Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hostess with the Mostess

Dressember is almost upon us, and I felt it would be helpful if I started setting some goals for myself.....if I type it out, perhaps the likelihood of me following thru will increase. :)

The first item on my to-do list is a holiday dress for my husband's corporate holiday party, which falls on the 6th of December. I think I have settled on The Claire McCardell Dress. (It has recently been released in multi-size format on EvaDress, along with some other wonderful patterns)

The dress is simple, sophisticated and should not take long to make--which is key, since Momma is tired. I plan on using dark green jersey of some description, as I read it was McCardell's favorite fabric to work with. I am hoping since it has a bit of give, this dress will be *very* easy to alter and assemble. Check.

The second item is a hostess ensemble for Xmas dinner at our house. It will be a very small affair with only a handful of guests...and I am thinking a somewhat 70's theme is in order. You know, fondue, bowls of black olives, baked artichokes, no no.

I was a little kid in the 70's, so this style holds a special place in my heart. I think the pattern itself is from 1969--but that's close enough. I was raised in Anchorage, AK where fashion was behind the times by a few years anyway. I fondly remember my mom and her friends in these butterfly collared shirts with wide-legged pants or skirts (usually in extreme plaids) and all the men wearing super wide ties (also plaid).

I particularly like this pattern too, because the blonde gal in the middle reminds me of my friend Elise...who would also happily don that outfit to be a hostess with the mostess.

The third endeavor will be a blouse I can wear with a pair of black trousers on New Years Eve. I will be working, so a wide range movement is required. I told my hubby I wanted this butterfly blouse pattern for Xmas and if I do get it (hint hint, Honey!) I will be able to whip it up just in time.

If, however, I do not receive said blouse pattern, I will make this dress:

And I might just make it is too cute. And I think it would make the perfect "little black dress" or cocktail number for any occasion. Aside from housecleaning.

OK. So that's the plan, Stan.

And I am heading to Joann's to use my coupon on the McCardell fabric, if I can find something suitable.

P.S. In "Dressember" we're supposed to wear a dress every day of December...and supposedly skirts don't count. But as I wear jeans and workpants day in and day out, homemade skirts DO count in my book. :) Rules are made to be broken anyway.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture.....

I'll give you a closer look.....

Can you guess?
Let's just say, I learned about napped fabric.
And I honestly thought I was cutting out the corduroy correctly.
Remember that whole thing about not following directions?
I guess I have trouble following them even when I think I AM.
But that's okay.
There is no such thing as mistakes. We learn from every "so called" error.
And now I will remember always, when I cutting out corduroy, it is NOT okay to just fold the fabric in half widthwise and go for broke.
You must cut on the fold and flip one piece of the fabric around
so the nap matches on both pieces.
And it's all good.
Because I was flashy made sure the pockets were oppositely napped.
Now it is a bit more "homey" and casual instead of classy.
Which is also all good.
Because in the process,
I found my new favorite skirt pattern.
I am making one in every color, including denim.
This Simplicity 4850...I'll add it to the vintage pattern wiki later.

Reasons Why I Love the Northwest......

Oskar and I found this gigantic leaf on our autumn walkabout this morning.
An authentic seafood gumbo simmered on our stove yesterday.
The evening was cold and shivery.
And the hot soup warmed our bellies.
Brown rice and crusty french bread...YUM.

Follwed by spiced pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing.
Served with chamomile tea.

I love autumn.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I am not allowed to buy any more patterns until I sew up a few that i already have!
This is the last one!
I promise!!!

It's late 40's.
I love the changing style! Look at that super short hair!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jet Lag and Pound Cake

I gained 8 pounds on holiday.
My pretty new skirts no longer fit. Isn't that hilarious??
My husband gained TEN pounds.
That's what yummy pasta and rich pastries does to the tum-tum.
They eat chocolate filled croissants every morning for breakie in Italy.
Love it.
So I'll hit the pavement this next week and burn it off.
3 weeks to gain it, 3 weeks to lose it.
No big whoop.

And now we are zoning out and having a "Heroes" marathon, as recovering from the 9 hour time difference is a real killer.

I can't wait to start sewing again when I am rested!! I'll post more projects and pickies soon....

Monday, September 22, 2008

I think my head is gonna explode....

