Showing posts with label Sewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sewing. Show all posts

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Katniss Dress, Part 3-Finished!

Part One
Part Two
Yes, my readers, the Katniss Dress is finished!  After cussing and ripping out a zipper 3 (3!) times and measuring and cutting and sewing some more, I finally have it finished.  I am pleased as punch.  I can't explain how gratifying it is to be able to see something you like and produce very similar results.   Here are pictures of how the dress turned out.  Thank you to Aden for taking such nice pictures of both this dress and my draft dress.

The rough drawing I did that started this whole project.

And that's the Katniss dress, everybody!  It was a long journey from a picture to this dress and I'm so pleased with the results.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Katniss Dress, Pt. 2

(Here's Part 1 of this series of posts)

Well, after much deliberation and backing and forthing, I chose my rough draft fabric: a pretty 1940s reproduction print on some cheap quilting cotton.  I happily reached for the pattern that I had mentioned I was planning to use, but then I stopped.  The dress just wasn't quite right.  It wasn't supposed to blouse at the waist, the shoulders would be dropping off my shoulders, and I didn't want that collar.  I realized that the only design element that I wanted was the gathered shoulders. I realized that the reaping dress that Katniss wears is a 1940s inspired dress, not late 70s, and that was why the dress pattern looked so wrong.  So I went back to google and searched '1940s dresses, ruched shoulders" and came up with tons of dress patterns that looked just like the Katniss reaping dress.  I ran up to the sewing room and did a lot of digging through patterns and came up with two patterns that I decided to combine to make one very Katniss-ey looking dress.

And here are the results!  The fabric I did my practice run in is a floral print, so the shoulder gathers and the way the waist is fitted don't show up very well, but they will in the real fabric, which is solid blue.  It's also quilting cotton, which tends to be stiffer, so it isn't quite as swishy as it will be in the final dress.

I used this bodice and front tie, minus the scalloped edge.  I just drew
a curved line around the scallops on the pattern.

I used this skirt and sleeves.

And here are the pictures of this lovely dress.  Yippee!

*Thanks to Aden for the pictures of the dress!*

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Katniss Dress

You all remember this post about my reservations (and thoughts) about the Hunger Games?  Well, the thing I didn't mention then was my love of some of the gorgeous clothes.  I think the movie writers were going for Depression-era clothes and styles and colors.  All of the kids really do look like little 30s kids during the dust bowls.

And this is what the houses look like:
But anyway, during the reaping, when two children from District 12 are taken, Katniss is wearing this gorgeous blue dress that looks like it was made from something drapey and soft, like rayon or wool.  I fell in love with the dress and it's gorgeous 40s-esque details.  

I loved everything from the ruching at the shoulders to the tie belt to the pretty little glass buttons.  After lengthy google searches, I discovered that no pattern company can design this dress because of copyright laws.  Somebody on Etsy is making them for $300.  Well, no thank you (although, to be fair, if I were making dresses for people, I'd probably charge $300, too).  So I set out to find fabric and a similar pattern to make a dress like this.  I found several patterns, but none of them were really that close to this.  Later, I was up in the sewing room and what should my eye fall on, but some gorgeous blue rayon that was just slightly darker than this fabric.  A bit later, I was searching through my patterns, looking for something that would be similar to the dress and what should I find, but a pattern that was very similar.  I nearly passed out, I was so excited!  

I'm just going to use the bodice from this pattern.  I'll use a shorter, slightly less full skirt pattern and sleeves from a 40s blouse.  I'll also take off the collar and turn the dress into a v-neck. I'll make a wearable muslin first-a dress made in cheap fabric to test run something-before I cut out the real thing.  I couldn't be more thrilled!

Here's the pattern.  I couldn't get a good picture of the fabric, so you'll just have to wait until the dress is done.  I can't wait to show you all!

(Imagine this dress with the neck in a v and with a shorter skirt.  Doesn't it look
remarkably like the real dress?)

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish

I'm reading a delightfully academic book about the history of dressing well in America.  Its title is the title of this post (no, I'm not going to write out that whole, long title again).  It's written by Linda Przybyszewski, a history professor at the University of Notre Dame and the author of several other history books.  In this book, she takes a new subject upon herself: what women wore in the past, the women who inspired and taught them, and what we have to learn from them.  Przybyszewski fondly refers to these teachers of good fashion as "the dress doctors".  Their leader was Mary Brooks Picken, who inspired many women to use home-sewing to their advantage to create beautiful, thrifty wardrobes.

The dress doctors were home-ec teachers, writers, designers, and many more things.  Przybyszewski argues that they have really important advice for us today.  It's not a secret that many American women have lost all interest in dressing for occasion and this author is passionate about bringing practical beauty through clothes back into our daily lives.  The dress doctors taught that beauty was achieved through several simple rules of dress.  The rules for dress, summarized, are:
1. Sensibility- A wardrobe that serves you, rather than you serving your wardrobe.  This means a relatively inexpensive wardrobe as a whole made up of several good-quality expensive pieces that can be used in a variety of settings.
2. Good Design Principles and Overall Beauty- Clothing that has harmony, proportion, balance, and rhythm.  The clothing should be pleasing to the eye, but needs to answer first and foremost to the sensibility rule.  Sure, a mink coat is gorgeous, but how often are you going to wear it?  That said, sensibility isn't everything and if something is strictly sensible without any beauty, there's no joy in wearing it.
3.  Appropriate Setting- The dress doctors (and the author) firmly believed (believe) that there is a time and place for everything.  Out in public, you shouldn't be wearing your plunging necklines.  That should be reserved for your family and closest friends.

I agree with these rules pretty much.  There is a rather ridiculous emphasis on colors "going" together, which I find unnecessary.  Instead of this rule, I would say, "Colors that I, personally, find pleasing to the eye."  I find the rules about, "Well, I can't wear this color because I'm too light and never wear pink and read together!" to be tiresome and not something that needs to be dredged up from the past.  But aside from that, I really wish that there were some strict dress doctors walking up and down our streets today.

The book was really well written.  It was academic, while managing to be amusing and inspiring.  The perfect kind of book.  Przybyszewski tells of how clothing has evolved from the dress doctors of the 1900s to today and its ups and downs along the way (boy, is she scathing of 70s fashion) in a truly amusing way.  Honestly, I really can't do this book justice in a measly blog post.  However, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sewing and a Book Review

Today, I have been busy with projects and flaxing around (apparently flaxing isn't a word...autocorrect suggests "flapping" or "flexing", neither of which I was my book, it means "flying around, getting lots of things done").  One of the things I did was start work on a fabulous late 40s/early 50s wrap dress.  I seem to have a bit of a thing with wrap dresses this summer.  I made a flowery short 60s dress that is for fairly nice occasions and this dress is completely different.  It's long and swishy and will be for really hot August days at home.  I actually took the time to stop and take pictures, so I've included a few.
That blue thing is the bias tape that I'm using as facing
in the place of a regular facing.  The pattern I'm
using was missing any facing pieces.

This actually has a little bit to do with a book I just read.  Well, "read" is a little too serious.  It was more like, "skimmed some parts and read some parts admired the pretty pictures".  The book, written in the 90s, is called Life, Loss, and What I Wore.  I picked it up simply because I had a few minutes and I didn't want to be engrossed in something really good and burn the rhubarb sauce all over the stove (I did that anyway).  This book is a very small memoir of a woman's life, as lived through her clothes.  So, the story starts out with a dress that her mother made and wore in the 30s and moves through her life.  Each page is a small anecdote and its facing page is an illustration of the dress.  Each chapter is a decade and ends in the 90s, with the author's granddaughter playing dress-up in one of her old dresses. And there were some gorgeous vintage dresses mentioned.  I especially loved the description and picture of the author's elegant 50s ball dress.   Reading this description, this sounds like a charming and interesting read.  And it was, to some extent.  However, I didn't love it.  The writing style sounded extremely dated (in a bad way), but it wasn't just that.  It was extremely self-involved and navel-gazey.  I found myself saying, "Oh please," more than once.  So, I don't recommend this unless you just happen to own the book and haven't read it or you really want to know about it and get it from the library.  It's not worth purchasing, in my humble opinion.
The book

But back to my dress.   I can't wait to see how it turns out.  I love this era of pattern and I think it's going to be a very nice, practical dress.  Here's the pattern, so you can see what the end product will look like.  I'm doing the shorter version because, honestly, can't you just imagine tripping over that long skirt every time you walked?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What I Do When I Don't Read

Okay, so actually, I do a lot of different things when I'm not reading.  I spend a much of my day not reading.  But one of the things that I love to do is sew.  I only briefly mentioned that in this post, but I do love sewing, particularly sewing vintage clothes.  My first sewing project was a baggy corduroy jumper from a 60s pattern when I was about 8.  I lost interest quickly and my patient mother finished it for me.  Since then, I've learned a lot about sewing and have come to love it.  So I thought I would post about the patterns that I'm currently planning on using for this year's summer clothing.

1.  A 40s house dress.  I'll do it in the shorter style, probably in linen, for those sticky-hot days in August.

2.  This pretty dress from the 50s will probably be a nice church dress for me.

3. I'll make the dress, but probably not the coat.  The note on my copy of the pattern says, "Mrs. Bob Barnard 3/24/55- Dress top not attractive!"  Well, Mrs. Bob, I'm going to directly defy you and make this dress.

4. I don't know if this skirt will every actually appear in my closet, but I do so love those fan appliqués! The part that makes me laugh is the tiny pocket for her own fan.  At first, I thought it was a knife and I couldn't figure out why she'd be toting that around on her fancy skirt.

5.  A want to make the belted version of this dress, but that blouse might be a part of my wardrobe in the near future.

6.  Such a practical skirt pattern!  I'm leaning towards the length and style of the blue skirt, but I also love the green skirt.

7.  A great late-60s/early 70s dress.  I think I would do a dress like the red one on the far right, probably with a few inches added.

8.  And finally, this fabulous suit.  I'm going to make the pleated skirt and jacket version.  I love the idea of the trim around the edges being the color of the skirt.

And what do you like to do when you're not reading?

Friday, April 18, 2014

An Extremely Cute Project

(I'm sorry, guys.  This has absolutely nothing to do with reading, but it was so cute I couldn't resist posting.)
After moving my sewing room around and getting a gorgeous new Bernina sewing machine for Christmas (thank you, family!), I was ready to start sewing.  I finished up a pair of fabulous turquoise overalls that had been languishing around and looked around for a new project.  My requirements were many: it had to fairly quick, it had to involve my lovely sewing machine somehow, and it had to be an item that was useful.  And so, I found this project from a book on appliquéing and set to work, cooing happily because it was so daggone cute.  I ended up not following the instructions at all, just cutting and appliquéing and then sewing up.
This is the first one I made.  First of all, I folded some plain oatmeal colored linen and lined the bottom of the hanger up with the fold.  Then, leaving about 1/2 inch seam allowance, I cut around the shape of the wire hanger.  Next, I embroidered four hangers in green pearl cotton and then machine appliquéd little clothes cut out of fabric scraps
This is what the back looks like.  I just sewed up the top of the hanger cover with black pearl cotton and did it in kind of uneven stitches.  I like the slightly unfinished look it gives to the hangers.

Now this is my absolute favorite.  I dug through and found scraps of fabric from clothing that I have actually made for myself.  The overalls I just finished, two summer dresses, a pair of flannel pajamas, and a skirt on which I sewed teensy weensy little pockets.  And did you see?  They're hanging on a rickrack clothesline!

I have two more up at the sewing machine.

A pistachio colored rickrack clothesline and a narrow embroidered red ribbon clothes line.

I can't sell these because they were somebody else's idea, but if you know me, drop an obvious hint and I'll make one of these for your birthday.