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Thursday, 19 May 2016

bias dress progress

Okay so I'm all gung-ho about the bias dress so last week I whipped up a muslin of Vera Venus' Little Bias Dress. With less-than wonderful results..


As I feared, this cut and silhouette don't work for me! Maybe I could have played around with the fit to make the proportions more flattering but I just have the feeling that this is not the right look for a small-chested woman. I also have kind of, like, low hips, I guess? Anyway the high waist is just making my middle look suuuuuuuper long. Not what I'm going for!

Making this muslin also made me realize that I have to work with the streatch of the bias instead of against it. With all of my experience cutting garments on the straight grain, I had the mindset that I had to limit the stretching of the garment until sewn. I sandwiched the fabric in paper to cut out and even stay-stitched and sewed it up with the paper on. What a waste of paper! Since sewing it up and reading more, I've learned my lesson. I'll loosely baste the seams and let it hang before sewing the final dress.

So with the design of the dress up in the air I turned to pinterest for more style ideas. Specifically looking for dresses that hit at the true waist (almost always a good look for me).

McCall 8521. 1930's Vintage Sewing Pattern.  Keyhole back with loose top and figure skimming skirt.  Belted.  #vinsinn  #1930svintage

Yummy! I love the drape-y, Grecian vibe!

30s evening gown stripe plaid? blue bias cut draping long dress low back color illustration vintage fashion McCall 7892 | ca. 1934 Ladies' & Misses' Evening Dress:

Another one of my favorites. Look at that glamorous back neckline! I'm also going to try to steal the bow idea. Hopefully, the trailing tails of the bow will cover any weirdness from having a side zipper.

Not too sure how the shoulders of this one stay on, with the cowl in front and the low V in back. Maybe there is some inner structure or underpinning keeping it in place?

I've started drafting the bodice much like this second pic. It's also been a little tricky trying to figure out how to finish the edges on the bodice. Then I realized that with a cowl I can self/face the entire thing! Right? And the back will be cut on grain, so I can use the usual facings and it will be a bit more secure and hopefully stay on!

More to come as I get closer!

Thursday, 12 May 2016


Hey, guys, can we talk about bias cut garments? I must have one and it's really taking me outside of my comfort zone!

I play in a big band (it's a 19-piece jazz orchestra that plays classic swing tunes of the big-band era). Every few months we put on a show with some swing dancers and other local groups (vintage societies, etc). It's SO much fun to have people lindy hop to our music. It's what the music was written for, after all!

I really love that so many of the dancers make the effort to dress up in sweet, period-appropriate outfits. Everyone looks so good in their pearls and little white gloves! So far I've gotten by on cobbling together looks using clothes that I already had but it's been a dream of mine to make something specific to wear for these events.

How much would I slay in this?

The guys in the band all wear tuxes and I want to wear something equally as formal, as well as era-appropriate. For months I've thought about trying to make a classic 50s era frock. I love this look and it's a flattering shape on me. I think one of the reasons that I never pulled the trigger, though, was that I knew that it wouldn't really be the right look for the time-period of the music.

I could so rock this.

Oh, and I also tend to spend most of my free time leading up to a show practicing, which doesn't leave much time for sewing! This show I'm in better shape, playing-wise, so I can dedicate time to making a dress.

I combed through Pinterest, vintage sewing blogs and Google image and finally faced that fact that the only real option is to make a bias cut gown. I guess I had never really thought about bias cut garments but now the thought of making one has sunk it's teeth into my imagination and won't let go!

So glamorous!

I'm dreaming of gorgeous drape, luscious satins and flowing godets. Meanwhile, my sewing skills have been left in the dust! I've spent a lot of time working on tailoring and shirtmaking techniques and I'm starting to feel like these skills are really developing for me! I was less intimidated by these techniques but couture dressmaking just seems much more out of reach. Working with delicate, difficult fabrics and techniques that take decades to master, if you can even find instructions.

So I've reserved some books out of my public library: Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer and Bias-cut Dressmaking by Gillian Holman. Hopefully I can cobble together enough knowledge to make something wearable!

Oh, and then we'll come to the issue of whether or not it's flattering on me. But that's a whole other kettle of fish.

Seriously, though, what did ladies wear in the 30s if they had a bad figure? Bias cut shows no mercy.

...And what underwear did they wear? I need to know, people!