Monday, December 29, 2008

Vintage influences in modern fashion

Of course we know that many of today's fashion fads are influenced by the past. But how many popular modern patterns have roots in the past is always interesting to find as I sort through my favorite vintage pattern sites.

The similarities to Simplicity 3835; a VERY popular Built by Wendy pattern, can be seen here in Butterick 2932, Simplicity 5578, and a little bit of Butterick 6124.

Images: Lanetz Living, Out of the Ashes Patterns

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boatneck Top Solution?

McCall's 8251

Argghh, this pattern! I have loved it since I first laid eyes on it, but the satisfactory completion of my very first item from it keeps alluding me.

These images from a past J.Crew collection were how I saw the pattern turning out. I wanted several versions of the dress and the top. Alas, I'm still working on the very first one!

Here, I talked about it when I THOUGHT I was finished with it although I did admit that it had major problems in wearing because of it being too large on my somewhat narrow shoulders. Here I discussed my options for correction and here, I thought I had a solution in mind. Wel, after searching for the remnants I realized I didn't have enough fabric to really create the mod collar I was contemplating and the idea of adding a contrast collar was not appealing to me.

Note the gathers along the shoulder seams.

Then I saw this similar tunic in a Lucky issue I was recycling. I have already made a pleat down the middle of my top's front and taken in the equivalent ease from the back. But perhaps I will also try something like this in addition to the center pleat. I found enough perfectly matched seam binding (in the stash!) that I'm going to use to bind the neckline and with the remnants, perhaps create some faux godets* to close up the neckline. I really want this thing satisfactorily completed before the new year so that I add it to my slightly pathetic number of completed sewing projects in 2008.**

*I can't think of a better term. When I show it to you, maybe you can help me name it?
**Compared to some of you more organized sewers!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Stash

The pictures aren't the best but I wanted to get a quick "before" photo before I organize the bins.

This picture shows the two bins of fabric: the one on the left hold yardage bought for particular projects (which includes three yards of expensive navy wool crepe meant for this dress that I never had the guts to make more than ten years ago) and the one on the left has all my smaller remnents, linings, and assorted scraps. The smaller bin at the bottom holds assorted notions like snaps, velcro, seam guides, sewing feet, seam binding, tracing paper, hem tape, etc.

The only things missing from the notions bin are my two Mason jars; one filled with buttons and the other full of zippers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Suede Patch Cardigan - Oh shucks, darn it!

It may have taken me months to do this, but I am very happy with the belated results. Even more months earlier I had discovered a hole in the sleeve of my favorite black cardigan and I put it aside to mend it one day. Before I was ready to do that I put it on one more time and while I blogged my heart a way the little hole became a huge awkward mess. I didn't want to throw it away so I started to think fabric patches but didn't really know how to do that. So the cardigan just waited...and waited.

Luckily, a few weeks ago, I read about someone darning socks on their blog and thought perhaps I could use that to at least tighten up the hole which I could then cover up. I searched around until I found two tutorials that I thought explained the technique well and set down to fix up my sweater. This one, explains a more intricate method very well, but I found this video tutorial* the most helpful, because I could actually see it step-by-step.

I didn't have a darning egg/mushroom so I just used a rolled-up magazine under the hole and though a bit awkward, it worked fine.

This is the corrected side.
(Enlarge to see
blurry detail.)

Note: Very important, remember to darn from the wrong side, once you are done the opposite side is the one that will look much better than the "working" side. I did it wrong, but luckily for me, it didn't matter because I was going to cover the hole with a black patch, but if you are darning socks you want to be sure to do it correctly.

Embroidery needle and red floss.

I decided on using this black faux suede that I inherited from my mom's old fabric stash. I also had burgundy and camel to choose from but decided to go with the matching fabric color.

However, I then realized I had no black embroidery floss so I ended up going with bright red instead! This is what the inside of the good arm looks like. I used a backstitch which allowed the inside to look quite cool too.

