Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Have you ever started a project that never seems to end, no matter how much time is put in?

This was intended to be a Sew Weekly challenge project early last year.  I missed the deadline and packed the pieces away.  

The initial problem was that my yardage was extremely limited.  I just love getting great deals on beautiful fabric.  However, without a specific project in mind, knowing the correct amount of yardage to purchase is rather difficult.  There was no way for me to squeeze all of the pattern pieces out of my pumpkin silk when I finally decided on a pattern, so I had to find a suitable contrast, which took longer than expected.

I recall pulling the pieces out again in early Fall for another challenge, and once again, time got away from me, or I just lost interest.

The colors are very autumnal, but I am determined to finish this dress before Spring arrives.  I have been lacking in sewing motivation lately, but the time has come to put this project to bed.  So I have been working on the finishing bits and pieces for the last couple of weeks in fits and starts.  And I am almost there!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hollywood Goes Glam

After a rough start with a rather awkward Seth MacFarlane monologue, the singing and dancing got the party started.  If I am being completely honest, the only reason I watch the Oscars is the red carpet!  This year, with the music and dance extravaganzas, however, the broadcast was worth the tedious moments (except for the lip syncing Catherine Zeta-Jones, although she did look incredible on the stage).

There were a whole lot of full skirted tulle sparklers with swirly sequins and spangles - they always remind me of Ginger Rogers.  The stage floor even echoed the curlicues of Nicole Kidman’s L'Wren Scott dress and Catherine Zeta-Jones' Zuhair Murad.  Kristin Chenoweth was also in one of those tulle confections, but her face ruined the look – she needs to take it easy with the botox or her face is going to split open the next time she smiles.  And if she made one more short joke on the red carpet I was going to reach through the screen and smack her.

Halle Berry in Versace was very 1940s, à la Marlene Dietrich, in perhaps the classiest design Donatella has come up with in a long while. 

Stacey Keibler was wearing a similar color scheme by Naeem Khan – her hair looks so much better with a bit of curl – thank you Stacey, for not ironing your hair flat!

Daniel Day Lewis’ wife was perfection in black lace with gorgeous jewels.  Did anyone else notice the lipstick on his face during Mr. Lewis' acceptance speech?  Too cute!

Jessica Chastain looked beautiful, if perhaps a bit washed out on the red carpet in a dress with incredible beadwork.  I cannot imagine how many hours this one took to create!  But the most beautiful moment of the show had to be watching Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain walk out on stage together in perfect unison.

And speaking of Jennifer Garner, she just keeps getting more and more beautiful.  I could not find a great picture of the back of the gown, but the color alone is enough to make me swoon over this Gucci.

I was very disappointed in Amy Adams – I love the size and presence of the Oscar de la Renta gown, but the color was terrible on her. 

On the other hand, Reese Witherspoon was stunning in blue, although the fit seemed off to me.  

Helen Hunt was radiant in blue as well - she looked incredible, although the H&M gown is looking a bit worse for wear.

I loved the color of Kerry Washington’s Miu Miu.

And then there was Anne Hathaway in Prada.  I did not like the Gweneth Paltrow pink number from 1998 that was a terrible knock-off of Grace Kelly’s blue satin.  This pink dress looks like an Audrey Hepburn copy.  Because she can wear basically anything, I was very disappointed in this boring and basic choice.  It looks like a prom dress to me that could be found at any cheap department store.  The color is yummy, though.  But she should have worn her Les Mis “costume” all evening long – the beaded chiffon was so much more interesting.

And while Dior is probably my favorite design house, I am not seeing what all the fuss is about Jennifer Lawrence's gown, but mostly because she is the one wearing it.  Although I am terribly concerned that she destroyed the dress by falling down.  Don't hurt the couture!

So there was a lot of silver and gunmetal sparklers, a lot of strapless which is to be expected, and a smattering of really wonderful color.  

I loved the costume design homage on the red carpet – I just wish those images were highlighted a bit more.

