POLL! Vote on my 40s frock project for Me-Made-May!

21 Apr

Is there anything more fun, springtime-embracing, flirty, feminine and all-around blues-beating than a sweet little 1940s frock?  From making one to wearing one, it’s a pretty sure-fire mood elevator. (If you don’t want to take my word for it, go visit Cecili, because she’s the absolute master of the genre!:))

One of my goals for this year’s Me-Made-May is to complete one pattern from my A-list stash that I have yet to sew.  It’s time for one of these lovelies to see the light of day, deadline: end of May!

Want to help me decide which pattern I sew in time to wear for the end of the Me-Made-May challenge?

There are two options:

Option A (number order randomly selected from behind my back):

The sultry faux-wrap Butterick 3506, in view B for daytime (although I am utterly in love with the maxi A too), with the elegant sweeping curve at the overlapped hem. Generally wrap dresses are out for ladies with my body type, I believe that those cap sleeves- angling out giving that triangle-shaped bodice- make this *my* wrap dress!


Option B:

The flirty tie-neck, gathered-skirt Advance 3595 in view 1, with the perfect combination of feminine details and office-appropriateness, trim through the high waist, but flattering gathers through the abdomen create gently cascading skirt. I love this pattern!


Let’s vote!

Which 1940s frock should I make for Me-Made-May?


(The link will take you to my poll at PollDaddy to vote on the dress I sew by the end of Me-Made-May!)

Thank you!!  I’m so curious to see which one gets the vote!


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!


Of course I’ll be MMMing; you?

7 Apr

At last post, I was poised in the middle of exciting mystery winter project…… And here we are in Spring, Me-Made-May almost upon us, and I haven’t posted since January! Updates are in order!

The week of last post everything changed pretty quickly. I have already overshared here about my surgery and I don’t want to get too much into this, but a dear friend of mine died suddenly, and, well, everything changed. As for the big mystery project, I completely lost the “ganas” to finish it in the prevailing mood, so will return to it next fall (believe me, you’ll see me swanning around town in that baby yet), but just for the record, it is one of these:

Evadress C20-6611 Fur Trimmed Coat, circa 1929

Swoon, right?

Even though I got back into sewing in a time of grief a few years ago, this time I just haven’t been able to sew a stitch in months. Sewing paralysis, (Well, except for testing the new Colette patterns, but that’s different! Yep, that’s called foreshadowing!) although to be fair it’s really been a shift in perspectives and focus too. But this coat, it’s my pet project, I want it to be joyful, so I packed it up and will wait until I can finish it joyfully and devotedly. So that is that.

On to new business.

Me-Made-May, of course I’ll be there! I hope to see you all!

And the other, you don’t get to see those til next week! 🙂

Til then may the thread tension be everrr in your favor! xo


Color swatching, memory transposing

29 Jan

Funny how the memory works. [Non-sewing] Work took most of energy and attention this week but at least on a subconscious level, brain is still fretting about things like lining options for mystery project, etc. Different images, inspirations, color schemes, etc. dancing at the edge of my subconscious, notes in margins, or spools being pulled out and put down for future reconsideration when I get a minute later. In random-association of ideas, somewhere I remembered the above picture. But I remembered it in different coloration, and had transposed a couple of decades. Can you believe I ever found it? Poking in the wrong parts of art site fruitlessly then two minutes on Google images, d’oh! Really much more lovely than I remembered and worth sharing, although it really has nothing to do with anything, except gorgeous coloration, and the kind of details you can just absolutely get lost in.

Anyway… back to my mundane little lining. With a big dream project like this one, I do care that the lining is going to be attractive. Magical color combination is pretty much what I’m going for, and I haven’t found that perfect combination of shades that really sing to me.

The body color challenge, you see is this:

Rich, delicious as the pimenton itself. Hard to find color combinations that don’t read as seasonal or faddy to my eyes, but it’s a fun process.

I’m pondering unusual fabrics too, for lining. Anyone have experience with this? Sleeves of course a very slippy traditional lining of some kind, but the sides and back, wondering about stepping out. Smooth silk-cotton shirting from stash? Crazy luxurious wool suiting from SR Harris in Minneapolis that takes award for my longest-stashed piece of fabric- 1990s! It’s one of those very high thread counts I picked up with coupon deal at that palace of wool suitings, then went back to school and fell out of sewing for about a decade. I suppose it would be way too impossibly static-y, but I’m kind of in love with the idea anyway. I get that way this time of year, can I just wear wool from the skin out please? Why do I need any other fiber?

Oh especially after seeing this; like I needed anything more to feel bad about clothing-wise. I noticed rayon wasn’t super high on the baddie list though, and that’s got to be good news, right?


Inexperienced tailor asks… melty hymo?

22 Jan


So I may have changed gear slightly and gone a tad crazy with regards to priorities, planning, and my ability to accomplish multiple sewing-related goals in a short period of time (before it gets warm here- in North Dakota time: not that short, but in inexperienced tailoring time: Not Long) in response to a contest-notification email that goaded me to do something I’ve been dying to do for ages, but told myself I a) didn’t need, b) wasn’t ready to try to make and c) where would I wear it anyway. All of which are probably still true, which is what makes it double-extra-deliciously fun, I’m afraid. Yes, my responsible sisters, I’m going deeply down the rabbit hole of unrepentant self-indulgence on this one. Now’s the time, stiff hand or no, I’m on board! More details to follow, but it’s going to be GREAT. G.R.E.A.T. There may be some crying and swearing and begging of tips from any of you who will listen before all is said and done, but I definitely do my best work under deadline, and I’m ready for the focus of the challenge. So excited!

