New Year, New Goals

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Over the course of the last few years, sewing has become a passion of mine in a way I had never expected. When I first asked my mom to teach me how to sew at the age of 17, I never had expected that five years later that 75% of the garments in my closet would be made by me.

What bolstered me to keep up with this hobby of mine was my love of dressing retro and the inability to purchase ready-to-wear ensembles because: I’m way too particular with my style, very rarely can find my size and let’s be honest, most reproduction and true vintage clothes are really expensive!

I felt inspired to jump out of the norm of skinny jeans and baggy t shirts with the help of pictures floating around Pinterest. It helped me discover lovely blogs of women of today who wore dresses with matching hats and gloves. I discovered black and white photos of women walking down the streets in swishy skirts and confident smiles and candid shots of the women of Old Hollywood in their everyday attire. 566FFB89-E62C-4ACE-B591-20EF2D998F8BI loved it all and soon began to develop my aesthetic within the realm of the retro style.

Last year I made it my goal to expand my sewing skills and explore new techniques, new fabrics and new types of outfits. I made my first ball gown, my first swimsuit and my first dirndl! I made a handful of special occasion dresses and a selection of skirts and pants.

However, as my style is progressing, I’m wanting to wear more authentic-looking 1950s outfits that are casual and comfortable to walk down the streets with but still show off who I am. I referred back to the images I had pinned on Pinterested that had inspired me, and I realized my closet was lacking completed, matching ensembles. It was popular then to own outfits such as a matching jacket and skirt, a shirt’s collar that was the same fabric as the pants, a coat that matches the hat and so on.

Therefore, this year I want to work on creating outfits that perfectly go together. I want to revive the beautiful outfits worn by woman of the past. To breathe life back into these incredible designs and show how downright creative fashion designers were 70, 60 years ago. 3F08FFC5-FD39-4973-B5FA-E935EE4038A9E809AF4D-31CF-4ADE-8266-3E912B712031

The First Project of 2018 

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For my first outfit of the year, I was inspired by Lauren Bacall. She has always been one of my favorite style icons. I adore how her feminine outfits showcased strength and confidence, was fashion forward yet had a relaxed, comfortable element to them.

I love her usage of dramatic bishop sleeves, so I created an outfit inspired from this one 8A7E0B08-649E-4139-B2A3-DC484F602B07

This outfit gave me the perfect opportunity to whip out Simplicity’s newly reproduced pattern on sleeves and try out the 3/4 length (A). 346249DD-3E8E-45A5-BAE2-B72C2A0D3F57

In fact, I had to whip out a lot of new patterns, because I had to mix many of them to get the look that I wanted! For the blouse, I used an actual vintage
pattern – Simplicity 4676 – and replaced the pussy bow with a basic collar ( but one day I will make that blouse again with the bow!). The dress, which is a powder blue corduroy, was created from Vogue’s reproduction pattern 8789 for the top and I swapped the full skirt for a basic pencil skirt. And of course, I added side seam pockets.4D1DA016-9266-4ED6-ABA8-BC36BB7319AC2F97E321-DCD4-4A2A-B1F9-74DCECAE752E8F364EE9-272D-4191-B6B5-D09C2B9BD6FC2B3C96C9-58BB-4859-A5D6-7DA1D9AEF840

I’m very happy with the outcome. The pattern mixing and the fabric I utilized were extremely challenging, but it’s all worth it in the end. There’s little things that I’m not fully fond of, such as how large the sleeves cuffs turned out to be, despite me doubling the seam allowance. I also am uncertain about the center back zipper, just because it looked so noticeable. However, I really hate wiggling into side seam zippers, so.

I think that this is a great start to an exciting year. There will be changes in my personal life as well as changes to my wardrobe, and I cannot wait to see how both of them will progress!

Until next time,

Cheers, darlings!

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My Sabrina-Inspired Gown

 

IMG_0786I made it my resolution this year that I would truly challenge myself as a seamstress. I wanted to push myself to expand my creativity, learn new techniques and patterns and hone in on my skills. I think towards the end of the year, I’ll make a post about all the articles of clothing that I’ve made for 2017 that had exposed new elements for me to learn.

