Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Sew Impulsive Skirt

Because I know you were desperate to know, I did complete my Meringue skirt over the weekend in a size 8, and while it looks better, I don’t think this is a style that really is perfection for my form. Oh, well. I made it in the acid-bright stripes and I love the colors, no matter if my mother thinks them garish. And no, I didn’t do scallops, the opinions were overwhelming against, thank you, lovely commentators, and as I read them I realized they just echoed my own feelings. Anyway, the skirt is done, but I’m not going to show it to the world until my trip to Puerto Rico in the beginning of March, so you will just have to trust me, one Sew Colette down, four to go. On to the Pastille!

Do you ever think about something so much that you just can’t get it out of your head and all of a sudden you simply must sit down and do it? No? Well, we aren’t the same person, then, because that’s 90% of how I sew. I tend to get a little obsessive about things. Like, before I started sewing, back in the days when I actually bought clothing from stores (oh, such a long long time ago, i.e., last year), I used to visit pieces of clothing I c0nsidered buying once, twice, three times sometimes before I actually bought anything. I’m a planner, that’s me. So most of my sewing projects are planned well in advance. For example, I know the next five projects I will be doing, their order, and I’ve even cut them out, which is a bit odd but I was on a roll this weekend, so…yeah. All cut out, waiting to go.

But recently I came across this length of stretchy wool knit in the lot of fabric I got from that hoarder, and I was like, I know exactly what to do with this. And despite my desire to sew more slowly and take more time with construction, this sucker took me literally an hour and ten minutes. I know this because it took me an entire episode of Pretty Little Liars (Don’t laugh, it’s awesome) and ten minutes of Castle.  From laying out the fabric to cut to trying on the final product. BAM. Skirtified.

The color is a little off in these photos, the true color is a wine-dark red. And check out the hot rain boots. Mmmmmm. Stylish.

Yeah. I totally made my mom take these photos after we attended a luncheon at our synogogue that was focused on women in Judaism. I love those things. The food is always awesome because Feast Your Eyes does the catering, and I’m always the youngest person by at least a few decades. Classic. The speaker had the most amazing bow tie. What a mensch.

Back view! I have to say, for something that took me less time then it takes to, say, cook a good soup or clean my whole apartment, I’m really loving this skirt. It’s so comfortable! It’s stretchy and warm, and forgiving of mealtimes. It looks good with most of my current wardrobe, and it’s flattering!

How did I do it, you ask? Well, I measured my waist and my hips and then just cut out two rectangles, with some careful sketching right on the fabric (and some acrobatics, some of the scant yardage had been attacked by moths, or maybe worse, I don’t want to think about what, but don’t worry, I cleaned it pre-sewing!). Then I cut out a waistband. I stitched it up using zigzag stitch, and it wasn’t until I was trying it on that I realized I had used a regular needle, not a ballpoint one! Horrors! But…it didn’t actually seem to matter. Bullet dodged. Maybe because the material is so thick? A mystery.

Fun fact, the shirt I’m wearing in these is the first shirt I ever made with knits! And if you are observant you may notice that it’s a bit wonky, but I care not. I am, however, very excited to receive my Renfrew Shirt Pattern in the mail, because I think it’s going to be my go-to knit top shirt. Oh, Tasia, you spoil me.

See? I’m so happy with my one impulsive decision! Maybe I should do things impulsively more often? Yeah. I’ll plan to be more impulsive. That should work. Let me just go plan that.

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Filed under Clothing, Fabric, Sewing

The Muslin Diaries: Volume 1: The Colette Meringue Skirt

First of all, I must apologize for the quality of these photos. It is surprisingly difficult to take your own photo in a mirror with a large camera. Don’t even get me started about the back view, I can’t even deal with it. But I made a muslin for the Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook Meringue skirt, and as part of Sew Colette I vowed I would post it, and post it I shall. And my feelings about it can be summed up in one word. Meh.

