Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fiction + Sewing = Happiness

When I can't sew (i.e. when we're camping), I love to read. I stumbled across 2 fantastic novels this summer that are related to sewing. I really enjoyed both of them, even though they had two very different settings.

"The Seamstress", by Frances de Pontes Peebles

This lavishly detailed if overlong debut novel set in 1920s and '30s Brazil follows two sisters who share excellent sewing skills, but take divergent paths into adulthood. (From Publishers Weekly)

I have never been a fan of "social studies", so I find it weird that I really enjoy historical fiction. Attaching characters to historical events completely grabs my attention, and I was further mesmerized by this story of sewing sisters and how differently they experienced life and managed to be connected. It's a LONG read, but I loved the descriptions of the treadle machines, the hand stitches, and the fine fabrics they worked with. Fascinating and educational.

"A Vintage Affair", by Isabel Wolff

When vintage clothing expert Phoebe Swift decides to abandon her career as a Sotheby’s auctioneer, she opens London’s Village Vintage, selling only the best recycled designer duds. However, it isn’t long before we discover that the cupcake dresses and alligator clutches that populate her quaint neighborhood shop aren’t Phoebe’s only baggage. Reeling from the death of a close friend and the subsequent collapse of her wedding engagement, Phoebe is in need of a change. She certainly loves the clothing she sells for its history, but it takes a new and profound friendship with the elderly client Mrs. Bell to show Phoebe to care for herself in the same way. Although the novel is sometimes predictable, UK best-seller Wolff keeps us entertained by sending a few courtiers Phoebe’s way and threading intriguing wartime historical fiction into Mrs. Bell’s backstory. Readers with a passion for couture fashion will appreciate (and feel vindicated by!) Wolff’s well-researched and intricate descriptions of beautiful, significant vintage pieces. While the dialogue is occasionally a bit bloated, this book is a smooth read with enough flair and fun for the beach or the pool. --Annie Bostrom, from Booklist

I just finished this one today, and it was so enjoyable. Set in modern day England, but the story connects back to WWII. Again, I was hooked into history by the characters in the book! Pretty predictable (and I much faster read than the previous book), but the discussion of vintage fashion trends and the popularity of vintage threads was very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author!

Nothing new to share. We went camping this week and enjoyed playing on the beach of Tawas Bay, riding bicycles, and touring a lighthouse. I have the leather cut and ready to stitch, but I've got to report to work Tuesday and Wednesday to ready my classroom and prepare for my students. I got the urge to purchase a new bag for school (a tote to bring carry graded papers and my iPad), but after seeing the prices online, I'm considering making my own. Bunny and Ann? If I go this route, I may be scouring your blogs for advice! If any of you have Vogue 7982 (OOP), and want to sell it, let me know!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Different Kind of Vintage

Not dresses, but cars. Remember, I live in the Motor City! (Read to the end, there's fabric, I swear!)

Every August, the Motor City holds a little something called "The Woodward Dream Cruise" (which we usually stay far, far away from because the traffic is ridiculous). But, it was a beautiful day, and we went early to beat the crowd, riding DH's motorcycle and admiring the view of 8 lanes of hundreds of classic cars.

Apparently, back in the good old days (before I was born), quite a good time was had by "cruising Woodward". This week's celebration brought out every decade, every model, from hot rods to tail-fins, from muscle cars to cool trucks. Miles and miles of vintage cars, all oldies but goodies!

But, don't think that this little jaunt was all for DH! Guess what's located not far from Woodward Avenue? HABERMAN FABRICS!!!

I picked up some necessary supplies for an exciting upcoming project...
(Which involves this lovely lambskin from Gorgeous Fabrics)

And this amazing brocade was begging to come home with me, so I agreed.
Slightly textured abstract stripes of black, white, cobalt, and purple. I think it beats the red/white J Crew skirt's butt!

The red/white striped fabric is still on the work able, waiting for the sewing Gods to bring some solution to light. Regardless, today sure was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fork in the Road: Which Way???

Last week as I was watching the Today show, Savannah Guthrie was wearing the cutest skirt. I should've taken a picture of the TV, but I didn't. It was a red/white striped, fitted, knee-length skirt, which she wore with a white button-down tucked into it. Super cute.
Fast forward to this morning, when I went out on a limb and sent her a tweet, asked her who made the skirt. She quickly replied that it came from J Crew! (Yes, I know it probably wasn't actually Savannah Guthrie that wrote me back, but it's still pretty cool!)

It's the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Deck Stripe, and it's $90. As I was watching the show, I started searched for fabric in a red stripe like this, but I kept finding knits, not wovens. I bought a yard of this medium weight knit in my favorite shade of red from Mood ($8/yd, not a big loss if my plan fails).

Now, here's my question:
Should I mess with an underlining or fusible to "stiffen" up this knit, so I can make a more structured and fitted skirt, with darts and a zipper...

Or, should I just make a nice and easy elasticized mini that would wear more casually?

I'm on a red/white kick lately, can you tell???

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vintage Vogue 8812

Vogue 8812

Pattern Description:MISSES' DRESS, BELT AND BOLERO: Dress has bias shoulder straps, self-bias binding extending into tie ends, close-fitting bodice with bra/slit, no side seams, back-button closing and self belt. Fitted bolero has shoulder pads. Note: no provisions provided for above waist adjustments.

Pattern Sizing: 6 - 22. I made a size 14, according to the finishing garment measurements. It was perfect in the waist and hips, as expected.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Very nearly! I decided to go strapless, and I skipped the bolero. I have the perfect white sweater in my closet already.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. As usual, I had to make it slightly more complicated by including a full lining, and that I had to figure out myself! No big deal.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
LIKE: The gathered bust and sweetheart neckline, the smooth lines and slight A-line where the skirt meets the bodice.
DISLIKE: Buttoning up the back of a dress by yourself? No thanks. I installed a zipper instead.

Fabric Used: A retro/vintage cotton batiste print from Mood. Can't find it on the website now, maybe it's sold out. I underlined the bodice pieces in white batiste, and lined the skirt separately.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Eliminated the straps and installed a zipper.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and Yes. It's a really lovely dress, that doesn't scream "vintage". It's summery, it's feminine, it's fun, and I really love the way it turned out.

Conclusion: It may not get a ton of wear, but it sure is fun to wear. Not too hard to make, and very feminine.

I haven't had a fun photo shoot with DH in forever, so this was a blast! We came inside and "My Cousin Vinny" was on (the scene where his girlfriend is the expert witness on cars?), so I hit the couch. He snapped one more: