Monday, December 12, 2011

Go to the Dickens!

...and we did.

The Dickens Christmas Fair is so much fun, but I have been wearing variations on the same outfit for the past three years. I simply could NOT wear the same velvet jacket and plaid taffeta skirt again this year. I had this fantasy that I would finally sew something this year, but it didn't really pan out.

Instead, I procrastinated until the night before we went to the fair.  I decided to dig through the closet and try to come up with something different from my usual outfit.  Unfortunately there were not a lot of choices that didn't somehow involve some combination of the plaid skirt or velvet jacket. Grr!

Eventually I decided to take a page out of Barbara's book and steampunk it up a bit.  I'm so glad I did!  I was actually comfortable all day.  I love my What Katie Did corset. Win!

The husband wore his explorer ensemble. So handsome.

The fair was the fair. It's always sort of the same...and always sort of magical.  We saw wonderful performers, ate great food, chatted up the chimney sweeps, and tasted many delicious beverages.

We didn't take any photos (I didn't want to carry my camera) but here is a link to the official photo galleries.  If you want to know more about what the fair is like, here's an article from a local paper.  If you are in the Bay Area and want to check out the fair, it's running for one more weekend!

Happy Christmas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

You Are Gold

I buy 60s (and early 70s) shift dress patterns. I love them. They rarely look good on me, so I rarely sew them but they are like kryptonite or catnip or ... anyway, I can't resist them.

Lately, I've been experimenting with making the 60s shift dress work on my super curvy shape. If it works on Joan Holloway, its got to work on me. Right?

This very mod McCalls pattern from 1969 was super simple to make.

First pass of completion it was like a big shapeless goldenrod sack. I had to do a pretty intense curved side seam to follow my waist and hip curve. I also added two long darts in the back to nip in the bagging midriff. The midriff is still a bit loose, but I didn't want to add darts to the front.

The soundtrack for this dress is Gold by Spandau Ballet, of course. I can't get it out of my head.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Wear The Pants

Despite sewing dress, after skirt, after dress, some mornings I just want no, need, to wear pants to work. Most of the time I go straight for classic, dark-wash, high-waisted jeans but I'm trying to break myself of the denim-for-work habit.

Actually, I've been trying to break this habit for years, with only moderate success. I think if I had more trousers like these, I might just be able to do it.

100% wool plaid Scottish Tartans by Corbin men's trousers. Thrifted in San Diego for a mere $7.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baubles Bangles and Bright Shiny Beads

This past weekend the hubs and I went to the Burgundy Tops Scooter Club's 25th anniversary party in Sacramento. It was a wonderful party held on the Delta King Riverboat. ...and it gave us the chance to dress up for a change!

I wore this dress that I got at a thrift store some time ago. I love it so much! It doesn't quite fit right in the arms and shoulders, so I'm thinking of selling it, but I'm so glad I got a chance to wear it at least once. The top is a fine beige net covered in jet beads. Its crazy beautiful!

This is the back.

And the Hubs looked dapper in his creme tuxedo jacket.

It was a really fun party! All my friends are silly and stylish and I love them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

7 Things About Me

Thanks to Bea from Butterflies and Hurricanes for this Stylish Blogger Award! I got this award many months ago and for some reason it took me forever think of seven semi-interesting things about me. I don't understand why it was so difficult. But anyway, here are 7 things you don't know about me.

1. I had a tiki themed wedding and a Hawaiian honeymoon. This photo is from the Luau we went to on the last day of our honeymoon. They had a photographer that snapped your photo on the way in, and later you could buy it for $25..? I loved the way ours came out and I'm so glad I bought it. This was taken only a few years ago an I'm amazed at how young and fresh we look. I guess we were pretty relaxed after a week in the islands.

2. I'm a total vampire nerd. If there's a vampire in in it, I'll watch it. Or read it. I'm not terribly choosy. I like it all. Actually, I love pretty much anything supernatural (or Sci Fi) and the more preposterous the better. (Ghost Hunters, Stargate, etc.) Except for Zombies. Zombies scare the crap out of me.

3. I really love images of bullfighters. I even went to a bloodless (Portuguese style) bullfight once. It was thrilling and strange and beautiful. I'm not sure I could stomach a real bullfight, though. Anyway, my grandfather was from Spain so my grandparents had a lot of Spanish-y stuff scattered around their home. This relief hung over the fireplace for years. When my grandma sold her house, it ended up in my cousin's garage and when I found out she had it, I begged her for it. I'm so glad she gave it to me. I love it so much.

