Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Large Pockets and Vintage Silhouettes


Last summer I spotted this bottom weight twill on an endcap in JoAnns.  The pink is rather bright, but I thought it would make an excellent skirt.  I really like the fact that it is a light colored background that is not see-through because of the thickness of the textile.  Simplicity 8458 is recent vintage reproduction that I wanted to try, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I toyed with the idea of making the button front version, but I though the detail would get lost in busy print.


Just for fun, I decided to install my zipper using a machine.  I am alway hearing about people using double sided tape to apply zippers without the distortion from any pins, so I went ahead with that technique.  Will I be deserting my hand picked zippers anytime soon?  Certainly not!  But it was a fairly painless zipper insertion, and went much smoother than expected.  I will conquer my fear of using a machine!


I also decided to insert a few small pieces of boning into the waistband.  At this point, I should know to always do this because whenever I don't, I kick myself.  One of my favorite skirts does not have any waistband reinforcement and it bunches in a very annoying manner.  I should go back and fix it, but "mending" garments is probably my least favorite part of sewing.  Once something is finished, I am done!  Seriously, some of my ready-to-wear cardigans lose a button and it takes me years to fix it.  Highly embarrassing, considering that I could fix it in less than 10 minutes, but there you go.


I also decided that I wanted a button closure on the waistband instead of the hook & bar I usually use.  When cutting the waistband out, I just made sure to give myself a bunch of extra length to play with.


I rather like the tab closure, and will have to remember the technique for future skirts.


I definitely love the silhouette of a classic long full skirt!  Tea-length is probably my favorite proportion, and this skirt is fast becoming a favorite.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Fore!


Here is yet another outfit that was made last year, but never made it to the Blog in a timely manner.


It is certainly safe to say that this outfit was inspired by my Royal Vintage "Hepburn" shoes.  I couldn't resist the style, but they are a little out of my comfort zone.


The obvious thing to do was to spend some time in the sewing room and make myself some new separates!


The skirt is my second version of Simplicity 8019.  It's a great little vintage reproduction pattern, and I may have to make another longer version out of a more drapey fabric at some point in the future.


I managed to squeeze the skirt out of leftovers from this jacket.  I did have to piece the waistband at center back, but considering the small amount of yardage I was working with, I am quite pleased with the results.


The blouse was made from a vintage Brioni shirt that had seen better days.  I Oxicleaned the heck out of it and was able to avoid the shredded and still discolored bits to cut all of the main pieces for Butterick 4985.  I did have to make the neck tie narrower than I might have liked, but it works.


The other change I made was to swap button loops at center front for the buttonholes suggested by the pattern.  And it worked!


I love the pattern, and need to make myself another.  Or maybe I should move on to another design with a tie neck?  I will be holding on to this pattern, though - it's a keeper!



Blouse:  Made by me, Butterick 4985
Skirt:  Made by me, Simplicity 8019
Shoes:  Royal Vintage "Hepburn"

Thursday, October 10, 2019

An Oversized Estate Sale Floral


I have had my eye on this Claire McCardell pattern for some time.  Of course, I have so many ideas for my next project swirling around in my head and this one dropped off of my top ten to-do list.


But when Emily mentioned the pattern recently, it reminded me of the wonderful design.  Of course, I couldn't find the perfect fabric in my stash, but it was only a matter of time until something suitable showed up.  A muslin was made, cinching the deal.  It's a fabulous dress!


And then I found this oversized rose print at an estate sale and there was enough yardage for the McCardell, miracle of miracles!  It was certainly meant to be.  I suspect this is a quilting cotton from the 1980s or 1990s.  I just love the graphic print and as soon as I found it I knew that it would be just perfect for this dress design.


The bodice of this dress is cut on the bias, meaning that the opening v-neck is on the straight of grain.  McCardell genius, you might say.  I went a little overboard and decided to stabilize the opening anyway with a strip of rayon seam binding since it has become a habit.


The front facing is cut in one with the bodice, as you can see here.


And, of course, that rayon seam binding gets a lot of play in most of my projects, as it certainly did here.


