Monday, December 31, 2012

B5814 - Gertie's Draped Wiggle Dress

So given my general aesthetic, it should be no shock that I am a big fan of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing.  (Who has two thumbs and got her book for Christmas?  This girl! Wiggle dress, here I come!)

So it should also come as no suprise that I was thrilled to attemt B5814, the draped wiggle dress created for Butterick. I really love this style and made it out of a green silk Vera Wang slipper satin purchased from Fabric Mart lo these many moons ago.

This dress involves a great deal of structure created through pleating and boning.

I have never quite figured out how to successfully do a FBA on anything other than a standard darted bodice.  So to get the appropriate fit, I cut a 22 on the front bodice peices and graded down to the 18 at the waist and cut a 18 on the shoulder and back sections. 

This structure means that the bodice is essentially a strapless dress with a cap sleeve attached.  

 The volume in the skirt is also created through pleats.  The pleating does create a bit of fluffiness in the lower stomach region, but it is largely covered by the front drape. 


 Sadly, on my version the back darts did not line up  (although the side seams and front darts lined up perfectly) so I ultimately decided to add a fabric belt with a bow that I centered over the drape.

To add to the christmas festiveness, I used red hem tape.

And because this dress is a bit low cut, I made a structured tank out of a green, navy and metallic brocade to fit under the dress and bring the neckline up to what some people may consider more respectable levels.  (Although I don't have an issue with the original cut, after all, what what is double-sided tape for?)

Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, and a Very Happy New Year!

New Year's Resolutions

Goodbye 2012 and Hello 2013!

So it's definitely been an eventful year.  In life I was laid off, I visited England and I acquired a very handsome roommate. I blogged about making two different dresses to attend two different weddings and dressed as a famous painting for Halloween.  In "unblogged" sewing I made a green silk satin dress for a Solstice party, a pair of wide-legged wool trousers, and several casual dresses.  Leading me to...

Resolution Number One:

Blog about my many finished projects!  I have photos, I just haven't written entries.  Probably because I'm lazy.  Some items to look forward to: Gertie's Butterick draped wiggle dress, aforementioned wide leg trousers, the perfect faux wrap dress, and a purple silk blouse with a jaunty bow and gold buttons up the back.  Be excited!

Resolution Number Two:

Tackle the giant pile of UFOs.  I have at least 15 garments sitting in my sewing room in various states of incomplete.  Quite a few items just need handstitching and hemming because I hate handstitching and hemming, while other items are cut out but completely unassembled.  I also need to finish that suit jacket I started in early 2011... It fell by the wayside when I moved and has been hanging around morosely waiting for the day I am inspired to pick it back up.

Resolution Number Three:

Cease buying new fabric until some of the stash is used up.  I firmly believe that part of my UFO issue is that I am constantly getting distracted by new projects that I want to start immediately.  Here is how this usually goes:

"La-dee-da, I am working on a lovely garment which will be so useful when I'm done!  You know what I will need to go with this garment?  Another garment!  But not a garment made out of any fabric found in the two enormous cupboards holding my stash!  No indeed!  I have a very specific vision that will require me to purchase new fabric.  I must head to the interwebz to obtain this one very particular item!  (Furious typing)  I have now found the fabric of my dreams!  But before I log off I may as well check the clearance section.  What is this?  Chartruese silk twill for only $6.99 per yard?  I should buy some as it's such a good deal.  Nevermind that I look sickly in chartruese, I can picture one specific use for this fabric to create a dress to wear someday!  Oooh, this looks pretty... (more furious typing) And this... ($150.00 later).  I can't wait for my purchases to arrive so I can sew an incredibly practical ballgown which will be very useful in my life as a lawyer and not a film star!  Wait a minute... was I doing something before I started online shopping?  Oh well, if I can't remember it must not have been that important."


And this is why I am resolved to put a moratorium on fabric shopping until the UFOs are completed and the stash reduced to a size that will fit into a single fabric cupboard.  (Which is seriously still a lot of fabric to have sitting around actually...)

