Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fashion In Film: {500} Days of Summer (2009)

Director: Marc Webb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Costume Design: Hope Hanafin

A Built by Wendy denim skirt

Check out that beautiful detail at the bodice and on the skirt!

The Western Costume dress

About that relationship I mentioned earlier...well, I was the Summer. Although he was the one that actually got married within our 500 or so days. Oh, and I broke up with him on February 15th, the day after our one-year anniversary. Yeah. It happened.

No movie for me, just a highly commercial holiday that woke me up to what wasn't working

To whom it may concern: I'm sorry for the unintentioned resulting irony of our breakup story.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Is A Cake!

Yes, cake.

Check out Hurry Up Cakes for their Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog cake tribute. These nine cakes were recently featured on the lovely guilty pleasure site, Cake Wrecks. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fashion In Film: 500 Days of Summer

I just saw this Saturday and it affected me in a weird way. I saw an old relationship in it and I'll have to sort out those feelings. So, though, personally for me, it was thought-provoking, I still really enjoyed the film.

If you've seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (another favorite of mine) then this is the movie for you. It's different, like the tag line says, "It's not a love story, it's a story about love."

If all of that was not enough, the soundtrack is incredible too!

I totally fell in love with the character of Tom Hansen, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I have had a crush on since 3rd Rock From the Sun) and his vintage-like wardrobe. And finding this just about killed me...he can dance!

And Zooey, as Summer Finn, I wanted most of the clothes in the movie especially the dress she wears to a co-worker's wedding (not the one shown here).

In a bizarre coincidence I found out that the dress could be true vintage from Western Costume, which has been outfitting the movie business since 1912. This company featured prominently in two books about movie costume designer Edith Head that I just finished reading. Bravo, costume designer Hope Hanafin!

A perfect idea of Summer's wardrobe from Cafe Con Leche

More costume ideas from the "500 Days of Summer" Polyvore group are here.

JUST found this site with great shots of the clothes at!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Funky Tunics/Dresses - Simplicity 2804

Simplicity 2804

I rarely ever sew a pattern twice (except for this and soon to be this). I tend to get bored with same details, however, I can definitely see the benefit because sometimes you find a better way to do something.

The second version (purple) of this dress was so much easier to sew than the first (green*). When I cut the fabric out weeks ago I was intimidated by the thin yet heavy weight of this rayon/spandex knit. When I was younger I sewed quite a few knit garments but knit with Spandex or Lycra wasn't readily available so I always used more stable knits. Now those I loved. I guess I just like fabrics with enough weight that they don't stretch out of shape.

Because this knit did. In fact, I hated cutting this stuff out, it oozed where it shouldn't have and got tugged out of place with the slightest touch. However I think I'm over it now. The feel of these dresses once finished changed my mind. Slinky and sexy feeling for sure.

On my nieces who actually do have perfectly beautiful faces

I actually made these for my twin nieces but I might have to buy some more this fall and make another for me in the purple. The twins are very athletic (and bustier) and the dresses fit them so much differently, in fact I probably should have made them one size larger for them and will just make it even one size smaller at the top (an 8 tapering down to a 10) for me.

I did buy a little bit more of the purple (so pretty!) to make a top that I cut out last weekend and even started on already. Yes, I know it's not on my to-do list but I don't want to give myself time to get scared of the fabric again, so...

Pattern: Simplicity 2804

Pattern Description: Knit mini dress or top with neckline variations and tie belt

Pattern Sizing: View A & B

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very much. There isn't much to them but I did appreciate that Simplicity wrote them with both regular machines and overlock machines in mind.

More photos here.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I liked was the simplicity and the drape of the design.

Fabric Used: Rayon/Spandex knit in Potent Purple and Calla Green from Jo-Ann Fabrics, which had some great colors at the time.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I made both View A (the dress) and View B (the top) as dresses by adding the skirt panel from one to the other, resulting in dresses with different sleeve treatments. After making the dresses according to the printed measurements, I also felt they needed to come down a size. This is something you can't anticipate until the garment is practically finished. However; with this design alterations are easy as it only means increasing the side seam allowances by the desired amount.