Yeah. Socks on my feet, dirty laundry in the background, bad lighting, shaky camera work. You like that? Yeah you do. God, HOW am I still single? Such a constant mystery.

I cut a size six, which is my usual in Colette patterns. Well, I say usual, but as I’ve only made one bottom from Colette, the tight-fitting clover, I have no real idea. (And can I just say that I really need a clothing line made for ladies with junk in the trunk. Can we please start assuming an ass, pattern companies? Assume there is an ass. Assume an ass goes in there. Thanks. )

And I used Sarai’s tutorial to make a waistband, which I believe I made too wide, so that’s something for next time. I love a wide waistband, but I don’t think it works in this skirt. It came out a bit wonky, which I’m going to chalk up to seamstress error.

While I would love to think those flecks are sparkles of magic that follow me always, I know that they are really light hitting the mirror. Sigh. A girl can dream.

So, on my rather voluptuous form, this skirt, which I feel like is supposed to be an A-line, is more of a Tulip. Which is okay, but I think I would prefer a bit more ease in the hips and rear.

Speaking of:

There are these odd wrinkles right at the top of the skirt. What….is that? I don’t know what that means! Is it too tight? Do I need a swayback adjustment? Is it just weird (yes, it is)? Any advice?

The scallops are a bit wrinkled in this photo, but they actually turned out quite well, because I ignored all advice from the book, sorry, Sarai, and used this tutorial from Patterns Scissors Cloth, which worked beautifully. No funny flat bits, just nice round scallops. Thank you, Sherry!

I think I might just go up a size. It would be nice to have a bit more ease in the hips, and I don’t mind a loose shape because I think that’s the intention of the skirt. But this is a perfectly wearable muslin and something I will probably get some use out of, so that’s good.

So here is the big question. I’m going to make this again, because I do like it and it’s cute and simple and because I signed up for this challenge, damn it, so I’m not going to quit on the first pattern! And I’m going to do it in this fabric:

But I simply must posit a controversial query. Do I actually want a scalloped hem?

I know. Jump back. That’s the whole cute design element of the skirt. It’s the POINT of the skirt, really. But…I just don’t know. Will I feel silly in scallops? Are scallops really all that wearable? Can I in fact, rock a scallop, or will it be a huge struggle? Discuss. How do you feel about scallops? Cute element or little-girl silly? And any ideas about that wrinkling in the back?

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Sewing

All Jacked Up

Something just happened to me that never happens to me. Let me just say that I am not a winner. Oh, I don’t mean I don’t achieve things, because I am a little achievement bunny and I live to achieve. But I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly lucky. Well, I live in the first world and have a loving family and my health and the ability to pay for my life, so yes, I’m very lucky, blah blah grateful blah. But I don’t win, like, contests. Or free prizes. Or quizzos. (That’s quiz night or quiz bowl, for those of you who don’t use the term quizzo. Which you should. Because it’s awesome.) The last two things I have won include a basket of Avon products I won last summer, and the one and only quizzo I’ve ever won last December, all because I guessed the best on the question “what is the population of Latvia”. It was at the Latvian Society. You don’t have one of those? Tough luck. Move to Philadelphia.

Anyway, the point of this is to set the scene, as it were, for my shock, surprise and delight when I was recently contacted by a lovely person from onlinefabricstore.net, and asked if I would make a spring jacket in one of their fabrics and post about it right here, on this very blog. It took me all of two seconds to respond with a resounding YES PLEASE THANK YOU. And then giggle to myself happily at my desk for the hour before it was time to go home.  What? Fabric makes me happy!

And even though I promised myself I would under no circumstances get any more fabric in any manner, I feel strongly that I can/will make an exception in this case.  Because, guys, this fabric is really nice. REALLY nice….

Oh, it’s linen. And it’s pretty. And it’s burlap. And it’s pretty. Did I mention it’s pretty? Fun fact about this fabric, I emailed several close friends and was like, which color should I go for? And then I completely ignored most of their suggestions and went for Black. Black goes with everything. I like black. What you gonna do about it?

