Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gifts for Tino

Valentino has quite a few sweaters that I have made for him, but they are almost ten years old at this point, and some of them are beginning to look their age.  I was hoping to make him a new one for Christmas, but never found the time (and I really was not looking forward to braving JoAnns or Michaels for a skein of yarn during the holiday season).  But since every day might as well be Christmas for a spoiled pup, a couple of weeks back I decided it was time to gift my little guy with some swanky new clothes.

Stashed away in a bin are the remnants of many, many old knitting projects.  Most are small bits that are not suitable for projects, or are made with less than stellar quality fibers, but I have a difficult time throwing it away because it seems like such a waste.  But then I have that bin full of scraps of yarn which makes me feel guilty for not doing anything with it . . .

Well, I finally came up with a use for some of it - sweaters for Valentino the Chihuahua!  A sweater for a seven pound dog does not take much yarn, and with a bit of finagling, those scraps can be put to good use.

I found this pattern on Ravelry and thought it looked like a good starting point.  Turns out, the directions are rather confusing, but I muddled through.

Once I started using up those scraps of yarn, I really did not want to stop.  I thought Tino would look quite handsome in stripes.  And two colors meant using up more leftovers.

For this version, I did away with the hood, since Tino is not terribly fond of wearing things on his head.  He will put up with the hood in rainy weather, but since a sweater will get super soggy when wet, I substituted a turtleneck.

Making a sweater just for him also allows me to customize it.  Most of what I find in the stores do not have an opening for his harness/leash.  The real deal breaker, though, is when the underside of the sweater is as long as the top, or it does not fit snug through the belly.  I am not dressing my dog to be a cute prop - he gets cold in the winter when he goes out for a walk and needs something that he will not soil the first time he lifts his leg (marking the tree is fine, marking his own clothing, not so much!).  

And he certainly does enjoy the attention he receives while looking super smart in his custom made clothing.  To be honest, the prancing gets out of control when a stranger starts complimenting him!

What a showoff!

Sweaters:  Made by me, "Hoodie Dog Coat"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Return to Dior

Oh, how I have missed the romance of Dior Haute Couture.

I was not sure what to expect from Maria Grazia Chiuri, but I was certainly ready to see Raf Simons move on from Dior Haute Couture.  And I can't say I was all that excited after her first ready to wear collection.  Then again, mass produced fashion is not all that exciting to me these days . . .  

But I am thrilled to see such whimsical and truly lovely pieces on the runway, albeit a non-traditional one.  I wonder how many attendees went home with bits of moss in their shoes?

Although I may have to wait until the stormy weather moves on, it is definitely time to pull out all of the fabric flowers I used to wear in my hair ten years ago.

Many of these pieces conjures images of Pre-Raphaelite ingenues which reminds me of late 1990s romanticism.  I definitely would have wanted my prom dress to look just like one of these gowns, and my hair to be a mass of curls topped with a bouquet of silk flowers!

There is definitely a flavor of Grazia Chiuri's past work for Valentino, and I am looking forward to seeing where she will take Mr. Dior's house of flowers in the future.

And for those who prefer a bit more structure in their wardrobe, there are certainly some fabulous options (which probably requires that you have an extra $20,000 to spend on a new jacket - but for those of us with a sewing machine, where there is a will, there is a way).

I now have an urge to make a hooded garment in velvet.  Yep, the 90s are definitely back . . .

And then there are the perfectly tailored pieces giving new life to the iconic Bar Suit.  Personally, I am not sure how the original could ever be improved upon, but I do like to see what each new designer does with the idea.  A tea length version over a sheer skirt is pretty fabulous.

If this first collection is anything to go by, I am so very pleased with Dior's new artistic director.  Mr. Galliano is still very much missed, but I am completely enchanted with this collection, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!  

On another note, this gown needs to get in my closet immediately - and I will be needing a moss covered woodland forest to frolic about in!

[Click on image for source]

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Abstract Floral Appliqué

Sometimes a project comes together even better than expected.

I will admit that I was disappointed when my first muslin of Vogue 9125 did not turn out exactly as I had hoped.

