Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Victorian Aesthetic

Last week I attended The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.  

The event closes on June 17th, and if you are in the area, I would highly recommend stopping by – it will absolutely be worth your time.  I know that the Gaultier event over at the de Young has been getting all of the attention, but this exhibit is truly spectacular.

As I have mentioned before, I was completely obsessed with the Pre-Raphaelites in high school.  But I did not realize the full extent of the Aesthetic Movement.  It is not all loose flowing robes, Titian hair, and knights in shining armor.  

Whistler, Tissot, Morris – they are all a part of the Victorian Avant Garde, and a part of this exhibit.

I had plans to sew up a long, romantic looking dress for the occasion, but I got lazy and the cut fabric is folded and sitting in a pile in the sewing room (bad, bad girl).  This dress would certainly have fit the mood of the exhibition, but for some reason, I decided against it. 

Instead, this turquoise suit (you guessed it, a Vintage Vogue Reproduction, originally printed in 1949) came out to play for a day at the museum.

The main portion of the exhibit is downstairs, but upstairs are some exquisite antique gowns and costumes along with an ode to Oscar Wilde.  In a glass case is the most exquisite tea gown I have ever had the privilege to look at.  Hmm . . . I wonder if I could get away with a Victorian gown complete with train at the office?  

I absolutely adored my day at a museum.

One afternoon was not nearly enough to fully appreciate this collection, but it is a start . . .

Suit:  Made by me, Vogue 2476
Hat:  Made by me, Vogue 8052
Shoes:  Franco Sarto
Necklace:  Banana Republic
Brooch:  Gift
Earrings:  Kohls
Fishnets:  Simply Vera

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Announcing the Winner of Giveaway Day

Thank you to everyone for all of your wonderful comments!  I loved reading them all.

And so, without further ado, the winner (courtesy of random.org) is:

This would be great as I'm self taught and could use the video instruction.

Congratulations Tia!  Please contact me at lauramae.p.s[at]gmail[dot]com with your address so I can send you your goodies!

In response to the question of what you feel needs the most work to improve your overall sewing experience, the majority of you said EVERYTHING!!  I think everyone is being a little hard on themselves (or perhaps everyone is obsessed with being the complete renaissance sewer who can do anything and everything with great skill!).

Following closely behind was Fitting/Tailoring and Zippers.

Why are we all so afraid of zippers?!  I believe it must be some sort of conspiracy.  Someone is whispering in our ears that they should be difficult, and we believe them.  Well I say we buck that trend.  After all, a zipper is just a little doohickey that gets added to a plain old seam so we can open and close the darn thing.

So I say we take Carole’s advice and build confidence in our skills so those silly zippers do not defeat us!

Friday, May 25, 2012

She’s a Clown, that Sally Brown!

I recently heard a crazy statistic:  the average person wears 20% of their clothing 80% of the time.  Now, I have no idea how accurate that may or may not be, but I can definitely say that if it is not visible when I slide open that closet door, chances are I am not going to put it on.

Where, oh where, can my walk-in closet be!?!

In an effort to avoid becoming a mere statistic, I reached way back in the depths of the closet and found yet another polka dot friend. 

I honestly had no idea just how many polka dot pieces I have.  As I dig further and further back in the closet, I keep finding more.

I may soon need an intervention.  Does anyone want to go in for a group rate?  I just know there are quite a few of you out there with the same addiction!

And I know exactly when my obsession began.  I blame my role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  Living in Sally Brown’s shoes for a few hours every day for a couple of months was enough to get me hooked, and years later, my passion for polka dots is still going strong.

Sally is a bit of a brat, but she loves her arts and crafts! 
That coat-hanger sculpture is A+!

This was one of those dresses that started with the fabric.  

I had avoided this particular Vintage Vogue reproduction because it did not seem like anything special.  But the right fabric can change all of that.  And a summer dress with matching bolero jacket - well, it just doesn't get much better than that! 

I found the dotted cotton in the quilting section at JoAnns and realized that it was way too sheer to wear as a dress without another layer.  So I underlined the whole thing in a peachy colored cotton which worked beautifully.  It is my perfect Spring frock.  

I am off to search for more forgotten polka dots.  And I would suggest that everyone shop their closets for some hidden treasures this week - it really is a lot of fun!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 2267
Necklace:  Made by me
Earrings:  Macys
Shoes:  Nine West

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What a Fantastic Surprise!

Last year I received a bunch of 1980s and 90s patterns, some of which I was quite certain would never get any use, simply because they were made for men.

So the only thing to do was ask Mr. Lappin if he would be willing to take them off my hands.

[In fact, this was merely a ploy to get the man’s address, and he played right into my trap.  Ha-ha!  If I ever happen to be in New York, you better believe I will be stalking the heck out of Peter, Michael, Willy, and Freddy.]

Well, not only did he agree to save the patterns from the garbage bin, but he offered to send me a pattern of my own. 

At first I was a bit unsure how to respond.  After all, Cathy has threatened to send moth larvae to destroy my creative spirit.  The nerve! 

The infamous Cathy Lane
Don’t let that sweet smile fool you – she can be vicious!

Well, I am now in possession of the very fabric that was used to create Cathy’s Strapless Cocktail Dress.  Just you wait, Miss Lady!

But in the end, how could I resist a pattern from Peter?!  Or two, or three . . .

This Saturday I opened my mail slot to find a key.  Now, this might seem boring to some people, but this is, in fact, a very exciting thing to find.  In my building, it means that you have an article of mail that is too large to fit into the mailbox!

Inside the box were three fabulous patterns, one of which may just be the most fabulous vintage pattern I have ever seen.  Isn't she beautiful!! 

And I love these vintage cards of covered button forms.  How do you feel about pulling these cards apart for use?  I think they may be too cute to break up the set.

I also received a Barbara Cook CD (one of my dream theatre roles is Amalia in She Loves Me!) and several Deanna Durbin DVDs.

Such riches!

So thank you, Peter, for the lovely treats.  At this rate, none of those unfinished projects stand a chance – too many brilliant new distractions keep showing up!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giveaway Day!

***UPDATE:  The winner of the Giveaway has been announced here.  Thank you to everyone who commented!***

I am long overdue for a giveaway here at Lilacs & Lace.  

I was thrilled to hit the 100 follower mark and meant to celebrate, and that number somehow doubled while I was busy in the sewing room!  Thank you, everyone, for your amazing support and encouragement.  I am so thrilled to be a part of this incredible community - thank you for making me feel so welcome.

As you may be aware, today is Giveaway Day over at Sew, Mama, Sew! and I thought it would be fun to join in the festivities.

Up for grabs is a pair of Teach Yourself to Sew DVDs, Seasons 1 & 2.  And to give you a project to work on once you have mastered all of those fabulous techniques, I will include this lovely summer frock by Simplicity (the pattern is a size 6-14 and is in factory folds).

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below.  For fun, you might tell me a technique you feel still needs a bit more work before you become a master seamstress/sewer/person who sews (but this is not a requirement of the giveaway). 

Everyone is free to enter!  The giveaway will close May 25 at 5 p.m. PST.

That’s it!

And be sure to check out all of the other giveaways going on this week over at Sew, Mama, Sew!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Leaf-Patterned Lace

Knitting while the weather is warming up seems a bit silly, but I do love my cotton sweaters.

And I absolutely adore A Stitch in Time.  Wouldn’t it be fun to knit and crochet my way through the entire collection?  Now that there are two volumes, it would probably take the rest of my life, but it just might be worth the effort.  And I am not sure I would ever get any use out of a knitted swimsuit, but you never know . .  .

For me, the scariest part of knitting sweaters is that it takes hour upon hour, and there is no real way of knowing if all that work is going to turn out to be wearable.  If the darn thing does not fit properly, there is not a whole lot to be done.  There is no trimming down of seam allowances with a knit sweater.

This is "Such a Debonair Little Jumper."  Even the names are more interesting with vintage patterns.