I had a problem with the neckline of the green dress not only because the fabric had stretched but also because I hadn't figured out the right tension and length for the zig-zag stitch I used. It ended up stretching the fabric even more; in fact, the back neckline kept rolling to the wrong side. I set it aside and started on the purple version which was freshly cut out of the fabric and I was able to do it correctly. Therefore, I recut the binding strip and redid the neckline of the green dress.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes.

Conclusion: A very cool and sexy design that is an extremely quick sew and can be done in a few hours.

*Green dress photograph is before I redid the neckline and skirt portion.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

T-otally T-ubular

Oooh, here's a refashion worth trying!

From The Coveted here.

If you already have two matching oversized t-shirts, this could be truly cool to play around with. How about it, Antoinette?

I've seen the t-shirt worn as a skirt with the sleeves turned inside for pockets but I never saw it combined with an upside-down T for the top. Now that's cool. If you don't make your own clothes normally, definitely buy an original from the designer, Ben Reingold's Etsy shop at takeoffyourclothes. He has lots of cool stuff; from belts to dresses to hats.

My Sewing Library

The Vintage*:

Better Homes & Gardens Tailoring Suits and Coats (1966) part of their Creative Sewing Library series. I don't know when I will be using this one but it's good to have, just in case.

Simplicity Sewing Book (1969) - it seems most of my vintage patterns are Simplicity so having this book is great. It teaches something called the Simplicity Unit System of Sewing which corresponds with the instructions they used in their patterns at the time. There are many different versions of this book, so don't just look for this cover. I love this book!

Good & Easy Sewing Book: For you and your family (1972) by Joanne Schreiber and Carter Houck. This one is interesting; it is part of the Betty Crocker Home Library series. Yup, even Betty got into the home sewing business. Another excellent book, it's right up there with the Simplicity one.


Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1976) I love this book and will tell everyone about it, if I can. It covers tools, fabric, fitting, construction, closures, tailoring, and has some cool sewing projects for clothing and for the home. It's an all-around good reference book, more so than any other book in my collection.

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework (1979) Yes, I have both of them from my late mother's collection. This one covers everything; embroidery (Crewel), needlepoint (Bargello), applique (Reverse), patchwork, quilting, knitting, crochet, lacework (Tatting & Bobbin), macrame and rug making!

Lingerie & Sleepwear: 24 original designs you can make yourself (1981) edited by Jack Angell. This was also my mom's and I can't remember if she ever made anything from it. It does have one killer pair of saucy French-looking pajama's that I should try to make some time.

Sewing For The Home (1988) part of the Singer Sewing Reference Library. This is the first book that I bought myself. This is another great reference book. This is wear I found my tried-and-true pillow cover pattern. No zippers, buttons, or snaps...just a simple overlapping envelope closure in the back. I have even used this method for box-cornered seat cushions. The book covers all types of draperies, more advanced cushions, and bed coverings, including a duvet cover that I made from upholstery fabric.

The Modern:

Fast Fit: Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure (2003) by Sandra Betzina. I will be using this book shortly to fix my yellow dress muslin.

Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe (2006) by Wendy Mullin and Eviana Hartman. Cute and stylish designs used to show you how to change and customize a prepared pattern.

S.E.W. Sew Everything Workshop: The Complete Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide (2007) by Diana Rupp. I actually find this book a more comprehensive beginner guide to sewing than the above Sew U. It gives you a variety of projects with the patterns included.

My back issues of the Taunton Press magazines; Threads (Nov 2006) and Sew Stylish (the 2007 and 2008 Spring & Fall issues). Priceless!

The Wish List:

McCall's Sewing Book, (1963) to go with all my vintage McCall's patterns.

McCall's Step-By-Step Sewing Book (1966) This is a possibility, but the first one may be enough.

Sew U: Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics (2008) - I have a bit of a fear of knits with Lycra in them, perhaps this book will help.

*The first six are from my mother's collection.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

As She Said...

A few months ago I discovered a sewer/sewist through the A Dress A Day site. After going over to her own blog, Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, it seemed she (aka Gretchen) had found a vintage sewing book that I hadn't discovered yet, Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing from 1952. It was a companion piece to 14 pattern designs that Vogue Patterns released in the early 1950s. At some point she decided to attempt each and every project set out in the book. And I (along with many others) have become hooked to her almost-daily posts on vintage fashion and her projects. In fact, she has been responsible for getting me interested in my own projects again. So thank you G!

