I made this top to wear to a piano concert at an outdoor pavilion. I wanted to look nice, but not over the top because it was outside. I wore this top with very dark wash jeans, high heeled sandals and what else? my DKNY cozy! (more…)
Ralphie baby. My relationship with Ralph Lauren has come full circle. In my 20’s I was a RL girl—all cashmere, velvet and luxurious woolens. That was B.C. (before children), when I had time to sew and I remember going to Marshall Field’s (gone, but not forgotten) to take intricate notes and measurements from a burgundy silk velvet turtleneck dress so I could copy the look. Ah…those were the days of easily dressing like a million bucks. (more…)
I live in the Chicago area and E jokes and says that in June we turn our furnace off and airconditioning on. Unfortunately, most springs are quite chilly and wearing a coat, especially at night is not uncommon. But I’m so sick and tired of my winter coats–I want to have them cleaned and put them away until next winter!
We have 2 good fabric stores in Chicago and Vogue Fabrics has a cashmere knit I’ve been lusting over. It’s a substantial weight (2 ply?) fine gauge knit, like you see on better sweaters. At about $55/yard I let Vogue “keep it” until I came up with a design idea.
I love, love, love this coat! The pictures don’t do it justice. When I get my dressform, I’ll try to take a better picture.
I used Burda 8009 and gave it a asymmetrical front and a stand-up collar and eliminated the front darts by simply folding them together before cutting. (You can purchase this pattern at The Sewing Place.com)
I unerlined the coat with mid-weight silk twill to stabilize the knit and give it some warmth. I attached the lining to each pattern piece, right sides together and sewed a 1/4″ seam around all sides, leaving an opening to turn. I left the armseye, sleeve and neckline edges raw. When I sewed the seams, I used a scant 1/2″ seam. I was a little worried about how it would look at the hem–lined to the edge and finished before the seams were sewn. But it worked great and was a better hem finish than anything else I could have done. And, wouldn’t you know it, I saw a similar finish on a very expensive designer skirt the other day. It was light weight silk and the hem was narrow hemmed first, then the side seams were sewn.
I lined the sleeve in the traditional way, hand stitching the sleeve cap of the lining to the armseye.
I added 6″ to the front edge of the left front pattern piece to create the asymmetric style. I did not add to the right front, so it does not underlap, it ends at the center front.
I found these great passementerie buttons at M.J. Trim.com . They have lots of unique buttons and trims. The internet has made it so much easier to design clothes exactly the way you envision them instead of having to settle for what can be found in the few good fabric stores.
This coat was so much fun to sew beacuse I took some chances and everything worked out very well as I went along. I had to put it aside for a few days to wait for the buttons to arrive and I hung it where I could see it and marveled at it often. Then it came time to make the buttonholes and for some idiotic reason, I made the top bottonhole too close to the edge (about 1/2″ from the edge, should’ve been more like 3/4″ -1″) I literally almost cried, because it was such a stupid thing to do and the rest of the project turned out so perfectly. But I followed my own advice in the Tutorial, “How to fix all small and medium sewing mistakes” and I got over it. It’s not exactly perfect, but close enough.
I’ll try to get a better pictue soon!
Ta-ta for now!
I’m outside, rain or shine for my job and I’ve been wanting a jacket with a hood so that I don’t have to carry an umbrella unless it’s pouring. There are soooo many great anoraks out there (see one of my favorites in Spring Wardrobe ’08 part 1) and once I found this Neue Mode Pattern it was easy to come up with a great design. (You can find this pattern at My Notions.com)
I used a black silk shantung I had in my stash. It was super easy to work with and has my favorite fabric quality, it presses beautifully with nice sharp creases. Neue Mode patterns don’t have seam allowances included and I’m just too lazy to draw all those seamlines, so I added seam allowances only where I had to–around the hood opening, the center front, the armseye and sleeve head. Then I used one size larger than normal. This worked out fine, in fact the pattern is so over-sized that I still had to take in the side seam allowances about 1 1/2″ on each side side (for a total of 6″!).
The pattern does not include lining, but I used the pattern pieces to cut a lining from a heavy satin. This gives the anorak a nice, hefty weight and it will be quite warm. Because I lined the jacket, I formed the casing by stitching the lining to the silk. I used elastic and sewed a 2″ wide belt to the ends of the elastic.