I cannot for the life of me read lace patterns when they are typed out.  I need a diagram with symbols or I inevitably lose my place and get extremely frustrated.  To save a lot of tears, I have started making my own diagrams – and it works brilliantly.

My yarn choice this time around was a bit too thick for the pattern, so instead of ending up with negative ease, it is on the large side.  And the sleeves ended up being a bit longer than I would like.  I may try my hand at shrinking the cotton, or I may chicken out and leave it as-is.

The skirt was another attempt to make more wearable items for my wardrobe.  That is not to say I am going to stop making my fancy frocks.  But on those lazy days, it is nice to have an easy fitting skirt to throw on.

I already made this particular skirt in wool using Vogue 2885, and decided that this floral fabric (another fantastic grab from the Sew Weekly Swap) would be perfect for a summer version.  I am unsure of the fabric content.  It is one of those mystery fibers and I cannot decide what the heck it is made of.  I was worried that it was polyester, but after wearing it all day, with no static cling whatsoever, I think it must be some sort of rayon/acetate blend?!

I may never know what it is made of, but I can say that it is yet another successful garment made from swapped materials.  How fun is that?!

Skirt:  Made by me, Vogue 2885
Brooch:  Gift
Earrings:  Macys
Shoes:  Colin Stuart for Victoria’s Secret

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What the heck is a Sewer Band?

I have to laugh at myself.  I was heading up the highway this evening when I happened to notice one of those electronic billboards that I pass everyday on my way home from the office.  “The Sewer Band” will be performing tonight at the Marin Civic Center.  

A band of sewers – well, that sounds fantastic – may I join the group?  Is it some sort of updated quilting bee that incorporates an audience?  Are a bunch of tailors and seamstresses performing in a band?  Or do they use a needle and thread while performing?  Perhaps singers somehow incorporate the use of old Singer treadle machines?

Clearly, it was the end of the day and I was a bit befuddled, to say the least.  

And then it hit me . . . today I was the clueless character in a farce who can see what is in front of her, but the actual meaning passes right on by without making any sort of impression.  

The reality is that the members of this particular band live in the same sanitary/sewer district, which is where the name comes from.    

In all honesty, I am thrilled that my mind did not immediately go to the gutter/sewer.  I wonder what percentage of the population sees the word “sewer” and thinks of an individual who sews?  I would wager, not a very high percentage.  

Isn’t the English language fun?!  

With all of the recent discussions about words to describe those of us who sew, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that the context was not immediately apparent to me.

Has anyone else had a moment in which it became abundantly clear that you are living in a world according to creativity rather than reality?  

Things could be a whole lot worse, right?!

Although, I take Tino out for a walk and am thinking about how to insert the lining in the dress sitting in pieces on my sewing table.  You know those people who may soon get ticketed for texting while walking?  Well, I may be the first person to be arrested for "conceptual sewing while walking."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

“Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do!”

I finished this outfit back in 2009. 

Pink polka dots – it just does not get any better than that!

The first time I wore the dress was to an evening at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre.  I cannot remember the specific performance; what I do remember is the crazy outspoken person on the street who kept calling out “Lucy - hey, Lucy.”  You've just got to love the streets of San Francisco.  

It took me a few moments to realize that she was talking to me.  The full-skirted polka dot outfit reminded her of Lucille Ball - at least, I assume that is what she meant.

I had completely forgotten about the incident until I showed up at work last week in the dress.  Someone told me that I looked like I belonged in an I Love Lucy episode.  Flashback to that moment on the streets of San Francisco . . . 

I always think of Lucy in blue and white polka dots, but the comparison is fun, just the same.

This is also the outfit that is responsible for my favorite petticoat.  

Taking into account the full-skirted dresses in my wardrobe, I decided that a bright pink crinoline would get quite a bit of wear, so I might as well make myself one.  

Turns out, that pink puff is the most worn item I have ever made.  Who knew?!  In a perfect world, I would have one in every color, but my closet would not appreciate the bulky additions.

Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 5033
Bolero:  Made by me, Simplicity 1042
Crinoline:  Made by me
Shoes:  Nine West
Hat:  Vintage
Gloves:  Vintage
Earrings:  Macys