Most of my other resolutions are related to real life and therefore dreadfully boring (things like finding a permanent job and taking concrete steps toward my plan to move to a larger metropolitan area).  So resolved to be a more responsible seamstress and human in this upcoming year I wish all my readers a very happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Some Vintage Acquisitions

Just thought I would share a few of the items I picked up on my last trip to Flower Child in Lakewood.  This gem of a vintage store carries clothing and furniture but also usually has a nice selection of vintage sewing patterns that can be purchased for just a few dollars. 

Channeling Dorothy Dandridge... or Vogue 8711

So Dorothy Dandridge... fabulous or super fabulous?  Before you answer please read this post about her life from The Hairpin and watch this glorious clip from Carmen Jones.  And now having watched said clip, can you continue on in life without that outfit? That gorgeous red skirt? 
I used a tomato red ponte knit purchased a JoAnns.  The fabric was a good weight and had the perfect stretch although it didn't press particularly well. 
The drape across the front is created by through both pleats and gathers.  Step one involved creating the pleating and gathering on each portion of the front faux-wrap.

I then basted the front sections together...

Before attaching the front yoke panels.


 The back of the skirt boasts both princess seams and a curved yoke which I have to say is quite flattering to those of us with a curvier backside.  

I attached the front and back panels, matching the yoke along the side seam.

Finally I attached the waistband.  The waistband on this skirt is about an inch thick to accomodate elastic.  This sadly leads to some bunchiness and I think that if you used a sufficiently firm knit, the elastic could be eliminated.  I tried on the skirt for final fittings without the elastic and it fit smoothly but I added the elastic as directed out of fear that the fabric would stretch with wear.  

See what I mean about both the bunching waistband?  But also see what I mean about looking nice on one's caboose?


 I paired the skirt with a draped black top for the sultry Carmen Jones feel.  This is an outfit in which you can look at someone disdainfully and say, "You make sounds I don't like." 

I also paired this skirt with a white cami and black cardigan for work which toned down the sexiness factor to more appropriate levels.  Although if you don't want to tone down the sexiness just yet, I'll leave you with this picture of Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.  Because seriously, did you know that in olden days Harry Belafonte was also super beautiful?  He was much prettier than any garment I could possibly make.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Halloween 2012 - A Starry Night Indeed...

This year for Halloween I decided to be a real work of art and dressed as Van Gogh's "Starry Night."  I used Butterick 4918 for the boned strapless bodice and then made a simple circle skirt and applicqued the cityscape and tree peices. 

The dress was peiced from a shower curtain (because I am super classy) and the lining was cheap costume fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric. 

The bodice and back drape was made with tulle in shades of black, blue and pale yellow.  The yellow was utilized as the base color across the bodice and to create starburst swirls to mimic the swirls in the original painting.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Fabulous Pink Raincoat - McCalls 5525

So I didn't finish my mini-wardrobe in time as I got horribly
distracted by my burning desire to own a hot pink raincoat.

I picked up a few yards of Ralph Lauren Water Repellant nylon from
Fabric Mart a while back and found a fabulous houndstooth check
flannel in a perfectly matching pink and white. Given the bright
color, I decided to go with an uber-classic trench coat style,
ultimately deciding on M5525 which has been languishing in my stash
for several years now.

I cut out the D view but in the E length. Due to my lack of planning,
this meant I was a teeny bit short on fabric so decided to do the
underside of the collar in my lining material. In the end it barely
shows and I actually think I like it better this way. It adds a
little extra personality.

Overall I'm very pleased and think I will get a lot of use from this
garment. The fit is great and the coat is both cheerful and warm.
Sadly though, the self-covered buttons have already broken. I love
the look of self-covered buttons but they are so flimsy. I'm
currently searching for a replacement option.

I still plan on finishing my mini-wardrobe even though the time to
enter the contest has long passed. The blouse is almost completed and
the coat is cut out and ready to stitch. My sheath dress turned out
to be a wadder, I just couldn't get the fit right for some reason,
causing great distress. It may be saveable, at the very least I can
chop off the bodice and make a pencil skirt, but that will have to
wait for a day when the sight of that fabric is not filling me with
dispair and disgust.

