How To Sew The Perfect Winter Holiday Outfit: Finding A Pattern

Now that I’ve rediscovered my sewing motivation, I’m in full swing planning out a dress for the holiday season. I rarely sew with an event in mind (in fact, I think the last time was for Valentine’s Day about three years ago). I tend not to respond well to deadlines in sewing, even though I’m great with deadlines in just about every other area of my life. Since sewing plays such a vital and necessary role in my mental health maintenance, I suppose I resist anything that might add stress or pressure into the mix. However, this year, I have found the most perfect pattern for the holidays and am feeling the inspiration coursing through my veins. So trying to get it sewn in time for Christmas (or, if there are delays, New Year’s Eve) doesn’t feel like too much of a burden.

In recognition of the fact that we can now permissibly begin talking about Christmas (yes, my Christmas tree is already up!), I thought that I would write up a post to provide some Winter Holiday sewing inspiration. I’ve been doing quite a bit of searching about in order to settle on my own festive project, as well as looking back over patterns I’ve already made myself, and I have some real gems for you!

V8999 – 1954 Dress Pattern

This is my chosen one. I actually found it on a hunt in a pattern sale at Joann’s (probably the best pattern bargains that I’ve found anywhere to date) for about $3 and fell instantly in love. The shape is so unique and I just adore the panelling. I’ve decided to sew this up in a cranberry crepe to really hammer home the Christmas vibe. I was actually on the hunt for an emerald green because deep greens are probably my favourite colours for clothing. However, I was VERY budget limited. Because this dress requires an astonishing 8.5 yards of fabric (that’s about 8 metres). I’ve never sewn with that much fabric before, since even the most poofy of vintage dresses typically only require about 4 yards. Have you ever made a pattern that required so much fabric? I don’t think I’ve even seen one before this! The amount of fabric made me genuinely debate whether this pattern is the one for me, largely because I just couldn’t justify spending $100 on fabric for one dress that – let’s face it – might not turn out how I envision it (especially since I never make muslins). But I’ve recently discovered fabric.com (not sponsored in any way, they just have incredible fabric deals!) and managed to get all of my fabric and notions for about $45, which I consider quite the success.

So putting aside how frustrated I will inevitably be when having to cut out 8.5 yards worth of pattern pieces, I’m excited for this make. It’s been a while since I made something truly vintage since this year has been mostly focussed on sewing up some everyday wearable clothing. So it’s high time that I got back on the vintage horse and, with a goal in mind, I’m sure I’ll make it!V8999V8997 – Misses’ Princess Seam Dress

This is a pattern that I made for last year’s Cocktail Hour Sew-Along and I’m still pretty obsessed with it. Although the pattern itself is quite casual, this is definitely a dress where the fabric can transform the garment into something super glamourous. I used a black satin with silver stars and am still so in love with the way that it turned out. I decided to go with the version that has floaty sleeves (version A), since it feels most occasion-appropriate to me. However, this pattern comes with four very different versions, including two that are far more form-fitting. So, if that’s your style, I think that it would look perfect for a work Christmas party or New Year’s Eve shenanigans.

Also, this dress has pockets! Need I say more?

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The Belle Curve Dress – Decades of Style

If you’ve been visiting Sew for Victory for long enough, you’ll know that the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress is just about my favourite pattern of all time. It’s just stunning. I made it very early on in my sewing career (ambitious much?!) and was amazed to find that it turned out really beautifully. Until I cut through it a couple of months ago when attempting to stop some fraying, that is. Disregarding my thoughtlessness, this remains a beautiful pattern. The sunburst dart detailing on the sides gives the dress an incredibly flattering shape and is probably the most effective design detail that I’ve seen on any pattern.

Don’t be intimidated by the number of darts. If I could make this as my third ever sewing project, I have faith in your abilities. It’s also a relatively quick sew! I actually wore this dress for Christmas back in 2015, the same year that I started sewing and launched Sew for Victory. I highly recommend this make if you’re looking for a holiday pattern with a distinctly vintage edge!

Belle Curve

Sierra Jumpsuit – Papercut Patterns

If you’re looking for something a little more modern and less conventional, the new Sierra Jumpsuit from Papercut Patterns might be exactly what you want. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually made any of their patterns before. But their newest collection popped up on my Instagram feed and I was instantly in love with this particular pattern. I can just imagine it in an emerald green corduroy (even though, technically, the pattern recommends light to medium weight fabrics, but I do love to run counter to advice when it comes to my sewing). With a turtleneck underneath, this would be a stunning winter outfit. The waist-tie of the jumpsuit gives it that glamourous edge, without feeling too fancy. So if comfort and utility are important to you (or if you’re going to be chasing a herd of children around for most of Christmas day), this pattern would be an excellent choice!

