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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finished Product!

There were moments there when I didn't think I would make it, but I finally finished my skirt (first blogged about here).  After all that work the finished product turned out exactly how I wanted it.

The polka dot lining shows just enough at the bottom to make it fun, but still work wearable.  I actually wore this to work yesterday and got my first compliment by someone who didn't first know I made what I was wearing!  It even looks cute from the inside.

The hem was the most difficult part of the entire process.  This is actually the second hemming technique I used because the first technique was all sorts of wrong.  For the finished hem, I slip stitched the lining to the hem allowance on the inside so the stitches are completely hidden.  

The skirt is even better in action.  

Please excuse my poor animation skills, you can't be good at everything.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Learning to Sew

When I first decided I wanted to learn to sew I thought I would need to take a class.  Basically, I was nervous that it would be too hard, I would be too impatient and everything I made would be - to put it succinctly - crap.  My cousin Erika, who has been sewing for quite some time and is much more talented than I, assured me that all I needed was a few books to show me the way.  So, on her guidance, I purchase a couple of excellent sewing books and stalked my fair share of sewing blogs and websites until I was ready to put needle to cloth.  

There are many many websites and blogs that have been helpful in my efforts to make beautiful things, but three in particular are a daily go-to:  

Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing is by far one of my favorites.  She has introduced me to so many different techniques, like the use of horse hair for the hem of my current skirt project (which I PROMISE I will show you very very soon, you can hold me to it).  Her blog contains a plethora of sewing knowledge, tips and tutorials for sewing enthusiasts of every level.

Grosgrain has a little bit of everything - actually a lot of everything - sewing, crafts, hair tutorials, you name it.  The lovely video tutorials and free pattern month with a new guest blogger and new free pattern EVERY DAY in May are just a fraction of why I love this blog.  

Tasia of Sewaholic is another must stop if you're learning to sew.  She recently started her own company selling her original sewing patterns and she gives extremely detailed and clear guides on everything from alterations to zippers.

Although I have been eyeing FIT night classes for awhile, a ridiculously busy and unpredictable work schedule makes those day dreams a little hard to fulfill.  You've got to work with what you've got, so those three blogs, plus my two trusty sewing books, are how I got my start.  Really...that's all it takes!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

My sewing progress isn't moving quite as fast as I would like it to because, once again, I've been working crazy hours at THE JOB - cue ominous music, something like DUN DUN DUN.  In any case, I have faith that things will eventually slow down enough for me to lead a normal life for a little bit at least.  I may even get to take my long awaited vacation.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share a little bit of what I have planned. 

This summer I've been wanting to make shorts shorts shorts!  Well fitted fabulous shorts!  I've picked Vogue Pattern V8365 to start, view A specifically with cuffs and a flat front.  There are so many visions of shorts that I have bouncing around my head: leather, lace and boucle tweed to name a few.  For this version I think the tweed look would do quite nicely. 

Chanel's 2011 Spring RTW collection has a few examples of a boucle tweed short.  These are two of my favorite.  My version, however, will have a bit more coverage involved.  Although, the second pair above could work well - maybe on my second shorts go-around.

On my trip to the fabric store there were a number of - very expensive - boucle tweeds that caught my eye, but then I saw this lovely LINEN.  Yes, linen.  Cooler for summer, cheaper for the pocketbook and still with the tweed look I was going for.  I think they'll go perfect with my new lace shirt when they're done.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Instant Gratification

After a very busy week, I'm still moving ahead with my skirt.  I didn't have quite enough of the polka dot fabric to complete the lining, so I had to return to Mood for more.  Unfortunately, when I got there the entire bolt of my polka dot fabric - the very last bolt of that fabric - was set aside for someone to purchase in its entirety.  Don't tell anyone, but the lovely Mood employees saved the day by letting me snag a few yards.  The whole thing should be finished soon.  In the meantime, I needed a sewing fix - something quick and relatively easy - so I decided on a lace/crochet-like top. 

The fabric I chose was very narrow, so I ended up having to attach two pieces of the lace together in order to have a piece of fabric that was long enough for my pattern.


In order to attach the lace I matched up the pieces as perfectly as possible and basted them together.  I then took a matching thread and hand sewed the two layers, following the pattern of the lace along a horizontal line

Once the two layers were sewn together, I clipped off the extra fabric on each side.  This step had to be done very carefully in order to clip as closely as possible to the point where the fabric was attached.  From up close you can see where the two pieces were joined, but from a distance it's barely noticeable.

In the end I'm very happy with the result, and it only took me two days to complete - maybe 10 hours total.  There are some alterations I may still make to the arm holes, which stretched a bit during construction.  Next time I am working with a fabric like this I will make sure to stabilize my neck and arm holes with strips of silk organza prior to cutting out the pattern so they will keep their shape better.

Monday, June 6, 2011

You Win Some, You Lose Some

On Sunday my friend Jenny and I set out for a lovely day of brunch on the UES and scoping out the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met.  Somewhere between brunch and the museum we were both a bit distracted, she by an amazing blush pink Luca Luca dress and me by Pretty Ballerinas, which has one of the best collections of flats I had ever seen in one place.  I picked up two pairs, a gorgeous pair of white lace-ups and a pair of square toed ballet flats in electric blue.

Unfortunately, once we made it to our destination we learned that garment bags are not allowed in the Met.  From what I could tell security had two reasons for the garment bag ban: 1) garment bags are too big and had to be checked - shopping bags filled with flats are, however, permissible - and 2) the Met considers some dresses to be art - rightfully so - and people are not allowed to bring art into the Met - the security guard sort of lost me there.  In any case, Jenny didn't really want to check her very new, very gorgeous dress, neither would I if I were her, so our McQueen visit will have to wait until another day.  I've been dying to see the exhibit, but I can't be too sad when I've got such cute new shoes.  So, after leaving the Met, we walked through the park and went to check out the art at Barneys.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

In the works...

I have two projects planned that I'm super excited about.  First up a fun yet work-appropriate skirt -- necessity meets fashion.  My vision for the skirt was inspired by practically everything that came down the runway for Louis Vuitton in Fall 2010 and the amazing Dior Couture dress below.  

     Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 RTW                                Christian Dior Spring 2009 Couture 

I love that the hemlines are structured, but still have so much movement.  I'm hoping to accomplish a similar effect through the use of a little horsehair braid.  I haven't tried that technique before, but my fingers are crossed that it will turn out anything like these gorgeous hems. 

Butterick B5285 View B
Butterick B5285 View A

As far as shape and pattern go, I think one of these versions of Butterick Pattern B5285 will get the job done.  I'm also planning on making the skirt slightly shorter in the front than in the back; although, nothing as dramatic as the Dior dress.  Quite frankly, I probably couldn't even fit the Dior dress inside any of my NYC-sized closets no matter how hard I tried.  Something that beautiful shouldn't be in a closet anyway.

Last but not least, the fabric! On the right a bright and summery cotton shirting, which I will use as my external fashion fabric.  And, on the left a fun polka dot lining to peek out just so from the gently structured asymmetrical hem.  Initially I had other plans for this bright cotton shirting, but when I saw it next to the lining fabric I just couldn't resist this combination.  

Stay tuned for project #2...