Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Musings on a Spring Outfit: Choosing a suitable dress style

With hints of Spring coming, I have been thinking about a few dressy dresses and a certain coat for church and special occasions.  This is the time of year, weather permitting, lighter weight and brighter outfits can be worn.  One new outfit sometimes brightens the outlook when skies darken and  clouds hover.  Fabric stores have been bringing in new bolts of fabric for Spring and Summer uses.  Choosing a color whether in solid, print or geometrics should match with jackets worn in  warmer weather.

Choosing a dress that is becoming must be carefully considered.  The contemporary styles of knit clothing do not necessarily bring about the glances or thoughts that would uplift minds to seeing Christ in us.  Our choices should be so that it makes us beautiful as in God honoring, not in lustiness or vulgarity.  Our society is bombarded in all avenues of vision with much exposure of the body and this can be in explicit lucidity as well as in clinging clothing.  Focus and purpose of clothing is to draw attention to our Christlike countenance  rather than emphasis on our particularly womanly features.  God wants us to be distinctive in that we dress like ladies rather than gentlemen;  i.e., our clothing is not to be uni-sex, man-styled, make us manly looking, or have a masculine hint.  Here is a wonderful article by Lady Lydia on clothing for women.

Choosing a dress silhouette is basically deciding which lines look best for you.  Looking at a dress from the shoulders down, consider what lines you  like and what works best for you.  These are the principles of design--making lines which best suit YOU.

Considering the shoulder seams are there, the dress that has only side seams, with or without bust darts, and a back zipper:

  • the straight shift
  • the A-line
  • the tunic style-layered
  • the loose tent style
Then there are the princess lines:

  • lines coming over the bust from the shoulder seam
  • lines coming from the armhole replacing the bust dart
If there are lines added across the body so bodice and skirt are two pieces sewn together:

  • the sheath
  • the low-waisted dress
  • the high waisted dress
  • the empire
  • the asymmetrical closing dress
  • the yoked dress
  • bloused-look (blouson)
  • the shirtwaist
These are the basics from which there are many designer creative varieties.

At this conjuncture, I will have to make another post on what silhouettes look best on different body types.

My thoughts for a dress and coat that I would like to try are:

I would make view D in a print and make the length longer.

Butterick 5966   This has nice princess lines and would fit nicely over the above dress.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Capsulizing a Wardrobe: Choosing Appropriate Jackets

To Let
James Collinson
We used to live in an area where we would have sunshine in the morning and dress for it and then when we reached town in the lower elevation, it would be foggy and cold and I would wish for a warm jacket.  Nowadays, it is a matter of checking the weather online and  being prepared.

Jacket styles vary and choices  should be based on what  looks best on your body type.  The lines of the  jacket should be simple if the fabric has a lot of  "action".  Big, bold prints or even smaller  designs need to be kept simple.  Shapes are easier seen in medium to light plain colors.  Remember that black and any other deep dark colors do not show detail but body outlines. Darker colors tend to recede while lighter and brighter colors draw out.

Simple styles work best with lots of outfits.  Jackets range from boxy to very fitted and from short lengths to almost knee lengths.  Necklines vary from closed up to the neck to open to the bust line.

Short necks look good in cardigan styles.
Long necks can wear  blazer and tailored styles.
Broad shoulders should not wear the cropped jackets--those that end above the waist.
Those with smaller bosoms will find the short jackets flattering being fitted or bolero type.  They can also pull off wearing vests and capes nicely.
Those with large bosoms need to stay away from cropped jackets but  can look great in cardigan styles and capes.
Those with short waists will not benefit from the cropped jackets.
Long waists will find  cardigan styles, cropped jackets  and the more fitted jackets flattering.
Large hips should stay away from the cropped jackets as it accents the hips.
Of course the skinny frame can wear most any jacket style and look good.
Large frame should stay away from  anything very short.

Vogue patterns has a simple guide that they use for their patterns and helping you determine if a certain pattern is suitable for you.  Notice the four black shapes to the right of the pattern and click on the (About Figure Flattery) words and it will take you to the explanation.

