sewaholic saltspring: operation black tie

picture the scene: atlantic city. march. bleak. cigarette smoke and slot machines.


view from 35th floor on the last snow fall of 2014. oh please lord, let it be the last.

i felt like i was smuggling something untoward into the building as i carried my 11-lb featherweight in its case out of the car and into the lobby, taking care not to get blown over by the gale-force winds plaguing atlantic city in the WINTER THAT WOULD NOT END.


i mean, i am sure people have carried stranger things into the borgata hotel than a vintage sewing machine and a bag full of fabric, but i was supposedly on a “work trip”. the fact that there was an entire day in between work events – and that my hotel room had cable and, therefore, easy access to the day-long SVU marathon was really just a bonus.


but not really. truth is, i was happy as a a clam, tucked away on the 35th floor, having a mini-break in broad daylight and in the middle of the week, besides, cutting into some buttery black washed silk from trumart discount fabrics as i plotted my black-tie ensemble for a soiree in jersey city some two weeks hence.


all it needed for true decadence was a long, sparkly godet snuck right into its unsuspecting side seams (from simplicity 2212, if you are keeping track at home). a remnant from mood fabrics got the job done easily. i liked this piece because it had sequins and beads but only required an hour or so with the seam ripper to get all of the beads out of the way. and i only broke three needles before i came to that conclusion!


i got this garment done in two sessions – my cutting session on the floor of my hotel room and a semi-frantic saturday. as in, the day of the wedding. as in, i finished the last seam at 3:45 and had to be waiting in my building lobby for a 4:15 pickup. the saltspring took my panic in stride. its easy instructions soothed me: no worries, friend. we will be done with time to spare.


the construction was easy as pie, true story. i used the lining pieces for both the lining and the outer bodice, in order to eliminate the built-in blousing. i interfaced the lining pieces with some lightweight tricot from fashion sewing supply to avoid any opacity issues as well as provide some light structure to the bodice. instead of making the tie straps i used leftover beaded trim from my shortcut chanel, and then stuck an exposed zipper on the back just for fun.

also: gloves. i am bringing them back, people.


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update: #fqchallenge mood board




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simplicity 1873 double shot: i am a pretty pretty princess in a cellophane skirt

may i present my birthday outfit!


i made the gray renfrew in the hour before i had to leave for dinner with the fam. which meant i was almost half an hour late after testing the renfrew with different combos for the best effect.


but this was my first love, in terms of pairing. i love the light, airy, poofy skirt. don’t get me wrong – i know i need to tack down a few of those pleats before they just float away – but how awesome is the texture of this skirt?

20140317-201020.jpgit’s my first renfrew-with-cowl, and i am not sure i am loving the cowl.  i may have to explore alternative cowl options in future.  and of course you know it is my second simplicity 1873.  this is in marc jacobs cellophane from mood.  seriously.  cellophane.  they have, like, an entire shelf of different kinds of cellophane.  what’s great is that it’s a wide bolt, so i got a good bang for those bucks, but i’m not gonna lie – we are talking $$$.

for saran wrap.

good thing it looks so hot!


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new look 6028: the original shortcut-style chanel jacket

believe it or not, friends, but this is – technically – the first chanel-style jacket i ever contemplated making. a year before taking susan khalje’s french jacket course even entered my head, i began wondering if i could do one on my own.


the pattern is new look 6028 and the concept began with a simple idea: black, white, pink. it’s been so long ago i literally do not remember how or why i got so fixated on this color scheme: at this point it just is black, white, pink and i do not question it.

i found the fashion fabric first at the much-missed paron’s annex. i liked the price – half off – and i thought it would be a good “wearable muslin” until i worked up the courage to try a proper one.

i then spent some time at the “go chanel or go home” blog, originally set up as a group sew-along for inspired jacketeers, and i found one example that scared me stiff because i became convinced that my fate lay within. one of the participants did all of the work, the endless hours, and, because the weave of her fabric was so loose, the plaid drooped. can you imagine the heartbreak? i could, all to easily. i was absolutely certain that this would happen to me and determined first to block-fuse my fabric to avoid the issue.

