Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Couture Magic

Carmen shared a link to this YouTube video with me after yesterday's post.  And for those of you who are not aware of this fabulous little film, I thought I would pass along this up close and personal look at what goes into creating the Chanel Couture 2004-05 Fall/Winter Collection.   (It is in French, but even with my extremely rusty high school French, it was incredibly enjoyable and understandable.)

There are sketches, muslins, and beading, quite a few pin pricks, a little blood, and a glimpse into how those incredible jacket trims are made.

I just love the day to day moments and all of the banter between employees.  And always in the background is Mr. Lagerfeld clicking his bejeweled fingers together.  

My favorite moments involve a woman who begins meticulously straightening the grain of some amazing platinum colored silk velvet.  She is later seen handstitching the side seams of the dress on a form.  When she is almost finished, Lagerfeld decides the color must be changed to white.  So she begins again . . . and in the middle of her work, once again receives a note that the color is now to be black.  How incredibly frustrating!  While she is watching the final runway show, you can hear her murmur that all of the aggravation disappears when she sees the finished product.  I think everyone can relate!

And I have to say that after watching it, I cannot wait to get into the sewing room.  It is amazing to see the time and effort involved from the first sketch to the final moment the garment appears on the runway.  Anyone who does not think couture is art needs to watch this! 

[Click on image for source]

Monday, April 29, 2013


I have a recurring daydream in which I spend an entire day in the Dior Atelier and watch a fashion miracle be born.  I am sure that most people would rather visit a boutique with the finished products in Paris, but how amazing would it be to watch the experts stitch a simple hem in place or create some of that yummy bead work?  That is my idea of a day well spent!

My jaw dropped when I happened upon this picture today.

It is stunning in its simplicity.  Look at the buttons!  The only thing wrong with this picture is the fact that I cannot reach out and touch it!

How amazing would it be to handle and examine the interior of a vintage Dior piece (with gloves, of course!).  

Last year I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to explore the insides of a Ceil Chapman cocktail dress  which only whetted my appetite.  More please!  Corselettes, and boning, and stay tape, oh my!  

I want to know how this dress was put together and what is inside that helps hold that spectacular shape.  Truth be told, I think that this may be the most perfect dress I have ever seen!  I have a new favorite!!

[Click on image for link]

Sunday, April 28, 2013


First of all, thank you to everyone for your suggestions on how to navigate Facebook – I feel so very “liked”!  And thank you for making me feel a little less silly about my coffee making inadequacy, not to mention once again reminding me that there are quite a few kindred spirits in the world!

I have finally finished my latest project - a summery shirt and skirt combo.  The look is a bit 1950s waitress, all that is missing is a pair of roller skates and apron. 

This outfit started with some very old quilting cotton with a lovely pansy motif and an idea.  I thought that Butterick 5882 would make a lovely skirt, and the shirt portion of Butterick 5895 was just too cute to pass by.  Put them together, and this is what you get!

The original plan was foiled when I did not have quite enough fabric.  Aargh! 

This is not the first time I have assumed that a cute little blouse will require next to nothing in the way of yardage.  And once again, I was wrong.  When am I going to learn?  Large pattern pieces do not fit on leftover scraps!

One thing I will say:  this shirt is short.  Yes, I generally add a bit to a pattern’s torso length, but without a high-waisted skirt or pair of pants this is going to show the midriff, even on a petite frame.

Not to be deterred, I set out to find a contrasting fabric.  Those massive facing pieces would just have to play along.

Of course, once I had my contrast, I decided that the multi-fabric choice was going to look utterly ridiculous.  But since I already had cut almost everything out, I kept going.

Turns out, I love the contrasting collar and ties!  The solid color actually breaks up the busy cotton print quite nicely.  So much for first impressions!  I added a bit of piping to the skirt's waist seam to make the two pieces more of an outfit.

And there was a bit of twirling . . .

Blouse:  Made by me, Butterick 5895
Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 5882
Shoes:  Hinge
Bracelet:  Borrowed from mom

Friday, April 26, 2013

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Now I’ve gone and done it . . . Lilacs & Lace has a Facebook page!

But it almost feels like I have waited too long.  So long, in fact, that it is rather embarrassing to admit that as of yesterday I did not have a Facebook account or know how to use the darn thing (which I am still a little unclear on). 

I feel the same way about other things.  For instance, I do not know how to make a pot of coffee.  I do not drink the stuff, so I never learned, and those particular appliances in the office kitchen mock me daily.  I live in fear that someone is going to ask me to make them coffee.  Ridiculous?  Yes.  But what are you going to do?  At a certain point, there are things just too awkward to confess.

