Friday, October 20, 2017

A Sassy New Serger

Yesterday, this little girl arrived!


I entered a contest with this dress (someday I will post finished pictures) and I won the grand prize - which means I am adding a new toy to my sewing arsenal!  And it sounds like this particular model is a goodie!!

If anyone has any suggestions on threads to avoid or use I would love to hear.  I avoid the cheap stuff for my sewing machine, but generally do not purchase the super expensive stuff, either, and I assume the same applies to a serger?  Is wooly nylon really as fantastic as people say?

Any advice would be welcome because I am a complete newbie to this whole serging thing . . . the last time I recall using one was in college in the theatre costume department.

Time to stop fearing all the knits . . .

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cherry Picking


Another rayon dress added to the collection!



This one got a lot of wear this Summer, probably because it is so very comfortable to wear.



I always dread cutting into lightweight rayon fabric, and yet I always end up super pleased with the result, so I should just get over myself and stop avoiding the stuff!  



After all, it really isn't that much of an issue.  The fabric just likes to slide around and right off the sewing table every once in a while.  It just can't help itself.


But in return, it is amazingly lightweight and lovely to wear.



If I did not have hundreds of other patterns calling my name, I just might make myself another.


Just as a note on the actual pattern fit, this one is slightly wide through the shoulders and narrow through the hips.  I did not end up adding extra length through the torso (a standard alteration for me) which could be why the skirt seems slightly narrow to me, but I think it is also the drafting.

The yoked shoulders also tend to sit wide on the shoulders.  If I make this up again, I think I will make sure to keep the shoulder edge of those yoke pieces from stretching; maybe even use a strip of organza as an interior stay.


But even without those small modifications, I am very, very happy with how this project turned out.  Too bad I am going to have to say goodbye to the lightweight rayon for a few months . . . but the change of season means I get to pull out some of my hand knit sweaters, so all is not lost!



Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 6320
Shoes:  Nine West

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

♪ ♫ There's no place like [Vintage] Vogue for the Holidays ♪ ♫

Oh my goodness!!  Would you look at this glorious Vintage Vogue design!


Vogue generally does not include any vintage reproductions in their Holiday/Winter catalog, and then they go and release this gem.  Definitely need to add this coat dress to my pattern collection, and I really hope that I can find a suitable fabric in my stash, because I don't think I can make it through the season without this in my closet!

I have used a link button closure before on this dress, and I am wondering if there is some kind of placket behind the opening on this dress since it opens all the way to the waist?  Never mind, I will make it work!  (I think I am also going to need the hat pictured in the illustration . . . )


Of course, there are plenty of new designer patterns.  Not surprisingly, many of them are an easy pass for me.  This Paco Peralta skirt is a little too modern for my taste, but I am strangely drawn to the dolman sleeved top - love that back neckline.


And while there are a whole lot of princess seamed peplum tops in the pattern world, I am strangely drawn to this Zandra Rhodes outfit - I think it must be the fabric.  I need some textured brocade in my life!


I used to skip right on by the Very Easy Vogue section, but there are some really lovely designs to be found there.  And while I would not wear this as a top, I think it has possibilities as a dress.
If there was any question that the 1990s have returned to the fashion world, here is proof:  the trend has made it all the way to the Vogue pattern catalog.  Slip dress with shirt underneath . . . what is that saying about skipping a trend that you caught the first time it came around?  This has multiple cup sizes included, so it has that going for it . . . and it might make a nice slip if the center back zipper was removed . . . but I already have plenty of those patterns stashed away.  Yes, I think I am going to skip it.
I have had some issues with the recent accessory patterns.  For instance, why are there pattern for multiple rectangular scarves and nothing else?  So if I am being honest, I did not have much hope for Vogue 9291, but this wrap top does have some nice lines.  I could probably find something comparable in my stashed patterns, though, so I may pass on this one.


But that Vintage Vogue is definitely coming home with me!!

