Friday, September 22, 2017

The Emmy Awards Red Carpet 2017

I keep meaning to get back in the swing of things with this blog, but I continue to find other things to distract me.  But since the Emmys were this past weekend, and I haven't put my thoughts on a red carpet down on virtual paper in a while, I thought a critique would be a fun way to get back to it.

Once again, I continue to be surprised when my favorite look of the night is a pair of pants, or should I say, pantsuit.  What is happening here?!?  But I think we can all agree that Claire Foy looks radiant in Oscar de la Renta.  Love the understated jewelry paired with that embellished neckline, love the dramatic drape, the shoes are perfect (and the fact that I can see them is very much appreciated).  The hair and the makeup is pretty perfect, too.  It's definitely the best ensemble of the evening, in my opinion!

Multiple hemline lengths continues as a red carpet theme, and I really like the variety.  I would say Michelle Pfeiffer's dress (another Oscar de la Renta) is a bit informal, but then again, this is the Emmys, not the Oscars.  I don't really like the way the diaphanous material becomes almost opaque in the skirt, and the embroidery is a little clunky looking, but I do like the overall idea of the dress.  Not thrilled with the hair, but it would be rather challenging to make Ms. Pfeiffer look bad.  And there it is . . . on almost anyone else, I think I would have passed this dress right by.

I would really like to see the texture of this Zac Posen gown up close and personal.  His designs have been rather hit and miss for me lately, and while this silhouette is nothing spectacular, I do like the pleating on the skirt, and from what I can see, the textile looks gorgeous.  I love the emerald accessories, and I actually like the nude lip here.  And the hair is actually styled, imagine that!

I do love a caplet as an unexpected accessory on the red carpet.  I think that the low ponytail does not work with the volume that the caplet adds to the silhouette, especially since the color of the hair matches the dress.  Zuhair Murad does this bead encrusted gown on a sheer fabric look over and over, and while it can get boring, this particular one works for me.  The necklace also looks off, but I think if the hair was piled on top of her head, I might like the diamonds as a collar.  Or perhaps she could wear the diamonds in her coiffure, à la Ginger Rogers or another 1930s movie siren.

A print on the red carpet is always fun, but very challenging to get just right.  I think this silhouette works really well with the bold print design.  But we do have a case of the old horsehair hemline rearing its ugly head.  Why on earth is there horsehair added to a train?!  I am not sure who Alex Hudgens is, and I think I would have chosen a lavalier on a long delicate chain in place of the stiletto earrings for this gown, but overall, I really like her look.

Speaking of prints, I can't find any information online about Catherine Dyer's gown, but I am guessing that it is vintage.  The clunky bag is a horrible addition, and I am not sure I like what is going on in the shoe department, but I am definitely intrigued by this dress.  The floral print is not my favorite, but at least this has some personality.  I think this dress choice belongs on a cabaret stage, with a oversized flower tucked behind the singer's ear, and not in a daylight shot on a red carpet, but I do appreciate the far from standard choice.  Unfortunately, the styling just went wrong, from the sloppy hair right down to her bracelet and earrings.

Here is another different approach to the standard red carpet look.  I love the print, and this may be heading into Morticia Addams territory, but I think the golden bronzy print does wonderful things for Jamie Alexander's complexion, as does that makeup.  It's a glamorous Halloween look.  And do I spy some little birdies in that print?  I would also like to thank Ms. Alexander for not succumbing to the highly contagious "thrusting her thigh out of the slit in her dress" sickness that affects so many actresses on the red carpet these days.  

Now, I do love a good velvet . . . and the color of this is yummy.  The Ralph Lauren design is rather boring, but can we talk about the scraggly hair for a moment.  This may be the worst yet.  Who looks in the mirror and thinks this is "done."  This honestly looks like she just rolled out of bed with last night's makeup smeared on her eyes and did nothing to her hair.  The silk velvet deserved so much better . . .

Speaking of gorgeous green colors, this is an amazing color choice for Shannon Purser.  Don't have any idea who she is, but her stylist is right on the money with this fabric and color for her pale skin.  I do wish the non draped side of the bodice sat slightly off her shoulder - I think it would be much more flattering to her silhouette.  The clutch doesn't really work for me, and the embroidered additions of the butterflies is slightly arbitrary, but I think that could easily be fixed by re-spacing them or grouping them a bit differently.  Overall, this is a beautiful and dramatic look.

