Monday, January 31, 2011

Vintage Fabric & Astrid: A Love Story

So, the last two posts that I put up today are projects that I did quite a while ago. Since then, I've been much more serious about picking my sewing projects. And, I'm very excited to say that I've developed a major vintage fabric addiction. Using fabrics from the era makes sewing so much more fun! I just love the late 60's and early 70's fabric. Bright colors. Geometric and abstract patterns. Op art and fun prints reminiscent of Peter Max.

I cannot get enough of them! Anyway, I plan to post more non-project entries discussing vintage fabric, patterns, and 60's fashion in general. I recently acquired some reference books, which I hope will be good for visual aids.

Anyway, here's a picture of a double knit I just bought. I have 3.5 yards, and I'm not sure what to do with yet. I'm a tad worried that if I made a dress, the print would be overwhelming on my frame (I'm 5'4"). However, part of me wants to take the risk. I do know that it would make a good skirt for sure. Anyway, any thoughts?

Happy sewing!

Blue Charmeuse Dress or "The Great Country Club Dress Disaster of 2010"

This is my "please don't take pictures when I'm trying to do something" face

Mr. Seam Ripper makes an appearance

Before hemming

Okay, so I said in the last post that my disaster quotient has gone down. This dress is somewhat an exception to that statement. Although, it could always be worse.

Presenting Butterick 4029 (mid-60's?, not dated) :

1.) FABRIC: I made view E using blue charmeuse. Another fabric that was picked out before I realized that Joann gives me fabric goggles. So again I just went with it. The charmeuse was a little easier to sew than the crepe. Still not a great fan of that type of fabric, though. My original vision was of a brocade dress, but I chickened out after reading horror stories about how you can't mess up with brocade. I read that the fabric has a long memory. I guess it's sort of like "brocade never forgets" just like those darn elephants. Also, I read it ravels and ravels.

2.) STYLE: I tried to maintain the "a-line" shape on this dress, but it looked like a weird prom dress sack. So, I tightened it a tad, and it looked a tad better. However, I still think the result is very "country club." I could imagine Sandra Bullock wearing this to a fundraiser in that movie "The Blind Side." It just does not fit my personality one bit. If I'd went with brocade, I bet it would have looked a lot more retro. I'm still not sure it would have been a "success" though.

3.) BOATNECK? MORE LIKE A YACHTNECK: Yeah, so this is supposed to be a boat neckline. I don't usually wear boat necks, so it didn't occur to me that I would have issues with the neckline being too wide. There's probably a reason why I don’t wear boat necks normally. Lesson learned.

The biggest problem with this dress was the style. It's just NOT me. So, why did I make a dress that doesn't fit my personal style? For me, part of sewing is trying new things. Just like I get "fabric goggles," I get "pattern goggles." I think "Wow, what an interesting look. I wonder if I could make that?" I've tried to be more careful since this project. I'm trying to learn to ask myself first and foremost, "Would this look good on ME? Is this a good style for ME?"

It looks better in pictures than in person, but whatever the case, I don't feel like going to a mixer at the local country club, so it's not much use to me

I think I like the backside better than the front--love the darting

Live and learn. It's that simple. And if all else fails, I can always become a White House intern!

Oh and I'm really happy to be done with this post, because I'm sick of having to spell charmeuse!

Happy sewing!

Simplicity 6861 from 1966: Sea Green Crepe Dress

I've fallen behind, yep again, on my posts. It's not all bad, though. I've fallen behind partially, because I'm now completing projects faster and more efficiently. I'm happy to report that most of my latest projects have been successful, which is a good thing, because my scalp was starting to hurt from all that hair pulling. The project I'm about to present was completed about 2 months ago.

Presenting Simplicity 6861 from 1966....


1.) STYLE: This was one of the patterns I picked out from the "Mad Men" style. Although the date is a little later than the series, view 1 evokes the "Mad Men" era more so than it does the mod/psychedelic styling of the latter half of the sixties. In the previous "Great Wiggle Dress Disaster" post, I mused as to whether this style is right for me. The answer is "yes" and "no." I think the mod/60's style better fits my personality and ascetic. But, I'm not quite ready to discount the early 60's. I especially appreciate the silhouette fashion from that era creates. I added my knee high boots to the dress, though, to give a slightly more modern edge. I'm not sure if they work or not, but I don't think I can necessarily pull off a "literal" mad men/pin-up look.

2.) FABRIC: I'm not a big fan of polyester crepe. That's a major lesson learned from the project. While it doesn't necessarily show on the finished product, I didn't like the way the crepe tended to ripple due to its weight. Why did I pick this fabric to begin with? Well, I previously mentioned that Joann's lousy selection has been contributing to my poor fabric choices. I see a color I love and then I buy the fabric, even though I'm not a big fan of the "type" of fabric. This happens even when the fabric is not appropriate for the project. It's like I have "fabric goggles" on. I think the fabric is a Johnny Depp when in reality it's just a Rush Limbaugh. So, why did I let the fabric goggles distort my judgment again? Well, I had already purchased the polyester crepe for this project BEFORE I made the realization about Joann's. So, I figured what the hell. I had never sewn polyester crepe, so who was I to judge it before trying it?

3.) TO SLEEVE OR NOT TO SLEEVE?: After I'd gone through the horror of making my first-ever sleeves of this type, my husband asked this terrifying question: "Are you sure this dress wouldn't look better sleeveless?" I furrowed my brow, I gasped, and I almost cried (well, not really).

To test his guess, I pinned the finished sleeve to the armhole and then looked at myself as sort of half-man, half woman (or rather half sleeve, half no sleeve). So, after I'd toiled at learning how to do gathering for the first time, it was decided: the thing DID look better without sleeves. I hated to admit it, but it was true. Oh well, at least I now know gathering is not that hard.

The half sleeve, half no sleeve look

4.) COLLAR: The pattern collars are always too big for me. I think I cut off a little too much when I made my adjustment, though. Oh well, I don't think result is too noticeable.

5.) STAY STITCHING: Did I mention I quit stay-stitching about 3 projects ago? I haven't noticed any problems with my sewing as a result, and it was becoming such a tedious bother. I enjoy sewing so much more now that I'm not stay stitching. Okay, be honest-- do you think I'm being bad here?

6.) IRONING: Still hate it.

7.) ACCESSORIES: Without a belt, the dress looks awful. I suppose the belt is integral given that the pattern maker shows the dress belted on the pattern envelope.

Without the belt, I think it looks vaguely like a fancy trash bag, if there is such a thing...

So, that's about it for this one. Don't "love" it, but I certainly don't hate it. That's good, right?

Happy sewing!