Fit & Flair Returns

Dear Constant Reader,

About a thousand years ago, I ran a little contest where my Constant Readers would vote on a pattern from my collection and I would make the dress. The winner was “Fifties’ Fit & Flair” by Folkwear, a now out-of-print pattern. You can read all about the process here.

However, I left you hanging with a dress that didn’t fit quite right. So what happened?

I tossed the dress in my “unfinished” pile and it languished there for years. Last week I unearthed it and decided it was a shame to abandon it. The skirt was perfectly good, very full and it had pockets. I ripped the bodice off and added a waist band. Voila, a circle skirt!

(Not the greatest picture of it but Albert was sprawled right where I wanted to stand)

I’m sorry I couldn’t make the bodice work, because I did such a perfect job of pattern matching the front. But I never loved the dolman sleeves, so in the end, it’s better.

Also, obligatory matching mask.

Maybe I’ll do another one of these “dress me” polls, but this time I’ll need to use a pattern from my collection AND fabric from my stash. I have too much fabulous fabric sitting around doing nothing.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 7 July 2020 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Fit & Flair Progress (sort of)

Dear Constant Reader,

I bet you’ve been wondering what happened to my Fit & Flair dress! When last we left our heroine, she just had to tack down the neck facing and hem the skirt. Well, and then I had to take in the darts in the back even more because the bodice was bagging on me.

The hemming was a bit of a pain. Well, the hemming itself was perfectly fine, if tedious. It was making sure the full circle skirt was even all ’round. My Little Friend has a hem marker, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. I ended up using an unglamourous measuring tape, but it did come out nice and even.

Ta da!

Look, I even made a cute belt. True confession: it was supposed to have a buckle, but I forgot to add enough extra fabric, so it snaps instead. And I have a vintage brooch to add some interest like a faux buckle. And there was a plan (and material) for a pink crinoline.

But I’m not happy with the dress. In fact, I’m down right frustrated. It doesn’t fit well. The skirt is great but the bodice hangs badly off my shoulders. If you look at the picture, you can sort of see how the neckline is standing away from the mannequin’s body and you can see her camisole straps showing. It’s even worse on me.

Before you ask, no, I didn’t make a mock-up before I began. I’ve never had any problems with Folkwear patterns before. Butterick is another story…

I have no idea how to adjust the fit. It’s the sleeves that are the problem. They are cut in one piece with the bodice so there’s no armscye (or anything) to adjust. And I really don’t want to make adjustments to the center front as I did all that tricky pattern matching. I had Marion Hunt of Vixens Ahoy and Mimi Mischief, skilled seamstresses both, take a look at it and they were pretty baffled.

My only recourse may be to make a new bodice, from a different pattern, and mate it with the skirt. I suppose I could take off the bodice and add a waistband to the skirt and have it stand alone.

I’m very disappointed.

Grumpily yours,

Published in: on 13 March 2014 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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More Costuming

Dear Constant Reader,

I spent part of yesterday turning this:

into another costume piece for The Wrathskellar.

The result was thus:

Ta da! My hooping outfit. It will look much better in action. My Little Friend is good for most fitting work, but she’s not great for display. For one thing, her boobs don’t push up like the bra wants them to. And, at the moment, everything is just pinned to her. I’ll actually need some snaps & hooks, since I’m not so keen on straight pins in my flesh.

I’m going to have to take a hiatus from the Fit & Flair project, which is a shame because it is so close to finished. At the left, you can see the neck facing sewn on, but not yet turned to the inside and tacked down. That’s since been done. And the sleeves are hemmed (by hand, of course). Technically all that’s left to do is hem the skirt. The dress wants to hang for a little before measuring the hem, but given my schedule, I think it’s going to hang for a good long while before I get to it.

But that wouldn’t make a very finished outfit. I want to make a wide belt. I have the fabric, but I haven’t found a buckle I like yet. Also, I think it really wants a crinoline.

Here’s the dress in its almost finished state.

I think it will be staying this way until at least October…


Published in: on 27 August 2013 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dress Progress

Dear Constant Reader,

Vote for The Boston Babydolls for “Best Theatre Group” and B.A.B.E. for “Best Dance Classes“!

I took advantage of the holiday last week to work on the Fit & Flair dress. Great progress was made in a very short time!

