I own all three of Gretchen Hirsch’s sewing book. The first Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book was found during a visit to a second-hand book store five months ago. I did not think I was much of a dress wearing nor was I particularly interested in the vintage look as far as clothes were concerned. So why buy it? Well it was a clothes sewing book and looked very comprehensive and interesting and a book that was new to me! I did read this book from cover to cover and found it very interesting and I found it very clear and easy to understand. With 30 years of garment sewing behind me I am far from a beginner but this book had a lot of techniques and ideas as far as pattern drafting and construction that I had not tried.
I also make art quilts and as such I have also attended quite a few Quilt Conventions. I am always surprised that these ladies who make such beautiful quilts could go to these events dressed in polar fleece and denim! Style girls … we should look as glamorous as the objects we make! So here was my first challenge as a proud winner (second place) of the Minda Quilt challenge… I was off to Adelaide in August to be presented with the prize at the Australian Machine Quilters Festival. I made the Peplum Wiggle Dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book out of a beautiful Japanese texture linen. I enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from the book. I have also worn this dress quite a number of times … this dress has become a firm favourite.
Some months later I found one of Gretchen Hirsch’s earlier books in the same second-hand book shop, so now I also own Gertie’s new book for better sewing. My friend and colleague gave me some purple Gertie fabric (that is what it is called on the selvedge and yes Gretchen Hirsch was the designer). Sooo excited best present ever! So I made it my first 2017 sewing resolution to make a shirtwaist dress from Gertie’s mew book for better sewing out of this gorgeous fabric. After all Gertie fabric would have to be used in a Gertie Dress… nothing else would do! This was my #2017makenine instagram post:
Now I am not a sewer who typically makes a muslin to try out a pattern. But this time I was going to aim to make the variation on the Shirtwaist dress which involved tulip sleeves and a round neckline (the picture has a zip but I have decided to use the beautiful vintage buttons). Inspiration, so next step? I eyed my stash and decided to make the original Shirtwaist dress without alterations in a beautiful floral cotton lawn.
Really happy with the fit and finish on this dress and I loved the experience of making it. I also love wearing it as the length is great (I hate to expose my knees!), the shirring at the waist make it very comfortable. I love the way I look in it too. Think I will enjoy wearing this next month when I have to start working again as a Mathematics teacher. It will be great to wear in our uncomfortably hot government school classrooms in high summer!
So have to face the next challenge. My friend Sandra came to visit me out at Anakie and we were in the sewing room chatting about this Shirtwaist dress project I had in mind. Tulip sleeve round neckline and we also agreed I should try to do a shoulder adjustment to fix the pattern to fit my slightly narrow shoulders. Big challenge for me but Sandra is more experienced in these matters. We had a lot of fun that afternoon working on these pattern adjustments!
Here is the Muslin I made initially. The tulip sleeves were a fail…
This is much better, also reshaped the neckline. The shoulder gathers have turned into a version of smocking using my bernina’s fancy stitching between rows of gathering. Love this!!!
The dress came together pretty well except for a few misadventures … I sewed the front skirt pieces on the wrong way around and only discovered this after overlocking …. unpicking was necessary… two ways of doing things the right way and the wrong way … why do I always do things the wrong way first???!!! Got over it fixed it put it on Diana the dummy to admire it … but then look at those sleeve backs … the tulips don’t line up … unpick again and fix! Hand stitched all hems and facings… last stage buttons.Heres a handy trip for marking position with such slippery fabrics. Pin the dress to the ironing board and use a ruler to mark the position of buttonholes and buttons with pins. I used my Bernina to make machine buttonholes, it has an auto buttonhole feature which normally works pretty well.
Here are some photos before the buttons!
The finished dress … looking and feeling fabulous!