Saturday, March 31, 2012

Same Tune, Different Lyrics

I generally come up with an idea of how to style a dress as I am sewing it together.  Makes sense, right? – spend hour after hour with some fabric, and thoughts of shoes and jewelry are bound to flash across my mind.

Okay, maybe not the best place to take pictures – those seagulls can be DANGEROUS!

The only problem is, I have a bad habit of getting stuck with that original idea.  And each time I come across the dress hanging in the closet, I tend to repeat that same look.  Does anyone else have this issue?

So, with a last minute opportunity to attend a Marin Symphony concert, there was no time to sew a new frock, but plenty of time to rework this red dress.

And it was the perfect chance to wear my thrifted black bead belt – this one has a fun pattern that is a nice contrast to the red satin.  Since the black belt broke up all that red, I decided to keep all my accessories red.

The hat was made years ago from a pattern I found on the internet by Ruby Carnahan.  Now I cannot find the site, which is a shame, because what I remember is wonderful vintage instructions for making numerous hats including all of the necessary pattern pieces.  It looks like there is a spiral bound book for sale on amazon and ebay, so perhaps someone decided to make money off of the information instead of sharing it on the internet.  Darn it!

Dress:  Made by me, VPLL 1949 Ladies Dress
Belt:  Thrift Store
Shoes:  Colin Stuart for Victoria’s Secret
Hat:  Made by me
Earrings:  Givenchy
Ring:  Grandmother
Fishnets:  Simply Vera
Clutch:  Banana Republic

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Last Chance to Vote in the Eva Dress Pattern Contest

If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend checking out all of the Eva Dress Contest entries.  There are some fabulous projects, including quite a few formal gowns that have me itching to sew a full length gown!

My peplumed skirt entry may be found here.  Is "peplumed" really a word!?  Oh well, it sounds better than "a skirt with a peplum," right?  

Voting closes Monday EST at 11:59 p.m. - I would really appreciate your vote!  

And thank you for your support!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Fabulous Rita Hayworth

The person who came up with this editing idea is brilliant!   If you love Rita Hayworth and the Bee Gees, you absolutely must watch this video.  It’s Gilda meets Studio 54 - a strange combination, yes, but it works!  She already had the platform shoes, so it really was only a matter of time . . .

And I am sure it comes as no surprise that I covet each and every outfit.  Hollywood musicals from the 1940s are truly spectacular!  Those costume designers really knew what they were doing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Versatile Blogger

Julie of The Beauty of a Stitch has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award – thank you so very much, Julie! 

Part of the fun includes sharing seven things about myself, so here it goes:

1.  I am a classically trained singer.
2.  I was lucky enough to take a costume design course in college and work in the theatre department – I learned SO MUCH about clothing construction! – thank you Kristine Kearney!!  Best class EVER!
3.  To pay the rent, I work for family lawyers.  And before you ask, I have absolutely no ambitions to become a lawyer – a three month job opportunity just turned into something that has become rather permanent.  Valentino is my little assistant and sleeps under my desk all day (when he isn't begging treats).

Someone is sleeping on the job!

4.  I have fainted on three separate occasions:  after being kicked in the shin (lousy P.E. class did not have shin guards available but made us play soccer anyway); after slipping down stairs and landing on my tailbone at a Jane Austen tea party (seriously! someone get the smelling salts!); and while listening to a description of brain surgery head wounds (don’t ask!).  The fun part is that immediately prior to blacking out, I lose my color vision and see in black and white for a few seconds – at least I have some warning!    
5.  Speaking of sports – I played varsity basketball in high school (this really is nothing to brag about, however, because the entire school had less than 150 students!)
6.  After a class trip to Yosemite, I decided I wanted to be a ranger.  I  am not sure exactly when the tide turned, but I may have been the first ranger to wear high heeled hiking boots and dresses on the trail!   
7.  After reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (required reading for a history course), I went vegetarian and have never looked back.

And to continue the love, here are my nominees for their very own Versatile Blogger Awards . . .

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Braided Cables & Bows

With the stormy weather this past week, my knitting needles have been very busy.  In fact, I am basically done with this Tri-Cable Stitch Jumper from A Stitch in Time, Volume 2.  The only thing left to do is, in my opinion, the most challenging - finding suitable buttons!  Hopefully the notion gods will be with me this week and I will be able to find something fantastic.  If not, I will make my own dorset buttons.

