Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Voting for the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge Ends Tomorrow!

This will be the last time I pester everyone about this contest – I promise!  After all, voting ends tomorrow, November 30th at 11:59 p.m. EST.  The last time I checked I was in first place, so thank you to everyone for voting, because it is working!!!  But I could still use all the votes I can get . . .

Thanks again for all of your support!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Printed Silk Twill

Does this fabric remind anyone else of a man’s necktie?  The silk twill was one of those cuts from Fashion Fabrics Club that was nothing like what I expected.  But the price was incredibly good, and so I tucked it away.  

Butterick 5707, Retro 1958

And when I saw this pattern in the new Butterick catalogue, I immediately thought of the yardage – that must mean something, right?

So here is yet another vintage reproduction from Butterick. 

And if I was not obsessed with finishing off every seam with my Hug Snug rayon seam binding, this dress would have been a super quick and easy project.  I am especially proud of matching the pattern on the center back seam.   In fact, figuring out how to cut a diagonal print for a pattern that says it is "unsuitable for obvious diagonals" is what took the most time!

I like to bind my raw edges after I have sewn the seam so that if the edge stretches it is after that part of the garment has been assembled.  And I have always struggled with the zipper seam because it never crossed my mind to encase the zipper tape itself along with the fabric seam allowance.  This requires the use of a zipper foot, and some care that the dress itself does not get trapped under the needle, but it really works like a charm.

The cutout is not exactly what I expected (for some reason I imagined that the tie must be an extension of the yoke) and the upper bodice edge is not as low as the fashion illustration would suggest, but I love how it turned out, even if I do look like a oversized necktie.

And for a little less than $20 I have a brand new silk dress!

Dress: Made by me, Butterick 5707
Shoes:  Nine West “Zann” in Pewter from 6pm.com
Tights:  Kohls
Pearl Studs:  Kohls
Bracelet:  Meier & Frank
Hair Ornament:  Made by me

P.S.  Voting in the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge ends on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. EST!  And remember, every time you vote you are entered to win a Threads prize package!  Thank you to everyone who is voting for my Emerald Green Gown!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My very first blog award!

I was thrilled to find out that Nabby of This Old Life has bestowed a Duchie Award upon my little blog.  If you are not familiar with Nabby and her fantastic 1930s style wardrobe, you must take a peek – I promise it will make you wish you were living inside a Thin Man movie (if only for the fabulous fashion). 

So here are the rules:
“When you receive a Duchie Award, post on your blog (in any order):
* Five things you love about historical costuming/wearing vintage clothing
* Three (or more) blogs to pass the Duchie Award onto
* A link back to the blog who awarded you the Duchie”

And here are five things I love about wearing vintage (or vintage styled clothing!):

* There is no need to worry about being “in style” or on trend – vintage is so old it is new again.  And even if it is considered passe, I just don't care!

* You will never show up to an event wearing the same outfit as someone else.  I think I am rebelling against the many, many years I spent in a school uniform.  Now that I can make my own clothing decisions, there is no way I am going to choose to dress like everyone else!

* There are so many extra special details found in vintage clothing and vintage patterns.

* Unless you are willing/able to spend $300 or more for a blouse, the quality of ready to wear clothing is seriously lacking these days, in my opinion.  Everything is made to be disposed of in a couple of seasons.  It amazes me that a cotton day dress from 1950 with pinked seams that obviously got quite a bit a wear is still around.  I highly doubt that many of the cotton dresses made today will last 50 or 60 years and still be in wearable condition.  Which begs the question – will vintage clothing even exist in 100 years?

* Color!  One of the reasons I love sewing is that I can choose my own fabrics and color palettes (although finding something that I have pictured in my mind is not always possible and sometimes frustrating).  These days we are at the whim of a few people at the top of the fashion ladder that decide on a palette of two or three colors for a season, and should you wish to purchase a new sweater in any other color, well, good luck with that!  I love discovering old catalogue images from the 1940s and 1950s of fabric swatches in a rainbow of colors, not to mention those beautiful prints and plaids.

I would like to pass this award on to the following blogs:
Amanda Lee is a picture perfect pin-up.  And if you enjoy film noir, you must watch “The Naughty Lady” short with her starring as a Gilda-inspired character.  Love it!

Jen always looks absolutely adorable in her 1950s full skirted frocks and cardis.

