Tuesday, January 29, 2013

McCall's 6600: how to brighten up a dreary day


I don't want to start off on a downer, 
but first things first. You need to know that I had absolutely no joy in making this dress. I can absolutely relate to Carolyn and her safari jacket adventure. Every step of the way was drudgery for me. From the fabric to, well, the fabric.  Once I figured out the fit, I was good to go, but this fabric was a bear to work with. And this is such a simple pattern, I should have never had the construction issues that I did.

Now, that said, what I love about this dress is the fabric! The print, the drape. And you better believe that after about six people commented on the dress at work today, I will make more.

Thank you for your comments on the previous post... I absolutely agreed and went with the self tie belt, which leaves me wide open for other belt options.

My modifications?

I gave myself some extra room in the upper sleeve. The pattern is very slim through the upper arm.
I tapered the sides in from the underarm to the dress hem by about 2" on each side.
This pattern is short. I added 2 inches to the length...otherwise, on a breezy day like today, I would have had an oopsie or two. 
I eliminated the sleeve tabs. The sleeves rolled just fine on their own.

So, now that it's all said and done, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress! McCall's 6600 will be on my project pile again.
This was the perfect dress for a gray day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

sewing on the edge (warning: viewing these photos may cause dizziness)

I can be impulsive. No kidding. While I like a good plan, and I make lists and try to be organized, sometimes when I get an idea, or there is something I want, I will calculate and figure a way to do it right then and there…plunging forward into something without thinking it through.

Good thing I have a steady, reasonable husband to settle me down on most things…like not letting me start painting a bedroom on a whim at 10:00 at night.
Or planning an entire Disney vacation without figuring out how to pay for it.

So, here’s my most recent sewing impulse
I got this pattern,

McCall's 6600

Then I got this fabric, because I thought it was modern and fresh and colorful.

And here are my issues:
The fabric is a polyester something from Joann’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that not all synthetics are the same, you know? This stuff is like Kevlar. It’s soft to the touch, it’s got a nice drape, but pressing? Sewing? Serging???? Nothing but frustration.

In fact, it dulled my serger cutting blade so quickly that I had to abandon it to do a bias binding finish on the seams. That right there will suck the joy of impulsivity right out of you.

Pressing this stuff is maddening, too. I feel like I can’t get a nice crisp press. And you know how important it is to have a nice crisp press on things like collars, plackets and cuffs.

Impulsive personalities do not like to make a muslin. So I did not make a muslin.  I went strictly by pattern measurements, cutting a size 16 and then doing about a 1” FBA on both sides.
This dress is a tent. An actual tent. A very loud, geometric print tent.

I am SO glad I basted the side seams and tried it on first....before I finished those seams, which would have been my style on an ordinary day of living on the edge of spontaneity.

                                                                     Circus tent AFTER:

So, now I’m wondering…my first impulse was to do the drop waist with a drawstring…thought it would look cute. Cute like in this pattern drawing:

But what do you think? Belted at the waist or drop waist drawstring?
One thing I can tell you for sure, I would LOVE to sew it in a floaty silky ACTUAL silk.
Will there be anything redeeming about this dress?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

classic wrap gone wild

Anne, at Pretty Grievances  is one of my favorite bloggers. She is crazy funny, has a goofball attitude about fashion, and she loves to sew. Perfect. One of my favorite features is her Wednesday runway post. Just reading her commentary and the comments on her commentary is something I look forward to every week. Not to mention the fact that she is also Disney obsessed, the way I am.

This month, Anne hosted  Jungle January (go see the awesome Flickr group photos)... to satisfy her love of animal prints? I was ALL on board with that little challenge. I figured I could come up with something from my stash.
And I give you....
New Look 6097

Now, I wanted to stick to a classic style (with that crazy blue leopard print? No other option.) so I selected  a version of  the Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress.

What did I do?
I had to keep the collar...LOVE it...gives the neckline just a bit of dimension on an otherwise very blue, very cheetah print.

