Friday, December 30, 2016

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo leaves are not a traditional Christmas choice, but this dress turned out to be the perfect holiday frock.  I rather like the unexpected print in a traditional color scheme on this beautiful cotton sateen.

Since finishing the dress on December 12th, I have already worn it three times.  That is almost unheard of for me as I tend to go for a bit more variety in my outfit choices in any given month.  I guess you could say I am quite pleased with the way this project turned out!

The dress is also incredibly easy to wear!

I was not entirely sure that the bloused bodice was going to work for me, but with the help of a wide belt, I really like the look.

The bell shaped skirt is also becoming one of my favorite silhouettes. 

When I stitched up this petticoat a couple of years back, I had no idea how much wear I would get out of it.  It was made specifically for this dress, and at the time, really did not work with anything else in my closet.  Two years later, I have added two other dress designs to my wardrobe that work perfectly with this petticoat.   

And there is a good chance that there will be more 1960s style dresses in my future!  I think I  would even love a solid colored version of this design, provided I can find the right fabric.  What is it about solid colors that I find so off putting when it comes to textiles!?!

Dress & Belt:  Made by me, BurdaStyle 7179 & Vogue 8193
Petticoat:  Made by me, Vogue 4203
Shoes:  Royal Vintage “Marilyn
Necklace:  Mom’s
Ring: Grandfather's class ring

[Disclosure:  The fabric for this project was received in exchange for two yards of fabric from Organic Cotton Plus, but the opinions written here are my own.]

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Casual Corner

Continuing the theme of the trapeze silhouette, here is The Ivy Pinafore!  I tested Jennifer Lauren’s latest pattern release a few months back, and am finally getting around to posting the pictures of my finished dress.

I actually own a similar corduroy jumper that I found at Old Navy of all places, many years back.  It still continues to be a favorite when the weather is lousy.  I just pull on a sweater, the jumper, and a pair of tights, and I look fairly put together - even when I would rather not venture out into the soggy world.

When I received this pattern, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to make myself an improved version of that old ready-to-wear garment.

Since there really was no fabric in the stash that was going to be suitable, I headed out to JoAnn Fabrics, hoping for the best on my testing deadline.  What I came up with was this floral denim.  I suppose you could call this my version of a pair of jeans! 

I decided to add a bit of extra length to the dress so that I can wear it with or without tights.

My one issue with the design was the fact that this is quite a fabric hog.  After receiving everyone's comments through the testing process, Jennifer Lauren has since added a second, more slim fitting version to the pattern.  And although this is not a design that I would normally choose for myself, the oversized silhouette is clearly growing on me.  This is definitely an easy to wear garment that is helping to add a bit of variety to my closet.

This dress was designed to be paired with The Gable Top - which is a fabulous top I have also made up, by the way!  But in an attempt to get through all of the finished projects I would like to get posted to the blog, I decided to wear The Ivy with my first Renfrew top!  And I really love how the two patterns work together.

Shirt:  Made by me, Sewaholic “Renfrew
Jumper:   Made by me, Jennifer Lauren Handmade “The Ivy Pinafore
Shoes:  Colin Stuart
Earrings:  Liz Palacios

[Disclosure:  A copy of The Ivy Pinafore pattern was received in exchange for my feedback on the pattern during the testing process, but the opinions written here are my own.]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Trapeze

This is definitely a different silhouette for me - but every once in a while, I feel like I need to try something new.  

This was one of those projects.

And while I was concerned that this particular creative endeavor was going to be a fail at the half-way point, I am glad that I powered through.  Because I really enjoyed wearing the dress!

Sure, I had a snarky comment from my boss, but that was to be expected.  He rags on my clothing choices, and I raise my eyebrow at his.

Surprisingly enough, I had quite a few positive comments from strangers, most of whom were male.  Perhaps they thought I was with child and were afraid to ask?

I am going to end up calling this one a success.  Phew!  I really did not want to have to scrap this fabric!

There is a distinct possibility that I will make that wool version to be a match back to my original inspiration.  That may not happen anytime soon, but the Trapeze silhouette is beginning to grow on me!

Dress:  Made by me, Advance 8750
Shoes:  Banana Republic
Earrings:  Made by me

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Different Kind of Knit Cowl

A few years ago, everyone was hand knitting "snoods."  Except they were not snoods - they were more of an infinite scarf or a scarf made to look like a draped cowl neckline.  Yes, the English language is full of words that have multiple meanings, but for a brief moment, I thought that a vintage hair covering was coming back into vogue, and that was rather exciting.

But a cowl neckline is something that I love, no matter what we may be calling it these days.