To sew on this patch, I used an old pleather wallet** underneath to keep from stitching both sides of the sleeve together.

*The video tutorial found on Molly Knits Sweaters was created by

** Ooh, a step up from the rolled-up magazine, see?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If only it could really be mine...

Check out my DREAM closet at Making it Lovely.

Right now, (hopefully) Nicole is just putting the finishing touches on it and soon (very soon, I hope) she will be shipping it down to me, where it will live in my bedroom.

I must have all those boldly patterned dresses and all those vintage-looking Mary-Janes.

Do you see that luscious tray of girly accessories?

Just Lovely.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ha! I think the joke is on her.

Renovation Therapy is upset about the lack of traffic on her blog so she enlists me to tell EVERYONE who reads my blog that she has a contest going on.

I sure hope she told a lot of other bloggers.

A little update...

  1. This top (McCall's 8251) may take a while. I can't find the leftover fabric from when I made it. All I could find was one long strip that could be a collar if I make a "perfect" drafted pattern for it, which I'd have to because it is all there is left.

  2. On this shirt (Simplicity 4077), buttonholes have been made (!), the hem has been finished, and now all I need is to sew on the buttons during a TV-watching activity.

  3. I darned my black cardigan sweater a few weeks ago and have finally pinned on the faux suede elbow patches. I went with plain black because I had the perfect fabric in my bins.

  4. I actually pulled out all of my fabric this weekend (looking for the fabric in #1). Found remnants of outfits I wish I could remember because the fabric is so cool.

  5. I have more craft or upholstery-type fabrics than fabric for garments so...

  6. I feel better about the unfinished wardrobe list. It really isn't that much fabric (see #5). And as time has gone on, the patterns I wanted to use for particular fabrics have all changed anyway. Ex. I don't think I'll use this Built by Wendy pattern, Simplicity 4111, since so many people have had problems with the bodice and instead will use this similar pattern, New Look 6836, view A.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now these are cool...

I saw these in an ad for Chanel a few days ago and without looking I already found a similar and cheaper version online at Urban Outfitters here for $14. The difference is that the originals from the Winter 08/09 collection are opaque white and black and the UO version are sheer and black. I guess you could layer them over white tights? However, I'm sure someone is making a pair closer to the Chanel version, right?

These are the other pair that Chanel showed on the runway. UO has a knock-off pair for these too.

Photos: Chanel, Frances Tulk-Hart for The New York Times

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In the Details: Those Mod-Collared Girls

 Butterick 4430

McCall's 8877 and Simplicity 7341


Simplicity 7807 and Butterick 4290
Isn't it strange how similar the color stories are?

Vogue 6963 and Butterick 4367

Images: Lanetz Living and Out of the Ashes online pattern sellers - links at right 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good News Tuesday

1) I saw Jon Hamm on the Today Show before I left for work.

2) That was right after a report that Mattell (maker of Barbie®) has officially put the Bratz dolls out of business! All current Bratz doll merchandise must be pulled from the shelves. Mattel now has the choice of either destroying the merchandise (YAY!) or marketing and selling the dolls themselves (BOO!!!!)

I haven't done any research yet, but if you find a organization(s) petitioning Mattell not to do that last horrid thing, let me know. Barbie; no matter how you feel about her, is already an American institution, but please don't let them give Bratz dolls the same opportunity!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A (Non) Progress Report

Simplicity 4077

Well, the shirt has no hem or buttons yet. What is it about making buttonholes that intimidates me? I don't remember any traumatic buttonhole-related disasters in my past. Hopefully, I'll get it together this weekend.

The other top still seems to be too wide in the neckline despite my creation of a 1/4" inch (1/2" in total) pleat down the center front.

the pleat

Does anyone have a suggestion for a way to finish the neckline and create a closer neckline? I was thinking something like a stand or a wide Nehru-like collar but I'm not sure how it will look on this style top.
McCall's 8251

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The work continues

The shirt is going great. It actually fits! Going with a 10 instead of a 12 was definitely the way to go. I have to hand sew the collar to the shirt, insert the sleeves, hem the bottom and make buttonholes, but otherwise, I have a good idea that it will look good and fit well.

