1940s · Commission · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern · Vintage

The Starella Sisters Make Their Debut

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Readers, I’m super excited to share with you my latest commissioned project – pin-up girl dance costumes!

You see, two of my vintage model friends, Sanjna and Pearl, recently formed a vintage dance duo, The Starella Sisters (which is a combination of their last names). They had their debut performance this past weekend at the CD release party for the Jenny Finn Orchestra.The girls did a coordinated dance to the song Chinatown My Chinatown (which you can listen to here) complete with parasols and the Charleston. The venue for this was perfect, The Secret Society, which is located in an old Victorian building and has the feel of a 1920s speakeasy (yes, I was in heaven). British Boyfriend (TM) and I made a date of it, and met a very lovely woman named Tina who told us about her Scottish husband and adorable fluffy cat named Sebastian (Hi, Tina!)

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The costumes are an altered version of Butterick 6019, which is one of the patterns by Gertie. I shortened both the wrap skirt length and made the bodice a separate bralette top, per the girls’ request. This project actually involved a number of new sewing techniques for me, including sewing pom-pom trim on (not difficult at all, just something I’ve never done before) and shirring the side back bodice pieces with elastic thread in the bobbin. I’d seen this technique done once before on an episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, so I already knew that I’d have to wind the bobbin by hand (you don’t want this stuff to stretch before it’s sewn!). What I wasn’t prepared for was how much elastic thread this project would use! I used up my entire 11 yard spool of Gutermann elastic thread (yes, it comes on 11 yard spools) and had to re-wind the bobbin 3 or 4 times, which I guess makes sense as you sew lines on the side back pieces 1/4″ apart. The end result was fabulous, though, and really provides a great deal of movement and adjustment, which was perfect for this project.

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Don’t worry, I tacked the seams down and clipped the threads!

 

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The fabric is a vibrant magenta brocade with a fire-breathing dragon motif on it. I love how the finished outfits turned out, but this fabric was both difficult and time-consuming to work with as it frayed horribly (in fact, I’m still finding threads all over the apartment!) and I had to use a press cloth any time I needed to iron a seam, as the polyester content meant direct contact with the iron would melt it. I fully lined both garments to both hide the unseemly fraying seams and add durability (I knew the girls would be moving around a lot in them, so I wanted the garments to be able to hold up).

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Post performance costume change (I did not make these dresses!)

The Starella Sisters have another performance planned next month for the holidays and they’ve asked me to be their official costume designer (!) so I’ll have another couple commissions in the works to share with you guys. Stay tuned for that!

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Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern · Personal

Forays into Special Occasion Sewing

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Most people that don’t sew have a mistaken notion that sewing your own clothes is a money-saver. Holy Hannah, is that far from the truth! Case in point: the dress I made for Peter’s sister’s wedding. It would have been much cheaper (and time-efficient) to buy something from Modcloth, which I did consider. Unfortunately, it takes like 10 days for anything they ship to me to reach my front step, and then there’s always a risk that once it does show up, it won’t fit. So, I decided that sewing a dress would probably be my best bet.

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I knew I wanted to wear a fancy wrap dress in a shade of blue, and after looking at numerous patterns, I chose Butterick 5983, which has a lovely wrap dress bodice that is pleated at the shoulders. Luckily, I made a muslin mock-up first, as there were several alterations that needed to be done. First, I shortened the length of the circle skirt about 9 inches, so that it was knee-length, rather than tea-length. I also pinched in the shoulder seam, as it was too full for my shoulders. As for fabric, I used a gorgeous Kenneth Cole blue cotton sateen that I got locally at Mill End Fabrics. I love this fabric, it has a great satin feel to it, but because it’s a cotton, is way easier to work with. I also bought several yards of lace fabric to create an overlay over the sateen, but when I got the fabric home and saw the two together in non-fluorescent light, they just didn’t work together, so I had to scrap that idea. Hopefully, I can use the lace for another project, as it’s really lovely.

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The back closes with a hand-pricked lapped zipper (somehow I didn’t get a photo of that, sorry!). I didn’t do this to be fancy, but rather, because somehow I’ve managed to lose both of my zipper feet for my machine (this is one of the reasons I hate moving, people). I’m sure it’s somewhere in the sewing/craft stuff, but in the rush to get this dress done, I really didn’t have the time it would take to thoroughly look for it, so hand-pricked zipper it was! This was my first time using this technique, and I actually really like it! I found I got way more control with hand-sewing it (the zipper pull is always getting in the way when I insert zippers by machine), and it also looks neater than my machine-sewn zippers.

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Despite being sick as a dog on the day of the wedding, I had a great time and got so many lovely compliments from everyone on the dress (which they couldn’t believe I had made myself!). It definitely made the hectic last-minute sewing worth it. The wedding ceremony took place at the Sponza Palace, a 16th-century building in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Afterwards, we walked out to the harbor and took a boat ride around one of the small islands, before reaching shore again for the reception at The Grand Villa Argentina. The wedding ceremony and reception were absolutely gorgeous, and I’m so grateful that I was able to attend!

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Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern

A Modern Skirt for Work, Take II

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Hey, look! I actually sewed something!

Anyways, after my first modern skirt for work debacle, I decided I need to make another one (I’m a masochist, I tell ya!). Now, don’t laugh when I tell you where the inspiration for this one came from.

Katie Couric.

Really. She’s a very fashionable news woman lady (yes, that’s a technical term), although now she has this talk show that grandma and I watch occasionally, as it’s on every night after Dr. Phil (and we never miss Dr. Phil, or “the doctor,” or sometimes just plain “Phil” as grandma likes to refer to him). The only downside is that I think she may have replaced Anderson Cooper’s talk show, as I never see his show on anymore.

Anyways, grandma and I were watching a Katie Couric show on steroids in sports, and I saw her wearing this cute little grey skirt with a basic black tee, and had to make one. I got the fabric from Hancock’s (it’s a wool blend), and the pattern is Simplicity 1717 (view B). It’s supposed to be one of those “Amazing Fit” patterns, but let me tell you, the fit was less than amazing. I had to take the whole thing in 2.5″ after cutting out my usual size 14 for skirts. Now, I did forget to staystitch the top edge right after I cut it out, so that *might* have contributed. Might have. But certainly not a whole two inches worth!

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Well, the zipper’s supposed to be invisible . . .

Still, I’m really proud of finishing the inside edges of this thing (even though I had to rip out lots of stitches when refitting it), as the fabric frays like crazy. I bound all the raw edges in bias tape, as my usual stitching and then pinking wouldn’t have helped much here.

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Just for funsies, a sneaky picture of me actually wearing it at work. Because the mark of a fashionable working woman is outfit shots taken in the bathroom, right? 😉

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I also wore it with the slip I made a while ago but never blogged about (for some reason. We all know how much I love posting about my underthings on the interweb). Anyways, it’s silk twill from Dharma Trading Co., trimmed with black lace and a black ribbon. Super classy, if you ask me.

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Finally, a huge apology for my lack of posts lately. One of the disadvantages of being a temp is that my position will end soon, so I’ve been looking for other jobs like a crazy lady. I did get offered 2 positions lately that I didn’t apply on (they’re both temp office positions, as well). Apparently I’m *that* good at typing and answering the phone. 😉

Giveaway · Pattern

The Multi-Era Pattern Giveaway!

Happy New Year, readers! I’ve decided to kick off 2013 by giving away not one, not two, but THREE patterns! You see, when I sat down to choose what item in my stash I would like to give away, I realized that the blog here is multi-faceted and that I have readers that visit here for a variety of reasons, be it my costuming, vintage dalliances, or modern sewing. I couldn’t pick just one pattern to embody all 3 of those things, so I’ve decided to give away 3 patterns instead!

The patterns, from left to right are:

1) Simplicity 7212, which includes patterns for a pinner apron, collar, undersleeves, and 2 dresses, perfect for mid-19th century stuff. Includes sizes 6, 8, 10, 12.

2) Simplicity 2127, a peasant blouse pattern published in 1951 in a size 16 (this is vintage sizing, which equates to a 34″ bust and 28″ waist). The pattern envelope is a bit torn, but all of the pieces are there, and the best part is that the tissue actually has printed stuff on it! No more having to decipher those perforations.

3) Simplicity 2508, a Project Runway coat pattern with lots of options. I know Spring is right around the corner, but it’s still cold outside and cute peacoats still a necessity. Includes sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12.

To enter, please leave a comment below with which pattern(s) you want. I’ll close the giveaway a week from today on Tuesday, January 8th at 7 pm PT and then draw 3 winners at random. Good luck!

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!

For Sale · Pattern · Personal

Autumn blog sale!

It’s time for another blog sale, readers! This one comes out of necessity, as my parents are selling my childhood home, and I have to move everything to mom’s (we won’t get into the emotions involved with this here ;)). Suffice it to say, I probably will have more stuff to sell in the near future, as I become more able to part with things in the stash.

As usual, here’s how this works: Leave a comment about what item(s) you want. Once you’ve done that, I’ll e-mail you with your total and a shipping estimate (you do have to leave an e-mail address to comment on any posts, but don’t worry, these are never shared!). Unfortunately, at this time, I’m only able to take cash or checks. Sorry for any inconvenience that may cause!

Alright, onto the goodies!

Costumes/Reenacting Clothes:

Reproduction Regency dress made of black and white striped cotton swiss dot lawn, and fully lined with cotton batiste. I wore this once to an event in July 2012, and it’s too small for me. Has an empire waist and closes in the back with a drawstring at the neck and waist. $75. Measurements:
– Waist: up to 28”
-Bust: up to 34”
– Skirt length: 44”
– Sleeve length: 22.5”

Mid-19th century wrapper: Reproduction wrapper made of reproduction cotton print fabric inspired by a piece in the Sturbridge Village collection. I wore this once at an event for a total of probably 15 minutes. It’s just too small for me, and I felt a bit “meh” about it after I made it, so I’d love to pass it on to somebody who could use it! The wrapper has a v-neck, bishop sleeves, piped armscye and waist, a fitted lining made of 100% white cotton, and self-fabric ties. $175. Measurements:
– Bust: up to 34”
– Waist: up to 27.5” with lining hooked
– Sleeve length: 22.5”
– Skirt length: 44”

Reproduction mid-19th century sheer dress made of a barred lavender stripe sheer cotton fabric. Another dress that I wore once and feel “meh” about. Dress has a v-neck, waistband, bishop sleeves with a cuff and sleeve cap with ruffled trim. Closes in the front with hooks and eyes. $190. Measurements:
– Bust: 34”
– Waist: 30”
– Sleeve length: 18.5”
– Skirt length: 40” (with a 6” hem)
– Skirt circumference: 176.5”

Reproduction gored Edwardian petticoat made of 100% pima cotton with a ruffle on the bottom. Petticoat closes in the back with a drawstring. I made this for the Titanic Centennial in April, but never wore it as the circumference of the dress I made was smaller than that of the petticoat. To see more photos (including a back view and close-up of the ruffle) click here. $50. Measurements:
– Waist: fits a 28” best, but because of the drawstring, will fit anywhere from 24” to 33”
Hip: up to 44”
Length: 34”

Apparel Fabric:

Floral printed cotton (almost a twill), perfect for a modern dress. Piece measures 56″ wide by 1 3/4 yards. $10

Tribal-looking border print fabric, perfect for a modern dress. Piece measures 42″ wide by 2 yards. $10

Remnant piece of black and white striped 100% cotton baby rib knit. Piece measures 27″ x 30″, and there are a few scrap pieces in there, as well. $3.

Bright pink 100% cotton shirting fabric (plus thread!). Piece measures 58′ wide by a little over 1 3/4 yards long. $11.

Camel colord sateen. Cotton (97%) and spandex (3%) blend, this fabric would be perfect for a jacket for fall or some cute cropped pants! 50″ wide, 2 yards long. $12

White cotton shirting with light and dark blue dot stripes. Piece measures 46″ wide by 1 yard 30″. $9.

Brown and white cotton striped shirting. Piece measures 58″ wide by 1 and 3/8 yards. $7.

Peach cotton eyelet fabric, originally from Vogue Fabrics Store. Piece measures 59″ wide by 1 and 3/8 yards. $6.

Patterns, $2 each:

Top Row:

-Butterick 4254 (historic corsets), sizes 6, 8, 10

-Simplicity 2365, sizes 16, 18, 20, 22, 24.

-Simplicity 3823 (Special occasion halter dresses), sizes 14, 16, 18, 20, 22.

-Vogue 8701, sizes 6, 8, 10, 12

Bottom Row:

– Simplicity 2508, sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

Simplicity 2936, sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, 16  SOLD

-Simplicity 2703, sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, 16.

Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern

The wacky print modern dress

Just a quick post tonight before I head out the door! So, I finished this new dress yesterday, and I think I started on it the day before that. I just needed an easy project that I knew would go together after the struggles I had with what eventually became the red taffeta circle skirt. And, yes, an “easy” project for me means a dress with a lined bodice and gathered skirt. 😉

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I used my modified version of Butterick 4443 (one of my favorite bodice patterns ever).  It’s the same pattern I used for the Jenny in Paris dress, and Rachel Berry halloween dress. I just love having a go-to pattern that I know will fit (I’m sure you all feel the same!).

This project was another stash buster, with the fabric, zipper, and thread all coming from the stash. It’s nice to see the stash start to get smaller, albeit slowly. 😉 And it’s especially nice to finally have used this fabric! I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I just can’t cut into a piece of fabric because I have so many projects I want to make with it, but I have a limited quantity of the stuff, so I have to decide on one project. Which can be incredibly difficult. 😉

Anyways, I’m wearing this dress tonight for a Project Runway party I’m going to! To tell you the truth, I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by the designers this season, although I’m not ashamed to admit that I love the drama. 😉

What about you, readers? Any fellow Project Runway fans out there? Anybody working on a stash busting project?