Friday, December 25, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy SWAP year!

Merry Christmas, everyone! So, you know that lovely SWAP plan I posted about a month ago? Well, it's a goner. Not a complete goner, mind you, but at least a partial goner. As I watched Christmas-y things (ok, and not-so-Christmas-y things like the new Star Trek movie) with my family tonight, I was browsing the web and kept finding lovely things about Steampunk, and my little brain started a-whirring. For those of you unfamiliar with the term (as I was until recently), steampunk is a style of clothing (and, for some, a lifestyle) that combines old-fashioned, Victorian styles with a mechanical sci-fi tech of such things as time machines, dirigibles and ray guns. It usually looks a little like this:

Isn't that cool? As those of you who read this have probably figured out by now, I really like Victorian-styled clothing, and I really like sci-fi, so this style is a natural fit for me. As such, I'm moving my SWAP towards a steampunk feel, with lots of buckles, hook-and-eyes, keys, and gears. (I've got my eye on a large set of watch parts on eBay right now, as a matter of fact.) I'm ditching the blue and making it gray, black, and white, with one plaid that has a hint of brown in it. But never fear-it won't be boring, I can promise you that!

I'm actually not starting sewing on my SWAP until January 5th, because I'm going to Atlanta tomorrow to visit my lovely distant cousins/best friends, (Hi, Cody and Suzanne!) and I won't be back until the 3rd, then I'm going to stay with my brother in Denver for a day to do a little shopping and have some fun together. That's ok, though, because unlike the last SWAP plan, I won't be able to just pop color in some pattern line-art and call it a day- I'm modifying/inventing almost every pattern I'm using in this SWAP, so I'm going to hand-sketch and color in all of my designs. It'll be a great way to kill time on the plane, and I might draw the designs on cute little chibi characters just for the heck of it. I haven't drawn in a while, and once I started sketching out ideas for this SWAP, I was surprised by how much I had missed it, so y'all might be getting some crazy-elaborate art pics serving as a storyboard when I get back from Georgia.

How crazy am I about this idea? Well, here's a picture of one of the skirts I want to copy:

I really, really don't like installing zippers. They kind of scare me, so I avoid them whenever possible. In the past, I have made fitted non-stretch woven dresses without a zipper. This results in the necessity of painfully pulling them down over my boobs while sucking in and completely displacing my strapless bra (if the dress requires one) in such a way that I have to reach down and pull it back up lest I go through the day looking like I have mutated and sprouted a second pair of bosoms somewhere about my bellybutton every time I put it on-just so I won't have to put in a zipper. And yet, here I am, really, desperately wanting to make a copy of a skirt that has not one but three completely unnecessary zippers. Installed in LACE, yet. And I'm actually looking forward to making it! Yes, I am insane. But you all knew that already, didn't you?

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Fabric, And More SWAP

This Tuesday, I was on extreme tenterhooks, waiting for the UPS truck to come so I could get more fabric-yay! Everything (well, almost everything) looked even better than I expected, so that was very nice. Here it is:

This is a beautiful pale lavender embroidered cotton eyelet, and its sister fabric in light yellow. As much as I love winter (Velvet! Snowball fights! Hot cocoa and Christmas!) , springy fabrics like this always make me long for warm days where I can flutter around in a pair of cute sandals and a light dress, no cardigan or thick tights necessary. I just got a really lovely New Look sundress pattern that combines two of my favorite elements, surplice bodice and princess seams, and I'm really feeling it for the lavender. For the yellow, I'm leaning towards a fifties-style dress with scoop neckline, cap sleeves, midriff band and full skirts.  

This is a great satiny stretch jacquard. The images on showed it as more of a red-on-black, but I actually like the brown a little better. I'm thinking this is very much a sixties dress, with a boat neck and slim skirt- a simple style to better showcase the elegance of the fabric.

These are both what called "Lamour Dull Satin"- they are lovely and heavy, with a very subtle sheen to them. Not at all shiny-tacky, like cheap satin. One is nude, the other silver. The silver is going to be used in my SWAP- it coordinates really well with my other fabrics, contrasting nicely with the blues and complementing the grays. I think I'm going to be replacing the stripy grey and shiny purple-gray with it and the gray crushed velvet I got at JoAnn's Black Friday sale- those were nice, and I'm definitely going to be using both of them in the future, but these cool gray fabrics fit a little better with my plan than the others, which had reddish undertones that might have clashed with some of my blues.

This is the only one of the bunch that was a little disappointing; it's called "Caribbean Interlock Knit", and it's quite a bit thinner than I thought it would be. It is, however, a very pretty color, and very soft- I'll probably make a casual dress or a nightshirt or something out of it, and I can always use it for lining fabric if that doesn't work out.

This isn't fabric per se; it's actually a very large, '80s style blouse I thrifted for $2 from Downtown Duds in Brush. However, the fabric is wonderful, matches with my SWAP perfectly, and I just couldn't pass it up. I don't know yet if I'll try to make a whole garment out of it or just use it for an accent fabric, but either way it is very cool.