Molly sews her own wonderful vintage style dresses and takes incredibly cute photos.

If you are curious about where this award originated, check out American Duchess.

And a great big thank you to Nabby!  My first blog award – this is so very exciting!  I feel absolutely honored.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Colourmart Cashmere

I blame the weather on my recent obsession with knitting.  And it may also have something to do with my impatience to receive A Stitch in Time, Volume 2 in the mail (darn holiday delivery schedule!).  This may be a good thing, because I have finished a couple of projects.

But I felt the need to start something new, so here is my progress on a sweater generously posted by Liz of zilredloh.com from a vintage Stitchcraft magazine.

I have been avoiding the Colourmart yarns I have tucked away because the coned cashmere requires a bit of work to be needle ready.  Using their yarn tends to slow my process down, because I cannot jump right in with my knitting needles.

I know that there are conflicting ideas about how to knit with coned fibers.  Because I am hand-knitting with them, I prefer to have washed, non-oiled, fluffy yarn to work with.  As much as anything, this is to avoid having to make multiple swatches to figure how much shrinkage is going to occur in the finished garment.

Because I do not have a fancy swift, I have figured out a cheap and quick substitute.  I use a binder to wrap my yarn off the cone lengthwise at the ringed end.  Once I have sufficient yardage wrapped, I secure the hank with a few lengths of cotton crochet thread (you could easily use the yarn itself, but I sometimes have a hard time finding the ends once the yarn has fluffed up) and pull the yarn off the binder.  Then it gets a hot bath in some soapy water, rinse and repeat.  I squeeze the excess water out in a towel and then throw wet skeins in the dryer.

It really is amazing how much the yarn blooms.  What starts out as a thin and rough strand becomes a lovely soft bit of cashmere.

And now I must get back to my cup of tea and knitting needles.

P.S.  I could still use everyone’s votes in the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge!  And remember, every time you vote you are entered to win a Threads prize package!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Coffee Bean Day Dress

These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, before the weather got really cold (well, cold for Marin County!).

Vintage Vogue 2876

This is one of those patterns that I initially had some misgivings about.  I had it in my stash for years before finding a suitable fabric, and while constructing the garment, decided that I was not happy with my choice and perhaps the pattern itself.  But I went ahead and finished it anyway. 

Silly me - this dress probably gets the most wear of all of my self-made garments.  It is incredibly comfortable and easy to wear.  Proof positive that first impressions are not always correct!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 2876
Shoes:  Nine West “Jacamou”
Earrings: Kate Spade

P.S.  I am sure everyone is sick of hearing about this from me, but I could still use votes in the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge (voting ends November 30th)!  And remember, every time you vote you are entered to win a Threads prize package!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pink Martini

I finally finished this ensemble!  And guess what – it is another Vintage Vogue – I know, you are super surprised, right? 

Vogue 1136

I purchased the pattern and the fabric years ago – I just never got around to the sewing.  I meant to finish it for the Mahler symphony concert, but decided I did not want to rush my bound buttonholes and all those tucks, so I put it away.  

And instead of working on it over the weekend, I waited until Tuesday and Wednesday evening to finish it just in time for the Pink Martini concert I attended last Thursday. 

The fabric was a lucky find from Fashion Fabrics Club.  For me, the company is hit and miss.  I have found some fantastic yardage, but the colors posted online are often nothing like what shows up at my doorstep – I do not believe it is my monitor because I never have the issue with other online retailers.  They do have some fantastic deals, though, so the less than ideal stuff gets used for wearable muslins or patterns that I am not quite sure about.

This fabric was billed as faille, which it is not!  However, I love the diamond texture created with the net background.  Because I was worried that the net might be a bit itchy, and I knew it would stick to hosiery, I underlined the entire dress by hand with silk thread. 

If you look close, you can see that some of my basting stitches are still visible from the wrong side of the garment – I finished the outfit, but did not have a chance to pull out all of those extra stitches!

And by the way, this group is absolutely fantastic.  I was not familiar with their music, but it is truly phenomenal - if you ever get the opportunity, do yourself a favor and see one of their concerts!  

Dress & Jacket:  Made by me, Vogue 1136
Coat:  Made by me, Simplicity 4403, a review of the pattern may be found on Pattern Review
Shoes:  Metro 7 “Justin”
Earrings:  Marcasite from Macys
Necklace:  Judith Jack
Fishnets:  Hue
Clutch:  Banana Republic

P.S.  Voting for the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge is still open!  I am currently in second place, so thank you for all of your votes – please keep it up!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

“Ombra mai fu . . .”

