Gia gave Mr Rat a funny look (below) - probably judging our very amateurish attempts at being photographer and model at the park. Gia wasn't a terribly willing model when we took these photos, despite her natural good looks. Well, hopefully we will get better and more confident as we go along?
This is my new brown cotton poplin skirt made from one of my very favorite patterns, vintage 1970s Simplicity 7880, made in a size 8. It is my most used pattern out of all the patterns I own. Over the past three years I have made versions in: dark brown cotton, the ochre version shown above and below, black cotton (two long, one mid-calf length), navy blue broadcloth, unbleached muslin, and white muslin. While experimenting with earlier versions, I found I could get a rather light and floating hem by not hemming the fabric at all, using the selvage edge for the bottom of the skirt while the cut edge is finished inside the waist-band. For this skirt I made a few small changes: I lengthened the pattern from the original a few extra inches and widened the waistband to 1 1/2 inches. I used waistband interfacing to make the waistband stiff so it doesn't roll when I sit down. For anyone who likes skirts with a flat rather than an elastic waistband, I highly recommend waistband interfacing. It is like having a built-in belt, but quite lightweight. You simply sew the waistband interfacing inside the waistband, making sure to secure the ends so it doesn't move around, rather than fusing interfacing to the fabric like most patterns direct. I buy mine by the yard at Michael Levine fabrics in Los Angeles.
In case you were wondering, I do wear straw hats most of the time when I go out. We walk a lot, and walking in the sun, especially in the summer, makes a hat necessary for comfort to keep the face and shoulders shaded. I do sometimes get asked if I am Amish, which makes me sad, since it shows so little knowledge of their lifestyle. My hat is in the style of the Amish, but that of an Amish man---Amish women would more likely be wearing a small fabric cap over their hair. While my clothes do tend towards the old-fashioned, they are not as plain as those who live the Plain Life.
I had some scraps of black wool left over from making a cape using Vogue 8959, and decided to make a purse out of it using vintage 1980s McCall 7695. McCall 7695 has several vest patterns, and the purse is a little bonus extra. It was simple to sew, so after I attached the black flannel lining by machine, I did the rest by hand. The edges are bound in twill tape, the cord is sewn into the top of the purse so it stays firmly in place, and the little tassels are re-purposed from an old shirt of mine that wore out. It reminds me a little of the YSL Russian-style purses from the 1970s. It is just large enough for a wallet and a handkerchief, for when I need to go on a quick errand and don't want to be weighed down.
I made this vest for Mr Rat as a Christmas gift last year. The pattern is McCall 2447, which is still in print. The instructions are clear and easy enough to follow. Mr R's vest is a size medium and fits well through the shoulders, although I think I could have taken in the sides a little more for a slimmer fit around the waist. Mr Rat says he is quite happy with it, but if you plan on making this pattern, I would advise making a muslin or at least measuring it and comparing it at the waist and ribs to decide on what size or combination of sizes you want to use. The fabric is a piece of wool tweed that I bought at a church rummage sale in Pasadena some years back. It is fully lined in olive green.
We found a really nice piece of chambray at the thrift store and what better use than to turn it into a western shirt. The pattern I used is McCall's M6044 version E but without the pockets. I added the dark blue top stitching for contrast and used copper colored snaps for the closures. I have a 38R coat size and generally wear a medium as far as shirt sizes go. I chose to sew the medium shirt here and was very satisfied with the fit. I have also tried the short sleeve version of this pattern (A) but did not particularly like the absence of the yoke in this version.
This the larger 'Replica Bag' rucksack from the Green Pepper pattern F735. It is essentially a big brown lunch bag of a backpack with deep pockets on the sides (one open and the other with a flap). I made this bag out of brown cotton duck and three web belts I found at the local thrift store. The two shoulder straps are thicker web belts with adjustable D rings. The thickness of the fabric, along with attaching the web straps, required a fair amount of hand stitching with a thimble and a sturdy reverse stitch. I decided to finish the seams with a rust colored binding for the top and inside seam edges. The size of the bag is a big advantage. I can easily fit my emergency bike tools in the side pockets while leaving the larger compartment free for my folders, lunch bag, laptop, book, cell phone and glasses. I am very satisfied with the result.
I made this jacket from an out of print pattern by Simplicity, number 3523, made in a size 6. This is a modified version of view E. I added two more buttons down the front, lengthened it slightly so it would be long enough to reach my natural waist, and added patch pockets. The fit was good without modifications, and the pattern was easy to follow, and not too complex for an intermediate sewer, or a beginner with patience. The fabric is a slightly faded but very soft denim my mom bought for me at a discount fabric warehouse in Anaheim. It was very easy to sew, and behaved well for the extensive top-stitching and edge-stitching I did on all the seams. The inside is clean-finished with faux flat-fell seams. The button-holes are stitched by hand, and the buttons are self-fabric covered. They are easy to make with a kit, although it takes a little strength to push the backs on over the denim. I am wearing the jacket over a dress I made from a vintage 1980's Butterick pattern, number 3227.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew