Tag Archives: vintage fabric

The One Year Later Dress

Life is funny. That might not be the most original statement ever to be made, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true!

You may or may not have noticed some radio silence on my end in the past few days. Sorry about that, folks, I just had to take a bit of a break in the post-me-made madness and deal with my life. Like this benefit I was working on for the theater company for which I work. It’s interesting, a little over a year ago I was working on a benefit as well, but I was in a completely different place in my life, different job, different immediate goals, different stresses, different concerns. Now I’m about to leave my full-time theater job for a summer renting apartments (I’ve already started on that score, for the record) and anticipating, in the not-so-distant future,  a completely different existence then the one I’ve been living for the last few years. Uprooting my life, moving myself and my cat to New York, it’s all a lot, and it’s all coming. However, it’s not coming TOO soon, and for the present, I’m just going to concentrate on the here and now. Sure. Because that’s my style. Living in the present.

Still, I’m going to try, and if I can’t focus on the present, at least I can consider the past. And so, in celebration of the past year and all that has happened, and in celebration of my final event at work, I made this dress:

These photos are a touch yellowy. What can you do, I had my lovely friend Katie take them on the fly in the stairwell outside of the performance venue.

The fabric is yet another piece from my grandmother’s attic. I think my aunt must have bought it in her youth, at least, that’s my mother’s theory, it seems rather 1960’s, don’t you think? Hippie-dippy, as my mother says. Still, I had what seemed like half of a table-cloth or something, and it seemed like enough to make a dress. I used my trusty Burda Dress with Cap Sleeves. I know this pattern gets a lot of hate on the internets, but I have to say, it works for me! Yes, the neckline is a bit wide, but I’m into it, what can I say.The issue really is the waist, it’s a bit low and  it doesn’t fit as snugly as one might hope, but I just belt my many incarnations of this pattern and call it a day.

Part of the fabric had a border, so I cut the bodice carefully from the non-border parts (well, the front, anyway) and then cut the skirt on the border. I folded the skirt into large soft pleats. I like pleats more than gathers these days, because gathers make my hips look huge, and my hips don’t need any aid doing that…

I totally adore this dress. Not every pattern works for every person but this bodice is one of my go-tos and I have to say I wear the hell out of every garment I’ve made with it.

Again, pleats are awesome. See, my not-un-sizable rear looks not-horrible with these pleats!

I hand picked the zipper. Fun fact: I hand-pick all non-invisible zippers. I have a zipper foot. It’s just what I do. I know it’s weird. Don’t judge me.

Katie really liked the idea of me posing seated on the stairs. I can refuse Katie nothing. This looks like I’m posing for a debutant ball. Yeah. Like Puerto Rican Jewish girls become Debs.

Can you guess what my favorite part of this dress is? Can you? CAN YOU?

It’s fo sho the pockets. FO. SHO.

Glamour shot!

29 Comments

Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing, Vintage

The Faded Photograph Blouse (MMM Day 6)

It’s an amazing phenomenon that people on vacation dress completely differently then they do in real life. Depending on the locale, in this case, a tropical one, visitors tend to strip down and throw ensembles on their bodies that would never fly in their real lives. As someone who spends a good deal of time on an island that many consider to exist solely for the sake of tourists, it always amuses me to see lobster-red visitors in sarongs and denim cutoffs or shirts made of a single scarf and a distinct lack of taste. I enjoy watching them sip their fruity drinks and loudly ask the waiter if they can have some more “toe-stone-es”, because as well all know, speaking in a very loud tone of voice eliminates all language barriers. That’s just a fact.

But as disdainful as I am, I must admit, I too dress slightly brighter in Puerto Rico. It’s something about the fact that regardless of where you are, the suburbs of Bayamon, the streets of Ponce, a plaza in San Juan, all of the architecture is bright poured cement, faded and grubby at times, but always in a tropical hue. My whole family participates in this, wearing ensembles in San Juan that we would feel rather silly about were we in our homes in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. We just can’t help it. Blame it on the Bossa Nova, baby.

That being said, this outfit, in its demure and docile tones, doesn’t match Puerto Rico one iota:

Or maybe it’s San Juan in the 40’s, right after the war, around the time of the great migration to the States. A faded image from the past.

I get so poetic when I write about San Juan! Back to reality. The blouse is the 3rd piece in my Spring Palette Challenge, Simplicity 4608, a 1940’s pattern.

I look like I’ve eaten something horrible here. But that’s just my face, look to the clothing! The skirt is my nautical bias skirt, of course. Love it.

This blouse wasn’t all that difficult to put together, but man, blouses like this have SO MANY PIECES. It’s continually amazing to me that a blouse is so much more difficult than most other things I’ve ever made, and yet it’s dismissed so easily! Show people a bright easy skirt and they are like, damn, girl! But show them a blouse and it’s like, alright, fine, that’s nice, more skirts! Still, I love this blouse. I wanted a 1940’s blouse pattern for a while, so getting one and having it fit nicely right out of the bag feels pretty good.

Now I seem happier. Because I’m like, screw you and your desires for skirts, I made a BLOUSE, deal with it.

I finished the neckline with bias tape, as directed, and I hand stitched the facings to the blouse body. I followed all the instructions. I usually do, the first time around. It’s the second and third that things get wild…

Not a happy face here, though. Here I’m being told about the Kardashians and not only do I not care, but I am NOT amused. Still it’s a good collar shot. I love the collar on this blouse. Despite whatever my face might have been doing in this moment.

The (rather wrinkled) back is nice and blousy, with a yoke across the shoulders and gathers.

The sleeves are rather long. When I make this in the future, which I probably will do, because despite all the fussy hand sewing and pattern pieces, I like the final product enough to suck it up and deal, I will shorten the sleeves.

So, I typically tuck everything in. I like my waist, so I like to accentuate it, and also, I feel kind of unkempt if I don’t. But this blouse has these lovely tucks which I think are particularly flattering. So I tried it out for a little while.

See, the tucks in the back make this little blousy “shelf”. It’s kind of cool.

I wasn’t sure if you could see the stripes in the shirting, it all sort of looks vaguely blue from the photos. So here you are, a close up. The material came from my grandfather’s attic, and the buttons from the hoader. So there you are, a completely stash-shopped blouse.

Yeah. I couldn’t live with it untucked. Sue me.

Do you dress differently when you go somewhere else? Apart from coats for the north and swimsuits for the south, I mean? Do you have a vacation persona who looks like alternate reality you? Obviously I don’t, not in a drastic way, I can’t even untuck my shirt…

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel, Vintage

The Don’t Trifle With Me Truffle

You know when I told you that I’ve been on a “not wild about what I’m making” kick of late? Well, this dress is a big part of that.

In many ways, I’m a fairly dutiful sewer. I follow instructions, I make muslins, I iron seams four times, I’m good that way. Of course, on the flip side I dry clean NOTHING and I rarely ever re-do anything because I hate re-doing things and I can usually live with the error. But as I’ve been trying to be more careful with my sewing this year, this dress, well, let’s just say I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

I spent TIME on this thing, people. I made french seams, I hand stitched the bodice lining to the waistband seam, I hand-picked a lapped zipper, I  tied off all 20 darts, I was CAREFUL. I made it out of vintage rayon from my grandfather’s attic and a real metal zipper, also vintage, found (with several fellows) in its original packaging. This dress was supposed to be special. It was supposed to be the ONE. We were going to go out to dinner and then go on vacation and the dress would be like, “I’ve never felt this way before” and I would be like “Me neither” and the music would swell and we would fall into each others arms and NEVER LET GO. Yeah. Well, THAT didn’t happen.

Look, it’s not terrible, but it’s just not great. And why isn’t it great? Because of the damn bodice.

So I made a full bust adjustment, as discussed, and went on my merry way, only to come out with a bodice that is both drapey and too large. Part of this might be the super drapey rayon, but even after taking it in a full 2 inches on the side seams, I still have a whole lot of drape going on. It’s not horrible, honestly, but it’s not what I wanted. I feel like Veruca Salt.

Still, I wore it to the final opening night of our season, (and my last opening night with the company!) and I did get some complements, thank you, nice people.

I really love the skirt section, I do. It’s just a shame about the bodice. I don’t know, it’s somehow rather dowdy, which is odd.

A little backview, so you can catch a peak at the lapped zipper.

You can REALLY see how drapey and loose the bodice is here.

Still, it’s a pretty good jumping dress.

See? Good drape for jumping. Not good drape for standing still. The solution? ABJ. Always be jumping.

Ha, just kidding, I hate GlennGarry Glenn Ross. Shut up, David Mamet. Just shut up.

So that’s a sewing kerfluffle from me. It’s not terrible, perfectly wearable, just rather disappointing. I had wanted to wear this to an upcoming wedding but THAT’S not happening, so I will just have to go ahead and make something else.

What about you guys? Any recent frustrations or triumphs?

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Vintage

The Out Of Season Shorts

Aaaaaaand I’m back from San Juan, with a light tan on my face and a longing for the Caribbean in my heart. Our trip was lovely, but completely exhausting, just like always. Why is it that I always need a vacation from my “vacations”? I never come home feeling refreshed, I come home feeling like I’ve just been kicked around for a few days and could use a nice lie down. Does anyone else have that issue?

But I did manage to get a few photos snapped of myself between all the struggle. (Note to self, must invest in tripod or risk wonderful relationship with awesome mother). So here it is, another incarnation of Simplicity 7688. Waring, wrinkles ahead:

I actually made this garment and the other creation I will be showing you this week at least a month ago, but of course the Philadelphia weather wouldn’t have allowed me to model these, and besides, I really made them to take to Puerto Rico. It does, however, feel really strange to be sewing something out of season. Do you sew seasonally, or are you an anything goes type of person? Just like I only drink red wine in the winter and white wine in the summer (it’s the done thing, darling, didn’t you know?) I have, up until this point, crafted based on the temperature outside. But I must say, it was oddly liberating to be sewing off-season! It filled me with such anticipation, and when I finally got to wear the damn things I felt so fulfilled! I really must stop being fulfilled by my clothing….

So. Many. Wrinkles. Especially around the, um, crotch area. I know I should be castigating myself for the bagginess, but I actually really like the fit of these shorts. They are loose, especially in the waistband, and comfortable to the extreme. I added two inches to the hem, just like I did the last time I made them.

I’m so happy when I’m in profile.

The fabric is from the hoarder stash, a pale linen-cotton blend (…I think…). The zipper actually ALSO comes from the hoarder stash, and the snaps I used on the waistband came from my grandmother. So these shorts were virtually free, if you disregard the cost of the pattern, which was about a dollar, and the thread, which was leftover in my stash but, presumably, something I once bought at one time.

I hand stitched the hem, and hand-picked the zipper. But these shorts are so easy they probably took me 3 hours from cutting to catch-stitching.

I used the same fabric to make my Meringue skirt muslin, and then I had a length of it left and I thought, hey, why don’t I make some late 1960’s style shorts? And so I did. Like you do.

I just didn’t have quite enough fabric to make a wider waistband, so instead I have this tiny business, which I don’t adore, but shall live with, because one does what one must.

Back view, baby. I personally think these shorts are ideal for the Caribbean. Lightweight, light colored, with just enough vintage charm to avoid saying “I just jumped off the cruise ship and want to gawk at San Juan and walk around in horrible t-shirts and sneakers and refuse to speak any Spanish because why don’t YOU speak AMERICAN?”. Can you tell I have some mild disdain for tourists from cruise ships? And here I thought I was hiding it so well…

The top of my head may be cut off, but my blissful expression is clear.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a little San Juan street art:

Coming up this week, my Meringue goes Latin, a recent failure becomes someone’s delight, my March sewing kicks into high gear, and I depart for a brief trip to Chicago (what a jetsetter, right?) on Friday! Let’s hope I can deliver all that before my flight….

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Filed under Clothing, 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

Struggle Dives In/ Did someone say something about Fabric?

Holy. Hell. I’ve just done something kind of crazy. I’m not in any way a spontaneous person because I think it tends to masticate you in the glutials (every. damn. time.) But a favorite sewer/blogger/designer/superwoman of mine, Zoe, has been hosting these amazing events, month long marathons in which seamstresses and crafters pledge to wear a garment (or more) that they have created each day of a month. She created Self Stitched September and Me Made March and now, in complete disregard for alliteration, she’s added Me Made June, and I, poor sad novice sewer, have actually signed up. I’m going to do it. One month, 30 days, a minimum of one hand made self created piece of clothing per day.
‘I, Leah Franqui, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June ’11. I endeavour to wear one home made garment each day for the duration of June 2011’

Scaryface. Would you like to join in this madness? You can sign up here.

In other news, I was recently having dinner at my grandfather’s house and we were exploring his enormous clutter filled attic (it’s bi-level. I might cry, there is so much stuff up there. Sigh.) We found not one but TWO vintage typewriters, a framed photo of Eleanor Roosevelt (I have no idea why I’m surprised by this) and a large box of fabric!

And three metal zippers! And two vintage patterns IN MY SIZE! And since I’m the only person in my whole family who sews, I took it all home with me. All of it. Would you like to see some of this amazing stuff? but of course!

A gorgeous 1960's upholstery fabric. Maybe I could make a skirt or pants? Or even be daring and make a dress? What do you think, a cute suit?

Next up we have:

Striped Shirting, of which I have over five yards...oh dear.

And this:

This is one of four funky curtains. Maybe a nice dress? What do you think?

Or this:

I adore this butterfly floral business, it must be late 60's/early 70's. It feels like upholstery or bottom weight, but I don't know what do with it.

This might be my favorite:

This is a linen, and I couldn't love it more. I have about 2 and a half yards. What to do,what to do...

I only have a wee little bit of this:

I'm seeing an apron, no?

And finally, (for now, guys, it’s SO MUCH FABRIC!):

One of a few white shirtings, I love the raised pattern! I have over three yards of this, I'm thinking a white JJ wouldn't go amiss and might be really helpful when I need basics come June...

Yay for vintage fabric, yay for Me Made June and Yay for MAY! Join in, guys, it’s going to be awesome!

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Filed under Fabric