Heavenly Half-Slip

Lately I've been having a really hard time sewing anything, in part because I'm fairly busy (reading and researching, writing podcast episodes, writing answers for AskHistorians, just moderating AskHistorians) and in part because the project I was working on, a green cotton shirtwaist dress, was just not happening. It frustrated and discouraged me, and stood in my way until I put it aside and went, "I'm just not going to sew anything, then."

This was a problem, because winter has rolled around again, and I'm left where I was this past April: for the cold season, I have two purchased retro dresses (each with its fit problems), two I've made, and a wool skirt I made very badly about six years ago and do not like to wear. I really want at least one, or maybe two new pieces to cycle in! But the recent failure made the thought of planning another big project really unappealing.

Fortunately, another unsolved problem from last winter made for a very quick project. I wear sweater tights very frequently, as I wear skirts all winter and also tend to walk to work, and my cotton and wool dresses end up sticking to them and climbing my legs. I don't like regular slips because the shiny synthetic knit can be pretty staticky, too, so I decided to make one out of silk charmeuse.

When I say a project is "quick and dirty", I really do mean quick and dirty. In this case, I cut a quarter circle (piecing in a wedge at one side because the charmeuse isn't quite wide enough) big enough for me to get over my hips, and sewed it by hand. Then I cut a length of elastic, turned the top edge of the skirt over it once, pinned it in a few places, and zig-zagged it in place. I finished by sewing the hem by hand. A two-evening project.

I was just about to write "that bookshelf looks cleaner in real life," but then I turned around to check and nooooooooo it does not
While the charmeuse does cling a little, for the most part it floats, and when it does cling it does so more gently than an ordinary knit slip. I've always been afraid to try to sew with it because it's so slippery, but it wasn't that bad - and it feels nice to wear. I have a 1940s slip pattern to try out - plus I've made a Haslam dressmaking system drafting tool and might try out one of these slips with it.

Something else that the change in the weather has made me remember is that I still need a new wool coat. Fortunately, it's cold enough that I can wear my puffy coat instead right now, but before the spring I'm going to need to replace the one I have now. It fits me in the shoulders, but my shoulders are one size, my waist is another, and my bust is a third: buying off-the-rack is never going to give me what I want, and any pattern's going to need significant alteration. Hopefully the Haslam system proves to be really helpful for my particular fit issues, and I can get a whole book of 1950s patterns that includes a coat and go from there! The system looks like a lot of fun to me, and I could see enlarging patterns I don't even plan to sew just for the heck of it.



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