One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about rayon seam binding is how it works on curved edges.  The answer is, the product is woven on the grain, but because it is very thin and narrow and irons beautifully, you can ease it around curves without too much fuss.


And here is the front bodice with the cut in one facing folded into place.  The seam binding I used to stay the neckline opening was stitched just inside the fold line, and if you look closely, you can see the white thread on the red and black portions of the fabric.


I did forget just how much extra yardage is needed with an oversized print like this.  So while I had slightly more fabric than the pattern yardage requirements stated, it was a fight to get everything cut out.   I ended up piecing the sash because I wanted print placement on the front and back bodice to look as intentional as possible.


The skirt is pretty fabulous on its own.  I may just have to make a skirt from this pattern in the future. And another potential project gets added to the very long list . . .


A regular zipper was hand stitched into the left side seam.


And I catch-stitched the hemline in place.


Because my favorite vintage style bra has very narrow set straps that like to peek out of necklines, I added lingerie guards to the shoulder seams.


It's easy to make your own with a snap and a short length of ribbon, and I think they look much nicer than the store bought options.


And that means the dress is finished, right down to the smallest detail.  This is definitely a pattern I plan to make again in the near future!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Novelty Shirtwaist Dress


I actually managed to wear this dress before the calendar date made wearing a predominately white cotton dress just too out of season!


I don't necessarily subscribe to the "rules" of fashion, no white after Labor Day and all of that, but this is definitely a summer dress in my book.


There certainly are a massive number of shirt dress patterns out there, and I can say without reservation that this is a good one.


There were no real surprises in the construction; everything was very straightforward.  This is also one of those "Custom Fit" patterns that include multi-cup sizes, so if you wish to avoid small or full bust adjustments, this might just be the right shirt dress pattern for you.


And as I mentioned in my post about the construction of this garment, the only real thing to complain about is the amount of yardage required by the pattern.  But who doesn't want to wear a really full skirt, right?  And that is the price we have to pay.


All told, this was a very pleasant project.


And now it's on to sewing more seasonally appropriate garments.  Although I can't promise that there won't be one or two more summery garments that get posted to this blog.  I really am trying to catch up, but as I continue to spend time sewing, that may never happen!


Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 9345
Shoes:  Royal Vintage "Ginger"

Friday, October 4, 2019

New Winter/Holiday Vogue Patterns


Vogue Patterns just released their Winter/Holiday catalog.  I was beginning to think that the Vintage Vogue line was no more, and then they go and release this beauty.  I was planning to make McCall 7478 as my highly detailed cold weather sewing project for the year, but now I am torn.  The Vogue design is slightly less of a fabric hog, which is nice.  On the other hand, I have been yearning for a true princess coat in my closet, and the McCall design definitely fits the bill.



The real question is, what color wool to use to ensure that the coat sees its fair share of outings . . .


Interestingly enough, the line drawing is not as gorgeous as I expected.  I do love that dipped back waist seamline, but the front seamlines read as rather busy.  I guess that hipline needs a body to really do the drafting justice.  Those pockets and collar really are fantastic, though!  I am still not sure which design to pick.  Although, considering that it is going to be almost 80 degrees this afternoon, there is still plenty of time to decide.


As for the other new designs in the catalog, there are not that many that pique my interest.  The back of this Badgley Mischka is intriguing, but I don't like the inset, and I suspect that it is there for a reason.  If I wanted to leave that out, there would be some other structural work that would be needed on the pattern.  And really, if I need a full length gown, there are a lot of other designs that I would pick before this one.  I do love a sleeved formal, though!

The other dress that caught my eye was Vogue 1652.  I have been playing with more of a 1960s silhouette lately, and I think the shorter version of this dress has potential.  I love the shoulder button opening.  That said, the longer version with those boots is dowdy looking on the model, so I can't imagine what it would look like on an average figured person.  Maybe without the boots it could be salvageable?  Those sleeves also look short on both versions which takes away from the lovely drape.  I just love when they button closed instead of using elastic at the wrist.  And I will definitely be checking out the sewing instructions on that neck closure, even if I don't end up purchasing this design.
Do you have any new favorites that you want to add to your sewing queue?  

