Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sew Weekly: The Perfect Summer Dress

When I heard that the Sew Weekly theme this week was the perfect summer dress, I knew exactly what I wanted to sew! There are so many great things about summer. Summer is about fun, ease and spending as much time as possible outside. So what's better than a picnic themed retro wrap dress?

Fabric: Blue gingham (Is a print this big still allowed to be called gingham??) 5 yds at $5 a yd
Pattern: Butterick Retro B4790
Year: reprint of 1952 pattern
Notions: bias binding ($9), buttons ($3), snaps (from stash)
Time to complete: 2 days plus 24 hours for bias to set
First worn: May 2011
Wear again? Yes! It was cute and comfy! It does wrinkle a but more than I'd prefer but next go around I'll know better.
Total Cost: $37

Outfit:
Dress: made by me
Shoes: Macy's
Earrings: Forever 21

The construction of the dress was quite simple. It's not the same structure as your typical wrap dress but I like it. The only alterations I did were to add snaps on the sides to prevent any any accidental bra strap appearances. The hem lines of the two layers didn't end up the same, despite enlisting my husbands help to hem. Oh, well. It looks ok. I was just bummed because now it's too short for my crinoline. Guess I'll have to buy a shorter one.

I didn't bother matching my stripes, but it's not even really noticeable except at the back seam of the skirt.

I've been doing a bit of Alice Cullen inspired hair the past couple of days and it's super fun!

What's your idea of the perfect summer dress?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Embellish This!


This week's sew weekly challenge was to do a project with embellishment. I choose to whip up another Crepe dress! I knew I wanted to add piping and ended up also doing decorative buttons and contrast ties.

This fabric is actually from a sheet set that I thrifted! Crazy, huh.

Fabric: main: thrifted sheet (~$3, I got a fitted and normal sheet + 2 pillow cases for $8 and I didn't even use the whole sheet for this project!), lining: broad cloth (~$10), ties: polycotton blend(~$10)
Pattern: Colette Pattern's Crepe dress
Notions: buttons ($1.50), pipping (~$2)
Time to complete: <1 week
First worn: May 2011
Wear again? yes! I made a smaller sized top with a FBA than for my last version and it fits a lot better. The sleeves are a bit tight so I'll do one size bigger there next time. There is still a bit of awkwardness in the chest. I think I didn't need to do quite as big of a FBA for this pattern, but considering I didn't make a muslin this go round, it turned out great! I wore it to church today and got loads of compliments! I think I'll have to do embellishments more often!
Total Cost: $25.50 The most expensive part of this dress was the ties! The only reason I spent so much on the ties is I had trouble matching colors and by that point I just wanted something that was going to look good!

I've already gotten started on next weeks challenge of the perfect summer dress. Hopefully, it'll be done in time for the holiday festivities tomorrow!

P.S. I have heaps of this fabric left! Any suggestions on what else I could do with it?? Would anyone be interested in a giveaway of some of this fabric?

P.P.S. Forgot to mention that this project is my first FBA, first time using piping (and on a sweetheart neckline no less!) and the first time reusing a pattern.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fashion Inspiration: Apron Adaptations

So this is kind of a part 2 to the State Fair fashion inspiration. One of Margy's skirts had an apron built into it and one of her pinafores looked so similar to apron patterns I'd seen. It would be pretty easy to turn and apron pattern into a skirt or pinafore, just draft a back and lengthen! And there are tons of vintage apron patterns on etsy! So here are some I found that I thought would be good for an apron makeover.

The one on the left looks very similar to Margy's skirt. Instead of attaching the apron to it's own waist band, sandwich it between the skirt and waist band pieces of another skirt. There are so many options too! You could do something crazy and eye catching like these or something simpler like Margy's.

I love the interesting waist band on this one!

This one has a lovely v neck option like the one from the movie! Just add ruffles and a back to the skirt!

I love the pointed waistband!

Scallops anyone! This pattern looks like it comes with a back so you only need to lengthen!

Version 2 would make a great pinafore.

