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 . . . .

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 · In-Progress · Modern Sewing

Sneak Peak: Halloween dress!

Just a quick little in-progress shot of my Rachel Berry Halloween dress that I’m working on now. I managed to get quite a bit of work on it this afternoon, to the point where I only have the skirt and lining to construct. Ok, so that’s still a lot, but I can be a quick sewer when I need to be. 😉

I also need to make the shoulder straps, although I decided to do that after I sewed the striped fabric along the top of the bodice so that I can match up the stripes. I was a bit worried when the fabric arrived and the stripes seemed to be further apart than in the original, but I think it’ll be ok.

Ok, that’s it for now. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Holidays · Modern Sewing · Musings · Personal

Another Rachel Berry Halloween Dress

First off, my sincerest apologies for such a long absence! Life has been crazy, made more so recently by the fact that my southern grandma has moved in. She’s an amazing woman, who was was born on a farm in Louisiana during the 1920s, grew up during the Great Depression, became a Rosie the Riveter during WWII and settled down and raised a family during the 50s and 60s. She’s basically experienced all of 20th century history and is such a priceless antique! 🙂

Anyways, Halloween is around the corner, and I’m finally starting on my dress. I’ve decided to go as Rachel Berry again this year (you may recall, I was her last year, as well), after seeing this little number:

I mean, she’s wearing a witch’s hat, how could I not!?

Anyways, after searching for quite a while for the perfect black and white striped fabric (most of them are home-dec weight), I finally found this! I just ordered it yesterday, and am hoping to get it in the mail soon!  In the mean time, I mocked up the bodice using Vogue 8723. I was very fortunate that it mostly fit (I just had to take some width out of the bodice). It’s a pretty standard, boring bodice mock-up, so no photos of that. 😉

What about you, readers? Anyone sewing their own Halloween costume?

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?

Finished! · Modern Sewing · Refashion

Pedal pushers in beige with red flats

Here’s another pair of thrifted cropped pants I refashioned into pedal pushers. Much more muted than my first red pair, don’t ya think? 😉 Anyways,  I woke up this morning and it seemed as if the temperature had plummeted by 20*. Perfect weather for sweaters and cropped pants! Oh, and cute flats, as well. 😉

I just love the look of pedal pushers with a sweater. They’re casual, yet chic, and I always feel as though I channel Betty Draper when I wear them. 😉

Want to refashion one of your own pair of pants into pedal pushers? You’re in luck! I wrote a tutorial on how to do this a few months back, and you can view it here.

Also, there’s still plenty of stuff left in the Autumn blog Sale! Help a starving broke gal out by buying some fabric and costumes!

Alright, I’m done with the self promotion. 😉 Hope everyone is having a nice week so far!