Friday, December 2, 2022

Friday Fun Fact: Were people smaller in the past?

It's Elizabeth here, and if you've ever talked to me for more than five minutes, you've probably heard me talk about historical dresses.

Today I want to share one of my favorite LOCAL dresses with you, and do a little historical size myth-busting.

This dress was made in the early 1870s right here in St. Paul, Minnesota!

You can see all the details on this dress at the Minnesota Historical Society page here. If you click through you will notice the measurements, including a 22" waist.

I know what you're thinking. "Wow! That's really small! Women were so much smaller back then!"

But the reality is, no, they really weren't!

Human bodies have always come in many shapes and sizes, and while corsets may reduce a waist by a few inches, they can only do so much.

But why are there so many small dresses?

The reason is simple: the small dresses survive because no one can wear them.

Our great-grandmothers were frugal and practical, and so were theirs, and so were theirs. Fabric was valuable and precious, and a good dress would not be packed away and saved for no good reason.

Items of clothing were worn out, mended, sold, refashioned, handed down, picked apart, and remade until there was nothing left.

But if a dress is very small, there's no one to hand it down to. A tiny dress that doesn't fit anyone gets saved in a trunk for a hundred years and then donated to a historical society.

We can confirm this by looking at the many photos and portraits from the era. Sure, there are plenty of slender women, but there's more diversity than you might think - like the lovely, curvy lady in the photo below.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Friday Fun Fact: Lined patch pocket tutorial

I love a rounded patch pocket, but pressing under a curved edge can be a pain. I've had some success with templates and pressing cloths (and I'll show you that method sometime, too!) but my favorite way to ensure a smooth edge on a rounded pocket is to line it.

How do we do that? Just cut two of your pocket piece for each pocket. You can use the same fabric as the garment, OR if your garment fabric is heavy, you can choose a lining fabric or lightweight cotton for the inside piece.

With your pieces right sides together, stitch almost all the way around the outer edge, leaving a 2" opening at the side.

Next it's crucial to trim and snip your corners and curves! We covered that in a fun fact you can see here!

All clipped and trimmed? Great, it's time to turn the pocket right side out. It's going to look like a lump at first (see below) but some ironing will take care of that!

See our fun fact on turning a clean edge here!

Tuck the opening edge inside and press it, but don't worry about sewing it closed yet.

Once your pocket is all neat and pressed, align it where you want on your garment and pin in place. The ideal placement for most people places the top of the pocket about 3-4" below the waist.

To create a little more room in your pocket, scoot the upper corners in by 1/8" on each side. This small adjustment stops your pocket from laying totally flat and makes it easier to put stuff inside!

Next, edgestitch your pocket in place. Sew as close as you can to the edge, so there's no flap of fabric left on the outside. Really get right on that edge!

Now your pocket is done! Go forth and carry many things! 

Have a request for a Friday Fun Fact? Want to know some specific sewing history or get an in-depth tutorial? Let us know!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Treadlette Tuesday: Amazing Grace

Every Tuesday we share projects and ideas from our lovely Treadle Yard Goods employees, The Treadlettes!

This week's make is a two-for-one from Grace! She fell in love with this floral musical note print and decided to make a coordinating blouse to make it an ensemble! Get the fabric here!

We all found it quite fitting that the sheet music on the fabric print is the tune of Amazing Grace! It's not our Grace like to HAD to use it then, but yeah, she totally did. For the dress she used New Look 6889, a simple sundress with a fun shoulder detail.

The shoulder pieces aren't stitched in place, so you could move them up and down the straps as desired. We found this gave a different look and shape to the whole neckline!

The blouse is made from Butterick 6632, a simple popover peasant blouse. The fabric is a semi-sheer navy blue cotton lawn with subtle woven stripes. See it here!

We really love the combination of a light-colored jumper dress with a dark blouse - it turns the traditional look around a bit for a fun twist.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Friday Fun Fact: Online sewing resources

Today I want to share some of my favorite online resources for sewing. Click on the links to check out the websites!

Pattern Review is still the standard community database for reviews on sewing patterns, machines, and more. You can create an account to make posts but you don't have to be a member just to browse! (We know, the website design on this one is a little dated and clunky, but there's still loads of great information!)

Many of our favorite pattern companies have blogs! They'll give you new pattern updates, tutorials, and sewing inspiration. Check out a few of our faves here:

Sew House Seven
Closet Core

Curvy Sewing Collective is THE place for plus-size sewing resources, from pattern suggestions and fitting tips to great reviews and photos of home-sewn garments on actual plus size peoples' bodies. 

This might seem obvious to some of you, but don't overlook Pinterest. There's tons of sewing content if you know what to look for! You can often find free patterns for crafts, quilts, and garments. (Yeah, we know TikTok exists too, but that's a new fad that hasn't quite trickled down to the understory yet.)

And obvy, this list would not be complete without our own Treadle Blog, where you can see all our Friday Fun Facts, tutorials, project inspirations, and more. Search the tags to find just what you need!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Treadlette Tuesday: Marina's improvisational quilt

 Every Tuesday we share projects and ideas from our lovely Treadle Yard Goods employees, The Treadlettes!

Check out Marina's latest quilt!

She made this modern, geometric baby quilt with an improvisational method. 

Rather than using a specific pattern, Marina adds pieces as she goes for a completely unique look.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Friday Fun Fact: Bust shaping with a side dart

Hey it's your gal Elizabeth back for another round of sewing chat!

A lot of students come to me in classes unhappy with the fit of their garments. 

There are A LOT of things that affect good fit, but today I'm going to pick one to talk about: bust shaping.

Look at the pattern below. I've had several students struggle with this one. (I'm not saying this pattern should be banned, but.... yeah I am.)

This pattern is a straight-cut rectangle, and unless you're shaped like a pogo stick, it's not gonna work for you.

It's not about the style of the dress; it's about putting room in the strategic places we need it. See the drag lines around the bust? The fabric folds are telling us we need a dart there!

Check the next pattern below. It's still a simple shift shape, but the side bust dart makes a huge difference!

A side bust dart doesn't make the garment more snug. It's still a loose, casual shift. But the dart eliminates the drag lines and makes the front hang more smoothly.

Good fit starts with good pattern choice! Look for a side dart to make fitting easier.

See the Friday Fun Fact archive here at the blog, where you can read all our useful tutorials and subjective opinions on sewing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Treadlette Tuesday: Laura's Linen Pajamas

Every Tuesday we share projects and ideas from our lovely Treadle Yard Goods employees, The Treadlettes!

Laura made these luxurious black linen pajamas for one of her custom sewing clients.

She used Vogue 8964 and added more piping for plenty of pop!

The wearer reports they are "wonderful, seemingly perfect in all aspects!"