Monday, February 27, 2012

February finds

Earlier this month, I hit up one of my favorite antique stores in the area. This place has got a little bit of everything, including a great clothing selection with a good amount of guys' stuff, too. The prices are fairly reasonable, could be a little lower on some things, but the huge variety and selection makes up for any of that, in my opinion.

This time I was able to pick up a few goodies that I'm pretty excited about. Up first, a cute little sweater/top I found. The high neckline and little collar seemed so sixties to me. It had it's original tags, (proclaiming its 100% nylon content) which is always a plus.

Me, trying to make this outfit look as wrinkly and bunchy as possible, apparently! (Look just to the right, at the corner of the door/window behind me. Duke says "hi!" - you can kind of see his pink collar to help spot him.)
Here's what it looks like when the model is not hunching forward!

And from the back - there's a little zip, too.
The other piece of clothing I was able to snatch up is also a '60s sweater. This one is a soft acrylic cardigan with a cute pattern ( that the right word for it? I don't know knitting terminology, yet!) that's slightly sheer on the front. I love the look of this one, with the high neckline, shorter long-sleeve length, and yarn covered buttons.

Love this light blue!

Yarn-covered buttons.
Once I finally learn to knit, and am ready for a sweater, I want to make something like this!
But, wait you guys, there's more. I didn't just pick up clothes; I found this adorable 1960 Vogue pattern, too! It's got my favorite collar type (peter pan, y'all!), and at first glance just looks like a regular old blouse. However, this baby includes a waistband, so it's actually kind of like a little jacket. One version even has a little bow at the waistband! I adore the pattern illustration on this one, but for some reason, I keep picturing this little jacket thing in purple, with a matching pencil skirt (maybe Jenny, finally?).

Vogue 9961
In other news, there is an a-mazing giveaway going on over at lady danburry's Thinking in Shapes. This girl sews amazing things available in her store, for example these denim trousers!

lady danburry denim trousers - I WANT!
But, yes, back to the giveaway! This skilled seamstress has created a beautiful Mad Men inspired dress that she's offering as a prize (in two sizes! 2 & 8) you could win by simply commenting on her post. She'll be choosing two winners on Friday, March 2nd. Did I mention this lady is seriously talented? Check out the neckline on this dress, and the shaping darts for an hourglass silhouette. Simply lovely. Now get on over to her blog.

You could win this Mad Men inspired dress by lady danburry!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finished project: Violet

When I found out about Julia Bobbin's Mad Men challenge (bonus: she's currently hosting a giveaway for some amazing deep purple silk peau de soie!), I pretty much dropped everything and obsessed over what character's dress to use as my inspiration, blah blah blah. But, then I started to feel guilty for abandoning my already cut-out Violet blouse, so, once I'd squared away my Mad Men inspiration, pattern, fabric, etc., I decided to finish up Violet. I don't think I've officially announced this, but one of my goals for the year is to produce a minimum of one piece a month - my "Good Intentions" dress was January, Violet will take care of this month, and my Mad Men dress will be March. Yay for goals!
Here she is! (Still struggling with photo lighting, but had some help from filmmaker boyfriend.)
So, if you remember, I was a little bit intimidated by some of the elements of this blouse - mainly the 7 buttonholes. In addition to the buttonholes lined up down the front of the blouse, the collar, puff sleeves, and yoke were actually all firsts for me. Oh, and working with this type of fabric - Swiss dot. All in all, this blouse was easy to sew up and the instructions were clear and simple to follow (thank you Colette Patterns!). Where I struggled was really with aspects of the project that were...well, more my fault.

Fabric choice, for instance. The Swiss dot fabric was annoying to work with. It frayed a lot, everywhere, and as soon as I'd carefully hand-tacked the back neck facing to the back of the shirt, to keep it from flipping up, the stitches tore through the thin fabric. Also, it's pretty sheer, and, being used/vintage, happens to have some areas of slight discoloration that I only noticed once I'd started sewing. Boo.

When I did start to sew, I'd thought I was being such a smarty pants by changing to the smaller needle recommended by my machine manual for such lightweight fabric, but still found that any stitches I made and removed left rather visible holes in the fabric, especially in portions that were not underlined (like the sleeves and back yoke). That's right, I did underline most of the thing, to cut down on the see-through factor, which also helped bulk up the finished blouse a bit (in a good way). Without underlining, this baby would have been a sheer, wispy sack, if you ask me. 
Tucked into a vintage green wool skirt I never seem to have anything to wear with.  (The corner of my sewing area seemed to have the best lighting.)
I also struggled a bit with getting the blue chalk marks off of the fabric once I'd sewn up the pieces, especially on the darts. Amateur issue, I'm sure.  Did I mention this fabric is see-through? Anyone have a recommendation/secret for getting chalk out of sheer (or any) fabrics? I tried some water after brushing the marks off didn't work, but to no avail. Maybe I should have used some other type of marking tool?