Now the only question is, which jacket should I make with it?! And that’s where I need your help. I’ve never made a jacket before, but it’s very much a goal for 2012. Now, given that this is a linen fabric, which I will line with cotton, this is of course going to be a spring jacket. So I want something lightweight and stylish that provides a nice layer for spring in the Mid-Atlantic. And I want something that isn’t going to take me more then a month to make because A. I have no patience and B. I actually want to wear the damn thing in this spring. So here are some patterns I’ve come up with that I thought might be nice, and I would very much welcome your opinions on the subject.

This is Simplicity 4494, a pattern from 1943 that I recently purchased on Etsy from this lovely seller. I just adore the collarless version, what do you think? Pros, adorable pattern, cons, might be hard to fit being vintage and all. Thoughts?

BurdaStyle’s Stella Jacket. I’ve seen several BurdaStyle members make this and I’ve really liked their variations. Pros, lovely simple shape, shouldn’t be too hard to whip up. Cons, I might not really wear this all too often. It doesn’t really seem like an every day staple, now, does it?

BurdaStyle’s 3/2011 Peplum Jacket. No one seems to have made this pattern on BurdaStyle, which perturbs me, but it’s fairly adorable, don’t you think? I I love me a Peplum. This one seems pleated, which is interesting.

Not the long coat, but one of the short jackets, with the princess seams. It kind of reminds me of this BurdaStyle jacket:

The Steffi. Cute, no?

 

So what do you think? Any one of these strike your fancy? Any other suggestions? I would love to do something from an independent designer but I haven’t come across anything I straight up adored. Right now I’m leaning towards the vintage Simplicity or the modern Simplicity, but I’m open for suggestions! I really need your guidance on this one, so any comments would be highly appreciated!

Incidentally, the population of Latvia is, according to a highly scientific google search, 2,242,916. Just so you know, for quizzo.

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Filed under Burda Style, Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Don’t Be The Bunny, (or why I can’t buy any more fabric for a long while)

Struggle, you might be asking yourself right now, what’s the deal with that title? You don’t have any bunnies. You like bunnies. Why wouldn’t you want someone to be a bunny? Well, honestly, I have nothing against rabbits. This is actually the title of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals (of which there are not many, because when it comes to musical theater I’m pretty dead inside, despite how many showtunes I can sing, word perfect). But this song comes from Urinetown, which I adore. And the first time I saw it I got so into this one particular song that I tortured my friend Bix with it for, like, a year. And really that all has nothing to DO with what I want to be writing about right now but I have recently been thinking about another song from that musical, The Cop Song, when I think about my fabric stash.

Why? Well, there is this line about a hoarder. And as I recently got two large garbage bags full of fabric from a former tenant who was, in fact, a hoarder. Which is sad. Really sad, actually, hoarders make me very sad.I don’t watch the show, because I know I would find it unbearably disturbing. But we did have a hoarder tenant, and he did leave many many many things behind when he left. Including fabric.  A lot of fabric. Some of it was scrap, some of which I saved for a pre-school class or something (coincidentally, if you know of one that needs scrap fabric, do let me know…). Some of it wasn’t my style, so I gave it to the good people at the Resource Exchange (seriously, if anyone is from Philadelphia or the surrounding area, check this out, very cool). But most of it I kept. And most of it is AWESOME. Wanna see?

One yard of this vaguely Japanese pattern from, one must suppose, 1980.

Two yards of this gorgeous knit. Hello, Ballet Dress Number 2.

1 yard, sadly of this awesome feathered blue cotton. What to do, what to do….

3.5 yards of this woo plaid business.

It was a crowd pleaser, clearly.

Fleece. Koala Bears. 1.5 yards. What else can I say?

2 yards of green bottom weight, whose content is unclear. I’m thinking 40’s style shorts. Thoughts? I don’t wear a ton of green, as it turns out, but it’s never to late for now!

3 yards of this plaid, that is actually a knit! WHAT? Crazytown.