I made my belt just a tie belt.  And eliminated the cuffs and tabs....too fussy for me.
I also did away with  the pocket fronts.

So, it's pretty much stripped down to the bare bones classic style. While it's not a true wrap dress,  it's an easy fit and perfect for layering.
(just look at that wild animal in the background!)

In fact, I think I will be much more comfortable with a jacket or sweater over it. Especially for work.

So, let's see so far this year...I did Chanel, I did Diane von Furstenberg....what could be next in the way of classic designer-inspired?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I will not be a schlumpadink

I was born and raised in a tiny hamlet, raised my family and worked in a small town most of my adult life, and five years ago moved to a very small, yet rural city.

And the one thing I notice? No matter where I’ve lived, I see beautiful and unique women of all shapes and sizes that don’t know that they are beautiful and unique. They have forgotten (or perhaps never known) that two extra minutes of makeup, a regular hair appointment and a few wardrobe basics will enhance every amazing feature that they already own. What they have also forgotten (or may have never known) is that enhancing those features will indeed make them stand taller, feel prouder, live livelier, work and relate in a whole new way...even though they live far removed from the big city.

Please don’t misunderstand…this is not about vanity….which may seem odd coming from me, and my community of sewing bloggers…since we appear to love photographing ourselves!  It’s about being aware of our own individuality and recognizing that deep down, feeling put together and confident can have a huge impact on how we relate to others and the world around us. And make no mistake about it, it’s not about emulating the exact images we see in magazines and on the internet and in runway shows. It’s about being inspired to take that one step toward confidence. And it doesn’t take a lot of time or money.

(Today's work outfit. Simple black cardigan, a stripey peplum top ( no kidding... Kohl's clearance for under $7.00 and a black ponte slim skirt that I made.)

Heaven knows, I have always loved fashion. Even in that little hamlet, surrounded by an agricultural community, I noticed the things my sister wore that I thought were cool. I noticed that my mom was always put together, even though she had a factory job and we camped on weekends…not in a glamourpuss way, but a natural, reasonable confident sort of way. I noticed fabrics and how they worked together. I poured over every Seventeen magazine that came in the mail. I dared to wear a mini skirt to school only to have my father called to come and get me. I wanted to be different, I wanted to be individual and I wanted my clothes to reflect that. I was and am a smart girl…I am interested and passionate about many things in my life and in the world. The clothes that I wear in no way minimize who I am on the inside…they are one more way to reflect the complex person that I am…my individuality.

This is what makes the outfit special...I envisioned this necklace in my mind, then I bartered beads so that my friend Janelle would make it for me. I LOVE it!

My husband and I are a normal, hardworking couple and we do not have an unlimited budget. Sounds like most people, right? That’s why I sew. And thrift. And barter. And make careful selections about what’s in my closet.  I still feel like I’m trying to find my unique style, but that’s the fun of it! My body is not perfect, so I am always trying to find that place where comfort meets flattery and where comfort does not mean hiding. A little makeup goes a long way… A haircut every four weeks is without question. I don't fool myself into thinking that I will ever be what I see on television, in print or online.  But I'm learning to love the whole unique package of me and that’s an ever changing process, even at my age!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Burda 7634, meet Chanel

This is it.

The reward at the end of the race. The victory after battle. The triumph after tragedy.

Well, that's a wee bit dramatic, but I'm sure you can sense my excitement that this project from the past was resurrected and I got to wear it to work today! This is Burda 7634, which I started three years ago.
You can read about it here and here.

It's sweatery and soft, just like a Chanel jacket should be.

I love the wider 3/4 sleeve arms, which was the major reconstruction of this jacket.

The trim is simple,

the slanted pockets call upon that modern inspiration Chanel suit.

And the button up front gives it just the structure it needs to lock and load when I want.

