Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brown "Rosie" Overalls

I’ll admit, I really wasn’t sure about this pattern. It looks pretty horrid in the illustration. Clogs! Perm! Flannel shirt! Yikes!

But the side ties really caught my attention and made me think, ”It has potential. It’s just a matter of the right fabric and styling it properly.” The right fabric came from JoAnne. Again, I went in for something totally different, which they did not have, of course, and came out with something perfect for another project. On sale!

Here is what I chose: A lovely striped cotton/linen blend.

Construction was rather simple. I actually read all of the instructions and followed them! (I am beginning to suspect that really does help.) There are a minimum of seams and I didn't have to do much fiddling. I was able to make these in a few hours over a weekend. There’s a bit of folding to get the sides and bib right so was important to iron every single seam just right.

The only thing I changed was the bib ties. I put on bone buttons from my stash instead of making the knots that the pattern suggests.

If I made these again, I would make the side gusset a little narrower. I have lots more room than I need to get in and out and I think they would look better if there was a bit less fabric on my hips. If I don’t tie the ties very tightly and pull the excess fabric up over the knot, they get pretty baggy after a little wear.

The bunched up gusset also adds a lot of bulk around my waist, even though I used a lightweight linen blend. If I was to make this pattern again in a heavier fabric, I would consider narrowing the gusset by half. I also think that the gusset could be left out entirely if you put in a zipper. You could still have decorative side ties, but the fit would be much better.

In spite of the issue with the gusset, I'm quite pleased with the result as they are very comfortable, especially in warm weather.

Here is the front

and back.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Other News...

I turned 40 a couple of weeks back, and I tell you, it’s very strange. I’m not really used to it yet. It seems a little ridiculous that I should be 40.

When I was a silly young thing in high school I thought 30 was old. What I didn’t know then is that 30 is TOTALLY AWESOME. When you turn 30 this magical thing happens where you no longer give a damn what people think and you are suddenly free to do your own thing. Even if, at 29, you thought you were totally peer-pressure free and independent, when you turn 30 you just ARE. Everything just gets better and better all the time. And then you turn 40.

Now I’ve left the 30s behind, I’m a little worried. Will my 40s be as awesome? They WILL, right?

recent post entitled “When Is One Too Old For A Certain Look?”, did give me pause. But only for a moment. I had just one moment of wondering if I might have to rein in (or *gasp* give up!) my love of reproducing vintage sundresses and the like. Then I slapped myself in the face and got over it.

I live in the city of eternal adolescence! Our local “cool kids of vintage” are all much older than me, and they wear whatever the hell they want, and look great doing it. So I will too. Besides, I’ve always been “that girl with the weird outfits” so I don’t see why getting older should change that. I won’t be going all “Elegant Gothic Lolita” any time soon, but I am not afraid of walking the vintage mutton/lamb line.

All the worry aside, my birthday was wonderful. I had a lovely evening out of dining and dancing and general carrying on with the husband and his scooter club. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that starting the evening out with a cocktail (I chose a Vesper, recipe below) and topping that off with many, many glasses of champagne can lead to a big headache the next day. Not to mention seriously kooky drunken carousing. I had a wonderful time but still. Woo!

I may or may not have danced on tables, rambled on in bad Spanish to perfectly nice scooter kids from Madrid, or changed into my nightie in full view of the window when we got home.

In a phrase, “Boy, did I get stinkin’!” Virginia O’Brien explains it much better than I can, in this clip from the 1942 film Panama Hattie.

It was fun, but yeesh. So much for being a grown-up!

Here’s a recipe for the (deadly) Vesper cocktail.
- Three measures of 90 proof gin
- One measure of vodka
- One half measure of Lillet
Shake over ice and serve in a champagne goblet with a lemon peel twist

According to Wikipedia, this is James Bond’s drink of choice in the Ian Flemming novel Casino Royale. I thought it was lovely. It seems like the gin and vodka don’t really combine so there is a thread of sweet Lillet that flows in between the two. It’s delightful and refreshing…and very strong. In future I think it would be best to have one followed by a great deal of water…not five (six?) glasses of champagne. Lesson learned.

So I guess what I’m saying is, just because I am a now a lady of respectable age, it doesn’t mean I will automatically start acting (or dressing) like one. Aging isn’t really that big of a deal unless you make it one, right? You’re only as old as you feel, right? I need to get over myself and move on, right?


I leave you with two photographs.

Here is a (blurry) picture of me on my 40th birthday just before going out to dinner. I made the skirt and the top is, ironically, from Forever 21. Ha!

…and this is my hero. I found her on the Advanced Style blog and I absolutely adore her. Note the sparkly blue butterfly hair clips! I hope I am this stylish and fabulous when I’m her age.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Back when I was young and skinny, I didn’t give corsets much thought. I had a few stretchy “corset-tops” that I thought (at the time) were very much the sexy. Back in those halcyon days of the high firm boobs and tiny waist, there was nothing to hold in, or shape for that matter, so the idea of owning a “real” corset was never much on my mind.

How times change. Now that I’m old and zaftig enough to have to coax my figure into shape, I value a good foundation garment. I have two Rago waist cinchers that I wear pretty much all the time. Well, any time I’m not wearing jeans, that is. I love how they make me a little narrower where it counts and give me a bit more posture. I love the way I look when I’m all nipped in under a 50’s style dress or even a pencil skirt and blouse.

