Monday, March 23, 2015

Sew the Show - Boardwalk Empire/1920's Fashion

I'm sewing along with Alida from Alida Makes again for Sew the Show - Boardwalk Empire. I don't have Amazon Prime so I didn't watch this one, but I looked at tons of images from the show online. I went with more of a general 1920's feel in an outfit that is practical (of course) for my life. More like this image that I found on Pinterest.

WORK IT! Career wardrobe history 1920s Style-setting Coco Chanel dressed Jazz Age career girls in boxy, boyish suits made of soft jersey. Hemlines rose, and flapper fashionistas made the most of their newly discovered lower legs with patterned stockings and vibrantly colored shoes.

The skirt is an adaptation of Simplicity 4138 (out of print now), a 6 panel flared skirt with an elastic waist. I changed it to a side zip for a better fit. With all those seams, it was easy to just angle each one in a bit and add the zipper on the left. I topstitched all but the side seams for a little detail. You probably can't see it though because I used matching thread to keep it subtle. The fabric is a chambray I believe. It's always hard to say when I find these things at the thrift store. And even though it is the orange-red color, I have at least 3 things in my closet that look good with it.

I'm showing it here with this t-shirt I made last summer and never blogged about. The trim (actually 2 strips of lace and a ribbon) fits with the 20's embellishments. After the first washing, the trim shrunk up and made it appear a bit ruched, and it actually looks pretty good that way. I think I used the free Scoop Top tee from Kristen at Skirt as Top, but I widened the neckline if I recall. The scarf was a birthday present from my mom this winter and adds some sparkle. The cloche hat was a gift from my daughter last Christmas.

Well thanks for not laughing at me, I hope. I'm enjoying sewing for myself again and plan to keep it up and push myself more. I also plan to buy some self tanner for my legs if I do another skirt. Yikes.

Can't wait to see what show you pick next, Alida!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PRP March - Reversible Knot Top

A quick look through Elena's closet reveals that she already has 8 everyday dresses, 3 fancy dresses, and 4 twirly skirts for this spring/summer. So even though I had two absolutely perfect, coordinating prints that I wanted to use to make Jess's Knot Dress, my OPD (obsessively practical disorder) wouldn't allow me to do that. Judging by Elena's appetite, we're heading for a growth spurt so I'll save those fabrics for a dress version later this summer. For now, we have a fully reversible knot top and some capri pants for this month's Project Run & Play challenge.

Both fabrics for the top are quilting cottons from Joann's. The floral one is a premium quilting cotton and has more weight to it. The geometric one is lightweight, and unfortunately, Elena doesn't like it much. Sad face. To make it fully reversible, I sewed the side seams of the outer and inner and then placed one inside the other. I sewed around the entire top edges first. After trimming and turning and topstitching that part, I worked on the ruffle and hem.

I cut a strip 2.5" high and double the width of the hem for the ruffle. I sewed it into a loop and pressed it in half lengthwise before I gathered it and basted it to the outer piece. Then I pulled the lining all the way up and over matching the side seams and pinning my way around. It makes a funky looking donut like thing. I left a 3" opening and sewed all the rest of the way around. After trimming the seam allowance and turning it, I closed the opening by topstitching once all the way around. But it doesn't make Elena love the other side any better. She would only flip it over for a few seconds so I didn't get many pictures of that.

As you can see, I made some edits to the design. Besides making a top instead of dress, I also skipped the back opening and knot. Elena is just so narrow I a) didn't think she'd need it and b) thought it would overwhelm her slim body. I like it simple like this, but the ruffle is still a nod to the skirt.

Pants have been a sewing struggle for me. I've tried some of the blogland favorites and haven't had much luck. Without naming names, they are always too big, even when I make ridiculously small sizes. I have found a great pattern here in the Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers. I made a 2T out of some stretch denim bottomweight from Joann's. There is a shorten/lengthen line mid-thigh so I took out 3 inches there to make capri's and still have the seams twist all the way to front and center. It makes a very cool affect when highlighted with piping.

 My error was in not adjusting the length of the rise for her typically 4T height. I will do that next time. So you can see her underpants popping out in the above picture. Instead of doing a knit casing with the elastic inside, I found matching elastic at Joann's and just used it straight. It is so soft and comfortable. Just look at all that cool piping. And below is one of the rare pictures of the reverse side of the top.

 Look at the flexibility in that ankle. Anyone else thinking I have a little dancer or gymnast here?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Third Time's the Charm

Oh this skirt. This poor skirt has been through a lot in it's lifetime. It has been quite a journey but I think it has finally arrived at a wearable place.

This started out as a dress for Olivia 2 summers ago. Let me see if I can find a picture. I thought it was adorable, in a Japanese way. She said she liked it but didn't wear it once. Grrrr. 

