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Me-Made-May-12: the story so far

11 May

We are well into the only Me-Made/Self-Stitched event of 2012, and the first such event since I’ve had a blog!  So, while most of the pieces I’m wearing are repeats to as far as MMM/SSS is concerned, I’ve never posted about them here.  I’ve also been trying to keep things more lively this time around by finding more interesting locations to take outfit pictures.

While there are lots of familiar faces that I’m so glad to see “in the arena” so to speak, there are others whose presence is missed!

May 1

Colette Parfait; in black pindot wool with vintage buttons (straps widened slightly to accomodate the buttons). This was one of the first dresses I made after I returned to sewing a few years ago.  The wool is so incredibly soft you just want to make pajamas out of it.

In hand is McCalls M6084 cardigan in evergreen wool gauze; left the cool golden selvage as the finished edge all along the collar/neckline edge.

May 2

Also pictured at top.
Pattern Runway Easy Kimono Dress in a stretch cotton shirting with me-made belt made from recycled/vintage Japanese wool, and ubiquitous wool tweed wrap pictured better here.  The dress fabric is a black and white pinpoint, so has a tweedy surface texture which I love.

May 3

At Nephew’s band concert, also pictured with beautiful Niece! Top is 70s Butterick 6835 refashioned from an old sari (tied in back rather than in front this time), jacket 30s Butterick 5195 and skirt is a Colette Ginger.

May 4

Jacket is ’30s Butterick 5195, self-drafted tie-neck top in ochre wool jersey, layered on Burda one-piece T in same fabric, McCalls M6173 jeggings

May 5-6

Left: Colette Sorbetto with neckline and pleat stitching, with black McCalls jeggings.
Right: Boatneck T from Built By Wendy Sew U Knits book, in aubergine wool jersey, and linen Evadress 1933 wide-leg pants (with nifty pocket detail!), partially blogged here. The pants definitely need a good press to look their best.

May 7

My wool Colette Rooibos with matching belt, a purchased cardigan, several thousand dandelions, and me in the park on a grey May day. From way before I had a blog, but there a dozen or so pictures of this dress + commentary in my Flickr photostream, for example detail here.

May 8

Dress is: vintage 1961 McCalls 5953 (looks more like pattern art when crinolized), also me-made belt, although the cardi is purchased. Dress from before blog, but better pix & deets in photostream here and here in sun with colors in full glow.

May 9

Unfortunate autofocus issue not apparent until too late to get another, but the shape of the dress and outfit was apparent enough to use for daily outfit photo. Pattern is a 1940s Advance 3971, sleeves shaped with nifty gussets; I keep meaning to get a good photo, they are so cute in themselves. Me-made mustard belt too.
Because the fabric isn’t visible in the main photo, there’s the accidental misfire detail shot below left: fabric is a rayon blend navy and white textured crosshatch. Same dress in a photo from Self-Stitched-September 2011, shown with the bow that I made removable, below right.

May 10

Another Colette Rooibos in vintage cotton home dec fabric, with black piping, and cactusy green broadcloth contrast at the neckline. After breaking the zipper a couple times trying to get it over the heavy fabric plus piping (sans cording! just the heavy storebought poly piping fabric) at the midriff seams), I pieced in empty bias loops of black cotton lawn along the left side seam. There, that’s my construction secret for this the 3rd version of Rooibos I’ve made!

May 11

Mulberry rayon doubleknit wrap from 1930s pattern, layered over Colette Hazel sundress in pinstripe linen. This was a themed challenge day, theme being Ugly Places. Just off the NDSU agricultural campus, I was headed for a cluster of silos when I spied this instead. The graffiti appears to say Moo, which was exactly what it smelled like.

To Sum Up…

And there you have it, my May so far. I’d say that the collective ante has been upped all-around, as far as I can see! Maybe it’s that we’ve all grown so much as sewists together, maybe it’s that we’ve just felt more comfortable to express ourselves with each other, maybe (probably?) it’s that we know there’s just the one time out this year. But it really seems like everyones’ talents are really just knocking me out every single day in there. Just crazy goodness!!


Next New Colette Pattern: Hazel!

11 Apr

Here’s Hazel, the second of the two brand-new Colette Patterns sundresses that I had the pleasure of testing for their new new spring/summer line! I love this pattern; when made with striped fabric, you get this very cool radiating lines effect. It is not quite so apparent in my photographs, but check it out in the gorgeous red and white example in the above links, or Sarai’s blue and white from her South America photo montage! Such cool stripes!!!

Anyway, here’s what I did for my tester version with a very lightweight pinstripe black & tan linen that I had on hand. The stripe effect is much more subtle, but you can still see it well in person.

A couple of you mentioned how the silhouettes of the two new dresses looked quite similar so I tried to take some pictures to demonstrate the differences; please enjoy my dorky demonstrative poses below:

The similarities between the Lily and Hazel patterns are mostly limited to the straps, which as far as I can remember are pretty much identical. Also the waist hits in about the same place on both dresses. The back of the bodices are constructed in a similar manner, with princess seams rather than darts, and center invisible zipper. Everything else is constructed in a completely different manner. While Lily has a very traditional princess-seam construction, albeit with clever and flattering angles, flaps, and pockets, Hazel is an entirely different animal!

I haven’t made anything at all like Hazel before. Her bodice consists primarily of one big triangle cut on the fold, which has darts in the sides (overall effect a bit like the Superman logo, you know, the blunted triangley shape? cracking myself up), flanked by bias-cut trapezoids on the sides. Sarai is going to do a tutorial on how to do FBAs/SBAs on The Triangle because it is a little unusual! (I gather there’s going to be an actual sewalong too! I’d like to give this another go with that tutorial because as you can see I didn’t quite get there myself…) The other main difference, is the skirt is much fuller. It maybe isn’t as apparent in the heavier fabrics, but with this really lightweight linen, I think you can see the difference of the fuller, gathered dirndl skirt, versus the pencil skirt on the Lily. Pockets on Hazel are hidden in the side seams, in the fullness of the skirt.

The pattern recommended using three rows of gathering stitches to get good control on gathering the skirt. I’d never actually done that before, although I remember that popping up either on the Coletterie blog or in their email tips, Snippets, I can’t remember which. Wow, I’m a believer now- I don’t want to gather any other way!


Ah, one last tip about the Hazel, you know what that triangle does, along with the side panels reflecting light in a different way? SLENDERIZING. Now, I’m a bony broad and not trying to say I’m not, but my midsection is without a lot of definition with regards to waist. Check it out>>>>>

See the optical illusion there? Eye thinks there is a nippy-in waist thing happening there! Rock on Colette Patterns! Sarai is so clever with these things!


p.s. My grandmother‘s name was Hazel. I am a little goofy sentimental about that name!


New Colette pattern: Lily!

10 Apr

In previous rounds of pattern testing, Sarai has asked testers to spread the word on their blogs, and I’ve never had a blog to help spread the word until now! Today was the launch of the spring/summer line at Colette Patterns, and I had the pleasure of testing the sundresses, Lily and Hazel.

Today I’ll share my test version of Lily, which is the princess-seamed dress with the flap-detail that wants to turn any figure into an hourglass. After all, as I believe I have mentioned, mine is a straight-up block, the rectangle on the Vogue envelope, [and granted, in the testing run the goal is making sure all the moving parts work the way they should and notches line up for your ease of use later and all that good stuff, not craft a perfectly-fitted dress for my later use, but fitting issues aside…] and I think you can see that the dress is trying its very darnedest to show my shape off to its best advantage!

I used a crazy soft cotton ikat, which may just be my favorite fabric ever. The periwinkle was a very very last-minute addition, literally after all the blue was cut I changed my mind and went with this peri fuji silk as contrast. Depending on my mood I wish it were navy or ivory or red or mustard or flaming chartreuse, so really, periwinkle is probably as good as any! I absolutely dote on the solid-color apricot in the samples they posted today, though, scrumptious!

Here is the back with tiny little kick pleat!

I would love to say I'm woman enough not to be off-put by my winter-white skin...

And, being me, with my lack-of-waist sensitivity (why did the white squares have to come together at the waist anyway?), I tried it with some belts. I think it would look great with a really narrow, solid navy belt, which I don’t have. But I found what I kind of like it with this big olive sateen cummerbund belt I made with the Peony pattern (cute covered button in back on that one); it’s in keeping with my whole more-is-more aesthetic, you know:

Final thoughts on Miss Lily. This dress is quite simple to make being mostly straightish lines except the main bust seams; it is only a little time-consuming in that there are a lot of pieces to cut and work with. However, because it is princess-seamed, it is easier both to fit initially, and for my purposes now, to go back and alter later! But the flaps on bodice and pockets go in super easily, nothing tricky or weird; simpler I think than the Rooibos pockets actually although similar concept.

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, Regular-Bra Friendly! 😀 Forgot to go strapless for the photos, but you really can’t even tell. (Granted at my proportion the apparatus isn’t as architectural as at the more generous sizes, so that may not go for everyone, I just realized.)

Also, the first Colette sundresses to have back zips, if that makes a difference to anybody- both Lily and Hazel have them (invisible).

I’ll return with Hazel next!


Bad Kitty, and the Black-Tie Silk Peony

12 Jan

Sorry for radio silence, guess who ended up in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery with an infected cat bite on her dominant, nay, let’s say sewing hand. Yep. WTF. Apparently there’s this wealth of popular lore out there about cat bites that has up til now escaped me, but somehow in a lifetime of being an animal adorer (cat owner my entire adult life, not to even start on dogs), I didn’t realize that one can end up so sick so fast, or that there is such a hazard there.

Peabody participating in Me-Made-May 2010

Peabody’s a unique one, though. She wandered into my back yard in 2009 a starving, matted, plaintively begging little 5-month old stray at a time when I was least able to resist her, after having recently lost a beloved elderly, soul-matey cat.  I most definitely believe in adopting rescued animals whenever possible; all but one of the pets I’ve had have had lives elsewhere before they came to me, and you expect that there might be baggage that might turn up, but Peabody does kind of take that to the next level sometimes.  She has some little quirks, including some territorial tics I never experienced with cats I had previously; one of which (office chairs with arms!) I ran afoul of in the excitement of installing my lovely new computer monitor.

In any case,  I don’t need to have a complete rehash of the situation here, but that is where I’ve been and what I have been doing, and I have at least gotten to a point where I can do some typing, but hand sewing is not in my immediate future, boo!  I really wanted to get cracking on winter coat and there was a whole lot of pad stitching on the immediate agenda.  Perhaps it’s a sign I should go RTW route???

On to happier things, I owe some pictures of my “black tie Peony”:

Colette Patterns Peony in black silk dupioni, with the accompanying cummerbund belt (backwards) in silk charmeuse with vintage glass buttons and bias self-loop closures. I chose dupioni for the dress because I knew from previous experience that I really like to take advantage of the flattering A-line of the Peony skirt by using a fabric with maximum body- the dupioni was an absolute delight to work with, and wear. Mmmm, rustly!

The only change I made to accomodate the dupioni was I had to do tucks instead of the gathering in the front upper skirt; the gathering was almost too subtle for the dupioni in a way, and after several tries I wasn’t getting a good result, so I opted for tucks instead.

As for the slippy charmeuse of the belt, who knows what I was thinking. I even went off script and added extra fabric to the front-front panel, thinking even MORE gathered pearly-white charmeuse would be even greater, but it’s really not. What actually IS greater are these pearly vintage glass buttons, and I adore how that part of the belt looks with the button-loops, so I just spun the belt around, let the cummerbund part drape at the small of my back and had the buttons at the front, and loved it.

Actually one of these days I’m plotting to make a second back half, and replace the cummerbund-part with another button part so it buttons at both center front and center back.  Too much?  I don’t think so, I love the button effect that much!

Not liking the cummerbund bit this go-round: it’s not the pattern’s fault.  I have a version I did in sateen that I love (big self-covered button on the back, so cute!), but it just didn’t work out the way I did it in the charmeuse.


I keep trying to get away from these hallway pictures with the bad lighting but after the dress’s maiden voyage to a holiday gala concert, I managed only the most hilarious pictures:

I kind of love the spooky-Wednesday-Adams vibe, I just wasn’t looking for glum pictures in a dress that makes me happy!

Or perhaps you prefer apparently trying to form an S-curve with body in admiration of my own belt:

Did I mention I managed to fit a subtle vintage crinoline under there? Helped to accentuate the fullness in the skirt. Actually one of my mom’s that came to light in her big move earlier this year. Our family are sartorial packrats indeed but you’ll hear no complaints about that part of it from me!

Admittedly a black silk dress isn’t the most light-spirited or frolicsome- there’s something almost inherently nineteenth-century-mourning in the way the fabric rustles or something, it’s an odd association,  but it’s really a feel-good garment for me regardless.

As is my previous Peony which I might as well post a recap picture of here for funsies:

Self-Stitched-Sept 2011: Yarn-dyed cotton Peony

This is just a “homespun” cotton from JoAnn’s, yarn-dyed black & tan cotton, but cut on the cross-grain to give it more body and really take advantage of the pattern shape- I think it really brings out the hourglass in the pattern and the woodgrain effect in the fabric.  Love it, if I do say so myself.

