31 May 2010

Bank Holiday

Hope everyone had a great Bank Holiday/Memorial Day weekend! I've been so busy again this week I haven't had much time to blog, but I have squeezed in some sewing that I will share in future posts. First I want to share my bank holiday, which was spent at Chatsworth, the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. If you ever get the chance, GO VISIT..it was amazing!

It may be somewhat familiar, as part of the movie The Duchess with Keira Knightley was filmed here. She played the somewhat scandalous Lady Georgiana Spencer who was queen of society and fashion of the time.

Lady Georgiana Spencer

Besider oogling at the family jewels and artwork, I found the wardrobe display of Deborah Mitford (11th Duchess of Devonshire) to be particularly interesting, as I have an interest in historical fashion. She married in 1941 and her wedding dress was made from 80 yards of tulle! Can you imagine?? (Unfortunately it wasn't on display, but I found this picture on the net..although you wouldn't guess it from this picture)

Image from dailymail.co.uk
The display said that the Duchess bought all of her clothes from either agricultural shows or Paris..how funny is that! Much of the clothing on display was from famous couturiers but there were some casual sweaters from the shows. The plaque below this dress stated that the printed silk dress (blue and white) was made by her friend Oscar de la Renta (that must be nice!), which she wore for a 2009 Vogue magazine photo shoot. Most of the others on display were Givenchy or Balmain.

Oscar de la Renta and Givenchy dresses

I got this really great book from the gift shop:

Order online from vandashop.com

If you are into historical fashion you will love it! It has close-ups of the intricate detailing that often made up the garments of this time period with line drawings so you can see how they are put together. The only frustrating part is that they do not show pictures of the entire garment, but nonetheless it is a great resource if you are into couture detailing. There are also companion volumes for Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Fashion in Detail, which I most certainly plan on purchasing!

Now it's time to get some sewing done, and hopefully things will calm down a bit so I can catch you up on my projects this week!

25 May 2010

Weekly vintage pattern

Just wanted to share my weekly vintage pattern find!

I'm not really into 60's style, but I thought the long coat and dress ensemble was very striking although simple. I'm thinking silk charmeuse for the dress and coat lining with silk velvet for the shell..this could possibly be my outfit for Elizabeth's wedding (or maybe just drinks at Hotel du Vin)!

24 May 2010

Finally, some much needed stitching!

After a long week of working overtime and a relaxing weekend filled with warm weather and barbeques, I finally had some time to sew today! Here is the first item in my stash-bustin' series:

This bag is actually a free download from Butterick called "Retro Tie Bag." I made it from some fabric scraps that were left over from a dress I made (pics of the dress will come later, I'm waiting for the warm weather to return so I can shoot it in the garden). This was so easy to make, and it is bigger than the pattern photo looks..I can fit my purse, phone, and diary in there! I do suggest that you make the ties longer because in my opinion they are a bit short for the size of the bag. The pattern doesn't specify what type of zip you need, so make sure you purchase a regular zip. I'm really chuffed because this is going to look so cute with my dress!

16 May 2010

Status update

Today I finished the toile for the Paulie Trigère dress..I'm not going to show it though because the fabric is really ugly (camouflage colored flowers with turquoise thread..can you tell I'm trying to get rid of all this excess fabric?!). I am excluding this dress from stash-bustin' because I started it beforehand and there is a certain way I want it to look. I don't have the right fabric so I have some swatches on order, but this means it will probably be a few weeks before I finish it..especially if this volcanic ash buisness contintues to cause UK airports to close!

On Saturday I was excited to start some little swing-type jackets I have been wanting to do for awhile, but the fabric fents I wanted to use aren't big enough! So now I've got to figure out what to do with them...

Tote bags, maybe? Not really my thing though...*sigh*..guess these will go to the bottom of the stash basket for now...

On another note, I'm not sure how much I'll be around this week. I'm working overtime so that doesn't leave much time for sewing in the evenings, but at least I'll have time to line up my next projects!

13 May 2010

Taking on the stash

As you can see by the nifty little button on the left, I have joined Zoe's stash-bustin' challenge! (If you click on the button it will take you to her post). This was actually the reason I went through my fabric stash on Tuesday..I was kicking around the idea and wanted to see how much/what fabric I actually had to work with. Due to lack of storage space (which seems to be a common characteristic of English houses) all my fabric is kept in a large basket, and since I can't fit another metre in I figured this challenge is in order!