I  found Burda Pattern that I am eager to try--Burda 6760.  The shirtwaist skirt will be made flared and longer.  The short jacket looks interesting enough to try first in a muslin.  I may prefer the longer fitted length with long sleeves and no pockets to wear on cool days.  It is a very simple style and should not take long to sew together.  I was able to download this pattern from SewingPatterns. com  as we live  quite a distance from fabric stores.  If you sign up for their emails, sometimes you can download a variety of patterns for very reasonable prices.

Here is another jacket made in a heavier fabric that would be flattering on a lot of figures.

This is an interesting cape that should go nicely when the really cold times are past. You can find it available here.  Check the images of  this pattern made by others on the net, lots of clever sewing!

Vogue makes the classic cardigan style in Vogue7975

Simplicity also offers a blazer/tailored jacket in Simplicity 2246

McCalls has a nice jacket pattern suitable to wear during cold weather.  The style is basic and flattering to many figure types.

As for classics and minimizing the amount of clothing, find a style that you like and that looks good on you.  Get a trusted friend to go shopping with you and find a color that will go with most all of your clothes.  Keep the lines simple and one that you can add scarves or other accessories to for dressing up or keeping warm.  A good weight for winter is a lined woolen fabric if you are wearing it as your outer wear.  If you wear a heavy coat over a jacket then choose a lighter fabric for wearing indoors when business buildings, etc. are cooler.  Try to figure out the most use possible in the best quality fabric and classic design for a decent price.  In some areas now, there may be sales on winter wear as stores are already getting spring and summer items out.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wardrobe Considerations: McCall's Sewing Book 1968

I found this classic at a second hand store and have enjoyed the tips and tricks presented.  It gives a lot of detailed sewing instruction as well as other useful information.

This is the article that I am pleased to quote here:

                                                            WARDROBE NEEDS

                                                                     At Home

                                  "The homemaker often makes the big mistake of thinking she    
                                  does not have to look her best when doing her daily chores.                                                                                                            Actually, ill-fitting clothes lower her morale and make her less
                                   able to cope with everyday trials.  This doesn't mean she has to
                                   dress up, but it does mean that she should look neat and trim.
                                  .......A simple shirtwaist dress or wrap-around with flared
                                   or pleated skirt will often present a much more attractive
                                   appearance and be just as comfortable as pants.

                                   For evenings at home a simple dress is always in good taste.
                                   But dress up a little bit if you wish.  It adds a touch of gaiety
                                   or elegance to a family gathering.  However, the degree of
                                   dressing-up depends on your situation."

Even though pants were becoming more prevalent it is interesting to note that this book encourages women to look neat and dress in good taste.  Quite the contrary to today's standards.  We have standards to uphold in our homes.  We want to show our family that we are women in the best possible position to minister to the needs of our family by our demeanor and decorum.  Like the Boy Scout adage:  Be Prepared, we want to be in readiness for a much as possible as homemakers.  Being clothed with garments that bring honor to the Lord and our families will boost their morale  and  encourage them to look neat.  We do have to wear clothes so why not make them nice as well as comfortable as the investment of time and money is one of our stewardship obligations.

Here is a 1968 outfit that would work now.  The skirt needs lengthening, but it is a practical style for many homemaker responsibilities.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Capsulizing a Wardrobe: Good deal on skirts, tops, and dress patterns on sale-- ends Friday,Feb. 13

Butterick is closing out some patterns and some of these would make very workable pieces.

A very comfortable and easy to sew skirt pattern.

The jacket tops from B3037 have classic lines and would work nicely with the skirts in B3134.   The cardigan  and shirtdress in B5760  would be addtional pieces to incorporate into the wardrobe.  These are on sale at Butterick.  I imagine they will not be carried anymore in their catalog.  For $3.00 each or discounted for the Club Members and if you are not able to find any on sale at your favorite fabric stores for around $2.00, these would be worth considering for adding classic lines to your wardrobe.  This sale ends Friday, February 13, 2015.

These could easily be made in heavier cotton fabrics for everyday wear.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Capsulizing a wardrobe: Checking out skirts

My new favorite pattern.