I am doing too much before this trip----I feel manic and it is time to chill.

I have been looking at this fabric for a few months now, anticipating that I would make something with it to wear on my european vacation....something 50's to prance in around Rome.

And I woke up this morning and thought..."Shoot. We are leaving day after tomorrow, and even though the house needs to be cleaned, I must use that fabric."

So I whipped up a circle skirt.....and it only took an hour or so. It would have taken less had I not messed up the zipper when I was installing it....stupid, stupid. A beautifully lapped zipper and then *snip* gosh darn it, I cut the top of the zipper clean off.....I mean the do-hick that opens and closes the zipper. I stared at it for about 15 seconds and then started laughing, cuz what else can you do? crinoline arrived in the mail today as well. Not too sure how I feel about it---it is kinda lopsided-like and funky. I still need to hem the skirt (thank god for the sewing machine blind hem foot) but I can do that on the morrow.

I am tired. My back hurts. I should have lied and said that I was leaving on my trip a day or two before I was so I wouldn't have to work up to the very last minute. We had a fancy dinner on Friday and attended a wedding on is Monday and I think I am still hungover. Tired for sure. I have two skirts to hem tomorrow, and some housework.

I need sleep.

No more projects.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Here is me in my dress on the way to a weddin'.

All hemmed with a fabric belt and Bakelite buckle.

New dark hair, too!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Simple Skirt.....

Owie, owie, owie.

Post war 40's New Look fashions are a bit painful.

This pattern called for a 30 inch waist, which I have.....but what it really meant was a 30 inch waist cinched in a very tight girdle.
It is super cute, and worth the pain...but I cannot imagine women dressing like this every day! And this is *nothing* compared to the turn of the century boned corsets and frilly petticoats.

I do have a crinoline coming to wear with this and a couple other circle skirts and New Look dresses, but I would certainly never *ever* clean my house wearing anything resembling this or those or anything that constricting!

Will I walk around in Rome, my gut squished into itself by a pair of Spanx, petticoat swish swish swishing as I traipse passed the Trevi Fountain?


Friday, September 12, 2008

Man oh Mighty.......

Here she is--2 on me and one on Rosalind.
The fabric is actually a more vibrant green than these photos suggest---it kind of reminds me of a Christmas tablecloth. :) It is a wool blend crepe...and it itches a little....but my new slips arrived in the mail today, so it shant be an issue.
I could not get a good photo of the skirt, but it's not hemmed anyway.
This was much harder than I had anticipated. It was humbling. That side zipper was the bane of my existence last night. Next time I will sew it by hand.
I was a good little chickling and basted the sleeves on by hand this morning to check for fit. I usually just live dangerously and go for it. But I have realized that mentality is meant for other things.
(BTW, this is an old size 20: 38-32-41.
I had to take in the waist and hips a couple inches but did not have to do a DD full bust adjustment, if this info helps anyone out there attempting to make this.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I love this dress!

I've realized by gathering 30's and 40's style patterns, there may never be a need to shop at Anthropologie again. :) Well.....some knitting knowledge would seal the deal, but that will come in time. I am planning on taking a beginning knitting class when we get back from our trip this fall and have already purchased some vintage sweater magazines off ebay. I suppose it would help to know how to cobble too....hmmm....too many things to learn in this short life!

I finally finished the mock up...
Well...everything but the sleeves. Close enough.
It is a pattern from 1939 and I love love love it. Kind of a pain in the bottom, but worth it.
I did not take pictures of the skirt because it's tennis length to save muslin. Just long enough to fit the hips, and that's what matters most.
It needs about 2 inches shaved off the waist (which makes me feel better after *adding* 3 to the last project) so it will be more in keeping with the times...right now that extra ease (which is hidden in this photo with pinning) gives it a poopy 80's feel. :)
After it's tailored, a foundation garment will be mandatory---but I have pretty much decided the female form looks better in one of those anyway. I just like the sleek and polished look. There is no reason why the muffin top or pooch should be displayed in this day and age.
Today will be spent cutting out the fashion fabric--a nice greenish wool blend. I am hoping to finish this dress and the black gored skirt by Friday.
Maybe I'll wear it to the Vatican.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Read the directions?