[Click on image for source]

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Simplicity and a Vintage Set of Sleeves

Simplicity has done it again with their latest pattern collection.  It would seem that they really are listening to their customers.  And to prove it, we finally have a vintage multi-sleeve pattern!  How fabulous is this?!?  Definitely hoping they will continue to release these wonderful patterns because there are so many glorious 1930s sleeves to choose from.  Contemporary fashion may think they have created the "statement sleeve," but they've got nothing on sleeves from this period.


They also have re-printed one of those elusive 1930s lingerie patterns that sell on e-bay for crazy amounts of money.  And I have recently been thinking about making myself a pair of tap pants . . . now I guess I don't have any excuse.


But even more exciting than that . . . would you look at this 1930s reproduction dress.  I am in love!

The sleeves are fabulous, of course.  Smocked sleeves?  Sign me up, please!  But the style lines are pretty darn fabulous, as well.  And should you think those puffed bits are over the top, just look at the more tailored version.  Still pretty gorgeous, right?!


To top it all off, you really can't go wrong with a 1950s swing coat.  I have promised myself not to purchase new fabric until I get through more of my stash (no room for more fabric), so I am going to have to think about what to do with this one.  Because I need this coat in my life immediately!!  Just look at those dramatic cuffs!  The illustration shows a checked print, or perhaps a plaid, but the only plaid coating I have is probably too over the top and heavy for this particular design - but I may have to make it work.


There is also another lovely suit to add to the collection!  This looks late 1940s to me, so I would probably throw that swing coat over my shoulders in extra chilly weather.  And that vintage purse the model is holding is pretty great, too.  How about adding more vintage bags to the catalog, and maybe some hats as well, Simplicity?

This design probably looks best in a magazine editorial paired with dramatic posing.  I think it would be difficult to pull off in everyday life, but I do like that they chose something slightly different from the expected vintage look.  And the skirt is not another basic pencil, it has some lovely pleating through the back; but are those loops used to corral the stole may look slightly odd without that accessory.  I also wish that illustrated blouse was included because I really like the looks of it. 

I love the idea of this Sew Chic design, but I think it needs a few tweeks.  First, I believe the addition of a gusset would greatly improve the fit of those sleeves.  Part of that issue may be that the fit is not very good on this particular model.  The other thing I am not sure I like is the addition of the shoulder piece and the back closure.  Without that piece, the line drawing looks just like a Ceil Chapman design, which I love.  The drape also looks a bit clumsy in the silk dupioni, but that is easily fixed with a different fabric choice - perhaps a multi-layered chiffon drape to contrast with the structured silk and add a pleated overlay of the chiffon to the waistband to tie it all together?


And while I have no need for stuffed animal patterns, look at how adorable these vintage Disney characters are!


Totally fabulous.  Can I come up with a need for one of these?  Probably not, but I still think they are a lovely addition to the catalog.


So much for not adding to my pattern stash this season . . . .

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Cherry printed rayon for a modern 1940s frock


When I made this dress in July, it was seasonally appropriate to wear a lightweight rayon in a summery color scheme.  And while the current weather would actually make this a very comfortable garment to wear, the official arrival of Autumn makes me feel that it really is time to put aside the pastel tones.


So the dress was taken out on the town for one final wear a few days ago, washed, pressed, and put back in the closet until next year.


As far as the sewing goes . . . I have pulled Butterick 6320 out quite a few times, thinking I had found the perfect pattern for a bunch of different fabrics.  Well, this rayon challis from JoAnns (one of the Gertie prints from a couple of years ago, I think) was the ultimate winner.


The rayon is quite lightweight, and with the light colored background, a bit sheer.  I decided to line the entire dress.  And instead of a fusible, I used cotton batiste scraps as a sew-in interfacing for the waist and shoulder yokes.


