Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cast On

This weekend I decided to pick up my knitting needles.

I have two other knitting projects that I should get back to, but casting on a brand new one seemed like so much more fun.  So that is exactly what I did!

When I feel like working with beads again, this sweater will get some attention.

But for now, a basic seed and stockinette stitch is just what the doctor ordered.

And I am beginning to think that this wrap sweater is not to my liking, so before I spend more time on it, I am going to have to reevaluate the design.

Just how many WIPs are too many? 

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Kind of Separates

Last year, I found an amazing black and white floral brocade online at Elliott Berman.  I love textured fabrics, and this one was too hard to resist.

The listing has disappeared, but I believe it is a cotton/poly blend.  Which reminds me . . . I should really write these things down while the information is still available!  

But yes, I loved the print so much I was willing to brave the evil that is polyester!

As it often goes, my initial plans for the fabric changed once I got it in my hands.  When Butterick 6285 was released, I knew immediately that I wanted to make up the skirt and this fabric seemed like it would be a great fit.  It is probably on the heavy side for those double pleats, but with a bit of trimming, it all worked out for the best!  (By the way, the seam allowances on this thing are HUGE - I have never come across another Big-4 pattern like it.)  

The only alteration I made was to swap a shaped waistband for the straight narrow one drafted for the pattern.

Then came the issue of what to wear with the skirt.  I have wanted to make another version of McCalls 7053 for some time, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

My original plan was to dye some rayon twill turquoise and have at it, but in the end, I decided to go with fuchsia.  And I am so glad I did - this blouse has already had quite a bit of wear.

And I may have made myself a matching jacket for my fabulous new skirt!  Hooray for separates!

Blouse:  Made by me, McCalls 7053
Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 6285

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Machine Buttonhole Madness

I will jump right into a project with ten or twelve bound buttonholes, but ask me to use a machine to make a buttonhole and you are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming all the way.  In an attempt to get over this ridiculous paranoia, I decided to stretch my sewing skills and give my machine (and myself) a chance.

I tried using my Bernina machine to make buttonholes for this project a few years ago, and it was a failure.  Thank goodness they did not show . . . I managed to tear through one while ripping it open with the sharp tool that came with the machine and looks like a seam ripper, and the other never reversed itself while being stitched so I tried to use a manual setting and fix the mess with not much success.  The buttonhole foot has been banished from the sewing room ever since.

After a couple of practice runs this past weekend, I had a decent buttonhole that could be duplicated.  Hooray!  Time to try my new buttonhole cutter set!  The brand new cutter is not sharp, and attempting to cut through a mid-weight cotton did not work at all.  The Bernina instruction guide suggests using a hammer, so I tried that.  The hammer created a slight tear so I used some sharp scissors to complete the opening. 

On the third try, this is what happened.

So much for my brand new buttonhole cutter kit.  I posted some of these images on Instagram and had some very helpful suggestions which leads me to believe I got a dud.

Just for kicks, I tried out the eyelet punch that comes with the kit.  And it works great.  So I am going to blame this one on bad tools, not user error (which is generally my first assumption).

I know I have heard of using Fray Check to keep all of the raw bits from shredding once the buttonhole is cut open.  Does anyone do that?  Does it make the buttonhole too stiff?

While doing some internet research, I came across a suggestion to pin across the bar tack before cutting or ripping the buttonhole open which seems like an excellent suggestion that I am going to try.  I would love to hear any other tips or tricks from any machine buttonhole experts out there!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Red Carpet Runway

I have not been incredibly excited about red carpet fashion for the past couple of years, but I decided to look at this year's Golden Globe offerings . . . and there was a lot of color, a lot of cleavage, and a few interesting designs.

This may not be the most interesting dress in the world, but I love it just the same.  Helen Mirren (in Badgley Mischka) rarely disappoints, and she looks stunning in this dress.

I am not always a fan of Versace, but this velvet dress is a masterpiece.  Too bad the person wearing it is invisible.  This shade of hair looks terrible on her - it's like Nicole Kidman all over again.  Maybe some red lipstick would have helped, but the platinum and nude lip is seriously disturbing to me . . . then again, maybe that was that point . . . this is Lady Gaga, after all.  But the dress is AMAZING!

These Zuhair Murad gowns are starting to blend together for me.  But it is probably a whole lot of fun to flounce around in one for the evening.  And I would love to see one up close, or spend some time in their atelier and learn about embellishment techniques.

When is Zac Posen going to stop using this fabric?!  It just does not look good when worn in real life without the benefit of airbrushing out all of the wrinkles.  Look at that hem . . . yuck.  But this lady looks adorable and she seems to be having a great time, so I suppose the dress is doing something right.  Poor Bernadette Peters, however, did not fare as well in a column gown made from the same stuff with a mess of wrinkles.

I cannot believe I am saying that I like something made with a mustard colored fabric, but this
Giambattista Valli dress is pretty fantastic and very old Hollywood.  Is the cape attached, do we think?

I would love to get my hands on this floral fabric, but I don't like the dress.  The fold on the bodice looks like a fitting mistake and the diagonal seam on the skirt does not work for me.  But that print has some definite possibilities.