I used View A for length and added a 2″ band to the bottom to give the jacket a nice finishing at the hem.
I used the pocket from View C, but instead of regular zippers, I used invisible zippers for a sleeker look.
I wanted to use 3/4″ silver snaps, a la Prada, but I tried a sample and they just don’t work! I’ve never had luck with the snap kits available at the fabric store. Next time I’ll try to find a source online for commercial snaps. So I used covered buttons instead and I like the look, they go well with the dressy fabric.
Here’s a picture of the hood pattern piece. If you can see, I added a 1/4″ seam allowance around the front opening. I didn’t even draw it on, I just added it as I cut-out the pattern. I also added an overlap for the buttons and button holes. I added plenty (around 3″) and trimmed it to fit as I was sewing.
I added a cuff and pleated in the fullness of the sleeve to fit the cuff. I used a method for constructing the cuff that gives a nice square finish:
1. Interface cuff
2. Sew cuff to sleeve bottom, right sides together
3. Fold seam allowances to inside, fold long edge first and then the short ends
4. Fold cuff on fold line and topstitch into place
This works especially well on fabrics the press nicely.
I just ordered a dressform so I can take better pictures of my creations. It’s about time I had one, I’ve been sewing for over 30 years!
Ta-ta for now!
Okay, so now the weather seems to be changing and before long I’m going to freak-out because I have nothing to wear! So much for my plan of sewing ahead and having everything hanging in my closet ready to go.
Today’s fashions don’t suit me. I’m too short and too old to wear clothes that are loose fitting (I did that during 3 pregnancies and that’s enough!). In some ways, it’s easier because I see so little that I like, I’m not tempted to over-do. I’ve been scouring the web and the fashion magazines and have come up with a couple of really wearable looks:
I love this outfit from Erin Fetherston…the peach and “greige” palette looks spring-y and the drapey silhouette is flattering. (I just purchased some gorgeous peach silk crepe de chine–it will be perfect for this. Crepe de chine seems to be making a comeback which I’m delighted to see. It’s got a beautiful drape and one of my high priority fabric qualities, it presses like a dream.)
This Phillip Lim outfit is great looking–classic but with an updated look. I’m usually not into colored pants, but I’m going to make some and see if they’re comfortable to wear. Rolling the cuffs makes them look unfussy. I can see wearing these pieces over and over again.
Ta-ta for now!
Sometimes, dressing in a current, up-to-date way is a matter of making small changes to classic styles. In this way one can be in style, but not of the style, if you know what I mean. You wear the clothes, not the other way around.
Following are some Spring ’08 styles that have interesting details. I don’t want them exactly as shown, but they inspire me with interesting little twists and turns that I can incorporate into my designs. (This is where sewing your own clothes is such a bonus–you can grab a detail here or there from designer looks.)
This outfit has an interesting, slouchy silhoulette–a way to be comfortable without looking messy. I couldn’t wear the “in your face” print–not my style. But I like the tunic style, the feminine boat neckline, the detail at the neck, cuff and hem paired with roomy slacks that would look great with dressy, flat sandals. I can see wearing this to a barbecue on a cool evening and looking dressed, but not dressed-up. (From Bluemarine Spring ’08 RTW)
This outfit is a great day look for running errands. I’m always looking for casual clothes that will keep me out of predictable jeans or khakis on weekends when I have a million things to do. It would be easy to find a tank dress and layer it over a long sleeve T. What makes this a great look is the rugged belt which I’d pair with rugged flat sandals (no gladiator sandals for me! Aren’t those soooo ’07 anyway?). I’d stick with sophisticated neutral colors for this outfit. (From D&G Spring ’08 RTW)
This would be great for work, but without the fussy blouse. What makes this an “outfit” is the full, trouser cut of the pants and the beautiful sheen of the fabric–I’d pair these pants with a simpler snow white silk blouse. When making an “outfit” from two pieces, accessories make it or break it. Pair these pieces with great shoes (red patented leather?) and statement silver jewelry. (From Adam Spring ’08 RTW)
Ta-ta for now!
I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of planning my wardrobe a day or two before I’m in need of something and then sewing it with a pattern and fabric I have on hand (no time to shop) and finishing it an hour before I’m leaving (when I could be taking a leisurely shower and carefully doing my hair and make-up), this spring I’m going to sew a little in advance.