Sierra Jumpsuit

So those are my favourite patterns for all of your winter holiday needs. I will obviously be keeping you appraised of the dress making process, as I tackle monster amounts of fabric. If you don’t already follow me over on Instagram, you can catch me there – I usually post copious amounts of photos to my Instagram stories to document my making process. Otherwise, let me know in the comments if you have any favourite holiday patterns. What are you making this year?

I Love Fabric!

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. Adjusting to life in a new country is definitely tougher than I expected when I moved here. Now that I’m almost a year on from the move, I was anticipating feeling a lot more at home than I do. But starting your life over again is no joke and trying to build one for myself is taking its toll. Fortunately, I have an amazing husband who knows exactly the right way to cheer me up – by taking me fabric shopping! So with a couple of new projects in mind, we headed over to Joann’s so that I could pick myself up with some fabric devotion. As always, I was in heaven.

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SO much fabric joy! Am I the only one who pretty much always fabric shops in person? I mean, I order the odd thing online – but mostly just fabrics with really cute patterns that I can’t resist. Otherwise, I much prefer a trip to the fabric shop. I guess I’m always worried that what I order online won’t turn out to be as good in person. Although I know you can order swatches, I’m also incredibly impatient when it comes to waiting for fabrics to be delivered. Also, when I’m feeling not so at home here, hunting out new fabric shops or returning to favourites is a sure way to make me feel more comfortable. It’s exactly the same feeling of ‘at home’ that I get whenever I go into a bookshop. I know, I’m super cool!

We ended up spending a long time searching through the various fabrics at Joann’s. I had a couple of projects in mind and was hoping to find some fabrics that would work. The first project is a new version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my first makes (ambitious, I know!) and remains one of my favourite me-made garments. However, in my eternal Laura wisdom, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I should try to tidy up my original version. Since I was super new to sewing when I made it, there were quite a few problems with the construction. None of the issues were a particularly big deal, but mostly I was getting annoyed with the wide, unfinished seams and a lot of subsequent fraying. Since everything was already constructed, I didn’t want to risk serging. So I decided to take my pinking shears to the seams and have a go at both trimming them down and stopping the fraying. As careful as I thought I was being, I ended up snipping through the body of the side of the dress – right by the amazing sunburst darts – and leaving a hole big enough that there’s no fixing it (flashbacks to my wedding dress muslin, anyone?!). Needless to say, I was pretty distraught. However, the dress was definitely in need of many alterations. I’ve lost a lot of weight since I originally made it and, with the way the dress is constructed, it would’ve been impossible to alter. So I guess my accident was actually providing an opportunity for me to revisit and remake one of favourite patterns!

I knew that I wanted to stay super plain with the fabric. The best part of the Belle Curve dress is undoubtedly the darts and using a patterned fabric would only make this detail much harder to see. So I decided to get a couple of drapey fabrics in bold colours that would work super well and show of the unique details of the dress pattern.

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Green is probably my favourite colour and I couldn’t resist this gorgeous bottle green. My original version of the Belle Curve dress was in green and it looked stunning. I’m not sure if I’ll use this fabric for my next version since I want to try something different but, either way, it’ll certainly be put to good use!

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Purple! I don’t think I’ve made any purple clothes so far, which is strange because I absolutely adore purple. This is definitely a super bold purple but I think it will work incredibly well with the pattern. I can’t actually remember what sorts of fabrics these are – I think they’re poly blends. But they are perfectly drapey with a silky underside, which will work very well against the skin. I can’t wait to get started!

I’ve also been putting together plans to make some shorts. Summer in Missouri is pretty crazy and temperatures can get up to 110F (I think that’s over 40C). Since I’m came over from England, clearly my wardrobe was very underprepared for such temperatures. I’m determined that this summer will be much more comfortable than the last, so I’m putting my sewing machine to work for the cause. Fortunately, one of the lovelies that I follow on Instagram (Erin from My Poetic Memory) posted a photo of some shorts she’s whipped up recently. All of the pairs looked gorgeous but she had a version of the Chataigne shorts from Deer&Doe that left me particularly in love (I was the personification of the heart eyes emoji, for sure). After searching out the pattern for myself, I knew that I needed to put this on my project list! Since I was especially in love with the styling of one of the models for the pattern, I decided to try and replicate the look by finding some faux suede to create some beautiful shorts:

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I’ve never sewn with faux suede before, so I’m excited to give it a go! I think these shorts will be amazing – although perhaps not made with the most cooling of materials. Just an excuse to buy even more fabric to make new versions!