But I have really taken to Pinterest, so who knows, perhaps Facebook will become another wonderful distraction. 

Do you have any suggestions or things to avoid on this bit of social media?

And maybe I should finally learn how to make a pot of coffee . . . how hard could it really be?!

[Click on image for source]

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Frothy Vintage

This skirt was a lucky find rescued from a local theatre’s yard sale many years ago.  It does not get very much wear as it is rather delicate.  

Although, I am not exactly sure what I am saving it for, because it is so much fun to wear!  The silk chiffon is so light-weight it feels like it is going to float away.

The weekend before last, I wore this outfit to the Symphony.  In the ultimate lazy haze, I decided to wear it again to work two days later.  And why not – both items were hanging on the back of my door, so that was one less thing to think about.

Wearing this blouse has reminded me that I want another version, perhaps in a print . . .  That is one more thing to add to the project list!

I am a huge fan of fancy dress, but the satin pieces in my closet often feel too formal.  How ridiculous is that!

The weather seems to have skipped right over Spring to a hot Summer.  I have never been a fan of the heat, although my little guy, Valentino, will do anything to find his favorite patch of sun.  Me, on the other hand, well, I am doing my best to stay cool and out of that patch of sun!

Blouse:  Made by me, Vogue 2850
Skirt:  Vintage
Shoes:  Jennifer Moore
Earrings:  Banana Republic

Monday, April 22, 2013

Designer Labels

Because I wear my own creations so often, I rarely deal with the dreaded scratchy tag.  I was reminded today just how awful those edges can be – the back of my neck has a lovely raw spot to prove it.

Generally, I am loathe to remove a tag from a piece of clothing (and I would never dream of doing that to a vintage piece), but this was a contemporary knit dress that is nothing special.  So that sucker is going to be removed.  Death to nylon thread!

Drat, my seam ripper is hiding again . . .

[Click on image for source]

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stuck in a Rut

I have been feeling a bit of creative frustration this past week.

I really did not accomplished much of anything.  Sure, I wandered into the sewing room a few times, and re-arranged things, but that does not count.

But that had to stop!

So this weekend, I finally finished cutting out my fabric and got on with the sewing.  And while this project is not turning out exactly as expected, I feel so much better!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Knitting for Spring?!

So much for those bright Spring colors!  I am still knitting, even though the weather is on a warming trend, and my color choice is very un-Spring-like.  But what are you going to do?

I need more red sweaters in my wardrobe.  Okay, I do not NEED more, but I sure would like more, and I have decided to do something about it.

Liz has generously shared this vintage Stitchcraft pattern with her readers, and I thought it would make an excellent project.

The ribbing is becoming a bit monotonous, so I may put this down for a week or two, but it has been keeping my fingers busy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Minty Fresh

I just love learning new techniques from pattern instructions!

The side closure on this dress reminds me of an Edwardian piece.  Before you think I have completely lost it, just hear me out! 

If you have been lucky enough to see vintage Edwardian pieces up close, one of the first things you will probably wonder is how the heck did anyone get in and out of their clothes, even considering an extra pair of helping hands.  Where are the openings hiding?

Layers are hook & eyed, pieces are snapped into place to cover those hooks, etc., etc.  Throw on an extra layer of lace, and it is virtually impossible to tell which seams actually open.  The architecture of some of those antique designs is incredible.  My dress is a highly simplified version, obviously, but a snap here, a zipper there, and the comparison does not sound quite as crazy, does it!

My first concern when I saw this dress was the zipper opening.  The bodice is lovely and blouson, and the hip is rather fitted.  Invisible zippers these days are produced on horribly stiff polyester tape which was not going to drape like any fabric choice I might make for this dress.  This is the main reason I let the pattern sit for so long.

If I had simply opened the instructions, I would have been put at ease.  Taking a cue from the Edwardians (I am just making that up, of course!) the design uses an invisible zipper along the hip yoke and a few snaps to close the bodice.  Multi-notioned openings are awesome!  Why did I not think of this on my own?! 

Speaking from experience, snaps are not a great idea to close seams that are tight fitting unless you are wearing a compression undergarment like a corset.  Or maybe my rib cage just expands a lot throughout the day because of my vocal training?  Anyway, the threat of popping snaps is minimal here since there is a lot of ease in this bodice.  

And it is always fun to add a completely different silhouette to the closet!  So this one is a win!

Dress:  Made by me, Simplicity 1939
Shoes:  Hinge
Earrings:  Macys