Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pretty Peplums

With all the recent talk of peplums, I was inspired to pull this dress out of the closet.

It is my wearable muslin of this formal dress.  I fell in love with the pattern on the Eva Dress website, and decided I just had to have my own. 

The original instructions were missing, so it was also an easy way to test out any construction issues that I might have.

Turns out, my "muslin" is one of my favorite dresses.

I normally wear this dress in the early Fall, and have no need of a coat.  But I love the way this coat works with the dress.  Happy coincidence!

Dress:  Made by me, Eva Dress 6111
Shoes:  Colin Stuart for Victoria’s Secret
Coat:  Banana Republic
Earrings:  Kate Spade

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mad for Mad Men, Not the Knock-Offs

Most of the world is aware of the vintage clothing goodness that is Mad Men (not to mention the great acting, fantastic writing, blah, blah, blah).  I am so very envious of everyone who works with/is clothed by Janie Bryant – can you imagine what that costume shop looks like?!  I believe I might actually faint at the sight of it.  Sarah Jessica Parker's Vogue Closet foray has nothing on racks and racks of vintage confections!

What I am not fond of is the attack of the 1960s knock-offs.

Mad Men for Banana Republic 2012

I have quite a few Banana Republic purchases in my closet from years past, and the quality is decent.  The sales they had a few years ago were just too good to miss – a merino cardigan sweater for under $10?!  70-80% off of the original price?!  I am terrified to think about how that is possible – where exactly can one find merino wool that cheap?  And why on earth are the original prices so high if things go on sale almost as soon as they are put out on the floor?  I have no actual evidence that The Gap Corporation uses unfair labor practices, but as someone who makes her own clothes, I just cannot imagine the person sewing those seams is being paid enough.  And that is a whole other discussion for another day . . .

Mad Men for Banana Republic 2011

Back to my original point:  I was somewhat disappointed in last year’s Mad Men inspired line.

Mad Men for Banana Republic 2012

The length of the dresses and skirts are off, and the garments look too mass produced (I know, I know, that’s because they ARE mass produced for a contemporary consumer).  The problem for me is that the very things that make vintage so special (all of the wonderful little details like welt pockets, contrasting bound buttonholes, pleats and tucks galore, etc.) are the very things missing from the collection.  And, to be honest, I am not looking for vintage-inspired, I am looking for the real thing, so I am probably not their ideal shopper.

Mad Men for Banana Republic 2012

I do love the color palette that Janie (we are on a first name basis, you know) has chosen for this year’s collection.  In fact, I was just working on a bright pink dress this weekend!  Still, they are somehow not quite right – it just looks like classic Banana Republic.

Mad Men for Banana Republic 2012

And guess who else has jumped on the bandwagon?  Estée Lauder

Mad Men for Estée Lauder

Now, I do love that dress!  The neckline, the three darts radiating out from the center waist, the cap sleeves, the single brooch as embellishment.  Now that is beautiful. 

So for the time being, I will stick with my vintage patterns. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Night Extravaganza

I don’t attend many movies throughout the year, but an evening full of unforgettable gowns is just too fantastic to miss.  Just don’t judge me for sitting on the couch in my schmata with a cuddly Chihuahua on my lap – how glamorous is that!

Here are a few of my favorite looks - and I will do my best to keep the snarky comments to a minimum.

Tina Fey was stunning in Carolina Herrera.  I love, love, LOVE this dress!  Not surprising, really, since it has a peplum.  On the red carpet she was one of my favorites.  However, on stage the gown did not read as well.

Michelle Williams was very glam in Louis Vuitton.  I am not sure I like the contrasting back piece, but from the front it was stunning.  Did anyone actually get to see the back detail?  And, lookie here, it also had a peplum.  The addition of the brooch at the waistline was pure genius. 