So after a year, I stole it back from her closet. I cut the bodice off, added a knit waistband, and called it a skirt. However, it was awful! Truly. It was awkwardly long and it was waaaaay too full. I misjudged the knit waistband so it wasn't tight enough to hold it up either. So I threw it aside again for a couple months.

In honor of Selfish Sewing Week, I was determined to make this skirt work. I cut the waistband off and laid the skirt out flat on the floor. I already had a nice, machine-sewn, blind hem in there so I didn't really want to mess with that. It also had side seam pockets that I wanted to keep. The solution was to cut an inch and a half off the top and cut a center panel and 2 side panels. I removed 12 inches from both the front and back.

When I sewed the pieces back together, I made flat felled seams and did a decorative stitch on the topside. That made the inside nice and neat and especially down at the hem. You would never notice that I didn't redo the hem. So the hem and pockets stayed in tact. I took a couple inches out of the knit waistband and sewed it back on. Bam, a real skirt now.

That's it. Now I have something else to wear this store bought top with. I'm trying to work on my wardrobe in a really organized and minimalistic sort of way. Everything has to do dual duty. Meaning it should go with a couple different things and also be able to be dressed up or down. I'm calling this my Easter outfit this year. For our weather, it will do well. 

Thanks for reading. I'll be back next week with my Project Run & Play look and also a Sew the Show look for me. I hope the snow melts soon so I don't have to walk through snow banks again to take pictures.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sew the Show: The Honourable Woman

I don't need an excuse to binge watch Netflix but Alida from Alida Makes gave me one, so I watched all 8 episodes of the Honourable Woman over 2 or 3 days. It was my duty, right? I mean, Alida came up with this fun idea for sewing inspiration and set up a linky party and prizes and everything. I couldn't leave her hanging. Right?

The main character, Nessa Stein wears clothes beautifully, but somehow she still looks naked if you ask me. It's like you can see right through her, or into her maybe. She dresses quite different from my everyday look, but I can always use another blouse.

Nessa wears a lot of silky button down shirts but I shied away from making one. I had this 80's Simplicity 7381 pattern given to me and thought I would just work with that. The pattern is for a basic long sleeved blouse with a button and loop closure on the back. The neck and back openings have facings. The sleeves are supposed to be long, slightly tapered and hemmed. I kept the width going down from the elbow and then gathered them into bias bindings instead. I measured around the biggest part of my man-hands to determine how big to make those.

The actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal is so gorgeous she can carry off a more masculine button down. I wish to be kind to myself, so I'll just say I'm not Maggie and I thought my blouse should be a little more feminine lest I look like a man. The slight gathering on the sleeves and the blousiness of the sleeves is that touch of femininity. Also the lilac chiffon.

Anyone who sews for little kids knows that that is a million times easier than sewing for a woman's body and with slinky, grown-up fabrics. Darts are not fun in flimsy, slippery fabric. They were so hideously puckering but I fixed it with a few hand stitches to smooth out the ends and now I can leave the house in it. It was laughable before. (Ignore the shadow on my left one below.)

My pants worn here are from JCPenney many years ago. My high heels have marched off with Elena to occupy her while I pose awkwardly for my 16 year old. That is the other problem with self-sewing - photoshoots, ugh. 

In the end, the effort was worth it. I feel like I accomplished something good. So thank you, Alida, for inspiring me. I look forward to more months of Sew the Show. The aforementioned 16 year old watched along with me - which was awkward at times as you can imagine. She happened to be in the kitchen making tea during the worst scene so I told her to stay there a minute. But whatever, she's not a child anymore, and I'm sure she re-watched it later to see what the fuss was about. It was still such a gripping series and exposed me to a different world than my stay-at-home with a preschooler and teens kind of life. Thanks again, Alida! I can't wait to see what else people make.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

PRP February: Mademoiselle Muscle Tee Again

We loved our first Mademoiselle Muscle Tee outfit so much, we needed to make another one for Project Run & Play. Needing a smaller size than Living with Punks offered, I used the Tinley Tee this time by Get Your Crap Together Designs. It has a nice straight design with lots of sleeve options. I kept with the wider neckband of the Mademoiselle but used the flutter sleeves of the Tinley. The fabric is an old receiving blanket in great condition.

As per my usual way of thinking I'm so smart, I changed the flutter sleeve slightly. Instead of having the sleeves wrap all the way to the bottom of the arm, I gathered them more and stopped them short of the bottom of the armhole. I used a strip of knit to finish the armhole edges. This shortening up made them fuller, but I don't know if that was a good thing. That along with hemming them, makes them stand out a bit too much. Next time, I'll put them down further and not hem the edges so they hang softer. There will definitely be a next time too. I love a simple tee like this for summer. Cool and breezy like a muscle tee with just a bit of sun protection for the shoulders.

And yes, we needed another skirt to wear with it. This too is a refashion. Originally a vintage sheet, I had made myself a skirt with this floral border print. That was a few summers ago so it was already in the refashion pile since last summer. It is such a pretty print and color palette.

