Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can you believe this...

came from Forever 21?

Denim Gigi Glamour, $30

Of course, the sad thing is that being from F21, there is an extremely good chance it was ripped off from some designer collection.

However, how else could a student, or any other budget-savvy person expect to afford a dress so beautifully conceived and draped? The original of this dress probably cost more than $300. So for that... thank you Forever 21.

Now, if only I would wear a strapless dress. The one I made has only been worn once in it's existence.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dress as Finished Project! - Burdastyle Anda

The Burdastyle Anda is finished and has been worn to work successfully. I will definitely remake this dress sometime because it really was easy.

My problem (and the reason it took so long) was in choosing this mystery fabric for the muslin. It stretched all over the place, which made it incredibly hard to hem. I ended up just biting the bullet and using the ruled lines on my cutting board, pinned the dress down across the shoulders and at the sides so that it couldn't move around. Then using the lines on the board I recut the hem* straight along one of those lines. This would have been easier to perfect it I had a rotary cutter but it still worked fine. I attempted to use my new 1/4" hemming foot but unfortunately, the slipperiness of the fabric wouldn't feed elegantly into the tool so I soon abandoned that method. Instead I just basted 1/4" from the edge and turned that upon itself between my fingers and winged it. It's definitely good enough for a first try/muslin.

I would love to try this dress again with a rayon challis, because I do love the draped shape of this dress. I have yet to try it with a belt but as the dress was meant to have an elasticized waist I'm sure it will look cute.

Now onto my next unfinished-but-soon-to-be-finished project.

The Goal This Weekend...
Starting Up Again

*It's now a bit shorter than I would prefer; two inches above the knee. No bending over in this dress allowed!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aris Allen on the East Coast

Checking out a new blog today through Sew Retro, I discovered another company selling reproduction vintage shoe styles.

I'm a big fan of California's Re-Mix shoes but I just don't have the money for them now. This semi-local, east coast company, Aris Allen, sells their shoes at such affordable prices, ($40-$90) it unbelievable. The brand was created by a swing dancing couple in D.C. so it may be because they know if actual dancers buy their shoes they will definitely get return business because the shoes will wear out much faster than "civilian" shoes with that kind of constant use. Since these are created especially for swing dancing, that means they're made to be comfortable, right?* The shoes can be bought online at

The shoes I'm talking about are lovely. There are so many that I want and I just found out there is an Aris Allen Factory Outlet not too far away in Baltimore!

Peep-Toe Mary Jane, $89.95 (My faves!)
1930s Heeled Oxford, $64.95

Closed Back Wedge, $89.95

Nubuck RugCutter, $79.95

* I just found out through the website that their shoes are used on Dancing with the Stars so they are comfortable!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Living Wild in RVA

I'm actually going out to see a band tonight. Yes, you heard right, on a Friday! I can't believe how long it's been since that has happened. I have never heard or seen the band before, but the description of their music sounds interesting. It will also be at a bar I've never been to before and I don't expect to know anyone there.

This is my current idea of high adventure; new people, new place, and new music. Yes!

About being psyched, I'm just tired of being blah and blasse about everything. I want to look at all things as opportunities for knowledge and enjoyment and really start to live in the moment. I realized I don't have to be living the most exciting life as long as I'm getting something worthwhile out of it (see here). So looking for the best time, all the time isn't the way I'm going to be happy, because what if it isn't the best time, then?

So reading a book in a new park, trying a new restaurant, talking to a stranger in line about her cool shoes can all be good things that might lead to even better things...or not. So yes, the idea of new people and just new things in general gets me excited. It may not sound like it's going to be my favorite music, but who knows? That's exactly how you do find new things to like.

Another Retro 1920s treat!

Available at Dressmaking Research I found this great poster of 100 dresses from the 1920s. Close-ups and back views of all the dresses (plus sewing lessons like the ones below) can be accessed from this page and the poster can be purchased here for $20.


Lookee here!
Draping with two straight edges, an instructional page explaining how to make this dress from Draping and Designing with Scissors and Cloth, a book published by the WIDAS (Thanks again, Mary Brooks Picken!) in 1924 and now available through Bramcost Publications at

Two more outfits illustrated and explained in the sewing lessons are below; the New Draped Vogue of 1926 and the Magic Dance Frock of 1928:

1926 1928

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Other Vintage Dressmaking Joys

As I was researching Ms. Mary Brooks Picken, I found that the entire contents of four of her instructional books, including The Mary Brooks Picken Method of Modern Dressmaking are available online at the Home Economics Archives at Cornell University. This archive, whose full name is actually Home Economics Archives: Research, Tradition, History (HEARTH) is a great resource, as many of the educational books created at WIDAS and many other vintage publications on home sewing are available there.

I tried a few search terms and here are some of the books I found that HEARTH has available:

Pattern making by Agnes K. Hanna, 1921.

The dressmaker: a complete book on all matters connected with sewing and dressmaking from the simplest stitches to the cutting, making altering, mending and caring for the clothes Butterick Publishing Company, 1916.

The elements of dress pattern-making: Magyar dress-cutting for technical classes, home workers & professionals by Amy J. Reeve, 1912.

The dress you wear and how to make it by Mary Jane Rhoe, 1918.

Note to Gertie: Don't think I wasn't secretly hoping that Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing was among these free downloadable books!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The One-Hour Dress...

The One-Hour Dress (in three books)

Mary Brooks Pickens was founder of the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences (WIDAS) in Scranton, PA. She also developed a method of constructing wearable dresses in one hour. She published three of these particular instructional booklets, two in 1924 and one in 1925. They are small booklets, about 16 to 20 pages each, that take one through the steps of using one's own body measurements to cut the appropriate fabric pieces; no paper patterns were created.

