Blogging · Personal · Vintage · Vintage Modeling

What I’ve been up to over the past month

Well, what I've been up to besides this . . .
Well, what I’ve been up to besides this . . .

So, I’m not dead.

Great way to start a blog post, huh? 😉

Anyways, I certainly never intended to take a month off from blogging. That’s just what happened with how crazy my personal life has been lately, and my laptop is on the fritz (seriously, I will never buy an HP ever again, and I don’t recommend the brand to anyone, unless you enjoy constant frustration coupled with drinking). Nevertheless, the past month has been quite eventful, and I’ve been documenting with the iPhone. For those interested, here is what I’ve been up to:

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  • Finally bought a dresssform! I went antiquing with a friend a couple weeks back and there it was, standing outside. The best part was that I only paid $50, which I consider a steal, as most of the similar dressforms I was finding online were at least $175. Now my only problem (besides getting a cat so I can finally be a real seamstress) is coming up with a name for her. I’m thinking Lucy or Daphne, but I’m open to suggestions.
  • My best friend got married and I was a bridesmaid!!! This involved a new look for me:

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  . . .  got my hair did in an amazing 60s bouffant by Kristen Behlings,  . . .

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and tried on AlexSandra’s neat glasses.

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Anyways, summer is finally here! I have some really neat vintage events occuring over the next month, and I’m hoping to finally get some more sewing done with the wedding over. I promise you it will not be another month before I post again, ok? Ok.

Blogging · Personal

Apparently, I’m an inspiring blogger

The lovely Anna Worden Bauersmith (Anna W-B, as I like to call her) of If I Had My Own Blue Box recently awarded me with a Very Inspring Blogger Award. Anna is amazing at mid-19th century millinery and accessory sewing, and has published several publications on those very subjects that you should definitely check out!

Anyways, the rules are to thank the person that nominated you (thank you, Anna!), and post 7 facts about yourself. Rather than 7 facts about me (because I really have nothing interesting to say on that subject, I sew and bake and watch Mad Men), I’ve decided to post 7 recent happenings/things I’ve been doing lately. Sound good? Here we go . . .

1) I just got an iPhone. As somebody who has never had a smartphone before, this is a huge transition, BUT, I have to say that I love the darn thing. It’s a really smart device and incredibly handy to have. I also finally feel like a member of the 21st century, he hee.

2) I also just signed up for PayPal. It’s also a handy thing to have, although it is *so* not helping my vintage clothing addiction . . .

3) Speaking of vintage clothing, I just bought 2 vintage swimsuits in the last week. The first one unfortunately does not fit, so I’m hoping that the second one (which is in the mail on its way to me now!) does.

4) In related vintage news (see how everything is flowing nicely? LOL), I also started swing dancing regularly again. Very good exercise, and very fun, too!

5) Speaking of good exercise (but not fun), I also started running again. I used to do this a ton when I was a teenager, but fell off the wagon. It’s a good stress relief for me, though.

6) Speaking of stress relief, I’m also in the midst of planning my summer vacation to Berlin and Vienna! I haven’t been to Europe in 2 years (and Berlin and Vienna in 4), and it’s definitely time to go back.

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Eating apple streudel in Vienna, Summer 2009.

7) And lastly, I finally saw Lincoln, and I have to say that Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter* was way more entertaining. I’m sorry, but it was. In Lincoln, Abe just sat in a chair most of the time and read or talked in a deep Lincoln voice, whereas in Vampire Hunter, he twirled around a big, shiny axe with some badass background music. Still, I will say that Lincoln’s costumes were way better, but both depictions of Mary Todd left something to be desired. Hey, wouldn’t it be neat if they did a crazy Mary Todd biopic!? Now I would pay good money to see that! 😉

*I don’t know why I love this movie so much, but I do. You can read my review of it here.

Blogging · Personal

Liebster Blog Award

Let me preface this post with a caveat: I’m horrible when it comes to blog awards and memes. Which I feel awful about, because I truly am grateful and really humbled by being the receipient of such lovely gestures. So, if you’ve sent me a meme or given me a blogging award and I haven’t responded to it yet, I apologize. It is absolutely nothing personal, and actually, when I receive blog awards/memes, I start thinking about how I’m going to answer the questions they typically come with, get really exicted about a post, and then life happens and those plans go out the window. I’ve decided to break this habit, and so I’m dedicating the month of April to responding and answering this blog awards and memes!

So, now that that is out of the way, the lovely Lara of dreamingofavonlea recently awarded me with the Leibster Award. Thank you so much, Lara! I’m tickled pink (and the logo is pink! he hee). Here are my answers to the 11 questions she asked:

1. If you had to describe your style by comparing it to a fictional character, who would that be and why?

Hmm, interesting question! It would have to be Rachel Berry from Glee. She wears a lot of vintage-inspired looks (well, not lately, she’s kind of into the short-shorts), and I love incorporating vintage-inspired into my everyday look. Plus, I get compared to her on a weekly basis. I mean, if Lea Michele ever were to die prematurely (knock on wood), I probably could replace her on Glee. After getting a tan, of course.
2. Do you have any other hobbies / obsessions as well as those you blog about (e.g. mine would be Harry Potter)?