Reese Witherspoon is adorable, and if anyone can get away with wearing a slightly lengthened suit jacket as a dress, it's her.  I wish the the fabric was a little less shiny for this look, but the shoe choice is perfect for this.  Her legs look amazing in the Stella McCartney design, so all is not lost.  But next time, save this one for the People's Choice Awards, or something a little bit less formal.

Okay, I HATE this color, and I think it makes Angela Sarafyan look green in the gills, but the design lines and the smocked sleeve are gorgeous.  The slit is probably overkill; I can't imagine she would have trouble walking with all that fabric in the hemline, and I think it ruins the line of the skirt.  If this was on someone with coco colored skin, I think it would be stunning, but this particular lady needs to stay away from this hue.  Her makeup is also not helping her look any less flu symptomatic.  Now if there is a merlot colored version, or perhaps sapphire or emerald green, I would love to add this one to my closet.

Now Viola Davis could get away with wearing chartreuse, and come to think of it, the silhouette of that last gown would also look amazing on her.  But she picked another amazing color for her Zac Posen dress.  This is gorgeous on her.  Hate the clutch with that bracelet, and I am a little confused if the hairstyle is supposed to be asymmetrical or centered, but I am going to ignore that and hope that it is just a strange angle for the camera.  Another wonderful red carpet choice for Ms. Davis - now if she would just learn how to walk in heels.

Oh my god, what did Jane Fonda do to her face?!?  I cannot even look at the dress because I am horrified by the disfigured face.  I guess we just have to title this "when bad plastic surgery happens to beautiful women, Part 42,329."  Okay, now I am going to take another look at the actual dress.  The shoes are atrocious, the hair is really bad, and with the pink color it looks like she is attempting to channel Malibu Barbie, the necklace does not work with the neckline of the gown . . . it just keeps getting worse.  Actually, I think the Brandon Maxwell dress had some promise, just not with all the distractions.  And why did she do that to her lovely face?!?

Nicole, Nicole, Nicole . . . finally you choose to wear some color!  And guess what, you look wonderful.  This is probably my second favorite look of the night.  And here is another bejeweled neckline; I usually hate those because they remind me of bad Macy's prom gowns, but this looks rich.  Love the length, and I even like her hair color - hooray for no more platinum blonde on pale skin!  Okay, I think the mis-matched shoes are a little much for this dress, and the hair is a little messy for my taste, but this is a really lovely look on her.  If I am being really nit-picky, Calvin Klein needs to be a little more careful with the hemline, but other than that, this is stunning.

Unfortunately, we couldn't escape without some actress wearing a gown that matches her skin color.  At least Shannon Woodward has dark hair, but this dress would look so much better on her in a tone that does not blend right in with her complexion.  I do love the silhouette, though - the bodice and the sleeves are beautiful.  I would love to see the back of this; do I spy another caplet?

Ahhhh - what is this hair?!?  Make it go away, please.  I almost missed the amazing fabric because I was distracted by the brassy and incredibly ratty and lank hair.  The asymmetrical ruffles need a little work (maybe they should overlap slightly, or stop slightly lower on the hip?), but there is the possibility of something really lovely here.  Gosh, I love sleeved evening wear!

More bad hair, but I am going to give William H. Macy a pass.  Felicity Huffman, on the other hand, looks fabulous from head to toe in Tony Ward.  The color is amazing on her, and I love the textile.  Is it embroidered, or a burn out, do you think?  This is another one that I would love to see up close.

Show business kids usually irritate me, but this mini tux is just too cute.  Why is everything so adorable when it's tiny?!  Not entirely sure that I love the lack of socks, but if a cropped pant is going to work for anyone, it's Miles Brown.  Not sure what show he is in, but the kid has attitude, that much is clear.  And why don't men wear white dinner jackets on the red carpet more often?

And for the grown-up, female version, here we have Evan Rachel Wood in Moschino.  I love that she keeps wearing these feminine versions of tuxedos every award season.  I hate that it so often appears that she has no feet.  Where is my hint of gorgeous footwear?  Oh well, I guess no one can be perfect.

[Click on image for source]

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More Butterick and McCall Vintage Reproductions Released into the Wild

Vintage reproductions come and go in the McCall, Butterick, and Vogue catalogs, and for the most part I like them and I stitch them up all the time, but very few actually thrill me these days.
So I was very pleased to see this 1944 design released in the latest Butterick catalog.  Classic style lines, more than a few interesting shapes to contend with, and an overall gorgeous look.  It almost makes up for the Vogue catalogs that do not include any new Vintage Vogues!  I am definitely going to have to rummage through my stashed fabric to find something suitable.