I was expecting to be disappointed this year, but there were a bunch of lovely gowns to look at, and enough strange choices that allow for snarky comments.  The Academy Awards - the perfect chance to mock some of the most beautiful people in the world for picking the wrong stylists!

[Click on image for source]

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Evergreen with a bit of Moss Stitching

This is the second time I have attempted to knit this sweater.  The first was one of those projects that was started because I had the urge to knit, and wanted to jump right in.  On short notice, the only semi-suitable yarn was a variegated sock yarn that I found at my local JoAnn Fabrics.  As I was knitting, I had my doubts, and I should have trusted them.  The finished sweater was tiny!  Sure, I could get it on, but it was too tight to be comfortable.  And the yarn choice might have worked for a pair of socks, but the color pooling was not great looking on a sweater.

The problem with negative ease is anticipating just how much the finished project will stretch, enough to suit the design, but not so much that it makes me look like I am stuffed inside a sausage casing.  For my second try, I went a little too far in the other direction.  The sweater is just a little too big, but it is super comfy, so it's a keeper!    

This one was also too long for my taste when I was finished, and I had no desire to unravel from the bottom, so I hemmed the knitting.  And it worked! 

I really like the way the hem looks, and may end up adding a mini hem to the sleeves as well, since the edges have a tendency to curl.

And the moss stitch yoke and added ruffle adds the perfect amount of girly embellishments.

I decided to follow the vintage instructions to make some crochet buttons.  As a form (and to make the button edges “solid” and easy to get through the buttonholes) I used my handy dandy Dritz plastic rings.

It feels wonderful to finally have a completed project!  

Sweater:  Made by me, “Young and Pretty” from A Stitch in Time, Volume 1
Skirt:  Made by me, Simplicity 4044
Shoes:  Seychelles

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Fabulous is Gertie!?!

Butterick 5882

Have you seen the new Butterick patternsGertie has two new and utterly fabulous designs.

For all those of us who were longing for a shelf-bust design – here it is - available in a variety of sizes and no need to spend hundreds of dollars!  And can someone tell me where to find that incredible fabric?  I believe Gertie makes up the samples, so hopefully she will be able to tell us!

Butterick 5895

The second is an adorable little outfit.  I am not the pants or trousers sort, but the top is lovely, and who knows, perhaps one day I will need a pair of vintage styled trousers . . .

Butterick 5880

Alas, there is only one vintage reproduction.  But it has draping and a great neckline!  They must be reading my mind over there at The McCall Pattern Company!

There is something I find very appealing about the Vogue 5879 design.  It may be the fact that it has a slight 1930s vibe.  And I NEED those shoes!

Butterick 5879

Interestingly enough, the new catalog clearly shows the side and back views of the garments on real live models, which is much appreciated.  (I think they must be listening to their customers!)

Have you added any new Buttericks to your to-buy list?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Too Many Hobbies!

Every few years, I get really excited about quilting.  There are two unfinished projects stored in my apartment, neither of which has progressed far enough to begin the actual quilting process.

The main reason is that I am obsessed with making a completely hand-sewn quilt.  So all of that piecing takes quite a bit of time!  

After a while, my fingertips are too sore to continue.  (I never managed to learn how to use a thimble – if I put one on a finger, I end up using another finger, which defeats the whole purpose of the sewing tool!)

I did manage to finish one quilt, many, many years ago.  My little dollhouse family needed a quilt!  But I just bound the edges and skipped the quilting all together, now that I look at it.

Dollhouse People: A Doll Family You Can Make was my absolute favorite library book when I was a child.  I must have checked it out forty times.  It was out of print at the time, and still seems to be so.  This is a real shame, as it is an amazing way to learn how to sew.  Basic hand stitches are included along with patterns and instructions on how to alter the patterns.  I clearly remember the suggestion to use a spoon to “iron” open the tiny seam allowances.  I may not have had access to an iron, but I certainly could get my hands on a spoon!  Unfortunately, the copy at the library disappeared a few years later - I sure hope that whoever took it really appreciated it.