Now I know some of you out there are probably saying, "Yawn. More pictures of fabric and yammering about plans. Does this chick ever actually sew anything, or does she just buy fabric to look at?" Well, I do indeed sew actual garments, I just am not very good about getting pictures of me in them. I know some people use their sewing dummies, but mine belonged to my great-grandmother, and it's not in such a pretty condition that I want to post pictures of it all over the web. I like seeing pictures of garments "in action" so to speak, and I refuse to do crappy mirror pics with flash whiteout, so I have to get other people to take them for me. (My brother is a professional photographer and I can't figure out how to use the self-timer on my crappy little Nikon. Go figure.) I also have done a lot more thinking about sewing and planning what I want to sew than actual sewing in the past few months, due to the fact that I'm a senior in high school and juggling college classes, scholarship applications, and loads and loads of activities, leaving me not nearly as much time to sew (and blog about sewing) as I would like. A lot of my stuff is winding down, and I'm hoping next semester will not be nearly as busy- so I hope I will have more time to devote to doing the sewing that I love, and sharing that with all of you. In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me and my irregular blogging, dreaming and scheming- I promise it will pay off into real projects soon!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fabric Extravaganza

Hi, all! No, I didn't die, I promise- I've just been super busy the past couple of weeks.  I'll actually post real project photos in the next couple of days, because my brother the photographer is out and I'm going to bully him into taking pictures of me. I really do sew things, I promise; I don't just post pictures of patterns and fabric. It's just that it's easier for me to get pictures of the patterns and fabric than pictures of me in the finished product. In the meantime, may I make amends for my long absence by posting pictures of the loads and loads of fabric I bought today at the Black Friday sales? As well as a couple of really awesome thrifted RTW items I snagged at Arc Thrift in Greeley? That's what I thought. First off, they had their flannel prints for $1.50 a yard (!!!!) as a doorbuster at JoAnn's, so I went kind of wild:

It has giant music notes! Giant rainbow-colored music notes! It is awesome. I don't know what I want to make with it yet other than it will be a dress. 

More giant music notes, this time in brown on ivory. I got four yards of this, because I really want to make another version of Vogue 2960, with big brown buttons. (I'll post pictures of my striped version I made for the Forensics meet soon, I swear!) 

And here is one with sleepy frogs on it. I think another dress, possibly one of the '60s style princess-seamed, moderately full-skirted New Looks I've bought in the past few days.

And this one has the best of both worlds: frogs and music notes! I didn't think such a cool fabric could exist, for fear that it would rupture the space-time continuum with its sheer awesome, but it does! Yes, I am dorky enough to think that fabric with frogs and music notes is the coolest thing in the universe.

This one isn't a flannel print: it's a cotton print that was on clearance for $3 a yard. There was only about 1 1/2 yards, so I'm going to make it into a short, ruffly skirt with some black lace trim. It is awesomely girly,and I lurve it muchly.

This was the most expensive fabric I got today; it was on sale for $5 a yard, normally $10. I got 2 yards, and I'm going to make a blouse out of it for my SWAP, since it fits my colors and will let me have a relatively easy pattern to match, since one of the requirements is matching a pattern and my only patterns are abstracts that would be hair-tearing-ly hard to match.

Finally, my last fabric from JoAnn's was this gorgeous black lace, $2.50 a yard with a 50% off coupon. I don't have a specific plan for it, but I can always use more black lace in my wardrobe. Apologies for the crap picture, but lace is really hard to photograph and I'm lazy. :)I also got three colors of crushed panne velvet, red and black to make dresses and silver to make a blouse. I didn't take pics because I think you all know what panne velvet looks like, and see above about my laziness.

I also got two fabrics at Hobby Lobby. This is a great little white/blue stripe I want to make into a sweet Lolita dress, probably New Look 6699.

This is a lovely, sort of wooly baby pink/black plaid that's also destined for a Lolita dress with lots of ruffles and cute buttons.
And, because this post wasn't long enough already, here is some of the great RTW I snapped up at Arc, where practically everything was 50% off:

This is a long leather skirt that I got for $12.50, if you can believe that. It looks a little lame in the picture, but so truly awesome on. I intend to wear it with lots of Victorian style blouses, including the above dragonfly fabric one once it's made up. It's so very steampunk vampire hunter, I think that the combination will make me feel completely badass!

Lovely lace-lined blazer from Plato's Closet, that was only $6. Since the thought of making a lined jacket or blazer makes me break out in hives, I went ahead and snatched it up, since I had been longing for one for ages.

