Vintage Art Nouveau Style Fabric

Making the NewLook 3641 Pattern my way …

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Last year my mom send me a huge pile of vintage fabrics, after the first excitement I noticed two problems. One was that they came in varied and non-standard lengths, and the other problem was a very musty old smell that still hung in the cloth even after two washing cycles with disinfectant.

Tips for smelly vintage fabric

The internet of things had various suggestions for treating the musty old smell of vintage garments. Two seem to be the most effective.

Vodka and Vinegar.

Vinegar

I soaked the fabric for two nights in my bathtub. Fill the tub with cold (or warm) water and then pour 1 liter of clear vinegar into it (like pickling vinegar or simple white vinegar). Avoid any dark vinegar to prevent discoloration. Depending on how bleach safe the colour of the fabric is you can make the solution much stronger (e.i. add more vinegar).

Vodka

Or for that matter any form of clear alcohol (Schnaps). Pour the alcohol into a spray bottle and spray the fabric with it. Then let it air out. Repeat as necessary.
After the Vinegar or Vodka treatment you still might want to wash the garment or fabric with disinfectant. The smell entirely left my fabrics and I could enjoy sewing with it and more importantly wearing it.

Now to the Dress

After I so thusly prepared the fabric, it was time to find the right pattern. NewLook 3641 seemed to be the best fit. There were several reasons for this choice: I had barely two meter of fabric, therefore I needed a pattern where pattern matching would not be too much of an issue. If you notice I managed to align two of the figures front centre of the dress but the rest is not pattern matched.

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The advantage was that the pattern of the fabric had the main design character alternating head-up or head-down, which meant I could use the fabric most efficiently. Further, I wanted a dress with pockets, and one that would lend itself to lining, as the fabric is very thin and fairly transparent. And look at that gorgeous lining I managed to obtain from the left-over bin at Mandors here in Glasgow.

So there are some tips and tricks on how to sew on the lining. The best way is to sew two independent dressed and then put them together outsides facing, leave the bottom open you can hem this fairly easy or even sew bias tape around.

However, if you need a bit more control between the layers of top fabric and lining I would recommend to sew the panels together. This is what I did with my dress as the top-fabric would otherwise not stay in shape. There is a trick to how to make the seam across the shoulders where front and back come together nice.

For putting the shoulder straps together. Leave the seams between the lining and the top-fabric open, fold the fabric and lining into the shoulder strap, by width of seam allowance, and iron into place. Then move the front strap into the created ‘pipe’ again by width of seam-allowance and then carefully top stitch it together.

While I love dresses with pockets, or skirts, trousers, any item of clothing with pockets. I really don’t like making them they are so fiddly and I still haven’t entirely gotten the hang of it. BUT! I finally hacked the invisible zipper! Which, until this dress, has been the bane of my sewist-existence.

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I can highly recommend this pattern. It is a very comfortable fit, easy to wear. You can dress it up or down and it has pockets. (Just in case I haven’t told you about the pockets yet.) I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to sewing and this pattern was really easy to follow. If you pay close attention you can see the pink iron-away textile marker guides on the fabric. As long as you make sure you stick to these the dress will come out really well.

I tweaked the pattern a bit and changed the straight line front hem into the curved front and added curved hem to the back as well. With the type of fabric I used it provided nicer movement and fit.

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