But sometimes having to work through a problem can really turn out for the best!

And I am quite pleased with how this dress turned out.  

Scaling up the design also made this one of the faster Alabama Chanin style projects I have worked on.

If there is anything that I would change about this garment, it would be the 100% cotton jersey, which stretched out slightly after wearing the dress all day.  Those many, many running stitches that created the appliqué certainly help to combat that problem, but the silhouette probably would have worked better with a little bit of extra recovery built into the textile. 

That said, I am not sure I would have enjoyed hand sewing through a fabric with lycra or spandex.  And I do not think that the issue is all that noticeable.

For the moment, I am going to keep my altered muslin.  I may end up adding some extra ease and trying to make this in a woven, or perhaps I will find a suitable knit that I really like.  I would love to get my hands on a heavier weight merino knit . . .

And now I need to think up another project with lots of hand stitching to keep my hand busy.  I keep meaning to play around with some wool felt as an appliqué medium, but I am starting to dream of Spring colors and fabrics, so that may have to wait until the Fall.  But I am sure I will find something else to keep me occupied until then!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 9125
Shoes:  Banana Republic
Earrings:  Banana Republic

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The 2017 Golden Globes

Ahh, the Golden Globes.  As I look down at my post-holiday belly pudge, my first thought is for all of those women who could not indulge over the holidays for fear they would be judged for looking less than "perfect" in front of millions of people.  So thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the red carpet, for getting all gussied up and continuing the time honored tradition of lining up for a firing squad of photographers and critics . . .  

Blake Lively rarely makes fashion mistakes these days, and this dress is no exception.  This velvet Versace is gorgeous; love the train, love the neckline, love the velvet.  The first image I saw was from a side angle, and the chainmail/liquid lame/whatever that stuff is hangs slightly low under the arm which makes the black velvet visible which looks like a mistake.  I am not completely sold on the placement of the "pockets," but it sure does flatter her body, so all I am going to say is that it looks rather silly trying to shove a hand into something I feel is merely decorative.  Let's call it a drape or embellishment and keep the hands away, please.  And I kind of like the matching cuffs with that pop of green, but that might just be gilding the lily.  Hey, how about we play a game and put her in a burlap sack and see how that looks . . . because I think she would still look stunning.  It may not be fair, but this woman won the genetics lottery.  And Versace really knows how to make velvet sing!

Yes, the whole woman in a tuxedo thing has been done before, and will certainly be done again.  In my opinion, these attempts either look amazing or fall horribly flat.  Evan Rachel Woods and Altuzara Custom got it just right.  This almost makes me want to wear a pair of pants!  The double breasted vest with that oversized bow looks immaculate, and the hair is the perfect finishing touch.  My one nitpick would be the length of the pants.  I find it really distracting when you cannot see the tips of the shoes.  It would look ridiculous if the arms of a jacket obscure the entire hand, and I feel the same way about the pants.  Besides, I am sure there are some fabulous shoes under there . . . so why are you hiding them?!  But I just don't care because this looks so darn fabulous!!

I do not know who Teresa Palmer is, but I like her choice of Armani Privé.  This looks like classic Hollywood, and I totally approve.  I would have liked a simple drop earring, or a cuff.  The spare look works, but this is the red carpet, after all.  I have a feeling she did a Coco Chanel and took one too many accessories off when she did that final look in the mirror before heading out.  That clutch is also an odd choice - should have lost the clutch and kept the jewels!

John Galliano was inspired by Gustav Klimt for his 2008 Couture Show, and it appears that Zuhair Murad is as well with this dress on Olivia Culpo (although this is a much more wearable garment).  I love the riot of color.  I am not really liking the bodice treatment here, and I really don't like the makeup, but from the waist down, this is exquisite.  Oh, and I think I like the earring with this dress, but I am going to have to find a better picture before I commit myself to that.  Now that I am really looking at this, I would have preferred to see Emma Stone in this dress and Olivia in Emma's Valentino gown.