I thought this dress (originally made for the 2009 Marin Symphony Gala) deserved another night out on the town, and the perfect opportunity presented itself this past Wednesday, when I attended San Francisco Opera’s production of Xerxes.  

I am embarrassed to admit that I am not very familiar with this Handel opera.  Although, lovers of the BBC's “Pride and Prejudice,” me included, will recognize the first aria as Mary’s clumsy attempt to gain recognition for her musical “talent.”  It drives me crazy when I cannot place a musical reference from a film, but this one only took me a few moments.  It is by far, the most recognizable aria of the entire opera.  Who knew a king singing about a tree could become so popular?!

The opera was quite good.  It was extremely campy and over the top, but it worked.  It has been quite a while since I saw a full length opera, and I forgot how melodramatic it can get.  Sing a few bars, head upstage to exit . . . pause, wait for a musical interlude, turn, sing, cross left, sing a bit more . . . and finally exit.  It often feels like the only motivation the characters have to stay on stage is the fact that they are not done singing.  But, of course, it is not about the acting, but the music, which was beautiful.  And the production was visually stunning – look at that set!

SF Opera's 2011 production of Xerxes

And guess what the lead soprano was wearing?  

Lisette Oropesa as Romilda in SF Opera's 2011 production of Xerxes

I promise I did not do this on purpose, but I was wearing a 1940s version of Romilda’s ensemble!  Blue, long-sleeved, full length gown with peplum – check!  I must admit I am very jealous about the yardage on those skirts and the petticoats.  How wonderful to flounce around on stage with yard upon yard of fabric.  I love when they drop to the ground and the skirt billows out around them in a picture perfect tableau.  Am I the only one who wants to work in an opera costume shop?  The wigs, the costumes, and all that beautiful fabric to play with.

My pattern was purchased from Eva Dress.  It is a reproduction of Vogue 6111, originally designed in 1947.  And look at the price - I know, I know, inflation changes things, but don't you wish you could go back in time with some of today's currency and buy up ten pairs of incredible 1940s shoes priced at 4 or 5 dollars?  And stacks and stacks of Vogue Couturier patterns, and fabric yardage . . .  

Image from Vintage Pattern Wikia

You may recognize the fabric – I had enough left over for a skirt (which gets a lot more wear then this dress!).  I absolutely love when I can squeeze two projects out of one length of fabric!  

The only thing that I was not happy with was the fabric knot that holds the neckline together.  The rayon jacquard is quite thick, and the knot looked a bit awkward.  So, I decided to do a little surgery.  Tuesday evening, I took a seam ripper to the knotted section and cut out as much excess as possible and folded the cross sections into themselves - dangerous, yes, but everything turned out for the best.  More information about the construction may be found over at Pattern Review.

Because the buttons are pronged rhinestones (from Britex), I use small squares of tissue to cover them while hanging in the closet to keep them from snagging on other garments.  And back in the closet she goes . . .

Dress:  Made by me, Eva Dress 6111
Coat: Banana Republic
Shoes:  Seychelles “Little Owl” in Navy Suede
Earrings:  Made by me (buttons from Britex with earring posts attached)
Envelope Clutch:  Made by me, Envelope Bag, free pattern from lionbrand.com
Fishnets:  Marshalls

P.S.  And I would like to remind everyone that you can vote every day until November 30th for the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge - my Emerald Green Gown is one of ten finalists!  If you previously voted, it will only take a few clicks of your mouse!  Thanks for voting!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I am this week’s BurdaStyle Featured Member!

It has been a crazy week.  Not only am I a finalist in the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge (please vote if you are willing and able!), I am also the featured member on the BurdaStyle website this week!

You can read my interview here.  And I would like to say a big thank you to BurdaStyle for the opportunity!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I am a finalist in the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge!

The finalists for the Threads Ultimate Sewing Challenge were just announced, and my Emerald Green Gown made it in the top 10! 

Voting ends November 30th

And I could use a bit of help to win the fabulous sewing machine that is up for grabs - I really could use it – my poor little White has been plugging away for over 10 years!