These inspirations are a little disjointed but all aiming at a minimal wardrobe for the two major seasons.  If you happen to live where you only deal with warm and cool, then perhaps your expenses on your wardrobe will be less.  Americans tend to overdo in many aspects, and one of them is making sure we have clothes to wear, albeit, when we look upon the items in the closet and wonder "what am I going to wear?"  I think that has more to do with careless planning or whim-ful shopping.

My hopes are to encourage you to use your favorite classical styles incorporating a few basic colors that look best on you and using them to mix and match to the greatest extent.

For example, using grey, black and burgundy for skirts, jackets and/or sweaters .  Then add tops that complement these colors or contrast.  A couple dresses that match also and some wonderful accessories of scarves, jewelry, vests, etc., that will make it more expandable.

Now the determining factor of what kind of wardrobe you need depends on what your occupations is. There are so many wardrobe ideas out there for business/professional women.  I will devote these posts to the women of all ages who are stay-at-home mothers , empty-nesters,  grandmothers, aunts, cousins, daughters, and homemakers of all kinds.

The major pattern companies put out capsule wardrobes, but most are not practical for everyday use.
I suggest finding a favorite pattern or skirt style that you like and stick with it, maybe varying the width or flare.  Keep them  simple and easy to make for your investment of time and money.  Jackets and sweaters should match the skirts.  The idea being that you can be dressed for anything if you are coordinated in neat and clean clothes and just throw a jacket or sweater on if you have to run an errand.  Tops should be pretty and feminine.  It is nice to see women in a pretty top as compared to our T-shirt comrades where beauty and grace lack.  I am of the old school where T-shirts were considered underwear as they were made to fit close to the body and whatever revealed our obvious curves was usually underneath a looser garment.  Hints of feminine shape are much better received  than the embarrassing tightness easily noticed.   Just remember we are to protect our fellow Christian brothers; and men and boys in general, from wayward glances by dressing discreetly and modestly.

One new skirt pattern that I like and find it easy to work with is the Hollyburn Skirt pattern from Sewaholic.  More information here about pattern envelope back. I usually make my skirts with a left side pocket opening so I don't have to sew a zipper.  This one has slashed pockets and a zipper in the back.  I have made one skirt so far and have fabric for more.  The skirt is a dark green poplin and I have cotton blouse fabric for the top. This is a  test run from my stash to see how it fits and wears as I like the style.   I want to use some basic colors  for mixing and matching  tops and skirts. I will see if I can post some pictures when I finish the skirt and blouse.

You will find that A-line skirts or slightly flared skirts are flattering to all women--it's the length that makes the difference.  This pattern has 3 different lengths and I would suggest that you cut about 4 inches extra on the hem on View A and try it on just to make sure you have a length that you like.  Otherwise make it your preferred length adding the correct inches plus 1 inch hem.  After searching for some good images of the finished skirt, I decided not to put any on until I had  a good shot of one that had a hem below the knees!  I don't think women realize that knees do not make a pretty picture!  It may be that they think it is an attraction or calling for attention, but they don't realize how pretty and feminine they look when the skirt length is mid calf or lower--it just balances out the body so nicely!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shirtwaist Primer



I do like shirtwaist dresses as they are so practical.  

How do you choose the best shirtwaist for yourself?

There are many options you can cycle through to figure out what you would like and what would look best on you.

  Shirtwaists are a classic style.  Be careful not to use faddish ideas as those don't last more than half a season sometimes.  This includes the trends that are popular now:  short skirts, tight bodices, cap sleeves,  odd colors, flashy fabrics, overpowering prints or designs to name a few.  Basically, a shirtwaist  that incorporates a classic style and a complementary color in quality fabric will make it a worthwhile piece in your wardrobe.

Decide what BODICE style you  like.

