Sunday, October 30, 2011

“Whistle While you Work . . .”

Today I am busy making Tino’s Halloween costume.

Tomorrow is fast approaching, but I need a break from tiny sleeves and armholes, so I though I would share a costume from a few years ago. 

This is Snow White with her trusty side-kick, Happy.

With the help of Simplicity 2813, I came up with a decent version of Disney’s Snow White. 

My research started with the 1937 animated film.  From there, I did a few internet searches to find still images. There are quite a few variations out there, but I wanted to take most of my ideas from the film.

The one thing I really did not like about the pattern was the cheap looking sleeve treatment. The pattern advises you to fuse sections of one fabric to another with raw edges - ick!  It took a bit more time, but I cut an inner and outer sleeve.  I created a template for my cutouts a bit more tear-drop shaped than the pattern, cut those templates with seam allowances, sewed right side to right side on my outersleeve, clipped the seams, and turned to the inside before invisibly stitching the facings down. The inside sleeve was then basted to the outer sleeve, right side to wrong side and treated as a single piece for gathering and setting in.

More information about the construction may be found over on Pattern Review.

For Happy,  I used Simplicity 3939 as a basic pattern base to help with sleeve placement.

His beard was a happy mistake.  I knew that a bit of elastic was going to be necessary to keep any kind of hat on his head, but I really did not want it to show.  Lucky me, most of the dwarfs have little beards, and a small chunk of fiberfill folded over the elastic and sewed down took care of disguising the elastic.  In the end, I think the beard really made the costume!

And now I really must get back to his costume, for tomorrow is Halloween!

Dress, Cape and Collar:  Made by Me.  (Simplicity 2813)
Petticoat:  Made by Me.  (Simplicity 5006)
Wig:  "Bettie Page" wig from Party City
Shoes:  from Lacis

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vintage Inspired Beaded Sweater

This is my very first beaded knitting project, finished back in 2005.

I have only worn this sweater once before, mostly because I have a hard time finding something to wear with it (yes, it is one of those projects).

The pattern is from Vintage Knits, a book I first discovered at my local library, in their somewhat dismal crafts section.  While I would have preferred the actual vintage pattern with the keyhole opening and the beaded collar and cuffs, the patterns have been reworked for a more modern look.  

With a few more years of knitting experience under my belt, I would probably have added beads to the ribbed arm and neck openings, but I am very pleased with the result.

The most challenging part of the process was getting the darn seed beads on the yarn.  Once that was accomplished, with the help of a bit of thread and a needle, the knitting was very straight forward.

Because the front and back pieces are identical, I added a small piece of yarn tied in a bow to create a “tag” – this way I always can tell the front from the back.

Now I just have to find another skirt to wear with it.  Perhaps that is my cue to pull out some fabric . . .

Sweater:  Made by me.
Skirt:  Made by me. (McCalls 3315)
Shoes:  Nine West “Zann” in Pewter from

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vintage Embroidered Silk – Pure Luxury

I am ashamed to say that it took a last minute rush to find a vintage hat (which I did not end up needing) for me to explore a local antique shop.  And boy am I glad that I did.  Look at the treasure I found! 

There is no tag or label to help identify the piece, so I am not sure of the year, but I would guess that this was constructed sometime during the 1940s.  

It makes me wonder what contemporary clothing will be around in  sixty or seventy years – perhaps some polyester fleece sweatshirts and a few pairs of denim jeans? – yuck!  Instead of wearing fabrics that are synthesized from plastic bottles, imagine wearing silk next to your skin everyday.

This slip is stunning.  The workmanship is exquisite.  It does have a few stains and a couple of small holes, but it still looks beautiful.

And I simply could not bear the thought of someone using it as a Courtney Love Halloween costume and disposing of it the following day, or, at the very least, not appreciating the craftsmanship.

The hand stitches are worthy of a couture piece.  Someone obviously put a lot of work into this slip.  The side seams are the narrowest French seams I have ever come across. 

They are then tacked down from the right side of the garment with the tiniest prick stitches so that the seams lay perfectly flat.

The lace must have been worked separately from the slip and applied.  The only raw edges are the horizontal seams which are whip stitched as is done in couture pieces.

 Pure heaven!  Lingerie this beautiful just has to be shared!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Polka Dots!

I abandoned this sweater a few months back because I momentarily lost my interest in knitting.  And although the weather is still Summer warm, my creative process has decided that it is time for Fall knitting.  By the time I finish this springy green polka dot sweater, the season may render it ridiculous.  Is November too Fall/Winter for polka dots?  And do I really care?

Bud by Martin Storey
This is my very first Fair Isle knitting project.  Now, I probably should have started with something a bit more simple, like stripes, or a small portion of intarsia at the cuffs or neckline.  But no, I decided polka dots from cuff to collar was the way to go.  

Granted, it is easy to see if I am going wrong, but I keep forgetting to change the color pattern on the wrong side of my work until I get almost all the way across the row and have to work backwards – frustration!  And I am not looking forward to weaving in all of the yarn ends.  But so far, I am pleased with my progress.

So that is what I am up to.  And I have a new Vintage Vogue dress on the sewing table, but I am finding my knitting needles a bit more interesting these days . . .  I wonder which I will finish first? 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumnal Color Palette

Even though it is late October, the weather is decidedly warm during the day.  And although a pastel cotton sundress would work with the temperature, it just feels wrong.  So out came a summer weight cotton seersucker dress with a definite fall color palette – perfect!

