Friday, December 31, 2010

Sloper Success

Finally! I think I've gotten my sloper to a point where I can use it for the basis of a garment I'll actually wear. It's not perfect, but I think it's time to move on! That's right, this is only a test, not my new country western dance outfit. The bandana print is leftover from some sleep pants I made for Stephan some years ago.

Note the gifts in the background- That's right, it's my birthday eve!

Here's the back:

And a close up of the sleeve:

Such a tedious process. Every time I made an adjustment on the muslin, I'd make a corresponding adjustment on the newsprint pattern. My next step will be to use the newsprint version to draft the pattern for the Peter Pan collared dress I've been wanting to make.

Happy New Year everyone! I'm off to roast a chicken and soak some black eyed peas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pioneering the Way

More from the archives...  If I am ever inclined to think that I was born in the wrong decade, these ads assure me that I was not. Vintage style is great for dresses. For medicine? Not so much.

You aren't feeling "literally assured?"

Well, it's relatively non-toxic.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Plan for Peter Pan

Although I haven't been sewing this past week, I've still been thinking about it, making some design changes to the Peter Pan collared dress I am planning to make when I've finished my sloper. The biggest difference is the fabric selection. Instead of the flower print, I've decided to go with the fabric below- charcoal pinstripes for the bodice, sleeves, and skirt, and the blue-green cotton sateen for the collar and waistband.

I'm a little more psyched about the project, given the fabric changes and the little cap sleeves. I'm thinking the more subdued palette will balance out the overall sweetness of the design.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where has all the sewing gone?

In the spirit of keeping holiday traditions alive, I've taken a break from the bodice action to spend some time on other crafty endeavors. Each year since we've been married, Stephan and I have sent out handmade holiday cards. Each year we decide to take a year off, then end up cranking out the card in a last minute frenzy. Usually, Stephan screenprints the cards, usually incorporating our cats in a holiday scene, but this year we've decided to go with cut paper snowflakes. Here's a peak:

The flakes are cut from Thai Mulberry paper using this folding technique. The patches of color are cut from Color-Aid paper.

Here are some cards from holiday past:

From 2006-  My beloved Blanche and her stars of wonder.

From 2007- Blanche and our new addition, Lucius, making peace under the mistletoe.

From 2008- The year Blanche became an angel.

From 2009- Lucius and his new best friend, Dieter, awash in holiday love.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bodice in Progress

After a crazy couple of weeks, I finally had a chance to take another crack at drafting a bodice this past weekend. This time I did a little research and found a few step-by-step guides. I decided to go with this one. It's actually from a site devoted to Renaissance Fair garb, but it seemed to have some of the clearest instructions of the other guides I found. Not that I'll be sewing a wench outfit anytime soon, but a bodice is a bodice, right?

I was somewhat skeptical as I plotted my measurements on newsprint, but I was surprised at how close I came this time:

In summary: I need to shortened the distance between shoulder and bust (you can see I have the extra fabric pinned), lower the bust dart and increase the bust dart slightly and shorten the waist dart.

Okay, so the back is a little wrinkly... maybe a little ease around the waist?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to Draft Bust Darts, Please.

Here is a picture of me this weekend after drafting and redrafting the bust darts in the bodice of my Peter Pan collared dress.

Well, not exactly... but I felt a little like this! It's actually an image taken from this 1950's advertisement for Edrisal:

Codeine? Make mine a double!

Anyhow, I'm off to do a little research on the drafting of bust darts. 

I'll let you know what I find.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finished Project: Boatneck Top

Here is the boatneck top I wrote about here. I struggled with this much more than I had anticipated, mostly due to the stretchiness of the knit I was working with. I remember reading somewhere to avoid knits that rolled at the edges. Next time I'll be sure to heed that warning!

For a while I thought the neckline would look more like this:

than this:

I ended up reinforcing a strip of fabric with fusible interfacing facing and using it to enclose the raw edge of the neckline.

Here it is stitched and notched before I turned it under. 

The hem is a little wonky as well, but overall, I like how it fits, and I'll probably use the pattern I drafted as a starting point for my next project.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Up Next: Peter Pan Collar

I'll be posting soon on the boatneck top I wrote about here. In the meantime, I've been thinking about my next project. Here's a rough sketch of what I have in mind:

I'd definitely like to try a Peter Pan collar, possibly with some corded piping on its edges. I'm not quite sold on the fabric, though. I like the blue/brown combo, but I'm wondering if the print will be a little too rowdy. Let's take a closer look:

Does it make you think "70s maternity dress?" Not exactly the look I'm going for.

Maybe if I lose the sleeves?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Completed Project #2: Alabama Bag

Here is the completed canvas tote with knit applique I wrote about here. The floral design comes from a stencil I downloaded from the Alabama Chanin website.