And while I hate to leave a project unfinished when I am almost at the end, I could not resist casting on another sweater.  This one is from Volume 1 of A Stitch in Time.  I am using cotton, so I will have plenty of time to wear it this year (hopefully!).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Peplum Obsession

Everyone is probably sick to death of hearing me extol the virtues of the peplum, so I won’t.  Instead, I will tell you how much I adore this pattern.

Eva Dress 6111

This skirt is my third version of this 1945 pattern reproduction from Eva Dress.  There are not very many patterns that I love enough to use twice, let alone three times, so you can be sure I am a fan of this one!

The wool was leftover from this suit.  I had less than a full yard left, plus randomly shaped bits from the original suit cutting layout.  Now, a pencil skirt would be easy enough to squeeze out of the small amount of fabric, but I already have one from the first project, and the fabric weight is really not suitable for anything but a skirt or a pair of pants. 

Then I remembered that I have been meaning to make this Eva Dress pattern into a peplumed skirt for over a year.  And one of my sewing resolutions for the year is to make more separates, so it was just perfect!

It was necessary to shorten the peplum, but I may have done that anyway for a more contemporary look (and yes, I know this is not what most people would think of as a modern look!)  My original idea was to stick the zipper at the center back (instead of the original side zipper) and then brilliantly cover that seam with a second little mini peplum that would snap in place.  Well, my leftover fabric pieces were dwindling down to nothing, and the look was going to require one of those half-circle flounce pieces that always takes a great deal more fabric than I think it will.  I decided to go ahead and finish the skirt without the extra piece and see if I could live with the effect.  And I really like it!

Because of my fabric choice, a lining was necessary.  Thankfully I had some blue bemberg laying around.  I made a duplicate skirt, and dropped it inside the wool, wrong sides together.

For the waistband, I cut out a rectangle of wool, backed it with some cotton, cut another of rayon, stitched them together at the top, under-stitched the seam allowance to the lining and stitched that to the skirt.

My hem allowances may be the smallest I have ever used, but I do like the length of the skirt, so perhaps it was meant to be.

And, of course, my wool edges are finished with rayon seam binding (french-seams for the the lining).

I entered this project in the 2012 Eva Dress Pattern Contest which is currently running.  I would appreciate your votes!  And make sure to check out all of the entries – there are some fabulous finished projects in four different categories to whet the creative appetite.  I know I feel motivated to get back to my sewing machine!

Skirt:  Made by me, Eva Dress 6111
Blouse:  Marshalls
Shoes:  Miz Mooz “Lacey” in Blue
Fishnets:  Hue
Earrings: 1928
Ring:  Macys

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Macaroon Medley

Needing a quick and easy project to tackle, I decided to take a stab at the Vintage-Inspired Modern Style Design Challenge currently running over at Burda Style

With only a week left, the quickest option was the downloadable patterns.  Of the four choices, I love the blouse and skirt, and, in the end, decided on the skirt.

During a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to pick up the newest Simplicity patterns, I decided to wander the fabric aisles to see if I could find something fun.

I cannot believe I found this at JoAnn Fabrics!  I generally run past the polyester horror that is the fabric section to pick up my zippers/thread/sale patterns.  There was an adorable dark blue sheer with glitter bows  but unfortunately it was 100% polyester so I ran away as fast as I could, which took me to the linen section.  And there was my beautiful pink rayon/linen blend.

It is a little hard to tell from the photos, but this fabric is embroidered with little bows.  Someday, my age is going to prevent me from wearing cutesy clothing, so I am determined to get in as much kitsch as I can, while I can.  Oh, who am I kidding - I will probably turn in to one of those crazy old ladies with bows in my hair!

I knew I wanted contrasting pockets, so I picked up a small amount of green and white seersucker.  After digging around my quilting cotton stash, I found a nice yellow for my pockets.  

The colors remind me of these beautiful colored macaroons.

Or some beautiful Spring flowers!

It may be silly, but I avoid projects that do not come with pattern tissue.  This skirt is not difficult (as designed, it is a bunch of rectangles, and the instructions fit on a single page), but a lack of pattern pieces stops me in my tracks. 

One-Seam Skirt

For my chosen “One-Seam Skirt” the pattern suggests 60” wide fabric, however, my fabric was only 50” wide, and the embroidery only covered 42”.  

I wanted an easy fitting skirt, so I cut two lengths, cut one of them in half for a center back seam and zipper opening, and then began to pleat the waistline down to size.  

Once the pleats were in place, I also ran a gathering stitch along the waist edge to further pull the waist in.

To stabilize my zipper, I invisibly-stitched a strip of silk organza along the opening edges.  It really does make a difference!  I used a lapped insertion, and hand sewed the zipper onto the skirt.

