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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winter wardrobing

In the Park
George Dunlop Leslie

I  like to be warm in the winter.  I remember as  young lady when it was freezing cold that I had short dresses with (scarcely) warm  tights and a heavy coat.  I was not one to wear things that weren't in style.  I was too thoughtful of my own desires and suffered from cold legs.  It took me  many years to come around to God's plans for modesty and comfort.  Now that some wisdom has accumulated into my thought processes from reading, studying, understanding God's desires, and putting them into practice I find life a little easier on that account.  I have not arrived by any means but it is comforting to know that I can dress according to His standards and have real peace about how I look as His representative where ever I go.  Winters are so much more bearable.

Winter time is the the time for layering.  Fabrics chosen should be natural fibers, with warmer fabrics like wool in a soft weave that is comfortable, perhaps with a cotton long sleeve knit top underneath in case  the wool makes the skin itch, and then another layer of a cardigan or heavy sweater over the wool, also an infinity scarf around the neck.  Vests of varying types are also an extra layer to help keep the heat in around the torso which is important to keep warm. Here is a guide for fabric types used in the various layers as well their reasons.  Here is another place to check out what would work best to layer.  This is for cycling in the winter but the principles still apply.  I would add a long skirt and petti-pants and/or a cotton slip.
Some layering ideas with skirts are here.  More aimed at the younger ages.

With the various lengths and styles available, chose colors that complement or contrast.  This is when basic solid colors make it easier to combine layers.   When considering colors therefore if you are shorter, the more one-color or monochromatic pieces you have will give a more vertical appearance.  For the taller person  the contrast will bring a look of  more softer look if using more rounded lines on clothing and accessories.  Now, if a person is heavier, darker colors tend to recede and bright colors tend to draw attention.  Perhaps the bright contrast, e.g.; scarves, should be close to the face in order to draw attention  to reflect  Christ in one's countenance.

The smaller figures should not use bulky pieces which would be better suited for the taller and more slender body types.  The heavier figures would do better in darker and greyed colors as they tend to not make the outline of the figure so definitive  but will give a more flattering look.

Coats, jackets and winter cover-ups vary with individual tastes.  Do remember that purchasing quality fabrics and workmanship in a classic style will last for many years.  Changes would include accessories for updating.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Some more wardrobing tips

Waiting on the Veranda
 Francois-Marie Firmin-Girard 

Fall is a wonderful season to wear the last of the heavier summer clothing and to start with some warm outfits for those days that stay cool.  This is the season to begin with layering lightly and progressively put on heavier layers as the days draw nearer to the winter cold.  This is the time for contrast and complimentary coloring.

The infinity scarves are still in vogue and work nicely for adding some warmth with a lighter woven top and a cardigan sweater.  I don't find them practical for working around the house though.  They are great for shopping and running errands.

There are practical accessories that add updated touches to your classic wardrobe.  The scarves that wrap around the neck without an end-infinity scarves-or with flowing tails-wrap scarves-- are great for windy and chilly days.

I would encourage you to buy fabrics that are natural as compared to synthetic as during any season that synthetics are worn in the man-made fabrics do not make the wearer comfortable.  Synthetics have been upgraded to wick moisture away from the body and I don't believe they are the healthiest for your body.  Natural fibers help hold in heat  for cold times or keep you cool in heat.

This is also the time to wear longer skirts with leggings, layered looks, and leather boots to keep your feet and legs warm.  Coat styles vary mostly determined by the wearer's character.  Tightly woven wool will help with underlinings that are warm.  Furs that hold in the warmth around the neck and face are more for comfort than looks.   Smooth leathers are usually cold.  They might be good with sheared wool underneath to hold in the warmth.

Classic styles usually are the best buys as they will  not be faddish and have to be discarded in a year or two being outdated.  The length is chosen by considering how often the coat is worn and where one basically wears it (i.e., church, shopping groceries, running errands, taking family to lessons, etc.)  Practical planning would call for a shorter coat/jacket for just everyday wear, and a longer woolen one for dressier oocasions.

More coming soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Practical summer blouse

Roses from a Victorian Garden
Albert Williams

With unusual events occurring in the past couple months, I have finally been able to get back to posting and sewing.  I have decided to update my blouse wardrobe for summer wear.  I have found a new favorite pattern that I want to share the ease of working with it.

I try to find fabric on sale as I think that is the best use of the funds God has provided me with and so I go to our Hancock Fabric store and JoAnns Fabrics and Crafts.  I like to buy patterns from the major pattern books on sale as well  as they are exorbitantly priced otherwise.

We have a local quilt shop that has sale fabrics,  100% cotton,  for around $6 to $7 per yard.  It is difficult to find quality cotton anymore.  I chose some from this shop that would wear well and go with skirts I have.

I purchased  Butterick 6085  and found the pattern has few pieces and easy to sew.  The only problem I noticed was the sleeve didn't have enough ease in it when setting in so I would suggest reading this blog as she explained how she took care of that problem.  I used a  sleeve from Simplicity  9210 ( which is no longer in print), as she suggested in her blog to make a better fit in the sleeve cap. Once you get that fixed, the pattern goes together quickly as there is no facing to sew to the blouse front as it is cut with the front so when it is finished it is nice and flat rather than having a seam there which tends to pucker sometimes.