Pretty sure this exceeds my typing ration for the evening; more sooner!

Speaking of Styling Licorice for Winter, Redux: in which you can actually see the DRESS!

19 Nov
Licorice Pattern from the Colette Sewing Handbook   

When I responded to the Coletterie post regarding Styling Licorice for Winter I jumped the gun a bit, as I didn’t have a clear picture yet in my arsenal that actually showed the dress!  Rookie blogger mistake, as I’ve learned as I find google referrals to my shy little blog from all over the planet looking for content about Licorice, and me with just the one Licorice-obscuring picture.  So, to correct this oversight, the lovely Licorice* and I are back with some snaps in which the dress is finally visible. Isn’t she a beaut?

*[For those not already poring over their own copy, that’s the new Colette Patterns Handbook which comes with several new patterns including this dress, called Licorice.]

I used what I hoped would be a transitional-season linen; in one of my longtime favorite yellow-green colors, shot with black. I love it! It has that subtle sheen to it that I think dresses up/dresses down down really well- although that is one of the strengths of this particular design too. The full sleeves really hit me at the right time in my life too since I have been busily making all these butterfly wraps and wide-sleeved sweaters and jackets, so I have oodles of things to layer and wear with this, and it slots right into my wardrobe so perfectly.

I lined this with china silk- super decadent, and the result is I want to wear the dress every. single. day. I am usually the girl who when faced with optional lining will chose not to on a time/material expenditure-per-use rationale vs. why-not-wear-a-slip, but this dress is really converting me to linings, one wear at a time. Particularly considering that some of my favorite pairs of crochet tights are made out of some kind of microfiber that can only be cousin to velcro, and these have battled and won against all my slips. This might seem like a silly detail to harp on when there’s all this style/pattern detail to talk about but I gotta say, on a per-wear basis it’s getting a lot of happy attention in and out of the Hillary home.

In these pictures, it’s shown with a plaid linen tie-belt from another project of mine, vintage brooch, and windowpane sweater jacket. Not shown are my ever-present elbow-length gloves. Indispensible!

Here are a few other thoughts on styling Licorice for Winter, since cold-weather dressing is a particular specialty up here.  With my cozy silk lining, I have every intention of wearing my linen Licorice as long as possible into the season:

Licorice with favorite tweeds and silk

This is as “me” an outfit as ever was: here is Licorice with some of my favorite wardrobe staples, the wool tweed wrap I made last year that as far as I’m concerned goes with everything, the vintage, recycled Japanese silk crepe belt (all I did was face it with harmonizing silk crepe and add bias tape loop closures on the end), my favorite-favorite shoes by Biviel, and favorite tweed ivy hat.


Licorice with vintage pumps and coral jewelry

One of the things I love about the dress is that even without a belt, I think is it seems to give me a little more shape than I actually have. I’m not quite sure how that works but I am grateful for it. I have a fairly blockish shape (ie. the “rectangle” that hardly ever shows up on Vogue “Figure Flattery”), so I appreciate a dress that gives me an illusion of curves. This one seems to do this- it’s something about all the curved seams here and there, the curved collar hanging down accentuates the dress’s darts nipping in at the waistline, the draping teardrop sleeves hanging from the flattering narrower armscyes, etc. Very flattering, graceful fit!


Licorice goes for groceries

Accidental, irresistible Brady Bunch shot! Licorice with one of the umpteen butterfly wraps I’ve made, I look at this outfit and it makes me smile, I see all the influences of coming of age in the 90s, and the “throw on a pair of combat boots and the outfit is fine” mentality I had, lol. Also featured is my “lazy frog belt” which I love: it’s a super easy to sew/easy to wear belt that’s just a piece of wide black elastic (they sell this at Joann’s or whatever by the yard) with ready-made frog closure sewn on and hidden velcro for reinforcement. Inherited from my dad camel wool ivy hat.


Licorice with Grandmother's stole

A very fun way to wear Licorice in winter, particularly if your fur is faux. A stole or capelet really lets all the design features of your dress show when you move around so much better than a jacket does. You can still see the interplay of the sleeves and collar so much better. I do have volumes to say about vintage fur and my ambivalence about it although this isn’t really the place for it; this was inherited from my grandmother, not that that makes the ethics straightforward. I have a faux-fur capelet on the brain/drawing board, which will eventually be easier for me to wear, because I have decidedly fallen in love with the aesthetic since inheriting it. I am no longer sure that the argument of not wanting to perpetuate a [faux]fur-based aesthetic is one that has the weight it used to, when faux fur is everywhere and so firmly grounded in the culture now, but it is still one I struggle with. I am extremely wistful about remaking 1930s coat patterns with faux fur, for example. But I still hear that lingering tinkling bell of guilt about anything that might potentially romanticize or glamorize fur. In any case, complicated but potentially lovely. Next!