The dreaded buttonholes proved to be another issue. At first, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to better control where my machine stitched the holes, compared to buttonholes I've tried in the past (maybe I'm getting better?), but I still made some mistakes with how I'd marked them and ended up having to rip out two whole buttonholes and re-do 'em. Then, also due to my poor marking skillz, I managed to attach the bottom three buttons onto the placket just ever-so-slightly unevenly, so they don't quite match up with the buttonholes. This resulted in some bunchyness once I buttoned the blouse. Whatever, though, this is something I can go back and adjust later.

And my big mistake? I wasn't paying attention and sewed the buttonholes on the left side of the shirt, instead of the right, like a guys' shirt. Meh. :-/

Giggling at the cute cameraman. (Ack, I need a haircut!)
Lastly, the collar. I do love a peter pan collar. In a perfect world, though, this collar would lie flatter, but I can live with it, or try to fiddle with it later. I think there may be an issue with the fit of the neckline which causes the collar area to gap in the front a bit, in addition to just not wanting to lie flat. Maybe next time I'll try cutting a smaller size? Also, I wish I'd been able to make the shape of the collar more even, but that'll just have to wait until next time, too.

Despite all of my issues and complaining, :) I think I'd definitely sew this pattern up again - just maybe not with such thin, sheer fabric. I know some sewists out there in blogland mentioned that they found the Violet to be a bit too boxy on them, but I like the loose fit. It's comfortable (I don't have to suck in my gut, yay!) and makes it easy to tuck the top into a skirt or something. It does make for a more casual look, though.

If you're thinking of trying out Colette Patterns' Violet, here are a couple of my favorites I've noticed around the internets. (There's also a flickr group with about a million beautiful examples) Check 'em out and get inspired!

Friday, February 24, 2012

And I've decided to go with...

Joan as my official Mad Men Dress Challenge inspiration! Maybe you all already expected that, but I really deliberated.

I was finally able to decide based on a few factors pushing me in Joan's direction: I felt like making a dress rather than practical, useful, smart separates - even though they'd probably fit into my lifestyle/wardrobe a little bit better; I already have some fabric, notions, and a pattern that I think I can use, so that'll help chip away at my stash; I'd like to be able to work on my sashaying; and finally? nothing's stopping me from going ahead and creating a Peggy-inspired outfit too, once I've completed this challenge.Yay!

The fabric I've got is a stretch cotton sateen, which I'm not quite sure is ideal (but we'll see how it goes), in almost the exact shade of green as Joan's dress. I'm hoping it's a good color on me!

Here's what I was thinking, pattern-wise.
View D, slightly longer sleeves and sans pockets.

New Look 6968.
I figure, if I go with View D and omit the pockets, leave off the store-bought belt the model has saucily donned, lengthen the sleeves an inch or two, and fiddle with the collar a bit, I'll be able to add a gold colored button/brooch/thing to the collar action and call it a day. Sound like a plan?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another Liebster!

So, you know how Suzie awarded me the Liebster Blog Award a few days ago? Well now I have my new best friend, Melanie of poppykettle, to thank for picking me as one of her five recipients! Shut the front door!! - right? I'm so grateful to these lovely ladies.

(I've already named my five recipients who I've passed the award on to, so, as recommended, I'll refrain from going through the whole process again.)  

In hopes of not sounding too mushy/gushy/sappy, I just want to proclaim my giddy appreciation to the world! I am so grateful to be part of this online sewing community! This network of awesome bloggers/sewists has provided me with so much inspiration, so many helpful tips and tutorials, and has been so supportive - don't let me get all teary-eyed here (I almost typed all of those "so"s as "sew" -- yeah.).

But really, you guys fill my real-life-sewing-friends void! I can't tell you how amazing it feels to find like-minded ladies who are just as sewing-crazed as I am and are willing to listen to (read about) my obsessed ramblings on sewing and vintage anything. A big THANK YOU to you all!

Since I'm not giving out any more awards, here's a ridiculously delicious-looking cookie recipe I plan to try out this weekend: OREO-STUFFED chocolate-chip cookies!!!!!!!!!