I added some bits of lace and eyelet to make a shabby chic look. You can't get more feminine or springy. 

Thank you so much for stopping by my little blog. And thank you to the ladies of Project Run & Play and Living with Punks for this fun challenge. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

February PRP: Mademoiselle Muscle Tee

This month's Project Run & Play challenge is to use the free Mademoiselle Muscle Tee pattern from Living with Punks. I'm completely ready to start thinking about warmer weather so here's Elena in her muscle tee.

Since the Mademoiselle pattern comes in a 5T and I need a 3 at most, I had to use another basic tee pattern. I chose the Otium from Sofilantjes because I've used it recently, it has similar lines and it has a surprise in the back. (More on that in a minute.)  I used the Mademoiselle tutorial's dimensions to make the wide bands at the neck and arms to add a pop of color. All of the material is re-purposed from 2 hand-me-down tees.

Here's the surprise: the bow on the back! This is one of the cool features of the Otium pattern and I think it girls this shirt up just enough.

Can you believe I had 2 tees in my stash that have the same green? Crazy.

And then, we needed a skirt to go with the top so I used this purple fabric I had been hoarding. This cotton is from Andover Fabrics and is part of the Downton Abbey collection. It is soooo nice. I only used about half a yard so I still have enough to make the bodice of another dress I had been saving it for. 

The skirt consists of 3 tiers. I based the measurements on a ready to wear skirt Elena likes. Between the bottom tiers, I added a strip of that same knit used on the banding of the shirt. It is sewn into the seam and then folded upward and top-stitched down. It also holds the seam allowance up and in place on the backside. I wavered back and forth about adding that in, but looking through Elena's wardrobe, I was shocked to see that she has several other tops that will also coordinate with this. Who knew we had so many wild colors in her closet?

So that's our outfit. the skirt is just full enough to be twirly for Elena without being obnoxious or too revealing. She wore it straight off the sewing machine until it needed to be washed and then photographed and still has it on now. Oh how I wish it were more than 20 degrees outside so we could take pictures outdoors. It's currently -4 so 20 would feel balmy. Come on spring, hurry it up please.

Hope you had a great Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Caroline Party Dress & McCall's 6914 Mash Up

Sometimes sewing is so much more than sewing. It's therapy, right? It's a way to do something useful but also a way to escape, to spend time alone (if you're lucky), and to be in the moment. Writing blog posts is also more than just the facts about patterns and fabrics and techniques. Sometimes it's a way of remembering and recording.

I made a modified Caroline Party Dress from Mouse House Creations. I've had this pattern for a year and love the design. I've been meaning to try it but I wasn't sure about what size to make so I kept putting it off.

I had a great friend in college. Her name was Caroline, just like this dress, and she played guitar.We sat on our front porch playing and singing, mostly John Denver for some reason. I had never felt comfortable singing in front of people before but Caroline convinced me I could and that no one would laugh. Or maybe a couple of drinks convinced me (it was college after all), but we had fun. I made Elena her own cardboard guitar to play with.

Caroline liked strong colors. In fact, her bedroom was painted black. Even though she hated pastels, I think she would like this dress's colors because they are strong and fun.Caroline was all about fun. She could make everything fun. The fabric is a fine wale corduroy from Joann's at least a year ago. The bodice only is lined in some pastel pink cotton. Sorry Caroline, Elena doesn't hate pastels.

Back to sewing facts, the Caroline Party dress bodice married the pleated skirt of McCall's 6914 which I used to make Elena's Christmas dress. A match made in heaven because the bodices were the exact same width making the skirt an easy swap. I added the Caroline side seam pockets back in for fun. The bodice is a 3T and so is the skirt width. I went with the 4 for length because the McCalls hits at the waist whereas the Caroline is a higher waist/empire top. I love the length of it and hope it lasts us a couple of months. This girl has grown one whole inch in the last month alone!

My friend Caroline was not only fun and a talented artist and musician, she was kind beyond words. She put people at ease and made them feel special. She accepted people as they were, appreciated people for being different, and opened herself up to people too. She taught me a lot and I am better for having known her. I do wish it had been for longer though. She would have been an amazing mom I'm sure. She passed away in a car accident on her way to work one snowy January morning 14 years ago. I will never forget her though.

Just a few more pics to finish up and to show you my zipper. I know zippers aren't really all that hard but they still stress me out big time. I thought this one went in pretty well with the pattern almost matching up. I was worried about using this fabric to make a dress with a pleated skirt and a separate bodice. There is just no way to match the stripes from top to bottom and I thought it would bother my symmetry-loving brain, but it doesn't bother me at all when viewed as a whole. (It does bother me in the close-up picture below though.)

We are pretty well in the late winter to spring dress category now so we'll have to think about what to sew next. Probably something for the Project Run & Play challenge.