Contemporary Pattern · Entertaining · Finished! · Holidays · Home Dec · Modern Sewing

A Shakespearean Halloween

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Happy (Belated) Halloween, everyone! Peter and I threw our Halloween party the day-of, after having to postpone due to several unforeseen circumstances last weekend . First, the oven caught on fire Saturday morning while I was baking a cake (it sounds worse than it was – part of the protective coating on the heating element that sits on the bottom of the oven was exposed, and started sparking). Luckily, we caught it early so there wasn’t too much damage, but it was finally fixed on Thursday (Peter and I have both been working longer hours this week). Then on Saturday afternoon, Portland had a pretty bad windstorm and we lost power until early Sunday AM. We made the decision to postpone after the oven fire, and we were very glad we did when the power went out (although it would have added to the spooky element!).

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Anyways, I love throwing parties and getting my Martha Stewart on, and this event was no exception. I don’t know how I originally conceived of the Shakespeare theme (there are a lot of spooky elements in his works, especially Macbeth), but once we had that as the theme, I ran with it. The food was so much fun to plan, and we named the dishes after puns on Shakespeare plays. We served:

  • Much Ado About Nutella Cookies
  • Hamlet and Cheese Tart
  • King Pear Cake with A Midsummer Night’s Cream
  • To Pea or Not to Pea Salad

I also made apple cider with shrunken apple heads, and we had a basket of Shakespearean insult cards guests could pull out and read to one another, which was super fun!

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As for costumes, I originally was going to make reproduction Elizabethan clothing for both Peter and I, but I quickly realized the time and budget constraints we were working with, and scrapped that idea. Instead, Peter wore his “You Discussed Me” Shakespeare T-shirt, and I whipped up a hostess apron just in time. I saw this purple spider web fabric at Mill End last month, and loved it so much that I had to go back and buy a yard. I used one of my favorite apron patterns, McCall’s 6177, which is sadly out-of-print now and no longer on their website.

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I also made an adorable witchy woman table runner to adorn the drinks table. I had so much fun putting this together, mainly because it was a super quick and easy project, and those striped witch legs with the point shoes amuse me to no end. The pattern I used was Simplicity 1343, “Autumn Table Accessories,” which also comes with patterns for other table runners, leaf placemats, and fabric pumpkins. Since my table is longer than the one on the pattern envelope, I ended up lengthening my pattern piece, which meant that I didn’t have enough fabric to do a backing (the main plaid fabric was from the stash and was originally supposed to be an 1860s pinner apron). This ended up being fine, as I just hemmed the raw edges. I also omitted the buckles on the shoes, preferring instead to do some faux socks using ruched trim (which is the same trim I used on the apron, as well!).

I’ve also been decorating for fall around the apartment, and thought I would share a few of my home dec pics, as I did a lot of DIY crafting!

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The mantle is absolutely my favorite, I love having a fireplace to decorate this time of year. I made the “Happy Halloween sign” out of scrapbook paper, as well as the wreath. Originally, I was going to make this wreath from Martha Stewart using scrapbook paper instead of cutting up an old book (the horror!), but the paper I chose ended up being too blah. Luckily, I bought some faux leaves and those ended up being perfect to glue over the paper leaves British Boyfriend (TM) helped me cut out. I then glued these to a ready-made styrofoam wreath form that I had wrapped an autumnal ribbon around.

Front door

I also found the perfect wreath for our black front door. Isn’t it darling!? I love that it’s more a general fall wreath, so I can continue to use it throughout November.

Well, that’s it for now, kittens. I hope everyone had a happy (and safe!) Halloween!

 

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Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing

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.

Commission · Contemporary Pattern · Dress · In-Progress · Modern Sewing · Personal

In-Progress: Going-Away Dress

Readers, my best friend is getting married this summer, and not only do I have the distinct honor of being one of the bridesmaids, but I also will be making her going-away dress! I haven’t done a full dress commission since last year, and I felt that a custom-made dress would be a great gift for her and way more personal than say a toaster. 😉

Anyways, the design we decided on was a bodice with a lace yoke, like my sheer-yoked Macaron (I’m actually using the same pattern), but rather than a pleated skirt, I decided to go with a circle skirt. I finished the mock-up yesterday (using muslin and really cheap Joann’s lace fabric), and she came over today for her fitting.

Here’s the dress pre-fitting:

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And afterwards, with her wedding colors (the dress will be blue, with a cream lace yoke):

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Not a lot of changes, luckily! The yoke was just a little big, so I pinched out the fullness. I’ll buy the fashion fabric and actual lace fabric this Friday when I go to the Sewing Expo! I’m taking a class on draping, which I’m very excited about.

How about you, readers? Anyone ever make anything for a friend that was going to be a bride? Or anybody taking any fun sewing classes soon?

1950s · 1960s · Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Vintage

The Julia Lennon Dress

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Ok, so Julia Lennon didn’t actually wear a dress like this, BUT Anne-Marie Duff wears one very similar in her portrayal of Julia Lennon in one of my favorite movies, Nowhere Boy. It came out in 2009 and chronicles John Lennon’s adolescent days, and the start of the Beatles (who are surprisingly never mentioned by name in the film).

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Speaking of the Beatles, one of my new co-workers is an older gentleman who told me this past week that he remembers watching the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, after he saw the Beatles picture that I keep in my cubicle. Suffice it to say, I was totally jealous about this and we’ve now bonded over both our love of the Beatles and how we wish it was still the 1960s (which is kinda funny, because I wasn’t even alive then, but minor detail).

Anyways, I wore this dress to our curator’s housewarming/wedding reception party he had today. I had a lovely time chatting with friends about reenacting, antiques, and history, all in this amazingly beautiful decorated home with all this wonderful old stuff.

The punch was excellent . . .
The punch was excellent . . .

As for the dress, I started it last year, but finally finished this morning, as I had so many issues sewing it (I broke 2 machine needles in the process of constructing it, and had to take out all the gathering stitches because they looked awful, so I decided to pleat the skirt instead). The fabric is this great border print I picked up at a thrift store last year, and I used Vogue 8184 for the bodice. This is actually the first strapless dress I made, but more out of necessity as I ran out of fabric. Now I understand why strapless bodices are boned, because this thing kept slipping down. Luckily I had the vintage cardigan to pair it with, so you can’t really see it, but I may have to use some of that boobie tape in the future.

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Oh! I also fully lined it, since the main fabric was so thin and sheer.

Alright, time to get ready to go to bed, as it’s back to the daily grind tomorrow. I had a lovely 3-day weekend (it was President’s Day today here in the US), but I need to pick out my outfits for work this week. Yes, I do that, don’t judge me . . . .

1850s sewing · Blogging · Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Holidays · Modern Sewing · Musings · Pattern · Personal · Reenacting · Reenactments · Regency era costuming · Vintage

2012 – Sewing Year in Review

I thought it would be fun to do a sewing year in review, and when I saw the Top 5 of 2012 idea  on Kim-ing (who in turn got it from Crafting a Rainbow) I knew that would be a perfect way to reflect on my sewing projects from this year! So, here we go . . .

Top 5 Favorites

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1. Red suspender skirt. I wore this one twice. Once at the 1938 picnic, and then again for my vintage photoshoot. I’ve always wanted a suspender skirt, and to have one in red that I made myself from a vintage pattern just puts a smile on my face.

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2. Graduation dress for Lauren. This was my first modern dress commission, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. Best of all, Lauren loves it and says she got so many compliments during her party, so yay!

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3. Regency short stays. So proud of myself for venturing into another era in terms of costuming, and I love that I used all natural, nerdy historic textiles for this one and made my own hand-made eyelets.

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4. A frock for the end of summer. I love this little dress, and when I wore it downtown this past summer, I got so many lovely compliments.

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5. My sheer-yoked Macaron. Love this cute little dress and I can’t wait to have another occasion to wear it to.

Top 5 Sewing Fails

1. Rachel Berry Halloween dress. You think I would have started this one sooner, but no. In my defense, I was still adjusting to working full-time.

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2. Speaking of work, my next sewing fail is the skirt I made for work. I’ve only worn it once as the fabric has stretched (that’s what you get for using a cheap poly-blend that’s on sale).

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3. Mid-19th century corset I made this past summer. I used cheap cotton sateen from Joanns and some of the bones were too long, so they kept popping out (despite the fact that I used cotton twill tape to bind it).

4. Not altering that red vintage dress in time to wear for my Christmas party. The bodice is a bit too big and will need a bit of work, so I wore a polka-dot dress instead.

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5. My Regency dress for Bastille Day. I wore this one once and it looks like I’m being choked.

