Finished! · Modern Sewing · Personal

An apron for an Englishman, and courting cake!

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Hey, readers! Long time no sew, eh? I’ve been going through some major life changes as of late, including both moving AND changing jobs, which meant that I wasn’t really in the mood to whip up a modern skirt or sew a repro 50s dress. However, I finally unpacked all of my sewing stuff from moving, and so was able to whip up this dashing apron for Peter, my British Boyfriend (and before you ask, yes, that is a picture of Shakespeare on his t-shirt, and the wording below it says “You discussed me.” Isn’t that awesome!?)

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I *love* the fabric so much! It says “A Gentleman is Always Well Dressed”and features mustaches, umbrellas, and letters. I picked it up locally at Mill End last month when Peter’s mum was here visiting from England (she sews, too!). I have some extra fabric leftover, so I think I may make a matching oven mitt or potholder.

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Peter is actually very good at baking, and made this courting cake for me (entirely from scratch!) to celebrate our 6-month anniversary today. Isn’t that so sweet!? Courting cakes, for those not aware (and I certainly was not until recently!), originated in Lancashire (NW England) and were baked by girls for potential suitors as a token of love, as well as proof that she could bake! However, in the 21st century, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for a gent to make his gal a courting cake. 😉

Blogging · Modern Sewing · Personal · Vintage

Getting back my sewing mojo

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Hey readers! It appears I took an unintended hiatus after Halloween and now we’re in 2014. Oops.

I try not to get too super personal on this blog (afterall, I’m not paying you guys to listen to me talk), but the past few months have been very tough on me, both personally and professionally. There are several changes that I’m working on making in 2014 so I don’t find myself in similar situations (I’m sure there will be posts about that sometime in the future), although I will say that I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the last few months.

The one bright spot in all of this was that I started dating again (yes, I’m going to discuss my love life and it will probably be disgusting) and met the most amazing, kind, caring, handsome, and sweet Englishman named Peter. Yep, readers, I have a British boyfriend!!!!! He’s incredibly witty, does impressions of all of the Beatles (his Paul McCartney is quite good), and loves going to the fabric store with me (we also just watched The Great British Sewing Bee together, which was so good! I highly recommend it, it’s like the genteel, British version of Project Runway for home sewers). Oh, and then there’s the accent. Not gonna lie, sometimes I make him say certain words (like “schedule” and “vitamin.”).

Anyways, he went to go see his family back in England for Christmas, so I made him a mustache tissue holder and a travel bag with the bridges of Portland on it created by a local designer:

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I also made my dear friend, Kady (who I’ve blogged about before), a retro-inspired apron with vintage hat fabric, as she often wears fun hats to the office.

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Of course, I liked hers so much, I had to make one for myself!

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I’ve also been doing some fun vintage events, most recently Church of Sinatra, a once-monthly event hosted by Julie of Fab Gabs. There are going to be a ton of vintage events in the next few weeks (including the Fur and Feathers Luncheon, a Gatsby Soiree, and a co-ed vintage pajama party) that should provide lots of blog fodder for you all.

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Yes, that is a martini glass brooch.
 Cheers, everyone!

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.

1940s · Dress · In-Progress · Modern Sewing · Vintage

In Progress: Swing Dress

First off, thank you so much for all of your encouraging comments on my last post! I’m happy to report that I am feeling better, although this was after I finally went to the doctor on Thursday (after 3 straight nights of waking up with coughing attacks) and found out that I have a cold that morphed into a sinus infection. So, I’m on antibiotics and am sleeping *so* much better.

Unfortunately, this means that my Project Runway application is looking like it won’t happen. I had planned on madly sewing up sample garments for my portfolio this past week (and then putting everything together this week), but I ended up spending most of it in bed or coughing, which threw a monkey-wrench into that plan. I do want to show my best work, though, and there are a ton of skills and techniques (like draping and sketching) I still want to perfect before I even enter a sewing competition of that caliber. I’m trying to be zen about this and follow the adage “Everything happens for a reason,” realizing that it is probably for the best to take a year to work on my skills and build up my portfolio, as opposed to doing this in a week. So, look for more artistic pieces and my journey to learn more sewing techniques on the blog here in the coming year. 😉

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But, I must keep stitching on, and this brings me to my current project, a reproduction 1940s swing dress! I’m using the Sense and Sensibility pattern, as well as this neat novelty/geometric print silk twill fabric that I picked up at the Sewing Expo a few weeks ago from the Vogue Fabrics Store booth. I’d actually seen the fabric there before at previous expos, but never got it because I didn’t have any reason to use it (not that that has stopped me from buying fabric in the past, he hee), but I just couldn’t pass it up this time, and had the perfect use for it!

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Oh, and let’s just take a moment to talk about the amazing shoes I scored, which probably deserve their own blog post. Readers, I found on Etsy a pair of deadstock (i.e. original and never worn) 1940s shoes in a size 7 1/2 for – get this – only $35. It gets better. When I tried them on, they fit like a glove, almost like they were molded around my feet. And they are like perfect, actual shoes from the 40s (not repros) that were never worn. Amazes me. I just want to put them on a shelf and stare at them all day, he hee.

Anyways, back to sewing (LOL). I managed to do a mock-up of the bodice after implementing a few pattern changes, and luckily it fits pretty well!

Yes, I always wear yoga pants and a green tank when mocking up my bodices . . .
Yes, I always wear yoga pants and a green tank when mocking up my bodices . . .

The original goal was to have this done by April 1st for the Sew for Victory challenge. Now, there is still is a chance that that could happen (what, there is!). I plan on spending a very mellow Easter at home tomorrow (after a huge day or errands today) and doing a lot of sewing, and the April 1st deadline might actually be just the push I need to get this dress done, as I have a number of 1940s/vintage/WWII events happening later this month that I would possibly like to wear this dress to. I guess we’ll all know by Monday whether or not that happened, tho. 😉

Alright, that’s it for now, lovelies! Hope everyone has a nice Easter!

Commission · Contemporary Pattern · Dress · In-Progress · Modern Sewing · Personal

In-Progress: Going-Away Dress

Readers, my best friend is getting married this summer, and not only do I have the distinct honor of being one of the bridesmaids, but I also will be making her going-away dress! I haven’t done a full dress commission since last year, and I felt that a custom-made dress would be a great gift for her and way more personal than say a toaster. 😉

Anyways, the design we decided on was a bodice with a lace yoke, like my sheer-yoked Macaron (I’m actually using the same pattern), but rather than a pleated skirt, I decided to go with a circle skirt. I finished the mock-up yesterday (using muslin and really cheap Joann’s lace fabric), and she came over today for her fitting.

Here’s the dress pre-fitting:

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And afterwards, with her wedding colors (the dress will be blue, with a cream lace yoke):

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Not a lot of changes, luckily! The yoke was just a little big, so I pinched out the fullness. I’ll buy the fashion fabric and actual lace fabric this Friday when I go to the Sewing Expo! I’m taking a class on draping, which I’m very excited about.

How about you, readers? Anyone ever make anything for a friend that was going to be a bride? Or anybody taking any fun sewing classes soon?

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 . . . .