Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I had this whole plan to bang it all out tonight, and wear the refashion in a blaze of glory tomorrow.   Needless to say, I got distracted.   

So, instead I will tell you about two books I got recently.   '7000 Years of Jewelry' and 'Costume in Detail 1730 to 1930'  I'm enjoying both immensely.  Costume in Detail includes descriptions of how they are made, the materials used, and construction information.    The Jewelry one includes examples from all over the world, and is just nifty because I like shiny things, costume and history.

Happy last day of May. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

puttering along

Annnnnd didn't finish the cocktail dress in time for the challenge.  In actual fact, didn't even pick it up, other than to get at an older project that was sitting underneath it.    My drive to finish it has disappeared post-wedding, and the next event it would be appropriate for is the company holiday party in about 6 months.... so, me thinks I shall focus on items I can use in Me-Made-June instead.    I'm back to the refashion of the wrap dress.  The zipper is hand picked and set in, so still left to do is sewing up the center back seam below the zipper, binding the neckline and adding straps.     Ignore the white tank underneath in the picture -- its the result of spontaneous fitting photo shoot syndrome.

Anyhow, really looking forward to MMJ, starting on WEDNESDAY!!!!   How about all of you out in blog-land?   cameras warmed up and ready?

...better pictures to come when I get this thing all finished

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In which I experiance technical difficulties

well..... biological ones.

 My arms decided to mutiny again, (what? what? you want to finish something for a specfic occasion?   ahahahaah! non! this shall not beeee) (you should have read that with the evil sounding accent of your choice.   In my head its more or less cartoonish French)  (Random note:  I studied French for about 12 years, so most of my accents come out French, no matter what I am up to)

flamingo style
I think I was trying to fix the strap...


So, it was time for some closet diving.    I made the ginkgo dress (look closely at the pattern) right after college.  At that time it was strapless and used only thick interfacing and a good, tight fit to hold itself up.    However, the pattern designers seem to have neglected to consider what would happen when it was washed ---  needless to say I added a bit more support.   However, its not the halter strap-- thats actually purely decorative, as I thought it threw the dress firmly into the 50s -- no the support actually comes from a fully boned bodice.    This being one of my early forays into boning, its sewed directly to the lining the the fabric... no channels, no nothing (well, the tips are covered to prevent poking) but, it works, and as I seem to wear it once every two years or so, it will do.      The new feature this time is the crinoline -- also made years ago to go with a completely different dress I've yet to post here, but I'm really into the puff -- it makes the dress seem more substantial.

The pattern for the dress is on a shelf in my childhood bedroom, so theoretically I could look it up if anyone is curious, but its only the base, ginkgo part of the dress.    I added the ruffle and cumberbund to make it a bit more interesting.    The crinoline is self drafted  -- just layers of netting added in ever taller layers on a standard A-line skirt.   

However, with good luck and cooperative biology, I may just get the purple dress finished by the May 30th cut off for Pattern Review's knock off contest.    Think happy thoughts.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Recreating a 50s Cocktail Dress - Part 3

current progress -- still unironed...

And here we have the third tier.   While adding it, I also took in the strips between tiers by about an inch each, to better match the inspiration.  I've decided to go for the full four, so there is a bit more to go before I finish the skirt, but I'm nearly there.    (While I do love having guests for the weekend, it does rather put me behind where I ought to be in terms of getting this all done properly by Friday.)  Think happy thoughts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A dress in action

10 points if you can identify the garden.

Life got in the way of sewing again, so no progress on the 50s dress.   However, I made the blue one and actually got a picture of it out and about, so I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recreating a 50s Cocktail Dress - Part 2

Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse!    (except, actually, awesomer)

I used Tanit-Isis' suggestion of zigzagging over a second thread to speed up the gathering for the second gathered panel.   (Basically, the zig-zag acts as a casing, its pretty clever and quite quick.)   I also decided to add in a pocket -- lipbalm addict that I am, I had no intention of allowing myself to be tied to a purse all evening.   As this whole thing is made of gathers, I decided to be sneaky  and make it a part of the panel, the opening of which would just be one more.
Fun with math!
I wanted it right over my right hip, so I found the point one quarter of the way along the panel, folded out a foot and added it to the end.  Easy as pie. 

sneaky pocket with my camera case peeking out
Once I have the bottom sewn in pace, I'll sew up part of the side -- but the whole thing is made out of a single piece of fabric.   Also, looking at the skirt as a whole, I seem to have overestimated the the depth of the panels, because its just about to my knees right now with only two of them.   While odds are good this is actually correct as the dress in question in probably tea-length, I find right below the knee to be more flattering, so my version may only have three panels....  (But then, I plan to wear heels, so I can actually get away with a whole lot more skirt...  so, who knows.  Fun with mystery and confuuuusion.)

current state of the skirt -- still pre-ironing

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recreating a 50s cocktail dress - Part 1

the inspiration
While I cut out the lining the other day, intending to put it together and start on the bodice, I really had no interest in working on it, so, I switched over the to skirt.    As you can see, each layer is gathered at both top and bottom, with flat strips between the sections.     After eyeballing it for a while, I decided that the original length of the gathered panels was at *least* twice the final top length.   I ended up with 2.75,  to allow gathers at the lower edge, and I was starting to worry about how big it was getting (i.e, not the full 3x)