Since the cotton batiste is quite a bit more stable than the drapey rayon, I like to cut the cotton out first, and then pin those cotton pieces directly to the wrong side of the rayon to cut out that fabric.  Those two layers are then basted together.  When I first started sewing apparel, I used to cut one layer of fabric and one layer of interfacing.  Attempting to get a perfect match with the two was never quite possible, especially with a fabric that likes to move around!


This dress went together quite easily.  I decided not to make any fit adjustments; the only change I made to the pattern pieces was to lengthen the sleeves.  I certainly could have lengthened the torso, but it sure is nice to work directly from a pattern every once in a while.  The fit turned out pretty great, even without that standard alteration, so I am quite pleased.


I went with an invisible zipper for this dress, stabilizing the center back opening edges with a narrow strip of fusible interfacing.


The skirt lining was french seamed.  The bemberg rayon and the printed rayon was very fray happy, and since bemberg is very lightweight, I thought it was the best choice.


The cherry print got my favorite seam binding treatment.


Rayon really is a fantastic textile.  It sometimes requires a bit more patience to work with than a lot of other fabrics, but the end result is so light and floaty.  I just love wearing it in hot weather (which we had quite a bit of this year)!  Farewell, my summer frock . . .




Sunday, September 24, 2017

Polka Dots and Floral Prints are Neutrals, Right?!


I am still playing catch up with a bunch of sewing projects that I would like to get posted on this blog!


In an effort to accomplish that as expeditiously as possible, I decided it would be a good idea to start combining multiple projects in one outfit.  This is one of those pairings.  Hey, at least my resolution to make more separates appears to be a success!


I suppose you could argue that the prints clash.  But really, I have so many different polka dot prints in my closet that I consider them a neutral!  


The top is the "Gable Top" from Jennifer Lauren Handmade.  Over a year ago, I tested this pattern.  Yikes!  This is what happens when you don't blog for months at a time.  

I would guess that most of the online sewing community is aware of this pattern.  It really is a fabulous design.  If/when I come across some great knit fabric, I am definitely going to be making myself more of these.  But for the moment, I am being pretty good about no new fabric purchases, so this pattern is going to be pushed to the back of the queue.  


I have actually made two of these so far.  The first "test" version was made using the pattern exactly as drafted with an inexpensive knit I had stashed away.  For this version, I ended up shortening the length of the bodice and sleeves because the polka dotted knit fabric was leftover from making this dress and there was very little to work with.  I actually prefer the shorter length.


It was necessary to cut the pieces on the cross grain to make everything fit with my small fabric pieces.  Since the knit has four way stretch, I figured that shouldn't be too much of a problem.


And it worked!


The top was originally made to match another Jennifer Lauren pattern, the Ivy Pinafore.


Then I found this floral cotton fabric on a trip to JoAnn Fabrics while looking for a non-directional print suitable to make myself another version of my favorite skirt (Butterick 4792).


The idea to match these two pieces came about because scraps of the polka dot knit were still on my cutting table at the time I started working on this skirt.  The blues matched perfectly, and the rest is history.  Now if only I could find some beautiful wool knit, I might be able to stomach making a solid colored version of the top.  But prints are just so much more interesting to play with!!


Blouse:  Made by me, Jennifer Lauren “Gable
Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 4792
Shoes:  Corso Como “Webster”

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Emmy Awards Red Carpet 2017

I keep meaning to get back in the swing of things with this blog, but I continue to find other things to distract me.  But since the Emmys were this past weekend, and I haven't put my thoughts on a red carpet down on virtual paper in a while, I thought a critique would be a fun way to get back to it.

Once again, I continue to be surprised when my favorite look of the night is a pair of pants, or should I say, pantsuit.  What is happening here?!?  But I think we can all agree that Claire Foy looks radiant in Oscar de la Renta.  Love the understated jewelry paired with that embellished neckline, love the dramatic drape, the shoes are perfect (and the fact that I can see them is very much appreciated).  The hair and the makeup is pretty perfect, too.  It's definitely the best ensemble of the evening, in my opinion!