So that’s a summary of my recent adventures into the world of fabric. I’m so excited to get started on some new projects (especially because Me Made May is coming and I need to get some more stuff together!). Fortunately, my Ginger Jeans are almost finished – just the jeans button, rivets, and hemming to go! So I’ll have those to show you soon.

For now though, I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend full of sewing and happiness!

New Projects: What’s Next?

With February now well under way, I’m attempting to get together some coherent sewing plans for my next few projects. The down side of not planning out a series of makes for the year (along the lines of #makenine on Instagram) is that I do spend a lot of time dithering when I find myself between projects. Since my sewing productivity has increased massively this past month, my lack of planning is becoming even more of an issue. On the other hand, my makes tend to be responsive to whatever I’m feeling at the time so planning out patterns for the year doesn’t really work well. To navigate these two perspectives, I’m trying to develop a planning method that falls somewhere in between by having the next few makes lined up – hopefully sufficient to get me through a month or two. With that, I thought that I would write up a post on my more immediate sewing plans – at the very least it gets my plans out of my brain (where they will inevitably slosh around and eventually disappear into the ether of my other thoughts) and written down in a concrete way!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working from Tilly and the Button’s Love at First Stitch book.

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I’ve owned this book for ages but had yet to actually make anything from it. Having just finished up the Clemence skirt (photos to come soon!), I’m now working on a version of the Mimi blouse. I’m actually super excited about this make. I’ve never been big into making separates – I always seem to default to dresses because they’re just so pretty! But I’m determined to diversify my me-made wardrobe this year and separates are going to be a big part of that. I fell in love with the 60s style of the Mimi blouse and thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to use the beautiful fabric that I won during #vpjuly last year.

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I was going to hang on and make a dress from this fabric (as per my traditional dress obsession) but I can’t help thinking that it will make a super cute vintage blouse. Plus there will be some extra fabric left over for other things, which is always a bonus!

After I get done with the blouse, I’m thinking of working on another version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my earliest makes and remains one of my favourite patterns. It’s just so beautiful! Unfortunately, my early version of the pattern is both much too big for me now and not amazingly made. I definitely applaud myself for managing to make the pattern at all and, given my complete lack of sewing knowledge at the time, am still very happy with what I achieved. But I think the Belle Curve dress is definitely a pattern that will benefit from my much improved sewing abilities.

Pattern

I don’t yet have any fabric for this dress. I think it’s going to be a matter of rooting around at some fabric stores in order to find the perfect material. I think I’m still going to go for something plain (not patterned) and relatively light in colour, since this allows for the darts to show up especially well. I was actually really pleased with the fabric choice on my first version, so I think I’m going to try and use something relatively close to that – because why change what works?

The last project on my current list is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans. I’ve seen these jeans circulating in the blogosphere for a while and with consistently incredible reviews. I always struggle to find good jeans in stores because they’ll inevitably be baggy on my waist and thighs or too tight on my hips. The idea of making my own jeans is massively appealing and, with my recent Ultimate Trousers success, I’m feeling really motivated to make even more trousers! Not to mention, Closet Case’s jeans patterns are all 30% off for the month of February, as is their online Jean Making course! So I think I’m going to capitalise on that discount and give these jeans a go.

So that’s everything I have planned for the next month or so. If I continue on my current trend, my self-made wardrobe will definitely be growing exponentially through 2018! What do you have lined up for February? Dark, cold winters are definitely optimal sewing time. Maybe this -10 Celsius weather will clear up in St. Louis soon so that I can actually go out wearing some of what I’ve made this year.

 

Inspire A Style: Gene Tierney

Studio_publicity_Gene_Tierney

I’m back in the UK and, while I work on finally making progress with my Joan dress, I thought I would stop in with another instalment of Inspire A Style. This time featuring Gene Tierney, one of my favourite 1940s starlets!

Who?

Gene Tierney was an American actress who starred in a number of films throughout the 1940s, and into the ’50s. Acclaimed as one of Hollywood’s greatest beauties, she acted alongside a number of the most famous stars of the time – Humphrey Bogart, Ginger Rogers, and Spencer Tracy among them. Perhaps her most acclaimed role was as Laura in the film of the same name.

Gene Tierney is also known for the ups-and-downs of her personal life. Suffering from depression and ill-health, Tierney contemplated suicide in 1957. Her journey to overcome her mental health problems – as well as the story of her career – are documented in the amazing autobiography Self Portrait (highly recommended!).

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Why?

Gene Tierney is the epitome of 1940s glamour. Hollywood starlets of the era obviously had access to some of the most glorious garments and stylists. Other than her effortless beauty, it is this style that makes Tierney such an inspiration for anyone who wants to replicate this vintage style.