naturally, this led to other issues of procrastination – i needed to get the right interfacing (fashion sewing supply pro-sheer elegance) – and then find a day off to do the block fusing, which never happened, so everything went into a bag until about a month before my second go at camp chanel.


because why would you NOT wear heart tights and combat boots with your LFJ?

just to recap my process – the actual construction process, not the long-winded wind up to get us there – i combined the “couture” method with the “shortcut” method as described in threads magazine issue #128.  i thread-traced my pattern pieces, then fused each piece on its own (not including seam allowances).  then i constructed the jacket and the lining by machine, leaving the shoulders on each free.  i bagged out the lining and pinned everything in place for quilting.

i kept the trim simple, just an inch-wide beaded black, because i want this to be my “casual” jacket.  i am fairly convinced that this, like everything else, will look awesome with my “han shot first” dolman for when i really want to tone it down!

20140317-200914.jpgi like the fit of the jacket body – snug and cropped – and i actually like the sleeves a lot even though they look a bit odd in these photos.  and, as i’ve said before, my new hybridized couture-slash-shortcut method has netted me some of my best chanel-style construction to date.

i can hear you now:  “wow, puu, that was exhaustive – and exhausting – and surely you are by now as bored of these as we are!”

sorry, friends.  currently on the table:


for those who came in late:
you may or may not know that i have something of a compulsion when it comes to making “little french jackets.”  here is my work thus far:
vogue 7975: seventy hours well spent
return to camp chanel: day two, day three; day four
forgive me, susan khalje, for i have sinned: “shortcut method” experiments
WIP updates: little (or long) french jackets
butterick 5952: cry hallelujah, it is finished
la coco, elle est terminee
bonus jacket: butterick 5952, shortcut style


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regarding the fat quarter challenge

photo from carolyn by way of sew wrong.

firstly, hello to my new friends! i’ve noticed many new faces in the crowd, no doubt driven over here by oona’s crazed ramblings about unicorns and rainbows. who knew that third margarita (drank by her) would be so good to me? obviously you can see why i adore this woman.

i actually have the privilege of knowing oona fairly well, but it was my pleasure to also spend the evening getting in some quality time with trice (instead of just a quick hello and a hug) and my first time getting to meet carolyn and amity. so picture the scene: dark, loud, margaritas spilling everywhere, and of course we are all desperate for inside info on oona’s great work during the project sewn run. (sidenote – all of the participating ladies really found what i can only describe as an entirely new level of themselves for that event. my socks were just knocked off!)

this led us to oona’s description of her fat quarter plight.

from kallkatroona

how i wish i had the words to depict adequately the looks of disdain leveled at her as oona bemoaned the inability to work with fat quarters. and let me tell you something about carolyn – woman’s got a look of disdain that could level a building, probably, if she wanted to. (thank goodness for us that she uses her powers for good and not for evil!)


so there oona is, looking for sympathy WRT the fat quarter issue, and as she starts describing them my eyes lit up.

UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS?! i shout over the din of the taco joint. MINE. WANT. MUST HAVE. this is at the same time as amity is professing her love for a zombie charm pack and trice is laughing with what i can only call glee as we all turn on the befuddled oona.

well, she slurs, ice cubes everywhere, FINE. i challenge you. (at which point i ducked, obviously, because i know that oona and anything glass- or dish-related is a bad combo)

so here are the rules:
use all 9 fat quarters to make an outfit for yourself. this may include one garment or several, as long as all 9 FQs are visible and used appropriately. not allowed: accessories or children’s garments. fabrics may be supplemented with stash. due date april 30th. to be judged by oona (straight or avec cocktail is TBD) and possibly some additional guest judges.

as it happens, i sat up half the night, almost, on saturday as i came up almost immediately with a plan.  i am thinking of taking as my inspiration the 1950s-style playsuits and mini-wardrobes and just running with it like a wild woman.  or, as lauren and ginger and clare and trice might say, like a unicorn.  because WHY NOT BE A UNICORN?!

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged | 25 Comments

simplicity 1873: from classy to cammo

it started, as it so often does, with a simple inspiration photo.

classy, right? with a welcome hint of playfulness?
so you might easily ask how one goes from this to this:


and the simple answer, of course, is that i got involved.


because, yes, that is cammo under the “bridal tulle” from the lace section at jo-ann.  how could i NOT go there when jo-ann had the brilliance to do a line of fabric called “cammo couture”?!?!


there was obviously no way to resist that.  the making of the piece is simple:  i took the skirt portion of simplicity 1873, a cynthia rowley pattern with a beautifully pleated skirt.  i especially liked the way the pattern was drafted, so the skirt is gorgeously full but falls beautifully.  there’s no crinoline under there, folks – no stunt double.  that is natural poufiness.  and it is awesome.

i’ve been experimenting a lot more with full skirts or other hip-emphasizing garments and i think it is because i am fairly stick-straight in the body topography department.  as with all body features, this has pluses and minuses, but i’ve been enjoying very much the contradiction in shapes from my top half to my bottom half.

in this particular instance, i like the way the tulle played against the sparkly cammo.  it gave it an almost three-dimensional effect depending on how the light is filtering through the tulle.  both fabrics are poly and frayed like the devil but fortunately i now have a serger and am able to fight back against those types of woes.

i ended up marking all of the pleats with a little snip within the seam allowance and then draping everything against my dress form to make sure the pleats were lined up and going in the right directions.  i hemmed as little as possible, coming up from the floor only enough to ensure that i had the same length for the entire circumference and then finished both layers with a serged rolled hem.


of course, after finishing this number and seeing erica b’s lovely post about tutus, i’m feeling an obsession coming on.  anyone else?  i love a tutu or a tulle skirt with something casual like a graphic t-shirt (in fact, i was mere inches away from going out and about on sunday in my tulle skirt and my han shot first dolman), like these pieces i saw in a valentino store in las vegas:

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the road to crazytown, it is paved in silk scraps: patchwork pieced deer and doe datura blouse

the genesis of this specimen is from a very innocuous, friendly-seeming book helpfully titled “we love color.”

we love color.” well, so do i – what could be more harmless?

and there i sat, innocently – remember, back before the crazy, and therefore still innocent – innocently paging through this basic modern patchwork book – because did i mention it was a quilting book? – and thinking that maybe there would be a piece in there i could play with.

and then i saw this:


and my imagination immediately ran off with me. i’ve already mentioned my box of silk scraps – well, suddenly they were calling out to me, screaming even, demanding to be organized and sorted and used.

and, i admit, i was all-too-willing to listen to their siren song. the image resonated with me. i saw in it every color i see in my back yard on sunny days.


(only right this moment i can’t completely remember what the sun looks like, since this has been my view lately:


several very exhausting snow days later i had pieced this much of it.


at which point i sent it to my soul mate in san francisco. this was his feedback.

20140224-111552.jpgundaunted, i continued piecing, eventually taking apart much of the work so that i could add some richness and depth of tone by adding more blue, and getting this.

20140224-111457.jpgat this point there was nothing else to do but fashion it into something reliable, like my deer & doe datura blouse. sheer yoke again, obvi, because i live for the sheer yoke these days.



and — wait, what is that you say? how is the hem finished?

oh, funny you should ask, it is finished with a serged rolled hem (the only finish that made sense with all of the pieced strips and their misaligned seam alliances).


say hello to my new friend, and happy birthday to me.


the rest of the edges – neck, arms, etc – are finished with a hand-rolled hem so that i could keep the silk layers in the front yoke all properly placed and aligned.



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