2 thin yards of this chiffon.

Two yards of stretch velveteen. This one is pretty pimp, I must say.

3.5 yards of this funny speckled knit. What do you think, cute, or muppet? OR BOTH?

About 3.5 yards of this lace, which is only 20″ wide. I have a bit more in white, about 4 yards, same width. This will be a cut carefully kind of fabric. Clearly, Tiny Tiger approves.

This is just awesome. I have 1.5 yards of this, which must be a upolstery fabric but never mind that. The only thing printed on the selvage is “His Majesty”. The hell? It’s all part of the awesome.

2 yards of this candy-colored mid-weight cotton. This will be my Meringue skirt fabric. Get excited.

1.5 yards of wide canvasy (not a word) bottom weight.

Just under two wide yards of this tan knit. I’m thinking a shirt for my mamala. She’s an autumn.

Around 12 yards (12!) of this polyester chiffon.

3 yards of this floral rayon from 1969! How awesome this this? It might be my favorite one!

I love it. I LOVE IT! What can I make with it? The possibilities are endless.

So now I have all this fabric. And this isn’t even everything, it’s just the most photo worthy objects. I also go a bunch of lining fabric, and a fuzzy wool knit that I have already transformed into a stretchy skirt. I couldn’t resist! It wanted to be SEWN! I’m helpless before fabric.

But of course, this means I can’t really buy anything for a while. So my winter/spring plans are to exclusively shop my stash and try to use up some of this immense yardage by May. But I must say, I have to pat myself on the back for wandering through the sea of stuff in the hoarder’s abandoned apartment and salvaging all this fabric. It would have just gotten thrown away, and wouldn’t that have been a real tragedy? What a waste of gorgeous stuff, and of perfectly usable fabric! Instead, I’m going to take all this and make something pretty. Many somethings.And to think, two years ago I wouldn’t have known what to do with all this. Now, I’ve got all kinds of plans. I know we say this all the time here in the sewing blog world, but man, isn’t sewing the best?

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Filed under Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing, Vintage

It is on in a manner that might remind you of Donkey Kong

I don’t know about you people out there, but personally, I like a good challenge. For example, right now I’m in the midst of knitting my first sweater. Is it a simple topdown stockinette stitch creation appropriate for someone who has been knitting for just over three months? Ha. That’s funny. No, it’s a cabled cardigan with blocking and seaming and all kinds of things I’ve never heard of before (and you can find out more about it here). Because that’s my personality, you see. You gotta learn to run before you can walk.

So when I found out about a couple of brilliant ladies who are sewing through Colette Pattern’s Sewing Book, I was like, bring it on. I want to sew every pattern in the book, so I might as well do it with a group of talented and lovely seamstresses, led by Miss Crayola Creepy and Rhinestones and Telephones. So in sum, this winter/early spring, I will be participating in Sew Colette. And we begin with the Meringue! I should really make my muslin, given that they were “due” today. Oh, well, that’s what the weekends are for, right? So I promise to display a Muslin by Saturday. That’s the plan, Stan.

The goal is to take it month by month, and make one garment, in the order Sarai and God intended, at a time. I will be posting my fabric choices later, and I’m happy to announce that they all come from my newly inflated stash. You see, circumstances have conspired to dump bags and bags of free vintage and thrifted fabric upon me, and I must simply live with the consequences. Poor me. Cue the violins, please.

That’s actually all I’ve got for right now. You can check out the flickr pool (even though I really don’t know how to use flickr, it just seems weird) here. And to sign off, gratuitous cat photo. Like you do.

With a handmade toy. Duh.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing

The Must You, Darling? Pants

Well, I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to make a fuss, or anything, but I made another pair of pants. Actually, pants isn’t really the right term for what I made. I made trousers. Honesty to god trousers. Wide legged 1940’s style sick baller awesome rockstar trousers. Miss Marple style solving crimes, making romantic connections and generally achieving at life trousers. Bam. Like you do. When you literally win at life.