In many respects, then, Gene Tierney’s position as a fashion role-model is not the product of her personal style. But it is rather a consequence of her fortunate place at the helm of Hollywood. However, she is far from a one-dimensional personality. I think that her personal battles dictated her approach to her career, and this is something that will always inevitably flow over into other areas of life – including, in my view, style. Whether as a representation of inner battles, or as a superficial cover for them, there is always a story. And Gene Tierney perhaps best represents this fact.

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What?

Gene Tierney represents a lot of what I love about 1940s glamour. There is a certain simplicity to many of her looks, a simplicity that separates this era from those that followed. Simple, well-constructed gowns were the order of the day, paired with pearls or diamonds. Throw in some gorgeous bright reds and deep greens and this is a style that pretty much anyone can replicate. Gene Tierney is also someone to look to in attempting to replicate 1940s hairstyles. Perfect curls!

Tierney 1

So where can a seamstress look for patterns to replicate the Gene Tierney look? My first recommendation would undoubtedly be Decades of Style’s Belle Curve dress – to me, this totally epitomises the 1940s style and works perfectly for communicating some Hollywood glamour. I sported my version over Christmas and received endless compliments!

There’s also the glorious Doris dress from Eliza M Vintage. Worn strapless, and paired with a set of pearls, it would be perfect. I’ve made up patterns from Eliza M before, and they are so well constructed and easy to follow. Definitely recommended!

Finally, get yourself a set of heated rollers, pop your hair into some soft curls, and you’ll be ready to go! Gene Tierney in the 21st century! And I’m sure, once in this look, you will find yourself closer to the courage and determination that characterises her story.

“Life is like a little message in a bottle, to be carried by the winds and the tides.”

Gene Tierney (1920-1991)

The Belle Curve Dress

Happy Friday, sweetpeas!

As promised, I’m returning with some pictures of my finished Belle Curve dress – pattern by Decades of Style. This is BY FAR the most beautiful thing I’ve made, totally a consequence of the stunning design.

Full dress

I am beyond in love with this pattern. Despite my fear of the 36 darts, it came out quite quickly and was strangely satisfying. The darts are the most unique feature of the dress but, as well as looking great, they create a beautiful figure-hugging shape. This dress sits perfectly on my hips and I found that it achieves a fabulous hourglass shape really effortlessly.

Dress Side

I made this up in a green chiffon-poly that I bought super cheap from Walthamstow market. Since my plan is to wear this as my Christmas day dress, I thought that the forest green would work as a beautiful colour! I also thought that the shimmer to the fabric would give it that gorgeous 1940s feel.

The only change I made was to the back by introducing a V-shape to the neckline. Partly this was because I felt that it would step up the glamour factor, but it also eliminated a bit of bagginess in the upper part of the back. Basically, it streamlined the shape.

Dress Back2

There is nothing that I don’t adore about this dress. It is the most accurate 1940s-inspired pattern that I’ve found to date and it just has that WOW factor. I’ll be making this up again, without a doubt! Head on over to Decades of Style for this and a lot more fabulous patterns!

Laura x

A Trip to the 1940s: The Belle Curve Dress

Hello sweeties!

After a sewing-filled weekend, I am officially in the midst of my next project. A meet-up with some fellow twenty-something sewers (which I’ll be writing about in more detail soon) not only inspired serious sewing productivity, but also introduced me to the perfect fabric for my new dress.

Enter Decades of Style’s Belle Curve dress:

Pattern

A fabulous 1940s-inspired pattern, this beautiful dress features a curved back piece, darted all the way around to give it its shape. 36 darts in all! It is a serious time investment but I figure I will be a true dart expert come the end of this one. And the finished product promises to be a fantastically unique piece, well worth the effort.

In order to combat the darts – which are attached as separate dart templates – I took the advice of the pattern and got out my tracing wheel and carbon paper. Not only did this make the process far easier, but the yellow carbon paper meant that the dart tracings stuck out fantastically well on my fabric:

Dart tracing

I’ve decided to make this up in a gorgeous shimmery forest green, which will hopefully give me a dress that looks true to the 1940s style. This evening I started the process of sewing up the darts, using a spare 30 minutes to crack on. There’s still a LOT more to do, but the curved back is starting to take shape:

Darts

I’m SO excited about this project and really can’t wait to get it finished – although with 36 darts, it may be a little while! I want to take this back to the US as my official ‘Christmas dress’ (all going to plan) so I have a little while to work on it, and hopefully squeeze in another project before I fly off!

I’ll be back later in the week with more details about my trip to Walthamstow market – featuring some tips and highlights for anyone planning their own excursion. In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Laura x