4. My cat had to to have a lung removed last year. Thanks to lots of time spent at the vet he is the most expensive thing we own, other than the house. (Although I suspect he really owns us, not the other way around.) Here he is after surgery in a t-shirt I made for him because he kept escaping from his Elizabethan cone. He HATED that t-shirt, but it kept him from licking his scar. He is perfectly fine and happy now. You'd never know he's only got one lung.

5. I have been wearing the same vaguely pointy 50s style bra since high school. I bought my first "old lady bra" when I was 16. It was black and had a little pink rose between the breasts. I'm not sure if I was emulating Madonna or Marilyn, but I loved that bra. I was so sad when JC Penney discontinued them. Over the years this particular style, in black, has gotten harder and harder to find. The only brand that still makes them is Hanes/Bali and for a while they discontinued them in black, and I was reduced to dying my bras. So glad they've brought the black back! (Now everyone go out and buy this bra in black so it doesn't fall out of production again. M'kay, thanks!)

6. I mostly listen to mid-century mood music & standards and I have a lot of old albums on vinyl. My favorites are the 60s Brazilian jazz and samba records. When I lived in a town that had seasons (unlike Fogville) I would open up all my doors and windows on warm summer mornings and play the soundtrack to Orfeu Negro at full blast. My neighbors must have loved me.

7. I don't shave under my arms. I hate the way it feels to have stubble there and I get awful razor burn and ingrown hairs if I shave every day. Plus I am an excessive sweater and shaving seems to make it worse. Instead of shaving, I bleach the hair under my arms every couple of weeks, about every time I dye my hair, and I keep it pretty short. Honestly, though, I'm not super fastidious about it. Having fur there doesn't bother ME, though it might offend other people. In my wonderfully cosmopolitan city, I have met many stylish European ladies (mostly French, for some reason) who don't shave either, so I figure I'm in good company.

For this blog award I'd like to nominate 7 bloggers who inspire me:



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beigey Flowery Top

While I was making the Flowery Frankendress, I was able to set aside enough fabric to make a blouse. I used this pattern.

The flower fabric is 100% polyester so I decided to line it with some cotton muslin for comfort. It went together incredibly fast...and then stalled at the Peter Pan collar.

Friends, I simply could NOT figure out how to attach the collar. I tried. I really did. I read the instructions multiple times. I looked up peter pan collars in my sewing books. I even found a great tutorial on-line but my brain just could not understand the geometry involved. After several false starts and one really poor attempt at banging the collar on and pretending that it looked fine, I enlisted professional help.

Is that failure? I'm not sure. The collar is on and the lady at the dry cleaners in my office building only charged me $5. I feel good about that. But someday I really need to learn how to attach this type of collar.

The pattern called for a zipper up the back, but I thought it would be nicer with a slit and a button instead. I really like the way it came out.

...and here's a front view. My jeans are a little low and the blouse is riding up a bit. I think it will look nicer with a skirt.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dining Room Done!

It's been just over a year since we moved into the new house and we've been extremely busy. All we have left to do is the interior stairs, deck, kitchen, and then paint the exterior. There are a few other little things like trim that still needs to be painted and some baseboards that need to be installed, and a wobbly fence out back that needs to be replaced, but we are mostly finished.

I know I took a zillion before pictures...but they all seem to have disappeared. I'm afraid I may have taken them on my old phone and not moved the snaps over to the computer. Sigh. That means that all I have to show you for "befores" are the ones the realty company took before we bought the place. FAIL!

Anyway, the first space I want to show you is the dining room. See that area off to the side of the fireplace? That's what it looked like before. A small white rectangle connected to a larger white rectangle. Meh.

See the mirror on the wall? Well, we thought the whole interior of our house was painted white when we bought it. Once the mirror was off and we could see actual white paint underneath were it had been, we realized that everything was painted a sad greige which inspired us to choose light but bright tones for almost every wall in the house.

Here's what the dining room looks like now.

The Hubs built the cork hanging lamp over the table by combining a bunch of different pendant lamp kits from Lowes.

Our wonderful friend and interior designer extraordinaire Janel Holiday helped us find just the right grass cloth wallpaper for this space. The Hubs put in the bamboo floors. The bright yellow-orange paint adds a little more light to the space and it brings out all the deep orange tones in the furniture. I love this room!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dear Coty

This packaging

Is not nearly as lovely as this packaging. (Even with the de-laminating paper.)

Loose powder is one of those cosmetic items that is about the same brand to brand so one of the main reasons I buy Coty translucent powder is the old style cardboard box. I hate that they've gone plastic. Not only is it less pretty but it's not as readily recyclable. Bah!