These were my two biggest steals of the day, even more so than the leather skirt. The top is a black lace formal with red beaded trim, floor length with spaghetti straps. I'm going to have to do a little surgery on it, since it is very tight in the bust- I'm going to separate the bodice lining from the outer lace and add some extra black satin panels to give myself some breathing room. The bottom is a silk suit with faux pearl beading- it has an ankle-length skirt and matching jacket. It is very elegant, and I think it will be great for future job interviews and other times when I need to impress people. They were $10 apiece, and both in pristine condition- I don't even want to think what either one cost originally! Tune in tomorrow for some excellent vintage patterns I picked up for a song at Arc as well. It's kind of a pain in the butt digging through the cramped bins of awful '80s patterns to find a couple of good ones, but so worth the effort when you get some real gems.

Monday, November 16, 2009

SWAP Part 2

Ok, so it's a day later than promised, but here are some of the fabrics I'm planning on using for my SWAP. After browsing through my stash, I changed my mind about my color scheme. I found some really lovely blue and grey satin-types, so rather than black, white, royal blue, and red, it's black, white, royal blue, navy blue, and a couple of complementary greys. I think this won't be quite as splashy as with the red, but a little more elegant and sophisticated. I hijacked my mom's computer to get the pics uploaded, so here they are:

This is a royal blue crushed velvet. I'm going to use it to make the blue corset top with the drapey sleeves. The picture really doesn't do it justice; the color is much richer and it has the most heavenly texture. Unfortunately, I only have around 1 1/2 yards of it, (it was a remnant) so I needed this fabric to complete the top:

It's just a simple, cheap black sheer from Wal-mart. I'm going to use it to do the side panels and the sleeves. I was thinking about using some black lace, but I decided on the sheer so that the velvet would receive the attention it deserves. It has a nice, subtle sheen to it, so it will look dressy enough to be paired with the velvet but not make the top look fussy.

This is going to be used for the frilled blouse that is red with blue trim in the storyboard. Again, pictures don't due it justice: the colors shift from steely grey to blue-tinted to red-tinted as you look at it in different lights.

This is a pretty black print that will be used for the black blouse with red trim in the storyboard. I am simply going to sub out the red trim for a soft dove grey and it'll be gorgeous.

This is a simple navy-blue satin that I will use for the button-down blouse with the ruffled collar. I've been wanting a nice button-down for a while, and I've never made one before, so I'm really looking forward to constructing the garment!

This is a really lovely white print satin with roses and polka dots on it. I'm going to use it to make the white tiered skirt, though I think I will just put black trim on it rather than the colored, since the colored might limit its use, since I'm pretty anal about stuff matching.

This is a faintly pinstriped silvery grey satin that almost feels like taffeta. I'm going to use it to make the gored skirt that's red in the storyboard, and as an accent fabric in the blue velvet corset top if I need it.
The other fabrics I'm using- plain white, blue, and black satin and black velvet- aren't really worth posting pictures of- I think you all know what those look like! I can't wait to start sewing these items- sewing begins December 26th, but pinning and cutting can be done beforehand, so I might get started pretty soon here. Right now, I'm doing a new dress for my second forensics meet in Strausberg on Saturday- I'll probably post about it tomorrow or Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

SWAP Ya For Some Blouses and Skirts

This year I've decided to take the plunge and participate in Stitcher's Guild's annaul SWAP, or Sewing With A Plan contest. More than anything I'm doing it to force myself to sew some blouses and skirts, something besides dresses. :) I will need some separates for when I go to college, so I picked a plan that would allow me to sew coordinates- six tops, four bottoms, and one "your choice" piece. I never really thought of myself as a SWAP person, mostly because the directions given when I googled it seemed staid, boring, and pretty much entirely opposite to my personal style and sewing philosophy. However, when I looked at some of the SWAPs Stitcher's Guild members have done in the past, and saw the beautiful and unique garment sets that came out of it, my mind was totally changed. I've been wanting to add more Victorian and Lolita-inspired pieces to my wardrobe, so I figured this was a great opportunity to do so. I browsed through my stashes both fabric and pattern, pulling out pieces that I thought would work together well. I actually have all but one of the patterns in my stash, and the one that needs to be purchased is a New Look, so it shouldn't exactly require a large financial outlay to get it. I might need to invest a little bit in fabric if I decide to change my mind about the color scheme, but that remains to be seen. Here is my plan as it is now:

A lot of my focus is going to be on trying new techniques and using things I have never used before, like boning, hook and eye tape, and corset lacing. I'd go on and on, but it's midnight and I probably ought to go to bed. :) Tune in tomorrow for some pictures of my potential fabrics and some more discussion about my plans to start SWAP 2010!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Sewing Success