Voting runs until November 30th.  It is one of those contests that allow you to vote every day, so I apologize in advance, because I am going to keep reminding everyone to vote.  There are some wonerful entires, so the competition will be stiff! 
There is something in this for you – by voting in the sweepstakes you will be entered to win a Threads prize package worth over $100.  And if that does not interest you, I would still appreciate the votes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

1940s Cocktail Dress in Blue

I am quite sure that I will be sick and tired of the cold weather soon enough, but for now, it is an excuse to pull out all of the dresses that have been patiently waiting for the temperature to drop!

I sewed this dress using a reproduction pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library (the original pattern was Hollywood 1449).  I highly recommend the company as a wonderful resource for vintage reproduction patterns.  The patterns are printed on sturdy bond paper, and seam allowances are clearly marked, as are all notches and darts necessary to construct the garment.  So there are no more excuses for anyone that might be overwhelmed by the thought of an unprinted vintage pattern – VPLL has done the work for you.  More information about the actual construction may be found over at Pattern Review.

There are so many lovely little details to be found in this pattern.  I have plans to make the peplum version in a bright colored print one of these days, but the short sleeve version is also calling out to me!  Oh, whatever shall I do?  Perhaps I should stop daydreaming and finish the jacket that is currently in pieces, waiting for a few bound buttonholes.

I have so many visions of fantastic frocks (who needs sugar plum faeries when you have velvet and lace?!), but not enough time to sew them. 

Dress: Made by me, VPLL F1149.
Hair Ornament:  Made by me.
Earrings:  Antique fan earrings from Shadows
Shoes:  Seychelles “Little Owl” in Navy Suede
Fishnets:  Mervyns

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Vintage Reproductions from Butterick!

There are not one, not two, but three new vintage reproductions in the Butterick Winter/Holiday 2011 collection.  How very exciting! 

So let’s take a look, shall we . . .

Butterick 5708

I am a bit unsure how the fit will work with this one when there are so many shoulder tie options, but I love the look.  Maybe some boning added along the side seams?  And maybe a bit of interfacing on the lower bodice pieces?

Butterick 5716

The swing jacket is super cute, but I have a couple of coats planned for this season and I must not let this distract me.

Butterick 5707

My favorite is this lovely shift.  How fabulous is the cutout and bow tie.  Love it!

My only gripe is that I would like to see more complex vintage styles reproduced.  When will Vogue bring back all of the Couturier designs?

I cannot wait until the next sale at JoAnn Fabrics.  And I will have to go through the stash to find the perfect fabric for 5707.

And, of course, there are quite a few new contemporary patterns for those of us not completely obsessed with the past.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Film Noir Vixen

I attended the Marin Symphony’s Mahler program this Tuesday.  Guess what that means . . . time to play dress up!  

After a couple of hours attempting to finish Vogue 1136 Monday evening, I took a deep breath and realized that I have a closet full of clothes that are suitable for an evening at the symphony.  Not to mention, I enjoy the sewing process, and rushing through something when it is not absolutely necessary is just silly!  Instead of doing a shoddy job, I put the pins and fabric away and looked in the closet. 

This suit is one of the first vintage reproductions I ever attempted, and certainly the first structured suit I ever sewed.  The fabric is from the upholstery section at JoAnn Fabrics and is therefore quite stiff and heavy.  There are a few fitting issues.  The bound buttonholes are a bit embarrassing.  And I probably should have padded out or used an interfacing with more body for the jacket hips – I may not have used any interfacing at all – bad, bad seamstress.  I did manage to match stripes at the shoulders, though.  

I actually love this suit because it is a clear representation of how far my sewing has come in six years.  (I know that I finished the suit in 2005 because I am a complete dork and keep a diary of pattern numbers, start and finish dates, along with swatches and notations of any alterations made for all the sewing and knitting I do.) 

At work, someone told me that I remind him of a film noir character!  Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwick, and Lana Turner, oh my!  I will definitely take that as a compliment.   It is so much better than the response I got from my boss, D: “what are you wearing?”  After ten years, he certainly knows what to expect with regards to my wardrobe, so I have to assume he is doing it just to irritate me.

And yes, the Symphony was fantastic!

Suit:  Made by me, Vintage Vogue 2339, Original 1948 Design.
Fishnets: Simply Vera by Vera Wang for Kohls.
Hat:  Made by me.
Shoes:  Via Spiga “Unit” in Black Suede.
Necklace:  Made by me.
Ring:  My grandfather’s high school ring.
Earrings: Gift.