Here are some close ups of the stitches. I used plain old sewing thread instead of embroidery floss. You can see a few stray pencil marks where I traced the template.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Kind of Corn

As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to musicals, the cornier the better. I know you are thinking, "Is there any other kind?" For our anniversary this year, Stephan and celebrated with tickets to the Walnut Street Theatre. This past Saturday, we saw Curtains, a parody of old thyme show business, and I've been humming the score ever since. Even if the production had been a snore, I could have spent three hours just happily looking at the costumes. Here's a peak:

It was set in 1959 Boston and full of dance numbers galore. I kept waiting for someone to say "It's curtains (koi-tans) for you," but no one ever did. Where did that phrase come from, anyway? Is it Bugs Bunny?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meet... Me

Well... not exactly. This summer Stephan (aka Mr. Seersucker, or should we call him "Satin Steve?") helped me make this dress form out of duct tape. Here's the tutorial I watched to learn how to do it. It really is as much fun as they make it look! I made an inner armature of chicken wire for mine so it didn't require so much stuffing. Stephan found the stand on the curb outside our neighborhood thrift store on trash day. What luck! A few words of warning: It gets really sweaty under that triple layer of duct tape! Not a recommended summertime or first date activity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Project: Let's Start with a Boat Neck

I've finally gotten around to writing "About Me" on my profile, and this got me thinking about my sewing goals. I've decided I'd like to continue to teach myself how to draft patterns, using Cal Patch's Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified, but I'd ultimately like to acquire the skills to make my own vintage style clothing without store bought patterns.A lofty goal, I know! Being a novice I know I need to start off simple. So, last night, I started drafting a boat neck shell. Something like this:

I took my measurements and plotted them on newsprint. You'll have to forgive the funky lighting in these pictures- some "home improvements" have left us without electricity in parts of the house.

I used a flexible ruler to draft the neckline and armhole.

Next I'll lay out the pattern and cut out the pieces. I'm guessing that Audrey is probably not wearing cotton knit, but that's what I'll be using.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Notions Old and New

On a visit to my grandmother this summer, I learned that she had been an avid sewer in her youth. She still has a long-tucked away stash of notions to prove it:

I had no idea. By the time I came along she had taken over my grandfather's family business, a small grocery on the Upper East Side, leaving little time for the domestic arts. She was not the type of granny who made pies and knitted scarves, but she was always effervescent, fiercely independent, and an eternal optimist. When I called her once in college, bummed out after breaking up with a boyfriend, she told me: "Don't worry, Darling, this is good news. You're a free agent now." She also had a great sense of style:

Isn't that dress divine? I believe this was taken at her cousin's wedding, for which she was a bridesmaid. Although dementia has claimed much of her personality, she remains a consummate Yankees fan and one of my favorite people in this world.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In Progress: New Tote

Ever since I saw Gertie's blog post on Alabama Chanin, the applique encrusted fashion line, I've been wanting to give applique a try.  Here's an image from the Alabama Chanin site:

All those little hand stitches really fire up the inner obsessive compulsive!

In addition to selling the clothing, Natalie Chanin, the company owner, also sells D.I.Y. kits on the site and offers a PDF of a stencil you can download and use to make your own Alabama Chanin-esque attire. So, I downloaded the stencil and am making my very own Alabama Chanin inspired tote. Here is a picture of tote in progress:

Using the stencil, I traced the design on to the canvas with a pencil, and started filling in shapes with the fabric and stitches. It actually goes a lot quicker than it looks. Here's another (rather washed out) view:

Here's the tote, almost finished. Lucius insists that it is really a cat bed. He's pretty convincing, don't you think?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Like the Morning Milk

Every once in a while something at work will really make my day. Take, for instance, this 1950's ad for Lanteen brand diaphragms that someone in archives found in an old Women's Medical Journal. Yes, reader, they are using a picture of a housewife accepting a delivery of frozen food to sell diaphragms. Let's take a closer look at the text:

I mean, really, don't you want your chosen birth control method to be as revolutionary as a TV dinner? I know the frozen food delivery dude looks pretty excited about it. Peas and carrots, anyone?

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Sweet Dress for the Hot and Sticky

Remember summer? After being preoccupied with sweat stains for the last five months, the weather has finally turned too cold to wear this dress. Oh, Sweat Stains, how I miss you! Nevertheless, being that this was one of my first forays into patternmaking, I thought it might be a good place to start this blog. I made the pattern using the principles outlined in Cal Patch’s excellent book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified. Her directions are so easy to follow, that after having some success with her suggested first project- an A-line skirt, I felt confident enough to design this number for a July wedding. Being that the heat was at its most oppressive peak and my dressiest shoes are burgundy pumps, I had the following criteria for its design:

1)      Something that doesn’t show sweat
2)      Something with a halter top
3)      Not too form fitting, but not a mumu
4)      Something light blue or pinky beige.

I put in the last stitches just a couple hours before it was time to leave. Realizing I was out of hem tape, I found a piece of ribbon to use instead. After sewing it on, I realized I liked it and decided to keep it exposed instead of turning it under. What a time saver! 

Stephan took pictures at the bus stop. We were almost late! Here’s another view: