Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Surprise! Actually Buying Fabric With A Purpose!

When swatching fabrics from Mood Fabrics two years ago, I decided to see what all the fuss was about 4-ply silk. I ordered swatches of it, along with some of silk charmeuse and silk crepe de chine in some rich jewel colors. There was a gorgeous emerald green crepe de chine that I really liked but I had no real reason to order any silk.



In 2010, I had written about "THAT green dress" worn by Keira Knightley in 2007's Atonement. The dress made of silk satin was designed by Jacqueline Durran and I was fascinated by the story of the construction and the tales of the garments' extreme fragility. When I held that emerald green silk swatch, that dress was the first image that came to mind along with all its 1920s details and influences.

Then in 2015, my niece announced that she was getting married the summer of 2017 and I realized "Well, I AM going to need a party dress!" The only semi or formal gowns I had in reserve were one former bridesmaid dress from 15 years ago (actually wearable and I had hoped for an opportunity to wear it again!) and one black (!) satin affair. The old bridesmaid dress could be worn for the rehearsal dinner because that silk crepe swatch had now become a real dress possibility.


In my pattern stash, I had the two free indie PDF patterns, the Eva dress from Your Style Rocks and the Little Bias Dress by Vera Venus. I assumed at the time that I would use one of them for the dress. However, over the last few months, I've tracked down real life examples of these dresses made up and I've lost my love for them. The Eva dress was dropped first, it is a great design that I hope to still make up but I now want to have my 1920-30s bias silk dress fantasy and that is not the Eva.

I had been pretty convinced the Vera Venus Little Bias Dress (LBD) was "the one" but time has made me question that thought. When I first downloaded the pattern I matched the measurements, but not now, which means alteration would be necessary.

Well, time has sped along and that wedding is now only five months away. I need to choose a pattern that will result in a flowing, figure-enhancing, 1920-30s styled dress and is fairly simple to make for my first time sewing with silk.


On Instagram, @sewandstyle_ posted a Diane von Furstenburg "Dita" dress and a sketch of it's construction. I was struck at how familiar that dressed looked and remembered a New Look pattern that was constructed very similarly. See? The skirt panels are attached the exact same way!


So right now, this is the dress to beat! Yes, the 1930's influence isn't really there but I can't stop thinking of this dress now. The skirt for New Look 6244 seems fuller than the Dita (about 110" in width) so a muslin must be created time and the asymmetrical hemline will need to be drafted, which I think will help add the vintage element. In addition, the hemming of that hemline will be another hurdle to jump.

But look at these gorgeous examples of the Dita dress. Oh, how I would love to end up with something like this!


So no doubt about it, I will need to perfect a muslin in order to replicate the Dita using this pattern, because of the difference in the skirts' fullness and hemline.

Maybe even this hemline is doable?

Part of me wants to try the dress first in a polyester crepe de chine. However, the final dress must be in silk, a fabric I have never sewn; therefore, I need to know how the fabric behaves when cutting it out, sewing it on my tempestuous machine, and when adding closures or hemming by hand.

I need to practice sewing silk on a simpler project like a bias camisole or drapey top for practice and to also make a polyester trial of the dress. So, yes I have a lot of sewing to do before the tenth of June!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Momentarily Obsessed

From Fantasy Linen

I came across this picture a week ago and fell in love with these loose linen overalls from Fantasy Linen. They remind me so much of an over-sized loose linen jumper dress I received in a clothing swap during college. They are so similar in construction except that these finish in culottes instead of a full skirt.

Yoko overalls

I went searching for a similar pattern to avoid having to draft one; which to be honest, considering my current sewing queue, would be a long way off. The first one I found was the Yoko convertible overalls by Hana Patterns. However, they are made in two parts and the bib is detachable while I prefer the seamless design of the inspiration piece.

Rachel overall

Another possibility is the Schnittchen Rachel overall which has the voluminous pant legs but it would require creating a bib, eliminating that center button placket, and creating an opening on the side.

I then thought a better source of something similar but with a looser fit might be a 1980-90s maternity overall pattern. Remember those? That was a time when women looked like over-sized toddlers in huge figure-hiding rompers with their ankles and wrists usually ending in gathered cuffs. Basically the traditional clown costume (see last image). While there were the 80s horrors we remember, there were some more wearable variations, such as the two below.