For now, I am off to pull all my wool coating out to see if I have something suitable for either one of those glorious coats!

[Click on image for source]

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The 2019 Emmy Red Carpet

The 2019 Emmy Awards were this past Sunday, which means another deep dive into the gowns; the good, the bad, and the interesting, including atrocious hems and sloppy finishing.  When will they ever learn?!  Shall we begin?

One of my favorite looks of the evening was Catherine Zeta Jones.  I adore this fuchsia color with her dark hair, and I suspect that is one of the main reasons this popped out at me.  I also love the fact that the gown seems to be in motion even though she is standing still.  I don't love the nude net they have used to connect the drape to the dress.  At the armhole and the shoulder there seems to be excess fabric, which is distracting.  Then again, the careless ease with which that shoulder drape sits on her shoulder would not be achievable without being tacked down.  I just wish that net was cut in a way that it was not so visible.  Did it really have to extend all the way to her shoulder?  I suspect it would be even more obvious in person.  And I don't even mind the thigh slit!  It works with all that fabric, and thank goodness Catherine did not choose to thrust her leg as far out of the dress as humanly possible.




And now we come to the portion of the evening where no one was to be admitted to the show unless they were wearing two-tone pink and red dresses.  I am not a huge fan of the color combination, but I suppose it could be worse.  But how on earth are there so many of this particular combo at one event?  Bizarre.  I am also curious about this pose.  Is is possible for Mandy Moore to drop her hands without the entire Brandon Maxwell bodice falling down?  It just seems really precarious, as though she will expose herself at any moment.  Putting that aside, and assuming that the bodice was a little less revealing on another body, I do like the volume of the bodice and sleeves paired with the slim fit of the skirt.  This slit seems a little forced, and I think I know why Catherine's dress slit doesn't bother me.  This skirt looks like a portion of the skirt was cut away to expose an excess of leg while Catherine's is clearly just leaving one seam open (the volume of the skirt also helps it look more classy).  But back to Mandy . . . I adore the slightly 1960s bouffant done up in with a more modern hand.  And yes, I know 1960s makeup often included a nude or pink lip, but in this case, I sure wish she had a brighter pink lip and better eye makeup.




Marissa Tomei is one of my favorite actresses, however, I can't imagine this dress being anyone's favorite.  The fit is not great through the hips, this particular pink and red clash, the two oversized flounces are a bit much, the narrow hem looks very sloppy on the chiffon, the shoes are a terrible choice, I can't really see the earrings to tell whether or not I like them.  I do like the red lip, and she does look beautiful despite the unfortunate ensemble.  What on earth was she thinking with those pointy toe pumps . . . I just can't look away, it's so bad.





But wait . . . it gets worse.  Another gorgeous woman in a hideous ensemble.  What is happening here, Taraji P. Henson?!  The colors and tones of the pink and red Vera Wang actually compliment each other, so that's something.  But could the designer not afford a few more yards of the pink to make the skirt look slightly less chintzy?  The underskirt mini is far too visible and it looks as though it is bunching up so I suspect it doesn't actually fit properly.  The v of the bodice should meet at center front - this just looks as though the dress is too small.  And the belt makes her look really short waisted.  Perhaps she is, but you don't have to highlight the fact.  There is something interesting about the multi directionality of the gathers in the bodice moving from diagonal to horizontal to vertical at the shoulder line, but it doesn't save the look.  From the neck up, gorgeous, just ignore the mess that is this outfit.  And does that cut hemline mean this thing is made from polyester mesh?!  Oh, the humanity!




Now, I like the pairing of the wine with the rose color much better than pink with a bright red, however, I think this Gucci on Zoe Kazan could have used little more work.  There is something quite clever here, however, its execution is lacking.  It comes off more Carol Burnett as Scarlett O'Hara than actual Scarlett O'Hara.  The 1930s vibe that this gives is nice, but the black rounded neckline doesn't work for me; it looks like the center of an oversized theatre curtain about to be pulled open.  And the fact that the actress looks miserable doesn't help things.  Her hair and makeup is lovely, though.  Is it asking too much to get both the face and hair plus the ensemble right?  Going by the last three looks, it's beginning to look like the answer is "no."




And yet another pink gown, this one by Zac Posen.  At least he didn't add some red to the mix like everyone else!  This pink is not my favorite with Sandra Oh's skin tone, though.  I think another shade would have looked even more lovely.  The off the shoulder plunging neckline does look marvelous on her.  Unfortunately, we have a horsehair braid issue on the hemline.  It's a narrow one this time around, but still distracting.  Can't they figure out something less extreme on these drapey fabrics? Maybe a couple of layers of silk organza built up and stitched to an underlining or something?  Because that hem really distracts from the fluidity of the dress.




This color was an excellent choice for Janet Mock.  However, choosing to drape a wrinkled mess of the bedsheets you slept in the previous evening was not a brilliant move by Valentino Haute Couture.  What on earth is this?  This is the last garment I would have guessed to be haute couture.




Okay . . . this is . . . a whole lot of look from Antonio Grimaldi.  If I block out everything from the shoulders down, Angela Bassett looks incredible.  Love that hair with the earrings, and even though the lips could be a touch bolder, that eye makeup is gorgeous.  Moving down, the boob drape thing actually looks semi interesting.  Is is a modern version of a cape, perhaps?  Whatever it is, it's strange.  Then, is the waist area a separate piece, a cummerbund, if you will?  And the pants that have swallowed her feet whole . . . we know how I feel about that ridiculousness.  Oh, but I missed the minaudière!  What exactly is that?  A hard candy to nibble if she gets hungry?  I am going to feel horrible is she was making a statement with the slightly rainbow hued clutch, but I suspect this is just a case of I like all the shiny things, I am wearing a solid color, and I love the Lieber, so can I have it for the evening.  But look at that face, those cheekbones!  She is stunning, just ignore the mess of an outfit.  Nothing to look at below the shoulders, people.




Now this is more like it!  I think this dress is exquisite and it looks wonderful on Emily Hampshire.  Perhaps slightly too long-waisted on her, but still beautiful. I love that center part and the minimal jewelry.  I will admit that I did not recognize her with the pulled back hair and a non-snarky smile!  If I want to nitpick, I think the ruffles on the skirt could be slightly more in number, and the asymmetrical flounce at the shoulder could be slightly longer and less fluffy to showcase the neck.  But a really stunning color and look for her.




Sophie Turner chose Louis Vuitton for the event.  The belt being incorporated with the dress pleats has been done before, and done better, in my opinion.  Dior comes to mind, especially some of his 1950s cocktail dresses.  The white straps remind me of bra straps, and not in a good way.  There is a danger of the blush colored silk blending into her skin tone, but I think it actually works here because of the warm pink tone.  Not terrible, but not great either.  The necklace is an add choice, I think, with the belt hardware and the shoes.  She could have gone for something much more daring in the jewelry department.





Phoebe Waller-Bridge chose Monique Lhuillier for her very big night.  I think the color choice is very unfortunate.  Other than the too long hemline, the dress is not terrible.  I have seen many similar looks in the last few years, but there is a reason for that - it's a very flattering silhouette on a lot of people.  I do love her curls.  I think the ensemble is lacking something.  I would hesitate to add a lot of bling when the dress has it's own sparkle, but I think a diamond pendant would have added to this.  But really, I have a difficult time looking at this because of the terrible color choice washing her out.




If I had to pick one of my least favorites, it would certainly be Amy Poehler in Greta Constantine.  This is probably the most unattractive red carpet look I have seen on her in a very long time.  The fit is poor, and it makes the whole thing look very sloppy.  Add in the lack of hairstyling and that un-tied tie and it goes from bad to worse.  The undone feminized suit for the red carpet has been done so very much better before.  This definitely should have been left at home.




Now this is a stunning look on Jodie Comer.  It's by Tom Ford which is no surprise.  I also see a little 1990s Donna Karan in that neckline!  It's simple but stunning.  I love that the white was paired with black shoes.  I do wish there was only a single and perhaps slightly thicker strap, though; the multiple straps take away from the simplicity of the rest of the garment.  And I love the hair.  It's down, but time was clearly spent making the simple half-up/half-down style look very chic.  I don't even mind the nude lip - I think it works well with her tan.  Now, if only those shoes were a little different, I might have to call this perfect.  Can I get one for my closet in a dark jewel tone, please, Mr. Ford!