Probably the Beatles. I have the biggest crush on Paul McCartney (yes, I know he’s old enough to be my grandfather, shut up) and I love listening to them in the car.
3. What is your favourite thing you’ve made / posted about and why? Remember to show us!

Probably my reproduction ballgown I wore to my first ball last month. I reached a personal goal of making a ballgown (something that has been on my wish list for ages) and I felt like a pretty princess in it. Oh, and I sewed it in a week, which even impressed me. 😉
4. And the least favourite?

Regency dress I made last year. I had high hopes for that thing, and used really good fabric to make it, but it’s just too small and too tight. It is for sale, though. 😉

5. If you could only make 3 more things and then you had to quit sewing forever, what would you make and why?

Oh, this is a toughie! I would probably make classic pieces that I’d want in my wardrobe forever and pieces that I had always wanted to make for the challenge. So, limiting myself to 3, those would be: 1) A classic trenchcoat (think Burberry), 2) an 18th century gown (something I’ve wanted to make forever), and 3) something vintage.
6. Where do you find inspiration?

Mostly old photographs. I love vintage photography. My southern grandma is also a big inspiration. I love looking at photos of her from the 40s, and she’s taught me to never leave the house without some form of jewelry on!
7. How do you feel about the whole lining vs facing vs binding debate (I may be imagining that it’s a debate)?

I’ve not heard of this debate! I will say that I’ll only put a lining in if I have to (ie if the fabric is sheer) and a facing in if I have to. Otherwise, I let my undergarments do the work. Oh, was that TMI?
8. What is your least favourite part of sewing (and do you do it anyway or cut corners)?

Fitting. And making a muslin mock-up. I’d much rather use a pattern I know will fit and go from there. But, if I’ll be cutting into fabric that is really valuable OR I know the design is not something that can easily be adjusted during the sewing process, then I will make a mock-up first.
9. How do you like your surroundings when you sew? I.e. Do you clean up as you go, listen to music, face the window, watch telly? Basically describe your sewing situation.

You, know I don’t really have a typical sewing situation. Sometimes I sew in between commercial breaks while watching tv with the fam, other times I’m in my room watching a costume drama and sewing along to that. I guess the common denominator is that I can’t sew in complete silence (so, when I’m not watching tv or a movie, I’ll listen to music).
10. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Well, being a history nerd, this is a tough question! Probably my Polish grandmother (babcia). A lot of the relatives say I look like her, but I never got to meet her since she died about 10 years before I was born. Apparently, she was very sassy as well!
11. Do you prefer to make things for yourself or others?

Myself, definitely. Of course, when people find out you sew, they automatically want you to make them something. I’m happy to sew for friends and family, but other than that, you better be paying me some good money to spend my precious sewing time on you. 😉 Gosh, I’m starting to sound like the Selfish Seamstress, huh?

So, that’s probably more than you wanted to know about my sewing habits (and Paul McCartney crush), but there you are, kids. 😉

Blogging · Personal

Hanging in there

flu-typist

Just a quick note, readers, to let you know that I am, indeed, alive. Life has just been super-busy since the ball, and now, all of the sudden, I have so many sewing deadlines looming (like the Sew for Victory challenge, then the Mad Men challenge. Oh, and the application for Project Runway just came out and I’ve decided to apply for that, as well, cuz I’m a masochist. So, samples need to be made, and off course, in true PR style, they give you like no time to complete the 25-page application) in addition to catching what seems like the plague (the photo above is what I look like blogging right now, lol). Anyways, I hope to have some finished items to show you all this week. For now, I hope you all have had a nice weekend! Drink some tea for me!

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?

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!

Regency short stays

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!

Holidays · Personal · Vintage

A Vintage Bird Beret and Small Business Saturday

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers (and for non-US readers, hope you had a lovely Thursday!). I spent the day relaxing with family, doing just the right amount of cooking (I was responsible for the cranberry sauce and pumpkin cheesecake), and watching Skyfall (which made me miss London like crazy). Of course, I had to get dolled up, so I wore my red shirtdress, new black peacoat, and the latest addition to my wardrobe, my grey bird beret!

Bird hats are one of those quirky vintage style things that I love (Solanah even has a blog devoted to this very topic!), and when I found this hat last weekend while antiquing, I just had to have it. The birdie is made of beads, and there’s a little feather sticking out of the back.

Of course, I had to let Marshy try the hat on:

On a somewhat related note, as we enter the biggest shopping season of the year, I would just like to encourage you to support your local vintage and antique businesses and participate in Small Business Saturday! Part of the reason I’m able to continue with my passion for vintage is due to fabulous local stores that embrace the past.