In other sew-y, craft-y news, supplies for my Halloween costume have
been ordered and are winging their way to me!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mini-Wardrobe Item One: Wool Skirt (B4859)

Mini Wardrobe

Yesterday evening I completed the first item of my mini-wardrobe.  A wool, camel colored skirt made from Butterick 4859.  This fitted skirt with a bias cut front and flirty fishtail hem seems to be out of print.  Pity for those of you who don't have it in thier stash because this skirt fits perfectly.  I made a completely unaltered size 20 and it fits gorgously.  Also it only took a few hours and the majority of the time commitment was hand-stitching the hem!

As stated above, the front is cut on the bias so it drapes beautifully without doing that weird crease over the lower abdomen thing that my fitted skirts usually do.

The back has princess seams (hard to see in the photo) which are incredibly flattering and the added feminine swish of the hem makes this a little more flattering than your average pencil skirt. 

As I was pulling solely from my stash for this project, the lining is some generic synthetic lining from JoAnns that I picked up for another project.  I also didn't have any zippers in appropriate colors so I used a navy zipper to tie in the color scheme with the rest of the "collection."

I also have to recommend this Shetland wool.  It's currently $18.00 per yard but I bought it in several colors from Fabric Mart when it went on sale in the spring (for something in the $5-7 range) and I'm likely to buy quite a bit more this year if it goes on sale again.  It is a perfect weight for either outerwear or classic winter garments such as this skirt or a lined sheath dress.  It presses beautifully and is an absolute dream to sew.  For those of you who can afford such extravagances as $18 fabric, please buy lots...and share with me?

I also can fully vouch for the fact that this is a flattering and comfortable garment as I wore it all day at work with my purple sweater set and looked just as polished at 5:00 as I did at 8:00.  (Probably a lie... my hair was likely frizzy and my lipstick smeared, but my clothing remained impecable.)

Also it gave me an excuse to wear these new shoes which are the prettiest in the whole world!  Who said you can't wear white after Labor Day!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mini-Wardrobe Contest

I have hoped to enter the contests on Pattern Review many, MANY times and have yet to actually finish my entry in the time alloted and actually entered the contest.  However, this month they are running the "mini-wardrobe" contest which requires a minimum of 5 garments (4 of which must be made during the contest) to create a minimum of 6 outfits.  I decided to give myself the extra challenge of working from my stash as much as possible.  It took me a few days to figure out my plan but I think that I have come up with a workable plan that will allow me to create a work wardrobe for fall and winter without purchasing any new fabric.

Now, I might have thought out a series of supplemental garments which will finish my fabulous "vintage glamour" wardrobe... but one thing at a time!

So here is my planned wardrobe:

A sheath dress in a navy pinstripe wool.  The pinstripes are in shades of ivory, purple, and jade green.  I am using an altered version of B4343, finished with bias tape rather than lined because one of my outfit ideas involves layering the dress over my next item:

A pussybow bouse made of sheer ivory silk.  (My thought is that the dress over the blouse will mimic the Heidi Merrick "Kate" dress and the gorgous version made by the Selfish Seamstress herself.)  The blouse will also pair beautifully with this flared, feminine skirt made in a camel colored shetland wool.  

All of these items will pair beautifully with a navy cashmere coat with a vintage fur collar and lined in a white and navy print.  I bought the fabric for this peice well over a year ago and didn't get around to making it up while it was still cold out... Being forced to finish this before the end of September is perfect because Cleveland being what it is, I'll (sadly) probably need it the first week of October!

For my final peice I want to use a cardigan in a shade to match the pinstripe in the sheath dress.  As I am allowed to use a purchased item, I already have a purple cardigan that will work in case I don't have time to create something new.  Ideally though, I'd like to make something new if I can find the perfect sweaterknit because I had planned on the coat being my key outfit rather than the cardigan.  Although either way will comply with the rules.
Happily, I managed to get quite a bit of work done this weekend!  All the pattern peices are cut out for all four garments and I finished the skirt, which fits gorgeously and will definitely become a TNT.