This white LBV on Patricia Arquette does not have nearly the same effect.  The fit is messy through the bodice, the hem looks too long, and the sleeves are all wrong with that neckline. It really is challenging to get simple just right, and this proves it.



And once again Kerry Washington wants to make sure everyone know just how "fashion" she is.  But the result just looks bad.  The mullet doesn't help anything, either.  If she was attending a Studio 54 party I would be on board with the irony.  This, however, just looks too try hard in all the wrong ways.




I do love a good feminized tuxedo, though.  And Melanie Liburd's choice is definitely preferred to what Kerry Washington came up with.  The truncated double breasted jacket used as a pseudo peplum is genius.  I hate the length of the pants, but I will overlook that for the moment, because the bodice of this particular ensemble takes away from the rest of it.  I get that the designer wanted to be less structured, but the messy ruffles are distracting and too much with the voluminous train.  It's too bad, because I think this design could have been great with a little more thought.  Ugg, but those pants - why would anyone want to trip on the hem of their pants?!  When is the trend going to die!  I thought Kendall Jenner with the train on both pants legs at the Met Gala was the end, but we still have ladies dragging their slacks on the red carpet.  Give those shoe some deserved attention, for goodness sake!




I started watching Schitt's Creek recently, because of Eugene Levy.  But it turns out, Catherine O'Hara plays one of my favorite characters on the show.  This Greta Constantine dress could have been taken directly out of her character's closet, although she would have worn it in an inappropriate manner, perhaps to the local hoedown, or something similar.  I love this dress.  She looks like a fabulous harlequin or a black and white cookie.  I love the dark nails, the ankle straps on the shoes and the minimal jewelry.  What I don't love it the washed out blonde hair.  Perhaps she should have borrowed from the coven of wigs that Moira has tacked to the wall of her motel room.  This feels way to similar to Nicole Kidman matching her hair to her skin.  It's not a good look.  But one final positive.  Look at that hemline - perfection!  Now that's what you call a floor length gown!




I do miss color on Viola Davis, because she wear it so very well.  I really want to love this Alberta Ferretti, but something doesn't work.  I think it's the curved black velvet that comes to a point paired with the straight diagonal line of the off-the-
shoulder bit.  Then that white curves down to the floor.  Is this straight and angled or curved?  It's confusing.  I think the necklace looks cheap with so much space between the tiers.  And do I spy horsehair braid in that hemline?  People, horsehair braid is not a requirement for each and every red carpet garment.  Next, the designers are going to put it in those too long pants.  The hair is magnificent, though.  Use that look again with a better dress, Ms. Davis!




Kelly Osborne looks stunning on this ensemble.  I love the use of the capelet with the high neckline.  I love the purple hair with the thick fringe and the ironic use of a little bow paired with a very sleek and modern gown.  The sharpened nails scare me a little, but overall, this was one of my favorite looks.  Although the hem length isn't quite perfect . . .




It's a shame about this frock.  I see the 1970s influence, and I love a sleeved formal gown, I really do. But the fabric on this one is terrible.  It looks cheap as photographed.  Perhaps is worked better in person, but this is a disappointing choice from Amy Adams.  I also think black is not a great color choice for her, especially with the washed out makeup.




Oh course, you could always go with a black Dior ballgown, as Naomi Watts did.  It's definitely a classic choice.  Although, I think this particular neckline is a little sloppy, as is the clunky belt buckle.  I love the way the hair is styled, but again, the hair matches the face and it washes her out.  Thank goodness for the red lipstick!  The silhouette does look wonderful on her, though.  And up close, I suspect that dress is a miracle of engineering and exquisite details.  I just don't find the overall look that great.




Maisie Williams is wearing custom JW Anderson.  Overall, I love this look.  I do wish those skinny straps were a little less bra-like.  And I wish the drape didn't drag on the ground quite as much.  I think the idea may have been to elongate the future, but it does the opposite, it makes her look too short for the dress.  I am unsure on the shoes.  Perhaps it's because I can only see one!  I love them, but I think they age the ensemble for her, which is distracting.