I made these pants over my winter break from work, but I didn’t get the chance to photographer them until yesterday. I paired them with a vintage sweater I recently picked up at a shop in Old City, which in my mind looks very cute, but in reality looks a bit waist-less. Oh, well. You can’t have everything.

Usually I dilly-dally with words, but this time, here it is, photos of my triumph. Read mortals, and weep:

Yeah. That’s right. Trousers. These come by way of Simplicity 3688, a lovely vintage reproduction pattern. The pattern actually includes a skirt, which I’ve made, a jacket, a blouse and these pants. High waisted, wide legged and full of delightful vintage flare, these pants were on my to-make list for about a year. A year, people. That’s, like, the entire lifespan of a honey-bee. Think about it.

But I was afraid, really. Pants. PANTS. I began sewing about a year and a half ago. Back then, did I think I could make a thing like pants? Absolutely not. I was like, tote bag? BLOWING MY FRACKING MIND. And now I make pants. My, how times have changed.

Okay, yes. They are a bit wrinkled. And yes, I’m in the middle of an upscale thrift store. I got a t-shirt for my mom for 5 dollars. You don’t know my LIFE.

So I made these from a wool I got from my beloved Jomar for 5 dollars a yard. I got 3 yards, which, at Jomar, where the cutters are as generous as they are surly, means about 3.5 yards. I made these pants, and a pencil skirt (post to come) and I still have a fair amount left. Jacket muslin? Mini-skirt? Who can say.

I look sadly devoid of waist in these photos, ,which is sad, because I have a lovely waist, it’s one of my favorite things about my body. Oh, well.

I made my lovely friend Laura take these photos. Laura is the best, and she humored me while we took these in the middle of Buffalo Exchange, an excellent thrift/resale store which we both deeply enjoy. These pants look very elegant with these four-inch Steve Madden heels. They don’t look quite as elegant with my typical Dansko Mary Janes, but if one balances the comfort of one versus the style of the other, I will take my Danskos any time.

Let’s talk about the butt, shall we? How nice do I look back there? These trousers fit me well in the posterior, I must say.

I am super short. Well, not SUPER short, like my beautiful and awesome friend Jenny, who is Shakira sized, but fairly short. Fun fact, of my three best friends from college, two of them are not only my height (5′ 2″ and 1/2″ ) but also my shoe size! (8.5). Yeah. We did not become friends over such things, but they ended up being this weird thing between us. I can’t complain. All the ladies I know have excellent taste, and I love being able to scour their wardrobes for goodies. At least, I could when we lived in the same place. Now, I just dream.

Still, I was worried about these wide legged trousers. But I honestly think they can make short ladies look good, when they are hemmed to the right height.

That’s the trick, right?

The sweater, you ask? Acrylic. Probably late ’50 or early 60’s.

I love it. It’s a touch loose but so comfortable and I adore the shape .

This is a side view. Here is the thing about high-waisted trousers, they can’t highlight a great feature (your waist) while screwing a feature you might actually like (your tummy) that isn’t %100 flat. LIKE ANYONE’S IS. But  I love these, I feel so grown up in them.

Laura suggested that I stand in 4th position, and I thought that was nuts. And then I did it. And it worked so well.

That’s Laura on the side. It’s a shame she wouldn’t let me shoot her in this adorable cape-coat she got. It was lovely.

Okay, now for sewing notes. This was, for me, a wearable muslin. Honestly, the waist is fine, the legs are fine, but the rear is a bit tight, and the crotch is as well. So the next time, I will be adjusting those things. But for the most part, this fit works for me and though it’s restricting,I like this fit. I feel so ’40s, and all I want to do is dismiss my cute but tedious fiance and fall in love with that fashionable stranger…

Don’t you?

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Filed under Fabric, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The I Don’t Do Casual Dress

I almost never spend New Years Eve in Philadelphia. I adore Philadelphia with all of my heart, but for whatever reason I just don’t seem to ring in the new year in my hometown. Last year I had an amazing time in New York with my friend Becca, and the year before I was in London with my friend Andrew and we did things with duck fat that can’t be even remotely considered healthy choices. But they were delicious ones….