Anyhow, as the gathering had to be fairly precise, and I wasn't in the mood to figure out how to pinpoint the tension on the gathering foot of my serger, I ended up doing it by hand.    Its a little on the poofy and insane mini-bubble side right now, but when ironed, and with the weight of the other layers, I think it will turn out nicely.    I also feel I ought to mention, its not quite so shiny in normal light.   Without flash, its actually almost dull with a kind of silky look to it.   (Although burn testing has identified it as acrylic)

poofy mini bubble prior to ironing
The plan  is to finish the skirt, and then worry about the rest, as if worse come to worse, and life interferes with getting this done, I can do a fairly plain bodice without it looking too odd.   The fancy gathered bodice and a plain skirt could work... but it would be a little odd, and it was always the skirt that I liked.

Monday, May 16, 2011

blogger is being troublesome.......



Still limiting my typing, so lets go with a primarily  pictorial update.  bodice attached, zipper in progress (I hand pick, so it may wait a bit)  It will eventually have straps and a sweetheart neckline.

there were supposed to be others, including other projects, but blogger is not playing nice and allowing formatting.

later gators.   more when my arms are cooperative.

EDIT: ...In my primary browser the two pictures are neatly arranged  next to each other, but it has come to my attention its a total mess in chrome.   Anyone verify/refute?   This new posting thinger seems awfully buggy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

History of Fashion

The first part in a 1957 BBC series on the history of fashion, chock full actual period garments.

fantastic commentary:
...something of the sort could have been prophesied from the time when it became clear that the demure, unabstrustive victorian woman was determined to take up as much room as possible....

 (I found it at Enchanted Serenity -- a fantastic historical costuming  resource.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

time to get my act together....

Turns out I was doing the last post *right* as blogger was having its issues.   Go figure.

from Couture Allure

purple mystery fabric!

 Anyhow... looking at the calendar I've realized May is half gone, and for those of you not obsessively tracking my social schedule, this means I have about two weeks to get my dress together for my friends' (intentional apostrophe position) wedding, which is coming Memorial Day weekend.  I'm still going to go with the original plan -- i.e. the gathered 50's cocktail dress, but rather than go out and buy lots and lots and lots of something leaf green as I had intended, I think I'll use the 7 yards of shiny purple mystery fabric that has been inhabiting my stash for the last year or so.   It was always intended for something like this, and I recall getting it for a dollar a yard. (The idea that I may pull this dress of for $20 is most amusing. )  I also need to dig through and find something for the base and a petticoat, but lets be honest, I love me some stash diving, and the dress and petticoat will be a two-fer for my second round of stash busting.     The other two items currently in progress (re-fashioned wrap skirt to dress and the stripy-polka dot drindle dress) are just going to have to wait until I've gotten my act together.  

Is the new blogger posting window bothering anyone else?  I'm still having issues with it not wanting to put pictures below text....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pretty Pretty Pictures

Having some trouble with my hands, so no sewing for a bit. Instead, the things that are getting stuck in my mind, and may eventually contribute features and facets to future frippery.


Top Row: Modcloth, BurdaStyle, Modcloth, Not sure. (If anyone knows I will happily give credit where credit is due)
Bottom Row: Modcloth, Modcloth, Enchanted Serenity, Modcloth

It was the wedding dress that prompted this -- I just love the back and have been thinking thoughts of incorporating something along those lines. Whenever I see something I really like, I tend to save a picture - however in many cases, these are off personal blogs, rather than commercial or historical sites, and I feel a bit odd reposting images of other people's non-commercial work without obtaining prior concent (which involves far more planning than I put into this) So I'll send you off with a few links. A sweater from Small Things, a reversible dress from KristenMakes (I couldn't find the picture I was looking for from MMM, so this goes to her flicker feed) Grosgrain's picnic frock , Ana's jacket and very praire's dress. Obviously, there are TONS of other things, but these popped into my head

Monday, May 2, 2011

the importance of fitting

According to the pattern envelope, I'm an almost perfect size 14 -- however, reality and pattern measurements don't always have a lot to do with each other. Take a look at the difference between original and final shapes. (My versions don't include seam allowances) Its subtle, but it makes all the difference in the world.

This is the result of the second muslin, with a few extra tweaks. I neglected to get a good picture, so you'll have to trust me and wait for me to get it all made up.

But on the subject of tweaking, may I introduce the 'wedding dress'? This is a shortened and taken in (there was room for a bustle) version of V2788, a wedding dress pattern with lovely lines. I originally made it with the sleeves, and wore it a couple of times last summer in the first flush of pleasure after having finished it. However, after that it was just never right... and this weekend I realized it was the sleeves. For whatever reason they were making me feel dowdy and spoiling the lines. They also looked funny with a cardigan, thus preventing me from wearing it to work. (The back is rather low) But now! ta da!

random note: the first picture is from midway through -- I never went the one sleeve route.
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