Colin Firth’s wife, Livia, was lovely (and it looks like no vintage was harmed in the creation of her gown this year, and we do appreciate it!).  Her purse was perfect, not to mention her arm candy!  The man just keeps getting more and more adorable.  Mr. Darcy, I am in love with you!

Angelina’s Atelier Versace gown was stunning – but why does she have to thrust her thigh out of that slit all evening long?  Not very ladylike.  And a great big thank you to that writer for mocking her on stage.  Yes, Angelina, you look truly ridiculous when you do that – you have the opportunity to wear beautiful gowns again and again and somehow manage to make them look cheap.

Ever since she stole the Oscar from Cate Blanchett, I have taken issue with all things Gweneth Paltrow, but the Tom Ford dress with matching floor-length cape was fantastic.  The outfit was a wonderful update of classic old Hollywood glamour - is that you, Eve Harrington?

There was something I really liked about Jennifer Lopez's Zuhair Murad gown, but up close, those shoulder openings made of mesh were a wrinkly mess.  But from far away, what a stunner!

There is something about Kelly Osbourne’s choice that I love, and something that just does not quite work.  Perhaps it is the purple hair, the pink lips, and the blue sparkles on a red carpet that has me distracted.  But the sleeves, the beadwork, and the sheer insets are really lovely.

But what was with the mustached men with a few days growth on the rest of their face.  Sloppy!  Why bother showing up in a tux if you can’t bother to shave or wash your hair.

One notable exception was Tom Hanks (although he could get rid of the facial hair).  Here is a clear example of what bespoke tailoring can do for a man.  Really, guys, you should wear suits more often!

Did I miss any of your favorites?  

I am sure that I will discover more favorites as photos continue to appear on the internet over the next few days.  And thank you to the stars and their stylists for picking varied and interesting gowns this year.  Overall, I would say it was a good night for fashion!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Vintage Reproductions from Butterick!

Butterick 5748

The Early Summer Butterick Pattern Collection is here, and there are two more vintage beauties just crying out to be made up in some crisp cotton.  Do I have any seersucker in the stash?  I am going to have to check on that  . . .

This one would look absolutely perfect on Joan Holloway, don’t you think?  

Butterick 5747

I am generally drawn to the full-skirted view of a pattern, but the straight skirt looks too perfect with that collar.  LOVE IT!  And I want need that hat.

Oh dear, now there are two more vintage frocks to add to the queue.  And what about all of the others waiting their turn?  I am going to need more time devoted to sewing, that’s all there is to it.

The new Simplicity patterns are also out, and I may have to grab the Cynthia Rowley looks.

And now I must get back to the sewing room, because there is so much to do, so little time!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Anti-Valentine’s Day Red Dress, Part 2

Here is my new red satin dress – perfect for any day excepting February 14th!  I realize that it is silly, but I absolutely refuse to wear red on Valentine’s Day. 

I love this pattern (from The Vintage Pattern Lending Library), and I am sure I will make it up again in a less formal fabric.  

I think that the pattern would make a fabulous skirt, as well.

The peplum looks like a little apron to me.

And the sleeves!  I am so pleased that I managed to squeeze the long sleeves out of my yardage.  I went with a bound buttonhole, with matching covered buttons.

My hat was found at an antique store in Sonora, CA.  It was a very dingy white with a turquoise bow.  It had definitely seen better days, but the wire form was too good to pass up for the price.  

With some leftover crushed velvet, I decided to spruce it up a bit with some ribbon and beads.  This chapeau is one of my favorites, but I believe this is the first time it has made an appearance with its matching coat!  

And I did not notice my matching ensemble until looking at the pictures.  How silly!

Now that I have finished this project, I am getting to know my new Bernina!

Coat:  Made by me, Simplicity 4403
Shoes:  Via Spiga “Unit” in Black Suede
Hat:  Re-Made by me
Gloves:  Borrowed from mom
Earrings:  Vintage
Necklace:  Restrung from two separate necklaces
Fishnets:  Simply Vera

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Anti-Valentine’s Day Red Dress, Part 1

Here is a sneak peek of the project that has been keeping me from my new sewing machine!