Lately, I’ve been looking at Victorian/Edwardian styles and thinking about the GBACG/PEERS 19th century costume events that pop up from time to time. I am by no means a “costumer” I haven’t the patience or the inclination to painstakingly re-create exact period replica gowns. I am more of a “thrift, stitch, and make it work” kind of person when it comes to costumes. But still, if I can build my half-ass costumes around the proper underpinnings, it might increase my odds of blending in at (and therefore attending) these events.

And also I love corsets.

If I had a zillion dollars, I would just waltz into Dark Garden and have them set me up. I’d get two Sweetheart Victorians: one in crème damask and the other in black silk brocade. I’d also get two Under-bust Edwardians: one in the palest possible pink satin and the other in a deep rich eggplant. If all went well, (and I neither gained nor lost more than 5 lbs. Ever.) I’d never need a new corset again… But I gots no money for such things.

SO! Thanks to the positive reviews on GBACG’s Great Pattern Review, I’ve bought myself two corset patterns.

I’ve found a site online that has all the supplies I could ever hope for plus how-to books and videos. They even sell a kit containing everything I need depending on which pattern I’m using. That brings me one step closer to actually doing this.

I’m undecided as to what fabrics to use. It seems that the “proper” fabric (per the costuming sites I’ve read) is expensive. Very expensive. As usual I’m tempted to not bother with a test muslin and instead just build one as a wearable muslin, with cheaper fabric in case I screw up.

But then what if the pattern works out just fine except the fabric I’ve chosen is too light and it tears apart? Ugh. The suggested fabrics listed on the pattern package (the usual cottons and what-not) sound reasonable, but what if that’s just so lazy people (like me) don’t get intimated when the read the pattern sleeve and run screaming from the fabric store?

The trials of the lazy sewist are never ending. Something tells me I should do this right or not at all. Of course, that makes me lean towards not at all.

But I love corsets. And it would be cool to wear one I made myself.

Questions for you dear readers:

If you have used either of these patterns, what did you find most challenging?

Can I use heavy 100% cotton (like duck or twill) inside and regular satin brocade on the outside? Or do I have to buy the $25/yard coutil?

Do I have to use steel boning or can I really just buy cable ties at the home improvement store?

What is your preferred way of installing grommets? Machine or mallet?

Of course, ANY advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Y'all know SO much more about these things than I!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Allergic to Scallops

In my stash was this completely twee forget-me-not print from It needed a project but I kept pushing it aside to work on other things. Then I saw this dress in my pattern stash.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s a shape that usually looks good on me. The measurements are close enough to my actual body measurements to give me a minimum of fit issues. Plus the fun detail (scallops!) should add interest to an otherwise not-so-interesting print.

The basic idea for creating scallops is this: you pin on the interfacing with the rounded edges towards the raw end of the neckline. Then you sew around the rounded part and clip/trim the edges. When you turn the necline right side out, the scallops should appear around the edge. How cool is that? And really, how hard could it be?

Very. Apparently.

I read and re-read the instructions. I actually transferred ALL the pattern markings to the cut pieces. It seemed like it was going so well. Unfortunately, I was a little too enthusiastic with my trimming around the scallops and many of the curved seams popped open when I flipped them right side out. I had to go back and re-stitch all of the popped seams and I inadvertently squared off corners and flattened curves. Final result: FUG.

Sooooo… After thinking about it ALL DAY at work, I decided to overstitch the edges of the (weirdly shaped) scallops with an embroidery stitch so that it might look intentional. It worked for about an inch and then the bobbin went all crazy. Instead of giving up and ripping out the ugly stitching and trying to come up with another idea, I just fixed the bobbin and kept going. Then it went crazy again, and I kept going. It was looking pretty crappy and I got frustrated, which made me angry and I kept going until I'd created a total disaster.

When I get mad/frustrated/angry what I should do is put down the sewing and do something else for an hour or so. However, getting angry frequently makes me want to force whatever’s not cooperating to do what I want it to EVEN IF IT’S A BAD IDEA.

The scallops were now extra fug.

Oh and here’s one more small insult. I made the pockets (which I had to remove because they made the skirt front hang strangely) and the scallops on the pockets came out PERFECT. Sigh. Sewing is hard.

The right thing to do, at this point, would have been to rip out all the horrid “embroidery” and re-stitch ALL the scallops. But I just didn’t have the stomach for it. I started picking it out and it seemed impossible and endless and very, very sad. So instead I did something awful and lazy, but it totally worked.

I added purple grosgrain ribbon around the waist to give it a bit more definition. Then I folded the horrid scallops over and stitched the same purple grosgrain ribbon around the neckline.

And you know what? It ain’t bad.

I folded the ribbon rather strangely at the front corners. Intead of fixing it, I added little decorative ribbons that hide it nicely. (Even better with the addition of gravity.)

I didn't care for the way the ribbon folded over at the back, so I tacked on a cute matching bow.

I’m a little worried that the folded down scallops will pop up, but not so worried that I’m going to pick out all that damned embroidery and start over. I am finished. Funny thing, I think that the end result is actually better than the simple dress with scallops would have been.