Arrgh! I can't believe it's been over a week since I posted, but time flies when you're filling out scholarship applications and going to Forensics meets. I did as I had threatened earlier and made Vogue 2960 out of my striped fabric, and I think this is my first solo project that I can basically say was an almost unqualified success. Other than a tendency for the straps to slip off my shoulders (which I think will be easily remedied by deepening the darts in the back by about 1/4 inch apiece), the dress was awesome- it fit really well and I had so many compliments on it at the forensics meet! I wore a homemade petticoat underneath to properly plump the skirt out, and looked appropriately retro. I'll get some pics this weekend and borrow my mom's computer (with cardreader, which the machine I am currently on lacks. My other laptop has been in the shop for FOUR WEEKS, and every time I call they say they're still looking for a part...argh!) to upload them. I wore it with a semi-sheer peasant blouse underneath, which turned out to be a mistake because the blouse was too small and the elastic bisected my armpits all day. Which might not sound so bad, but the bus left the school parking lot at 5:30 A.M. in order to get to the meet on time, and by the time the meet was done, we got supper, our bus broke down by the side of the road at 9:30 at night and the district had to send another bus 50 miles to come get us, and my mom and I finished our 25-minute drive home from town, it was a LONG day to have elastic bisecting your armpits! Oh, well- I looked and felt really good all day. One of the judges even wrote on my score sheet "Rockin' Dress!" I was one point away from sixth place (which is, of course, where they start handing out awards!) and got an "Excellence" ribbon. Considering this was only my second time doing Creative Storytelling, not too shabby! It was an insanely fun day and I wore an insanely fun dress to match it.

I'm already plotting my dress for the next meet, in two weeks. I like performing in a dress I have made for myself- I feel like I am 100% me, and that certainly helps my confidence when performing! When you are given prompts like "Mr. Clean and Pigpen from Peanuts are street corner preachers trying to convert each other", "A high school choir and football team work to put on a beauty pageant that garners national attention", and (my personal favorite) "Elvis and Michael Jackson meet in a Starbucks and plot to take over the world", you have to have as much confidence as you can get! All of the above prompts were the ones which I personally performed on Saturday. Others included "Cinderella and Snow White make peace in Iraq" and "Hermione Granger discovers that Harry Potter is actually Lord Voldemort in disguise." Creative storytelling is not for the faint of heart! Neither, I discovered, is wearing a nylon net petticoat for close on 18 hours. Note to self: wear long bike shorts with petticoat next time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yay! Today I am officially an adult! At 5:43 p.m., I officially hit the big 1-8. I'm getting three new sewing machine feet for my beloved Brother: a ruffler foot, a rolled hem foot, and I'm debating between a piping foot and a pintuck foot. I'm leaning towards the pintuck foot, though. I started cutting out a pattern for a new dress today as a treat for myself. It's Vogue 2960:
image of V2960I just loved this dress the moment I saw it. It's so quintessentially fifties, and it's the kind of dress that I think really flatters my figure. I have this great stripey fabric that I'm making it in- it's navy with thin white, red, hot pink, lime green, bright yellow, and bright orange stripes. It's really wild, and really cute. (Pictures soon, as soon as I find my card reader.) I'm shortening the skirt to knee-length and cutting the blouse front on the fold and making my buttons decorative rather than trying to make a placket and buttonholes. I want to try and have it by Saturday for my forensics meet (Creative storytellers represent!), so I'm going to be sewing as much as I can over the next few days. I want to whip up a petticoat too. I got the net yesterday at Wal-Mart and found a great, simple tutorial. I can do the gathering while I watch more Supernatural- I'm so glad I finally got the first season through Netflix, it is so good. As my birthday present to you, here is the picture of the lovely, lovely boys of Supernatural:

You're welcome. Please mop up the drool before leaving the site.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I Love Dresses

Today was actually International Wear A Dress Day, as designated by the lovely Erin at Unfortunately, I was unable to observe it as I had planned; massive amounts of snow and wind meant that both Knowledge Bowl practice and Chorale were canceled, and I had no real reason to wear a dress around the house to show off to my mom, dad, and cats. So in lieu of actually wearing a dress, I wanted to write about why I love sewing and wearing them.

1. Dresses make me feel sexy. When I wore jeans, I had OMG I AM SO FAT! moments all. The. Damn. Time. It seemed like I could never get a pair that fit right- if they fit in the waist, they strained over my thighs, if they fit my thighs they bagged in the waist, they rubbed all over the wasn't pretty. I would look down and notice something squishing out or pushed in and spend the rest of the day wangsting about how "fat" I was. (I'm 5'5" and between 135 and 140 pounds. Not a supermodel, but I don't think I'm fat by any stretch of the imagination.) It's different when I wear dresses. I look down and see the skirt gracefully cascading over my legs, the dress emphasizing the parts I like, like my stomach and calves, and camouflaging those I don't, like my thighs, and I think "Damn, I look good!" I feel a lot more self-confident, and the better I feel about how I look, the better I look.

2. Dresses make ordinary activities feel like adventures. When I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I'm an ordinary person doing boring things. When I'm wearing a bat-print dress and striped tights, I'm the heroine of a Tim Burton film, finding the light side of dark things (or is it the dark side of light things?) in a twisted fairy-land. When I'm wearing a fifties vamp dress, I'm the femme fatale in a film noir, waiting for Phillip Marlowe to sweep me off my feet even as he discreetly checks my bag for my Lady Derringer. Maybe this only works if you have an overactive imagination and a penchant for making up a story to go with everything as I do, but it's another good reason to try wearing a dress; who knows what imaginative brain cells have been pushed into a stupor because jeans don't tell a story, and a dress does?

3. Dresses hold memories in a way that other clothes can't. I took a bunch of jeans on my England trip the summer after 9th grade, and I don't think I ever thought "Oh, this is the pair of jeans I wore in Glastonbury!" when I wore them again after that. I did take dresses to New York the summer after my sophomore year, and to Washington D.C. last year- and every time I pull on one of those dresses, I remember "This is what I saw The Lion King in" and "This is what I was wearing when I got to see the Capitol building in person." On my hoped-for backpacking trip around the British isles after I graduate from college, I am going to take nothing but dresses. When I'm a movie director, I plan to wear dresses all the time. I want to be 90 years old and telling my granddaughter "You take care of that alphabet-block print dress now, missy; I wore it when I was shooting my first picture!" The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants aside, you never hear about someone handing down a beloved pair of khakis. But you do have heirloom dresses, and heirloom dress memories. My eighteenth birthday is in a few days, and my mom was just telling me today about the three dresses she got for her eighteenth birthday. She still remembered the cut, pattern, color, and detail of every one. She's forty-nine. My great-aunt has often reminisced fondly over a skating dress she had when she was thirteen; she's 88, and still remembers every detail of that dress. You just don't get those kind of memories out of a pair of Levi's or a button-down shirt.

4. Dresses make me happy. When I'm wearing a dress, I feel like myself. I really don't think I need any other reason to wear them, actually.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Brief Update!

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven't updated, but I did warn you! Besides my sewing, I've had several major scholarship applications due and several papers for my college courses. But I've finished my LBD, my purple bat dress, and I'm putting the finishing bits on my doll show dress for the show tomorrow. Yay! Can't wait to show all of you pics!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Sewing Agenda

Hmm. I seem to have misplaced the first half of my October. If someone sees it, could they please mail it to me? There'll be cookies in it for you! Ahem. I actually have quite a bit of sewing to do in the remaining 16 days of October. Since I can't give you pictures right now (I need to call the repair shop and see how they're doing on my laptop), I'll give you a list. Everybody loves lists, right?
1) Finish my little black dress for the Pattern Review LBD contest. Thank goodness this one is going a lot better than the last one. I'm using a simple dull black crinkled rayon fabric from Wal-Mart, and I think it's going to be nice. I'm using this pattern, B5350:
image of B5350
I'm making view C, the crossover bust, and I've loved making this so much that I'm already dreaming up several different versions. It only takes 2 1/4 yards for the version with the contrast midriff, and the midriff itself only takes 1/2 yard, so it's great for using up remnants and small increments of really cool fabric. I like it a lot! I still have to attach the skirt to the bodice, put in the zipper, and hem it, but there's no more than 2 1/2 hours of work left on it. If I'm lucky, I should get this done tomorrow.
2. Finish making my two bat-print dresses. I actually finished the first one- I had a 1-yard remnant of a purple chiffon with black flocked bats, and I used it to make a Project Runway pattern, Simplicity 2965, with the purple bats as the top and a coordinating purple knit jersey as the skirt. The skirt looked seriously terrible when I was done, though- it bulged around the pockets, had awful VPLs, and generally made me look shlumpy and frumpy. So I took the skirt off and got some black fabric (because how much purple fabric do you have laying around the house?), pinned the skirt, and just haven't recut it and sewn it yet. It's actually pretty simple, I just need to do it. Again, maybe 2-3 hours of work for that one to be done. The other bat dress is going to use this bat satin knit I got from Joanne's (pic courtesy of Knit Bats Black/Silver Holographic
Isn't it cool? I'm going to be making it in another Project Runway pattern, 2588. I haven't used it before, but I've had the pieces cut for ages, which is actually usually the most time-consuming part of the process for me. (I'm left-handed, so most scissors and I don't get along well. I shall love my mother forever for getting me spring-loaded scissors that are a breeze to use.) It's a pretty simple pattern, so although it's my first time using it, it shouldn't be so hard. I'm hoping for five or six hours on this one.
3) Make my doll show dress. I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but I'm a doll collector and I have a huge collection. Every year for the past five years my mom and I have gone to the one big Colorado doll show up in Denver. Usually it's in June, but for whatever reason they moved it this year to late October. I've been wanting to make a "doll-ish" dress for years, and I'm determined this year to do it. I have this great pink patterned jersey that I desperately want to post a picture of because it is so incredibly adorable. I intend to use the 2588 pattern again, so that should speed it up, but pattern placement on the fabric might make it a bit tricky, so I'm allotting 6-7 hours for this one. It's on October 25, so I've got me some quick sewing to do.
This isn't even counting my Halloween costume, which also needs to be done by the 25th for Trick or Treat for Unicef. (The 25th is going to be...interesting, assuming I can get everything worked out). That deserves a full post all on its own!
So I'm going to be a very busy sewing bee for the next couple of weeks. If I don't post that much, it's because I'm too busy actually sewing to blog about sewing! But I will try and update whenever I get a spare minute, even if it's just a quick thing like "Finished the skirt on Bat Dress 1-yay!" The upside of this is, when I get my own laptop back, I will have scads and scads of actual sewn products to post about, rather than fabric and vague, possibly never-to-be-realized pattern ideas. (See also, the Fall Concert dress, which will still be made, but about a month too late to actually be worn in the concert; I ended up running out of time and using the brown Dress Rescue dress instead.) Won't that be cool?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If I Were A Rich Girl...Deedle Deedle Didle Blah Blah Blah