McCall's 8164
McCall's 7551

In the very first page of search results, I found McCall's 8164 from 1996 and it's incredibly close! Lengthening the bib straps and enlarging the width of those pant legs below the hips might be all that needs to be done. Even closer is McCall's 7551, which definitely has the correct legs, I would just need to drop the crotch an inch or so, like in the inspiration garment. This one could be a real contender.


Traditional patterns for or dungarees are on trend right now so those types are easy to find. Most are designed to be much more figure-hugging than what I want but I found Kwik Sew 3897 to be a bit looser at the waist and hips. It has a two-piece front but that seam line could be easily eliminated. The sides are constructed traditionally with buttoned placket openings that match the construction of my fave jumper.

Hyssop culottes

I also decided to check Japanese sewing patterns but knew that would be hard considering I can't read the language and wouldn't know how to describe what I wanted. Then I came across Japanesesewingbooks.com and discovered that what I was looking for may be called a salopette. After using that as a search term I found the Hyssop culottes from Tamanegi-Kobo, which has perfect legs but again would need a different bib.

If you see anything else out there that would work in replicating the Fantasy Linen overall, please let me know!

Oh and because I just had to pass this along, here is possibly one of the most misguided maternity patterns I came across. I love how they tried to make it all "disco fabulous" with the cherry red blusher and the wet-look lip gloss, but I just don't think it succeeded.

Butterick 4820

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore, We Will Miss You

Mary Tyler Moore
(1936 - 2017)

Mary Tyler Moore

Here are links to blog posts I wrote on how she (or more truthfully, her characters) influenced me in fashion and in home decor:

Fashion in Film: Want To Dress Like Laura Petrie?

Fashion in Film: Laura Petrie - The Dresses!

SHELTER Sets: "You're Gonna Make It After All..."


Not only that, the woman known to "turn the world on with her smile", accomplished an amazing F-U to Hollywood's love of typecasting when she starred as the ultimate cold and with-holding mother, Beth Jarrett, in one of my favorite films, 1980s Ordinary People.

She was amazing and will be missed. My condolences go out to her family and loved ones.

Images: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Friday, January 20, 2017

Oh Hi, 2017, Come On In

Okay, I wasn't going to write about the New year transition. I personally had a bad year and just couldn't wait to see the back of 2016 (I know I'm not the only one!) However, I feel I have to acknowledge the end of one year to truly appreciate the beginning of another.

Since May, I've been in a holding pattern professionally and an apathetic funk emotionally. Physically, I swear I can feel each sign of age and deterioration going on in my body.

Good news is that before the holidays I finally sought help and am slowly pulling myself together. My biggest hurtle right now is not focusing on the decisions that have brought me here. Hindsight has revealed them not to be the best but they were the decisions I made with "the information I had at the time".

One thing that helps me immensely is my love of sewing. Unless, of course I am paralyzing myself with indecision and procrastination for fear of making a mistake. Which, by the way, seems to be the old strategy for running my life that did not work. So I need to change that in order to get back on track. Some of my best and worst experiences, jobs, and relationships seemed to just "happen" without any direct action from me. I have made the mistake of letting my day-to-day life and its circumstances lead me to and fro instead of actively leading the way.

I have some goals for the new year but I'm not making any resolutions. In fact, some of my goals are so basic as to be laughable but when you have been brought low, those are some of the hardest to accomplish. Goals like getting appropriate sleep (I have a bad habit of actually going to bed in the early hours of the next day), eating healthy, and caring about my appearance (I kept putting off fixing a cracked tooth, I don't know when was my last professional haircut, and sometimes I let my gray roots get ridiculous.)

I need to put myself back together again and hopefully you will see signs of the progress here on the blog, whether my sewing output increases or my posts start to reflect more interests and experiences outside of sewing. I'm looking forward to learning a new way of thinking (and reacting) after all these years of my dreams feeling out of reach.

I guess I could say that my overall theme for 2017 is To Be Better.


P.S. One of my smaller goals might involve participating in my first PR weekend!