  • fitted with waist and bust darts--allow body  measurement plus wearing ease plus design ease for comfort
  • semi-fitted with slight waist gathers and bust dart--will work well for large bosom, large hips, long waisted, and skinny frame (pictured right)
  • blouson with loose fit and no darts--flattering to the large bosom, large hips, long waisted,  skinny frame
  • yoked bodice with gathers or pleats--good for small bosom, narrow shoulders
  • forward shoulder seams meeting gathers on front bodice--good for small bosom and narrow shoulders
Vogue 9000

Decide what COLLAR style you like:

  • shirt collar, no band--good for short neck, broad shoulders, large bosom on short frame, small bosom on tall frame
  • shirt  collar with band, tailored (or stand collar) --flattering for long neck
  • peter pan collar--not recommended for tall large frame
  • wing collar--flattering for broad shoulders
  • shawl collar--flattering to  large bosom also for a small bosom on tall frame
  • no collar--good for short neck
Vogue 8829

McCall's 6696

 Decide what SLEEVE style you want:

  • long for winter and heavier fabrics
    • cuffed--flattering  for thin or heavy arms on short frame
    • long with button on fold
    • long and fitted --no cuff or button
    • 3/4 sleeve
  • short-- good for transitional seasons to add sweater or jacket
  • the less  arm exposed the more feminine the appearance--includes  thin, heavy, and the older one gets the more it should be covered.
  • some patterns have a raglan  or dolman sleeve styles
McCall's 6891
Vogue 9051

Decide what SKIRT style you like:   these can be either buttoned to the hem or made without buttons.  Please do make the skirts to come below the knees so that it is flattering to the feminine figure.

  • A-line--flattering to all figures
  • gathered
    • slightly--more A-line shape with some gathers
    • full gathered--these are flattering to the long waisted and small hips
  • gored--flattering to large hips
  • flared (4 sections to skirt)--flattering to large hips
  • single front pleat--very flattering to short waists
  • double front pleat-- good for all body types
  • pleated is flattering to small hips
  • yoke--flattering to short waist on tall frame

    McCalls 7084

Then, there are the styles that are truly cut in ONE PIECE so it includes the bodice and skirt.  Some are straight and others are slightly flared.  If it is cut with princess seams as this one pictured below the skirt can be cut flared.
McCall's 5847
  If the shirt is just extended to the hem length then a little width can  be added at the sides.  If adding width to the front it would take more effort to make it flared with buttons to the hem.  It would be easier to not have the buttons but make the buttons come down to the waist and put in a placket or make it wide enough to go over the head and put a belt on and /or add elastic at the waist. 

There are so many interesting  VINTAGE SHIRTWAIST DRESS PATTERNS that offer a wonderful variety of styles.  Vintage dress patterns have more details with bodice styles and offer interesting variety as opposed to the simple styles in the major pattern books this year.

 Even if there aren't any patterns satisfy your needs you can always combine a top with a skirt to make it a  one piece dress.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What can you do with a shirtwaist dress in winter?

A Winter Outfit

I find the shirtwaist dress a wonderful wardrobe addition. It can be made in a variety of colors with darker jewel tones for winter wear.  There are infinite styles available for choosing one that is the best suited for the different  body types which makes it a most practical item for the wardrobe.


The above photo shows the various ways of combining tops and accessories to make the shirtwaist versatile.
For a winter shirtwaist, corduroy, wool flannel, wool knit, cotton flannel, and weights of mid to heavier fabrics would keep one warmer.  Having turtle-neck or a higher-necked under-sweater or even adding a vest to the combination would be comfortable.  Leggings and boots would keep the legs warmer.  Winter is a good time to wear longer skirts as it keeps the wind off and insulates the legs.  I would add a few more inches to the skirt of this shirtwaist pictured above as it is much more flattering and femininely pleasing to have the skirt come to about mid calf length.  It just balances that  wonderfully feminine look.

Here are some other ideas for interchangeable ideas for winter wear.  I cut these pages out of a magazine years ago as I liked the ideas shown.  I can not remember the name of the  magazine but it was aimed at Christian women.  I hope you can read the fine print.

Here are some simple ideas from vintage patterns that would add a little interest to the neckline.
Clever things to do with the neckline.

Then there are also a variety of scarves on the market to add color  and  versatility to your shirtwaist.