Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thrift Store Score

A few days ago I was in our local Sally Ann when I noticed that the usually kind-of-crap sewing section was stuffed with vintage patterns, and a rolling cabinet of notions and accessories.  A beautifully maintained Nelco (mid-50s) or so was sitting on the floor.  I quickly realized that a local seamstress must have bitten the dust.  Her patterns dated from 1958 (the same birth year as my ex, which gives me an odd pang still) and were carefully itemized.  Each had a sticky note (for the newer patterns) or a note attached with a pin (the older ones) noting missing pieces.  Given by the very random assortment of sizes and styles I'm guessing she was the seamstress for her family, whipping up dolly-girl frocks for a young teenager, or more sedate knit suits for herself.

I bowed my head for a moment in memory of a fallen soldier.

I bought the notions, and am kicking myself for not buying the machine... oh well.

Can I get away with this one? I love the black mini-version of this dress.  It looks like something that Courtney Love would wear in a wildly inappropriate fashion, now.  I can see her getting drunk and stumbling over Michael Musto in this.  And she's 45... though I suppose comparing myself to CL isn't actually a good thing.  I love the ruffles and the pork-pie neck.  She looks like the cunning daughter of a naive Mom... 'don't worry, all the other kids dress like this, promise.'  It's very Virgin Suicides.  Except black of course.  I wonder who a sweet lady in Santa Fe sewed this for.

 Way too small for me, but love the pocket detail, and the wrap 'n' sash on top right.
 Umm-hmm.  Prissy Secretary up to no good is a favorite look.  I've checked and all the necessary pieces for the look on the far-right are included.  Yes!
 Mod secretary on the make.  This looks like something my Mum would have sewn in the 60s, on her way to her desk job in Philly (I'm not sure why a nice English girl made a detour to Philly.  Her final destination was the Bahamas).

Button front Studebaker Dress

I"ve been thinking a lot about how "perfect is the enemy of the good."  The button front dress isn't perfect, but the changes I made to the pattern have made it good.  Is that good enough?  I... lowered the armholes, took out some length in the back bodice and skirt at the waist.  I lengthened the back waist darts (my sway back fix from my self-taught sewing days... back before blogs and seamstressing were fashionable!).  I turned the front skirt tucks into darts because the tucks were not going to work with a thicker fabric like this.  What else...  Oh, dramatically sloped and lowered the shoulder seams to compensate for my insane sloping shoulders (I told a friend they slope like the sides of a volcano.  They are hard to fit, and for years I didn't realize that most women can actually wear a shoulder strap on a handbag - I can't.  The shoulder strap instantly slides off and the bag hits the deck)

I took a leaf out of Peter @ Malepatternboldness book and used a table cloth from the Sally Ann.  It has a nice linen feel, with brown and green slubby bits... but has a slight melt-y tendency under a hot iron.  It needs the button front to give it some pizazz.  I'm doing this all backwards of course - making the dress as is to test fit before slicing down the front to bring the pizazz.

And finally... this is my non-muslin fabric.  It's from Guatemala, and is basically the fabric that is used to make the tote bags that stoner kids in highschool  favor.  Nice, eh?  It's super thick, but I think I can make it work... Button thoughts?  I'm thinking the middle.  Red is too obvious and glaring.

 I love how the semi-rural bit of the world I live in is full of strange textures, unusual colors and random bits of history floating around.  This picture is an old concrete post, the dark stuff might be soot, but that doesn't jibe with the insanely clean air we have around here. Anyway, I liked the slightly melancholy decay of it...

And I saw this at the post office.  Can't believe how freaking old I - and all the cohorts of my youth - are getting.  Sheez.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fitting or just Fit

Fitting is a huge deal for me, as it is for most seamstresses.  I can't stand a dress that has wrinkles, gapes or other issues.  If I'm going to the trouble of making something, it can't look 'homemade.'  But I wonder how crazy we should all really drive ourselves.  The opening fashion story of March Vogue has this image as it's first spread:

I adore Amber Valleta, and her Tippi Hedren on the run styling.  But surely this is a very poorly fitting blouse?  It seems a hair too tight, (hence the pulls across the chest and the button placket - as a consequence - seems to be pulling away from the body of the shirt).  If I made this blouse I wouldn't be happy with it, but clearly Amber, Steven Klein, Camilla Nickerson and Carolina Herrera were all good with it, so surely I should be too?

Spring, or "Is God just Messing?"

Suddenly it's warm and balmy outside, the birds are going nuts, and what few snow flurries fall can't actually stick.  It's most confusing, but officially it seems like a good time to give up on winter sewing.  Clearly I don't have the disposition or inclination for it.  My fantastic Flight Attendant winter Mod Mini dress is sitting in pieces with a few fitting issues frustratingly un-solved.  I haven't cracked open my Wearing History 1930s blanket jacket pattern.  Even though it's pretty much a no-brainer for the transition months...

I love the styling of this Giles dress, even though the fit seems bizarrely lazy.  (Isn't it funny how insane we drive ourselves getting every wrinkle out... and then you see runway or fashion shoots fitting that can only be described as 'sloppy').  When I saw this dress I stashed it away on my harddrive, and thought I'd give it a go for spring '11.  I used the yellow version of Butterwick 5032, sliced it down the middle front and added button bands.  It seems to work.  the box pleats aren't doing me any favors, and I may stitch them down.  The back is here to showcase my bizarrely sloping shoulders,  I"m not an insane swimmer, was simply born that way.  It makes fitting clothes incredibly hard.  The muslin is made out a gross old puce bedsheet, it smells nasty, and I'm blaming the horrific color for the fact this dress does 'nothing for me.'  I"m holding out hope that in a decent fabric this one will kick it.  I'll also try taking in the length of the skirt from the hips down...

The other wee issue getting in the way of planned sewing is that as of May 1st I'll officially be homeless again.  Not homeless in the scary, "out of work, can't pay the bills way," but homeless in the, "no particular place I need to be way."  I might go to Wyoming, maybe Florida, maybe Ohio, maybe back to the UK.  Just not back to the emotional quagmire of LA.  Please God not to LA. (unless a really, really good job is offered, in which case I will suck it up).