Monthly Archives: September 2010

Long Victorian Style Women’s Vest

Hello!  Can you believe it’s the middle of September already?  Crazy.

I made a long Victorian style women’s vest for myself.  It’s similar to the men’s vest but not as complicated.  It’s not lined and the facings are a bit different.  [Edit: I forgot to say why this is a Victorian style vest.  Many women’s garments back then had darts in the front and the back was always princess seams.  This is how this vest is constructed.]

Here are a couple photos of it being laid out.  If you’re new, the best way to cut out stuff is to lay out the pattern, weight it all around, trace around it with chalk/china marker/pen, remove the pattern, then cut out the fabric, cutting off the lines.  Yes, cut off the lines because when you trace the pattern, you add a very small amount, the thickness of the line, and if you don’t cut it off, you add that much all around every piece.

Pattern piece weighted and traced

Detail of laying out and tracing

After you cut out the interfacing, attach it to the facing pieces.  If you want to use sew-in interfacing, you would baste the interfacing and fabric together around the edges, 1/8 to 1/4″ from the edges.  I prefer to use that fusible tricot (knit) kind.  I never have problems with it like I’ve had with the other fusible kind.  If it ends up that the fabric and interfacing don’t exactly match when you’re basting or fusing them together, which sometimes happens when you cut them out, do the best you can in regards to the edge that will be sewn to the neckline/CF/armscye/whatever.  Trim the interfacing if it hangs over the edge but don’t trim the fabric.

The interfacing has been fused to the facings

Since I made this particular vest in Victorian style, I made the fronts with darts (1 piece) and the back princess seams (multiple pieces).  I draft the pattern and pressed the darts so the vertical ones go toward the CF and the horizontal bust dart goes downward.

The darts have been sewn and pressed

Sew the center back, center side back, and side back pieces together with a 3/8″ seam allowance (standard for most seams, use this with the shoulders and side seams).  You will see that I sewed them with the sewing machine then neatened the edges with the overlock.

Back seams from the wrong side

Back seams from the right side

After you have pressed the darts and back seams, join the fronts and back at the shoulders.

Shoulder seams

Press them, sew the side seams, and press them, too.

Side seam sewn

Next, with right sides together, sew the facings to the neckline/CF and the armsyces (armholes).  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Clip all the curves by snipping into the seam allowance to but not through the seam.  Pull the seam allowance toward the facings and understitch the facings 1/16 to 1/8″ away from the seam.  Turn the facings to the inside of the vest and press them.  If necessary, take the edges of the facings to a seam allowance to keep them from working their way to the outside.  The buttons and buttonholes will keep the CF from turning the wrong way.

At the bottom of the CF facings, stop at the point matching the whole width of the hem allowance.  Pivot and sew to the outer edge of the facing.  Clip, turn, and press.

All of this is in the photos below.

The facings have been attached to the vest

One of the armscye facings has been clipped and understitched

Facings understitched and turned to the inside of the vest

Turn at amount of hem allowance and stitch to edge of facing

Clip that corner

Turn to the inside and press it and the hem up the amount of the allowance

Press the vest hem under another time and stitch it just to the edge of the facing

The last things to do are to put in the buttonholes, sew on the buttons, and give the vest a final pressing.  Make sure you do a sample buttonhole first to make sure the button will fit through it.  Most of the time, mine turn out fine, but sometimes if the button is thicker or rounded, you need extra length.  If it’s very thin, you don’t need as much.

If you can find one of these tools (I have no idea what the name is), use it to mark buttons, buttonholes, and other things that need to be evenly spaced. The top section has stuff for buttons and buttonholes.

The buttonholes are spaced and marked with pins

Buttonholes and markings for the buttons

After you put in the buttonholes, slit them open (we always use a seam ripper), then press them.  Matching up the center fronts, lay the buttonholes over the other side.  Using a pen, pencil, chalk pencil, whatever, mark the button spacing through the buttonholes so they will match.  Sew on the buttons.  Press, especially if you’ve gotten it really wrinkled during the sewing process.

The completed garment:

Vest front

Vest back

[Edit: I want you to see in the photo of the front that the back facing isn’t shaped right.  Not at the neckline, but below it.  Do you see how you can see the wrong side of the fabric under the back facing?  The facing should be shaped so it falls below the front neckline so you can’t see the wrong side of the back.]  As soon as I get someone to take some photos of me, I’ll show what it looks like on a body.  (That’s one of my cats, Yaffah, on the chair in the background.)


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A-Line Skirt with Wide Waist

I designed and made 3 A-line skirts with wide waistbands.  In summer I wear T shirts over skirts and capri pants.  The T shirts are long enough that they sometimes squish the top of the skirt.  So I made the waist fitted and wider so the rest of the skirt wouldn’t be squished.  I traced my skirt sloper and marked where I wanted the fitted part to stop.  I cut that then closed the darts.  Then I made the bottom of the skirt wider so that it flared out in A-line style.  I don’t have any photos of how I made the pattern, but below are how I sewed it together.

First fuse the interfacing to the upper skirt pieces (you’ll see in later photos).

Sew the CB seam.

I made a CB (center back) seam because I think it’s so MUCH easier to sew a zipper on a straight line than it is to do so on a curved one, which the side seam sometimes is.

Start from the hem and go up to just a bit past where the seam allowance width changes.

Normal seam allowance is 3/8″ but I like to use 5/8″ by the zipper.

Next, sew the upper skirt pieces to the lower skirt pieces.  Leave the facing pieces for a little later.

The upper skirt back from the wrong side.

The upper skirt backs from the right side

Upper skirt front from the wrong side

Upper skirt front from the right side

Next, sew the side seams of the facing pieces.

Sew the facing seams

Remember that the iron is your friend.  Press all seams flat (how they look when you sew them, like the facing side seam above on the right), then open the pieces and either press them open/butterflied or to one side (usually to one side is for the seam that joins the sleeve cap to the armscye [armhole]).

Press the CB seam open, including the top part where there’s no stitching, where the zipper goes.

Same seam from the right side.

Now  insert the zipper.  It’s actually not hard, ends up looking really nice, and if you’ve always had problems with them, I’m walking you through it.  Also, check out the centered zipper template and construction tutorials on and you might need to look at the lapped ones as well for more info.

First, sew one side of the zipper tape to one of the seam allowances.

If you’re not sure which side, hold the zipper and the skirt together how they will look when finished then turn them how they’re sewn.

Sew the other side of the zipper tape to the other seam allowance.

You might have to open and close the zipper as you do so to prevent crooked sewing.

The zipper from the right side.

Now sew the side seams of the skirt then the facing around the zipper.

Side seam from the wrong side

Side seam from the right side.

Sew the CB of the facing to the CB of the skirt, right next to the zipper.

Don’t go all the way to the bottom of the facing, just to where the upper/lower skirt seam is.  You need that little bit of facing to fold under later.

How it looks when you fold it back.

Now fold it the other way and sew the facing to the skirt at the waistline.

The facing clipped, folded to the inside and pressed.

Another view. See how the facing doesn’t cover the zipper but the skirt does? You want it this way.

Press under the bottom of the facing a little.  You might have to experiment with how much.  You want the bottom to be caught when you topstitch from the right side, but you don’t want it too much or too little.  You can also hand sew the facing with a whip stitch or whichever stitch will work.

Bottom of facing turned under and ready to sew.

Here’s the topstitching along the upper skirt.

Upper skirt topstitching

Topstitching along the zipper

I’m sure you noticed I didn’t quite get it even.  But the topstitching is why I didn’t have you understitch the facing at the waistline.

Finally, press and stitch the hem.

Press the hem up the full width (about 1 1/2″ in this case).

Then press the 2nd fold (never press a hem under just once–you don’t want any raw edge).

The hem stitched from the wrong side.

Hem stitched, shown from the right side.

Press the hem and any other wrinkles.

Here is the finished skirt, from the front. The back is nearly the same.

And there you go!


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1950s style cotton dress

Hello, dear readers!  I have put up the photos of my 1950s style floral print summer dress.  I finally finished editing those photos.  They’re here because I thought there were too many for this post.  If you have any questions please let me know.  I put captions on all the photos.  I edited the photos from a couple other things I sewed, so they will be in a post really soon.

Edit 2/19/12: I looked at the photos linked above and because of the print, it’s hard to see what’s going on in the steps.  I have photos of the steps of a similar dress, the “original” 50s dress I modified to be the summer one.  It has a contrast collar and bow, so it’s easier to see them, too.  As soon as I edit them, I’ll put them into this post.

Here are photos of me in the floral one:

The front of the dress

Another shot of the front

The back

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