I hope you enjoy my little interview with her. If you want more, you can check her own back story post here, her progress up-to-date post here, and all fourteen projects that she will be completing here.

When did you start sewing and what was your very first project? Do you still have it? ; )

Well, I remember learning the basics from my mom at a fairly young age. I still hear her voice in my head sometimes, telling me which way to turn the flywheel and things like that. She ended up signing me up for a children's sewing class; I think I must have been around 10 at the time. We made the most god-awful elastic waist pants with matching vests. I remember that mine was in a blue stripe seersucker. I'm positive I didn't save that atrocity. I don't think I ever even wore it! My favorite thing about the class was having a little pink wicker sewing basket that I would carry back and forth.

How would you consider your sewing proficiency level, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced?

I'm going to go with intermediate. I feel like I've had some sort of sewing knowledge all my life, but it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that I committed to learning fashion sewing. I took a few classes, and read through back issues of Threads that I bought on eBay--years and years worth. But really just practicing has made me a much better sewist--I find I improve with every project.
How much of your wardrobe (in percentages) do you think you have made?

Maybe around 40%. But that number is definitely growing! I don't enjoy shopping the way I used to. Well, unless it's fabric shopping!

How much more fashion sewing had you done before you started your blog?

I was pretty involved at BurdaStyle, where I'd won a dress design contest. (See my design here.) I was also a finalist in the SewStylish Spring fashion contest, a bit of a notorious one actually. I liked being creative in my sewing pursuits, and I still do, but I'd say I'm much more committed to learning the craft and taking direction from patterns now.
What was the reason you started this blog?

I think I needed a sense of direction, in sewing and in life. I'd been unemployed for about four months, and I had a lot of uncertainty about my future. I'm a children's book editor, and publishing is really unstable right now. While I was out of work, I had tons of time to sew, but my sewing was kind of purposeless. Also, (and I only mention this because it feels like an important part of the story), I'd just quit drinking for various reasons, and I found I had a lot of free time and energy to use. I wanted to use it in productive ways.

I'd bought my copy of Vogue's New Book For Better Sewing (VoNBBS) last year, and it had just been sitting around. One day, I was flipping through it and the idea struck me--how cool would it be to commit to making every project in the book? And to write about it? It suddenly energized me in a way I hadn't felt about anything in a long time. I guess it's kind of the sewing version of Julie & Julia.

About a month after I started the blog, I got a fabulous job offer. I'm back at work now, and more committed to the blog than ever. I think it gives me a focus inside and outside of work, and a certain kind of balance in my life.

Where did you find your copy of Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing and how much did you pay for it?

I found it on, for $10.25, which is a great price. You'll see some very expensive* copies of this book out there, but I don't think it's an exceptionally rare book. Mine has a large coffee ring stain on the front, which is probably why it was priced so low. I think the stain gives it character!

Do the book instructions mirror the instructions sheet in the pattern; or how exactly does the book complement those instructions? Do you feel the book was necessary for the success of the garments or could that have been achieved with the pattern instructions alone?

The book is much more detailed. The instructions that come with each pattern are actually very sparse, so I think unless you had someone to help you, the book would have been necessary for an absolute beginner.

Do you think that this book concept if done today to go along with the Big 4's seasonal offerings (AND if financially feasible) would be a good thing or not?

Well, I think we have so many more resources today as sewists. If we're having a problem, we can post on Pattern Review or BurdaStyle, and get help almost immediately. Plus, it seems that styles from the Big Four are much more fickle these days. It would be hard to come up with a collection of 14 garments that will stay in style--and in print--for long enough to make a book like VoNBBS feasible.

VoNBBS claims it will make you a better dressmaker. However, that leaves you without their instructional help on making trousers. Will you be looking for a later date Vogue book for that advice?

Who knows what I'll be interested in after this whole project, but I'm guessing not. I don't have a huge interest in sewing pants, though I do love a good pair of 40's style trousers, so maybe!

In VoNBBS, are you going to make the little girl's dress too?

Yep! If it's in the book, I'm making it. I would love to have a little girl someday, so it's kind of wishful thinking too.

Please tell me you are going to make that ball gown. I think we all need a ball gown, if only to give us a reason to find an opportunity to wear it or to give us an excuse, NOT to turn down an opportunity to wear one.

