a NY-Lon FO: 1930s sundress in liberty

confession:  most of my NY-Lon fabric haul is already cut out and in various stages of assembly.

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but this is my first finished, worn and photographed make out of the haul.  the fabric is liberty of london Lanthe which i scored at our (second) trip to Shaukat, an amazing little spot in the old brompton road that specializes in liberty remnants.  they actually have more fabric in stock than liberty, in more colorways and content types, and i fearlessly splurged on varieties in silk/wool, silk/cotton, and the classic tana lawn.  in fact, while we’re talking about our trip to shaukat and the subject of aggressive persuasion, i sweet-talked vicki into snagging some of this print as well – she went for a classic colorway in multiple shades of blue.

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also true:  vicki went straight to a bolt of wool/silk and looked at me and said, “this is so you.”  and then i held up my cut pile to reveal the yardage (meterage?) i had already set aside for purchase.

i felt that the art deco and vintage feel of this print demanded an appropriately period garment and i went straight to the 1930s part of my pattern stash.

only, i really don’t enjoy that style of waistline.  it’s difficult to sew (for me) and i don’t find it particularly flattering.  for me, the appeal was about the great skirt detail, the low back with straps, and the collar.  to me those all screamed 1930s but in a way that could still be modern and fun.

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so i paired it up with simplicity 1755, a raglan number from the leanne marshall pattern collaboration.  it’s been a winner for me in the past and i felt confident that i could blend the more modern bodice front with all of the elements that attracted me to the vintage piece.  i especially love the gathers along the shoulder line instead of a dart – i thought a dart would too obviously deviate from the vintage feel.

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only don’t ask me how many times i pleated and re-pleated the fashion fabric, lining fabric, collar fabric and straps in a quest to get a neat, clean all-in-one finish.  i swear part of my brain has deserted me.

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i am extremely satisfied with the curve of the back bodice and the way the straps lay across my back.  there was some tweaking there but in the end a good result.

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my collar leaves a bit to be desired but mostly in the realm of “only another sewist would ever know”.

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best of all, it looks perfect with my papercut copelia.  my office life demands top layers and i don’t enjoy sitting in a blazer all day.  instant answer.

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simplicity 1803 + simplicity 1873 = awesomesauce

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weird, but true story of how bloggers know me better than anyone:

i was describing a make – really, any make, but it might have been this one – to clio, whose only answer was, “i pretty much imagine you have an entire closet of UFOs and every day you just say to yourself, ‘what do i want to finish today’?”

so yeah, this one happened kind of like that.  only it’s really more like a series of file cabinets, because that is how i roll.

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top = bodice of simplicity 1803 bottom = skirt of simplicity 1873

so simplicity 1873 is officially my go-to skirt pattern these days. i really just love everything about it: the drafting, the pleats, the ease of construction and its appeal in a wide range of fabrics. in this version i’ve finished the hem with horsehair braid using a method from lynda maynards dressmaker’s handbook of couture sewing techniques. it’s quick, clean, easy and gives a nice flourish to the lizzy house quilting cotton.

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oh, what’s that you say? you recognize that cotton? yes, i finally finished the bottom half of my two-piece summer dress. i’m really happy with the overall product, although my trusty simplicity 1803 peek-a-boob needs a bit of tweaking for a cleaner fit on that front yoke. any suggestions? i worry that taking in that yoke at the center front will constrain my shoulder movement, and it fits nicely across the bodice itself.

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no waistband on the skirt; just a wide piece of polka-dotted grosgrain ribbon (poly grosgrain, alas, not real grosgrain) as a finish. sometimes i get lazy and a ribbon makes a clean finish without totally cheating.

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i love that i can wear the pieces together or as separates for two distinct looks.

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only clearly i need more variety on the cardi front!

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han shot first – will he please shoot me?

papercut patterns ‘peter and the wolf’ pants.

i think the thing that started these trousers for me was the realization that i had some scraps of amazing blue flowered lace leftover from cutting out a woven attempt at my lady-mary-inspired top.  i saw the interesting yoke design of the peter and the wolf trouser and it just spoke to me.  (yeah, sometimes fabric talks to me.  i’ve learned to listen.)

and then while i was prepping and piecing my patchwork deer and doe datura i had all of these little, half-inch scraps of red silk.

and then i ended up here.

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because, me.

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so, yes, those are corellian bloodstripes (first class, thank you!) made out of serged-together scraps of flower lace and red silk.

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because, me.

i found the pattern  extremely straightforward and generally easy to construct.  all of the yokes and pattern pieces matched up easily and went together without a hitch.  my major issue was crotch-fitting.

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i traced off my moulage crotch curve, but decided to leave myself some insurance.  so when i cut them out, i left the as-drafted front curve in place.

you can see i have excellent rear coverage.