Which one would you rather have in your makeup kit?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fishy Blouse

Remember the Fish Dress? I made a blouse with the leftovers.

I made version 3.

When the pieces were cut out, I was baffled as to how they were supposed to go together, particularly the front piece. It took me forever to realize that it had to fold back in on itself and go under the collar/shoulder piece as a facing.

Once I figured that out, this blouse went together with relative ease, although it lived on the dress form for weeks while I tried to summon the courage to do the button holes. The first one is a bit dodgy but the rest look pretty good.

I thought it would be a good idea to line the blouse as quilting cottons get a bit floopy after repeated washings, but the lining made it a bit more stiff than I would like. It floats away from my body in a way that makes me look a little wider than I actually am. Or maybe I'm just used to wearing skin tight stretchy tops?

Anyhoo. I like it.

I'm still haven't discovered a really good spot for photography in the new house. I tried outside for this shot but, as it was a beautiful sunny day, I wasn't able to stop squinting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pattern Haul

I continue to buy patterns...

I bought this one because I thought the bodice might work for the sundress I am hoping to make from that Hawaiian print duvet I bought last year. The bodice looked a little more constructed on ebay than it does in person. Oh well. Eventually I'll find the right pattern.

* * *

I have a thing for jumper/pinnafore patterns. I love everything about this one. Hello, Von Trap Family Singers! Maybe I'm projecting my wishes, but in the pattern illustrations as it appears to be made up in a heavy fall fabric. I'll be keeping an eye out for floral-printed velvet.

* * *

Found this one at the thrift store. The photo on the pattern sleeve is awful, in my opinion. The under-blouse makes it so frumptastic. But wouldn't it be cute in a rayon novelty print? Minus the tie belt and pockets, of course.

* * *

I keep buying 60's patterns and yet I rarely make them up. Still, I couldn't leave this one at the thrift store. The (dreaded scalloped + Peter Pan) collar is so cute.

* * *

I saw this one over at Lisette's blog and had to have it. Surprisingly I found a copy on ebay right away! I love it! Look at that sweater vest! I wonder, is it possible to buy yardage of sweater knit fabric? I'm not sure I've ever seen it on the racks at my usual thrift store. If it exists, I wonder if it's difficult to work with...

* * *

Another thrift store find. I had to have this blouse pattern even though its an extra small. The pieces are fairly simple so I imagine that I could grade it up. However, the reason I wanted it was because of the cowl-front version, which to my eye has a 40s look. Guess which piece is missing? Bah! I can grade up from the illustration tho, right?

* * *

Another purchase inspired by the Hawaiian print duvet. Now that I have it in my hands, I'm thinking it might be better in a crisp, bright colored shantung. Loving that neckline!

* * *

Did I mention that I go crazy for retro (30s/40s) inspired 1970s patterns? I do! If I was to try sewing a suit, this is the pattern I would start with. (I'd move the trouser zipper to the side, however.)

* * *

When I was in high school, I had a couple of vintage blouses like this that I wore until the fabric was like tissue paper. Love!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


While I was away I changed my hair. It's such a relief to have bangs again. I always like my face better when its framed by bangs.

I like the way it looks straight and I feel much less inclined to set it every day. It still looks nice when I do set it, but it's nice to have the option to leave it straight.

Anyone else make a major style change lately?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Am I Back?

I don't know...

But I thought this was too neat not to share.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lost: One Mojo

Hi All.

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I've been away for a bit. A combination of work kicking my ass, preparations for Viva, psyching myself up for an upcoming performance (I'm not really a performer), and a family health tragedy that is breaking my heart, I sort of lost my will to blog. I've been thinking about blogging, heaven knows I have stuff to show you, but I just can't seem to sit down at the computer and DO it.

So in order to prevent my lack of blogging from making me feel like a loser, (or becoming one of those situations where you wait too long to write a letter and then feel like you would have to apologize so much when you finally sit down to write it, that it's better not to even bother) I am officially taking a break.

I will be back in mid-May with some new projects, that 200 followers giveaway I promised, and maybe some photos from Viva.

In the mean time, I will breathing deeply and trying to keep up with reading your blogs. You all keep me going, one vintage dress at a time. Thanks for sticking with me!

...and so that this is not a completely picture-less post, here is today's outfit.

Shoes: Sofft Venezia
Skirt: Self-made Vogue 7523 c.1950
Tank: Forever 21
Cardi: Old Navy
Black Cherry Pendant: So Good Jewelry
Glasses: Allyn Scura Eyewear


Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Slightly Disorganized Post and an Award!

I'm nearly prepared for my 200 followers giveaway, but not quite. I need to take some photos and add a few more things to the prize package. I'm hoping I'll be ready by next week, but I've been so tired from work that blogging properly (or staying awake past 8pm) has been difficult.

I am so late posting this! I started writing this last Thursday, but ran out of time and wasn't able to finish!

I began the day watching Fleur's Victory Roll Tutorial and thought -I know, I'll give this a try and post the results. That will be easy and fast and I can do it before work. Fleur's tutorial gave me a much better understanding of how Victory Rolls are supposed to work. I've never been able to do them before at all but after about ten minutes of futzing with my hair, I had two passable rolls. I gave them a good shellacking with hairspray ... and then I decided that the roll on the parted side of my hair wasn't quite right.

Unroll. Roll. Unroll. Spray. Brush. Roll. Unroll. Spray. Backcomb. Brush again. Roll. (repeat ad nauseum)

And poof! 40 minutes had gone by, the part side of my hair was in complete revolt, my fingers were sticky with hairspray and slightly orange from residual hair dye, and I had to leave for work. I scrubbed my hands, slapped a comb in the parted side, snapped a few quick pix in the mirror and was out the door.

I love the roll that worked. Clearly, though, this sort of thing takes practice and one should NOT give one's hair a thick and liberal coating of hairspray until they are completely done working with it. I think that was my big mistake. All that hairspray changed the texture of my hair and made it very difficult to work with. Not to say that my hair is easy to work with ever, but this really is the easiest way to do Victory Rolls I've come across and everything was going fine until all that spray.

In other news, Bea over at Butterflies and Hurricanes gave me a Stylish Blogger Award! Thanks Bea! I need to nominate a few of you for the award and write up 7 things you don't know about me. That will be in my next post!

Until then, I'm off to work!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Flowery Frankendress

I love this fabric. Love love it. Its a relatively modern sheet from the thrift store, but the flower pattern just looks so vintage.

After my success with the fish dress, I decided to do something a little similar. My plan was to use the sleeves and skirt from this pattern.

and the bodice from this pattern.

Cutting was a little tricky, because I wanted to be able to conserve enough fabric to get a blouse out of it as well. (More on that in another post.) I cut out an extra skirt panel as I really wanted the skirt to be extra full. It was a bit of a geometry problem, but I managed it.

Look at how long the skirt panels are when stitched together!

It stretches from the door of the sewing room all the way to the closet. And to think I had to gather that down to fit my waist!

Construction was straightforward and simple as I've used both patterns before. I only had two major problems. First of all, the lining I used was horrid! Its a gorgeous lavender that is so pretty but it just frays and frays and frays. I attempted to finish one of my seams with the rolled hem foot but that just created weird bulk. The worst is around the waist. There were big floaty clouds of frayed polyester all around the I Fray Check-ed the whole thing. (Fray Check should come in an aerosol. Really it should.) Guess what happens when Fray Check dries? It gets scratchy! Good times. I am reluctant to put seam binding over the waist seam, as its already super thick, but I'm not sure what else to do.

The other error I made was, uh, well, I forgot to cut out the damned sleeves. I'm not sure what happened. I didn't even realize that they weren't cut until I was mostly done with the dress. I was certain I'd made sure that there was enough fabric left over for the sleeves...but then there just wasn't. I had to dig through the pile of scraps to come up with enough fabric to make sleeve facings and even then one of them ended up being cut on the bias. I hope it doesn't end up doing something weird to the way the sleeve hole pulls around my arm.

Also, I noticed very late in the process that the sheet is made of 100% is the lining. I think this will be a very warm dress and I will be sure to avoid heat and flame while wearing it.

The zipper went in beautifully, for a change, but the hem is a bit of a mess. This is probably the worst blind hem I've ever done. I just couldn't get the fabric to feed in evenly so the picks aren't consistent at all. From the outside you can see a few places where the picks just stop and then start up again a few inches later. That's because I ended up just catching the just the lining instead of both layers. It causes the hem to bubble slightly. At some point I think I will go back and hand pick the hem, but I'm just too exhausted by this dress to do it now.

It does this funny thing on one side where the waistline flips under when I move. I'm not sure why that is. I've never had this happen before. I don't know if its because of the bias cut armhole facing, or the bulk of all that gathered fabric, or something else, but its really annoying.

Still, I think its a very pretty dress