Here are inspiration pics from around the blogs of other talented sewer versions of Simplicity 4077, here, here, here, and a another view from the pattern here and here. If this really works out, I might have my first TNT shirt pattern. What a relief that would be.

Now I'm going to Jo-Ann's and Hancock Fabrics to look at possible buttons to finish this up. I think I can afford some buttons.

Note: Sorry, I can't seem to get any decent pictures taken.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Guess what I'm doing again...

I actually did some sewing these last two weeks. Of course, again, not as much as I planned.

I have three pairs of pants (new ones from a year or so ago!) that haven't been worn because they needed to be hemmed. Hopefully, I will get this done soon. Pants and skirts I already have; tops and sweaters I need, so I had never made these alterations a priority since I didn't have enough stuff to wear on top.

So the two things I already started working on were tops. One was this shirt, which I had to totally re-fit and try something different with. I still need to redo the neck facing and hem the bottom at a different length. I really wish I had made a muslin before I started on this one. However, I am planning on making a muslin for the dress version because I would love to make a few of that type of sheath dress.

View D

The other top is this pattern, Simplicity 4077. I took a chance, measured the flat pattern, checked the pattern's listed wearing ease, and then cut out a smaller size than I normally would have. Hopefully I won't have the fitting nightmare I had with the other shirt above. Once I have pictures, I'll be sure to show you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What does this say about the USA?

Seen in the November issue of Men's Vogue (read because Daniel Craig was on the cover!)

Designer Michael Bierut's was commissioned by the magazine to create a new USA pin. His goal was to create a new "politically neutral" pin to show national pride but without the controversy of flag pins. However, I feel this is probably even more controversial. What do you think?

What do you see when you look at that?


Is that national pride or just glorification of avarice and a lack of self-awareness? Or at the least, a very different message that we sent the other countries of the world with the election of our next President?

In the article, they mentioned that his first idea was to attach pin backs to U.S. minted pennies, so perhaps the message was intentional?

If you wish to purchase the pin, you better hurry! Only five thousand of Bierut's pins were put on sale for $10 each. The proceeds benefit an admirable organization called Puppies Behind Bars, that trains inmates to raise puppies to become service dogs for the disabled (including Iraq War veterans) and explosive detection canines for law enforcement.

Photo: Richard Pierce

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mad Men: Rachel and her closet

Rachel Menken

Rachel is a woman working in a man's world on a completely different level than Joan or Peggy. She's at the top and determined to stay there, well, at least until she "falls in love." But in the mean time, in no way does that mean she sacrifices the fact that she is an extremely attractive woman. Her brains and beauty come as a package deal. That was clear to me the moment I saw her in her purple Chanel suit and double-strand of pearls. No sex-less gray suit and glasses for her.

The Mai Tai dress with matching stole, lipstick, and nail polish. I wonder if Menken's has an in-store beauty parlor? At this point she was under the impression that Don was single.

It's a far cry from the outfit Rachel chose to wear when she greeted Don for a tour of her empire, a few episodes earlier. I was pretty disappointed with this outfit because it caused her to blend in with the surroundings. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was shot through with metallic (maybe Lurex?) gold threads. It caught the light every now and then and looked expensive.

How about that extremely bold color and that hat? What else could scream "I am a woman" louder than that ensemble? Fortunately, it also happens to be what she is wearing when she bumps into Don, now that she knows he is married. Therefore, you can say it also works as a "Look, lust, but don't touch" outfit.

The "Chanel" woman in you can be found on vintage pattern sites with search terms like JackieO and wiggledress.