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but the front was like a full-on monet.  what was it lauren said?  like i had ketchup packets stuffed in there trying to fill out the extra fabric bunching in a most unattractive manner.  i spent multiple sessions pinching out excess that fabric at the front seam, trying to fix it.  in fact, i realized that i had adjusted it almost exactly to the traced evidence of my moulage curve.  so i thought i had succeeded – which i had – until i put the waistband on.

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still not perfect – but at least i don’t feel like a fashion ‘don’t’ when i leave the apartment any more. also, are those wrinkles wearing ease? i was afraid to over-fit them. next time i will take out a small wedge in the flat pattern to compensate.

tears may have ensued.

then i had the ultimate d’oh moment.  like, after some furtive googling for ‘camel toe’ – and thanks, internet, for that will now forever be in my search history – i was able to ascertain that my crotch curve was pretty bang-on the way i had adjusted it (as in, back to the way it is drafted in my moulage) and my main issue was that i had not curved the waistband to match.

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basically, my adjustment had essentially shortened the front crotch curve, and the best way to fix it now that i was in fabric and not on a flat pattern was to re-attach the waistband to match the shorter seam.  so i still have a nice coverage in the rear, and a slightly-below-the-navel dip in the front.

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and for for the moron moment – pearl clutching may now commence.  i did all of this while totally forgetting that i had:

  • david coffin’s trouser-making book
  • sandra betzina’s trouser-fitting class on craftsy
  • sandra betzina’s trouser-making class on craftsy

yep, that is me, sewing genius, right there.

but i fixed them!

but what i can’t get over is – what kind of person takes a perfectly lovely trouser pattern and adds corellian bloodstripes?  i mean, who does that?  that is NOT NORMAL.

sorry, not sorry.

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me-made-everyday: style report

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  • 1950s simplicity wrap top paired with midi-length RTW skirt
  • simplicity 1610
  • vogue 8425 high-waisted pencil with RTW t-shirt and fold-over boots.  yellow bag for emphasis! (casual friday FTW)
  • cynthia rowley butterfly top (hello, versace!) with alice + olivia pleated coulotte ( a la the megan nielson tania, which i fully intend to make but then i saw these on sale in the perfect color.)  blue blazer, vintage smoked glass necklace.  tights and thigh-high boots.  and yeah, i wore that to work.

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like a lot of us, i’m always trying to really wear my makes.  how do you integrate some of your wilder aspirations into the every day?

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GWG #29: on wildness

maybe this is what gardening is about: slowly opening the door, a controlling hand making tentative gestures to wildness. – from The Gardener’s Manifesto by Lorraine Johnson

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‘i’m determined to tame the wilderness,” i declared confidently to a visiting friend as i painstakingly place intermediate witch hazels in their future homes along my woodland driveway. my quest seems particularly laughable on this morning, since my five-acre lawn hasn’t been mowed in three weeks and the grass more closely resembles a wild meadow – and not in the good way. the witch hazels are placed optimistically among fonts of unwelcome (and uninvited) berberis thunbergii and rosa multiflora, not to mention pine seedlings run amok in the graveled part-shade.

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but i persevere, placing the witch hazels and envisioning next year’s rainbow of late winter blooms, already trying to imagine what type of groundcover would best complement the hamamelis. across the gravel i am continuing my quest to sheet mulch the inhospitable stream bed colonized by moisture-sucking pine roots; the far side of the stream bed hosts my experiments in blueberry farming and shade-lovers alike. a row of primula japonica and iris siberica march along the bed, meeting the driveway, and already on the far side of the culvert i can see the row continuing with plants as yet unpurchased. i see a dogwood, perhaps; some mertensia virginica and dicentra eximia and plenty of naturalizing daffodils. i long for tulips, but those would be a step too far in tempting the ubiquitous wood goats that terrorize my property.

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is it ridiculous to describe my ultimate goal as a sort of curated wildness? cultivated plants evicting the wild invaders, making themselves comfy in ground prepared by the unwanted thugs and their ground-churning roots.

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simplicity 1610: the cat’s meow

 

IMG_0663so the arrival of summer weather – at long last here in the northeast US – demands a fresh summer dress.

and i, of course, obliged.

IMG_0657enter the magic blue envelopes of simplicity project runway patterns.  for me, a simplicity PR pattern is a go-to when i want something new that fits close enough out of the envelope that i do not have to stress or do extensive alterations.  as we used to say when i worked in congress – it’s close enough for government work!

IMG_0661i took 1 inch out of the bodice, front and back, to compensate for my short waist and small bust.  simplicity 1610 is, as most project runway patterns are, an armscye princess bodice.  i do not always love the armscye princess.  for some reason, HRH does not always play nicely with my sloper and the adjustments i need to make.  but in this instance i had another pattern, a TNT in the form of S1803, and i was able to compare pattern pieces and adjust accordingly without too much fuss.

IMG_0658while i had much love for the simple halter-top design of S1610, i knew i wanted a completely different skirt look.  i swapped out the included skirt for my self-drafted (with kenneth king and a skirt moulage) revision of my vintage classic simplicity 2099.  a few years ago i re-adjusted the skirt, making a newer, longer version with a high-low hem.  i do not care how many times you call it a mullet skirt or a passing trend, it will be a long time before i do not love how the long skirt back drapes gracefully behind me like a bustle or a train.  i always keep the front length just above the knee for comfort and style, and the back hem is usually 10 inches below the front.

IMG_0647i obviously cannot pretend that it fits perfectly.  if i had been more invested, i would have shortened the front crossover using the slapdash sewist SBA method.  but a safety pin was easier for yesterday, and i am happy with how the back fits, it is snug at the waist, and the length of the front bodice is pretty perfect.

IMG_5050the fabric is a faux linen from the late lamented paron’s annex, and the cummerbund and panels are from lizzy house.  kitty cats make me happy and it is my dress and nyah.

all edges and hems are topstitched in contrasting thread – don’t look at me like that, carolyn, it was a design choice – and i made bias tape out of the lizzy house to finish the crossover edges.

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my wardrobe architect: influencers

i mentioned previously that i was going to give the wardrobe architect developed by sarai of colette patterns some serious thinking after completing me-made-may.  sarai has really synthesized a lot of what is out there about ‘the perfect wardrobe’ and how to build it into something compact but still helpful.  i’m particularly intrigued by the worksheets.  this post is a riff on the wardrobe architect ‘week one – making style more personal’ worksheet.

so, i went shopping today.  should i be apologetic?  proud?  agnostic?  i can’t pretend i don’t have enough stuff, right?  can any of us?  but do we obsess too much over how much stuff we do – or don’t – have?

i don’t know the answers to any of these questions.  i don’t now, and i didn’t as i stood in the checkout queue with my four items (two shorts, a skirt, and a blouse) while an over-entitled woman and her daughter stood in front of me and addressed the sales rep with barely veiled contempt.  but that is another story entirely.

what this story is about is what i wear, and how i got here.

collageedit2.jpgso, truth:  i never used to care much about what i wore.  not really.  my style, growing up, and especially as i got old enough to have a say in my wardrobe, was a mixture of whatever-mom-hates and whatever-my-friends-are-wearing.

you know what i mean:  the saturday outing with friends where everyone planned ahead of time to wear a plaid, pleated skirt (hello 90s).  the day at school where my best friend and i accidentally wore exactly the same outfit (a blue chambray button down and khaki shorts, if you were wondering).  the over-sized boys’ polo shirt that my mom hated so much she hid it under her bed so i would stop wearing it; the red sneakers and clam-digger jeans that were my first foray into wearing the unexpected.  the pride mixed with shame the first day i was ‘brave’ enough to wear my sailormoon t-shirt to high school.

my crowning sartorial moment in high school was the day that a friend in chem lab had me stand up when he walked in to see if i was wearing funky enough sneakers.  his friends – who dubbed themselves the ‘social outcasts’ – never outwardly cared who was cool or not, and yet i was oddly flattered by the expectation that i was interesting enough to not care either.

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college was much the same.  t-shirts, jeans, and my precious red sneakers.  a quidditch golden snitch as my dorm room key chain.  a refusal to wear the tight black trousers and skin-baring halter tops that seemed to be the norm at fraternity parties – because, really, in january in baltimore i am not leaving a coat in some grody frat house so that the drunkards in the living room can admire my assets.  they can take me in my butterfly track suit bottoms or leave me happily in my own room doing my own thing.

i did start to feel stymied by my own lack of initiative at a certain point – refusing to conform became synonymous with a refusal to create my own standards.  i branched out a bit – to colors, to halter tops, to cuter jeans, tighter t-shirts.  i was proud of my legs, my figure, my still-blonde hair and more willing to show them off with confidence.

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but i kept my red sneakers.

i spent six months living in london and learned to appreciate the subtle differences in european and american styles of dress, marching up and down the embankment in my red raincoat with my yellow umbrella.  i moved back to new york and took daily walks with my best friend, trolling sample sales and soho shops.  and you know what they say about new york – tolerant of your beliefs; judgmental about your shoes.  i started to explore.  i started to care.  i started to plan outfits for travel and secretly delight that i could ‘pass’ for european.  i started commuting to new jersey and learned that people in the suburbs can be boring and easily shaken up by an unexpected outfit.

i found freedom.  is it weird to find freedom in, essentially, a series of possessions?  shoes, bags, coats, tops, skirts and most especially boots?  but what is more freeing than creating a fresh persona every day?

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i don’t want a uniform.  i want a costume closet.

maybe i’ve outgrown a lot of the fun, printed and vintage-inspired makes of my early sewing days.  i find that i yearn to go back to something equally unexpected but with more sophistication.

i live a double life:  dressing and over-dressing for workaday occasions and the very rare social outing, but mostly spending time in and around my home.  and i don’t have any costumes for that role.

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