Download a free Mary Quant-inspired dress pattern and tutorial; courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

The fantastic Victoria and Albert Museum in London is hosting a Mary Quant exhibit this year. With it they’re putting on workshops and special events.  If like me, you can’t get to London this year, there’s this!  The museum has commissioned a dress pattern to be designed in the style of Mary Quant.  It’s now available here, with written and video instructions and tutorial:

https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/sew-your-own-mary-quant-style-minidress

From the V&A pattern webpage:

This easy-to-use sewing pattern has been designed exclusively for us by Alice & Co Patterns. The design includes two neckline options, two pocket options, three collar finishes, and two sleeve finishes – all inspired by Mary Quant’s iconic designs. It’s a classic A-line mini which sits just above the knee – you can shorten it if you want to show a bit more thigh, or lengthen to turn it into a more 70s style maxi-dress.


Of course I’m going to make one!

The pattern designer was Alice and Co Patterns.  They have a nice collection of other patterns and inspiring projects, too.  https://aliceandcopatterns.com

 

Velvet Colección–what I’ve been watching

The setting of the Netflix series, Velvet Colección, is a fashion design house in 1960s Barcelona.  The series is in Spanish.  I had several years of la clase de Español in school, but am not fluent.  I understand sporadic phrases supplemented by body language.  Regardless of the language barrier, I’m watching every minute of every episode because of the super cool 1960s dresses, the interior decor of the offices and homes, and the catchy music.

Velvet promo picture

Velvet Colección is a spin off of ‘Velvet‘, a series about a 1950s fashion design enterprise based in Madrid.

Velvet dress

The Velvet Colección story is one I’m sure I would enjoy, so I’m trying to follow as much of it as I can, despite the language barrier.  But, it’s the 1960s dresses, the decor and the music that keep me coming back to watch more episodes, to be inspired to make my own dresses reminiscent of that time.

Velvet setVelvet dresses

There are supposed to be three seasons of Velvet Colección.  According to Wikipedia they’re stopping at three.  Netflix is only offering Season 1 at the moment.  When I finish with Velvet Colección, I’m looking forward to watching Velvet, for lots of lovely 1950s fashion.

Velvet Colección links:

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Colecci%C3%B3n

IMDB https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6762348/

 

Daisies, linen and box pleats for bicycling

I was so excited when I brought this 1960s daisy dress home from the vintage clothing store in August 2015, that I mentioned it in my blog right away.

vintage-dress-green-daisies RSR

For two summers I wore the dress as-is and loved its style.  But bicycling in it was a no-go, because the dress is narrow and straight with no stretch and no pleat for getting on and off the bike and for pedaling.  I loved the dress too much to change it.

Eventually my desire to wear it on my bike commute won out.  I formed a bold plan to add box pleats, and worked up the courage to make the first cut.  I measured and sliced the skirt where four pleats would go.  I was lucky to find some fabric for the pleats that was a near exact match of the creamy white color in the dress.

The result:  Ta-da!

vintage-dress-green-daisies pleats added RSR

The next morning as I was preparing to wear the modified dress for the first time, I took a mirror selfie, BHM (before hair and makeup).

Mirror selfie BHM RSR

On its first outing with the box pleats, I bicycled a total of 14 commute + errand miles.  The skirt was perfect, in roominess, length and drape.

After that first wearing, I decided the top of the pleats should be reinforced to prevent inevitable strain and fraying in the corners.  So I added little tabs.

pleat tabs RSR

This project was an unqualified success.  The person most surprised is me.  I feared I was going to ruin the lovely dress for good.  But no, I’ll be using the box pleat ‘hack’ again sometime when I need to convert another dress for bike-ability.  I want to post a set of instructions, but I feel like I need to try it again a time or two before telling others how to do it.  Stay tuned.

 

And their love that was more than the clothes that they wore,
Could be seen in the gleam of an eye…

 

Summer bicycling dress II: 40 shades of green (and grey)

Another bicycling dress is finished as of last weekend, complete with reflective bits.  With this one, I cut out shapes of sew-on reflective tape that I could embed in the print.

Green dress no flash 2 a-w

Front reflector flash a-w

Back reflector flash a-w

Appliqueing the reflective motifs to the dress was a repeating cycle of trial, error and perseverance.  My first attempts were awful.  The grey thread I had on hand ended up being several shades too light, and stood out as white on the reflective fabric.  [Insert ’50 Shades of Grey’ reference here.]  The light thread highlighted every deviant stitch.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of deviant stitches.  Despite how bad it was looking, I kept on going, thinking that I’d improve my stitching with practice, and then I could go back and re-stitch the first bad ones.  But not this time.  This was truly bad.  So, I cut out some new reflective motifs in a wider shape, and bought a darker shade of grey thread.  [Whew, it’s getting hot in here!] Then, success!

Bad vs good leaf stitches a-w text

The thread color was a tremendous improvement, but the points of the reflective motifs were still coming out looking ragged and misshaped.  I couldn’t make the point stay in place to be stitched neatly.  So through more trial and error, I came up with this technique that worked:

  • Start at the wide end of the motif and baste straight down the middle to the tip.
  • Switch to a regular stitch length, and continue past the end of the tip for 3 more stitches.
  • Turn the entire piece around and from the tip, stitch around the edges of the motif.
  • Snip the basting stitch at the point, and pull the thread tail to remove only the basting.

Stitching on leafs a-w with text

Voila!  A better leaf shape, and the appearance of neat stitches.Close up of proper result a-w

At first I intended to replace only the ‘worst’ of the original reflective leaves.  But in the end, my seam ripper and I spent a lot of time together, and the entire first batch of motifs were removed and replaced.  It took quite a bit of time for this do-over, but I think it was necessary.

reflector rejects a-w

My sew-on reflective tape was purchased from Amazon:  (Product Link)  The 2-inch wide 30-foot roll was my choice, because that width allows for lots of creative uses.  Smaller widths and lengths are available.

Other construction details:

For bike-ability, I inserted a pleat in the back.

Kick pleat a-w

The dress is constructed from the hem up:

The main fabric with the wild print came from my stash, but there was only a yard of it.  So, I hemmed it first thing, and built the dress upward from there.  Up near the shoulder, the fabric ran out.  There I added the polka dot coordinating fabric, to complete the shoulder.  The main fabric pieces that were cut away for the armholes, were almost but not quite long enough to make the collar.  So again I supplemented coordinating fabric to complete the collar.

Dress collar & shoulder a-w

The inside facings for the armhole, neck and hem are all made from the coordinating fabric.  The cool thing is, I used almost every inch of the stash fabric.  There are no usable scraps left.

The fabric is 100% cotton and comfortable, while sturdy enough to stay in place on a breezy day.

Green dress mirror selfie b

 

Summer bicycling dress

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul McCartney!  ❤  And what does Sir Paul’s birthday have to do with this dress?  Answer:  I wore it to his concert last July.  I finished the dress around this time last summer; just a couple of weeks before he was coming to town.  That made it super easy to decide what to wear to the concert.

Pink dress front

This dress met several objectives–

  • It is ‘bike-able’, meaning the skirt is loose enough to enable mounting the bike and pedaling.  A little bit of spandex in the fabric helps with that too.  The skirt is just long enough that I don’t flash passing drivers.  The fabric is a twill which makes the skirt a bit sturdier in a wind.
  • The dress has built-in reflector motifs for visibility.
  • And last but not least, the fabric came from my stash.  Every bit of stash reduction helps.

Pink dress reflector bodice

Why did I choose this dress for the McCartney concert?  Obviously, because it has a Swinging 60s look.  But there’s more.  I thought maybe when the stage lights panned the crowd, the reflective elements of my dress would light up.  I don’t know if it was visible from the stage, but it was fun wondering if I stood out in the crowd a teeny bit. 🙂

More views of the reflective details:

For biking, I added a kick pleat in the back, and gave it a strip of reflective fabric, too.Pink dress reflector kick pleat

The reflective buttons were made with reflective tape and a covered button kit.  IMG_20180618_132658800

Pink dress mirror selfie b