The pattern is McCalls 6758, a vintage pattern I purchased on ebay.

The finished dress looks quite different from the original pattern because I did not have enough seersucker fabric to complete the entire dress.  It turns out, I prefer the contrasting collar and cuffs to solid stripes - I just love when mistakes turn out for the best!  The length is also a departure from the pattern, but the dress just did not look right with a longer skirt.

A more in-depth review of my sewing process may be found over at Pattern Review.

I love seersucker – no ironing needed.  Well, except for the solid colored cotton portions.  This is the ideal dress for the strange between-seasons weather we are experiencing!

Dress: McCalls 6758
Shoes:  Aerosoles “Guava Plush” in Orange Combo from
Earrings:  Gift

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eyelet Cardigan & Purple Gingham

I always have the same issues with my knit pieces.  By the time I finish the project, I am a bit tired of the darn thing, or the season has changed and there is no need for a sweater, or I cannot find the right buttons.  Often, I end up with a finished project that does not match any other clothing I own – seriously, it has happened quite a few times, and I still cannot understand how I manage it. 

I finished my Jenny Cardigan from Rowan Knitting Magazine 37 in early July but never got around to wearing it.  The yarn is a cotton/rayon blend and the summer has not been especially hot, so I have no excuse (other than the fact that I could not find anything I wanted to wear with it). 

The pattern calls for a ribbon to be woven through the neckband eyelets and tie in the front, but I like the option of wearing a cardi open or closed.  Because I did not want untied ribbon ends hanging when the sweater was unbuttoned, I changed it up and cut two pieces of ribbon and tied them at the center back.

I very rarely find buttons that match a finished project.  I have the same problem with fabric – I tend to choose colors that are impossible to find matching thread, zippers, and buttons.  But I have found a solution, at least for the buttons. BurdaStyle recently posted a blog entry about Dorset Buttons.  I am able to cover plastic rings with the yarn that I used for my sweater, ensuring that they will be a perfect match!

The dress is an oldie.  I happened to come across it hiding in the closet, and thought it would help get the cardigan out of the dresser drawer.  

The pattern is Vogue 9668, now out of print, but it looks like it is still available on the Vogue website.  

I have made two versions of the sleeveless/straight skirted view that I have not worn in a while . . . perhaps I will have to do something about that.

Dress: Vogue 9668
Cardigan:  Jenny  from Rowan 37 by Sarah Dallas
Earrings:  Ralph Lauren
Shoes:  Colin Stuart for Victoria’s Secret

Friday, October 14, 2011

Leopard Print + Contemporary Pattern = Something “New” for Me

After my Ceil Chapman adventure in dressmaking, I knew that I needed a quick and easy project, if only to assure myself that I do not need an entire month to sew one dress!

This dress was an exploration in going against type.  The fabric is a stylized leopard print, and the pattern is contemporary - what in the world was I thinking?!  I blame  I would never have thought to purchase Vogue 1228 had I not seen all of the cute finished projects posted to the site. 

I am quite pleased with the finished product.  The dress is very easy to wear (I added 1" to the length for a bit more coverage), and while it might not be the most flattering of styles on my body, I don’t care.  I am just going to pretend it is a costume in the style of 2011 – how about that! 

It was super easy to make, and has restored my faith in the quick weekend project, so all in all, I would say the dress is a success.

Necklace:  Rafael Jewelers
Shoes:  Brass Plum “Empire-Lea” in Gold

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Watercolor Printed Poppies

I was lucky enough to attend the Picasso Exhibition at the De Young Museum in San Francisco last week.  And while he is certainly not my favorite artist, to see even a small portion of his work is incredibly humbling.  His mastery of varied mediums and movements is stunning. 

The galleries were extremely crowded, so it was a good thing that I had my crinoline on to give myself a little extra personal space!  “Excuse me, pardon me, crazy lady who thinks it is 1957 coming through.”  

The dress I pulled out of the closet for my day in San Francisco is Vogue 2903.  

I adore this reproduction.  The yoke construction is ingenious.  The shoulder pieces are finished off and then the sleeves and yoke, which are constructed as one piece, get set into the finished garment.  For a more formal look, the yoke section could easily be removed from the pattern altogether.  I am surprised that the pattern does not include this as an alternate suggestion.

This is one of the reasons I adore vintage patterns and reproductions – there are so many more special touches to be found than with their contemporary counterparts.  

The only downside with the dress is that the pleats can be a bit of a pain to iron.  I made the mistake of basting them with a bright red color, and every time I iron the dress, I find more basting thread bits that I missed (at least they blend in with the cotton!).

The fabric was a lucky find from JoAnn Fabrics.  These are not the colors I would normally be drawn to, but I could not resist the large scale watercolor print on crisp cotton.  

I just noticed the Wizard of Oz connection - my dress is a poppy field – I hope the pictures are not making everyone sleepy!  

Image from

Dress:  Vogue 2903
Coat:  McCalls 5480
Shoes:  Alfani “Daphna” in Pale Yellow
Hair Flower:  Made by me
Necklace:  Banana Republic
Ring:  Macy’s