There are two new Gertie designs as well.  The first has a dropped waist and raglan sleeves.  It's not the most complex thing in the world, but the lines are really lovely.  I believe the three-quarter sleeved version will be added to my to-make list (which is getting really, really long).

Simplicity recently released a vintage reproduction in the classic cheongsam style, but I have never seen a full skirted version (probably because most are princess seamed and do not have a waist seam that lends itself to multiple skirt options).  I am not sure I love the full skirted silhouette with this bodice treatment, but it may grow on me.  I think I am going to see what other people do with this before I start cutting into fabric.  
And then McCalls went and released 7625.  It's another dropped waist design, this time with side hip gathers and a button front.  Love it!  I was initially surprised that this is a 1955 silhouette; the styling with that 40s hat threw me off, but the technical drawing is very mid 50s, and I adore the short sleeved version.  Will I make this before the weather gets chilly?  Probably not, but this one will definitely be getting my attention in the future.
And there is even a modern design that I may have to add to my collection.  I am always interested to see how these off the shoulder sleeves are drafted.  Some work better than others, and I may have to test 7654 out for myself.  And can we talk about how fantastic that black floral fabric is?  Don't break my heart and tell me it's polyester.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Postcards from Paris

It feels like these photos were taken so very long ago.   And it has been quite a while since the month of May, I suppose.

Since then, this dress has become one of my favorites.  It is so easy to slip into.

I forgot to mention the addition of a pair of lightweight bra cups in my construction post - I imagine I was too impatient to finish the dress to bother taking pictures!  And that extra step is one of the main reasons I keep coming back to this dress on hot summer days.

All I have to do is step in, hook the waist stay, zip up the back, and go!

I am slightly tempted to make another version, this time with a straight skirt.  But there are so many other patterns that I want to try, so perhaps I should set this one aside for now?

After all, I already have another blue eyelet version hanging in my closet.  

Some day I will get around to going through the finished photos of that dress, along with all of the other projects that I completed in the last few months.  And I suppose I should really start thinking about cooler weather fabrics and designs.  The days are already getting way too short!  I am really not ready to say farewell to Summer this year.

Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 6453
Shoes:  Remix “Babydoll

Friday, August 11, 2017

Simplicity has gone vintage reproduction crazy.

Well, I missed the last Simplicity catalog release in July during my blogging hiatus, and then they go and release another in August - and there are lots of vintage offerings in both.

I will begin with my favorite.  I adore the style lines on this suit jacket.  The single button closure, the tailored silhouette, the breast pockets - love it, love it, love it.  My only gripe is that what looks like a blouse is actually a dickey.  I am betting that matches the original design, and I am pleased they stayed true to the vintage pattern, but I would much rather have another blouse pattern.  Still, there is a lot here that I really like.

I am trying to decide if I like this blouse and skirt combo because of the excellent print choice and the wonderful model and styling of the look, or if I actually love the design itself.  There are so many 1940s patterns with a similar look, and while I do like the center front tucks, I feel as though I already have something just like this.

Now here is something that I like to see . . . a vintage lingerie pattern.  If only they reproduced one of the more interesting/gorgeous options.  That being said, at least this is slightly more involved than the many petticoat patterns that may be found in the costume section of a pattern catalog.  The cut-in-one slip is  really lovely.  Could I get this look by combining a few patterns already in my stash?  Of course.  But I do hope this means that Simplicity will continue to reproduce the vintage lingerie designs.

On a similar note, this accessory pattern is one of the more boring vintage accessory pattern options I have come across over the years.  The turban is a simple rectangle of fabric, and I would bet that most people who sew could find a collar pattern piece from a dress pattern in their collection that could be used as a stand alone piece.  But after seeing the slip pattern and this accessory pattern with multiple options, I am hopeful they may release one of the amazing multiple sleeve patterns in the future.  That would make me a very happy girl!  More wardrobe expanding designs, please!!

This blouse is current sitting on my sewing table.  I am working up a wearable muslin in my continuing quest to find my perfect blouse.  I am not yet convinced that this will be the one, but the back yoke, the multiple sleeve options, and the fabulous collar have me very hopeful.  So far the only real issue I have is that this one is a real fabric hog.

Speaking of adorable blouses, how about the hooded one that comes with these overalls.  Love it!  I think this was a very nice choice to reproduce.  I would be very interested to see if these have more of the vintage trouser fit, or if they have completely redrafted the pants.

This particular dress is cute, I guess.  I like the neckline, but really, nothing all that special.

