Just like last year, I made a dress for a military ball this year. My husband and I weren’t able to make it to the Navy ball, but we were able to make it to the Strike Fighter Ball. This ball is only for pilots and flight officers in the fighter community. It was a blast to say the least! As usual, the Navy knows how to party.
Out of the three ball gowns I’ve made, this one is probably my least favorite. I love the sleeves on this one much more than last year’s, Simplicity 2053, dress. My favorite, despite the color, was my first ball gown I have ever made the Simplicity 1909.
Anyways, this year I made a Navy blue dress, it looked more like blurple (blue-purple) in the store, which made me excited. It turned out just blue in the pictures though. I used a David Tutera stretch taffeta from JoAnn’s Fabric store. I really liked working with the stretch taffeta, it was much more manageable than crepe back satin. I used view C to make my dress, but didn’t put any lace over it. I wanted a nice place dress for the ball. I also made it solely on my serger and my Featherweight! She is such a good little machine. It made making this dress fun!
It took me about three days to make. I don’t think I’d make this dress again, I might do view B if I did and use it as a nice little black dress. I made a size 14 and should have gone with a 12. I had to bring in the dress quite a bit, which is probably why I don’t want to make this dress again. I also had to cut off about 5 inches from the skirt length so I could walk in it. I usually have to make my dresses shorter, but 5 inches is a lot especially when I am wearing platform heels that give me lots of height. I also didn’t like that my fabric I was working with didn’t have a right or wrong side. That made doing the sleeves difficult. I hate doing sleeves in the first place and luckily my husband was there to help me understand the pattern.
Once I figured out my sizing from measuring myself, I went to a 14, but should’ve stayed with the recommended 12. I sometimes think I’m bigger than I am. Haha. I guess I’d rather have made it too big than too small. So that’s a good thing. After figuring out my bust size, the directions are fairly simple in figuring out which size to cut, I started cutting the pattern. This is always tedious work.
After cutting the pattern and following the directions of putting the sides and front then back and sides together… I was at the point where in the directions, you are supposed to put the wrong sides together then add the sleeves. Then you’re supposed to try it on and make markings of where you need to take in or let out. I wish I would have gone against the directions and skipped all this. It seemed pointless to me. I guess if you’re a very oddly shaped person it could help. All I did was learn that I need to bring the waist in about 2-3 inches each side and make it all a little smaller. Then you take all the work you just did apart and assemble it the right way and sew where you made your markings.
Then you work on the invisible zipper (I still need an invisible zipper foot, FYI) and then the neckline. From here on out the directions were simple and easy to follow.
I didn’t really follow the directions for finishing the top zipper portion, I just sewed so it looked good and then hung the skirt up overnight so it could “settle” as the directions say. Then in the morning I put my heels on and had my husband help with making the marking so I could hem it. I cut about 5 inches off the skirt and them hemmed it. That’s a lot to take off especially even when I’m in huge platform heels.
Anyways… Here is my finished dress…
This past year or so I’ve been wanting a vintage sewing machine. They were built better back in the day and looked so much more elegant. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Singer Stylist 7258 model and my new Singer ProFinish serger.I just wanted a machine that I could take apart and do my own maintenance. These old machines were built to last and it shows!
So here is my beautiful 1945 Featherweight! I know she’s from 1945 because of her serial number. If you go to ISMACS International website, you can look up your sewing machine date information from the serial number! I learned that mine also has some blackside properties. She looks like a regular Featherweight, but has some darker parts. The presser bar level is black not chrome, stitch length indicator is black, handwheel is black, and some of her accessories are also black. Some machines are blackside due to WWII and that chromium was in such short supply that it was restricted for war material use only. Click HERE for more information on the blackside Featherweight.
Basically last Friday (August 21st), a man posted on Craigslist that he had a Featherweight for sale and once I saw that advertisement, I knew I had to have a Featherweight. This started my obsession. I’ve since done plenty of research on these babies and man are they popular. I actually got a pretty good deal too compared to other Ebay prices and other Craigslist ads too. She has all original parts and all her decals are in perfect condition. You’ll see a lot of these have faded decals and the paint having some gouges or chips.
On Saturday, we headed to the man’s house (he was having an estate sale) and he saved the machine for me to come look at it. The motor worked and the light worked and so we came home with her. I named her Euphagenia (from Mrs. Doubtfire) or Effie for short.
We used q-tips and a clean microfiber cloth to clean her up and used kerosene to get rid of the old oil. Then we used Zymol wax to clean and put a protective coat on her decals. There are a few different places online to get info on cleaning and maintaining Featherweights. I personally like April 1930s website and Nova Montgomery’s website for useful information. I’ve also purchased from both sites. April 1930’s has excellent customer service and is extremely fast. Nova’s is great as well. They both have a plethora of information and love to help.
After waxing, we replaced Effie’s bulb and got her an LED bulb. We also oiled her and lubed her up. You can easily use the manual to teach you how to oil and lube the machine, but there are also blogs on it as well. I’d also recommend buying Featherweight 221 – The Perfect Portable by Nancy Johnson-Srebro and The Featherweight 221 and I by David McCallum. David McCallum also has a DVD and I do have it, I just haven’t used it yet. I purchased David’s book and DVD as a bundle set from April 1930s. I bought Nancy’s book from Amazon.