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mad Men Challenge - Insipiration

So, as I gushed about a few days ago, Julia Bobbin has set up a dressmaking challenge revolving around the dresses in Mad Men. She is a genius, as far as I'm concerned.

Aside from being incredibly excited when I found out about the challenge, I also began to feel almost immediately overwhelmed. There are so, so many outfits to choose from - how will I ever find just one to use as my inspiration for the challenge?

Well, I scoured the internets for Mad Men photos and pinned them to keep track of 'em all. I found that, though I really love my two favorite-to-admire characters, Trudy and Betty, I really gravitated toward the outfits worn by Peggy and Joan. Maybe it's because they actually work in an office and dress accordingly? Or, their characters' lives are just more related to my lifestyle than those of housewives Betty and Trudy? Either way, I was able to narrow down all my inspiration outfits into two concepts - an outfit of Peggy's and one of Joan's. Ready? Go.

Joan, in a sharp green dress with an interesting collar.

This shot makes me wonder if this is actually two pieces rather than a dress? I'm going to go with dress.
Joan is one of those women who just seems inherently glamorous. Girl's got it goin' on, 24/7. When I think of Joan, I mainly think form-fitting, curve-hugging, 'wiggle' dresses. She's basically famous for that sexy yet somehow work-appropriate look. This green number isn't quite as va-va-voom as some others she's worn, but it's still a winner.

I've actually been dreaming about making a dress like this, with some kind of collar action and a large button or brooch, for a while. And, I even have some fabric in this very shade of green that's been lurking in my stash for quite some time. I really love that this dress looks put together and work appropriate; not too provocative, but not boring. In fact, I even find it exciting! And, as Joan has shown us, with a look like this, there's even room for a matching handbag and pumps.

So, that was inspiration option number one. Number two is Peggylicious. One of the interesting things about Peggy's character is how her wardrobe has evolved over the seasons. In the early days of the show, she was a young lady trying to find her place in the working world. She appeared to struggle, not only with establishing her career, but also with achieving a professional yet fashionable look. That is, until she was finally given some not-so-gentle direction from Joan, who, no-nonsense gal that she is, said something to the extent of, "If you want to be taken seriously, stop dressing like a child." (Truth!)

From that point on, and as her career progressed, Peggy's wardrobe began to gradually improve and evolved into a more sophisticated, professional look. Though they still hold a special place in my heart, fuller skirts and bouncy ponytails gave way to more tailored looks, snappy separates, and that adorable bob (which I think we can all agree was a step up!). With this in mind, I present to you my other inspiration outfit: put-together Peggy.

Check out this career girl!

Tell 'em how it is, Pegs!
Where Joan's style is on the vixen side of things, Peggy has a cute, practical look that is, honestly, easier for me to relate to (I love Joan, but I'm not really the kind of girl who sashays around, confident that all eyes are on her - at least not on a regular basis).

First and foremost, this blouse's peter pan collar + bow combination is awesome! I feel like it just screams "I'm smart and stylish!" (without also screaming, "look at me!"). Very smart indeed, paired with a pencil skirt and layered under a vest. Love it.

Some considerations: though I am apparently a bow-blouse person, I'm really not a vest person. Also of note, the mustard-y hue of this blouse is not really one of my colors - I think my skin has some yellow undertones? I think I'd be in danger of looking like a big yellowy blob.

So, if I were to go with Peggy as my inspiration for this challenge, I'd likely do a (non-mustard) blouse along these lines with a pencil skirt and some sort of (non-vest) jacket/top layering option, but I could also do a jumper with a bow-blouse peeking out and achieve a similar look. That could be a lot of different pieces to construct. Maybe I should just go with a one-piece dress, Joan style...

In conclusion? I can't decide.

Should I go for Joan or Peggy as my ultimate inspiration?
(Remember, I have to have my piece(s) completed and photographed and submitted to Julia by March 30. Yikes!)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I was picked for a blog award, you guys!! I know, I can't believe it either. Suzie of the charming  and inspiring blog Su Sews So-So, (yes, this could easily be the name of my blog, strong emphasis on the so-so part for me, ha!) has picked me as one of her five recipients whom she's passing this award on to. Thank you, Suzie! I'm so flattered that you thought of little old me.

"The origins of the Liebster Blog Award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it means favourite or dearest to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers."

And it comes with the following ‘rules’:

1 - thank your liebster blog award presenter on your blog.
2 - link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3 - copy/paste the blog award on your blog.
4 - present the liebster blog award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less).
5 - let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment.

