I was soooo excited about the wonderful Sew For Victory Sewalong, hosted by the equally wonderful Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. I had oodles of time and chose not one, but two Forties patterns to work with. In the spirit of WWII's Make Do and Mend campaign, I decided to only use fabric and notions from my stash and carefully matched up notions, fabric and patterns and got down to business. I finished the muslin for the first dress and then promptly came down with a nasty bug that had me doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself for close to a week. When the lurgy passed, I immediately scooted into my sewing room and sat down at my machine, ready to make quick work of pattern number one and then start on pattern number two as the deadline for the Sewalong was fast approaching.
My primary machine is a Singer Model 99 from 1945. It's fully electric and is capable of an awesome straight stitch. That's its only stitch, but it straight stitches really, really well...usually.
This is what greeted me immediately upon starting to sew:
What the? Oh. Hello broken Tension Spring. Luckily I have three other machines. I have my Grandmother's late Sixties Singer which is in the shop having the feed dog replaced. I also have a lovely, late 1800's Singer that was generously gifted to me by Derek's brother two Christmases ago. It's been converted to an electric model, but it has a vibrating shuttle which means that I need to learn a whole new way to sew and I didn't feel that this was the project to break the machine in on. That left me with backup machine number 3...
Pretty, isn't she? Oh, but wait...there's something she's not showing you...
That's right. No plug. No electricity. I sewed the entire freaking dress on my 1915 Singer treadle machine. It took some getting used to! I'm not the most coordinated person in the world and pulling pins while operating the treadle with my feet was akin to rubbing my tummy while patting my head with dozens of sharp pokey objects in my fingers and an iron wheel that could probably damage an unsuspecting toe or two. In light of this, I hand basted every seam before sewing. Yes. Every seam.
Once I got the hang of the rhythm of the treadle, it was actually really enjoyable. There's something to be said for going back to basics and while I thought sewing on a Forties straight stitch electric was pretty basic, I seem to have outdone myself!
So, onto the dress itself:
I used a purple fabric from my stash that had a fair amount of stretch in it. This allowed me to eliminate the side zip, which was great as there was no way I was going to attempt a zipper insertion with a treadle sewing machine. I'm sure I would have ended up inadvertently piercing my eyebrow or some other random body part in the process.
I f you look closely, you can see the faint stripe in the fabric, which really lent itself to the bodice of the pattern. I used pale pink ric rac along the neckline and I managed to find a small piece of purple polka dotted fabric to make the belt. I have a number of vintage belt buckles hanging on my bulletin board in my sewing room, waiting to be used and this little pink one was perfect!
I have a few odd fitting issues that I have to deal with and I think that I *finally* figured them out with this dress. I have a narrow ribcage and a full bust, which luckily was dealt with by the bust gathers on this pattern so I didn't have to do my normal Full Bust Adjustment, I only needed to bring the side seams in a bit. I also have to do an Erect Back Adjustment (similar to a Swayback Adjustment but the extra fabric is removed from between the shoulder blades) and a Full Arm Adjustment. They all turned out pretty well! I could have brought the side seams in a little more, but I don't mind the extra ease.
Fabric: Thrifted purple stretchy stuff from my stash. I tried a burn test, but it was inconclusive. The only thing I'm sure about is that it's definitely not made out of asbestos.
Pattern: Simplicity 3353
Year: Early Forties
Notions: Pink Ric Rac, vintage purple polka dot fabric and vintage pink buckle all from stash
Time to complete: Ummmm....
I'm waiting for my Grandma's machine to come out of the shop before I send the Forties Singer in for repair, so I'll be continuing the treadle saga for a little while yet (parts for Grandma's machine are backordered.) Next in line is a pair of Clovers (I'm a little late hopping on that bandwagon,) and then I hope to make the second dress I had planned to complete for the Sewalong. It's going to be a busy, little workshop around here!
ps I'd like to say a big "Thank You" to Rochelle for hosting this Sewalong! The completed projects are all incredible and I'm in awe of the creations that many of the participants were able to pull off.
pps I'm not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but Derek bought me the treadle for Christmas this year and I love, love, love it for many reasons, not just for the fact that it saved my butt for this Sewalong!