Sunday, November 30, 2008

Four Eyes Times Two

Yay! I finally got around to dragging my lazy butt down to the local lenscrafty place.

It sure is nice having glasses with my current prescription. They were kind enough to give me a copy of the prescription too, so I can get lenses put in the vintage frames I bought at Viva. Woo! My plan is coming together.

I chose two pair of (I think) pretty cute glasses - buy one get one free!

These are a lot like my old ones.

This is the free pair. They crack me up. The make me feel like a 40s secretary...or maybe a librarian. "Quiet please!"

Taking 8 zillion pictures of your face, trying to get a non-scary one to post on your blog, is a humbling experience.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all had an enjoyable day of eating with family. Husband and I spent the day together intending to spend the evening with friends.

We had a lovely dinner for two and then I got a migraine. Stupid head.

So we did not go see friends even though I made fudge to bring to their house for dessert. Anyone need two pounds of fudge?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Insert Creepy Music Here

I just took the "Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz" (Thanks to Marzipan over at My 50s Year.) Boy, is it freaky accurate!

I am a Marilyn -- "I am affectionate and skeptical."

Marilyns are responsible, trustworthy, and value loyalty to family, friends, groups, and causes. Their personalities range broadly from reserved and timid to outspoken and confrontative.

How to Get Along with Me
* Be direct and clear
* Listen to me carefully
* Don't judge me for my anxiety
* Work things through with me
* Reassure me that everything is OK between us
* Laugh and make jokes with me
* Gently push me toward new experiences
* Try not to overreact to my overreacting.

What I Like About Being a Marilyn
* being committed and faithful to family and friends
* being responsible and hardworking
* being compassionate toward others
* having intellect and wit
* being a nonconformist
* confronting danger bravely
* being direct and assertive

What's Hard About Being a Marilyn
* the constant push and pull involved in trying to make up my mind
* procrastinating because of fear of failure; having little confidence in myself
* fearing being abandoned or taken advantage of
* exhausting myself by worrying and scanning for danger
* wishing I had a rule book at work so I could do everything right
* being too critical of myself when I haven't lived up to my expectations

Marilyns as Children Often
* are friendly, likable, and dependable, and/or sarcastic, bossy, and stubborn
* are anxious and hypervigilant; anticipate danger
* form a team of "us against them" with a best friend or parent
* look to groups or authorities to protect them and/or question authority and rebel
* are neglected or abused, come from unpredictable or alcoholic families, and/or take on the fearfulness of an overly anxious parent

Marilyns as Parents
* are often loving, nurturing, and have a strong sense of duty
* are sometimes reluctant to give their children independence
* worry more than most that their children will get hurt
* sometimes have trouble saying no and setting boundaries

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mad or Crafty?

You tell me.

As those of you who sew probably know, from time to time people who have been sewists in their past may occasionally bless you with a some of their old stash. I recently got two boxes of fabric and patterns from the mother of a friend.

I ended up keeping about half of the fabric she gave me. It pains me to get rid of anything sewing related, but I only have so much room for stash, so sacrifices had to be made. A large pile of flannel (Hello Kitty print!) and fleecy knits went to the thrift store. In the remainder are some cute cotton prints and some (more) leopard and some pretty plaid lining that will certainly come in handy.

The patterns she gave me mostly weren’t my style. Lots of yoga pants, sweat pants and elastic waist skirts - really good beginner projects, but nothing I would actually wear. I only ended up keeping two of them.

I know they are not vintage or vintage-repro even vintage-looking patterns. I also know that they are not unusual or interesting in any particular way, but it was their absolute simplicity that caught my eye. I think they could be transformed into cute art deco era day dresses.

I'm usually a 50s/60s kind of girl, style-wise, but sometimes the old costume closet needs a little variety. Besides, you never know when you might need a deco-period dress. I needed one this past September when we attended the Gatsby Summer Afternoon for the first time.

Not being sure exactly what to wear, I did a ton of research in advance of the event. I looked at a zillion old patterns from the 20s and 30s. I searched the web for old photographs, vintage magazine ads, and golden age movie stills. In the end, I cobbled together a passable outfit thanks to local thrift stores and ebay.

Here's my group. We look pretty good except that for some reason my skirt is pulled up above my knees. Whoops!