The styling on this suit is lovely, and I do love a bolero, but this is certainly not the most interesting or stunning version of the bolero/skirt combo.  It also looks like Simplicity continues to shorten their vintage reproduction patterns.  I have had this issue with quite a few of their previous designs, and I am still not sure of the reasoning behind the change.  Clearly they are styling them vintage, and not trying to hide from the old fashioned look, so why shorten the skirts so much?

Here again is a rather basic design.  I am pleased that all three pieces are included, but really the only interesting option is the three-quarter sleeved jacket, in my opinion.  Do we really need another basic sleeveless shift dress added to the catalog?  This one does have double darts, but that alone is not enough to get rave reviews from me.  Give me more special vintage details, please!!

And speaking of boring . . . the ubiquitous poodle skirt.  I am going to give them a slight pass with the expectation that the embroidery instructions to recreate the poodles are helpful, and at least there is a shaped waistband to make things slightly less yawn worthy.  But do we really need another circle skirt pattern when there are so many more incredible and interesting vintage skirt choices?!

This skirt option is slightly more interesting, but not by much.  There is a notation that a "vintage primer" is included, so I will be curious to see those original directions.  It would seem that Simplicity is listening to their customers . . .

I remember this design because Casey made it up years ago.  I seem to recall her saying that it was not the easiest garment to wear, which is often the case with these "simple to make" designs.  The concept is wonderful, but will it stay in place?  I think a well placed brooch is probably going to be very helpful in this case.

And here is another classic 1950s suit wardrobe.  I love the cropped jacket, but the skirt is nothing to write home about.  Not very exciting.  I wish they didn't release quite so many vintage options that are ho-hum, and concentrated more on quality instead of quantity.  Part of me fears that a lot of their customers are going to complain about the number of vintage reproductions and they will stop printing them.

And here is something I did not expect to find.  How adorable is this?  I love the 1930s Snow White.  The hat pattern is also included here!!  I also love the Royal Vintage Shoes which keep appearing in the styling this season!

This Sew Chic pattern is not an actual vintage reproduction, but it certainly has that look.  The infamous shelf bust silhouette has returned!  I think this one could easily go wrong depending on the wearer's proportions, but it has definite possibilities.

So I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of choices, but also slightly disappointed in many of the offerings.  That being said, there are a couple of winners here that I will definitely need to take home with me.  Now I just need to find the time to get back into the sewing room!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Constructing the Perfect Sundress

I am sure you have seen many versions of Butterick 6453 around this summer.  This is my first version the design, and I have already completed another.

Having worn this dress (quite a few times already, I might add), I can see why so many people are making multiple versions of their own.

Of course, I did not have quite enough fabric, so I had to get creative with my layout.  I also had a directional print that would not have worked with the given fabric layout which is made for border prints.  I didn't particularly want a center front seam, but at least it was possible to print match!

I also decided it would be a nice touch to add a bit of piping to the waist seam.  One length of yarn and a bit of bias fabric later, and I had my self-fabric piping prepared.

I ended up using the full width of my fabric (minus the selvedge) for the skirt which was slightly larger than the pattern piece.  In a lighter weight fabric, this would have been fine, but my mid-weight quilting cotton had to be man-handled to scrunch all that fabric down to match the bodice.

I really do like the added fullness in the skirt, so I suppose the extra work fighting with gathers was worth it in the end.

And I am also very pleased how the added piping turned out.

I decided to fully line the bodice, but I used the facing pieces as my interfacing pattern piece.

Each time I grab a solid colored fabric from the drawer and there are only scraps left, I get frustrated.  Why do I keep this stuff?!?  This time around, those small pieces came in handy, which is going to make it difficult to get rid of all of those tiny bits and bobs.

The upper edge of the lining pieces were pick-stitched.  I have gotten in the habit of doing this step by hand and I really prefer the look to the machine stitched version (big surprise, I know!).

I also eliminated the adjustable portion of the straps that makes them look like bra straps.  I suppose this is a helpful feature in a store bought garment because of the adjustability, but it ends up looking tacky, in my opinion, and definitely not necessary when you are making a dress for a specific body.

The seams were finished with rayon seam binding, and the hem was catch-stitched in place.

And while it was not really necessary, I added a waist stay.  I have yards and yards of this yellow grosgrain that was purchased for a specific project and I ended up not using it.  The color rarely works with anything I make, so I decided to go for a bit of high contrast here and use some of the stuff.

This pattern turned out a bit roomier than expected in the bodice for my standard size 12, but the dress has been worn more than any other garment this season, so I am going to call this one a complete success!