*deep, heartfelt sigh* This is why I shouldn't randomly browse La Interwebz searching for fabric. Because I will find it. It will be adorable. And it will be so expensive that I will never be able to buy any of it. Theoretically, I should be better off just from having been exposed to adorable fabric with lots of frogs on it and fairy-tale patterns and just knowing that such things exist should make my life better, but I think in this case I'd have been better off not knowing, because wanting these fabrics is going to torture me for the next month at least. The website is if any of you have scads more money than I. And because I believe in sharing the love, I'm going to copypasta some of their adorable prints and let you suffer along with me, knowing that this 45-inch 100% cotton costs EIGHTEEN DOLLARS A YARD!!!!!!!!:
Sight. This has so, so very many things in it that I LOVE, starting with the frogs, followed quickly by the dots and the flowy flowers and lillypads. I could so picture this as the world's cutest cheongsam.
This is just so awww-inducing I don't know where to start. The color scheme is so cute, the drawings are reminiscent of Madeline, and I think the princess has the most adorable wistful expression EVER I would make this up in a short dress with a fluffy, full, skirt and a corset-styled top with fluttery cap sleeves to capitalize on the fairy-tale-ness of it all.
This one so appeals to my inner nerd. It would, of course, be a button-front librarian-esque shirtdress with a slim skirt.
The last one is actually on sale...for $10.80 a yard. Sorry, but my "I'll actually buy it" limit for cotton prints is $5 a yard, and my "I won't buy because I'm a cheapskate, but it is not unreasonable for the store/site to charge it is $9. I've seen duiponi silk for cheaper than $18 a yard, for heaven's sake. (Heck, I've seen it cheaper than $10.80 a yard; I think sells it for $9.50 a yard.) I will definitely occasionally (read: often) visit this website and drool over their designs, but I don't think I'll ever buy anything from here. Even if I was simply rolling in scads of dough, I don't think I would be constitutionally capable of paying more than $10 a yard for any fabric that isn't silk velvet embroidered with gold thread by blind Tibetan monks (or mute Chinese nuns)* and shipped by pureblood Lippanzian stallion across fifteen deserts. And even then, my Scots and Slavic blood would force me to at least make an attempt to haggle them down to $8 a yard.
*If you get this Angel reference, I love you. Have a cookie. If you don't, get thee to Netflix immediately and watch the show. I'll wait.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oooh, Ruffles: Pt. 1

It has been absolutely freezing here in CO for the past couple of days. We have two inches of half-melted snow on the ground, and I have to keep checking the calendar to reassure myself that it is indeed October and not December. So, of course, I've been obsessing over what is practically the most un-winter-y, impractical Summer fling skirt pattern ever.
image of M5888
This is the only skirt pattern I got in my recent 10-pattern purchase from BMV. I just love it; it's so light and fluffy and girly without being twee or ridiculously doll-like. I especially want to make the A version in black lace. I really want at least three of this skirt to start with: a solid black, a light caramel-y brown, and a soft pure white, all in chiffon. There is nothing in my wardrobe that wouldn't go really well with at least one of those colors, and I think the skirt could be dressed down with a tee and fun tights or dressed up with a really nice blouse. A very versatile piece! It takes less than two yards, so even with lining fabric for lace it still wouldn't be that expensive. The problem is, I'm already coming up with dozens of really impractical but super-adorable ways to make this skirt. Every one of my multiple style personalities wants their own version of this: The exuberant quasi-goth wants it in black, electric blue, and bright purple, the earthy nature-child wants it in forest green and chocolate brown, and the girly-girl wants it in four shades of pink, gradiated from shell pink on the waistband to shocking pink on the bottom layer. And I don't think you would necessarily be limited to making this with light cotton, georgette, etc. , as suggested on the pattern envelope. I think that in a weightier fabric, it would still be really pretty; the heft would give it a little more stability and make you less likely to have a Marylin-Monroe-on-the-subway-grate moment while retaining the unique layered look and the movement of the skirt. Maybe I'm just deluding myself so I can give this a go as a winter skirt, but I have some old velveteen laying around that I really want to try this out in. Seriously, the thought of this in black velveteen with white lace trim is totes bringing out my inner Elegant Gothic Lolita, to the point where she is stomping all over the other style people and insisting that it's her turn, dammit, so make the skirt! I think I just might have to listen to her.
BTW, if you're wondering why this is Pt. 1, it's because I got another awesome ruffletastic pattern that you'll have to tune in tomorrow to see!