A few years ago, my mom bought me 3 yards of a beautiful embroidered satin. I fell in love with it, but fretted that I’d never be able to use it. It’s quite fancy-schmancy and I don’t have many events to go to that requires satin.

Until now! The Air Force Ball happens every other year and this year they were celebrating 70 years. So what better time to remind my husband that we never had our chance at prom due to our long distance relationship? 😉

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My first attempt to sketch my designs to help me visualize better all the ideas that pop in my head. I’m not good at drawing, but I found the whole process to be a a great stress reliever

I eagerly pulled out the satin from the bottom of my fabric stash and began designing. First and foremost, I loved the popular 1950s concept of belted evening gowns and an overskirt. I used the overskirt pattern from Gertie’s B6353. I had it gathered at the waist and sewn onto the belt. That way I could take it off whenever I needed to.

 

I decided to use Gertie’s Butterick 5882 pattern for the bodice and Butterick 4343 for the skirt, because I could get the seams for both pieces to match. It was my first attempt at boning, and now that I know what the outcome is, I’m hooked! I’ll definitely be doing it again.

 

It was finally time to start cutting. Before I  begin on that process, I want to give a shout out to the one that was there for me the entire time, always by my side in moments of frustration, the one that became my very best friend on this project:

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My trusty seam ripper

(The seam ripper end got slightly chewed up during this time. I think it’s because my puppy felt a little jealous that it had received the most attention, so there was a lot of time chasing the doggo around the couch trying to get it back.)

What I’m trying to get at is that this dress was DIFFICULT.IMG_0017

I found a stunning gold crepe lamé to utilize as the pleated bra and overskirt. Although fairly easy to sew, carbon print markings did not show up, so I had to resort to using a bright pink marker. It also did not like to get pleated and lay flat, so I laid the bra to a flat surfice and laid heavy weights on top for two days. I also had to do that with the plastic boning because it wanted to curl.IMG_0050

I thought the bra and the boning would the the most difficult part, until I had attached the skirt and the zipper and tried the garment on. It looked terrible! Anyone who’s worked with Butterick 5882 may understand. It’s a funky pattern! Normally Gertie’s patterns are too short waisted for me, but the one and only I’ve made with boning just happened to be too long for me. Also, the bust part sat too high and the strap was slicing my boobs horizontally. It looked a little better when I wore a structured push up bra, but this dress ideally should probably be worn with a strapless bra, because the push up bra was way too visible.

With my handy dandy seam ripper, I went to town undoing the bodice. I cut out a new strap that thinner, because the original was overwhelming my small frame. I broadened the width of the  bust by an inch and a half and lowered it three inches. I also unattached the front boning and snipped them both down an inch each. Trying it on again, it still gave me a weird shape with a  strapless bra. I tried putting bra inserts and that didn’t help either.  I just had to use the structured bra with straps, because it looked much better. Therefore, ripping out the strap seams, I had to place them right where my bra straps were. IMG_0797Then I had to make gold inserts in the front to hid the part where the bra cup is attached to the strap.  I honestly had to make quite a few inserts, handstitching them to the lining, trying it on, having it not work, ripping them out and starting the process over again.

The skirt ended up being slightly shorter than I would have liked, because satin shreds A TON. Ever have one of those moments where something bad happens and you distinctly remember your mom warning you do to something to avoid this exact event? I maaaaay have a memory of my mom telling me the very first day she taught me how to sew that stay-stitching is important to avoid the fabric fraying too much and I had immediately ignored that extra step for five years. It finally came back to haunt me.

After all the ripping and re-doing, it still was not 100%. Satin doesn’t iron very well, so I had to keep checking the strap to lay down and arm movements made the gold inserts bunch up and the pleated bra to stick out. There was a lot of fashion tape used for the ball!

