Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Shoe Fetish

I rarely go shopping for clothes anymore (fabric shopping, well, that is another story!).  Every once in a while, I will spend a few hours looking for lovely things in the department store only to be disappointed by racks and racks of poorly made garbage.

And I know I am not the only person who sees a cheaply or poorly made garment and thinks about how easy it would be to sew something up that is ten times as nice.

The major exception is shoes.  I do not have the slightest idea about how to make shoes.  And while I would love all of the creative possibilities that would open up, I imagine all that glue and leather would not be very fun to work with.

I am still looking for a pair of fabulous green shoes.  Red and purple are relatively easy to find these days, but the perfect pair of green shoes has evaded me.

It seems that the color was very popular in 1948.

And the standard colors are incredibly detailed.  Crossed straps, perforations, rosettes, and scalloped edges add extra special touches that are often missing from shoes these days (unless you have a whole lot of money to spend).

So now I would like to make my request that someone invent a time machine so I can travel back in time and grab bunches of these fabulous shoes.  And I promise to bring back your favorites as well!

Do you think the leather would age in the travel back to 2012?

[Images from Sears Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1948]

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bibbity Bobbity Bubble

Sometimes it all starts with a print.

This particular fabric is a heavy upholstery weight, but I could not resist the cheery print.  I have had luck with upholstery fabric in the past, in particular, this vintage reproduction suit.

But when this showed up at my doorstep from fabric.com, I thought I had made a huge mistake. 

I decided to forge ahead with a skirt.  And here was the perfect opportunity to finally pull out my first Colette Pattern, the Beignet.

The fabric was quite a bit thicker than I had anticipated, so I used a mid-weight black cotton for my facing pieces and eliminated the interfacing altogether.  

The pattern really does not allow for print matching.  I decided to get over it, and enjoy the abstract look it created.  And it turned out better than I was expecting.

I did not have any suitable lining on hand, so I went to JoAnn Fabrics.  Of course, their stock of rayon lining is extremely limited.  They were out of black, so I picked up a cranberry red color, and it turned out to be a lovely contrast.

It would seem that my fear of machine made buttonholes is alive and well.  So add another 12 bound buttonholes to the tally.  They really look nice on the front of the skirt with my contrasting pink buttons.

I am quite certain that this pattern is going to get a whole lot of use in the near future.  The options are endless!  Thank you Colette Patterns!

Skirt:  Made by me, Colette “Beignet
Blouse:  Banana Republic
Shoes:  Anne Klein

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Modern Vogue

If I am being completely honest, the recent pattern catalogues have been a bit of a disappointment for me. 

But what a relief!

Vogue 1317

Although there are only a few designs that have caught my eye, I am pleased that the stash will not be increasing exponentially.  Not to mention the guilt over the hoards of patterns that are screaming for a little attention of their own as I type this post.

Vogue 1324

The new Fall Vogue Collection is out, and the photography, while interesting, distracts from the actual design of the garments.

Vogue 1314

I mean, really, what the heck is this?  Quick, describe the garment to me . . . yeah, good luck with that.  (The shoes really are fantastic, though!)  Thankfully there are some helpful line drawings, or no one would be able to tell what the dress actually looks like.

Vogue 1316

There are some very interesting modern looks, and perhaps I will brave something out of my comfort zone when the season changes.  

The model looks like a modern version of a Hitchcock heroine - the only thing missing is a few birds hovering nearby.

Vogue 1321

LOVE the shawl collar on this coat, but I am not sure if all of that topstitching works for me.  And look, she is already ducking to avoid those winged killers in her super chic coat.

Surprise, surprise - Donna Karan continues to amaze.  

Vogue 1322

The cape meets the blazer.  Seeing as I am discovering a new obsession with the 1930s (the ultimate era for the cape), this may be just the ticket.

Vogue 8827

But where, oh where, are my beloved Vintage Vogues?

Vogue 8825

So, while it is a tad anticlimactic to see the new collection, my wallet will be pleased!

What are your favorites?  Do you love the super modern look, or will you grieve over the lack of vintage reproductions?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rayon: Silk Substitute or Fabulous Fiber?

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1940

I have had a couple of questions about my rayon pre-treating methods, so I though I would write about my experience with the fiber.  The quick answer is that I pre-wash just about every length of fabric before cutting into it (either in the machine or by hand), and I always hand wash the items that I sew.

Take a quick peek in my closet, and it is clear that I am a huge fan of rayon.  I understand that it is a synthesized fabric, but as it is made from plant material, I consider it to be a natural fiber.  As I am no chemist, I am not going to get into any definitions of what constitutes a natural versus synthetic fabrics - I just know that I love rayon and hate polyester.

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Fall 1932

Rayon (or artificial silk) breathes well and drapes beautifully, making it perfect for reproduction vintage.  I also consider it easier to work with and care for than silk, but that is just me!