Excuses, Excuses

Yikes! I know I've been gone a long time, but I really have had legit reasons, such as my personal laptop completely fritzing out (it's at the repair shop right now; I'm updating from my DSi!) and lots of busy-making work. Seriously, I can't tell you how much I would rather have been blogging about sewing last night at 11 o'clock than writing a very depressing paper about discrimination against blacks in South Africa for my University of Phoenix sociology course, but the paper needed to be turned in, so there I was. I have been sewing A LOT lately, though, so I have lots of goodies for you guys when I can do neat things like upload pictures again. I've completed two Dress Rescues. I'm working on my second LBD, this time for the LBD contest at Pattern Review, and it's coming together a lot better than my first one did. I have a boatload of new patterns and my third (and final for a long while, if my dad has anything to say about it) order of yummy fabricness from to show y'all. So stick with me, kids; you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Question For Butterick

As I browsed Butterick during the current $4.99 pattern sale, I kept noticing this dress, B5029:
My thought process went something like this: Oooohhh, it's so pretty! *But you really don't need another midriff band dress pattern.* But look at the lovely graceful pleating in the bodice and midriff! *But where would you wear such a thing, you frivolous goose?* But I really want to make it in that spring green! *But the other version is a halter, and you don't like halters.* I've altered halters before, so phbthblth, sensible self. At which point my sensible self and my pattern-craving self got into a big 'ol hair-pulling catfight that ended with me deciding to pass it up, but just barely. Having selected a few other patterns, I decided to browse the See 'N Sew Patterns, and lo and behold I found this:
It's the exact same flipping dress, amiright? So why does one of these normally retail for $16.99 and one for $2.99? What is the difference? Is there really $14 worth of difference in these two patterns? Did someone at Butterick mislable something? And why do I keep having dreams about really mean sentient zombies? Well, the last one isn't really pertinent to this blog (except I did once dream that I was trying to fight really mean sentient zombies with my sewing machine; yes, such is my subconscious. Suck on that one, Freud!), but really, am I delusional when I look at these two patterns and see the exact same dress but one pattern $14 cheaper than the other? Both have a halter and spaghetti version, ruched bodice, ruched midriff band, and gathered below-the-knee skirt. Both the spaghetti versions are even in shades of pale green! I think the only possible rational explanation for this involves evil-mirror universe pattern designers and a complex conspiracy to drive observant seamstresses insane using a combination of nearly-identical patterns with radically different price points and a fabric-manufacturer blood-oath to only manufacture cute prints in quilting cottons that wrinkle if you look at them funny. The reasons for this nefarious plot are unknown but may involve garden gnomes and the people with the button eyes from Coraline. If that isn't it, I got nothin'.

BTW, I decided on the cheaper version of this pattern. Somehow, the $2 made all the difference, and the whole thing is rendered moot now anyway because all their patterns are now $2.99.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Fabric

So, I came home Saturday from having my senior pictures taken and was completely exhausted. However, I perked up instantly when I saw that while I was cavorting around Berthoud, Denver, and Allens Park with my brother, my order had come in! Yay! I got some seriously cool fabric, and I actually have quite specific plans for at least two of the pieces.
The first was this lovely pink boucle suiting, which is quite soft and drapes beautifully. It's also about three shades darker than it looks in the photo- it's pink, really, I promise:
I'm going to make Simplicity 3673 (, linked because I still can't figure out how to use Simplicty website pics), out of it, the knee-length slim-skirted version. I think it is going to be adorable!

The second was this nice seersucker plaid:
I've been craving a short-ish pleated plaid skirt like nobody's business for a long time, but it seems that they come in two lengths, Sexy Schoolgirl Stripper and Dowdy Fiftyish Secretary, neither of which exactly suits my needs or wants, so I'm making my own. I'm just going to take the yoke from another skirt pattern, then cut rectangles and pleat them before attaching. I think it should be easy, and super-cute when it's done.

The other two are both the same slinky stretch acetate I got so much of before, because I loved it so much. I don't have any definite plans for them, but I'm leaning towards something '60s styled for the floral and something simpler and more elegant for the brown, which is a lot prettier than the picture.

And finally, this one I actually got with my last order but forgot to post. Isn't it pretty?