Vogue 5766, Advance 9516, Vogue 5102, Vogue 4206, and
Vogue 5548 (just the last look)

Friday, November 21, 2008

This necklace is a wrap

Every time I see a wrapped-bead necklace, I'm intrigued. I first saw one a few years ago, then again on Banana Republic's website, then there was a free pattern from Amy Butler (see below), and now tutorials to make them can be found all over the web.
Here are four tutorials I found that approximate the look:
A. A video tutorial shown on Martha using small wooden balls.
B. Amy Butler offers a free "Fabric Necklace" pattern in a .pdf here.
C: This method eliminates the tying action and uses beads on the outside of the fabric too.
D. Two versions, here and here, use several different fabric prints and Styrofoam or wooden balls to construct separate beads that look somewhat similar to a necklace seen in fashion magazines last year.

Photos: The Museum Shop for the Art Institute of Chicago, Marc Jacob for Louis Vuitton.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great Gift Idea!

I just saw this on The Sale Rack. Excellent gift idea for the holidays: Give folks what they are cutting back on!

In this economic upheaval, people are choosing to cut back on luxury and not-so luxury items. Why not help them out? What could be sweeter?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fashion In Film: From Penelope to Alice...

Penelope (2006)
Director: Mark Palansky
Christina Ricci, James McAvoy
Costume Design: Jill Taylor

Between frequent viewings of Mad Men from Netflix, I ordered Penelope to view. I heard about the movie from Anne (in Reno) and the costumes from the fabled needle. It seems that even though the film enlisted at least 6 incredible British actors for the film, only about half used their own accents. In addition, even though the film was filmed in England I'm not sure if it was supposed to "be" England because the family at the center of the film were American. (However, Richard E. Grant, who plays the father is really a Brit.) Even lovely Scotsman James McAvoy was playing an American!

My rule is never make anyone Scottish, Irish, or Welsh fake an American accent! I mean, what a waste! I love "Kevin Walker" played by Matthew Rhys on Brothers and Sisters but once I heard he was Welsh all I wanted to hear was his real voice speaking the lines. Check out U.S. network TV and you will be shocked how many so-called American characters are played by people from the four countries above or Australia.

I had built myself up to see the fashion in Penelope. However, though the clothes were incredible (well, actually, only the ones on Christina Ricci) the movie wouldn't really let you see them. Strange angles, quick shots, and dark lighting were the culprits. Also a lot of the incredible set design was obscured too. Of the film as a whole...well, it had the whiff of a contender. As in, it "coulda been a contendah!" Too many things were shorthanded, glossed over, or really didn't make sense. If you've seen it, don't you think the curse/prophesy was intentionally misquoted at the beginning? And didn't it seem that Penelope's father already loved (or at least accepted and liked) her for who she was. Which, you know, would have...should have...counted for something.

My biggest pet peeve...Christina was TOTALLY TOO CUTE even with that pig nose. Any guy who has a chance to marry an adorable heiress who is supposed to lose the pig nose once she marries and runs away, is just a big idiot. Now if we had really been given a good look at her pig ears (seen only when she's a baby in a flashback) maybe? But as she looked in the film. Puh leese.

So that's my thoughts on Penelope, unfortunately I don't have much to say on the clothes because I found it too hard to find pictures of the outfits that I liked. I even tried to photograph them while I was watching the DVD. But overall, if you like (or LOVE) Anthropologie, then you will like/love the clothes in the movie. If anything, it should inspire you to buy a few basic pieces like your favorite shoes and your winter coat in great bold colors (like purple or green) and then throw on a truly eye-catching scarf.

To see the fabulous sets for the movie check here on Apartment Therapy.

Latest movie costume news!

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Director: Tim Burton
Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp
Costume Design: Colleen Atwood

I just saw a few shots from the next Tim Burton film and I have to say I'm really excited. It's Alice in Wonderland, folks! And Bonus, it has at least one of my favorite sexy Brits in it...Alan Rickman! However, it's not to be done until 2010, so it will be a long wait.

Check out this drool-worthy costume on Alice - the coat, vest, shirt, the skirt made of rows of enormous periwinkle RIC-RAC (!), and precious period boots.

See this detail of the coat's exposed seam detail; the seams are pinked, yes pinked! Also note the shirt's striped cuffs on the otherwise sheer sleeves. Can I have it all, please?!

The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes (a great source of info*) doesn't even have official confirmation on the designer but strongly believes that it is frequent Burton collaborator, Colleen Atwood, due to the similarity to costumes from the Lemony Snicket film she worked on.

Images:, INFDaily
, Tim Burton Collective News

* If you ever want to recreate a movie costume, this is THE site to check out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you for the virtual hugs, I really appreciate the support.

Well, I sadly realized I wasn't in shock...I just wasn't surprised by the situation. The last two years have been bad in terms of forward momentum (none) and achieving goals (slow-going). Just as I think I'm almost done with school - BAMM! - two more classes.

Which really is more of a problem than it seems. I already knew I would have to take another loan to pay for the Spring semester but now I have to add the cost of three more classes to that amount. I also have learned that two classes at a time with a full-time job is extremely difficult and there's no way I could do three. My original plan was to do two in the Spring. My college has a summer semester where all the classes are at a set time 5 days a week in 4 to 5 week sessions. Hey, do other colleges do this? The only time I was able to participate in this system was when I was either unemployed or two years ago when an employer allowed me to cut my hours down to 35 per week. I think that is the only way I could even attempt to do this again. However, this time it would be all summer long in order to fit three classes and
I have a job which barely allows me to pay my bills each month as it is.

So that's my dilemma. I need to work to pay for them but I need less work to study for them or to even attend them. So, I'm polishing up the resume (alongside all the newly laid-off people in my town.) Woo hoo, this is going to be fun.

Can you sense how much I want this to be over?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cuddle-up sweater weather

What does J. Crew have against chunky sweaters? A few years ago, I used to look forward to their February sales in order to stock up on discounted quality cotton and wool sweaters, sometimes with unique sweater details.
I have a lavender wide-cowled neck one, a cream "fisherman"-like cabled crew neck with long fold-back cuffs, and a green directional rib v-neck with belled sleeves, basically Anthropologie-like shapes without the embellished do-dads. While I appreciate the sleekness of their assortment of cashmere with its slimmer look, but maybe it's just me, but I truly like the feeling of being encircled/swaddled in a comfy sweater. I miss those types. The only suitable substitutes I've found are examples from Sundance Catalog, L.L. Bean, and such.

These sweaters may not be the height in high fashion design but as long as they feel good, come in unique and flattering colors and fit well, showing off the figure, one can be happy.

However, I still miss having uniquely designed sweaters at these price points (during clearance) so
come on J. Crew, I dare you to entice me back. In fact, I double-dare ya!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ciao for now...

Due to outside complications and the fact that I am having a doozy of an allergy attack (can't concentrate, have no energy) blogging at An Examined Life will be taking at least a week's rest. I hope it doesn't take much longer but I need to handle a few things (health, school, job, maybe an additional job(?) etc.)

If you miss me, then check out my blog roll. You'll never be bored with those folks. See you soon!

A new day has come (finally!)

I can now believe that some dreams do come true and that anything is possible!

Imagine that.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Very Peggy Olson

I just came across this pattern and it immediately made me think of my favorite Mad Woman.

This pattern, Butterick 8453 is available at Lanetz Living right now! If you have the amazing 31" bust measurement needed for this pattern, you better snatch it up.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ok, what now?!

I am in shock.

Complete shock. You don't want to be around when it wears off either. I don't even want to be around.

At 1PM this afternoon I had a meeting with the dean of my department/my advisor about my upcoming graduation next semester.

I have met with him many times before and we have filled out this same graduation check-off sheet every time.

...Uggh, just telling this story is going to be a pain...

Backstory: I am finishing a long-delayed undergraduate degree so that I can have a feeling of completion, and perhaps enable me to justify a higher salary in the future. (Yes, I know that a Graduate degree might not even do that, but every bit counts, right?)

During my college career, I originally was working toward a degree in Painting and Printmaking. [Note: The following sentence is very important.] Halfway through my Sophomore year in 1989, I decided to switch to Art History and all those introductory drawing, painting, and photography classes became general electives, over 20 credits worth.

After a hiatus of 10+ years I returned to school and marshaled some past credits and some new ones acquired at a community college into an AA degree. Once that was accomplished I returned to my old school in 2004 to finish that Art History degree, believing that it wouldn't take that long, even on part-time status. At least it would be better than starting all over with a new major and losing most of those completed credits.

I walked into my meeting today, mistakenly having the idea that I only needed two, maybe three more classes in order to graduate. One History and two more Art History classes.

My advisor agreed with me that both numerically (I have the requisite 120 credits for my major) and categorically (I have the 15 credits of History, the 15 credits of Foreign Language, the 6...etc.) I have what it takes to graduate.

However, [Note: first time anyone has mentioned this] out of the 45 courses required at the 300 and above level, I have only achieved 30 of those. I still need 15 credits of classes. The three classes I was prepared to take in the Spring will only count for 9 of those credits. Therefore, I still need to take two MORE classes.

How did this happen?

Those damn electives, that's how!! Those electives that take up space on my transcripts count for nothing in this particular regard because they are only 100 or 200 level introductory classes. I have so many (too many) superfluous classes on my transcript! And now I have to take TWO MORE classes in ANYTHING (yes, that's what my advisor said, it doesn't matter what) just as long as they are categorized as 300 and above in order to graduate. Why couldn't anyone have pointed that out to me before this, my second to last semester?

So there's no question that I will just have to buckle down and take five more classes.

Of course, this again delays my graduation, my moving out of Richmond, and what is starting to feel like the beginning of my new "personal life-allowed" life.

I was given the unique option that the University DOES ALLOW in that I could march at May Commencement as long as I then completed those six credits in the summer. At this point, doesn't that seems like the most depressing thing, second only to not graduating at all? How can you throw your hat up in the air, when in the back of your mind runs the all familiar refrain, 'so what is going to happen NOW to keep this from becoming a reality?'

I want a hug.

A BIG hug.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hurry, Quick, Fast!

My bad. I should have mentioned this as soon as I found out about it.

PBS is allowing free viewing of Joanna Rudnick's documentary "In The Family" online until October 31, only two days away. It is Joanna's own story as a woman with a family history of breast cancer who chooses to get tested for BRCA, the "breast cancer gene."

The women in my family also have a history of breast cancer and my oldest sister already had herself tested. She does not have the gene. She told me about this film but I haven't viewed the one-hour film yet. I plan to do that tonight after class.

If you saw it when it originally aired on October 1st or if you choose to view it online in the next two days, let me know your thoughts, ok?

Yardsale re-use and re-fashion

Izod Jeans floral shirt
At the yard sale, I bought a great man’s shirt for only 25 cents. As soon as I saw all the shirts on the rack, I thought back to some recent shirt refashions I had seen on the internet. Could I make an adorable retro shirt from this instead of having to create one from scratch or another untried pattern? Hmmm…

It’s not long enough to make a dress so I want a shirt/tunic with probably an empire waist and tiny gathered sleeves; taking a cue from the fabric and making it very feminine.

These are the projects and tutorials that I’m looking at as research:

Cap-sleeved shirt by Paperdaises at Craftster
Clevergirl's shirtdress from one shirt
Clevergirl's shirtdress from two shirts
An empire-waist idea on whip up
Man’s shirt into woman's skirt at Label-Free

Then here are a few tutorials for adapting the sleeves or collars of any refashioned garment:

Wiksten’s gathered cap sleeve
Flour pleated collar tutorial on Sew, Mama Sew!

If you see any more tutorials, please let me know. However, don't expect to see a finished shirt project anytime soon as the temperature here has dropped drastically and I'm now all about corduroy and flannel!