I lined it in a soft jersey knit ( unconventional, yes, but the original Bemberg lining felt too stiff to be in this jacket) which allows it to be even more drapey and comfortable.

And finished it with the perfect buttons.

I wore it to work today with black slacks, an ivory tie blouse and some animal print flats.

But I could easily dress it up with some bling and wear it with a skirt for church or a wedding.

I couldn't be more pleased and proud to have tackled this jacket once and for all.

A mistake can be corrected, and sometimes you have to know when to move on and chalk it up to a lesson learned. I'm just so glad that I decided that I loved my original concept enough not to give up.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Channeling Chanel:

A few years back, I started to work on a Chanel style jacket inspired by this vintage Chanel suit:

and this more modern Chanel suit:

You can read about some of my work on this thing on my old blog HERE (January 10, 2010)
The fabric is a Vera ivory boucle’....from back in the days of that fabulous Fabric.com Vera sale. Remember that?

Well, that was before I really started being particular about fit. No, let me take that back. that was before I really know all of the particulars of fit.

I spent many evenings hand sewing that trim in place. I loved the fabric and trim and the buttons. But, that silly jacket has hung unfinished in my sewing room for years. Mostly because I was not happy with the way the sleeves fit. I tried letting out the seams, but it still didn’t work for me. I shortened the sleeves for a different proportion. It still didn’t work for me…even with tight sleeves.

So I tried it on again this week. And I ripped out the sleeves.

Then I rooted around the stash for that fabric (which I had plenty of….I had originally wanted to make a matching skirt, in fact.) And started to think about those sleeves.

I redrafted a wider sleeve to set into a deeper opening (whatever that part is called!) And suddenly, I had a cute little jacket.

                                   (this is a very primitive documentation of my alterations!)

I guess the lesson in all of this is to never give up on a project. When I looked at that jacket hanging there, sadly unfinished for all these years, “failure” or “waste” or “wadder” were not words that came to mind. I knew given time, this one could be resurrected…

After all, it is a Chanel. And Chanel is timeless.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thinking Spring when I've still got a pile of projects for Winter?

Now that Christmas is down and my house is settled once again, it's time to sew!

Yesterday I spent a few minutes organizing my mess of a sewing room...but danger, danger. I uncovered a pile of fall/winter projects that need to be done!  And  then I started thinking about the 

and the Spring 2013 Fashion Trends and I'm getting tingly all over.

First of all, I am a little crazy about that Monaco Blue, Dusk Blue, Poppy Red and Linen and all the sudden I'm feeling a wardrobe coming on

But it gets even better! 

Now, what I will not be wearing is the harness trend, the bralette trend or the exposed midriff trend. I would not want to terrify my co-workers and friends.
What I may challenge myself to do is working with sheers. I saw an adorable Lori Goldstein cardigan that I am dying to reproduce and it looks do-able:

And, I've always wanted to make a little white suit...maybe with skinny pants or a skirt  or both????
Or this...The Perfect Outfit  in my estimation:

DKNY Spring 2013
So what are you dreaming of for your wardrobe? Tell me about colors, trends and practicalities!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The 2012 Collection....and my various hair styles

It's always interesting to me to see a complilation of a years' worth of sewing. Especially when the last things I made were weeks ago and involved little girl knits, doll clothes and slip covers! I begin to wonder if I really do make clothes for my own wardrobe! And then I remember....
The party dresses:

The everyday dresses ( my new TNT shift dress and shirt dress):

The jackets:

The tops:

The knit skirts:

The pants:

and the re-fashions:

Then I realize that I did add some nice pieces to my wardrobe. And I challenged myself to:
  • fit better
  • try something new (bound buttonholes, pants, sweater knits)
  • enter a contest or two ( Mad Men Dress Challenge, the Pattern Review Re-fashion Contest)
But here's what I don't see.
All of the things that I sketched and planned, and all of the fabric that didn't make it off the "to do" pile!

But that's what a New Year and a New List is for!