I finally had the time and patience to put in the zipper. I used a lapped technique I found on some sewing website and it seems to have worked. And I hardly cursed at all. Once that hurdle was jumped, putting the two halves together was a snap. I sewed the front to the back along the top of the sleeves/bodice first, then the underside of the sleeves/side seam of bodice and skirt.

As you can see here, modeled by My Little Friend, one might almost think it was wearable.

Next step was to make the neck facing. I decided to interface it, which made me procrastinate a bit. The interfacing is cut without seam allowances and there are 3 different sizes of seam allowance on these pattern pieces. Kind of fussy. Then it had to fused with a steam iron. It was pushing 100 degrees and humid in Boston, so I was less than thrilled about firing up the iron.

I was baffled by the directions for the facing before I realized that they were out of order. Steps 2 and 4 had been swapped, telling you to sew the facing to the dress, before you joined the back facing to the front facing. Yikes! Fortunately, the diagrams were in the correct place. I suppose I should drop a note to Folkwear in case they ever re-release the pattern.

Next step (in the right order) is turn and sew the outside raw edge, then sew the facing to the neckline. After that, it’s just finishing work! I love hemming!*

* That’s a lie.

Published in: on 10 July 2013 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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More Progress

Dear Constant Reader,

I have not forgotten my new dress. I’ve just been terribly busy. Over the weekend I managed to get a little bit of blissful sewing in.

Each half of the skirt back is now stitched to one of the back bodice halves. The two halves of the back are sewn and basted together, in preparation of putting in the zipper.

The zipper might be a little challenging. The directions just say to follow the zipper manufacturers instructions for a lapped zipper insertion. My zipper didn’t come with any such instructions, nor are there any on its website. I expanded my search.

It turns out there are 2 ways to set in a lapped zipper. I rejected the one that would have involved a modification my pattern didn’t have. I’m working a little on faith here, because I can’t quite visualize the end result.

Ultimately, I pinned the zipper in place and chickened out. Maybe I’ll have to courage this week. After all, what’s the worst that happens? I have to rip it out. Frustrating, but not life-threatening.

Tune in and see what happens!


Published in: on 17 June 2013 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment  

More Sewing

Dear Constant Reader,

Please vote for The Boston Babydolls as “Best Theatre Group” on The Boston A-List. We’re currently in 5th place!

More stitching yesterday. I sewed the other 3 darts and then seamed the front bodice together. What do you think?

That white line has nothing to do with it, by the way. That’s just some chalk left over from when I was figuring out placement.

Next step was putting in the pockets. Pockets! Oh joy! That wasn’t me being sarcastic. I love pockets. And they’re easy when they’re on a seam. Once that was done, I had the whole front of the skirt sewn together. Then I sewed the skirt front to the bodice front.

This should give you a rough idea of what the finished product will look like.

I also sewed the skirt back pieces together. I would have done more, but at this point it was time to pick up Scratch and Betty from the airport.

Next up, the back skirt panels need to be pressed and then sewn to the two pieces of the back bodice. The rest of my week is pretty busy what with rehearsal tonight, chair dance class and the DrinkOne benefit tomorrow, and weddings over the weekend. I’m not sure when I’ll pick this up again.


Published in: on 5 June 2013 at 11:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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First Steps

Dear Constant Reader,

Please vote for The Boston Babydolls as “Best Theatre Group” on The Boston A-List. You only have to vote once!

I have begun the Fit & Flair dress with my least favorite part: cutting. It wasn’t too terrible. The cotton fabric is quite crisp, even after washing, so it stayed put. Fabric that slithers makes me crazy.

I had to be a little clever in my lay-out. The material is supposed to be folded across the width, as opposed to the usual way along the length, because the majority of the pieces are too wide for a half width. However, the floral pattern is directional, so I couldn’t just fold the fabric. If I did, half the skirt would have upside down flowers. This also meant I couldn’t place the pieces as shown on the pattern layout or I would also have upside down flowers.

So, I marked all the pieces that were getting cut this way (all the skirt panels except the front, the pockets, and facings) and then cut that swath of fabric off. Then I laid it on top of the remaining fabric. Then I started to cut and began to curse. I had made a total rookie mistake. Both pieces of fabric were right side up. That meant instead of mirror images, I was going to have 2 left sides. Fortunately, I caught it very early. And I had bought a little extra fabric. Of course the bit I cut was a curve, so I lost quite a bit of fabric.

Having flipped the fabric, so both sections were wrong side in, I finished cutting that part and was starting to worry about those slashes interfering. I cut the center skirt panel (on the fold) and just had the bodice pieces to worry about.

