afternoon event in California. To cut the long story short, my failure in the first dress (which was 99% completed) led to a mad rush to complete a second one and that took up too much time at the sewing machine. Here’s the story.

The failed 1935 Afternoon frock

Some of you might remember this Eva dress reproduction of a 1935 German Afternoon frock  which I had originally planned to sew as part of the Sewing Through the Decades Challenge. I even found a rayon fabric which reminded me of the illustration on the pattern cover and couldn’t wait to get started.

What I loved most about this pattern were those sleeves, the inverted V bodice matching the V seam of the waist band and the bias skirt.

I encountered a minor issue after cutting out the pattern pieces. The paper pattern for the back waist piece and the underarm gussets were not included. I looked at the pattern layout again and they were both rectangular/ squarish pieces I decided to draft them myself. However, after sewing everything in place. Yes, everything, I realized that the instruction on finishing the sleeves were missing. I searched the web for a review but non were found and that eventually led me back to this blog post on the eva dress blog where there was a note concerning the dress pattern.

Here is a note about the Afternoon Dress and Coat shown above:
I failed to publish the fact that the art shows a pink insert in the sleeve opening at the front, but the pattern does not give this piece nor any instruction to the effect. I believe this to have been an error on the part of the pattern illustrator. The instruction and pieces call for the sleeve to be left open, the raw edges of which are narrowly faced with no insert. One may certainly add an insert of fabric here, if desired.”

I was disappointed.

For the sake of anyone else who has this pattern, there are three separate pieces of hanging fabric at the sleeves. On hindsight, I think the sleeves could work (but will look nothing like the cover) if you cut them shorter (but still beyond the underarm gussets) and join the seams instead of finishing them separately.  What is seen as the pink insert is actually part of the shoulder yoke (the middle piece).

Another “inaccuracy” in the illustration are what looked like closed seams at the shoulders. In the picture we see two pieces joined together and opened up towards the bottom of the sleeves revealing an insert. This seam does not exist and in reality there are three pattern pieces left open until the end of the sleeves. It is definitely not as flattering or well designed as illustrated.

My first attempt with an Eva dress repro pattern was such a wonderful experience  so I am not about to give up on repro patterns yet. Another thing I have learnt is finding a fabric which resembled that on the pattern cover does not necessary lead to a good looking dress. The beige tone is totally unsuitable for me and I felt like I was wearing pajamas in it. Totally unbearable! My mistake in fabric selection.

While frustrating, this attempt was good practice for my topstitching and seam matching.

And I learnt to sew my first underarm gusset (not perfect but a good experience). I am surprised how much ease it creates and how comfortable it is to have gussets included in the sleeves.

I wished this worked out but it didn’t for me. Nonetheless, I am actually happy with how the dress turned out technically.  For such a design, I think a bright solid fabric will work better than a pastel shade with print. One day, I might feel brave enough to sew a version with modifications.

The 2nd attempt: Sewn on borrowed time dress

Unwilling to give up and give in, I started on a second early 1930s dress. Butterick 4588 which was a dream to sew with only 6 pattern pieces! It took a while to sew as I used a chiffon fabric and finished all seams either with french seams or bias tape.

You can read more about this dress on my TSW post here but I wanted to show you my fave parts of the dress. The cape that covers the shoulders but are not joined to the sleeves. The W shaped seam which joined the drop waist bodice to the skirt.

The back slit which was not part of the pattern but something I had to do to save fabric. I do like this slight variation. 

The W shaped seams are on both the front and back of the skirt but I chose to embellish the front with beaded trim to make it more obvious but not the back as that would be an overkill in my opinion.

I love the length and drape of the skirt.

In this pattern most of the darts (back shoulder, front and back waist) are marked with two dots, something I not seen before and I had to create darts 1/8″ from the bottom dot. Totally a new experience for me. Here are the before/after shots.

These darts created a flattering bloused effect at the waist. The pattern called for underarm closures but I was able to slip this dress on effortlessly so I dropped the closure.  I love how this one turned out but had to “borrow” sewing time from the next project to get it done. My mum and hubby loved the dress too, much to my delight so it’s all worth it!

Last but not least, in case you have not seen them, here are the links to my TSW projects from the last two weeks.

Theme: Back to School (Plaids)

Project: “Waiting for the bell” outfit

I received quite a few queries on the shoes I wore in the photos. It is from a very affordable and quirky label I just discovered recently called T.U.K. and I got mine from endless.com (Love the free international shipping!)

The outfit was made from this 1940s Simplicity 3719 pattern.

Here’s a in progress photo I took when I cut the pattern pieces out individually to match the white dashes on the fabric.

Theme: To Dye For (fabric dye, fabric paint etc)
An easy skirt I made on a week which I had no time to sew. I hand painted a border print of white dotted waves and nautical artifacts with fabric paint, a really easy way to create a unique skirt! Perhaps I will adorn my kids’ nautical outfits with fabric paint too! That’ll be fun!
I hope you and your family have a blessed week! Happy sewing!

Behind the Seams: The “Abandoned Hangar” Dress

Its the Oscar Inspiration Week! This week for TSW Challenge, we are to pick an inspiration from the best costume winners of the past and create an interpretation of them that we can wear outside of a movie set in 2011.

My movie of choice is The Aviator (2004), a biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Leo Dicaprio (Hughes), Cate Blanchett (Katherine Hepburn) and Kate Beckinsale (Ava Gardner). I watched the DVD of this film around a month ago and loved the costumes! My TSW post can be found here.

Off course I was tossed between Kate and Ava! But, in the end I chose to do an interpretation of the mustard gown Kate wore to a movie premiere. Here are the shots I took from my TV screen so please excuse the resolution.

Pattern Review

Eva dress pattern 1939 Evening gown



I used this 1939 Evening Gown sewing pattern from Eva dress which is a reproduction of McCall’s 9906 but instead of doing the long sleeves gown version, I sewed the short sleeves version and shortened the skirt length to make it more wearable.

The pattern and instruction are very much notch driven (so if you are using this pattern, remember to mark all of them) and the diagrams are helpful. The only part I found confusing was with reference to the yardage required for each variation as I realized later that there were three variations to the dress though the cover only showed two. A long gown with long sleeves, a dress with short sleeves and a dress with scalloped sleeves. I used around 2.5 to 3 yards of fabric for version B which is the scalloped sleeves version. This is not a difficult dress to make and can be completed quite quickly.

The fabric is exquisite. It’s a Hugo Boss crinkle jacquard in bronze & cream from emmaonesock. When cutting, I had to ensure that I cut all pieces in one direction.

Photography Adventure

I’m very tripod dependent but once in a while hubby is at home to lend a hand. Yay! Since the movie that inspired the dress is about Hughes and his love for aviation, I wanted to have the photos taken at Singapore’s first airport, the Kallang airport. Opened in 1937 (coincidentally, just two years before my dress pattern!), most of the airport has since been demolished or put to other uses, the distinctive terminal building was used as the headquarters of a statutory board until April 2009. It is currently unoccupied.

When I reach the location, however, there was major renovation taking place and the security guard did not allow us in.

Nonetheless, hubby and I didn’t give up and we soon discovered that outside the main gate were some historical walls and structures we could still use as background for the shoot. A structure that looked very much like an abandoned airplane hangar, the old colonial gates/ entrance to the airport and an old, partly demolished wall as you will find in the photos below. These structures made quite an impression on me as forgotten pieces of history and while I wasn’t allowed into the main terminal building, I sure hope the renovation will put it back to good use once again.

The Gallery

I love how this dress turned out!  We went shopping after the photos were taken and I felt fab in it. Love the movement of the skirt, the super-duper flattering and yet very classy fit. I even loved the bronze colored fabric which I initially thought might be a little aging to wear but it turned out delightful! Here are the close ups shots.

A special thanks to hubby for these photos and enduring mosquito bites with me that afternoon:) My sewing machine is finally home today! I miss it so much! Gotta get the next project going!

Have a wonderful week everyone!