The picture below shows the difference in sleeves.  I made my first blouse from the pattern using the original sleeve pattern that came with it. The fit was OK and I will wear it.  I adjusted the next  to about half of the difference  between the two patterns.  The first picture shows  how low the top curve of the sleeve is compared to the Simplicity 9210 underneath it.

 This next picture shows the difference of the underarm seam when the top of the sleeve patterns are matched.
The bottom picture shows where I cut my underarm seam as I didn't want too much fullness either since the first blouse using the original  sleeve pattern wasn't too far off for my liking.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Interim Thoughts - Pausing for maternity's sake

The Cradle
Berthe Morisot  

We have a lot of babies popping up around us and are so tickled to see the little ones so welcomed and loved in their families--even the new adoptions.  Life is too short to miss these sweet times.  It is an almost overwhelming responsibility and with out the strength and guidance from our Lord it would wear a woman out.  Building godly character never changes with the times.  This is where the injunction for older women who have behavior that becometh holiness are instructed to teach the younger women the precious life-calling of being a wife and mother and all that goes with it as written in Titus 2:3-5.

As for the attire that goes with this period in a lady's life, Modestly Sew has been a little puzzled as to the style of maternity clothes seen on the general  expectant population.  To err on the side of modesty would benefit many.   Hence, I have searched the pattern catalogs for something discreet and modest for the  short waiting period and found a few.  I am sure there can be many adaptations made from many  patterns.
Kwik Sew 3486
Butterick 5763 A nice top over a skirt.
(Buttoning up the neckline and raising it if necessary.)
This one would need a  high-necked camisole or some sort of covering  over the low neckline in order to be modest.
I have not seen these kind of over blouses on any.

Butterick 5763
(Buttoning up the neckline and raising it if necessary.) The sleeves could be shorted to above elbow.

This c;ould be made out of cotton and dress length with a higher neckline buttoned up.  A blouse pattern would work for ideas.
Here is a simply constructed top that would work nicely over skirts or extended to dress length.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I hope you keep your knees under cover!

I found this style on Amazon in March and was aghast
at how it really made her appear.
 She would certainly look pretty in a dress like the following pattern.
This is a pattern from the 80s that is very simple in style with a fitted lower waist, gathered skirt, puff on the sleeve cap, and a modest length for the sleeves, either short or long, and a lace accent collar that frames  the face nicely.  Notice it is not so fitted as to be tight, but have a comfortable looseness that flatters the feminine figure.  This style would work nicely for a slender small hipped young lady.  There are many other styles that would enhance figures of various types but I am hard pressed to find some nice patterns in the major pattern
 catalogues as most are draped, wrapped, clingy, short,  stark designs,  or low necked.  I like to look at the 80s patterns because there was a return to curls, pretty and soft feminine looks with pastels and florals.

 The feminine looks of a Christian deem it important to place a high value on modesty, deportment, and style that honors God.  We look at little girls' clothing and see a lot of pretty and  almost dainty and delicate  styling and ponder fondly on them and yet there are styles that just do more harm than good on those young girls which are becoming rampant in modern America.  As Christian mothers we need to train our daughters to respect the fact that they are going to be young ladies --His princesses--and they are worthy of dressing modestly in all aspects so that attention is not drawn to the prettiness of the outfits and the demeanor of the girl but to her spirit and godly character.  Clothing styles tend to give  to standards we choose:  for example;  putting on clothes that boys are expected to wear such as jeans, t-shirt, ball cap, etc., gives credence to run with the guys or boys.  Wearing very tight clothing  that either sex wears also gives rise to the feeling of wearing a second layer of skin and the exhibitionist character that goes with it.  We can all imagine what couch potatoes wear!

I really think that we have little glimpses of what parts we think looks good and are not able to see ourselves as a whole picture.  It may help to have someone take a picture of us front, back, and side  in our  favorite outfit and then we should analyze it carefully.

Again, please do not be dictated by the styles that are for sale.  You are responsible to wear God-honoring clothes and that means nice, neat, orderly, modest, yet feminine and pretty clothes that look good on you.  ( I have never heard anyone say "those are pretty pants" or the same about a t-shirt.)  If you don't know how to sew, this would be an impetus to start.  There are many pretty fabrics available.  Have someone help you choose colors that complement you.  Find clothing styles that go with your figure type.  There are beginner patterns and if you feel brave try them on your own do it with cheap cotton or an old sheet to see how it fits.  Use a fabric that is similar to what you want to make it out of.  Find a person who has sewn a lot in your church and ask her for help.  Sewing stores as well as fabric shops often have beginner classes.  Even quilt stores will guide you through beginner classes with quilts and that would be a start.  There are also tutorials on DVDs that should be a great help.

As far as knees go,  the only "cute" knees are on little children.  Once a girl is  5 years old, knees tend to get pretty worn and look better covered.  It's probably a good thing we don't have to look at elbows!  The less skin showing the more modest one is--not that I endorse burkas or anything close to that.   My recommendations are raised necklines, covered waists, loose enough garments, and  hemlines that might be about 8-12 inches from the floor so that when you move and bend nothing shows that would cause embarrassment to anyone.