The E.S.P. Dress – new pattern from Decades of Style

One of our favorite independent pattern lines, Decades of Style, has a brand new ‘easy’ line of patterns: Decades Everyday!

The first pattern from this new micro-line, The E.S.P. Dress, is described as an easy-to-sew retro dress pattern featuring flattering raglan sleeves, a faced square neckline, front and back darts, and a gathered skirt with pockets for that classic fit-and-flare shape.

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The slogan for Decades Everyday is “sew in a day & wear everyday” and it is accurate! This pattern is great for novice sewers. The style is simple, construction is straight forward, and directions are easy to follow; all in all a great pattern for those who love the look of vintage clothes, but may not have the technical knowledge or skills to make a true reproduction.

This is the first dress I have made in several years and was feeling a bit rusty about my garment construction skills, but found this pattern to be a great choice. For fabric, I selected a 100% Cotton Lawn from Liberty (in the fabulous Jack and Charlie print). While the pattern is unlined, I decided to do a full lining using Ambiance 100% Rayon Bemberg quality. I also selected a coordinating ribbon to use as a hem tape (more details below).

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I made the size for bust measurement 46″. I had help from the inimitable Jacque Goldsmith in fitting the bodice and ended up shortening the top by 2″ from the front waist dart all the way around. I also lowered my bust dart by about 1″ and took approximately 1/2″ out vertically from each back panel.

I decided to trade out the suggested 22″ standard zipper for an invisible zipper and hook & eye. I think invisible zippers have an easier installation and prefer the look to boot.

When hemming the skirt, I opted to use a 3/4″ 100% Rayon Petersham grosgrain ribbon as a hem tape to simultaneously make the hem a bit less bulky and to add a little weight to the hem. Plus, I love the look of grosgrain in a skirt hem.

As mentioned above, I chose to fully line this dress. I used the same altered bodice and sleeve pieces and then dirndled the skirt. I made my skirt lining 2″ shorter than the dress skirt and hemmed on the machine. Quick and easy.

All finishing was completed by hand, save the understitching at the neck facing, which I did on my machine.

Because it was easy to construct and I love the fit, I plan to make this dress many times over. In fact, I’ve already completed a second and have selected fabrics for two more! I am particularly excited to try top stitching in a cute contrasting color when I make up this pattern in other fabrics.

And now, the big reveal:

ESPdress front  ESPdress side

Don’t you just love this dress?

The Finished Dressmaker’s Jacket!

And voila!  The finished product!  In this photo, you can see the beautiful paisley lining peeking out, and the bias trim that separates the lining from the facing.Dressmaker's Jacket Front View

As you can see, this is a very fitted jacket- so the time spent initially in class for fitting was pivotal to the finished product.  The bright navy is a great color to mix with the rest of my wardrobe.Dressmaker's Jacket Back View

Here’s a view of the FUNCTIONAL SLEEVE VENT!  Because we’re fancy like that.  You can also see the iridescent glass buttons, which I adore!Functional Sleeve Vent

As with any sewing project, I used this as a learning experience.   I think the most important thing I learned during this class was:

*It’s imperative to utilize tailoring equipment during the process; using the sleeve roll and tailor’s ham to thoroughly press my seams throughout would have resulted in a smoother finish, and is especially important for a project like this, where fabric really gets sculpted to the body.

*Also, don’t move in the middle of a project- your sewing room gets all jumbled and you can’t find where anything has gotten off to!   :)

 

Pencil Skirt, Third Class: Walking Ease, Seam Binding, and The Finished Skirt!

The third and last class:

We learned even and uneven miters and a really smart trick to reduce the stress on the back vent, or slit. Having sewn for years, why didn’t I think of that? Again, a tip worth taking the class for.

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We talked about all different choices for walking ease, hems and we reviewed waistbands. We made samples and applied rayon seam binding.

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My skirt will be on display in the store very soon…..come in and check out the insides for all of the tips and methods I learned in class! I’ll do my very best sewing, knowing that people might be lifting up my skirt hem!

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Pencil Skirt, Second Class: Zippers, Perfect Underlaps, and Mitered Waistband Laps…

The second pencil skirt class was fun. Seeing the fabric choices made by the other students was inspiring, as usual. I like how the same garment can look completely different with just a different fiber or color choice.

We learned how to do a VERY quick and accurate zipper. Also, a mitered waistband closure and underlap that was worth taking the whole class for. I’ve never been happy with certain fabrics being just too bulky around that area…..this solves it!DSCF0110

I’ve chosen a shiny denim that must have some nylon in it (origins unknown!). I plan on making many others, so this is only the beginning. I want to do the mitered waistband lap, a vent versus a slit, and a fun lining so I can practice those things.DSCF0108

I also wanted to note that for a first version, it makes sense to choose a fabric that has no stretch at all. So, if you ever fluctuate in weight, you have an exact “muslin” to make changes from. DSCF0104

Pencil Skirt, First Class: Fit, Ease, Alterations

I’ve been working at Nancy’s for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of talented people and their work: our customers, my co-workers, and guest teachers (Candace Kling). I feel so fortunate to be able to appreciate and learn from everybody who has been a part of Nancy’s Sewing Basket.

But I’ll tell you the one thing that has really intrigued me lately after FORTY YEARS (plus!) of sewing…  assisting at our regular teacher Jacque Goldsmith’s classes. I realized after listening in on even the ABC (Absolute Beginning Construction) that there was plenty to learn and think about in the sewing world. Jacque leaves no stone unturned, sharing all kinds of tips and knowledge about how it all works.

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And that is why I jumped at the chance to take her pencil skirt class. For advanced sewers, it sounds simple, right? I learned it is so much more than that. And I do know from experience sometimes the hardest thing to fit perfectly is the simplest thing. There are fewer places to hide tweaks!

In the first class, we learned about the pitch and tilt of each individual figure as well as the standard for ease in a slim-fitting skirt. I found it interesting to be reminded that everyone’s idea of ease might be different and it’s what we’re comfortable with.

We got to try on different skirts (Jacque has sewn up all of the sizes, with the hipline marked) and she tweaked each individual fit down to the sixteenth! Maybe even the 32nd, if I could be that accurate. She also measured us thoroughly and we came away with a clear record to keep for reference.

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Then she helped us translate our individual changes onto our skirt pattern, which is provided for with the class. Note, I thought it was really nice that she has all of the tools (rulers, hip curves, etc.) just at the ready for the students to use. And there are never more than four students in Jacque’s classes so it is very hands on, ask as you go.

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I haven’t decided on what fabric I will use, but I have been collecting wool remnants for a long time with the intention of making pencil skirts for work! The most fun I had in class was looking at Jacque’s fifteen (!) perfectly finished pencil skirt samples….all one pattern, but all with different fabric, waistbands, vents, lengths……VERY inspirational. In the next two classes we will learn about all of those finishes and work on samples in class. Jacque said we could sew along at home on our real skirt but that no one needed to feel pressure….How nice is that?

Dressmaker’s Jacket- Fourth Class: Perfect Notched Collars, Setting Sleeves, and Bagging the Lining! VOILA!

In our final class, the whole jacket came together at last!  We began by making our samples for absolutely perfect notched collars.  Who knew, that in order to get the collar to lay perfectly flat, you’d need to leave a tiny gap at the intersection of the points?!

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Here is the collar, before completing our collar notches…DSCF0086

And behold: a thing of beauty!  Not only did this technique result in flawless collars, but the edgestitching underneath helped the collar to roll naturally.  Love the way these samples turned out!DSCF0092

Another great feature of this class is that Jacque has a plethora of jackets made up in myriad fabrics, and in different stages of completion.  Not only is this a helpful visual reference for the process, it also gives you an idea of how many different ways you could take this vintage jacket pattern.  Below you can see just a few of the examples… From top, clockwise:  Ice Princess (!), Classic Plaid Tweed (with a bold lining), Vintage-Look Suiting, and Solid Woolens.  DSCF0102 The final steps to completing the jacket involved sewing in our (optional) shoulder pads, setting our sleeves, and sewing the lining into the jacket.  The image below shows the bottom of the lining being pinned across the bottom of the jacket- which means… you don’t have to hand sew in any of the lining!  DSCF0095

We prepare to be amazed as Jacque reaches in through a hole that was left in the sleeve lining, and ….DSCF0096

Like a magician pulling a perfectly tailored bunny out of a hat, the entire completed jacket flips out!DSCF0098

A view of the inside lining (it’s pinned instead of sewn for the demo).DSCF0099

And to think, the whole garment came out of that little sleeve lining gap!  Now all that remains is to sew up that little hole (which can also be done by machine) and add our buttons.DSCF0101

Now, after consulting with Jacque on the last class, I realized the issues I had with my sleeve vents occurred due to cutting my sleeve linings incorrectly.  Like a puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit, the linings were just an inch too long.  Therefore, I ripped them out, and am ready to re-cut them and finish the garment!  It wouldn’t be one of my projects if I left the seamripper untouched during the process ;).  I promise to post pictures of the completed jacket, in due time!

In the interim, we will be posting a review of the pencil skirt class for your consideration…

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Dressmaker’s Jacket- Third Class: Mitered corners, Funtional Sleeve Vents, and Buttons!

In the third class, we got into the tricky stuff… this class was all about sleeves! We started out learning how to make both even and uneven mitered corners for the hems of our sleeves.  Then we began the process of sewing the linings to the sleeves, during which the order of operations is critical to the finished product.   Look at that beautiful, flat mitered corner!DSCF0048

And below you can see a progress shot of the lining being attached to the sleeve.  These pictures are samples that we can keep and use as reference when we are working on our garments at home:  SO helpful.

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By the time we have left class, we’ve put together our sleeves entirely by machine!  That’s right, NO hand sewing in the lining!

DSCF0049And voila!  A sleeve vent that opens and closes!  Jacque also went over how to install our cuff buttonholes by machine, which included a section on different types of fusible interfacing and tearaway stabilizers that make the job much easier.   To keep up with the class, I’ve sewn my sleeves and linings together (after much head-scratching at home… moral of the story, take detailed notes- especially during this section!)  Most of the body of the jacket has been constructed, and the lapels and collars have been stitched together at his point as well.

Next week is our last class, wherein lining and jacket will be joined!  Of course I’ll post pictures of the final garment when it’s finished.  I’m getting very excited to see it come together!