Friday, June 29, 2012

How do you know when it is time to restock the liquor cabinet?

Or rather, the sewing cabinet!

When I first started sewing, each and every project required a trip to the local JoAnn Fabrics.  A pattern was chosen, then fabric, and a few circles around the perimeter were made to ensure that thread, zippers, buttons, and all necessary notions were procured.

Somewhere along the line, I began buying fabric when it happened to catch my eye.  If it had a crisp hand (and was not extremely expensive) I would usually purchase at least 3 or 4 yards so I would have enough for a full skirted frock.  Remnants would come home with me as well – with no real idea of what they might be used for in the future.

And those cardboard pattern storage boxes - well I have quite a few of them.  I have never counted the actual number of patterns because I am afraid to know the real number.

It was also necessary to purchase a special thread storage box, which was soon filled.

As the years have passed, I no longer buy matching thread for individual projects.  I just assume that I have something that will work back at home.  And when I find nothing, I get really annoyed.  And it is always late at night, or on a weekend when I really do not want to get in the car and drive way out of the way to a fabric store to pick up a single spool of thread.

The same thing is happening with zippers.  Now that I have decided that I prefer a regular zipper to an invisible one, my stash is seriously lacking.  Recently, I made a special trip to the store for a black zipper.  Now that is something that should have been in the stash, don’t you think?!

On my last trip to JoAnn Fabrics which included, you guessed it, a zipper, I found a few random colors marked with clearance stickers.  Of course I grabbed a couple, and I am hopeful that these useful clearance items are a new trend!

How often does everyone restock their sewing room cabinets?

Do you purchase for specific projects, or would you rather have things on hand that can get the job done, even if they are not a perfect match?

I think I am going to have to work on filling in those missing gaps that have cropped up over the years! 

[Images: 24]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Midsummer Sunshine

When I got dressed this morning, I did not realize that today is the longest day of the year and the official start of Summer!

But my subconscious knew what it was doing with this pink floral dress . . .

Midsummer has arrived!  And while I could do without the 80+ degree temperatures, I am thrilled that it is not raining.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Dress:  Made by me, Simplicity 2281
Shoes:  Sacha London
Earrings:  Morning Glory Designs on Etsy
Parasol:  Borrowed from Mom

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Have I Mentioned that “I Love Lucy!”?, Part 2

As soon as I saw this pattern, I fell in love.  The short sleeved version may just be the world’s perfect sun dress.  And I was really hoping that my embroidered polka dots would work.  Without the border design, my fabric was only 45” wide.  Thankfully, it did!

The envelope design seems to indicate that the skirt is rather full and even looks like a crinoline is involved.  However,  the skirt width does not easily accommodate a petticoat or crinoline.   

I am not finding a copyright date on the pattern envelope or instruction sheet.  But a previous owner (I am thinking the original) wrote a few notations on the envelope, including a handy date of “July 52.”  I would assume that it refers to the date of purchase, so the pattern must have been printed prior to July of 1952.  The name “Irene” is also written in pencil, but I am not sure if this is the purchaser, seamstress, or intended recipient of a finished garment.  The pattern was never used, but it feels extra special to know that someone had plans for this particular pattern, even if they never got around to them!

And the pattern description is just wonderful:  “A smart afternoon dress with kimono sleeves and a diagonal front closing from neckline to hem-line.”  I believe that Simplicity is an American company, but the description sounds very British.  Or perhaps I just equate old fashioned wording and clever phrases with Ye Olde England.

This is another Sew Weekly Challenge garment.  This week was all about television shows.  Although the dress was originally meant for Vegas week (as a Rockabilly frock), once I found my buttons, I though it would be perfect for channeling Lucille Ball.

Dressing like Lucy makes me feel like a bit of a goof, so please forgive the ridiculous photos.

I attempted to recreate her hairstyle as well, with limited success.

Actually, I own a big red curly wig that I purchased a few years ago to complete my I Love Lucy Halloween outfit, but it felt like a bit much, seeing as it is not Halloween.

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, Halloween 2009

A chance encounter with a yellow watering can stepped up the silliness to a whole new level.

Now that I have finished the dress, I realize that this design would work quite well as a dressier garment, with the right fabric and buttons!  And I bet it would make an excellent skirt as well.

Those flamingos are looking a bit parched!

But after making fourteen bound buttonholes in the last couple of weeks for this dress and my Garden Party frock, I am going to do my best to find a project that does not require buttons or zippers of any kind.  

I am ready for a break!

Dress:  Made by me, Simplicity 3849
Belt:  Made by me
Shoes:  Colin Stuart
Necklace & Earrings:  local farmer's market 

[More construction specifics may be found here.]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Have I Mentioned that “I Love Lucy!”?, Part 1

This project has had quite the journey.  It started years ago, in fact, although the actual pattern was purchased earlier this year.

Many years ago, I found the rayon/linen blend at JoAnn Fabrics.  It is 54” wide, but has almost 9” of a butterfly border design.  Now, I love butterflies, but this particular embroidery is not well executed at all.  However, I just could not resist the embroidered polka dots.

Over the years I kept meaning to find a pattern worthy of this fabulous fabric.  There was a tin of buttons that was lost in a move, and in it were some fabulous vintage red buttons that were at least 1.5” in diameter.  I had grand plans for this fabric and those buttons, but it just was not meant to be.  Who knows, now that I have used the fabric, perhaps the tin of buttons will magically reappear.

And then I found Simplicity 3849 on ebay.  I really should avoid the site at all costs.  I have more patterns than I know what to do with, and yet, when I browse the vintage patterns, I always manage to find something I cannot do without.  Why is that?

It turns out that the buttons were a huge issue with this project.

I found some cherry candy colored buttons that were perfect (yes, I was stuck on the color red for this project), but there were only 8 available at my local JoAnns.  Three weeks later, the stock was not replenished, partly because their system says that three cards are currently in stock.  LIAR!

I suppose I could have re-spaced the buttonholes, but because they are such an important part of the design, I really wanted to leave it alone.

Well, I was tired of waiting, and after wandering up and down the button aisle for way too long last week, I picked up a couple of other options. 

I toyed with the idea of using two different colors as the buttonhole lips.  In the end, the cotton I had on hand did not look quite right, and I could not tell if I was going to love or hate the look.  And after waiting years to use this fabric, I could not bear the thought of ending up with something I did not like.

The construction of this dress was a lot of fun.  The diagonal opening is unlike anything I have ever come across.  I am not sure what I was expecting, but the front bodice pieces are identical.  The extra fabric is hooked on the opposite side of the waistband.  Two skirt pieces are seamed at the center back and wrap around to the front where an extra piece is added to the right side that gets faced and buttons are used as a closure.

So many vintage dresses are difficult to get in and out of.  Those side zippers create lovely lines, but wiggling in and out of them is not always fun.  This dress can be opened completely – a shirt-dress gone wild, if you will . . .

I used some plain black cotton as armhole and skirt facings because it did not have any embroidered bumps to contend with and created a cleaner line.

Buckles are becoming scarce around here.  However, I did have a hideous gold plastic thing hanging around.  A bias strip of fabric took care of that, and a simple interfaced rectangle completed the belt.  (I will admit that I used a fusible because I seem to have more luck with the stuff when making belts.)

I pulled out my favorite shoulder pad pattern pieces from Vintage Vogue 2494.  

For so many years, I cringed at the thought of wearing shoulder pads.  But adding them to a vintage dress really finishes the silhouette.  And they are the perfect project to complete while watching a Downton Abbey marathon, as is any kind of hand sewing!

And for a bit of fun, I used my bright tomato red seam binding.  Doesn’t it look cheery?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Painting with Watercolors

Oh my goodness, the summertime heat has arrived in the Bay Area.  Time to pull out a wide-brimmed chapeau and top it off with a parasol to hide from the sun.

This is not the perfect blouse for me (still searching!), but I do like it quite a bit, and it gets a lot of wear.

The watercolor print was something that I fell in love with after seeing it on, and it turned out to be even better than what I was expecting when it showed up at my door (don’t you just love when that happens!).

I just wish I had purchased more of the fabric while it was available.  But I did manage to squeeze a dress and this blouse out of the yardage, so that’s something!

The rayon with just a hint of stretch is the perfect fabric for staying cool.  That reminds me . . . I have more of this fabric in another print . . . I may have to do something about that . . . just as soon as it cools off, and I once again have the energy to move.

Blouse:  Made by me, Simplicity 4047
Skirt:  Banana Republic
Shoes:  Colin Stuart for Victoria’s Secret
Earrings:  Liz Palacios

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Garden Party, Part 2

After working with this fabric for hours, I decided that I was making a huge mistake.  And when I tried on the dress for the first time Sunday afternoon, I was about to cry.  Note to self:  do not try anything on when you look terrible.  And if the dress needs a petticoat, for goodness sake, put one on because it will make all the difference!

I looked like some horrible 1980s black and white blob.  No, no, no!  Thankfully (at least in this case) I am stubborn, and decided I would finish the darn thing anyway.

My bad mood may have had something to do with an email that arrived two days prior, informing the event volunteers (that’s me) to wear khaki or white pants.  For anyone else, this would be a relief.  Well, you may already be able to guess my dilemma:  I do not own a pair of khaki pants.  Well, I probably have a pair at the bottom of some drawer, but I did not feel like calling in the bloodhounds, as any pants that might be resting in peace are probably some pleated monstrosity with pegged legs from the early 1990s, and they need to stay exactly where they are.  Besides, I had already planned my outfit, and, well, that stubborn personality was rearing its unattractive head.

After a quick email, it was clear that I would be allowed a bit of leeway in regards to my choice of clothing.  I think that the “wear khaki or white - no jeans or shorts” rule applied more to those who were golfing during the day, anyway.

The theme for this week’s Sew Weekly challenge was The Diamond Jubilee.  I looked to the past for inspiration, and my new favorite pattern was a perfect match.

The original plan for this dress was to make a white satin belt.  But, once again, time was the enemy.  So I pulled out one of my handy beaded belts from my lucky birthday thrifting adventure.  And I believe I like the black contrast more than I would have liked the white.  So, thank you 24 hour day for keeping me from my original plans.

I also had envisioned wearing a large white flower in my hair.  But once I put the dress on, I decided it was going to be way too much.  Thank you, Sarah Jessica Parker, for the brooch in the hair idea. 

There was even a bagpiper performing at the event, so I snapped a quick photo - for a moment there, I felt like Fiona in Brigadoon!  And that kilt reminds me, I think I may have to make myself a pleated plaid skirt this Fall. 

One of these days a successfully finished project may slake my sewing appetite, but for the moment, finishing a dress makes me want to get all of those ideas floating around in my head worked out in fabric, and ready to wear!

More construction details may be found here.

Dress:  Made by me, Advance 5470 (gift from Peter)
Shoes:  Nine West
Brooch:  Gift
Earrings:  Macys
Belt:  Thrifted