I never really do. I don't know why. Sometimes I am certain that I *have* only to find, usually to my great dismay, that I skipped an important step---without even realizing it.

In 6th grade, the last day before Christmas break, the teacher handed out a test and announced, "Now everyone, be sure to read all the directions before you begin....."

As I was madly filling in the answers, kids started handing in their papers almost as quickly as they had received them....and it was not until I heard someone whisper, " the directions!" that I realized at the very top it stated "Write your name at the top of this page, and the test is complete! Merry Christmas!!"

Oh, Kenna Sue Carter, you were a sly little devil!

And I am a nincompoop. Who never reads the directions......or thinks she does. My reading comprehension has never been very good. I scored pretty low on the Iowa tests.

So after adding three inches to the waistband and gores of this skirt (which worked, God be praised) I thought I would be flashy and try my had at a lapped zipper. And after painstakingly installing said zipper, I discovered it totally threw off the waistband/drape/ease/everything on the skirt.
Such Sadness.
Then I realized the pattern calls for snap closures. There is even an illustration. The pattern is from 1944.....perhaps they were rationing "slide fasteners" at this time? I suppose they would have been. And I am willing to bet that using snaps will make the side seam a lot smoother than it is, as I can futz more easily with the ease and such---a zipper anchors it all in.

The skirt should hang more like the image right above....and the instructions are there too.
See the pretty picture? Snaps.
I am turning over a new leaf.

UPDATE 9/13: It has *nothing* to do with the snaps vs. zipper. It has to do with the fact that I stink at installing zippers. C'est La Vie

Monday, September 1, 2008

Building my 40's wardrobe..... I got these little ditties off ebay last month:

And I was so darned excited to find them in my size, you know?
No need to grade the patterns or make adjustments, etc. etc?
Oh, that is just rich.
I pinned the pattern pieces to Rosalind this afternoon, and low and behold, the waistband was THREE inches too small. (?)
Wuh WUH?
I am actually working on this as I speak (or type) but I needed a breakie poo and some chips and cheese sauce to soothe my math frazzled brain.
I have never graded a pattern before, and it made my head hurt.
The first time always hurts the most.
I know the more I do it, the easier it will be, and I will know what adjustments to make without even thinking about it......
But that will take a bit of hair pulling and cheese sauce consumption first.
(That's the Tostitos Con Queso, btw. So bad and I just don't care....If I already have to increase the waistband by three inches anyway.....)
Thank god for The Vogue Sewing Book of Fitting and Adjustments--all the info i needed was in those precious pages.
I am hoping to finish my muslin mock-up of the skirt tonight, and then do a run-thru of the blouse tomorrow. Now, the blouse *says* it is my bust size with 2 extra inches in the waist, but I am not holding my breath.
Although that might help with the fit.
(As a side note, the photo of the blouse pattern is a size 12, bust 32....but the one i have is in a much larger size)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Longing. That is how I feel when I peruse Anthropologie. I love the clothes so much, I hurt. And the *pricing* of those clothes is *just* as painful.
It's an appreciation of the design, the fabrics, the flattering to the female form.

I am in *luff* with The Hullabaloo Sweater Dress.
Look at the embroidery edge-stitching on the shoulders!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Comfort Time!

It's been raining for 2 or 3 days now, the temperatures have dropped, the leaves are beginning to turn (what??) and it was time for some comfort. Comfort FOOD that is.......when it is misty and raining and there is a chill in the air......

Life is hard. And food tastes good. Especially the ooey gooey dripping-with-love-goodness that is Mom's Mac and Cheese. (Displayed here with the loverly quilted oven mitts she made me...with chicken fabric.)

And as long as the whole pan is not consumed in one sitting by just one or two people, there is no real harm done. There is too much love in this savory pudding to bring anything but joy.

The photo was taken with my camera phone, so it does not reveal the magic within the pie. But it was there. Still is. We only ate half.

As a side note...I purchased two more late 60's patterns off ebay (which puts me at my limit for the week, I believe...if there is such a thing) and neither of them are on the pattern wiki! How exciting. I will post pickies when I receive them, as the ebay photos are not very clear.

Enjoy the rainy day!
(In need of a mac and cheese recipe? Any 50's cookbook will set you up nicely)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Vogue Couturier 2820

JUST got this little number off ebay (from the UK, no less. Go Brits!) , and I am so durned excited I can hardly stand it!!
Look at the collar and those little pleats!!
I am already envisioning a thick dark green fabric of some description....the perfect dress for fall....with some tights and clogs!
Oh..Sometimes I look at vintage clothes and my heart aches from the beauty.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Singes du bonheur!

Oh wonderful day!
Yesterday I attended a "Sock Monkey Camp" hosted by local artist
Michelle Binkowski.
6 of us spent almost 5 hours telling stories, talking about our dogs and creating little sock creatures at a huge table strewn with embroidery thread, polyester fiberfill, buttons, bling and of course, socks.

I have decided from now on, anytime I am sad and lonely, feeling frustrated, or just plain is time to make a monkey. It gets the creative juices flowing. And the simple joy of giggling to yourself as your creature takes shape is very gratifying indeed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Too much of a good thing......

Man oh mighty---after sewing for about 7 hours straight yesterday, I was curled up into a ball on the sofa with a tension headache the size of Toledo. My eyes and forehead were burning with creative fire.
My mom is an avid quilter (when I say "avid" what I really mean is that fabric takes up most of the living space in her house) so I phoned home for a dose of sympathy---which I got. And then I took a scorching hot bath in the dark and ate cookies.

This little number was the source of my occular turmoil. It is my first attempt at an actual vintage pattern....and plaid. I found the construction itself to be easier, with more thorough instruction than modern patterns.
The plaid on the other hand was the bane of my existence--and after what I thought was careful planning, the little squares did *not* in fact line up---at least not perfectly. But close enough.

There is an old eastern saying that warns not to strain painfully toward perfection lest we fracture our soul and infuse it into our material workings. ("Material" being the key word here).

So when some detail-oriented creep muses about my uneven plaid, I can smile wistfully to myself and know my soul is intact.

It still needs finishing touches that I will apply this weekend. Sadly, Rosalind (my dummy) is of firmer build than I, so I will also need to wear a foundation garment if I plan on cinching that belt tight. Most of the patterns from the 50's were designed for girdle-wearing least that is what I am going to tell myself, as anything under a 27 inch waist seems rather....well, unnatural.

Last week I worked on Butterick 4985:

Which was easie-peasie. Even the sleevies. It took me over a week to put the buttons on. Sigh.

There is another eastern saying that states we will not ascend to heaven until all of the unfinished earthly projects we leave behind at our death are completed in purgatory. Zowie!
Sounds more like hell.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sew Exciting!!

I guess I should introduce myself officially!

I have always adored arts and crafts, but until recently, always seemed to find a flimsy excuse to keep me from doing them. Why? I am not sure. Procrastination. Fear of Failure. A prefectionista? Or was it just because I was terribly hungover? Hmmm...

Anywhoo.....A creative fire has been set beneath mine butt. And I intend to keep it burning and feed off the magic embers! Muahahhaha!

My momma was a big time crafter in the 70's---she always had a booth at the local Ren Faires and Arts 'n Craft shows, selling her wares. She did macrame and pottery, and then progressed to stuffed animals and dolls. I *loved* falling alseep to the hum of her sewing machine....and the occasional expletive as her needle broke. :)

So I guess it is a genetic thing....along with the procrastination. I am hoping to overcome the latter as the act of creation brings me fulfillment and joy.

I began sewing as a child on my little stich-n-sew battery operated machine. My mom taught me a few basics and I picked up more as a girl scout. When I was 14 I attended a sewing class at the local fabric store. I made a skirt and serged up a couple of shirts.

After that, I dabbled here and there but never got super serious about it. My creative outburts were far and few between, so I would make a dress or a quilt once in a blue moon.

I went back to college to get my theatre degree when I was 28. During that time we were required to take a costuming lab where we spent about 9 hours a week sewing up the costumes, either starting from scratch or adjusting whatever was already in the costume shoppe closet. I learned a myriad of handsewing stitches and my teacher taught me how "the seam ripper is your pal!"

After graduation my mother gave me her old Bernina (Yippie!!) and I now have my own sewing space at home in the mountains of Washington. I live with my hubster and our two fur children.

Vintage dress patterns are my addiction.
And I am off to sew one right now!