This has some advantages:
1) I’ll feel organized because I’ll have what I need hanging in my closet, ready to go
2) I’ll have time to find the perfect fabric (usually online), pattern, buttons, etc. to create exactly what I see in my mind’s eye
3) I can poke around the stores for the perfect accessories and coordinites for my outfits (shopping at the beginning of the season when the selection is best)
4) Hopefully I can inspire you with plenty of time to create similar fashions for yourselves
and some disadvantages:
1) I work best under pressure and when I have an event in mind it’s easy to plan exactly what I want to wear
2) What if I finally lose that last 10 lbs.? My clothes will be too big! (ha, ha–I’ve been using that excuse for years)
3) My stash will probably grow instead of shrink, after all, you have to grab it when you see it because great fabric is hard to find!
So, to start my experiment I will first look for inspiration. I’ll start by perusing the photos from the spring fashion shows on Style.com. In addition, I have files of pictures I’ve torn from magazines and although some are from previous seasons, sometimes the styles have caught on and feel more wearable than when they were brand new. And I have the current fashion magazines which will help me find the most wearable trends. When I’m out, I’ll stop by my favorite stores to see what’s new and pick up a piece or two to get me started.
So far, this is what I’ve found:
This is from the Brian Reyes’ 2006 collection. It would be good for early spring when the temperature is still cold, but you’re ready for lighter colors and fabrics.
This jacket is from my archive of pictures, I don’t know whose designed it. A jacket like this is one of the first things I’ll make–it will be warm with a sweater in early spring and then a good rain jacket.
Another good season spanner, this jacket and pants can be made in light weight wool that will feel less wintery when it’s snowing in April. It’s from my picture archive from Spring ’07. It’s hard to see the details in the jacket, but what I like is the silhouette, pulled in at the waist which creates a peplum look. I can see it in wool crepe or something with some stretch, like heavy wool jersey or double knit.
This outfit looks so modern–it’s from the Badgley Mischka Spring ’08 RTW collection. I always feel like some bright color and pattern in the early spring when it’s usually bleak and cloudy.
I adore this skirt from Derek Lam’s Spring ’08 RTW collection–he shows it with this ikat top–I like that too for a casual outfit. But I can really see it in a shiny fabric (silk taffeta?) with a dressy blouse.
Finally, I have to put this green trench coat on my “to do” list as I’ve been craving it since last year. I don’t know the designer, but something about the color makes it wearable with anything from jeans to dresses in any season.
I’ll start looking for fabrics for these designs and in the meantime, I’m going to make the Nanette Lepore knock-off top to go with the black silk skirt I’m altering.
Ta-ta for now.
I’m excited to come to a time in my life when I can make sewing a top priority. I’m an almost empty-nester (youngest of three kids is a senior in high school) and my honey is supportive emotionally and financially. My working life is very tolerable and I have a loving ear to which I can bounce ideas off of and crazy plans for becoming a famous blogger.
I want to use my stash, try new patterns and techniques, update my sewing room, organize my tomes of magazine and web pictures, find new fabric and notion resources and establish relationships with other sewing bloggers.
Where to begin? I need and outfit for an evening out on April 12th and I want to look good! It’s always easier for me to design an outfit when I have an occasion in mind and this is a good one. I look for opportunities to dress-up a little and we’ll be going into the city for dinner and a concert.
I bought a great black silk skirt by TSE at Off Fifth (Saks Fifth Avenue outlet), marked down from $675 to $54. I can see why no one picked it up, it’s very long and lean, only a six foot 100 lb. string bean could wear it. This is one of my favorite advantages of sewing–I’m going to cut it off at the waist (to keep the pleats at the bottom) and shorten it to knee length. This will make the waist bigger (it is currently the hip area). I think it will work.
Then, I’m going use a fabric from my stash to copy a top by Nanette Lepore that I saw at Nieman Marcus.com. As soon as I figure out how to post pictures I’ll show you everything I’m planning on.
Then the piece de resistance–accessories. I bought a great pair of booties ($75) at the end of the season sale at Macy’s and I can’t wait to wear them. (Especially because I’m afraid they’ll look dated next winter.) And the fun stuff, because this outfit will cost less than $150 to pull together, I can splurge on some new earrings or other jewelry to top it off. (I love being able to sew!)
Ta-ta for now!