I really love some of the mail order apron patterns. They just seem so much more special.

So girly!

Check out those fish! And the back of the top! What great architecture! This one even looks like it almost closes already in the skirt!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Paris is always a good idea

I have always wanted to go to Paris. So when my stepmother was there and brought me back a t-shirt I was ecstatic.

Except that it didn't fit. The sleeves were an awkward bracelet length that just didn't work and my tummy peaked out unless I stood absolutely still. So it lived a sad life in the refashion pile until I found this tutorial and voila!

Introducing the "Paris is always a good idea" dress! Inspired by Paris and Audrey fabulousness.

Fabric: T-shirt: gift, ties: leftovers, skirt: leftovers
Pattern: self drafted via this tutorial
Notions: none!
Time to complete: 1 day
First worn: May 2011
Wear again? yups, but as I made this a couple weeks ago during a freak cold spell, it'll probs be retired until fall
Total Cost: $0

Things I'd do differently: Because my bust is so much bigger than my waist, the waist of this skirt is pretty big (hence the ties!). However, the waistband sags a lot in the back, which you can see because of the contrasting ties. So I think I'd add some loops to the back put the ties through. And I forgot to put pockets in! There wasn't enough plaid fabric left anyways but that's ok.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fashion and Film: State Fair

So earlier this week, TCM must have been having a Rodgers and Hammerstein moment because they showed South Pacific and State Fair back to back! I'm a huge fan of musicals in general and R&H is always a treat. I'd never seen State Fair before, but if I had I'm sure I'd have fallen in love with 40s fashions long ago!

State Fair (1945) tells the story of the Frake family's visit to the Iowa State Fair. There's Abel, the pa, who is all worked up getting his prized pig ready for judging. And Melissa, the ma, is busy getting her pickles and sweetmeats ready to beat Mrs. Edwin C. Metcalfe, who stole the all the prizes last year. Wayne Frake is bummed that his girl won't make the fair, but the fair is full of exciting girls. And there's Margy, the daughter, who only wants to escape the attention of her would be beau who clearly does not understand her.

This film is chock full of 40s fashions! Leisure outfits, fancy fair frocks, mature fashions and even a drop of evening ensembles. I'd pretty much wear anything Margy had in her closet! So here are some lovelies to inspire your summer styles!

Margy's first ensemble. The sleeves are a bit much for me but the skirt is awesome! It has a faux apron on the front. How perfect for a farm girl!

Here's another shot of the blouse. The bow detail is just darling.

I think this was possibly my favorite outfit. Check out those cherries! It had a white pleated skirt. I think I'd rather have seen it with a velvet skirt, but perhaps that a bit fancy and pricy for a farm girl. And don't forget to notice mom's ensemble! Check out her hat!

Matching hat alert!!!!!

A cute peasant dress. Looks a bit similar to this pattern Gertie's been mooning over.

How yummy! This would be so easy to make if you already had a lovely white dress. Just add a black vest and a cute red tie under the collar.

Love the purple and green combo here. The subtle purple stripe are genius!

Margy had two of these lovely blue and white pinafores. This one is gingham with checker board print accents. I love the idea of mixing gingham and checker board. A very subtle but cute look. The other was a blue and white striped with a lovely chevron design on the top.

Here's another more casual day at home look.

This dress is absolutely darling too!

Check out this embroidery! There's a matching row on the skirt!

And cute covered buttons! Love!

Here's Wayne's girl on the phone. Check out the cute daisies on her sleeves!

And of course, in contrast, there is the sophisticated city girl. I love the contrast on the hat!



Check out the black dress in this shot!



This scene is chock full of dresses! My favorite is at 1:48. The girl on the carousel with the brown bow dress! Love the neckline detail!

Anyways, do check out this film or at least track down some youtube clips!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2nd Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along

Woot! More sew-alongs! Co-hosted by Sarah, Ali and Alessa this sewing venture is all about building a great summer wardrobe! So, I thought I'd start by listing my (rather ambitious) summer sewing plans. (Mostly for me though, so I can check my progress along the way!)

1. Blue Bird Macaron

This lovely bird fabric was the first fabric purchase that I made with out an idea of what I wanted to do with it. I snatched it off of the sale rack and bought the 2.5ish yds that were left. Once I decided on Macaron, I choose a white fabric with embroidered flowers, though you can't really see them well in the photo.

2. Retro Wrap Dress (The Great Minds Think Alike Dress)

So maybe I'm cheating on this one and reproducing the blue dress on the cover, but my summer theme is supposed to be nautical and red, white and blue!

3. Pushing Daisies Wiggle Dress

Inspired by this dress:
I do want to make some sort of overskirt thing if there is enough fabric!

4. Red and blue floral dress

I had planned on making a different Butterick Retro pattern with this fabric, but then I read a terrible review of it and decided to forgo that pattern. So I may give another Butterick Retro pattern a go or try Colette Pattern's Ceylon.

5. Sailor Playsuit!!!!!!!

I bought this pattern back in October and have been waiting for the weather to turn so I can make it!

6. Closing the Gaps Projects

7. Hats

I know it's not a category in the Sew-Along, but I'm making the red fabric into the sun hat (bottom right) and the corduroy into the top left (pink and green hats).

Why so many dresses? Well, the hubby has declared that I need to destash.... So I'm trying to work through a lot of things in my stash and that's just what I had. Everything, except the hats, the sailor playsuit and the closing the gaps, comes from le stash so go me!

Campaign for Clearer Clothes Sizing

Today, Retro Chick posted a wonderful entry about the trials and tribulations of shopping and trying to find things that fit. She invited others to share their experiences so that's what this is. (She also shared links to push some legislation about it, but it looked like it was just for Europe.)

So, I'm going to get the hard part out of the way first. Here are my measurements:

39"-31"-45"

I'm a curvy gal, but I'm not fat. I could stand to loose 10 lbs but so can most people. I've come to terms with my body shape a lot over the past couple of years, but that doesn't make it easier to shop.

There have been a lot of growing pains size wise. I finally switched from juniors to womens pants and then gained some weight and had to go up a size. But pants provide a particular difficulty. I have big hips. That's just the way it is. But my waist is so much tinier! Even modern pants that don't actually hit all the way up at my natural waist are never small enough. So either I spend all day fidgeting to keep my panties from showing or I wear a belt that pulls and digs into my stomach when I sit down. In high school, I actually broke through a belt because of the strain from keeping my pants up. It did have cutouts and I wore it every day, but still. (I also wore size 11 pants and a 3 or 5 in dresses back in the day!)

I've been dying to buy some great reproduction pants. But here I also run into problems. For example, at Freedies of Pinewood, I can choose from 32" waist 42" hip or 36" waist 46" hip. At Heyday Vintage, I have the exact same selections, which corresponds to 14 and 18 sizes. They do offer alterations, but I'm not paying over $70 for a pair of pants and then have to pay to have them altered and shipped from the UK. When sewing, my waist and hip measurements are generally at least 4 sizes apart. And I've experienced the same size frustration when looking at reproduction and vintage wiggle dresses. Nothing is curvey enough for me.

Shirts and dresses also provide great frustration. Empire waisted garments-forget about it. Either the waist seam goes across the girls, or I force it under and I show major cleavage. Button up shirts tend to gape or be ridiculously large in the shoulders. Recently, I have discovered that I need a full bust adjustment and I should choose my starting bust size from my high bust measurement of 35". Well, that's just peachy for sewing, but I can't exactly do a FBA to a shirt at the mall.

Recently, I have also embarked on several shopping ventures looking for what is for me (and I suspect many other women) the most dreaded thing to shop for-bras. I did actually get measured correctly this time around, which made finding a regular bra so much easier! I was, of course, wearing the wrong size again. *sigh* But I've also been wanting a strapless bra. I don't wear strapless/spaghetti strap things too often but the occasion does arise when I want to defy gravity. This presents it's own problems. I'm a chesty girl at a DD but my band size is 36. Again, not fat but curvey. I'm just an odd size. I was quite humiliated when the store I was shopping at (Victoria's Secret) didn't carry my size (smallest DD was a 38) and the sales lady suggested I head out to the nearest store for full figured women. Come on people! I'm definitely not plus sized!

Ok, so I went to the mall hoping that a store that carried multiple brands would bring me better luck. Hahaha! Not! Regular lines did not go up to a DD cup. Full figured lines did not run on the same sizing lines as the regular lines. My 36 DD was huge! So, back to trial and error. After 20 minutes of frustrating trying on, a sales person finally appeared, but it was some teenage girl who wasn't helpful at all. I ended up coming home with a 34D from a full figured line. Which is exactly the same size as the old strapless that I had at home. That I popped out of. That I couldn't wear for more than a couple hours because the band was so tight and painful. The old one was from a regular line. Go figure.

My solution: Sew more, shop less. But even then, if it wasn't for multisize patterns I'd be in a world of hurt. So here are the sizes I'd need based on the sizing chart on the back of the pattern: (Bust (Bust with FBA), Waist, Hips)

Simplicity: 18(14), 16, 22
Butterick: 18(14), 16, 22
McCalls: 18(14), 16, ???? (18 listed as largest size at 42")
Colette: 12(4), 10, 16
Sewaholic: 14(8), 10, 14

Eeep! One size vintage patterns are even worse. Usually I'd go for an 18 or 20 (depending on the date of the pattern), which usually fit my bust and waist fairly well. But now this FBA thing has me looking at patterns with tiny waists! And tinier hips! Guess my pattern drafting skills are going to get a jump start. Wearing ease is another issue. I use this method to figure out the size I actually need to cut.

What are your sizing frustrations? How do you deal with them?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blogging Mamas Who Rock: Brittany

This week's Blogging Mama Who Rocks is Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage. She specializes in vintage for curvy figures which is great, since most of us don't have a 24 inch waist! So whether you are curvy, a mom, or just a lover of great vintage fashion, you'll soon be a fan!
Q: How did you first get into blogging?
A.That's a long story! I was as a housewife for a year before having my daughter, Olivia. It was wonderful because I had a lot of "me" time. Being a housewife, I was home alone almost every day and I was living in sweatpants and t-shirts with my hair in a ponytail and no makeup. I saw myself in the mirror one day and made a promise that I would devote just a little bit of time every day to me or else I was going to lose my mind! I have always loved fashion and this t-shirt and ponytail mommy that I had become simply couldn't do anymore. I had already been reading a lot of fashion blogs so I decided to start my own. Being a housewife and stay at home mom is my dream job but even then, there are days when you start to go a little nuts, talking to the cats and knowing exactly what the daytime tv schedule is. Through blogging, I found a way to connect to the world and talk to "grown-ups" even if it's just online. Blogging has motivated me to do what I really love and inspired me to always try to be fashionable (even if that vintage purse contains cheerios and diapers)!
Q:Tell me a bit about your kids.
Olivia is like a 30 year old in a toddler's body. She's been known to wag her finger at us and say "Don't Touch!" She's very stubborn and independent but she is such a daddy's girl! Even though she likes to do things her own way, she's a very good listener. I bring her with me to antique malls and vintage clothing shops and she is always well-behaved, which makes me SO proud! She's a year and a half old (born 10-2-09) and she loves Elmo, fresh fruit and splashing in the tub.
Olivia loves to get dressed up too. She carries my purses around on her arm and wears my clip-on earrings and bakelite bangles. When we go shopping, she looks at the jewelry cases with me and feels different fabrics while I push her around in her stroller. When she's not playing dress up, she loves to rough-house with her Daddy, romp around outside and chase our 3 cats around the house. She looks like me when she's serious but she has her daddy's smile and sense of humor. There's never a dull moment with Olivia around!
Rhys is my little boy, born April 18th. He was just 6 pounds so he's very tiny. He looks just like his daddy and Olivia adores him. He's brand new and he sleeps most of the time but when he's awake, he's very alert and curious. I'm still getting to know him but I can already tell that I'll really have my hands full with these two once Rhys is old enough to get into mischief with his sister!
You always look so cute! Do you have any tips on staying fashionable while pregnant?
Thank you! My best advice for staying fashionable while pregnant is to stick with the basics and accessorize. Since I've been limited to a smaller selection of clothes, I really made the most of my purses, hats and jewelry. Pregnancy wardrobes are such a pain because you'll only be wearing those clothes for a few short months. Mommies-to-be can often use a lot of what they already have in their closets without spending a fortune on designated maternity clothes. I turned towards dresses with full skirts (such as shirtwaist dresses) because the full skirts allow for room for the belly to grow. Stretchy skirts and cardigans are always cute and comfy and you can wear them after the baby is born. For winter pregnancies, look for capes, ponchos and loose-fitting 50's style coats. If your hometown is icy in the cold months, a good pair of sturdy shoes with a low heel and traction are a must have for winter. In the summer, cotton dresses and skirts with low heeled sandals or flats keep a big-bellied momma comfortable and cute.
What is your favorite thing about wearing vintage fashion?
I have always loved fashion history and when I wear vintage clothes, I feel like I'm preserving and displaying a piece of history. I love when I find a really amazing garment that's been badly damaged because I get to bring it home, mend and wash it and give it a new life. Digging through piles of junk to find treasure and putting these "bones" together to create a vintage look is like fashion archaeology.
Do you have any wardrobe staples you can’t live without?
Ahh, you should call this segment "Confessions of a Vintage Mommy" *lol*
My first staple items are cardigans. My best friend and I love to have "cardigan day" where we go to every thrift store in the area looking for cardigans. They're great with dresses, skirts, trousers- you name it! As mom, my cardigans are extremely important to me because the chances of me getting pudding, applesauce or who-knows-what on my blouse while I'm out and about with the kids are very high. They protect my vintage and they're machine washable. My cardigan is like my "mommy bib".
My other must-have items are half-slips. When Olivia was a baby, we were driving around in the summer time and the sun was shining right in her eyes. We forgot to bring a blanket to drape over her car seat and the poor baby was crying her eyes out! My husband was driving so I just took off my seat belt, pulled my slip off from under my dress and draped it over her car seat to keep the sun off of her. I'll never forget the look of shock from my girlfriend in the back seat but hey, a mommy does what she can for her babies!
One night, we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant about an hour from home. Just as we were leaving, Olivia's sippy cup tipped over. The lid wasn't on so ice cold soda spilled all over my lap, soaking my skirt. It was dark outside when we got to the car so I took off my skirt right there in the parking lot and rode home in my slip!
If you could give your daughter one piece of fashion advice, what would it be?
I'd like to tell her to always dress like a lady but I was a teenager once and I know that's just not realistic so instead, I'll tell her, "Stay true to yourself".
Kids can be so cruel when it comes to what someone is wearing. I hope that as my kids grow up, they feel comfortable enough with who they are that they don't feel the need to fall in with a certain crowd to be cool. When I was in high school, we had all of the typical cliques, defined by what they wore. You know, 10 kids all wearing the same t-shirt that proclaimed "I'm an individual!" And the kids always said "And then there's Brittany...She's not really any of those things!" I refused to be labeled until I knew exactly who and what I wanted to be. I could wear my Hot Topic knee-high boots and fish nets one day and wear a little pink sun dress and sandals the next day. I loved to keep people guessing and teach them that you shouldn't judge people for how they dress. Through not falling in with a certain crowd, I was able to fall in with almost everyone and it made my teenage years a lot easier, I think. I hope to also teach my kids to embrace others, regardless of what they wear. When you judge others, you're really hurting yourself because you miss out on meeting a lot of amazing, interesting people. My mom was always wonderful and allowed me to express myself however I saw fit. For years, I was known as "the blue-haired girl". I plan to do the same with my kids, even if I have to deal with a few mini skirts along the way!
Thanks Brittany for being a Blogging Mama Who Rocks!