Anyway, this year was no exception to my out-of-town rule, so when my friend Lee invited me up to Cape Cod for the holiday, how could I say no? And I’m so glad I went, because I had the most fantastic time. Highlights included but were not limited to impromptu dance parties, late night croquet, fireworks, making dinner for 17 people ( like I do), getting to spend time with Lee and my friend Lisa and a score of other old and new friends who were filled with awesomesauce, and drinking everything in the house. Everything. In. The. House. But for me, mostly wine. And then Makers Mark. In a wine glass. Because I like things fancy.

I really do like things fancy.  I would say that comes to me directly from my mother, who got it from her mother. I didn’t own a pair of jeans until I was about 15 years old. I can honestly say that I’m usually overdressed for things, or at the very least, the only person in a skirt. So when I called Lisa, who had been to Cape Cod before, and asked her about the dress code, and she was like, oh, it’s super causal, I was like, ….okay. Causal, you say? And that’s, what is that, exactly?  But I try to make an effort, and when in Rome, right?

And yet, I made a dress.

Don’t yell at me! It’s super casual! It’s made of knit! (Ooooooo!)

I bought this fabric last summer (as in, a year and a half ago) at PA Fabric Outlet. It was in the special clearance section and I got two yards at 2.98 a yard. I honestly had no plans for it for the longest time, after all, I’d never sewn with knits and I was a bit afraid of them, really. But I recently came across/fell in love with Dixie of Dixie DIY, mostly because she’s excellent and charming and wise, but also because she did a series called Never Fear Knits, teaching cowards like myself how to deal with non-woven fabric. And I actually read all her posts and made myself a shirt from Burda Style’s Lydia pattern. You will never get a post devoted to said shirt, which I’m actually wearing right now, because it’s a bit wonkey (first time, people, come on!) and I don’t want you to make fun of me. But I wear it all the time, so whatever.

And then, like manna from the heavens, Dixie released a pattern FOR FREE called The Ballet Dress Pattern. Now, this was a limited free download but it’s still for sale for a measly three bucks over here. AND she did a sewalong! Which I meant to follow but got very impatient/was on a deadline for my trip to Cape Cod so I went ahead! Oh, well.

 

What can you do. So I missed the instructions about the neckline binding and as such mine is a little loose and slightly gapes. But in every other respect, I really love this dress!

I used the zig-zag stitch on my machine and had no problems at all with my usual foot. Instead of stablizing the shoulder seams with clear elastic, I used seam binding, which worked just fine. I used regular elastic at the waist, and didn’t QUITE match my stripes, but I don’t honestly care. This dress is so so so comfortable, and never wrinkles, is warm and forgives me for a large meal. What more could you ask for?

No matching chevrons. Whatevs. You can’t have everything, and I in no way had enough fabric for that sort of thing.

I made a medium. When I make this again (oh, I will be making this again. Many times. Short sleeves, long sleeves, ruffles, embellishments, the works) I would take it in a bit at the waist. You can’t see, because it’s belted, but it’s just a bit loose. But it’s quick and fantastically clear and easy to make. Thank you, Dixie! You’ve made me a convert, I really like knits now!

I love the sleeves. Rather drapey and fun, no?

I did not, alas, take these photos in Cape Cod. I was too busy with the aforementioned fantastic time I was having. So I made my friend Ben shoot them after brunch at Farmacia when I got back home.

Thank you, Ben. You are the best. He even indulged my wanting to photos of odd things, like my cool belt/nailpolish:

I was like, people will want to know! Right? So the belt was my grandmothers, and the polish, which is grayer in real life, was a gift from Lisa. Thanks, Lisa!

The light was great this day, so I took some shots on my way home from brunch:

And one last one of happy knit-clad me:

And that’s about as causal as I get. At least, in public, anyway.

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Filed under Angela Kane, Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing