1960s · Finished! · Millinery · Vintage

Treason! Animals. (AKA The Fur & Feathers Luncheon)

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Readers, I had  fabulous time yesterday at the annual Fur & Feathers Luncheon hosted every January by Julie of Fab Gabs. Everyone looked smashing in their vintage dead things, and it was so lovely catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones (I even learned about Portland’s swing dance scene!). I really wanted to wear a red 60s suit with leopard accessories; however, the cost of vintage leopard can be quite prohibitive, so I decided to sew the accessories myself using vintage patterns. In true annaintechnicolor fashion, I waited until the last minute to start sewing, and so the pillbox hat was actually made the day of (using Simplicity 4124 from 1962. I plan on making the muff, too, when I have time!) and the wrap was not able to be lined yet (I used Simplicity 4216 for that).

Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to expired parking downtown and a date with Peter. Fortunately, when I got to his place, this happened:

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Readers, after all these years of trying to make friends with cats, I finally discovered the secret – dress like you’re one of them! And I made friends with not one, not two, but three cats!

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Alright, hope everyone had a great weekend (whether you pet 3 cats or not!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the odd post title refers to this Franz Ferdinand song off of their latest album, which I’ve been listening to on repeat. Definitely looking forward to seeing them live when they come to Portland in April!

Finished! · Modern Sewing

The Black & White Rachel Berry Halloween Dress

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Happy (almost!) Halloween!

Well, readers, I’ve finally finished this one after working on it for more than a year (you can see the original post here). This dress was definitely one of those projects that totally overwhelmed me at the time (I majorly messed up on some of the fitting and waistline placement, even though I made a mock-up first), but after I put it away and came back to it a while later, went together like a piece of cake.

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The pattern is Vogue 8723, although I altered things a bit with the striped yoke at the top and striped hem at the bottom. I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of square necklines, but I do like how this one turned out.

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I got the fabric from Fabric.com quite a while ago, so I’m not sure they even have it listed on their site. In any event, the fabric is 100% pima cotton, and I spent forever trying to find a black and white striped fabric that wasn’t for home dec! I finally settled on this one, although the stripes could be a bit narrower, IMO.

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And, finally, very special thanks to my dear friend Lauren of White Rose Photography for the pics! If you’re in the Puget Sound Area, I highly recommend her, she does fantastic work!

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Alright, everyone, have a happy (and safe!) Halloween.

Finished! · Modern Sewing

Black and white border print rayon skirt

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So, I’ve already missed two sewing deadlines: the PR application and the Sew for Victory Challenge (I tell you guys, I’m a hot mess when it comes to sewing lately!), so I figured, “What the hell, I’ll just sew a modern skirt!” So, that’s what I did.

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The fabric is this great rayon border print that I picked up last month at the Sewing Expo from Vogue Fabrics Store, although unfortunatley, they don’t have it on the website.

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The construction was super simple on this one – just a basic gathered rectangle with a zipper and waistband. I did put a lining in, since the fabric was a bit sheer.

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Oh, and the shoes! I finally got a pair of red patent Mary Janes. Aren’t they cute!? A little high, but it’s always nice to be taller when you’re petite. 😉

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And speaking of exciting things, did anyone else watch the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men last night!? I won’t give out spoilers to those of you that haven’t, but I will say that I was a bit hesitant for this season to start. The late 60s (and early 70s, for that matter) are not my favorite when it comes to 20th century fashion history, but Janie Bryant has done some amazing things with the show’s wardrobe, and definitely did so last night.

1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · Dress · Finished! · Reenactments

The Spring Ball

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Readers, yesterday was probably one of the best nights of my life. The combination of great food and friends, excellent conversation, amazing costumes, and fun historic dancing made the Spring Ball probably my favorite reenactment to date! I now understand what all those gaggles of giggly girls in Jane Austen novels are so excited about!

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Anyways, I did finish the dress (and thank you all so much for your lovely comments while I was working on it this week!), although I was sewing up to about a half hour before I left. Making a reproduction ballgown in a week while also working full-time is something I definitely do not reccommend. But, it came out so fabulously and fulfilled a personal sewing goal of mine – to make a ballgown.

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By far, the most time-consuming thing was the bertha (which is the front swoopy thing on the bodice). I decided to make a tucked bertha, as I’d read that this was the most common style during the project. And since I got so many questions from the ladies last evening on how I made this (surprisingly, the guys were not interested in this, lol) I thought I would try my best to describe it, as in my mad rush to finish this thing, I forgot to take progress pictures. Anyways, I basically made a bodice facing piece that would go on the outside (those familiar with modern sewing techniques have, no doubt, encountered facings). I cut this out of cotton batiste, and then sewed rows and rows of bias strips of fabric to this. I then sewed lace around the edge, and finally, pinched the whole thing in the CF, so it looks like I have two swoops going on. This whole process is very similar to what Katherine did on her Eugenie project ballgown, which you can read more about here. The results are lovely, but very time consuming, and was the most labor-intensive part of the whole dress.

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Now is the time when I must confess that this is not actual silk. I just couldn’t justify the expense of $20/yard silk taffeta for a dress I will probably wear once a year. Instead, this is a really good fake iridescent silk that – get this – only cost me $5 for all 6 yards of it. It was an amazing thrifted find last year, and the lace on the dress (6 yards @ $3/yard) cost more than the dress! With thread and notions added in, I probably spent around $30 total on this project. Not bad!

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As for the accessories, I wore my grandmother’s pearl necklace (from 1943! Eep!) and the head decoration was made by one of the gals at the museum. I won it in January at the silent auction (when I knew I would be going to the ball) and the white and pink coordinate perfectly with the dress.

My plate also matched my dress, so of course we had to get a picture of that!

A plate is an accessory, right?
A plate is an accessory, right?

Anyways, I came home exhausted last evening and am still recovering today (the whole moving the clocks forward thing is defintely not helping!). My feet seem to be healing, they were quite sore from having danced almost every dance last evening. There were a shortage of gents (as there usually are at these types of events), so some of us gals had to pir up. Which inevitably led to more silliness and fun. 😉

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As for my next project? I’ll be working on a reproduction 1940s novelty dress, so skipping ahead about 100 years in terms of fashion history. Should be a fun little project, with way less fabric!

1950s · 1960s · Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Vintage

The Julia Lennon Dress

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Ok, so Julia Lennon didn’t actually wear a dress like this, BUT Anne-Marie Duff wears one very similar in her portrayal of Julia Lennon in one of my favorite movies, Nowhere Boy. It came out in 2009 and chronicles John Lennon’s adolescent days, and the start of the Beatles (who are surprisingly never mentioned by name in the film).

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Speaking of the Beatles, one of my new co-workers is an older gentleman who told me this past week that he remembers watching the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, after he saw the Beatles picture that I keep in my cubicle. Suffice it to say, I was totally jealous about this and we’ve now bonded over both our love of the Beatles and how we wish it was still the 1960s (which is kinda funny, because I wasn’t even alive then, but minor detail).

Anyways, I wore this dress to our curator’s housewarming/wedding reception party he had today. I had a lovely time chatting with friends about reenacting, antiques, and history, all in this amazingly beautiful decorated home with all this wonderful old stuff.

The punch was excellent . . .
The punch was excellent . . .

As for the dress, I started it last year, but finally finished this morning, as I had so many issues sewing it (I broke 2 machine needles in the process of constructing it, and had to take out all the gathering stitches because they looked awful, so I decided to pleat the skirt instead). The fabric is this great border print I picked up at a thrift store last year, and I used Vogue 8184 for the bodice. This is actually the first strapless dress I made, but more out of necessity as I ran out of fabric. Now I understand why strapless bodices are boned, because this thing kept slipping down. Luckily I had the vintage cardigan to pair it with, so you can’t really see it, but I may have to use some of that boobie tape in the future.

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Oh! I also fully lined it, since the main fabric was so thin and sheer.

Alright, time to get ready to go to bed, as it’s back to the daily grind tomorrow. I had a lovely 3-day weekend (it was President’s Day today here in the US), but I need to pick out my outfits for work this week. Yes, I do that, don’t judge me . . . .

Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern

A Modern Skirt for Work, Take II

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Hey, look! I actually sewed something!

Anyways, after my first modern skirt for work debacle, I decided I need to make another one (I’m a masochist, I tell ya!). Now, don’t laugh when I tell you where the inspiration for this one came from.

Katie Couric.

Really. She’s a very fashionable news woman lady (yes, that’s a technical term), although now she has this talk show that grandma and I watch occasionally, as it’s on every night after Dr. Phil (and we never miss Dr. Phil, or “the doctor,” or sometimes just plain “Phil” as grandma likes to refer to him). The only downside is that I think she may have replaced Anderson Cooper’s talk show, as I never see his show on anymore.

Anyways, grandma and I were watching a Katie Couric show on steroids in sports, and I saw her wearing this cute little grey skirt with a basic black tee, and had to make one. I got the fabric from Hancock’s (it’s a wool blend), and the pattern is Simplicity 1717 (view B). It’s supposed to be one of those “Amazing Fit” patterns, but let me tell you, the fit was less than amazing. I had to take the whole thing in 2.5″ after cutting out my usual size 14 for skirts. Now, I did forget to staystitch the top edge right after I cut it out, so that *might* have contributed. Might have. But certainly not a whole two inches worth!

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Well, the zipper’s supposed to be invisible . . .

Still, I’m really proud of finishing the inside edges of this thing (even though I had to rip out lots of stitches when refitting it), as the fabric frays like crazy. I bound all the raw edges in bias tape, as my usual stitching and then pinking wouldn’t have helped much here.

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Just for funsies, a sneaky picture of me actually wearing it at work. Because the mark of a fashionable working woman is outfit shots taken in the bathroom, right? 😉

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I also wore it with the slip I made a while ago but never blogged about (for some reason. We all know how much I love posting about my underthings on the interweb). Anyways, it’s silk twill from Dharma Trading Co., trimmed with black lace and a black ribbon. Super classy, if you ask me.

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Finally, a huge apology for my lack of posts lately. One of the disadvantages of being a temp is that my position will end soon, so I’ve been looking for other jobs like a crazy lady. I did get offered 2 positions lately that I didn’t apply on (they’re both temp office positions, as well). Apparently I’m *that* good at typing and answering the phone. 😉

1850s sewing · Blogging · Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Holidays · Modern Sewing · Musings · Pattern · Personal · Reenacting · Reenactments · Regency era costuming · Vintage

2012 – Sewing Year in Review

I thought it would be fun to do a sewing year in review, and when I saw the Top 5 of 2012 idea  on Kim-ing (who in turn got it from Crafting a Rainbow) I knew that would be a perfect way to reflect on my sewing projects from this year! So, here we go . . .

Top 5 Favorites

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1. Red suspender skirt. I wore this one twice. Once at the 1938 picnic, and then again for my vintage photoshoot. I’ve always wanted a suspender skirt, and to have one in red that I made myself from a vintage pattern just puts a smile on my face.

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2. Graduation dress for Lauren. This was my first modern dress commission, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. Best of all, Lauren loves it and says she got so many compliments during her party, so yay!

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3. Regency short stays. So proud of myself for venturing into another era in terms of costuming, and I love that I used all natural, nerdy historic textiles for this one and made my own hand-made eyelets.

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4. A frock for the end of summer. I love this little dress, and when I wore it downtown this past summer, I got so many lovely compliments.

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5. My sheer-yoked Macaron. Love this cute little dress and I can’t wait to have another occasion to wear it to.

Top 5 Sewing Fails

1. Rachel Berry Halloween dress. You think I would have started this one sooner, but no. In my defense, I was still adjusting to working full-time.

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2. Speaking of work, my next sewing fail is the skirt I made for work. I’ve only worn it once as the fabric has stretched (that’s what you get for using a cheap poly-blend that’s on sale).

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3. Mid-19th century corset I made this past summer. I used cheap cotton sateen from Joanns and some of the bones were too long, so they kept popping out (despite the fact that I used cotton twill tape to bind it).

4. Not altering that red vintage dress in time to wear for my Christmas party. The bodice is a bit too big and will need a bit of work, so I wore a polka-dot dress instead.

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5. My Regency dress for Bastille Day. I wore this one once and it looks like I’m being choked.

Top 5 Lessons Learned

1. I don’t need to have a new dress for every reenactment. This used to be a huge thing for me, and I would stress myself out the week before a reenactment to finish a new dress. I’ve learned this year that well put-together, historically accurate dresses (like my green wool fan-front) are worth the effort and will get more wear then something hastily thrown together.

2. You can’t care somebody into caring or love somebody loving. Not sewing related, I know, but it’s one of the huge lessons that I learned in 2012.

3. On a similar note, sometimes it’s best to let things go and do what’s best for you. I know that sounds selfish, and maybe it is, but, at the end of the day, you only get one life. I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t give up your dreams for a boy. 😉

4. Ok, back to sewing now. I’ve also learned that I have too much fabric and will never have time to sew it all into fabulous things. I’ll probably be giving a lot of it away at some point . . .

5. Sorry! I can’t think of another lesson I’ve learned (I’ll blame it on the 3-day sinus headache I’ve had). If/when I do, I’ll add it to the comments, okay? Okay. 🙂

Top 5 Blogs/Bloggers that Inspire

1. The Fashionable Past by Katherine C-G. Katherine is an amazing costumer and I’m continually inspired by her productivity level!

2. Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing. Basically, this is my dream. Blog takes off and you get a book deal. Oh, and Gertie is also on sewing tv shows and wears fabulous repro vintage items that she’s sewn herself.

3. Vixen Vintage. I had the privelege of getting to meet Solanah this past summer at the 1938 picnic and she is every bit as fabulous in-person as she is on her blog. Solanah dresses vintage every day and she’s been one of my big style inspirations since I started getting into vintage style back in 2009.