Licorice with 60s Vogue 4180 (again)And finally, because from day one I wanted to pair the two together, here again is a terrible picture of Licorice with the suit coat my Grandmother sewed for my mother circa 1960, from Vogue 4180. Also, another of my belts sewn from vintage Japanese fabric, this one in some really amazing wool, I faced it in silk organza, and at some point I went back in and added some strips of elastic ruching at the sides- which sounds like sacrilege but gives it some much-needed shape. Further accessorized by wool tights and kitty hiding behind my legs!


Hope you have enjoyed what has really been a great excuse to play dress up for me, and share a dress that I believe turned out quite well, and that was a pleasure to sew. Thanks and props to Sarai for giving us another wonderful pattern, not to even start yet on the BOOK, which is a topic for another post!


Speaking of styling Licorice for winter

13 Nov

Licorice in layers

Colette Licorice in linen with Grandma's Vogue 4180

I saw this post at the Coletterie on styling Licorice for winter and realized I had something to say on the subject too; the picture is not the best, but it is my linen Licorice layered with vintage Japanese wool wrap belt (just rectangle belt with skirt hooks and side ruching), and Vogue 4180 made by my grandmother for my mother circa 1960. ❤

Must take good pictures now of Licorice and Taffy to share!


More about rust Ginger

28 Oct


Supposed to be snapping more current image of the skirt but attention keeps lingering on the newly-arrived but long-cherished Victrola record cabinet (record player and baffling bulb and tube circuitry intact and and working-ish… ironically the place I lived for the last 11 years in MPLS was  3 blocks from a place that specialized in rehabbing the works of these things) this month inherited. I used to love playing 45s on it in the corner of my grandma’s rec room when I was a kid, she had these great old sets of Peter and the Wolf, with all the instruments doing the different animals, and Sparky’s Magic Piano, great fun.

So about the skirt. Clever seamstress eyes will of course detect the stress lines around the hips/waist area. I’m kind of too blinded by love of the skirt to be too bothered by it, and being a fall skirt it’s usually too covered by layers to be visible, but I’m also not entirely sure what happened. I used the exact modifications I used on my mustard Ginger, but this one has always fit just a little strangely through the hip, so I clearly did *something* differently.

I’m guessing it’s that it’s a melange of mystery synthetic fibers; I think I must have really shrunk the hip area while trying to ease in the waist or something. Either that or a strange cutting error. In any case, I’m not really sure what to take from this. Truth be told, I really hate working with synthetics generally just because they scare me to death for mostly this reason- so much mystery in what to expect, how to [pre]treat them, will I be able to get a halfway decent press (which is such an oddly satisfying part of the whole deal to me and so sadly lacking with these)? Give me wool any day. If I had to choose just one fiber to work with and wear for the rest of my life: wool, hands down! It’s true- I’d much rather invest my time and labor thoroughly preshrinking to know where I stand later. Too much I don’t understand about behavior of synthetics.

Both from my fall palette for the challenge @Coletterie


Colette Ginger and Evadress 20s tie-neck blouse

28 Oct

9-26-27-11 01

Outtake on the rust tweed Colette Ginger, because notorious Fargo wind patterns causing interesting updraft (I’m standing on a kind of ledge or pylon with gap behind) and oddly triangular skirt shape. It does however show another perspective on how the outfit was supposed to look, with the wind catching the skirt instead of the blouse.

If I were to write the Great Fargo Novel, various winds would be main characters. I grew up in Bismarck which is another 200 miles further west and certainly even drier there and quite windy, but nothing like the blow-your-brain-out-your-ears windy it is here. I think because there are actually mature trees and variable surface topography there, so you don’t feel it the way you do here, where most of the trees are just along the river and it’s crazy-prehistoric-lakebed-flat-flat-flat, nothing at all to stop that wind. Anyone who does the Minneapolis to Seattle drive complains about the North Dakota leg because it’s so hard to stay awake, it’s just a straight shot across perfectly flat prairie or farmland terrain, the highway is for the most part like it was laid out with a straight edge directly across 3/4 of the state, and with about 70% less traffic than most of the rest of the country. All that flatness, the wind just comes roaring over it.