So. Preparation for said change of gears has led me to a surprising revelation. B Black no longer sells *heavy* weight hymo containing any natural fibers whatsoever (stuff I got there last year was wool hair/cotton), which at first blush seems like a likely sign of the apocalypse, but I suppose is just the recession, unless- could it be that this stuff is really superior in any way other than cost to a traditional animal-hair product?

So, I’d like to query the hive mind here: have you worked with these? Great/indistinguishable results? Doesn’t it make it harder to tailor? It just seems that if I’ve gone out of my way to avoid synthetic fibers in the shell fabric, I don’t want to monkeywrench it by painstakingly meshing all this synthetic to it- it seems counter-intuitive to the concept of tailoring doesn’t it? Or am I reading too many old-fashioned tailoring books? Isn’t the notion that I’m creating shape with judicious use of heat, steam and pressure, all three of which I’d then have to largely avoid once I’ve introduced all this poly-rayon into the mix? Am I wiser to go down a weight to the medium-weight stuff? (p.s. did you notice Sunni sells that now, BTW?) Entire paragraph of questions!!

Or… is it just that I react to synthetics like a kid reacts to vegetables- I just haven’t learned how to appreciate them yet and someday I’ll love their unique properties and special wonderfulness pad-stitched all over my wool?

VPLL 1923 - 1924 Couture Porfolio; A little winter garment eye candy to sign off with


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!


Self-drafted tie-neck blouse: second draft

11 Dec

Check out this gorgeous de Lempicka!  If this doesn’t put you in the mood for a boisterous ochrey scarf-neck blouse I don’t know what will.

I actually came across it while trying to find a picture of the right “30s hair” to take to the hairdresser, LOL.   I in my dinosaur ways was looking in actual books, but I discovered in looking for credits that there is a really lush and wonderful official website that has full catalog of sketches and paintings organized by years: really fantastic!  I did Art History as an undergraduate when there weren’t these things.  It’s kind of dizzying, exhilarating to see.  I suddenly feel like I went to college in 70s, or maybe 1870s; it was really so much closer to that than today.

Anywho, here finally is the ochre wool jersey version of the self-drafted scarf-style tie-neck top I originally posted about ages ago!   I went a different direction on the tie!

Self-Drafted Ochre Jersey Top

The neck ties are cut extra long, so actually wound around the neck twice in the above picture to give extra depth at the neck.

Double Loop Ties

Possibly under the influence of the above floaty pumpkin chiffon artwork, I thought it would be extra fun to cut the ties superlong.  The wool jersey is so fine as to be actually translucent, so not especially heavy.  And it is fun: I can make exhuberantly wrapped cowls, and tied up peplumy goddess wraps and whatnot, and in the end someday I can go in and clip it down to a straightforward tie-neck length so when I do want to just wear the regular tie it doesn’t look so theme-park costumey (ie the word I’m dancing around here you know is “clowny”).

Clowny or no, it really is actual clothing-derived fun wearing it with all that bow hanging out the front of a sedate herringbone suit jacket though, especially in that color.  Great cascade of woolly color.

I love it dressed down too.  On the right it’s layered with the ubiquitous Burda one-piece kimono T in the same fabric.  Worn this way it doesn’t look anything like the blouse I was originally going for but I really love how it came out.

The tie ends are noteworthy, BTW.  One of the Vogue Couturier patterns I studied in my “research” (come on, I read patterns for fun and relaxation, don’t you?) taught me to close the ends of the scarf at the end, after sewing and turning the long sides of the ties, then you fold in the very ends and blind hem.  It gives you an opportunity for a much crisper corner (at least with a fabric that holds its press better than jersey with lycra), and in this particular case, it gives you the freedom to change your mind on length, because you can always cut them off and rehem them!  Pretty cool!

Rewrappable means bonus peplum top!

That is probably all there is to say.  I did do a facing on the neckline to support all that scarf, jersey or no jersey; I assume that’s a no-brainer even for those of you more proficient in the knits than I.

So all that’s left is another photo of me cavorting in the ochre jersey until I can get around to posting all I’ve been meaning to!  Still to come: What I Wore this Weekend, Belated Wrap up of items from the Fall Palette Challenge @Coletterie, Introduction to my Colette Taffys, and Weren’t there supposed to be some Suits in there Somewhere?

Yet another item from my Colette Fall Palette Challenge!


Self-drafted Tie-Neck Blouse: First Draft

13 Nov

1st draft: wearable!

I’ve never really been very comfortable drafting projects for myself but when I came across this Lanvin blouse when collecting some inspiration ideas and pictures for my Colette Fall Palette Challenge board, it stuck in my head as a really perfect example of its type as far as my tastes are concerned, and one I wanted to try to emulate in the ochre wool jersey I’m currently so in love with (see the one-piece Burdastyle T made from same, below).

I’m not really experienced enough either with bias silk satin (or with lycra-containing jersey for that matter) to really know how the one translates to the other but I am a bit of an expert on construction techniques of tie-neck garments, having studied more than my fair share of such patterns. I also did kind of a shooting gallery on Pinterest of tie-neck blouses, to compare and hone in on what I liked or didn’t like about this versus others.

In the end obviously I overshot the ease particularly in the cap sleeves, which obviously will be coming out of the ochre one. (and, I do see will have to come out of this one; picture really is worth about a thousand mirrors isn’t it?) The truth is, the raspberry cotton jersey here was really just supposed to be a straight-up muslin to make sure things went together right- but I got a little excited and carried away and finished it before realizing how much it would stretch out upon wearing.

It’s the absolute magic of a tie-neck blouse to me, that fabric whose color previously turned me off suddenly seems delicious to me and wait, isn’t that a rosey mauve in the far right second tier of my palette stack? Yep I think so.

Can’t wait to do the ochre one now that I know what I need to do!


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