I know this is a common 'problem,' but I follow a heck of a lot of blogs, so narrowing down my favorites, with under 200 followers, was tricky. Also, it can be kind of difficult to tell just how many followers a blog has - just saying.

That being said, and desperately hoping none of them have already been awarded the Liebster without my noticing, here's what I came up with (drum-roll, please):

I am so inspired by all of these ladies! Make sure to check them out if you haven't already.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hold the phone!!!

Still don't have my laptop back yet, but was able to hop on the boyfriend's fancy computer for a minute to post this.

This morning, I nearly jumped out of my skin with delight and excitement. I happened to be perusing a few of my favorite blogs (everyone needs a tiny little mental break at work from time to time - shhh!), Miss Julia Bobbin's impressive and inspiring blog to be exact, and her recent Mad Men Challenge post. (Have you seen Julia's Peggy Dress?? - to die for!) So many of us love the show, not just as a compelling drama, but  for all of the amazing fashion inspiration too.
(Stole this image from Julia's Mad Men Challenge post)
According to Julia, the gist of the challenge is this: Find a dress on Mad Men that you love and create your own version. 

My only question is this: HOW COULD I NOT DO THIS!?

That's it, I'm dropping everything! Violet, you're goin' on the back burner along with my mystery double knit project. They can just simmer until I'm done with my Mad Men Challenge! Deadline is March 30th. Get READY, y'all.

More soon re: dress inspiration and potential patterns. How EXCITING!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Help computer...

So, my laptop has been acting a little funky lately. Going to leave it with my dad, who is a nerdy computer person, for a few days this week to see if he can help get it back in shape...maybe with some updates or something? I don't know, that's not really my area of expertise.

non-sewing-related visual aid

That means there likely won't be much in terms of posting activity going on around here until maybe the weekend -- just a heads up. Perhaps by then, I'll have more Violet details (I finally cut out all my pieces, including underlining, and got the ball rolling on getting this blouse put together - yay!) to share and some more specific questions to throw out there (re: my other upcoming project) about working with doubleknit.

Until then, have a great week and a happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

About time...

Update: I forgot to mention that today was my little blog's one month anniversary. Yay! Thanks to anyone and everyone who has stopped by to check me out and special thanks to those of you who've left comments - they make my day!

Piggybacking on the theme of Debi's Sew Grateful week, I just wanted to share that, in addition to my admiration/awe/fascination/infatuation for the online sewing community/blog-land, which I am most definitely grateful for,  I'm so glad I also have supportive helpers in my (real) life. Hooray for boyfriends who are handy in Photoshop! Handy and helpful, that is. Thanks to mine, I've got a new blog banner (I know!), if you somehow didn't notice.

Also, my fabric finally arrived this evening so I can really get crackin' on my Violet blouse, underlining and all. Get excited! (that bit was more directed at me than you).

There may also be another project hanging out on my sewing table, too, hoping to get some love. It just might have something to do with this intriguing double knit I may or may not have picked up from Vogue Fabrics. Note the distinct lack of polka dots...and my lack of experience with knits! Again, get excited!!!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday blues

I know it's Superbowl Sunday (go Giants! - only because I have a crush on Eli), which at the very least for me means that later today I'll be able to eat a LOT of junk food in mixed company without anyone really judging me. (I'm so over that 'eat healthier' New Year's resolution.) And, maybe on this particular Sunday, it so happens that I've also already eaten a sizable bowl of coffee ice cream with freshly baked, gooey chocolate chip cookies mixed in. But, regardless of all this happy food time, I'm not feeling super happy -- it's still Sunday; work beckons tomorrow, and today did not pan out as I'd hoped. I think I've got a case of the blues. Feeling lazy, mopey, and unmotivated.

So, on the off chance that anyone else is in the same grumpy Sunday boat as me, here are some images to cheer us up (click the links to see my Pinterest board, which will lead you to the image sources - I'm sorry I'm this ridiculously lazy :-/). Enjoy! Oh, and if you don't like animals, don't bother scrolling down.

Wistful. This was me this damp grey morning. 

I really should have been doing something like this with my time today.

But, I was basically only able to act like this all day. Blah.

At least, at the Superbowl party I'm attending later today, I can do something more along these lines. 

So, I should get hyped and stay positive!

Because, really, how could I consider being grumpy when I know this baby llama exists somewhere?

P.S. I promise I'll have a Violet update soon. I ordered the batiste to underline the Swiss dot. I'll share more on that front once the fabric arrives and I can get to sewing!