There’s one outfit I actually l missed out from my last post about my capsule holiday wardrobe but I did it on purpose because I think it deserves its own post. Because the holiday was in the middle of August and down in beautiful Devon I had expected lovely hot sunny weather so planned a couple of outfits with this in mind. However, thanks to the rubbish weather we’re having in the UK at the moment (seriously, who stole our summer?!) I only ended up making use of one them, and that was as an evening outfit with a coat over the top!
Most of the outfits I wore whilst I was away featured something I had made myself, having recently got back into sewing, and one thing I really wanted to make was the Mrs Depew 1930s Resort Wear Top (as it’s now known to me). If you’ve never come across Mrs Depew before she’s an avid seamstress who reproduces vintage sewing patterns, many of which were originally produced in France for the average home sewer. They follow a French pattern drafting system fairly similar to the Lutterloh golden rule patterns which allows you to create your chosen pattern specially for your size. This very helpfully offers us vintage seamstresses a chance to make our very own authentic vintage pieces without having to fork out hundreds of pounds on rare and hard to get hold of sewing patterns.
The way they work is by having a miniature drawing of each pattern piece which has each point of the pattern marked on a semi-circle grid. You then use a specially created tape measure, all of which are supplied with the pattern, for your specific size. How it works is you pin the pattern and the tape measure to the bottom of the pattern paper, rotate the measure so it lines up with each point and you mark on the pattern paper the measurement it specifies.
What you end up with is each pattern piece cleverly drafted to your size. And these were my two pieces. It looks simple enough, yes? Well, no. What you don’t get with these patterns is instructions on how the pieces actually go together and with this particular pattern this was rather more complicated than I had thought. The pattern pieces don’t look like standard ones, there was no obvious armhole or neckline marked on it, the only piece of information I had was that the left edge of the body section was to be placed on the fold.
After cutting the pieces out in scrap fabric I set about figuring out how it went together. Initially I just pinned the pieces to my dummy and quickly realised that the top part folded over to create a channel for the tie piece to be threaded through. However, once I started sewing it up I made a mistake as I was not keeping an eye on the original illustration; I sewed the front piece and back piece together on the channel part so the tie piece barely showed and it was really tight up around the neck. Mental note for next time, always have the illustration on hand for reference!
Another thing I noticed was just how big the garment was. The armholes stuck right out and the fabric just engulfed the dummy and myself when I tried it on. It really didn’t have that nice drapey look of the illustration and just looked like there was far too much fabric in it. I still have no idea whether I did something wrong or if this was how it was meant to look but I wasn’t happy with it.
I set about pinning it in several places to take out the bulk of it. Initially I took in the side seams to remove the sticking out armholes but this still wasn’t enough. I then pinned both the centre front and centre back to make it look a bit more like the illustration. In total I took out 60cms all the way around which is a ridiculous amount of fabric. At this point I was very glad I didn’t cut it out in the real fabric straight away!
And this was my final bodice pattern. As you can see it is much narrower than the original and actually resembles the miniature illustration on the drafting pattern. I did, however, leave the neck gather a little bit wider than the actual body section because I liked the amount of gather this created.
I was really pleased with the final result. I made it from a beautiful soft drape viscose fabric in navy from my new favourite fabric shop (and who seem to be getting all of my money lately!), Cloth Spot. It hangs just perfectly and although looks quite solid it’s actually really lightweight. The white fabric of the tie is also a lightweight viscose and was from Minerva Crafts who are great for all things sewing related.
I teamed it with my new favourite 1930s style skirt that I first showed in my previous post. I made this too out of a lovely medium weight white linen from My Fabrics, a fabulous sewing supplies shop based in Germany. I’ve bought a few bits of fabric from them which I’ve been really pleased with.
Because the fabric has such a lovely drape it gathers around the tie beautifully and then softly falls over the body to gather at the bottom. The only two things I would’ve done differently with it though is made the tie a little wider and a little longer to create a bigger bow and given a tiny bit extra length to the bottom of the bodice. It just about tucks into the waistband of the skirt but if I bent over and leaned forward it would likely come untucked at the back.
I spent a bit of time in front of the mirror getting the most pleasing drape around the neckline both at the front and at the back before securing the tie piece to the openings of the channel at the top edge of the blouse. This means it won’t ever come loose and start moving about whilst wearing it. The knot can be undone if needed but it’s a perfectly large enough opening to just pull over my head.
All I did around the hem was overlocked it and turned it up by about a centimetre before running a line of stitching all the way around it. I had thought about adding a waistband to it but thought better of it when I tried to work out how it would open to put it on and take it off.
All in all I’m really pleased with the result, although, like I said, I’m still not sure if I went wrong whilst drafting the pattern. It’s not put me off though, I have my eye on loads of other Mrs Depew sewing patterns, so I’m sure I’ll have another attempt at using her services. I think next time, though, I’ll go for something that has recognisable pattern pieces like a straight forward skirt.
I’d love to know if you’ve had experience with these patterns and if so, what you thought of them.