Last year, I purchased a Craftsy kit that included a Renfrew pattern and a length of gray knit fabric.  Gray is not a great color for me, but it was a good deal for the pattern alone.  When the kit arrived, I realized how much I loved this mid-weight rayon blend.  So, I pulled out my fiber reactive dyes and went to work.  This is the result.  Working with these knit fabrics really isn't so very bad!  Which makes me wonder why I was scared for all those years . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Red and Green, Cotton Sateen

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus with an offer to try two yards of one of their fabrics.  What I was expecting to find on their site was a lot of solid colored fabrics.

Well, it turns out, there are also a lot of really lovely prints to be found there.  After perusing the website, I had it narrowed down to four choices.  My final decision had a lot to do with the fact that this ginkgo print cotton sateen is 110” wide!  I figured I could squeeze a dress out of two yards of fabric with that much width to help me along.

Once I had chosen the fabric, I decided that I wanted to make a shirtwaist dress, so I pulled out BurdaStyle 7179.  I have been wanting to try this design for some time, and I thought it would work nicely in a cotton sateen, provided that I could fit all the pieces on two yards of fabric.

To give myself another challenge, I decided that I wanted to graft the sleeves of Vogue 8193 on the BurdaStyle bodice - sleeves that eat up a massive amount of fabric.

Since I was not exactly sure how the combo would turn out, a muslin was in order.

That went quite well, so I cut into my cotton sateen.  This fabric is really, really lovely.  The red dye did bleed quite a bit on the first wash, and the silvery white ginkgo leaves picked up a bit of a rose hue from the water, but I actually like the way it turned out.

I used leftover cotton scraps as a sew-in interfacing.

And I even used up a few fusible interfacing scraps while working on my bound buttonholes.

I really never get tired of making these!

I have tried making friends with machine made buttonholes, but so far, we just don't trust one another.

So for now, I am going to stick with the old fashioned technique.  It has served me well, and I don't plan on abandoning it anytime soon.

And, of course, I had to sneak a bit of rayon seam binding in there for good measure.

About half way through this dress, I had a terrible feeling that I made a mistake pairing the fabric to the silhouette.  I stepped away from the project for a while, and spent my creative hours working on my knitting.

At some point, I got sick of looking at the partially completed pieces on my sewing table, and finally finished the darn thing.

Turns out, I love it!

I am also beginning to like these covered button kits with the mold.  In the past, I have had some bad luck - particularly with the tiny sizes.  This time around, I added a drop of glue (gasp!) to the back piece before sticking the two pieces together which seems to have worked very well.  I think that these buttons have a slightly smoother edge than the version with the teeth that snap into place.

I am not a complete convert yet, but I will be giving these another try at some point.

And as luck would have it, the perfect buckle was stashed away, which was the perfect finishing touch for this dress!

[Disclosure:  The fabric for this project was sent to me by Organic Cotton Plus, but the opinions written here are my own.]

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Vintage Pattern with a Sunburn

A few years ago, I was lucky to have the chance to attend an Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the De Young Museum where there were many exquisite examples of couture garments on display.  My favorite of the day, surprisingly, was was an unassuming wool trapeze dress.

It was far from flashy, but I was in love with the simplicity of the silhouette and the perfect tailoring.  If I could have managed to take it home with me, I would have.  And ever since, I have been wanting my own version.

I initially thought that I would alter Simplicity 1197 into an approximation of the original YSL dress.  However, that particular design was much more fitted than I had expected.  So I decided to set my sights on some of the other project ideas floating around in my head.

Imagine my surprise when I came across this vintage Advance pattern on Etsy.  Clearly, it is a direct knock-off of the very trapeze dress I have been lusting after for years.

This copy of the pattern has a bit of sun damage.  I am always amazed just how sturdy vintage pattern tissue is, but it seems that sunburn is a problem for old sewing patterns as well as pasty skinned people. 

This is a "Sew-Easy!" design, and while there are not very many pattern pieces to deal with, the drafting is pretty darn fabulous.  Even on a basic pattern, they have properly drafted a collar and under collar.  Hooray for vintage patterns!  The pockets are purely decorative (and I am sure that the original couture piece had useable welt pockets), but that is really the only sign that this design took an easy way out.

I would love to make this up in a nubby wool at some point, but this linen cotton blend kept nagging me to give it a chance.

Once I started putting everything together I had a bit of a worry that it was going to look like a muumuu, thanks in large part to the print that I had fallen in love with.  That, or it would have too much of a maternity vibe. 

To reign in some of the extra fabric, I stitched two pieces of grosgrain ribbon in each side seam that snap together at the center back.  My idea was to use a sort of modified bustle effect.  At certain angles, it looks like a bit of a robe à la française (I think there is a more proper term for the sack back gown where the fabric is a part of the bodice itself, but I cannot think what it is at the moment).  This trims the silhouette down a bit, but there is still a lot of volume depending on the angle.

So, I had my doubts about this project while it was in process, but I really do like how it all came together.  And I may just have to try it out in a solid colored wool, perhaps a bit shorter than the drafted version, and let all that volume run wild!