Downloadable copies of these booklets are available here, here and here. I've now seen them all over the Internet, priced from $22 to the cheapest version found here at Emailed Vintage Patterns for $5. (However, I have not ordered this book or any others from these retailers so I cannot guarantee what you will receive from any of these links. As always on the Internet, tread lightly.)

Other mentions of the One-Hour Dress:
has a video series of tutorials using one of these booklets

Sunday, July 19, 2009

To Do List

You will notice, if you are a regular reader of this blog, that none of these things are new, but going along with this post, these are things I need to either finish or scrap to clear my mind for new projects and plans. To make clear, these things are on the on-going list, not things I ever expected to get done this month!!!

  • Finish hem on Anda dress
  • Refit red sundress
  • Finish yellow sheet muslin dress
  • Make these dresses for my nieces must be done by August 8
  • Finish OR scrap this previously cut out Isaac Mizrahi Vogue dress from years ago

Plans that can wait a bit:

  • Make this dress in this print
  • Purchase or make new belt for this dress, the one I made slides around too much
  • Make two "quick" slips from pink and blue poly fabric Sept 2009
  • Re-fashion a thrift shirt into something (no big hurry on this)
  • Possibly make something a shirt from some blue Denyse Schmidt fabric I bought three years ago or just let it rest for a bit longer until I'm motivated again.

Possible money makers:

  • Sell off length of navy blue wool crepe bought more than six years ago (Anyone interested?)
Nov 2009
  • Make or sell off beautiful upholstery fabric from many years ago
  • Finalize wrap skirt pattern for possible business plan
  • Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Movie Quote to Ponder

    "Your story, it’s not boring and ordinary by the way. We just get the one life you know? Just one. We can't live someone else's life or think it's more important because it's more dramatic. What happens matters, maybe only to us, but it matters."

    Screenwriters, John Kamps & David Koepp

    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    How Wonderful!

    From Best Vintage Patterns for $35.

    Wouldn't this be wonderful to own? Great (I can assume) styled photos along with the pattern illustrations of so many great vintage patterns. You could actually use this to make an internet pattern buying wish list. There are others available here.

    One of these days I will have discretionary funds again, so I can sometimes treat myself to something like this. Today, though I'm going to treat myself to an Icedream cone from Chick-fil-A, less than $2 (!) and oh so delicious. Yum.

    Wednesday, July 08, 2009

    Fashion In Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

    Director: David Fincher
    Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett
    Costume Design: Jacqueline West

    More links for articles and pictures of Daisy Fuller's red dress and other costumes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:
    • Los Angeles Times Oscar Watch column on costume designer Jacqueline West.
    • An article about the Balanchine dancer, Tanaquil Le Clercq, that West used as inspiration for Daisy.
    • Video clip of the designer talking about designing for the character of Daisy.
    • The dream sequence dress as one of 27 Iconic Movie Dresses*. In this, the designer says that the dress was influenced by Claire McCardell, which you know is already one of my favorite American designers.
    Detailed shot of the dress:

     I adore the bodice.

    A similar McCardell silhouette.

    Then, I found this image at a clothing auction for an actual McCardell that has the same hook & eye fastening that West mentioned using in homage to the designer.

    More Daisy costumes from the film:

    *However the writer, Scott Feinberg seemed to have stopped this series before he really got into it. He wrote three and that was all. If anyone can lead me to the rest of it I would be grateful. Thanks!)

    Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    More About MORE

    Referring to the quote from yesterday:

    "A Buddhist friend told me that if you're feeling stressed, get rid of the stuff you don't need and finish the things you've started."

    Does anyone know the actual Buddhist saying (or passage) this is from? Thanks!

    Monday, July 06, 2009

    Inspiration from MORE magazine?

    Yes, I'm reading MORE magazine. I bought an issue a few months after my 40th birthday and was very upset. That issue had a multitude of articles and ads dealing with plastic surgery that angered me. I expected the mag to be about embracing and loving the age you are instead of trying to hide it. However, I've since read a few more issues left at my local Starbucks and have given the mag another chance. One thing I've enjoyed are the cover subjects and interviews; Patricia Clarkson, Holly Hunter, Michelle Obama, Emma Thompson, all smart, sassy, independent-minded women who would be cool to hang out with.

    Well, enough about the magazine and more about why I'm writing. In this month's July/August issue, in an article about actress Julia Ormond there are these few lines of text that hit me.

    "A Buddhist friend told me that if you're feeling stressed, get rid of the stuff you don't need and finish the things you've started."

    Though Julia then goes on to make a joke about it, I thought it was great advice. I mean I've been sorta moving in that direction, but I guess I really needed to see it put that simply for it to really hit.

    Saturday, July 04, 2009

    Have a Happy 4th of July!

    Thank you SO MUCH Antoinette, Wende, Mme. Chez Shoes, and Smitty* for your kind words the other day.

    They truly helped me through a bad night. It's just hard to be reminded just how lonely you are, in like the deepest sense. I have a lot of changes to make in my life (things I really wish I could change, like yesterday, though that's not possible) and sometimes things like this can slow me down. Luckily, I also received help through a late night talk with a friend in Miami that helped me stop crying and to get over that hump.

    Today is another one of those days for me where everyone I know is busy doing something and I'm just trying to keep myself busy at home and get some things done.

    So go out there and celebrate for me and I hope your 4th is full of fun, food, and friends!

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009

    Does It Ever End?

    Due to some last minute signatures needed from the VA State government, I had to stay home today from work. So, yes even more money I won't get paid this week.