Instead of a straight waistband, I used a shaped design.  It turned out a bit large, but it is an easy to wear skirt, so I will leave it as is.

And, of course, my raw edges are bound with rayon seam binding for the perfect vintage finish!

The most fun part was making the pockets.  

I had quite a few ideas, and really do like the square pocket look on the original sketch, but with my fabric choice, I though a rounded pocket was more appropriate – especially because I wanted to add buttons and bows to match back to the pink fabric. 

This really was a fun project, and has made me realize I should not fear the pattern-less sewing project!

Blouse:  Odille “Picture Frame Blouse” from Anthropologie
Skirt:  Made by me, Indygo Junction downloadable “One Seam Skirt”
Brooch:  Monet from Macys
Shoes:  Alfani “Daphna” in Pale Yellow
Fishnets:  Simply Vera from Kohls

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bubblegum Pink

My boss and I have frequent arguments discussions about the definition of Art.  He believes that a painted piece of wood is Art, and I disagree.  This is the same person who frequents museums on a very regular basis, but will avoid the Balenciaga and Yves St. Laurent exhibits right down the hall because he can’t be bothered.  Well, I certainly think that a gown that required hundreds and hundreds of hours of work by skilled artisans deserves of spot in a museum (and deserves to be worn as well!). 

So what makes a piece of Art worthy of a museum?

Webster defines Art as “the quality, production, expression, or realm of what is beautiful or of more than ordinary significance.”  How exactly did a splash of paint or some kind of ink scrawl become classified as “Art” and why are some people willing to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for something that looks like a small child could easily create and seems, to me, to be the definition of ordinary?

"Think Pink" John McCracken, 1967

So when my boss first mentioned an artist that painted planks of wood and had a successful career, I was skeptical, and then rather infuriated.  If this is art, then every house painter out there deserves to be in a museum, right?  How is his creation any more special than a stick that a small child took a paint brush to?

John McCracken

As you may have guessed, I am not a huge fan of modern art.  What I find amusing is that the clothing and silhouettes I gravitate toward were most likely inspired by this very work.  But hey, at least I can see the hypocrisy, right?

I adore Elsa Schiaparelli, but have a hard time with Salvador Dali – ridiculous, I know, but since when does personal taste follow any sort of logic?! 

That being said, I can certainly appreciate the skill involved in some of the art created in the last century.  And I love when clothing designers like Yves St. Laurent are inspired by a flat canvas created by Mondrian and make a woman’s curved shape into a canvas of shape, color, and blank space.  Brilliant!

With my recent introduction to John McCracken (he of the painted plank) fresh in my mind, I came across the Sew Weekly’s “Inspired by Art”  Challenge.  I happened to have a bright pink wool/silk blend fabric that has been calling out to me.  

Add to that a recent ebay purchase of this pattern, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make up.

This dress is really very simple in construction.  The thing that makes it interesting for me it the pleating on the front of the skirt and, of course, the bow!

Kimono sleeves are fabulous, but I am always nervous clipping the seams.  I came across a little trick in the instructions for this dress years ago and have found it really helps:  topstitching on either side of the curved seam for a couple of inches directly over where you have clipped will keep those cuts from migrating into and beyond the seam.  I generally machine stitch this technique, but this time around I decided to hand back-stitch for added control.

Speaking of hand stitching, I am really becoming obsessed with lapped zippers.  And although the fabric might not have needed it, I added a strip of organza to stabilize the zipper – I think it also helps keep the seam from pulling the loose weave open during wear. 

Of course, halfway through the project I was convinced that the fabric was NOT working for the silhouette.  Imagine the body of silk organza with the added thickness of wool.  It really is fantastic stuff (and another one of my Fashion Fabrics Club purchases that was an unexpected color – I really wonder who is taking those photos!) but I was afraid that I was going to look like giant pink balloon.  This dress can stand up on its own without a dress form or body to hold it up!

Now that the dress is complete, it really looks more Mad Men than plank to me, and perhaps that is a good thing.  Joan, in particular, can’t seem to get enough of bright pink.  And if it’s good enough for her, it's certainly good enough for me!

Enough of my rant - and perhaps that is the true purpose of Art - to spark discussion and thought.  

Dress: Made by me, Simplicity 1997
Coat:  Benard Holtzman
Shoes:  Nine West “Vishnu”
Belt:  Thrifted
Fishnets:  Ralph Lauren
Earrings:  Vintage
Ring: Macys