If you don't feel like clicking the link, I'll sum it up here (this is the pledge Zoe made):

I am pledging to bust my stash, using as much of my fabric collection as I can, over the next few months. I will only be stepping into a fabric store when absolutely necessary to pick up items like linings and interlinings to complete projects when I don't already possess an alternative.

Sounds a bit daunting, doesn't it? I'm going to abide the best I can, but sometimes, I just can't resist a nice print! Therefore I am adding the caveat that I am allowed to buy new fabric only if it is an absolute must have, and I cannot buy more than I have used up.

So, what to make? When I get done looking through the 60+ patterns my mum sent me from the Hancock's 99¢ sale I'll let you know!

(This isn't even the half of it!!)

11 May 2010

Is it destiny?

I'm so chuffed that I found these patterns today!

This morning I decided to go through my fabric stash and figure out what I am going to do with some of my scraps and uncut pieces. Everytime I come across this, my mind wanders with delight:
It's a heavyweight home furnishings cotton that I think would look great as a 50's coat dress..the only problem is I only have just under 3 yards and it is 54" wide, which isn't enough for most patterns. After a frustrating search on eBay and Etsy I couldn't find anything that I liked with my fabric restrictions or that was in my price range, so I put it away having no idea what to do with it. Later I went out to run some errands and because it started SNOWING (WTH isn't this May??!) and I only had a cardigan on I decided to wait it out in a nearby vintage/retro shop. After poking around for awhile I found these beauties hiding in a little basket (and £2 each is definitely in my budget)! Although the coat dress looks more 60's it is the closest to what I want and meets my requirements..I think it will be stunning in this fabric! (The Blackmore dress I got for fun because I liked it). My measurements were conservative so I may just have enough fabric..but I will have to wait until I finish my Pauline Trigère dress.

10 May 2010

Recommended Reading

The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping: Insider Tips, Helpful Hints, Hip Shops by Melody Fortier
Melody Fortier is proprietor of Tangerine Boutique, a vintage clothing emporium located in Gardner, MA, as well as online at tangerineboutique.com (taken from book cover).

This book is aimed to educate and guide consumers about the process of buying vintage and how to get the most (and best) for your money. It is meant to be an "on the go" reference that you can carry with you in your handbag while shopping (brilliant!).

It begins with an introduction to vintage and what the author believes to be the difference between "vintage" "retro" and "antique."

"Vintage is not just about age. It has evolved to become a fashion term. It is about essence and style. There is a lot of clothing on the secondary market that is more than two decades old but that I do not include in my personal definition of vintage fashion...be they old or not so old, vintage fashions are about styles that are pioneering, classic, or iconic as well as reflective of their era. And although their day may have come and gone, there is renewed interest in wearing them. That, for me, qualifies them as vintage."

She then goes on to define the different levels of vintage fashion available in the marketplace and their characteristics, which is what most dealers use to price merchandise. Clothing categories and their attributes are also examined and are divided into coats, dresses, separates, and lingerie. The various arenas where vintage can be purchased are also outlined (such as flea markets, shops, shows, and online) and what to expect from each.

There is a brief but detailed synopsis of the different fashion periods in the last two centuries, describing major trends and silhouettes (she even includes a silhouette diagram for easy comparison while shopping).

I found Chapter 4 - The Dating Game the most helpful and informative. This is where the author details the features dealers examine to determine a garment's date and value. Covered are: silhouettes, tags, buttons, zippers, general construction (sub categories seams and linings), and fabrics (with a list and description of the most common synthetics). Also included is a chart for DIY fabric content tests.

Other chapters of the book cover sizing considerations for different eras and how to take your own measurements and those of the garment; labels and pricing (with a general retail pricing guide); determining the garment condition and how to care for it; accessories and embellishments; and how to alter your own finds into something new. At the very end is a small listing of vintage shops but it is mostly limited to major cities in the US, so while it is a good starting point it is not incredibly helpful.

The book is peppered with expert tips on subjects ranging from Finding the Perfect Vintage Dress to Craftsmanship of Vintage Shoes, and also tips from the author about testing for various button plastics, cleaning, and step-by-step spot removal.

I think this is a great book for anyone interested in vintage shopping, especially if you are a beginner and want to get good quality and value but aren't sure what demands the higher prices and when you should pay it. I have already noticed how differently I shop after reading this..things will pop out at me that I normally would have looked over and I have a much better understanding of comparing price and quality (it also has given me confidence while shopping and more bargaining leverage). It is the perfect size to put in my bag so now I always carry it with me while out shopping in case I stumble upon something amazing!

05 May 2010

I must be living under a rock..

I realize that the reason I'm probably in shock and awe about this is because I'm the only person left on the planet who has never been to an IKEA (yes, seriously..), but did you know they sell fabric?? Not just home furnishing fabric, but sewing fabric?? They have a really great selection of interesting prints..here's a few I'm digging:

Anelli collection



Prices are really great, mostly ranging from £1.99 - £3.99 and are usually 100% cotton or a cotton/linen mix..the only kicker is you can't buy online, and not all are available at every store. I'm thinking I may have to make a trip, but I admit I'm a little skeptical about the quality. Has anyone used IKEA fabric before? What do you think of it? Would you recommend it?

03 May 2010

New project - vintage dress

Now that my jacket is finished I need a new project..I have been itching to use one of my vintage patterns that I bought ages ago, so I have decided on this:

It's a 1960's Pauline Trigère dress..cute, simple, and versaitle, which is exactly what I am in the mood to make. I still can't believe my luck with this pattern..I bought it at a vintage fashion fair from a vendor that had no idea about the condition or completeness of any of the patterns. I gave it a quick look over and thought what the hell, it's only £1..the envelope is in horrible shape (it has no bottom fold and barely any sides) but upon closer inspection the pattern and directions are absolutely mint and factory folded..score! I've already got it traced off and am starting the toile..the rest of the week will be spent scouring for the perfect fabric!

02 May 2010

When fabric choice goes wrong

OK..so maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but I'll tell you right now that silk dupion was NOT the best choice for this jacket (Butterick 5469 view C - the white one in the picture). So how in the world did this happen? To keep a long story short, I knew better but I made a hasty decision because I was determined to make an evening jacket to wear out on the town in London with my husband. I chose this pattern because it was simple and I didn't have much time or fabric (I used the leftover scraps from my ball gown)..originally I planned on making view D but after laying out the pieces realized that it wasn't going to work, so I opted for C. I had this nagging feeling (what about the sleeves??!) but after whipping a toile (in cotton, may I note) blissfully told myself everything would be alright. Again my subconscious tried to speak up when I had the thought of just tapering the sleeve to look like the one in view D, but in my blind haste thought it would take too long and couldn't be bothered to make another toile.

After sewing for 2 days straight and many frustrating sewing moments, I finally realized it was a loosing battle and I wasn't going to finish it in time. I needed to start packing, and had enough sense to know I was rushing and that the jacket was going to end up looking like crap if I kept on.

Fast forward to now, and I finally finished my jacket after my 2 week holiday..with some revisions. When I picked it up again, all that was running through my head was "what was I thinking?!"

Here was the front seam (I'm really embarassed to show this):
The fabric was pulling like crazy and it had taken FOREVER to get the pieces to fit without any tucks, but I unpicked the two front pieces and sewed them back at a lower tension..and you know what? They went in like a dream. Unfortunately I couldn't press out all of the wrinkles because they were set in from the last time I pressed it. I also re-set the sleeves to get the fullness back in the shoulder that I had lost when doing it the first time.

The cuffs were the biggest headache, and this is the reason why I say not to use dupion for this style or any like it - no matter how much I fiddled, I couldn't get the fullness to sit nicely into the cuff without any tucks. Although I'm not keen on it, I decided adding inverted box pleats to the underside was the best solution to make it fit and still look nice.

One change that I did make that I am happy with was making a bound button hole instead of one with my machine - I think they look much more professional, and since this is meant to be an evening jacket I wanted it to look nice and neat.

All in all, although I am not 100% happy with it it is still a nice looking jacket and I plan to wear it out to dinner sometime. I don't think I will make this again, but I haven't decided about view D yet - I have another style in mind that I will probably try first.

So my dear readers, if I can give you any advice about choosing fabric, it's this: trust your gut feelings, and don't make hasty decisions..give yourself plenty of time to think things through and make adjustments, and most importantly..don't rush yourself! Don't be afraid to put it down and come back to it later, whether it's a few hours or a few days..your work will not only look better, but you will feel better about it too!