4. Elegant Musings. I just adore Casey (in a fellow seamstress, vintage-enthusiast way).

5. And, finally, My Friends Are Married. Not necessarily a sewing blog (ok, it’s not at all a sewing blog), but it’s so hysterical and makes me not feel so bad about being single. 😉

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

1. Finish my UFOs! This includes the Rachel Berry Halloween dress, which is currently still in pieces.

2. Host a giveaway.

3. Wear more vintage and sew more with vintage patterns. I sorta got my feet wet (so to speak) with the suspender skirt, but I have a plethora of vintage patterns in my stash that I would love to use.

4. Write/film more tutorials. I have a ton of ideas for hair tutorials, which I’m really hoping to get filmed in 2013.

5. Move out of my parents house! 😉

Finally, this will be my last post of 2012 (fitting, don’t ya think?), as I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break. If all goes to plan, I should be back next year (which is also coincidentally next week) with a giveaway! Until then, Happy New Year!

Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Personal

A modern skirt for work

“Work?” you ask? Yes, you heard that right! Work!

Readers, I’ve landed my first post-college job. Though office temp work is not the dream career of mine, it’s nice to finally have more than $200 in my checking account. Plus, there’s only so much daytime television watching one can do. 😉

Anyways, I started this past Monday and making the adjustment from mostly staying at home to working 40 hours a week has been quite difficult! I just come home exhausted and only feel like eating and napping. Except for a few hand-sewing projects (which I find soothing to do in the evenings), I’m giving myself permission this week to not really sew while I settle into a new routine. 😉

Anyways, this is a skrit I recently finished for work. It’s another stash-busting project, with the zipper, fabric, and pattern (Butterick 5285) all coming from the stash.

While I like the final result, this fabric was just a nightmare to work with! It frays like crazy, and the pleats in the back got in the way when I went to put in the zipper.

Another thing I was a bit surprised with in beginning work is how casual everybody at the office dresses (I’m talking jeans and t-shirt casual, and not just on Fridays). Despite this, I’ve decided to adhere to the adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and will not be giving up my pencil skirts, cardigans, or ballet flats anytime soon. 😉

So, how about you, readers? I’m curious: Have you ever made anything to wear to work? Do you dress professional in a sea of casual-ness?

1850s · Finished! · Millinery · Outerwear · Reenacting · Reenactments

A black straw bonnet for living history day

So, despite my self-imposed reenacting hiatus, I kinda slipped this weekend and attended living history day at Fort Steilacoom.

These things are like crack, I tell you!*

In my defense, they really needed more women to bring the fort to life, so I was one of the two women there (I played the daughter of the Colonel, the other gal played my mother).

One of the bedrooms at Fort Steilacoom.

Fort Steilacoom is a bit different from Fort Nisqually (where I usually reenact) in that it is an American military outpost, as opposed to a (mostly) recreated British trading post. Another difference is that Steilacoom is only open select days out of the year, and, as a result, severely underfunded. The museum is right next to a mental hospital (we often joke that when the patients there see us and remark that there are time travelers outside, they’re not joking), which completely gutted the area in 1872 that now there are only 4 of the original buildings standing.

Anyways, the heat in the building wasn’t working (no surprise there ;)) and it was quite chilly, so I wore my red wool basque, tan wool skirt, 3 petticoats, long johns, wool socks, and, of course, my cage crinoline (I really don’t get enough opporotunities to wear this!).

I also wore my new straw bonnet!

The straw form is from Vivian Murphy (aka the Mantua Maker), but I did trim (aka decorate) it! The lace is from Fine French Laces, and the curtain, ties, and bow are from a silk Ann Taylor blouse I thrifted. 😉

The only photo I have of me during the reenactment itself was one taken by Carol, this red-headed older lady that works with the historical association for the museum. She came back an hour later with an 8 1/2″ by 11″ print of it. When she gave it to me, she told me that I could use it for my “publicity.” Too cute!

*Full credit for the connection between reenacting and crack goes to Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz.

Finished! · Vintage

Vintage photo shoot

I look just like I came out of a catalog, don’t ya think?

So, the weekend before last, I had my first photo shoot with my friend Lauren (you may recall that I made her a graduation dress a few months back). Anyways, I wanted to get some better photos of the red suspender skirt ensemble, since I was in such a rush the morning of the 1938 picnic. My eventual goal is to put together a professional portfolio of things I’ve sewn, and this was a perfect project to start with.

The shoot was held in the Nisqually Valley, where there are a number of antique barns (I love old buildings!), in addition to a wildlife refuge with gorgeous scenery.

You can’t really see them, but there are ducks back there!

Lauren was absolutely amazing to work with, despite this being my first pro shoot (usually, I just bribe somebody in the family to be my human tripod). She really put me at ease and I can’t wait for our Halloween shoot next month!

To see more photos from this shoot, check out the Flickr album here!