Top 5 Lessons Learned

1. I don’t need to have a new dress for every reenactment. This used to be a huge thing for me, and I would stress myself out the week before a reenactment to finish a new dress. I’ve learned this year that well put-together, historically accurate dresses (like my green wool fan-front) are worth the effort and will get more wear then something hastily thrown together.

2. You can’t care somebody into caring or love somebody loving. Not sewing related, I know, but it’s one of the huge lessons that I learned in 2012.

3. On a similar note, sometimes it’s best to let things go and do what’s best for you. I know that sounds selfish, and maybe it is, but, at the end of the day, you only get one life. I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t give up your dreams for a boy. 😉

4. Ok, back to sewing now. I’ve also learned that I have too much fabric and will never have time to sew it all into fabulous things. I’ll probably be giving a lot of it away at some point . . .

5. Sorry! I can’t think of another lesson I’ve learned (I’ll blame it on the 3-day sinus headache I’ve had). If/when I do, I’ll add it to the comments, okay? Okay. 🙂

Top 5 Blogs/Bloggers that Inspire

1. The Fashionable Past by Katherine C-G. Katherine is an amazing costumer and I’m continually inspired by her productivity level!

2. Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing. Basically, this is my dream. Blog takes off and you get a book deal. Oh, and Gertie is also on sewing tv shows and wears fabulous repro vintage items that she’s sewn herself.

3. Vixen Vintage. I had the privelege of getting to meet Solanah this past summer at the 1938 picnic and she is every bit as fabulous in-person as she is on her blog. Solanah dresses vintage every day and she’s been one of my big style inspirations since I started getting into vintage style back in 2009.

4. Elegant Musings. I just adore Casey (in a fellow seamstress, vintage-enthusiast way).

5. And, finally, My Friends Are Married. Not necessarily a sewing blog (ok, it’s not at all a sewing blog), but it’s so hysterical and makes me not feel so bad about being single. 😉

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

1. Finish my UFOs! This includes the Rachel Berry Halloween dress, which is currently still in pieces.

2. Host a giveaway.

3. Wear more vintage and sew more with vintage patterns. I sorta got my feet wet (so to speak) with the suspender skirt, but I have a plethora of vintage patterns in my stash that I would love to use.

4. Write/film more tutorials. I have a ton of ideas for hair tutorials, which I’m really hoping to get filmed in 2013.

5. Move out of my parents house! 😉

Finally, this will be my last post of 2012 (fitting, don’t ya think?), as I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break. If all goes to plan, I should be back next year (which is also coincidentally next week) with a giveaway! Until then, Happy New Year!

Contemporary Pattern · In-Progress · Modern Sewing

Sneak Peak: Halloween dress!

Just a quick little in-progress shot of my Rachel Berry Halloween dress that I’m working on now. I managed to get quite a bit of work on it this afternoon, to the point where I only have the skirt and lining to construct. Ok, so that’s still a lot, but I can be a quick sewer when I need to be. 😉

I also need to make the shoulder straps, although I decided to do that after I sewed the striped fabric along the top of the bodice so that I can match up the stripes. I was a bit worried when the fabric arrived and the stripes seemed to be further apart than in the original, but I think it’ll be ok.

Ok, that’s it for now. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Personal

A modern skirt for work

“Work?” you ask? Yes, you heard that right! Work!

Readers, I’ve landed my first post-college job. Though office temp work is not the dream career of mine, it’s nice to finally have more than $200 in my checking account. Plus, there’s only so much daytime television watching one can do. 😉

Anyways, I started this past Monday and making the adjustment from mostly staying at home to working 40 hours a week has been quite difficult! I just come home exhausted and only feel like eating and napping. Except for a few hand-sewing projects (which I find soothing to do in the evenings), I’m giving myself permission this week to not really sew while I settle into a new routine. 😉

Anyways, this is a skrit I recently finished for work. It’s another stash-busting project, with the zipper, fabric, and pattern (Butterick 5285) all coming from the stash.

While I like the final result, this fabric was just a nightmare to work with! It frays like crazy, and the pleats in the back got in the way when I went to put in the zipper.

Another thing I was a bit surprised with in beginning work is how casual everybody at the office dresses (I’m talking jeans and t-shirt casual, and not just on Fridays). Despite this, I’ve decided to adhere to the adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and will not be giving up my pencil skirts, cardigans, or ballet flats anytime soon. 😉

So, how about you, readers? I’m curious: Have you ever made anything to wear to work? Do you dress professional in a sea of casual-ness?