This lovely rayon satin fabric was a lucky find at a Bella Notte Linens warehouse sale.  I found a 3 yard piece of the 57” wide fabric, grabbed it, and promptly added it to my immense stash. 

Looking through my closet, there is not a whole lot of red.  There is plenty of burgundy, pink, and rose, but not very much red.  Well, I decided to do something about that. 

The red satin kept nagging at me, and low and behold, I came across this vintage reproduction from The Vintage Pattern Lending Library.  In my mind, they were a match made in heaven.  A couple of years later, I finally got around to purchasing the pattern, and when Mena announced this week’s “Red” challenge, I figured the timing was perfect.

Time to pull out my fabric, give it a wash, and get going on my muslin.  While ironing the freshly washed yardage, I discovered two large patches that had not taken the red dye very well.  Aargh – the long-sleeved version that I had hoped to sew requires more than 3 yards of 52” wide fabric, and I was going to have to avoid two large sections of fabric.  Good thing a challenge only makes me more determined!

For vintage reproductions that are printed on bond paper, I like to trace the pattern onto muslin and mark all symbols in a Sharpie pen.  The paper is extremely durable, but does not drape anything like rayon, so I prefer to work with a fabric pattern.

This time around, I decided to sew up a muslin version of the bodice to check the fit.  (I really did not want to waste any of this fabric!)  I added a bit of length to the bodice, took a skosh out of the sleeve length (next time around I might take a bit more), and was ready to get to the fun stuff.

The pattern instructions include five pages of cutting layouts!  I generally avoid them because I figure I can come up with a more efficient way to save on fabric, and this time was no different.  Although I had to get a bit creative, and I had to cut some of my pieces in a single layer, I managed to avoid the marred sections of fabric.  Hip, hip, hooray!

Once again, my beloved Hug Snug seam binding came in handy.  This fabric likes to fray (as does every fabric choice I seem to make!).  This rayon is more mid-weight than light-weight, so instead of turning under facing edges twice, I used seam binding.  This was especially helpful on the sleeve facing and the lower edge of the peplum. 

Thanks to a tip from a recent Threads Magazine blog post, when inserting my zipper, I placed my pins at an angle rather than horizontal to the edge.  It really does work better!  And I remembered to hand baste a strip of silk organza to the zipper seam for a bit more stability.  (This probably would have helped my blue velvet.)

I was a little unsure how a lapped zipper application would work with a center back zipper, but I am very pleased with the look.  I definitely has a vintage feel.

Like other vintage patterns I have come across, the instructions suggest applying the neckline interfacing (I used a cotton remnant from the stash) directly to the wrong side of the fabric, and then sewing the facing to the bodice pieces, right sides together.  I am not sure that I like this application as much as using an interfaced facing, but I will have to try it with other fabric choices before I abandon it completely.

To help with the vintage silhouette, I made my own shoulder pads out of cotton quilt batting. 

I barely had enough fabric to make a self-fabric belt, and it would not have been the end of the world if it did not work out (at some point I think I would like to wear the dress with a black belt) but I do like to have a matching set!  I used a ruler and some chalk to mark the edges on my fusible interfacing and ironed it to a leftover fabric scrap.  This also makes cutting a straight edge a whole lot easier in a fussy fabric!

And to finish off the belt, I do love Maxant Buckle Kits, and I need to get more!  When working with buckle and button kits, I always fuse interfacing to my fabric so that the metal of the buckle/button form does not show through the fabric weave.  I also find that this cuts down on the amount of fraying while you manipulate the fabric over the forms.  A quick drop of Fray Check at the cut corners also helps to keep things neat and tidy.  Just make sure that it does not permanently discolor your fabric before you use it on any project!

More picture of the finished dress will follow . . .