I know Caitriona Balfe is in Outlander, and I have seen her wearing some glorious costumes in online photos.  It is slightly jarring to see her in something so modern, but I am now convinced that she is another one of those women who can wear anything.  If I saw this Erdem dress (which I assumed was Prada when I first saw it) on anyone else, I would probably think they were crazy for putting it on.  But this just works for her - that simple neckline is really lovely.  My understanding is that she was/is a model, so I suppose wearing crazy clothes could be considered her job, and boy does she do it well.  In this particular case, I think the lack of adornment except for that floral embellishment and a pair of stud earrings works really well.  Now I think what I would have like to have seen on Teresa's velvet gown was a brooch.

Zoe Saldana is in Gucci.  Her skin normally looks amazing, but this color is not doing anything for her.  I like the idea of the dress, but I think the ruffles look almost sloppy on the skirt.  The fabric either does not have enough weight, or too much.  And then that waist bow is just sitting there, looking like it belongs on a completely different dress.  I think this dress is too girly for Zoe.  I prefer when she wears designs with more of an edge.

I will start out by saying that I am not a big fan of the color yellow.  This particular shade is preferable to the radioactive looking neon worn by a couple of other ladies this year, but I am going to get past the color (which reminds me of Cate Blanchett's Valentino from the 2005 Oscars), because Reeese Witherspoon look exceptional in Atelier Versace.  There was a photo of the side angle of this dress, and I am not sure what the back neckline is doing, but from the front, that twisted detail is quite beautiful.  And I am really glad she decided to wear her hair up!

Does anyone else want to see this Burberry dress up close?  Is it embroidery, is it sequins?  I want to know how that textile was created!  Whatever it is, Laura Dern looks wonderful in this simple silhouette.  And hey, there is some yellow in there . . . what is happening to me . . .

Here is another wonderful silhouette.  But why are gowns breaking on the floor like a pair of men's trousers breaks over their instep?  Why?  What happened to Jessica Chastain's feet?  Enquiring mind want to know.  And when did the embroiderers go on strike at Prada? I find it rather rude that someone put this stunning lady in a dress when the embellishments are clearly unfinished.  Not all asymmetry is attractive on clothing, people.  Or maybe this is a Two-Face Halloween costume; one side is girly, on side is sleek and sophisticated - but her makeup does not match the theme.  I do love those diamond with that neckline, though!  Also, 90s pastels are back, minus the horrible eyeshadow and weird hair clips.  She needs more of that blue color in her wardrobe, though.

I really want to like this dress, but it does not work on Claire Foy.  I think perhaps the sleeves overwhelm her frame.  The silvery pink color of the Erdem gown is really beautiful with her skin, though.  I think this is just too big on her.

This Valentino gown on Emma Stone has potential, but I feel like she was trying too hard to match La La Land (i.e. dancing in the clouds/stars).  The dress reminds me of something Ginger Rogers might have worn in the 1930s.  And I really don't like the necklace with this neckline.  Perhaps they were going for a crescent moon to match the stars, but I find the round and high necklace jarring with the plunging v.  I would have preferred a delicate lavalier.  And has one of the stars escaped the confines of the overlay, or do we think it is supposed to be like that?  I definitely want to see her in that Klimt inspired gown.

Speaking of the 1930s, I can picture Myrna Loy wearing this Marchesa gown that Chrissy Teigen chose.  The metallic is bordering on obnoxious, but I think she pulls it off.  I hate the severe hair and the red clutch, though.  That crazy peplum, though, it pretty fabulous!

Okay, so I have mentioned before that I think Priyanka Chopra is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, but her fashion choices are rarely my favorite.  This Ralph Lauren dress is looking a little Sharon Stone in Casino, especially with that necklace.  The pattern placement is sketchy, both top and bottom, but the gold color is stunning.  Maybe I would like this more if something had been done with the hair.  And again with the weird jewelry choices paired with the plunging necklines.  Someone get this lady a new stylist!