For some boneheaded reason, I only got 2 yards. Good thing I have several cute dress patterns that only use 2 yards, or I would be a sad panda indeed.
I can't wait to start sewing all of this up, but first I have to make a red-white-and-blue dress for a chorale performance on Saturday. I can't wait to show it to you all, I think it's going to be adorable!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Funeral For The First LBD

So, my LBD is officially kaput. I'm not so sure this is the pattern's fault as it is mine, but I'll blame the pattern anyway, 'cause I like to defer responsibility like that. I'm not quite sure how, but all of my lining pieces seem to have ended up different lengths than my bodice pieces, and that never ends well:

It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but in some places the bodice lining is seriously about half an inch shorter than the bodice front, and even on the bodice front the pieces were different lengths. Again, I tried to be careful, and I honestly have no idea how that happened, but it did.
Also, I cut the bodice lining backwards, forcing me to either completely redo it or stitch it on so that the seams ended up on the outside instead of the inside. I was too excited to get the dress done to completely redo it, so:

I suppose I could've fixed these things, but ultimately I think I could sew a better dress in the time it would take me to recut the lining pieces, rip out the seams, and restitch it because this fabric was a major PITA when it came to taking out seams. It was really thin, cheap fabric, and it tore and got runs in it like nobody's business. I found a little sticker on it that said "Alco .60", so I guess it was 60 cents a yard at the Alco in Fort Morgan before it went out of business. You get what you pay for! Even though I'm a little frustrated that this dress didn't turn out, I'm not all that down about it. I learned to be more careful about matching when I cut out pieces, to double-check that my lining faces in the right direction when a bodice requires directionality, and that really thin fabric should be used for lining instead of actual whole garments. I didn't ruin any good fabric, and I can use what's left over as lining and facing on other projects. So it was a failure, but one of the learning-experience kind.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LBD Part Deux

I've been working some more on my LBD, and I think this is definitely going to be what some sewists call a "wearable muslin"- it has a couple mistakes that I'm glad I've made with cheap not-particularly-special plain black fabric rather than my cool bat knit. I don't know if I am loving this pattern as much as I thought I would, but I guess I'll have to actually finish the dress to find out! (The straps aren't as cute as I thought they would be.) Oh well- if this doesn't work out, it was only $3.99. I have a similar pattern in New Look 6699 (which was actually the pattern I used for last year's prom dress; it's partially visible in my profile picture on the top right corner of the page, and one of these days I will get around to doing a proper post on it!). Anyway, here is the pattern:

I think the skirt is a little fuller in the McCall's than in the full skirt here, but there isn't much difference otherwise. I'll definitely be making myself another all-purpose LBD, probably in the not-too-distant future because the fabric turned out to be a good deal sheerer than I originally thought and I think I'll have to wear a slip under it, which sort of takes away from the super-comfy, throw-it-on-and-go appeal a really good versatile dress ought to have. (Holy Run-On Sentence, Batman, but I'm too lazy to reword. I find it easier to acknowledge and move on with life.) If I do, I'll probably be using this pattern rather than the McCalls', because I also found it easier to work with. More on the LBD hopefully tomorrow; I want to finish it so I can wear it Thursday with my fab stripey socks to Chorale practice and feel awesome while I sing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Little Black Dress

So, I actually have a couple of these, both RTW, already. One is an empire-waisted spaghetti strap in a semi-sheer fabric with sequined flowers on the skirt. It's adorable and comfy and I like it a lot. The other is a long-sleeved sweater dress with a low v-neck and a pencil skirt that flares and ruffles at the knee. It's one of those rare garments that looks crappy on the hanger and excellent on, rather than the reverse. It is very soft and warm, gives me a va-va-voom figure (not for nothing did Lana Turner and Jayne Mansfield et. al wear sweaters in the '50s!), and generally gets compliments every time I wear it. They're lovely LBDs, but they are both a bit formal for everyday wear and neither can really be mix-n-matched with my variety of sheer overshirts. As I start planning for college, I think more and more about reducing my wardrobe down from its current way-oversized state by adding more pieces that are really versatile. I've been thinking about making myself a simple black dress for a while now, and I found the perfect pattern in McCall's 5292.
image of M5292
Isn't it just too, too adorable? I'm a sucker for all things full-skirted because of my large hips, and I just think this has a very retro '50s cuteness about it that really can't be surpassed. The A and B patterns are ok, but what made me grab this so fast I got the wrong size and had to go back for the right one was the C pattern. I don't like the little bow they added, because it's just a leeeetle too twee and girly for my tastes, but otherwise, it's pretty much my ideal dress. The cinched midriff will bring out my small waist, the scooped neckline is flattering to medium-small boobs, and the skirt glides right over my big butt and thighs. It's simple enough to be elegant, but has enough detailing to make it interesting. (I like the gathers under the bust, for example.) I won't bother taking pictures of the first fabric I want to make this in; it's a thin black silky jersey that won't wrinkle at all and is basically indestructible but still looks (and feels!) soft and pretty. I have no idea where it came from; I think it was born in the Rubbermaid containers in our trailer, like a lot of my other older fabric. If this dress works like I hope it will, I think I'll make it in my stripey Batman fabric and my black and silver bat-print satin knit. I'll just have to see!