I should start by saying that I have inherited a dislike of dry cleaning from my mother.  Does anyone know what those chemicals really do?  Because of this (and the exorbitant price), I hand wash the majority of my clothing and 100% of the clothing that I sew myself.  Crazy?  Perhaps. But I am certainly not going to leave a dress that I spend hours constructing to the mercy of a machine.  At the moment I am using Eucalan (advertised as a "no rinse delicate wash" although I do rinse it out), but in the past I have had excellent results with a liquid dish soap like Joy.

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1933

I had a couple of unfortunate experiences with purchased rayon dresses, but did learn a little something:  rayon is super wonky (yes, that’s a technical term) when wet.  I would hand wash a long, bias cut dress with a dry clean only label and leave it to drip dry.  When wet, the dress shrunk up to be about 10" too short and 10” too wide.  To redeem the garment, I would gently tug on the wet fabric to try to get it back to its original shape. 

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1940

Rayon is often referred to as “unstable” when wet, and boy, is that true.  It also becomes very fragile.  Once I even managed to tear the fabric with my thumb while pulling on it.

It turns out I should have left the thing to dry at its own pace.  It took me longer to realize this than I care to admit, but  nine times out of ten, as the fabric dries, it will regain its original shape. 

Sear Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1940

The best advice that I can offer is to leave those dresses alone while drip drying.  If the dress is purchased, there is not a lot you can to do guarantee that something weird is not going to happen.  You can always go the dry cleaning route as suggested by the care instructions, but for me personally,  I am not going to spend almost as much money to clean it as the darn thing originally cost me.  (Now, if I ever come across a 1940s evening gown or vintage 1950s Dior or Lilli Ann suit from a thrift or antique store, I would obviously make an exception.)

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Fall 1932

I moved a couple of years ago and now have a front loading machine.  Whoo-hoo!  My standard operating procedure these days is to pre-wash my yardage (including rayon) on the delicate cycle in the machine and throw it in the dryer until it is damp, at which point I iron out any wrinkles.  If something is extra special, I will hand wash the yardage in the sink and let it drip dry.

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Fall 1926

The idea is to be as hard on the material as I ever will be.  Because I am going to hand wash the finished product, it should be perfectly safe since it has already been through a machine cycle.

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1946

Sorry this post turned out to be so long, but hopefully it answers some of those questions!

Sears Roebuck Catalog, Spring 1933

Does anyone else have any rayon suggestions?  I would love to hear your experiences.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daisy Chain

This is another pattern that comes from Mr. Lappin’s stash.  So, of course, I was already in love with it before I pulled the tissue out of the envelope.

The rayon daisy print was purchased from fabric.com.  It reminded me of the 1930s, and the turquoise color was lovely, so I grabbed it.  When I saw Hollywood 1647, I thought they would make a great pair.

And I finally found a use for one of my lace collars.  Believe it or not, I picked these up from JoAnn Fabrics, of all places.  Quite a few years ago, they marked all of their decent trims on clearance and I purchased all that I could find before they disappeared forever.  They have been living in a drawer for years.  The lace trimmed collar on the pattern illustration reminded me of their existence, so I decided that a surface applied lace collar might work nicely.

The problem was that the collar was extremely bright white and my fabric was not.  To remedy the problem, I decided to try a bit of tea dying.  

I used a couple of Lipton black tea bags and dunked the collar pieces for a minute or two.  It worked quite nicely!  I tacked the lace to the collar pieces by hand with some silk thread.

The pattern does not call for interfacing, which I suppose is quite normal for a 1930s pattern.   I ended up using some cotton as a sew-in stabilizer for the collar and cuffs.  But I really was stumped when it came to the front opening.  The rayon drapes beautifully and is rather lightweight.  I was worried that the buttonholes (mine are bound) and the buttons needed to be stabilized in some way.  But a sew-in on the entire front piece seemed like it would be too much.  I came to the decision that a thin strip of lightweight fusible, although inauthentic, would work nicely.

I had no desire to re-space all of those buttonholes, so I did not make my standard adjustment for a long torso.  The dress is a bit high-waisted, but it works. 

Finding fourteen buttons that I liked with this fabric was quite an adventure, and one of the reasons that this dress took so long to complete.

I also decided to use the 3” hem allowance given to make the dress a bit more tea-length than knee-length.

I cannot find a reference to this pattern anywhere.  Does anyone else have this lovely dress pattern in their collection?

My button selection was not my first choice and I was concerned that the dark contrast was going to be distracting, so I decided to make a fascinator with the leftover shell buttons.  I crocheted a triangle shaped border, expecting to sew two of the patterns together to make a diamond which would have a sprinkling of buttons applied.  

Well, the flat diamond shape looked terrible, and the button placement did not look right, so I pulled two corners together to give the piece a bit of shape.  And I rather like how it turned out!

Dress & Belt:  Made by me, Hollywood 1647
Shoes:  Banana Republic
Fascinator:  Made by me