wardrobe

Less is More when Dressing Well

Few men are as well dressed as Barack Obama. He has a formula for his classic style:  one part perfectly fitted dark suit, one part crisp white shirt and one part conservative tie, usually in a solid red or blue.  The result:  he always looks confident and stylish. I’m sure he feels like he puts on a  uniform everyday; he has infinite choices, but he wisely sticks to “his” look. And he consistently looks more pulled together than other politicians. (more…)

Special Clothes

alexander-mcqueen-tunic.jpgI’m always on the lookout for pieces I can make that are at once extraordinary and classic. These are the kinds of garments that I keep for years, some of my special pieces have been in my wardrobe for 20 years. For these clothes, I don’t mind spending lots of time on construction and I purchase the best fabrics I can afford. They become my signature pieces and have a certain style that is my own.

I like to have separates instead of dresses for special occasions. Starting with a beautiful pair of black pants, a black skirt and maybe even a tuxedo in gorgeous fabrics you can mix and match infinite outfits.

I came accross this design by Alexander McQueen that has all of these elements. It’s dramatic, but wearable. It’s not really “in style” but will looks stylish for years. I wouldn’t copy this look verbatim, I’d use the fabric, the neckline and the belt and lose the quarterback shoulders and goth sleeves. At this time, I’ve no clue how I would recreate the pattern, but one of the things on my wish list is to learn to drape patterns and this might be my first project. I can see it in a beautiful silk peau de soie and I could spend months searching for the perfect belt. In fact, the best way to approach putting this together is to find the belt first and then choose the color of the fabric…

 Ta-ta for now!

What To Wear?

I’m much better at finding clothes that I love when I have an occasion in mind for an outfit. When I sew or shop just to sew or shop often the clothes never really work themselves into my wardrobe.  

My best scenario is to get something new and all of the accessories to go with it, down to the socks and jewelry. Then I have the perfect shoes, etc. for that one outfit and the pieces just seem to all mix and match with other items in my wardrobe.

What I’m getting at is this; I need something to wear to my daughter’s High School graduation. It’s in early June, so I had better start putting it together now. I guess here I need to fess up an tell you that I’m going to India in a month. I’ll be gone for 2 weeks. I know, not such great timing–to launch the blog of my dreams and then take off for 2 weeks. My plan is to sew extra fast over the next month and save some posts for my time away so you’ll hardly know I’m gone.

(Unfortunately, this is not a trip just for the pleasure of it, it’s medical tourism–you’ve heard of that, I’m sure. If anybody is interested, I’d be happy to share my experiences. One thing I’ll be sure to make time for while in India is fabric shopping. E and I will be in Chennai–formerly Madras–just about the fabric capital of India.)

Back to the graduation outfit. June in Chicago is usually beautiful, warm but not uncomfortably so and the ceremony will be outside if the weather permits. This is one of the “Disney World” suburbs of Chicago’s Northshore, the women can dress in whatever money can buy, although in general they’re quite conservative. Not that I really care about what other people are wearing, but I have good taste and I love to put my sewing skills to work. Sewing takes being a clothes horse from conspicuous consumption to creative expression!

As a result of my trip to India shortly before the graduation ceremony, I’ll be on crutches–a little fly in the ointment. So, I’ll have to wear flats :-(  and something easy to get around in.

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

rl-at-nm.jpgA little Ralph Lauren number at Neiman Marcus. Classic, sophisticated, clean lined but new looking in a bright green.

diane-von-furstenberg-at-net-a-porter.jpgThis one is from Diane von Furstenberg, a similar look but a bit more figure conscious. Also at Neiman Marcus.

oscar-de-la-renta-at-net-a-porter.jpgOscar de la Renta at Net a Porter.com…I just purchased a black and white batik fabric that would be great for this. I’ll make it this season in any event.

michael-kors2-at-nm.jpgThis is a “Ladies who Lunch” look.  This one and the next are from Michael Kors and are available at Neiman Marcus.

michael-kors-at-nm.jpgI’m leaning toward this one, a sweater is always good for a little coverage. A little garden party dress.

So, what do you think?

Ta-ta for now!

Project MyWay #4–Garnet Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse

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I saw a blouse like this at Nordstrom, it was around $200-$250 and I didn’t like the colors it came in, royal blue or kelly green. I couldn’t find a pattern to use to copy it, so I made my own.

I started with Butterick 4658, I’ve used this pattern as the beginning of many blouses.

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First, on the front pattern piece, I drew on a v-neckline. I  measured how low I wanted the new neckline to be and drew a a straight line from the shoulder to the center front. Then I gave the v-neck a nice curve.

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I had to shorten the back shoulder seam to match the new front shoulder seam and scoop out the back neckline too.

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Then I cut 2″ front and back facings off of the front and back pattern pieces. I added seam allowances to the facings and the front and back neckline.

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I slashed the front and added about 4″ of ease (1″ between each cut). See photo above of front pattern piece. I drew 2 parallel lines 1″ apart and 1″ from center front and slashed and spread the pattern here. I wanted to keep the shirring close to the center front.

I folded out the dart because I had plenty of ease with the new width I was adding. Then I arranged the slashed front pattern piece, with the spacing between the slashes and placed a piece of pattern material over it and traced the new front.garnet-top-front-pattern-piece-2.jpg

I shortened the sleeve 5 1/2″ to just below the elbow. I added a 2″ wide cuff, measuring my arm for the finished length.

The construction went smoothly. As always (see my post on sewing with silks in “Tutorials”) I covered my cutting table with a sheet and pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric and the sheet. This keeps slippery fabric under control. I finished the seams with pinking shears. I have a serger, but the thread showed through to the right side when I pressed the seams. The best way to finish the seams would’ve been with french seams. I marvel at and appreciate all of you who finish you garments so beautifully on the inside. But I’d never get anything finished if I were that perfect. If I’m the only one who is going to see the inside, I finish in the fastest way possible. When I’m sewing for others I make it look good inside.

I constructed the facings, understitched the neck edge and top stitched it. Then I sewed the fully constructed facing unit to the front and back, sewing with all of the raw edges together then pressing toward the garment. Turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. In this picture you can see my pinked seam allowance at the back neckline.

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I love this hem–I first saw it at Donna Karan and the Derek Lam skirt in my Spring ’08 Wardrobe Part 1 post (in Design Inspiration) uses it too. It’s basically a cuff added to the bottom of the blouse. It eliminated the problem of narrow hemming the slippery silk fabric and it adds a little weight to the blouse and makes it hang nicely.

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I cut 2 front and back band pieces,with a finished width of 4″. I sewed the side seams and sewed them together at the bottom edge. I underdstitched and pressed the band. I sewed the band on to the bottom of the garment, sewing all the raw edges together. Then I finished the seam and pressed it toward the top. (This time I finished the seam with a zig-zag stitch–don’t ask me why!)

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The blouse looks great over skinny jeans or black slacks. And it’s great for those “fat” days!

Ta-ta for now!

Spring Wardrobe ’08 Part 1

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.