Multiple hemline lengths continues as a red carpet theme, and I really like the variety.  I would say Michelle Pfeiffer's dress (another Oscar de la Renta) is a bit informal, but then again, this is the Emmys, not the Oscars.  I don't really like the way the diaphanous material becomes almost opaque in the skirt, and the embroidery is a little clunky looking, but I do like the overall idea of the dress.  Not thrilled with the hair, but it would be rather challenging to make Ms. Pfeiffer look bad.  And there it is . . . on almost anyone else, I think I would have passed this dress right by.


I would really like to see the texture of this Zac Posen gown up close and personal.  His designs have been rather hit and miss for me lately, and while this silhouette is nothing spectacular, I do like the pleating on the skirt, and from what I can see, the textile looks gorgeous.  I love the emerald accessories, and I actually like the nude lip here.  And the hair is actually styled, imagine that!


I do love a caplet as an unexpected accessory on the red carpet.  I think that the low ponytail does not work with the volume that the caplet adds to the silhouette, especially since the color of the hair matches the dress.  Zuhair Murad does this bead encrusted gown on a sheer fabric look over and over, and while it can get boring, this particular one works for me.  The necklace also looks off, but I think if the hair was piled on top of her head, I might like the diamonds as a collar.  Or perhaps she could wear the diamonds in her coiffure, √† la Ginger Rogers or another 1930s movie siren.


A print on the red carpet is always fun, but very challenging to get just right.  I think this silhouette works really well with the bold print design.  But we do have a case of the old horsehair hemline rearing its ugly head.  Why on earth is there horsehair added to a train?!  I am not sure who Alex Hudgens is, and I think I would have chosen a lavalier on a long delicate chain in place of the stiletto earrings for this gown, but overall, I really like her look.


Speaking of prints, I can't find any information online about Catherine Dyer's gown, but I am guessing that it is vintage.  The clunky bag is a horrible addition, and I am not sure I like what is going on in the shoe department, but I am definitely intrigued by this dress.  The floral print is not my favorite, but at least this has some personality.  I think this dress choice belongs on a cabaret stage, with a oversized flower tucked behind the singer's ear, and not in a daylight shot on a red carpet, but I do appreciate the far from standard choice.  Unfortunately, the styling just went wrong, from the sloppy hair right down to her bracelet and earrings.


Here is another different approach to the standard red carpet look.  I love the print, and this may be heading into Morticia Addams territory, but I think the golden bronzy print does wonderful things for Jamie Alexander's complexion, as does that makeup.  It's a glamorous Halloween look.  And do I spy some little birdies in that print?  I would also like to thank Ms. Alexander for not succumbing to the highly contagious "thrusting her thigh out of the slit in her dress" sickness that affects so many actresses on the red carpet these days.  


Now, I do love a good velvet . . . and the color of this is yummy.  The Ralph Lauren design is rather boring, but can we talk about the scraggly hair for a moment.  This may be the worst yet.  Who looks in the mirror and thinks this is "done."  This honestly looks like she just rolled out of bed with last night's makeup smeared on her eyes and did nothing to her hair.  The silk velvet deserved so much better . . .


Speaking of gorgeous green colors, this is an amazing color choice for Shannon Purser.  Don't have any idea who she is, but her stylist is right on the money with this fabric and color for her pale skin.  I do wish the non draped side of the bodice sat slightly off her shoulder - I think it would be much more flattering to her silhouette.  The clutch doesn't really work for me, and the embroidered additions of the butterflies is slightly arbitrary, but I think that could easily be fixed by re-spacing them or grouping them a bit differently.  Overall, this is a beautiful and dramatic look.


Reese Witherspoon is adorable, and if anyone can get away with wearing a slightly lengthened suit jacket as a dress, it's her.  I wish the the fabric was a little less shiny for this look, but the shoe choice is perfect for this.  Her legs look amazing in the Stella McCartney design, so all is not lost.  But next time, save this one for the People's Choice Awards, or something a little bit less formal.


