A Starburst Yellow Moneta

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Look, Ma! I made my first knit dress!

Living in Portland, I was fortunate enough to be a pattern tester for Colette Pattern’s first knit dress pattern, the Moneta (which made its debut this past Tuesday). It was *so* hard for me to keep this from you guys, because I love this dress so much! I made Version 1, which is sleeveless and has a really neat collar.

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It is incredibly comfy and soft and so easy to wear (no zip! Just slips on over the head!). I think that has a lot to do with fabric choice. I wanted to make my Moneta out of a fabric that was the highest percentage of cotton I could find (easier to work with, and a lot of the poly knits out there are just too slinky for me), and so I snagged this starburst printed cotton by Robert Kaufman. Luckily, I was able to find my fabric locally at Fabric Depot, but you can also find it online here.

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Regarding my experience sewing knits prior to this, I’ve made a basic cardigan before using this Simplicity pattern. Not having a serger has always detracted me from sewing knits, but luckily, my machine as a stitch that is specifically designed to sew seams on knits (you can also use a zig-zag stitch, as well).

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Besides the relative new-ness of sewing with knit fabric, there were also several techniques that this pattern uses that I had never done before. For example, the skirt is gathered using clear elastic, a notion that I had never used before (luckily, the Colette Patterns blog has a handy tutorial about how to use it).

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I definitely plan to make this dress again (I already have the fabric!), but there are a few changes I would make:

  • Shorten the bodice by about 1/2″. I don’t know if it’s the stretchiness of the particular fabric I chose, but the bottom of the bodice doesn’t hit quite at my natural waistline (hence the belt).
  • Edgestitch along the neckline. Right now, the collar has a tendency to roll up, and edgestitching would help it lay flat.

Despite these future changes, I’m completely chuffed with my first knit dress, and would definitely recommend this pattern to any seamstress (or seamster!) wanting to get started with sewing knits.

An apron for an Englishman, and courting cake!

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Hey, readers! Long time no sew, eh? I’ve been going through some major life changes as of late, including both moving AND changing jobs, which meant that I wasn’t really in the mood to whip up a modern skirt or sew a repro 50s dress. However, I finally unpacked all of my sewing stuff from moving, and so was able to whip up this dashing apron for Peter, my British Boyfriend (and before you ask, yes, that is a picture of Shakespeare on his t-shirt, and the wording below it says “You discussed me.” Isn’t that awesome!?)

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I *love* the fabric so much! It says “A Gentleman is Always Well Dressed”and features mustaches, umbrellas, and letters. I picked it up locally at Mill End last month when Peter’s mum was here visiting from England (she sews, too!). I have some extra fabric leftover, so I think I may make a matching oven mitt or potholder.

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Peter is actually very good at baking, and made this courting cake for me (entirely from scratch!) to celebrate our 6-month anniversary today. Isn’t that so sweet!? Courting cakes, for those not aware (and I certainly was not until recently!), originated in Lancashire (NW England) and were baked by girls for potential suitors as a token of love, as well as proof that she could bake! However, in the 21st century, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for a gent to make his gal a courting cake. ;)

Vintage Saturday: Church of Sinatra and Victory Rolls

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Reading a yearbook from 1940, aka Vintage Sunday School.

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Welcome to the weekend, readers! I had a pretty relaxing day of sewing, napping, and catching up on cleaning before heading over to Julie’s yesterday evening for February’s Church of Sinatra. With Valentine’s Day being this month, I decided to wear a 40s dress I just got that’s accessorized with a cute pink flower (and, yes, it came with the dress!).

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I also finally managed to successfully do Victory Rolls! They’re such a ubiquitous hairstyle for vintage gals that I tended to avoid them (plus, my hair is layered, so it’s difficult to keep it together when I go to roll it). If you’re interested in trying these out on your own hair, but don’t know how to get started, there are a ton of great hair tutorials on YouTube (this one in particular was especially helpful for me).

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Oh, and can we also take a moment to admire the fabulous 40s velvet pumps!? Definitely don’t wear these as often as I should!

Hope everyone else is having fabulous and relaxing weekends!

1936 Murder Mystery Dinner Party: The Watersdown Affair

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Readers, I attended my first murder mystery dinner party yesterday evening, and I have to say that I am hooked! The party was hosted by my friend, Kady (who has made many appearances on this blog and did a fabulous job with the party!) and centered around the murder of Sir Roger Watersdown, a wealthy Englishman. Of course, everybody had a motive (from Sir Roger’s personal secretary, to his physician), and there were so many plot twists that you really didn’t know who the true murderer was until the end (and, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it here!). There were 4 rounds, involving details that your character had to reveal or conceal, as well as fun bonuses like Sir Roger’s will.

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I played Miranda “Randy” Shetes, an American actress who is financed by Sir Roger, and I wore a fabulous black silk and lace 1930s evening dress. I’ll also be attending a Gatsby Soiree next month, and that event combined with this 1936 party meant that I could finally justify the expense of a 1920s/1930s dress.

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As for the hair, that took quite a while. I scoured YouTube for 1930s hair tutorials for long hair, but many just involved lightly curling long pieces of your hair, and I wanted something more period-correct, so I decided to create this fake bob ‘do. It took a while (about an hour), but I’m very proud of the results (so much hairspray!) that I plan on making a video tutorial soon (extra motivation with the Gatsby party next month!)

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Peter (aka British Boyfriend (TM)) also came with and played Rog Astrid, a recreational mountain climber and the illegitimate son of Sir Roger (and he does look quite dapper, if I do say so myself!).

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It was so neat to see the other guests get into character and reveal secrets about their past (one of the heiresses used to be an acrobat!). The game also involved a cassette portion (it’s from the 90s like me!) and so I got to bring along my reproduction Crosley stereo that plays tapes, CDs, and records!

All in all, it was a fabulous evening of intrigue, suspense, and cats! I can’t wait to attend the next one!

Treason! Animals. (AKA The Fur & Feathers Luncheon)

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Readers, I had  fabulous time yesterday at the annual Fur & Feathers Luncheon hosted every January by Julie of Fab Gabs. Everyone looked smashing in their vintage dead things, and it was so lovely catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones (I even learned about Portland’s swing dance scene!). I really wanted to wear a red 60s suit with leopard accessories; however, the cost of vintage leopard can be quite prohibitive, so I decided to sew the accessories myself using vintage patterns. In true annaintechnicolor fashion, I waited until the last minute to start sewing, and so the pillbox hat was actually made the day of (using Simplicity 4124 from 1962. I plan on making the muff, too, when I have time!) and the wrap was not able to be lined yet (I used Simplicity 4216 for that).

Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to expired parking downtown and a date with Peter. Fortunately, when I got to his place, this happened:

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Readers, after all these years of trying to make friends with cats, I finally discovered the secret – dress like you’re one of them! And I made friends with not one, not two, but three cats!

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Alright, hope everyone had a great weekend (whether you pet 3 cats or not!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the odd post title refers to this Franz Ferdinand song off of their latest album, which I’ve been listening to on repeat. Definitely looking forward to seeing them live when they come to Portland in April!

Getting back my sewing mojo

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Hey readers! It appears I took an unintended hiatus after Halloween and now we’re in 2014. Oops.

I try not to get too super personal on this blog (afterall, I’m not paying you guys to listen to me talk), but the past few months have been very tough on me, both personally and professionally. There are several changes that I’m working on making in 2014 so I don’t find myself in similar situations (I’m sure there will be posts about that sometime in the future), although I will say that I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the last few months.

The one bright spot in all of this was that I started dating again (yes, I’m going to discuss my love life and it will probably be disgusting) and met the most amazing, kind, caring, handsome, and sweet Englishman named Peter. Yep, readers, I have a British boyfriend!!!!! He’s incredibly witty, does impressions of all of the Beatles (his Paul McCartney is quite good), and loves going to the fabric store with me (we also just watched The Great British Sewing Bee together, which was so good! I highly recommend it, it’s like the genteel, British version of Project Runway for home sewers). Oh, and then there’s the accent. Not gonna lie, sometimes I make him say certain words (like “schedule” and “vitamin.”).

Anyways, he went to go see his family back in England for Christmas, so I made him a mustache tissue holder and a travel bag with the bridges of Portland on it created by a local designer:

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I also made my dear friend, Kady (who I’ve blogged about before), a retro-inspired apron with vintage hat fabric, as she often wears fun hats to the office.

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Of course, I liked hers so much, I had to make one for myself!

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I’ve also been doing some fun vintage events, most recently Church of Sinatra, a once-monthly event hosted by Julie of Fab Gabs. There are going to be a ton of vintage events in the next few weeks (including the Fur and Feathers Luncheon, a Gatsby Soiree, and a co-ed vintage pajama party) that should provide lots of blog fodder for you all.

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Yes, that is a martini glass brooch.

 Cheers, everyone!