Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Looking 55 is great... if you're 60.

I like to buy old stuff.  The other day, I stopped by one of my favorite thrift stores. And I found...

A cute vintage fold-over clutch.

Some wonderful old ironstone.

And it's a darn good thing I got a great deal on it ($6 for all three pieces) because the unthinkable finally happened to me right at the Good Will counter.

A very cheerful 40-ish looking man was checking me out...I mean, at the check out. You know, ringing up my purchases. In front of several other nice people who were in line, he said,
"Ma'am, will you be using the discount today?"
"Discount?" I say, " What discount?"
"Well, the 25% off discount." He seems to be getting a bit uncomfortable.
"Oh! How do I get the discount? Is there a coupon or something??" I'm excited...and at the same time, I notice that he appears to be a bit uneasy. Fidgety faltering begins as he says,
"Well, you would have to be a certain age."
"Excuse me?" 
Well, are you over 55?" ( I think he just might have pooped his pants because of the look on my face.)
If I didn't want that ironstone so badly, I would have smashed one of those pitchers into his smiling face.

I didn't know what to say! I could have said, yes, so I could get the 25% discount just to cover my pain and suffering... but instead, I stupidly said,
"I'm only 52. Actually, I just got carded  when I bought beer because they thought I looked like I was under 50! "

As soon as I got out of the store,  of course I called my husband to share this terrible thing with him. "Imagine how rude! You should NEVER ask a lady if she wants a senior citizen discount! Trust me, If someone is entitled to that senior discount, they are going to ask for it! I don't even know what to think! I'm aging! Honey, tell me that I don't look like I'm 55!"

"Well, I don't know if I have anything to say about that."

NOT the right answer, dear.
So, that very night, I got out my  Charla Krupp books, "How Not To Look Old" and "How To Never Look Fat Again"  Come to think of it, poor Charla God Rest Her Soul died at the ripe old age of 58. I texted my brother-in-law to ask him for a prescription for Retin-A.

I almost made it out of the store before I noticed a gorgeous coral cashmere sweater and a very nice Ann Taylor skirt to re-fashion.

 So I had to show my aging face again to that very clerk, who was more than apologetic and sweet to me the second time around.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Covering my Nook

Well, my husband is skiing in Utah for the week. I decided not to go, so I get to have the house to myself, sew and knit all I want, watch “Steel Magnolias” and “Gone with the Wind”  and eat sauerkraut if I want to.
Actually, I did little this weekend but do a bit of thrifing,  which prompted me to  re-organize the fireplace bookcases to add my new stuff, all  while I colored my hair.

Oh, I also made a cover for my Nook.

Isn’t it cute? I used a pattern from this Etsy seller, and made some modifications. Of Course. Always trying to build a better mousetrap, right?

The first thing I did was  to use Peltex instead of fleece so that the cover was sturdy…think Amy Butler bag sturdy. (by the way, I had more than enough fabric left over from my AB Weekend Travel Bag )

And I changed the closure. I was looking for a sleeker, slim-line cover, which meant no buttons, or bow ties or fancy stuff. After playing  around with the idea of a magnetic closure, I didn’t think that I could find a strong enough magnet for my liking….at least  I couldn’t find one that day.   Then I  ultimately decided on an elastic closure. A nice fat color-coordinated elastic was just the trick. It slips around the entire case, holding it closed and compact. So it slides right into my bag. Perfect.

And then I did some grocery shopping, ate frozen pizza for dinner, watched the Oscars, and then slept fitfully and sporadically through the night.
I miss my husband.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wardrobe Basics...The Jacket

One of the suggested garments for the Wardrobe Basics Sew Along was a puffy vest.  Another was a fur vest. Now, while I think these may be adorable (in fact I actually own a cute black puffy vest with fur trim),  they can be challenging to make, and challenging to wear. So, I’m thinking, the obvious substitute for these items is a jacket. Yup…a regular old jacket. Actually, I was quite surprised that a jacket wasn’t included in the Nate Burkus list that Lori referenced for our sew-along.

As you know, there are as many different “regular old jackets” as there are days in a year. So what could be a wardrobe staple? My choices are easy...

A blazer
A Trench or Safari jacket.
A denim jacket.

These are jackets I wouldn’t be without in my closet.  And think of the fun ways you can change them up to suit your own lifestyle… This post will feature some inspiration photos and a pattern reference for you to make your own! Just click on the links in the photo captions to see the RTW source and the pattern source.

Denim can be any color of the rainbow…or any color of the blue denim rainbow.  And denim is such a basic that will go with anything from shorts and skirts to dresses, slacks and maxi’s.

Eddie Bauer Classic Denim

Levis' Truckers Jacket
A Trench or Safari Jacket are classic must-haves…again, traditional black or tan could move aside for a brilliant color or print, or  you could change it up with a smart ponte knit for a more versatile layering piece. I like the idea of a more vintage style topper instead of the expected trench coat profile. 
Anthropologie Diagonals Coat
 Indygo Junction Midtown Trench


Ralph Lauren
Burda 02/2011 Safari Jacket #127
And the blazer. An absolute must. But let’s have fun here.  There are so many ways to make that blazer an attention-getter !
Think colors!
Old Navy Twill 
McCalls 6172, View B with Patch Pockets
Tory Burch Striped Magnus Jacket
  Vogue 8781

You can change up the sleeve length!

    Try Vogue 8777... just add some sleeve tabs.
Try it in wool, linen, gabardine, leather, cotton sateen, knit …the world is your fabric oyster! 
Nanette Lapore Knit

Burda Style 7283 would work up beautifully for this jacket

Modcloth  Knit Visiting Professor Jacket
   Hotpatterns Weekender Martini Jacket 
Tory Burch Leather

Burda Style 08/10 #114
Change up the style... Vintage,  a soft knit jacket, cropped or long....or something totally unexpected like a floral print.
Elizabeth and James Wool/Rayon

Marfy 1761 . Just add additional button details.
Pim and Larkin Floral Blazer

Butterick 5647 could work.
Gertie has a really, really cool sewing class on Craftsy that I am seriously considering The Retro-Style Starlet Suit Jacket... a vintage inspired jacket with tailoring details and techniques. 

Starlet Suit Jacket
I really love the style, and have been ready to step it up a notch in my sewing.  And the fact that I can’t take those kinds of classes where I live? It’s awesome to have the opportunity to "attend"  a class on line.

So what I am adding to my wardrobe basics? 
I am going to be making a classic light weight red wool jacket…but it will have a coral lining, using a great pattern that I've used before. Simplicity 2446.  I’m excited to get it started, because then, if I have enough fabric left,  I am going to make some red Clovers to go along with it!

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

McCall's 6512. The White Blouse

I finally finished sewing the buttons on my bow blouse for wardrobe basics so that I could wear it today. And you know what?
The pattern is great. It's from the new McCall's collection. Melissa Watson for Palmer Pletsch.

 I really , really like how it’s constructed.

It features saddle shoulder seams.

A high/low hem....which  I took my time with...very careful measuring,  pressing and stitching  a Pin Hem according Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer.

And lots of hand sewing…the neck facing, the front button bands, the cuffs. I actually enjoyed this part. 

My only issue is that I decided to use rayon challis, which wrinkles like crazy. That’s because I had a bad experience with some “’baby silk” from Joann’s and I got so frustrated that I just threw it in the mending basket. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to it. Maybe I'll try to wrestle it into a blouse, maybe I won't. I guess I don't care much about it right now for it to even matter.

For now, this blouse is a good basic, I can wear it with a skirt or jeans,  and I love the tunic-y style, which can also be tucked in. 

It's another "DONE" on my Wardrobe Basics Sew Along!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mad About Those Dresses

Have you been sick yet this year? Ugh. Ick. Four days of crud and not feeling like much of anything but laying around...which doesn't make for much more than marathon-ing episodes of Mad Men.

Speaking of which...I joined another sew-along...The Mad Men Dress Challenge hosted by Julia Bobbin.

When I was first introduced to Mad Men, I became an instant fan. The era begins at my beginnings. I was born in 1959, and through the early sixties, I do have some recollections of my Mom dressing in the style of the day, and my sister and her friends with their cat eye glasses, cropped pants and striped knit tops. I loved seeing what my mom wore to church on Sundays, when all the ladies were decked out in dresses and hats and brooches. I've watched every season at least 3 or 4 times, and I'm watching them all again to get me ready for the Season Five  premier in March.

So, I'm going to make a dress. Of course, my first thought was Joan Holloway in her wiggle dresses and bombshell sweaters and skirts. But, being realistic, I know that won't be the right look for me, since I've got the Va Va, but not the Voom (and my Voom wouldn't fill out the back end of a wiggle dress very well!).

Oh, I'll come up with something...there are hundreds of bits of inspiration throughout the four seasons. Betty, Helen, Megan, Trudy, Mona, Jane, Rachel, Midge many options!

I am seriously leaning toward the Joanie in the red dolman blouse and tweed skirt. Then.....

Last night I dug out my basket of vintage patterns...many from the 50's and 60's, but none of them in my size. They are such fabulous patterns, some uncut, many have been used, but still a valuable source of inspiration and style...I really need to give them away to someone that will use them.

I think I found an option for the blouse, if If you look at the second pattern from the right, on the bottom. Imagine that as a blouse and not a dress...dolman sleeve, v neck bow tie...But, this pattern is about 4 sizes to small for me, and I'm not sure I can re-draft it THAT much. I'll have to think about it.

So, if you had to choose a style from the 60's, what would it be?

Friday, February 17, 2012

One Skirt, Many Ways Simplicity 2475

 I went stash diving this week, after being inspired by the Jason Wu Pre-Fall 2012 Collection and this skirt:

And fancy that, I had some yardage of a ponte knit houndstooth.  And I happened to have Simplicity 2475.
What was I lacking? Black ponte...that thick, weighty ponte that holds it's shape. So, off to the thrift store I went, and found enough yardage in a ponte knit skirt to cut the side panels for my skirt!

with a black belted blouse
Were there modifications? You bet!  Well, the first thing I did was underline the houndstooth fabric to give it a bit more stucture. I did this by cutting the underlining from a thrifted black tricot slip ( I have used this trick before!) and holding the lining and fabric together as one, sewed the panels together.

 The Simplicity pattern's center panel was just a bit too narrow for my liking. I wanted something that had a bit more shape to the panel. After I sewed it, of course, is when I discovered this. So I cut the houndstooth panels out of my skirt, and cut new ones with a more pleasing and feminine shape to them. Then I marked and trimmed out the corresponding shape on the side panels.

And sewed in the new panel. By the way, I also eliminated the zipper and the back vents on this skirt, because, well, I just didn't need them. This is a simple pull-on skirt and we like it that way!

One thing I would change is  this:  instead of cutting the slim version, I think I would make this again in the average fit so it's not quite so form-fitting. Actually, I have enough of everything to make this skirt again, and

with a red cardigan and bow blouse
with a black ponte moto jacket and striped henley

I just might do that.
I like this skirt. I like  how it's simple and bold at the same time, and can be worn in so many ways.