The bodice and dolman sleeves are cut in one, which means there has to be a center front seam. I find them very distracting, especially when they break a pattern, so I was resolved to match the pattern. This was an exacting process but kind of fun. It’s the kind of problem solving I enjoy. With all luck, the center front seam will hardly be noticeable. *fingers crossed*. The back was no big deal to cut and I’m left with a goodly amount of fabric (if I work around two slashes). Maybe it will become a charming purse.

And this was the result!

So exciting, I know. I keep the fabric pieces paired with the pattern pieces until I start to sew on them. It lessens confusion.

The next step is to get sewing! And we started with possibly my second least favorite things — darts. Both the front and the back of the bodice are darted for a good fit. I don’t mind sewing darts; it’s marking them that gives me grief.

Eventually I prevailed and did this:

Then my bobbin ran out of thread and I took that as a sign that I should hang it up for the night.


Published in: on 4 June 2013 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Getting Ready

Dear Constant Reader,

I have begun the Fit & Flair dress!

First step, I bought some fabric:
Fabric and pattern
(and also a zipper, but that’s hardly exciting, so not in the photo). It’s a crisp cotton print. I think the floral design is kind of 50’s.

Then I washed the fabric as hot as possible and dried it the same. I always abuse my washable fabrics and then baby the resulting garments. I pulled the fabric out of the dryer while it was still slightly damp. This makes ironing easier, which was done while watching some old X-Files episodes.

Next step is cutting, which I always hate. And it’s going to be a little challenging. The bodice of the dress is cut in one with the dolman sleeves, therefore it’s too wide to cut on the fold of normal width fabric, so there’s a seam down the center front. I’ll need to match the pattern as much as possible to keep from calling attention to that seam. Although I don’t think I’m going to worry about it on the skirt — there are 7 panels and that’s just too much work. Maybe the front & side front panels, but unlikely.

This is all complicated by the discovery that the fabric has a couple of slashes in it. Not enough that I’m taking it back to the fabric store and complaining. But that’s mostly because I’m lazy and it’s quite a drive. I’m going to have to lay out around them, which will be fun with such full skirt panels. Fortunately, I got extra fabric.

Tomorrow I think I’ll give you a peek at my sewing room.


Published in: on 28 May 2013 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Winner is….

Dear Constant Reader,

For the past week, I held a contest to pick the next dress I would make from my pattern collection. Thank you to everyone who voiced an opinion.

I’ll be posting updates as I make said dress and sharing triumphs and frustrations

The winner is….

Folkwear Fifties Fit & Flair

Now, as for The Teaseday Club race…

Brigitte Bisoux and Ginny Nightshade are basically neck and neck. Dagny Vanderlust is close behind them and Peril S. Curves is in 4th place. Betty Blaize and Beau Blush are tied for 5th. Scratch is in 6th and Sarah Blodgett is DFL.

You can change the outcome! Advance tickets are on sale until (I think) about 5pm today. You can always get tickets at the door tonight, but I don’t think they count in the contest.


Published in: on 14 May 2013 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dress Me

Dear Constant Reader,

I have a problem. I buy patterns and then they sit in my filing cabinet (or worse, are strewn all over the floor as I pretend I’m about to use them). They’re so sad when they aren’t being turned into clothing. I want you to help me with this problem!

For the next week, I’m going to let you pick what dress I should make next. Just leave a comment below and the dress with the most votes wins! I’ll make that one and keep you updated on my progress from fabric to wearable, hopefully with lots of pictures. Make sure to specify which version of the pattern you like; most have at least 2 variations. Click the picture to go to the full description.

Win-win: I get a new dress *and* lots of content for upcoming posts. You get to peek into my sewing room and possibly hear me curse a lot. With any luck, I’ll schedule a shoot or something so you can see the winning outfit in all its glory — not a crummy cell phone shot in the mirror.

The candidates are :

Folkwear Fifties Fit & Flair

Folkwear Glamour Girl Dress

Butterick 4790

Butterick 4919

Butterick 5214

Butterick 5281

Butterick 5556

Butterick 5557

Butterick 5813

Butterick 5882

Butterick 6582

Craftsy Bombshell Dress (no picture because it’s a class, not a pattern)

So, you have until next Monday to leave a comment with your vote!


Published in: on 6 May 2013 at 10:11 am  Comments (8)  
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