Georgina Chapman always looks lovely, but this dress is extra special.  Love it!

This Givenchy dress once again proves that Cate Blanchett can wear anything.  And I bet it looks amazing in motion.

I think I saw two movies this year, but Brooklyn was one of them, and Saoirse Ronan is adorable.  The Saint Laurent dress is not that special; I actually have an old Vogue patterns that would make a great copy.  But she makes the dress work.

With my new appreciation for odd sculptural silhouettes, I find myself drawn to Jane Fonda's Yves Saint Laurent dress, but something is off.  I think it would look much better without the sleeves.  (And I normally love a long sleeved gown.)  Or is it the length?  The more I look at that bodice, the more I see a giant scalloped shell.  But I am still intrigued.

And, may I just say, this is probably the most adorable man in the world.  Normally I find sneakers with formal clothing irritating, but Alan Cumming can wear anything he wants in my world.

So what do you think?  Any new favorites to inspire this year's sewing plans?

[Click on image for source]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Springtime Simplicity & Vogue

The new Simplicity patterns are great . . . too bad their new website is not working.  But someone over there has obviously been watching Agent Carter - and I am just fine with that if it means we get more patterns like this one.

A couple of weeks ago, the Simplicity Facebook page included a picture of this 1960s reproduction.  At first glance, I assumed it was one of their "Jiffy" patterns that keep getting released, and which I do not find very interesting.  But now that I see the sleeved version, I am slightly intrigued.  There is the issue of how wearable this actually is - does that back overlap snap or button in place?  If not, how is that shoulder going to stay in place?  

 And here is a wrap pattern from the 1970s.  It is definitely cute, but I will probably pass.

The blue version of this cutie showed up on Facebook, and I was thinking it was another vintage reproduction (that print makes it difficult to see the style lines).  I am not familiar with the designer, Theresa Laquey, but so far I like what I see.

And I find myself strangely drawn to this pattern.  Is it a waste to attach this kind of overbodice to the dress when you can make a skirt and top that has so many more wearing options?  I kind of feel like it is, but I still like the dress.  If the perfect fabric came along, I might have to give this one a try.

And as for the recently released Vogues . . . there are no new Vintage Vogues.  Boo.  There were no new designs for their last release, either, so I am hoping this is not a sign of no more vintage goodness to come.  That would make me very sad.

But I love this skirt!  Yes, the suggested fabrics are knits, but I think it would totally work in a woven.  The top has some unfortunate darts and a poorly sewn hem, so I am having trouble deciding if I do not like the design, or if I am just distracted by the poor choice of fabric.

Vogue 1486

And Donna Karan is once again singing that siren song.  I cannot imagine wearing this dress, but I really like the dress.

Vogue 1489

Do you have any new favorites?  Are any of the designs tempting you to to break your New Year's resolution to stop buying patterns?  No . . . just me, then.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015, Year in Review

Butterick 6129 / Butterick 5209
Sew Over It "Tea Dress" / Simplicity 1997

And so ends 2015.

Butterick 6217 & Butterick 4792 / Vogue 4203 & McCall 2698
McCall 7053 & McCall 2698 / Butterick 4792

Looking back at my sewing output for the year, I am pleased with what I accomplished.

Simplicity 4070 / McCall 7185
Wearing History "Smooth Sailing Trousers" / Simplicity 1997

I have felt rather unproductive as of late, but this collection of garments is rather substantial.

Butterick 5209 / Vogue 7630
Burda 109B / Simplicity 8013

It is also clear that I like to play dress up.  As in, my style is all over the place.

Vogue 8276 / Butterick 6022
Alabama Chanin Skirt / Butterick 6217 & Sewaholic "Hollyburn"

For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking that I should try to pin down my look.  Then again, limiting myself doesn't seem like very much fun.  And whatever would that look be?  For the time being, I guess I will stick with whatever suits my fancy in the moment.

Alabama Chanin "Corset" / Burda "Shawl Collar Coat" & Alabama Chanin Skirt
Alabama Chanin "Corset" & Alabama Chanin Skirt / Butterick 6129

Happy sewing, everyone!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Seventies

I cannot believe I am making (and loving) a design from the 1970s.

What can I say – I love this pattern. 

What I do not like is the required yardage.  This one is a real fabric hog.

Should I ever come across ten yards of suitable fabric, I will definitely make up the full length version.  Or maybe I should swap out another skirt.

I did shorten the skirt by a few inches, partly to save some fabric, and partly because as drafted it hits the leg in a bit of an awkward spot (it is considerably longer than the illustrations on the envelope would suggest).

I would love to see the original vintage pattern directions for the sleeve.  This reproduction uses the sleeve seam as an opening, which places the button and loop closure inside the wrist.  That is not the standard closure for any sleeve I have ever come across, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the reprint has been dumbed down and a dart or placket has been eliminated.

But other than that, I really do love the dress.  It is just that I have learned so much about garment construction from vintage directions, and I wish that information was included with these designs - when I suspect it is not, I get cranky.

What would make me feel a whole lot better is finding ten yards of fabric to make myself another version!

Dress:  Made by me, Simplicity 8013