The conclusion I came to after all of that research and after seeing what people wore to the event was that the dress silhouettes of the mid-late 1920s and early 30s were quite simple. It was really all the little details that made them stylish for that era. If I had a basic dress pattern to use as a sloper (if that’s the right term), couldn’t I use it to create more-or-less appropriate 20s/30s dresses?

I think either one of these patterns would work as a template. (Although, McCalls 8107 might need to be slimmed down a bit at the hip and thigh.) For a 1930s look, I would keep the hem length nearer the ankle and add a belt at the natural waist. With little little voile puff sleeves and a fly-away collar it would look about right. For 1920s I could raise the hem, leave off the sleeves and add a belt below the natural waist.

Here are some drawings to give you an idea of what I'm imagining. I'm no artist so I just traced the pattern images and then scrawled on the little bits of detail. My "sketches" are pretty awful, but at least they give you the basic idea.

So what do you think? It seems like it would be relatively easy to do. One could borrow pieces from other patterns for sleeves and collars, right? Jabots and lace fronts can't be that hard, can they?

With these basic patterns plus the right fabric and the right alterations, I might be able to make it work. It's mad AND crafty. Right? It would be cool to create a dress for this year's Gatsby, and it would be fun to show my friend's mother that I made something with her generous gifts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Frankendress Blues

This one was tough. I had SO many problems.

I used this pattern (View C) for the top

and this tried and true pattern for the skirt.

I had a very small piece of the blue broadcloth leftover from this dress. I shouldn’t have had any difficulty cutting the top out of it, but I got excited. The pattern instructions said to cut the bodice out twice, once for the outside and once for the facing. I stupidly cut out one of the bodice fronts and all of the back pieces first. That meant I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut out the second bodice front section in one piece. I had to cut the straps out separately and then match it up. Luckily, the fabric has no “good side” so I was able to use the icky version as the facing.

The construction should have been easy, but I found that the pattern diagrams and instructions for the top were vague and not very helpful. Also, there were no seam lines on the pattern itself and very few markings. Even though it seemed like it would be pretty simple, I had to cross my fingers and wing it several times. It would have been nice if I’d had a little more help from the instructions/markings.

I thought that this was going to work out okay despite all the frustration I had trying to decipher the instructions. However, it turns out that I really need to re-measure myself and adjust my dress form. It seemed like I had the fit right when everything was pinned together on the form. The skirt matched up with the bodice perfectly and it was easy to stitch everything together.

But, after it was all sewn up and I tried it on, the dress was a hot mess. The bodice gapped horribly under the arms. The single darts in the center gave my (giant) boobs nowhere to go. The tips of the darts hovered crookedly and unevenly without giving the bustline any definition. The ribcage area looked lumpy and the center of the neckline didn’t want to lie flat. The waistline was too low and wide and crooked. I’d made myself a totally hideous dress.

Ordinarily, this might have just gone into the back of the closet never to be seen again, but since I really do love the Robert Kauffman print of the skirt, I figured I should at least try to fix it.

See? Look at how pretty the print is.

It took me a couple of days to get up the courage, but I finally ripped the zipper out and started again. I took in the sides of the bodice about half an inch at the widest point by sewing from the waist to the armpit on the diagonal. I took up the waistline about an inch and then re-inserted the zipper.

Here’s what I ended up with.

The only thing that is really different is that it fits better under the arms so the center line lies flat. The lumpiness is still there, concentrated in the rib cage area.

It’s a little better with a wide belt

and a little more interesting with a crinoline.

But it’s still kind of un-flattering and more Hot August Nights than Viva Las Vegas.

So, I’m not digging it. I have to wear it at least once before it goes to the island of misfit dresses (back of the closet). The husband really likes it so maybe I can wear it out to dinner or something?

Though it’s pretty unlikely at this point, if I was to make this again, I’d only face the top half of the front bodice (w/straps) so that it wouldn’t be so bulky. All that extra fabric in the front just adds extra lumpiness unless, I suppose, it is pulled tight across the ribs. I’d also maybe go one size down on the bodice and maybe try to figure out how to add second darts on the sides at the bust line in order to define the boob area.

From now on I will measure every bodice pattern flat BEFORE I cut it out to make sure that it is the right size. And I will re-take my measurements and double check the dress form too. I need to get used to the idea that for successful sewing I need to measure at least a GAZILLION times before I cut something out.