Finally, I want to extend a huge apology for my lack of posting lately. I realize it’s not very becoming of a sewing blogger to post about their Halloween costume project, and then not blog again until Thanksgiving. To that, I can only say I am genuinely and sincerely sorry. I was almost at the end of finishing the Rachel Berry dress when I tried it on and realized that the waistline was not at my natural waistline, but an inch or so below a la the 1920s. So, the dress is currently in pieces. Besides that, I’ve been dealing with some stressful personal things lately (namely, I’m in the process of moving again for the 2nd time in the past 5 months) and have just not been motivated to sew. I’m hoping this picks up with all the holiday stuff I have planned to sew. 😉

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?

For Sale · Pattern · Personal

Autumn blog sale!

It’s time for another blog sale, readers! This one comes out of necessity, as my parents are selling my childhood home, and I have to move everything to mom’s (we won’t get into the emotions involved with this here ;)). Suffice it to say, I probably will have more stuff to sell in the near future, as I become more able to part with things in the stash.

As usual, here’s how this works: Leave a comment about what item(s) you want. Once you’ve done that, I’ll e-mail you with your total and a shipping estimate (you do have to leave an e-mail address to comment on any posts, but don’t worry, these are never shared!). Unfortunately, at this time, I’m only able to take cash or checks. Sorry for any inconvenience that may cause!

Alright, onto the goodies!

Costumes/Reenacting Clothes:

Reproduction Regency dress made of black and white striped cotton swiss dot lawn, and fully lined with cotton batiste. I wore this once to an event in July 2012, and it’s too small for me. Has an empire waist and closes in the back with a drawstring at the neck and waist. $75. Measurements:
– Waist: up to 28”
-Bust: up to 34”
– Skirt length: 44”
– Sleeve length: 22.5”

Mid-19th century wrapper: Reproduction wrapper made of reproduction cotton print fabric inspired by a piece in the Sturbridge Village collection. I wore this once at an event for a total of probably 15 minutes. It’s just too small for me, and I felt a bit “meh” about it after I made it, so I’d love to pass it on to somebody who could use it! The wrapper has a v-neck, bishop sleeves, piped armscye and waist, a fitted lining made of 100% white cotton, and self-fabric ties. $175. Measurements:
– Bust: up to 34”
– Waist: up to 27.5” with lining hooked
– Sleeve length: 22.5”
– Skirt length: 44”

Reproduction mid-19th century sheer dress made of a barred lavender stripe sheer cotton fabric. Another dress that I wore once and feel “meh” about. Dress has a v-neck, waistband, bishop sleeves with a cuff and sleeve cap with ruffled trim. Closes in the front with hooks and eyes. $190. Measurements:
– Bust: 34”
– Waist: 30”
– Sleeve length: 18.5”
– Skirt length: 40” (with a 6” hem)
– Skirt circumference: 176.5”

Reproduction gored Edwardian petticoat made of 100% pima cotton with a ruffle on the bottom. Petticoat closes in the back with a drawstring. I made this for the Titanic Centennial in April, but never wore it as the circumference of the dress I made was smaller than that of the petticoat. To see more photos (including a back view and close-up of the ruffle) click here. $50. Measurements:
– Waist: fits a 28” best, but because of the drawstring, will fit anywhere from 24” to 33”
Hip: up to 44”
Length: 34”

Apparel Fabric:

Floral printed cotton (almost a twill), perfect for a modern dress. Piece measures 56″ wide by 1 3/4 yards. $10

Tribal-looking border print fabric, perfect for a modern dress. Piece measures 42″ wide by 2 yards. $10

Remnant piece of black and white striped 100% cotton baby rib knit. Piece measures 27″ x 30″, and there are a few scrap pieces in there, as well. $3.

Bright pink 100% cotton shirting fabric (plus thread!). Piece measures 58′ wide by a little over 1 3/4 yards long. $11.

Camel colord sateen. Cotton (97%) and spandex (3%) blend, this fabric would be perfect for a jacket for fall or some cute cropped pants! 50″ wide, 2 yards long. $12

White cotton shirting with light and dark blue dot stripes. Piece measures 46″ wide by 1 yard 30″. $9.

Brown and white cotton striped shirting. Piece measures 58″ wide by 1 and 3/8 yards. $7.

Peach cotton eyelet fabric, originally from Vogue Fabrics Store. Piece measures 59″ wide by 1 and 3/8 yards. $6.

Patterns, $2 each:

Top Row:

-Butterick 4254 (historic corsets), sizes 6, 8, 10

-Simplicity 2365, sizes 16, 18, 20, 22, 24.

-Simplicity 3823 (Special occasion halter dresses), sizes 14, 16, 18, 20, 22.

-Vogue 8701, sizes 6, 8, 10, 12

Bottom Row:

– Simplicity 2508, sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

Simplicity 2936, sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, 16  SOLD

-Simplicity 2703, sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, 16.