It would seem that Sophia Vergara never saw a sparkle she didn't like.  I love the fact that she is not in the same skintight strapless sweetheart neckline gown she usually wears.  I also really like the cut away shoulders.  And I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am beginning to get sick of the whole tulle encrusted with as many sparkly bits as humanly possible, but let's still look naked underneath theme.  I would be very interested to see one of these gowns up close.  Is it more spectacular than a photo, or does it look cheap?   This particular gown is Zuhair Murad who really started this craze, but now Monique Lhuillier and Marquesa, and everybody else is on the bandwagon and I am beginning to be blinded by all of the flash.  Then again, it would probably be a lot of fun to wear one, so I suppose I can't blame a girl for taking the opportunity!

Okay, I love Sarah Jessica Parker - I just don't love her dress, which makes me sad.  For a petite woman, she knows how to work with volume, and I have seen her haul around yards and yards of skirt with no problem, but this particular gown swamps her.  The horsehair hem issue is rearing its ugly head (again, with the horsehair on satin gowns!) and the bejeweled belt thing just does not look right to me.  Is it supposed to sit above the waistline, or did it just migrate?  Why is it there at all - it really adds nothing to the dress.  I have been staring at this gown for a while, trying to decide if a color change would make this work better . . . I don't think it would.  I really do like the dress, and the sleeve treatment (cold shoulders are back!), unfortunately this just does not work for me on Sarah Jessica.  She has make me rethink red carpet mohawks and plaid thigh-high boots, but every once in a while, I just can't get behind the outfit.

Michelle Williams chose to wear Louis Vuitton.  I really like the silhouette, and the minimal accessories really work - but the lace looks cheap to me.  I think the simple ribbon around the neck is a perfect touch.  This one has me conflicted.  And I really want to see the back of this one.

And just for fun, here is Janelle Monáe in Armani.  I love this - maybe because I miss Helena Bonham Carter's antics on the red carpet and it reminds me of something she might wear.  Although, she probably would have mis-matched shoes and be wearing a bird on her head!  I will admit that if someone else was wearing this, I might think this was slightly cheap looking with the oversized tulle, but Janelle makes this work.

Overall, I was not terribly impressed with the choices this year.  The fact that one of my favorites was a pants suit says a lot.  But I am going to keep searching out all those red carpet photos, just for the fun of it!  And I am already looking forward to the next red carpet . . .

[Click on image for source]

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hand Stitched

I can only go so long before I need a project that will require a whole lot of hand stitching.

I made a stencil of this Alabama Chanin design a while back, but never actually got around to using it.  Until now!

And then a few months back, I made a muslin of Vogue 9125.  It ended up more snug than I like in a woven, but it seemed that it might work in a stretch fabric.  This just happens to be one of those designs that suggests both woven and knit fabrics which I really do not understand.  In this case, the dress appears to be drafted more for a knit than a woven.

Time for a change of plans!

Which meant that I would not need any extra seam allowance to play with, so they were trimmed off of the muslin/pattern pieces. 

I had just enough white cotton jersey stashed away for the dress, so it seemed like it was meant to be.   

Then I had to decide on a color scheme - and this is what I came up with.

The oversized stencil design made this a fairly quick project.

At least, quicker than my previous hand appliquéd projects!

For this particular dress, I decided to use a double strand of embroidery floss to appliqué the two layers together.

It is not the strongest thread option out there, but the massive choice of color options makes the embroidery floss very tempting.

And since this dress really does not have much negative ease, I did not anticipate a problem with my thread choice.

I did use a button and carpet thread for the seams, just to be safe.

The topstitching, however, is embroidery floss.  (I definitely have a tendency to choose difficult to match fabric!)

I was slightly concerned that the large motifs that would be cut away might make my fabric choice a little too thin for my taste, but it turned out just fine.

And then a whole lot of hand stitching later . . .

and I had a new dress!

I continue to love the raw edge look that the original Alabama Chanin pieces have, but I just cannot get used to the idea of leaving edges raw.  Especially with fabrics that curl.

I did, however, use a single fold, so those raw edges are on display from the inside of the garment.  What a rebel, right!  And I guarantee that this is just about as anti-seam binding as I am ever going to get . . .