Emilia Clarke is lovely in Valentino.  I think this is quite flattering on her.  And look, no horsehair!  I wish the hair was more blunt at the ends with this minimalistic gown.  I also don't know that those earring are the best choice, but overall, not bad at all!  And that color is exquisite.




Now let's talk about expectations.  By no means does an actress have to dress like their television character on the red carpet.  But in the case of Rachel Brosnahan in Elie Saab, I feel like she is shouting "Look at me, I have range!  Look how modern and severe I am, please don't type-cast me in crinolines" every time she is on the red carpet.  January Jones did this constantly to separate herself from her Mad Men character as well.  And I find it jarring.  Now, I certainly have a prejudice when it comes to modern clothing, but I also believe that this is not a particularly flattering look for Rachel.  The color is great.  But the eye makeup doesn't work for her at all.  And again with the strange blond hair color.  There is no problem with a skin tone match here, but it looks brassy and cheap.  I don't like the neckline detail from this angle; it's possible it makes more sense straight on, but it makes her look unbalanced.  
The thigh slit is also looking too try hard.  I understand why they put it on that side, but if they had to slit the skirt, I would have liked that line to flow from the asymmetric neckline on the opposite side.  Not my favorite by a long shot.




Moving in the other direction, it took me a few seconds to even recognize Alex Borstein.  That hairstyle is amazing on her! And the rich purple is gorgeous, as it that face framing neckline.  I know she referenced her grandmother in her acceptance speech, and I wonder if the silhouette is an homage to that?  The execution of the garment is a little clunky for me, partly, I believe, because of the fabric choice.  But I love the beaded initials.  Could they be some kind of Laverne and Shirley reference?  The buttons seem unnecessary, but overall, I really like this.




It never ceases to amaze me just how beautiful silk satin can be.  The color of this dress is amazing and Cara Santana looks wonderful in it.  It's bordering on slightly pajama-esque, but that color is distracting me in a very good way.  Also love the pink earrings pared with the luscious silk.




I do wish I could find an image of this gown from the front angle.  From what I can see, it's stunning on Sarah Goldberg.  She has same hair and skin color syndrome, but it has a sort of Grace Kelly vibe with that icy blue satin.  And the draping on the dress is so lovely from the side angle I can almost forgive it, along with the lack of lipstick.  I do wonder if the sleeves were supposed to drape or should they have been shortened?  But with that delicious silk satin, who cares?!  Then again, the front angle might change my mind completely.




I really love this Old Hollywood glam look on Isla Fisher by 
Zuhair Murad.  Love the bodice!  Although it looks just a tiny bit too long in the torso?  Maybe it's just the angle of the photo.  I do wish the ends of the hair had a little bit more of a soft curl.  And I think one more piece of jewelry (maybe a diamond bracelet) would have been a nice addition here.




And to end on a fun note, here is RuPaul in an over the top suit.  But please note the excellent fit.  If you are going to do something over the top like this, the only way it will be completely successful is to have the fit perfect.  And I am pleased to report that this passes that test with flying colors!  The break in the pants, the shoulders, it all works so well.  The only thing missing is the shirt sleeve peaking out of the jacket at the wrist, but maybe that's not standard with such an out of the ordinary tux?  I am not all that familiar with men's tailoring, so I can't be sure about that.  I am extremely jealous of that fabric, though!  Do we think this is a wool/silk blend?  Oh, the dresses I would make with that oversized print!!  I would have liked to have a slight difference between the black lapel and the black shirt/cravat, but other than that, this almost makes me want to wear a pant suit, if only to get my hands on that fabric!




Did you have any particular favorites this year?  I am beginning to be overwhelmed with the sheer number of images from these events.  Even the fashion show schedules are insane these days, with new collections released every month, or so it seems.  It's overwhelming, and too much for me.  I also think it's beginning to affect the quality of the designs.  How can anyone possible come up with something "new" every couple of months?  But that will not stop me from looking forward to seeing what everyone is wearing . . . even if I do end up disappointed.


[Click on image for source]