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.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vogue 1117 - a dress for Mike's Wedding

So one of my very best friends from college got married the last weekend in August.  He married a girl who, although I only met her once, I can tell is absolutely perfect for him. They were married in a beautiful and perfectly quirky ceremony at the Housingworks Bookstore in New York.  (Seriously, if you are in New York, check them out... it is not only a great bookstore with friendly staff which also can be used as a gorgeous event space, but your patronage supports an excellent cause.)

Well clearly, such a lovely wedding justified a lovely dress and the opportunity to make good use of the beautiful watercolor floral I purchased abroad!  (Doesn't that sound glamourous in a weirdly 1880's sort of way?)  Given the fabric, I was picturing something like this, from Michael Kors...

Fortunately for me, Vogue released this very pattern a few years back which I had waiting in my stash for just the right occasion!

Isn't it odd how dowdy this dress looks in the pattern envelope picture... I mean, this is a sexy dress and somehow it looks like a burlap sack here? 
Now I knew from reading other reviews that this dress could be a bit fiddley when it came to inserting the side panels.  But it is generally a beautiful dress with a lovely fit.  And no need to to a FBA, I cut an 18 all around and other than adding about an inch of extra room to the back in the hip it fit beautifully. 
To create the side panels you first cut out a 2" bias square (I used the lining fabric) to add some extra heft to that tricksy inner corner (and to have something to stitch to!)

 Then you cut up to the point and flip the bias square to the inside.  This seems to be the bit that is confusing in the directions...

Here is the view from the right side...

Then you stich the side panel in, attaching it to the bias square in the corners.  

And again, from the right side...

Other than that, it's generally a pretty simple dress with some upscale details.  It has both a facing and a lining.
I have to admit that this does make for a prettier interior of the dress, but if I make it again for work or in a more casual fabric I would probably omit this extra step and do a normal (understiched) lining...
The front pleating on the skirt is also a pretty and flattering detail, especially if you wanted to hide a bit of extra "padding" in that region.

And while hand-stitching is generally my least favorite task, it really is worth it for a nice clean finish on the zipper and the hem.

In the end, I'm very pleased with my finished product.  Sadly, I did not get any pictures of me actually wearing the dress and my neglect in completing some details meant that a bit of over-exertion on the dance floor resulted in a "wardrobe malfunction."  The back slit split up to a level that was a bit more risque than is strictly appropriate.  (Guys, my spanks were totally showing... although on the other hand, thank goodness for spanks because without those dreadful bicycle shorts looking things it would have been really unfortunate.)


Dorset Buttons

First of all, I apologize for the long delay.  I unfortunately hit a bit of a snag in my employment situation shortly after returning from vacation which led to a less than productive summer... at least on the blogging front.  You would think that not having to spend eight hours a day lawyering would be beneficial to my sewing/blogging interests but oddly you would be wrong.  I apparently am much more productive when my time is restricted by a structured life environment... who knew?  (Happily though, I did catch up on my watching tv and surfing blogs in my pajamas with the cat duties...)

Second of all, DORSET BUTTONS!  So you have no idea how excited I was to visit a lovely part of a foreign country and learn a craft with a long history in that region.  So to begin... here is Dorset:

Pretty, yes?  This is actually my gentleman friend's parents' back garden.  Oddly it is also the background photo on my mother's iPhone.  She has neither been to England nor met these people, yet she is enamoured with thier yard.  That is how pretty this countryside is...

So to begin a Dorset button you start with a curtain ring.  (Apparently they originally made the rings out of the sheep's horns? There are a lot of sheep in England.)  You cover said ring with yarn using a basic blanket stitch.


 Then you create spokes with your yarn and begin weaving in and out.  There a many possible patterns but I am a mere beginner and not overly creative, so I kept to the basics...

For this version I did a knot around each of the spokes as I wove.  I made a few more in a smaller size as well to use on a sweater that I intend to finish someday...
Now, those who know what they are doing, can make any number of beautiful patterns.  I however, have not reached that degree of talent...yet!