Does anyone else remember this lovely book?

While the piecing is embarrassingly uneven, I did place my finished quilt in a shadow box a few years ago along with my Dollhouse Family as a reminder of how far my sewing has come.

And perhaps I will manage to learn some hand quilting this year! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Merino Wool and Bamboo Needles

Yes, I broke down and started yet another knitting project.  But I should mention that I did manage to finish one of my other sweaters.  One of these days I will get some pictures.

For now, I am working away on “Trillium.”  The pattern is simple and easy to remember, but looks lovely.

And the lace-weight yarn from Knit Picks is wonderful to work with, which makes the project hard to put down!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Film Noir at Bedtime

Admission:  I am a voracious reader.  While everyone else in English class was always complaining about how many pages of reading were required homework, I had to hold myself back and not keep reading for fear that I would blurt something out during class that should not have been part of the discussion.

And I have not been to my local library in far too long.

Which means that my nightly reading is limited to what is on my bookshelf.  (I refuse to read books on an electronic device.  I cannot help but wonder what is going to happen to everyone’s eyes after constantly staring at screens for a lifetime?)

The most recent novel that caught my eye was Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

It is amusing to read books from high school – some of the underlining makes sense, and other phrases seem an odd choice.

“But I kept thinking about Phyllis Dietrichson - and the way that anklet of hers cut into her leg.”  Walter Neff, Double Indemnity  

I forgot just how descriptive the writing is.

The stock characters of the femme fatale . . .

“She wore two shades of blue that had been selected because of her eyes.  The hair curling from under her blue hat was darkly red, her full lips more brightly red.  White teeth glistened in the crescent her timid smile made.”

“Miss Wonderly, in a belted green crepe silk dress, opened the door of apartment 1001 at the Coronet.  Her face was flushed.  Her dark red hair, parted on the left side, swept back in loose waves over her right temple, was somewhat tousled.”

“She had put on a satin gown of the blue shade called Artoise that season, with chalcedony shoulder-straps, and her stockings and slippers were Artoise.”

the trusted side-kick . . .
“She was a lanky sunburned girl whose tan dress of thin woolen stuff clung to her with an effect oft dampness.  Her eyes were brown and playful in a shiny boyish face.”

and the rather hysterical dialog is beyond wonderful!

“ ‘I haven't lived a good life, ‘ she cried.  ‘I've been bad - worse than you could know.’” 

And while I certainly do not want to be anywhere near a gun or knife, not to mention all of that cigarette smoke, boy oh boy, those ladies really knew how to dress!

[Click on image for source]

Saturday, February 9, 2013

One Orphaned Article of Clothing Finds Another

I have a really bad habit of making separates that match back to absolutely nothing in my closet.  Am I the only one with this problem?

And that is one of the many reasons I love making dresses – the issue does not exist!

This sweater was finished 11 months ago, yet this is the first time I have worn it.  Which is absolutely ridiculous!  

I simply adore cables!  They look so complicated, but the pattern is so easy to follow, and the actual cabling only happens every few rows.

The skirt is also one of those orphaned projects that just did not work back to anything I own.  Until I realized that this sweater was just perfect.  And seeing how it is made of wool, it makes wearing a cotton skirt in February a little more comfortable! 

It is actually a Rachel Comey design from Vogue (read: "modern"), to which I added a full seven inches.  I am continually seduced by the small amount of yardage that are required by these contemporary designs.  However, once I alter the garment so it is long enough for my comfort level, the yardage requirements are no longer as wonderful as I originally anticipated.

This outfit is continuing the early Spring theme.  And with the backing of Punxsutawney Phil, I feel quite certain that many pastel colors are in my future.

Skirt:  Made by me, Vogue 1170
Jacket:  Made by me, Vogue 8306
Shoes:  Alfani
Brooch:  Vintage