April 1: Couture Construction: Vintage A-Line Dress Vogue 7691

Don’t forget to take a look at what’s available for the SUMMER—it’s all about draping—getting ready for some awesome classes in the fall. Everything ties together! See you soon!

Whether they're made of tissue, newspaper or cotton--no designer or person serious about making clothing works without first making a prototype of the garment. Here-Amy mocked up an excellent example of a muslin of Vogue 7691. Sure, muslins require a bit more work and effort, but constructing clothing isn't a speed sport.  It's more about making something that's going to look as good on the inside as it does on the outside, something that's going to look and feel good when worn --and the only way to accomplish both of those goals is to make sure that the garment fits perfectly and is designed to special perfection-incorporating all of the little things the wearer desires--is by first making a muslin and constructing from that point. 

It is SO nice seeing what's learned in class implemented this way. Amy already has ideas on how she'd going to alter  the dress to fit her "client" needs--her daughter, Emily!

Muslins are not twice the work--they're getting it right-the first time. :) 

I can't wait to see Amy's final rendition of vintage Vogue 7691.  

On Hand sewing.....

By the time the 1970s rolled around fewer people were sewing by hand or machine; even less were learning because high schools began eliminating sewing classes from their curriculum.  Also in full swing, the feminist movement may have played a part in waning interest.  Ladies were hanging up aprons, putting away pots and pans and storing sewing machines in the basement or attic as they entered the workforce at historic levels.


I enjoy sewing and all it involves as much as I enjoy being a woman. 

When I’m in a fabric shop; especially one full of gorgeous fabrics, I’m like a woman in a grocery store.  I want to buy all of the ingredients needed to make anything and everything I can imagine.

I drape and sew because it’s therapeutic and I enjoy working at my craft.  Draping, hand sewing, machine sewing and designing provide the necessary counterbalance I need to remain creatively stimulated.

I enjoy the feel of fabric and its many textures as much as I marvel at the precision of stitches done by hand and the inner workings of constructed garments.

Hand sewing moves at a comfortable tempo because the pleasures of working at this beloved lost art craft can be sorely overlooked by the pressures of deadlines and fast-paced living.  

It’s like building a work of art.  Hands create beautiful things. 

Take your time. 

IN CLASS: Students learned how to make a few of the most common stitches used in couture sewing and a tailoring stitch: the catch stitch, herringbone stitch, basting stitch, blind-hem stitch and a quick variation of the pad stitch.  Couture involves alot of hand sewing--true "Haute" couture is actually done ALL by hand---and the only type of sewing machine required is one that stitches a straight stitch forward. 

April 6:  Vogue 7691 Instructions 

Here are the instructions for the dress. It's very simple. Basically the dress requires some darts and stitching together princess seams.  

We'll work on it, of course, in the workroom. In the event we don't finish up we'll simply schedule another day to meet in the workroom. :) 

Stitches required:  Basting, under stitching (if applying the facings-facings aren't applied when making muslins), ease-stitching (the sleeve) and a blind-hem stitch for the hem.  

Working in half-scale:  Here Amy did an excellent-careful job at marking and laying out! We used oversized dressmakers carbon to trace out the pattern onto blocked muslin (on grain). The pattern pieces were marked on the stitching line, but when laying out the pieces onto the muslin students were instructed to leave enough space around each pattern piece to accommodate for at least an inch seam allowance. 

Here I'm demonstrated a thread-traced half-scale pattern. The pattern pieces are initially marked as normal using dressmaker carbon along the STITCHING LINE (not the seam allowance lines-as are on commercial patterns).  Next, each pattern piece is either hand-basted or machine-stitched along those stitching lines. Notice darts are thread-traced. I also thread-trace a straight-of-grain line on my sleeve pieces-although I did not on this half-scale pattern. Thread-tracing the grain line is a matter of preference.  Notches and other helpful pattern markings are notated on the muslin, but are not thread-traced. Customarily, facing pieces are not mocked up or thread-traced, but again-if it's something that's helpful to the designer-go for it.   

Thanks for attending! I hope everyone was able to walk away with something new.  I touched briefly on hand-picking zippers. We'll have alot more practice doing that on Day 2.

Yes, hand-picking, hand-pricking and pin-pointing are all terms used interchangeably to describe the process of hand applying zippers. The process is generally the same whether or not you're lapping, centering or applying a side-zipper.

I apply my points/picks/pricks at different points-depending on what "design" effect I want.  Especially if I'm exposing the zipper's teeth or tape in the design.

Don't apply the picks too close to the zipper's teeth. I'll generally use the indentations on the zipper's teeth as a guide. 

More on Pin-pointing, Picking or Pricking zippers by hand  

More on Grain 

A muslin is a “drawing board”. It’s a working board for fitting, design and inspiration.-Callie

Here's Chris' beautiful example of thread-tracing. Here the individual pattern pieces are machine-stitched along the markings, including darts.  It's also appropriate to do this by hand using a basting stitch. 

About Vogue 7691

This vintage couture project features Vogue 7691.  A classic A-line with princess seams, a standing neckline, pockets in the side front seams, wrist length bell-shaped sleeves and a 24” back zipper. 

This project gives students an opportunity to work with sleeves, pockets, princess seams and install a hand-picked zipper. A simple couture finishing will be used to "finish" the interior of the muslin. Made in four main pieces and two facings.  Participants will also learn about tailor tacking and use half-scale patterns and a half scale dress form to learn about thread-tracing.

As this is a technique class students will mock up the dress in only muslin-which will be thread-traced. However, students are invited to return to the second day with their own fashion fabric, if they wish to construct the dress using their thread-traced muslin as a pattern. 

 This is Theresa's beautiful Slant O Matic 401A. She told me her mother learn how to free motion embroider using a Slant O Matic.  

This is Theresa's beautiful Slant O Matic 401A. She told me her mother learn how to free motion embroider using a Slant O Matic.  

Wow! This was such a treat---when Chris came to class and whipped out her beautiful Singer Stylist!  It is a gift she received from her father on her 21st birthday! Isn't she beautiful? She started right up--barely made a noise---just the sweet humming of a well-loved working MACHINE.  Nothing computerized about it---and more than capable of standing up to and with the best of them. SUCH a beautiful machine. I was happy to see it! 

 This beauty is called a Johnson Ruffler.  Amy uses it for gathering tutu net and tulle when making her beautiful costumes.   

This beauty is called a Johnson Ruffler.  Amy uses it for gathering tutu net and tulle when making her beautiful costumes.   

Why a muslin?

In couture sewing and construction techniques making the muslin is absolutely critical. There is no couture without a muslin. 

They're not a waste of time, energy and effort. 

Think of a muslin as a drawing board; even a mood board of sorts.  It's a working laboratory used for fitting, design and inspiration.

Don't be disappointed by not making a completed garment in fashion fabric.  All of the important work lies in the muslin.

Enjoy and have fun!

Basic sewing skills are required. This is not a fitting or tailoring class. 

Day 1 Agenda:  Learn how to thread trace using half-scales and marking the pattern onto muslin. Hand-picking zippers. Tailor's tacking. 

Homework:  Thread-trace pattern Vogue 7691.  Thread-trace only! Do not stitch the dress together. Bring both your thread-traced half-scale and full-scale dresses back to class with you on DAY 2. I understand time may not allow, but at least complete the thread-tracing on the little dresses, if possible. I will be in the warehouse early on Day 2-so there's extra time. Thanks! 

Day 2 Agenda:  I will be in the warehouse EARLY--at least by 9am.  We'll have alot of work to do.  Hemming, finishing and working on zippers, at least.  

More Information

On Making Muslins  


Calandra CooperComment