Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Pattern - 80s Victorian Freakout

I know, I know, this doesn't seem like something I'd buy. BUT.

We went to a vintage baseball game early in the summer and I had NOTHING TO WEAR! The folks from GBACG who organized the costumed spectators were very forgiving. They invited folks to wear pretty much anything from Dickens-era Victorian through steam-punk. But I still really had nothing.

I ended up wearing a terrible 90s stretch cotton hobble skirt from the back of the closet and a hastily thrifted 80s secretary top. I accessorized with black cotton gloves, granny boots, striped socks, a black parasol and a bonnet I had made from a straw hat-shaped thrift store wall hanging. It was a crap outfit and more 1910 than late 1800s, but even so everyone was very nice. I even got a few nice comments on my outfit.

Next time though, I'd like to have something closer to period appropriate. This this pattern is clearly not. But. I have a plan.

The vintage baseball league wears uniform styles from the 1880s. That would be (from what I can glean at Fashion Era and various other sites) the "late bustle" period. I think that with some tweaking and a shorter train, I could fashion this dress into something approaching a late period bustle dress. I think. Maybe.

I suppose I could buy a vintage reproduction pattern of that era, but I'm not entirely confident that I have enough skill to pull it off. And then it would have to be just right, wouldn't it?

Once you take that step, you have to be concerned with so many other things that I'm sure I'd get wrong. I'd have to choose exactly the right fabric and notions and I'd need the right undergarments and construction would have to be just so ... it all just makes my head spin.

I'm much more comfortable bunging something together with a cheap pattern and cheap low profile fabric as an experiment. You know, 3/4-ass. (That's just slightly worse than half-ass.) Like I do everything.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Husband - The Enabler

My husband is wonderful. Really. He discovered a used art supply store with used patterns. For 50 cents each! And then he took me there!! Love him.

I went a little nuts. I could have done a lot more damage but I limited myself to the Simplicity drawer. Thank you, husband! You are the best enabler ever!

Here's what I got:

This blouse is just SO Mary Tyler Moore. It's not my usual style, but I love the giant collar. Not to mention the crazy tie!

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It says "Vintage Simplicity" on the package and the drawing looks vaguely vintage... But the photograph makes me think this is not a repro of a vintage pattern. It fits too near the body for 20s and its too long for 40s... I think its closer to 30s but to my (mostly untrained) eye, it looks a little over sized and 80s, doncha think? (Copyright 1991) I like it, though. Maybe in a different fabric? Something less reflective, perhaps?

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Look! Embroidery patterns from the 70s! Magic Mushrooms, culturally insensitive Native American designs (headdress! peace pipe!) and, of course, doves. I'm cracking up over here.

Unfortunately, the designs are all stuck together inside the package. I think that maybe if I can gently un-stick them, I can scan them and clean them up in Photo Shop. Then it's just a matter of using marking paper to trace them onto my fabric of choice. Wahoo!

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I know, I know, another terrible 80s pattern. Does Christy Brinkley make up for it? Seriously, though, I think I have another potential Gatsby dress here. Imagine it about a foot longer in a more drapey fabric... No? Try squinting. That's what I do.

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I love love love this 70s day dress. I see it in crisp black cotton with contrast black and white polka dots for the yoke/belt/cuffs.

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Dude. I don't know. I know this pattern is a mess historically because I've seen it reviewed elsewhere. Still, I like the corsety things, though I can't really think of a reason for making or wearing them. I know what you're thinking but no, I won't be making this to wear to Renaissance Faire. In my opinion, Ren Faire is where overly agressive and scandalously drunk men who are old enough to know better, hit on you with the creepiest of pickup lines spoken in bad Elizabethan/California accents. (What can I say? I grew up in the land of hippies and it greatly clouded my opinion of the Faire.)

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Cape. For Dickens Fair. Okay, I know I just bagged on Ren Faire but Dickens Fair is totally different. No really it is. It IIIIIS! Oh my God you don't even know, shut up!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I love this crazy bubble print!

My intention was to make a sundress and matching bolero in this fabric using this 1940s pattern.

I ended up doing something completely different.

Neatly folded inside the envelope were the skirt and bodice pieces and all of the facings, but no bolero. Instead there was a shorts pattern (Simplicity 2425) from the same era. I imagine that whoever owned this pattern before me used it to Frankenstein a sun suit. When she put the pieces away, she must have gotten them mixed up.

I guess I could have just made the dress and skipped the bolero. Instead I thought it would be more fun to make a sun suit, since I’d never made one before. The skirt portion of the pattern would still be used, but as a cover-up for the sun suit.

The skirt was made first. For the waistband I used the band piece from this pattern. It went together fast and easy. Instead of using a hook and eye to close the top I thought a button would be cuter. I am afraid of buttonholes so I made a loop instead. I used a carmel colored button since none of the yellow, blue or green buttons at the fabric store were an exact match. It's kind of perfect, I think.

The bodice worried me. There were no darts, just curved edges that would be sewn together to create a pocket-like area for the bust. Additionally, instead of making cartridges for the boning to slip into, I had to stitch the bones directly to the inside facing. I read and re-read the instructions and didn’t quite “get it” and then just decided to plunge ahead. I switched to a heavy duty needle for the boning and stitched it on. To my surprise it went on just fine after a few tension adjustments. The curved bust worked out just like it was supposed to.

When finished, the bodice ended up a little larger than expected created a fairly large gap under my arms. I fixed it by trimming the back seam allowance and making the straps a little shorter. It's still a little big, but I think I can live with it.

I had a button left over from the skirt so I used it as detail on the bodice

The shorts were incredibly easy. The only change I made was to the front detailing. There was a line for gathers along the top of the front piece but I have learned that gathers in the front make me look pregnant. Instead I made one pleat on either side about 2 inches away from the center seam. I stitched the open edge of the pleat down so that it wouldn’t open up until it had safely passed my belly. Very slimming! (You may have to “biggify” the picture at the end to get a better look at the pleats.)

Putting the pieces together was simple and the zipper (while my technique is still totally funky) went in with relative ease. Even though I didn’t line everything up perfectly, it still looks fine thanks to the busy bubbly print. Here is the finished sun suit with the skirt and without. I need to move the straps so that my bra strap doesn't show, but other than that, I'm very happy with it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More Vintage-Looking Fabric

Darn you

First a sale, then a 15% off coupon. Whatever is a girl to do?

This shirting is insane and incredible. I see a 50s dress with a full circle skirt...maybe a sleeveless shirtwaist?

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This polished cotton looks like late 60s bedsheets, but in a good way. I see a big poofy day dress in this too.

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How pretty is this flowered crepe? Its even better in real life. It is so deliciously soft. Honestly I shouldn't have got it. It's one of my "scary fabrics" so it may sit in the stash for a long time before I get up the nerve to use it. But it is SO gorgeous! At $1.99 a yard, I simply couldn't resist.