Okay, I HATE this color, and I think it makes Angela Sarafyan look green in the gills, but the design lines and the smocked sleeve are gorgeous.  The slit is probably overkill; I can't imagine she would have trouble walking with all that fabric in the hemline, and I think it ruins the line of the skirt.  If this was on someone with coco colored skin, I think it would be stunning, but this particular lady needs to stay away from this hue.  Her makeup is also not helping her look any less flu symptomatic.  Now if there is a merlot colored version, or perhaps sapphire or emerald green, I would love to add this one to my closet.


Now Viola Davis could get away with wearing chartreuse, and come to think of it, the silhouette of that last gown would also look amazing on her.  But she picked another amazing color for her Zac Posen dress.  This is gorgeous on her.  Hate the clutch with that bracelet, and I am a little confused if the hairstyle is supposed to be asymmetrical or centered, but I am going to ignore that and hope that it is just a strange angle for the camera.  Another wonderful red carpet choice for Ms. Davis - now if she would just learn how to walk in heels.


Oh my god, what did Jane Fonda do to her face?!?  I cannot even look at the dress because I am horrified by the disfigured face.  I guess we just have to title this "when bad plastic surgery happens to beautiful women, Part 42,329."  Okay, now I am going to take another look at the actual dress.  The shoes are atrocious, the hair is really bad, and with the pink color it looks like she is attempting to channel Malibu Barbie, the necklace does not work with the neckline of the gown . . . it just keeps getting worse.  Actually, I think the Brandon Maxwell dress had some promise, just not with all the distractions.  And why did she do that to her lovely face?!?


Nicole, Nicole, Nicole . . . finally you choose to wear some color!  And guess what, you look wonderful.  This is probably my second favorite look of the night.  And here is another bejeweled neckline; I usually hate those because they remind me of bad Macy's prom gowns, but this looks rich.  Love the length, and I even like her hair color - hooray for no more platinum blonde on pale skin!  Okay, I think the mis-matched shoes are a little much for this dress, and the hair is a little messy for my taste, but this is a really lovely look on her.  If I am being really nit-picky, Calvin Klein needs to be a little more careful with the hemline, but other than that, this is stunning.


Unfortunately, we couldn't escape without some actress wearing a gown that matches her skin color.  At least Shannon Woodward has dark hair, but this dress would look so much better on her in a tone that does not blend right in with her complexion.  I do love the silhouette, though - the bodice and the sleeves are beautiful.  I would love to see the back of this; do I spy another caplet?


Ahhhh - what is this hair?!?  Make it go away, please.  I almost missed the amazing fabric because I was distracted by the brassy and incredibly ratty and lank hair.  The asymmetrical ruffles need a little work (maybe they should overlap slightly, or stop slightly lower on the hip?), but there is the possibility of something really lovely here.  Gosh, I love sleeved evening wear!


More bad hair, but I am going to give William H. Macy a pass.  Felicity Huffman, on the other hand, looks fabulous from head to toe in Tony Ward.  The color is amazing on her, and I love the textile.  Is it embroidered, or a burn out, do you think?  This is another one that I would love to see up close.


Show business kids usually irritate me, but this mini tux is just too cute.  Why is everything so adorable when it's tiny?!  Not entirely sure that I love the lack of socks, but if a cropped pant is going to work for anyone, it's Miles Brown.  Not sure what show he is in, but the kid has attitude, that much is clear.  And why don't men wear white dinner jackets on the red carpet more often?


And for the grown-up, female version, here we have Evan Rachel Wood in Moschino.  I love that she keeps wearing these feminine versions of tuxedos every award season.  I hate that it so often appears that she has no feet.  Where is my hint of gorgeous footwear?  Oh well, I guess no one can be perfect.


[Click on image for source]