IMG_0641However, I still am totally in love with this dress. It is more than just an evening gown. It represents the grueling three weeks I spent working on it while going through a handful of stressful events and stress-induced sicknesses. If there is one way to showcase perseverance,  it’s this garment.IMG_0626

I had to keep working and re-working over and over again to get this to fit the way that I wanted it to and I think it did alright in the end. I was still successful in cutting a rug on the dance floor and my husband and I had a fun night!

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I made my husband party sleeves as well!

 

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Dirndl Fever

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I have been dreaming of making a dirndl for a couple of years now, but never felt that I had the skill to accomplish one. Sometimes, I would lackadaisically browse the rows of fabric stores, looking for fabric that would fit the look of a dirndl to encourage me to just try it out. I never found anything that inspired me, so I would quickly revert to the many other sewing ideas that had popped in my head.

However, on my latest trip visiting family in Germany this summer, my great aunt and my mom went with me to a fabric store in downtown Karlsruhe. We excitedly found the perfect prints and trimmings for a dirndl. As soon as I was back home in America, I immediately started on what is my most difficult, detailed article of clothing I have made thus far.

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I had already purchased the Gertie’s Butterick 6352, so I decided to stick with that, rather than using a dirndl pattern from Burda, because I like to make things more difficult for myself.

Just kidding.

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The Gertie pattern was inspired by a dirndl anyways and I felt that it would be easy to make changes to fit the image I had in my head. Besides, I had already purchased it on sale for $1.99 and the Burda patterns were over $20, so…

My hope for the dirndl was to have a traditional look to it, but still show off my style and taste by giving it a retro flare. I had to nix the gathered skirt from the pattern, because I didn’t want to add the ruffles at the bottom and the skirt itself would then be too short for me. Therefore, I created a circle skirt with many pleats and side seam pockets (always gotta add my pockets!) to give the look of a dirndl skirt, but still have a 1950’s element to it. I also did not make the puffy sleeves, because my great aunt had gifted me with a traditional white blouse that goes underneath the dirndl bodice.

Really, I just used the bodice pieces from the pattern.

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I took a few snaps of the process to send to my mom and great aunt on the progress

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Traditionally, dirndl bodices do not have boning, but they are sturdy. I also decided not to use boning, but my bodice fabric was thin and slippery. So, inspired from a suggestion from a seamstress on the Gertie WeSewRetro page who had commented that denim would be good interfacing, I went with a duck canvas blend because of its neutral color and it had thickness and a nice stretch to it.

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I made my own bias tape out of leftover fabric from the skirt for the armscyes and hand-stitched the trimmings and buttons. The pattern called for sewing the zipper in the front (which is the more traditional way), but I changed it to be placed in the back, because I wanted a smoother look in the front and felt more confident doing a center back zipper.

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Making an apron out of lace and ribbon was perplexing. I have never worked with lace and could not find anything online for suggestions, so I just went with what I thought would work. Wanting to avoid the lace getting stuck in the dog feed when I was gathering it, I pinned strips of toilet paper and then ripped them off after the basting was finished. The plan was effective, but I’m sure there’s better methods out there.

For the side seams, I did a rolled hem. However, looking back it would have been better if I had purchased a thin ribbon the same color as the waistband to hid the seams that way and give it a neater finish.

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In one month, I finished the project. It involved many nights of staying up late, because I was too excited to stop and hours of mulling over ways to approach the many different challenges sewing this dirndl came with. I put all of my knowledge of sewing into this garment (which isn’t a lot) and came out learning so much more. It’s most definitely not perfect, but I still love the way it has transpired. I caught the dirndl fever and plan to be making more in the future. Perhaps a winter version is in order??

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I’m really appreciative of my mom and my great aunt for wanting to be so invested in this project. They gifted me with the lace and the bodice fabric and their words of encouragement and suggestions throughout these weeks were really helpful.

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Proof that I have an obsession with edelweiss accessories

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I hope this post was helpful to anyone browsing for inspo when making a dirndl or for wanting to go their own creative route and using pattern pieces as base lines.

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Prost!

Dirndl Fever

Never Make Your Own Wedding Dress

 

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I believe there is a trinket of advice we’ve all vaguely heard once or twice before and that is: Don’t make your own wedding dress.

Despite the understandable rationale right there, I’ll admit that I had considered making my wedding dress when I was first engaged. The main reason being that there is only one person who can capture what I imagine my wedding dress to look like and that person is me.

I’m incredibly picky. I like sliced strawberries – not whole strawberries, nor blended strawberries. Sliced strawberries. I love blue hydrangeas, but white or pink hydrangeas? No, just no. Therefore, you can visualize my angst when it came to purchasing a wedding dress, especially when my preferred style leans more towards the aged photographs of what your grandmother used to wear back when she called herself a “hot toddy”.

However, I turned away from the absurd idea of making my own dress and surprisingly found a wedding dress I was very happy to purchase (along with a seamstress adding lace sleeves to it) , and instead I made a reception dress.

I knew I needed that reception dress, because my ceremonial gown is very heavy. It is graces with a long lace train and numerous layers of tulle and satin. Also, the lace sleeves had no stretch to them, so I could not move my arms very high.

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I’m the kind of gal who wants to get boogie on the dance floor, and my wedding reception is no exception. I  choose the Butterick Retro Pattern 5748, because it provided mobility in my arms and the simplicity of the pattern highlighted the pure white satin fabric I had chosen. B5748_aNaturally I made my own changes to the dress. As I always do, I researched the pattern on Google to see how other sewers recreated it, because honestly, how true to form is that drawing of the dress??

– Shout out to those talented seamstresses who not only make these retro patterns beautifully, but also post them on their blogs!

Due to personal preference, I decided to:

  • lower the neckline slightly
  • follow the B pattern, but keep the slit in the front
  •  I wanted the skirt to be fuller, so I used the largest size for the skirt pieces, added more fabric to the bottom and then gathered the waist. (Also I maaaay have used two petticoats..)

After the changes, I was very happy with the turnout. It was such a fun dress to dance in!
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My husband (HUSBAND! So crazy!) and I did the jitterbug for our first dance.

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Dancing with my Daddy

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And there you have it! My wedding turned out to be absolutely amazing and just how I dreamed it to be. I went to bed that night with cake splattered all over my skirt, my curls  gone, my feet completely bruised, and yet, giddy and excited for our future to begin.

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Cheers, darlings!

Introduction

When I gaze at a slightly crinkled sewing pattern, I generally prefer not to see the drawn icon the sewing company utilizes to attract it’s customers to purchase the pattern.. Instead, I attempt to challenge myself… envision what that piece can be if I add a little  bit here… or there… or what if I change the skirt? Lengthen the sleeves? Add some embellishments along the edge? What will make this dress truly my own?
11391323_911191468923203_8133647038455108112_nHere is a dress I had sewn last summer and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It was inspired by the Butterick 57085708. I had adored the novelty of transforming the neckline into four different ways. Also, because of my deep love for anything nautical, I needed a simple day dress to grant me a plausible excuse to use the sailboat print fabric I had purchased on a whim.

However, I wanted to move away from the circle skirt craze momentarily, because Oh my goodness, hemming a circle skirt is so tiresome! So, I made the bottom half into a slim-fitting pencil skirt.

When I had finished with my “Sailing Away” garment, I was appalled at how the bows awkwardly flapping on my shoulders were so large. I could truly use them as my sail and float away!

Therefore, I spent some time in front of a large mirror playing around with those limp straps and eventually turned the front ones to tie behind me in a knot and the two back ones gathered and sewn onto the front neckline

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So, here is a blog of my sewing accomplishments (and maybe my not-so-accomplishments), my outlet of experimental spurts, in order to help inspire all you lovely folks who also enjoy sewing or are sewing a particular piece and enjoy looking up what others create from that same pattern. Those folks who appreciate the 1950s/1940s, pin-curled hair and creativity.

If you have any garments that you have sewn, please share! I’d love to utilize this blog as a communicative outlet for us to share our accomplishments, our trials-and-errors, our tips and our questions!

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Cheers, darlings!