Ha! I'm definitely going to make it, but I've been toying with the possibility of shortening it to knee length so it's more of a party dress. I think I'll put a poll up on the blog to let my readers decide!
[Poll is here, 18 more days to vote]

What kind of sewing machine do you own? How long have you had it?

I have a Brother PC-420, which I bought about a year and a half ago. I like it a lot, though it probably wouldn't be the machine I'd choose today. My favorite feature on it is the automatic thread cutter!

If you bought another machine, what feature(s) would be most important when making that choice?

I'm actually in the process of buying a vintage machine. It's a 1952 Singer Featherweight, made the year that Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing was published. The more projects I make from the book, the more curious I am about what the actual 1952 sewing experience was like. Also, I like that the Featherweight is such a time-honored machine, and I know it will be a good investment. I found mine for a very good price on eBay.

What are the state of fabric stores in your neighborhood? How frequently do you find yourself buying fabric and notions online?

Well, I live a 20 minute subway ride from New York's garment district, so I'm lucky enough to have access to the best of the best. I do the majority of my shopping there, but I sometimes also order from, because I love the selection. I live in Queens, and there are a couple neighborhood fabric shops, but I don't like the selection at all--it's such a huge difference from the offerings in the garment district, despite the proximity. Lots of polyester, and I cannot stand polyester. One handy neighborhood shop is a sewing and vacuum repair that also sells notions, including zippers and Gutermann thread. It's nice to have that in walking distance.

Again, thanks for the inspiration, Gertie!

It's still available here for $75 and I just it on Amazon for $111! Please, no one buy these copies, those prices are ridiculous.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another one!

McCall's 5108

I think I'm going to start a Flickr group of all the overskirt/wiggle dress patterns I can find. I'll let you know when I do.

Here it is: Wiggle dress/overskirt combo

Well, like, if anyone else but be cares?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

For Gertie

Oh, about the wiggle dress/overskirt photos; I couldn't find any pictures on the web (I'm not done looking!) but here are some of my favorite patterns of the concept.

From my personal pattern wish list:

Simplicity 1812 Hostess outfit over pants!

Simplicity 3035 (1959) My favorite!

Gretchen, see how similar this dress is to the "Joan Holloway" dresses you've made? You could just make the overskirt for one of them. Just a suggestion though because you don't really seem like the type to take shortcuts.


Simplicity 2602 Simplicity 4499

McCall's 9434 Butterick 9168

Looking at these, I kind of wonder if Simplicity Patterns was behind the whole movement? They had quite a few similar patterns and don't forget Simplicity 2370.

I think, of the ones above, that the most successful is Butterick 9168, because one could believe that it was a completely new dress. Though I think the tulle/net overskirt concept is charming, I think I would rather make the overskirt opaque; either matching the dress or coordinating with it like the top-left image on Simplicity 2602. But the thing about these patterns that I like so much...the wiggle dresses alone are spectacular. Check out those bodices and necklines? All beautiful.

McCall's 9278

This one I don't think works at all. What were they thinking with that sheer purple overlay?!

So, what do you think about the wiggle dress/overskirt combination? Would you wear this today, career dress by day, cocktail dress by night?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fashion In Film: The Audrey Project

In response to this, I did a Google search on "overskirt" to see if I could find any actual photographs of this type of cocktail dress. I was just about to add "cocktail" to my search when a story on the Larabee Garden Party dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina came up from a blog called Glass of Fashion. I am now trawling through the archives of this cool blog.

One of the sections of this blog is close to my heart, Project Audrey. This is the blog author's "mission to catalogue Audrey Hepburn’s film outfits via screenshots and other images". Cool, huh?

At this point, she's done Paris When It Sizzles and Sabrina! To view, click on the individual outfit photos for more detailed photo analysis. Her current project is my absolute favorite fashion movie, Funny Face! She only has one outfit up for that one but of course it's the best one...the wedding dress!

Hey, even Molly Ringwald copied the dress for her first wedding*!


*Her's was also the first wedding (in 1999!) where I saw wedding cupcakes. They were made by her mom.

Images: first two from Glass of Fashion, last from InStyle magazine, date unknown.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out and About in RVA

So yeah I went out to see a band by myself last week. Not a new thing, but it hasn't happened in a long time. And sure, if I hadn't bumped into another huge Tulsa Drone fan as soon as I got there it wouldn't have been as enjoyable. And maybe if it hadn't been in walking distance I might not have bothered, but hey I got out and had a great time and I look forward to doing more things like this.

Well, this was the first time I had seen a music show at Gallery 5. There were four bands, and I had heard of only one, Tulsa Drone.

I nicknamed the first band, Heliotropes, as Cute Chicks With Bangs, because well.... they were. And young. They were also talented with great harmonies and the drummer's giggling was really adorable. Oh, and the singer kept getting electrocuted when her hair touched the mike. Well, that's what it looked like anyway.

The nickname fits, right?

The second band, Ancient Sky, was awesome; from their set design (70s hippie den with living-room lamps and tapestries draped to cover the amps) to the lead singers amazing voice. Sorry guys for only asking about that cool stained glass lightbulb you had but it

The third band, Suzukiton, was a wonder. My thought all night was "Which one of these is not like the other?" Major long hair band with throbbing bass and guitar lines. I had to go sit on the stairs at the extreme back of the venue to protect my ears. Yeah, when you see the band's drummer put on protective head gear you have been warned.

Tulsa Drone: What can I say, I love this band. Atmospheric music with a great bass and drum line, PLUS it has dulcimer! What more can you ask for? Somewhere someone wrote that it was like music for a movie soundtrack about trains. I can see that.

***I just found out there is something called Bollywood Nights at CousCous every second Saturday w/ DJ Carlito! So, who's up for it?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet The New Family Dog

Meet Canyon!

Ain't he sweet?

He's a twelve-week old Lab mix with possible hound or pit bull*. He already knows how to speak, sit, lay down, and I even saw him roll over once. The only thing is if you stand over him he expects a treat. So that's why he looks so intense in the photos and right after each one he'd bark at me like, "hey, where's my food lady?" He's quite sassy (read: bossy), which means he fits in perfectly with my family.

*Personally, I don't see the pit.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What I Do Late At Night

Guess what I was doing until 4AM this morning?*

Sewing! I took that green dress apart and redid the bottom and the neckline binding after I saw how the purple one (pics coming soon!) came out. I'll write more about it later, but I hated that fabric! I was so intimidated by it that I cut it out weeks ago and left it in a pile. Unfortunately, I think that was the problem; the fabric stretched out. The purple was such a better (easier) sew and therefore; since the dresses were going to twins who are going to attend the same college I HAD to redo the first one.

Tonight when I get home, I'll put the elastic in the sleeves of the purple one, take a few pictures, and then go out to see my favorite local band, Tulsa Drone, a few blocks from my house at Gallery 5. I really like the fact that I can walk there and back, so this should be fun.

Then tomorrow I leaving from work to take the train to NVA and then Saturday morning drive up to New Jersey to attend the twin's big bash and meet the new family dog. Yes, they already picked up a new pound puppy for the family. He's a lab mix (I swear they bought him just for me) and his name is Canyon after the family's recent trip to Arizona. So expect lovely cuddly pics of our new family dog when I get back.

Take care!

*Now, yes I meant to work on it much earlier in th evening, but an after-work 30 minute nap accidently lasted until 11PM, so I basically worked the same amount of hours I would have worked earlier.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

R.I.P.: July 28, 2009

Augustus, the family dog
Originally uploaded by lsaspacey
His name was Augustus W., but I called him "Auggie-doggie." He was my sister's dog for the last ten years. Because no one else in the family owned a pet, I considered him the family dog; he just happened to live in New Jersey.

Unfortunately, sweet gentle Auggie had to be put down last Tuesday because of rapidly growing cancer. Although I only got to see him but once or twice a year, I always looked forward to those visits.

He will be sorely missed.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Getting Things Done...

What I did this weekend:
  • Worked on the yellow sheet dress muslin. You know how you look to the wrinkles to figure out the fitting problems? Oy vey, do I have a lot of work to do!
  • Rewrote my resume. It's less descriptive but it does all fit on one side of the paper. Do you think the fact that the top margins are less than 1/2 inch matters that much? ;)
But most importantly...
  • Make these dresses for my nieces and must be done by August 8.
Simplicity 2804
View A top made as a dress

One down, one to go!