Vintage tips for not so vintage dressmakers July 28, 2008 16:59 5 Comments

Mccalls_4All right. I’ve been reading today. Searching the books for more muslin tips. And books, of course, are the fount of knowledge. I know you agree. Right? At any rate, I want to share, dear readers, some of the fun tips — paraphrased, of course, because I am not only in a most languid mood, but The Closer comes on in 10 minutes — I learned especially for the beginning sewer, all courtesy of McCall’s Complete Book of Dressmaking, copyright 1951:

1. Shrink your material if it is cotton or wool.

2. If the material comes folded through the center, press out the fold.

3. Press the pattern.

4. Lay the material on a hard flat surface. Not on your bed, which is too soft. Besides, you might disturb a napping hubby. And that, my friends, can result in the sudden appearance of Crabby Appleton. Not pleasant. Not at all.

5. Keep your eye on the arrow, because it indicates the grain direction.

6. Pin along the lengthwise grain of the material. You get a truer cut that way.

7. Cut out or mark every notch. No cheating.

8. Mark all the lines shown on the pattern pieces. For instance, waistline, darts, top of sleeve.

9. Cut out the entire garment at one time. You can chowhound those Bunny Grahams later.

10. Be careful not to stretch the neckline, waistline, armhole or placket.

11. Pin the pieces together before you baste them.

12. Baste before you stitch.

13. After stitching, remove the bastings and press. Press. For professional results, you practically sew with an iron in one hand. Stitch. Press. Stitch. Press. You get the picture, right?

14. Take your time! Do not hurry. This is the best sewing advice anyone can give you. I have taken this particular tip to heart. In a big way. As you know. I am clutching it to my heart, and I am not letting it go. So there.

And here’s a surprise, for this novice, anyway. There is less work on the bodice of evening dresses. Know why? Because the bodice is negligible. And there are just long seams in the skirt. Hence, evening dresses are a good choice for beginners. That’s what Marian Corey, who penned this fine book, says. And would Ms. Corey lead us astray? I think not. I hope not. And there’s more: Cotton lace is a good choice for beginners! Who’d uh thunk it? And this pic from the book certainly proves cotton lace makes a very pretty, very elegant frock. Especially if you add a gorgeous waterfall corsage. And I would, of course, because Mr. Gardenia is all about gifting with flowers. And, natch, he loves red shoes. As do I. Especially the luscious tomato shade the model is wearing.

So, seasoned sewers, do share your opinions about Ms. Corey’s advice. We greenhorns await your responses breathlessly. If Ms. Corey is off the mark, we need to know. Now. Not after we ruin our fabric. Pretty please with red stilettos on the top. I thank you in advance. I do. I'd send you a hand-written note if The Closer wasn't coming on in 3 minutes.