Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back to the Past

A while ago, I wore two dresses that were bordering on being discarded. One I thought wouldn't look good after the my "year of wasting away" but it seems I've recovered enough that it's going to stay in rotation. Another I thought just wasn't really my style anymore. But what style was I talking about? My before 1996 style or the after 1996 style, in other words, before corporate job or after? Good question.

I wrote about this before here, but here's a little more. In high school and college I was a pretty unique dresser. I only wore trends the way I wanted to, if I did wear any trends. I was extremely lucky as a kid that my mother was talented and could make all the Designer Vogue patterns I asked her to make, which culminated in me making my own Issey Miyake coat during my last year in high school (see below.)

However, after college and once I moved to Northern VA for a job, I stopped sewing as much. It didn't seem as if I had enough time anymore. I also started to feel I couldn't wear as much thrift store items as I did in college, that I needed to "step it up a notch." So I started to buy more clothing and because affordable clothing back then tended to be more mass market, my style seemed to fade into the background. Lately, at least since I've been back in school I feel a desire to dress more in the way I used to. More vintage-inspired, more experimental.

So for inspiration, I've been looking back at pictures of those days in college. Sadly, there are so many wonderful outfits I remember that I have NO records of. In truth, I was having so much fun taking pictures of other people that asking someone to photograph me rarely happened. But here are a few that I do have. Bear with me, some are embarrassing, like this first one.

This is me as a college freshman, believe it or not. Apparently, I was very impressed by Donna Karan's collections for Anne Klein at the time, and made this when I was still in high school. not typical college wear, right?

Dancing in vintage at a rockabilly show. I SO wish I still had this dress, the lace was set with almost-matte iridescent sequins.

New Year's (with Zion*) in vintage brown netting over gorgeous burgundy satin. This dress was way too big in the bust, I had it safety pinned closer to my body in this picture. I ended up giving it to my 5'9" roommate years later.

Style 2225

Yup, I had Liberty fabric before I even knew of it's reputation, I just loved how it felt. For this dress (a lost Style pattern Style 2225!), I even made covered buttons. The fabric was bought at G-Street Fabrics in Maryland. I loved this dress so much it hurt when the corset-like waist no longer fit me.

One of my many black dresses, this one I got in a clothing exchange with a friend, along with the velvet vest. I'm almost sure I'm wearing boots and black socks with this, or Mary Jane's.

An atypical outfit for me (I was no skater chick!), but a practical one for a Virginia winter when your main source of transportation is your bike! Check it out: boots, socks, ribbed tights, bike shorts under fleece shorts, knit hoodie, turtleneck, and all worn with a regulation black wool Pea Coat.

A red polyester shirtdress with an embossed floral print on it. The bodice buttoned and a hook and eye seccured the waist of the skirt which was attached to a red scratchy tulle petticoat. If you look close, you can see that the sleeves have turned-back cuffs with pairs of red buttons as cuff links. That's an old mens belt around my waist and the coolest little party purse that I wish I still had. The straps ended up falling off, something I could probably fix now. However, at the time, I just threw it away.

*that dog (my roommate's) shadowed me the entire time I had Mono and therefore, started my love of dogs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oolong Dress - Colette Patterns #1008 - Part 1

Style 1008: Oolong, the bias dress

Yes, I started this dress last year in October. I am JUST now blogging and finishing it. It went from a possible Thanksgiving dress, to X-mas, New's Year, my birthday, and then even missed Valentine's. So, it's now or never!

The pattern was a bit difficult from the beginning. While I compliment Colette Patterns on covering a large range of sizes, (I mean, wow, I'm only a 2-4 in her line) it sure makes it difficult to differentiate the lines specific for your size. I've never traced out a Burda pattern so I guess this gives me a little idea what that process is like. I ended up using colored pencils to trace over the lines, green for the size I need for the bodice and red for the next size up that I needed for the skirt portion.

Color tracing the size cutting lines

Just some of the pieces hanging all over my apartment for 24 hours at a time to let the bias stretch as directed.

I was originally going to make a muslin first, but then I pondered the pattern layout, all laid out single with no cutting two or more pieces on the fold involved, combined with the fact that the cut out pieces then would need to hang for 24 hours. My new lazy, procrastinating sewer self decided that it would be better for me to just "Go For It" instead of dragging this out. (HA!)

My ice blue poly lining

So I cut out the pieces from my final fabric and purchased some ice blue polyester for the lining (Sew Classic silky solid Silkessence in Denim Blue from JoAnns for only $4.99!). Still being a bit scared, I decided to construct the lining first before sewing the fashion fabric. This way, if there were fitting issues I could correct them in the lining first.

Look at how crisp these pressed edges are! This is my new favorite lining fabric!

Check out those Sophia Loren hips! That's why bias is so great. (Forgive the fit on the bodice, the gathers were not pulled up where they should be in this photo. The front actually fit great.)

And that J.Lo butt! See the need for a sway back adjustment? I have it pleated here to show the excess in the lining. However, you can see it fits great everywhere else it should.

Since this dress has no buttons or zippers (Hurray!) once I'd sewn the lining bodice I was so scared to slip it over my head. What if it didn't fit? I might possibly have fabric to recut it but the pattern had already been cut too. Luckily; it fit great, the only problem was a bit too much fabric in back right under the bra line and before my largest asset.

The lining after some corrections:

Next step, the fashion fabric shell...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Look what I found....

while looking through Stitches & Loops vintage pattern site.

Butterick 3935* from the 1940s, which is the pattern that Vogue Patterns reissued as Butterick 5281. I definitely recognized it because I had just complained about the reissue's finished garment photo in this post.

Doesn't look anything like the sketch, does it?

Maybe if you buy the original pattern the finished dress will look more like the pattern sketch? It's worth a try. The pattern is still available here for $22 (almost the same as the reissue's list price) in a size 16, which translates to a modern Bust 34", Waist 28", Hip 37".

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Must See - Do Not Miss!

I highly recommend that you watch the Masterpiece adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion this weekend on your local PBS channel*. Of the latest round of Austen adaptions, this one from last year, was my favorite. My emotion at the ending even surprised me.

It's the story of old maid (Wait, what? She's only 27!) Anne Elliot and the man that got away, Captain Wentworth.
  • Will they meet again?
  • Will he still love her?
  • Will they ever have a happy ending?
All questions you never really have to ask in an Austen novel, but it's still worth every minute.

When I initially watched this I had not yet seen the actress who played Anne Elliot; Sally Hawkins, in her Golden Globe-winning role as Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky. Now, I am amazed, because those two roles could not be more different!

As Poppy!

So first watch Persuasion and then if you get the chance, watch Sally again in Happy-Go-Lucky. Just let me know if she doesn't blow you away.

*To find your local channel and its schedule, click here.

Oops! I forgot to hit Publish

I just found this saved as a draft post from 2006! I think it's about time it was posted, right? Enjoy.

Ex-boyfriends in Heaven (Gwen Hart)

Ex-boyfriends never go to hell,
no matter how many times
you suggest it. No, they ascend straight
to heaven, where they speak French,
wear matching socks, and always,
always arrive on time, with a full
tank of gas and a bottle of wine.
They never curse your cat
or your mother, never call you up
drunk doing Arnold Schwarzenegger
impressions, never say Hey Rita
if your name is Tammy,
never say Hey Tammy
if your name is Joan.
They're better trained than dogs
and they smell better, too, better
than Twinkies or camellias, better
than anything on earth. Once
in a while, they take a holiday,
drive their Porsches down
through the clouds
in one long line and ring
the doorbell in your dreams,
offering tender apologies, tender
chicken cutlets, tender love.
But before you take one sack
of groceries, before your lips
graze a clean-shaven jaw,
before you let one polished
Oxford loafer through your door,
remember that as soon as they cross
the threshold, the truth will slip
in behind them: ex-boyfriends only
exist this way in heaven, or
whatever you want to call it,
their new lives without you.

by Gwen Hart from Lost and Found

Friday, February 19, 2010

My First Fashion Scrapbook

I think I spoke about my fashion scrapbooks and clippings before. My favorite one is a black bound sketchbook that I pasted magazine clippings in until it wouldn't close anymore. These images probably range from 1986 to 1990 and are from the magazines I read back then, Vogue, Mirabella, and Harpers Bazaar. Enjoy!

I believe this is La Croix (Darling!) from an old issue of Mirabella magazine. Anyone remember that magazine? It was considered "the thinking woman's fashion magazine" before Marie Claire (U.S.) was created. Is this coat not the most incredible thing? The embroidered brocade, the chunky necklace, and the charmeuse pants... yum!

Then stylist Sydne Bolden from an issue of Vogue in the 1990's. I was influenced by everything she wore in this article. I even made myself a taffeta ballgown skirt; however, mine was lavender like Lisa Eisner's in another issue of Vogue.

I guess I should have made a copy of this Clements Ribeiro dress at least 15 years ago when I pasted this in my scrapbook. But I still want a camel colored sheaf dress like this. So, when?

From Vogue, and I always think this was a Romeo Gigli design, but I may be wrong. Anyone else remember?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Has Taught Me...

about myself.

Exactly four weeks ago, when I was taking my little blog break, I decided to conduct an experiment. It seems, within the course of a few weeks I had been seeing a lot about gluten* intolerance and it's symptoms. I found more than just a few of them seemed to describe different things going on with me, so I decided to try to pin it down. Besides a blood test done at the doctor's office, another way to find out is to eliminate gluten from your diet for a month to see if the symptoms subside.

I did a bit of research; I even started another blog which I have since abandoned (see why further on) and found out what items from my prior diet I could still eat and what I would need to buy and eat during this period.

Now this is where I try to let you know just how much this here girl loves bread and wheat-made products; from cooked oats, Cream of Wheat (Duh!!), barley, and whole grain products. To find out one must avoid these things, including cakes, pies, and most CUPCAKES was a daunting thing. However, most of these can be replaced by products made with rice and other grains AND I did find the most delicious cupcakes ever, gluten-free or not. (Shout out to the moist, dense, coconut cupcakes with luscious cream cheese frosting made by 3 Fellers Bakery in Goochland, VA!)

I first started out listing my daily food intake in the new blog, but really wanted the calorie information included. That led me to, where I could search for my usual food items or enter the dietary information for the items that were not already in their database. After doing this, I didn't want to duplicate the same information into the blog, so I ended up scrapping the blog pretty quickly.

Using dailyburn taught me a few things about my eating habits. Most importantly, I found out that I don't eat enough; rarely making it to 1,000 calories a day, and when I did it was only because I ate half a bag of potato chips or something else high fat and unhealthy. I sometimes exceeded the carbohydrates or fat I should be consuming per day; however, I was always far below the amount of protein that I needed daily. No wonder I felt sluggish and tired all the time, my body wasn't getting enough nutrients to create any energy.

It was shocking to find out that on a regular basis I've only eaten about 800 calories a day when the normal calorie count recommended in order to maintain my weight would be 1600 to 1800 calories a day! I also frequently skip breakfast. So, I definitely believe that the body can go into "starvation mode" and hold on to calories and pounds. Because despite this calorie deficit I've been under for months , I hadn't noticed any weight loss which it seems I should have experienced having effectively cut what is considered a normal calorie count in half! Not that I want to lose any weight, but presumably my metabolism is now so extremely slow because of this (and my sedentary lifestyle), that my body is not letting go of anything!

So this is what I need to work on:

EAT breakfast!
Add more protein to my diet on a daily basis
Take my daily vitamin daily
Eat more vegetables (a rare occurrence, unless I eat out) and fruit
Get some exercise
Drink more water ( I've been recording only 2-3 glasses a day.)
Develop a consistent sleep pattern. Instead of falling into bed after midnight and having an understandably hard time getting up in the morning (after thoroughly exhausting all of the snooze options at my command)

* Gluten is a form of protein found in many grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Via Casey, I found a new gorgeous blog which involves lovely clothes and sewing, Grossomodo. In fact, the author, Merche Grosso of Madrid is working on a clothing and accessories line. Beautiful eye candy-galore.

Lovely, right?

At first, since the blog is in Spanish, I thought I would not be able to thoroughly enjoy this blog since even with my three semesters of the language, I can't read it well . But the author was brilliant and installed a Translate This Blog button on the first page. The translation is not perfect, but you get the gist.

So, enjoy the pretty pictures AND the words here.

Images: Grossmodo

Friday, February 12, 2010

Current Obsession: Korean Dramas

Here in Richmond, we have access to international television shows through MHz Worldview, that samples shows from all over, Germany, Sweden, France, and Italy, etc. Through it, I have been lucky to see shows such as Scene of the Crime: Cologne, Wallander, Maigret, Detective Moltabano, and Homicide Squad (La Omicidi).

The two recent shows that they have paired together on Thursday night are the Korean dramas Alone in Love and Someday. I love the pacing of these stories and the truly unique and interesting plots. They have a knack of keeping you interested, and they do it without the need for profanity, violence, or sex. Just good stories and intriguing characters. I actually got into these shows because I was trying to figure out if the lead character in Someday was also the same actress who plays Sun on Lost! Of course it's not, she only looked like her in this role.

Alone In Love aired April to May 2006 in 16 hour-long episodes directed by Ji-Sueng Han. The series dealt with a once happily married couple Eun-ho (Son Ye-jin) and Dong-jin (Karm Woo-Sung*) who try to make sense of their continuing intertwined lives after their divorce three years ago. They just can't seem to leave each other alone. They need to deal with their tragic past in order to have a future, weather that future is spent alone or together. Directed by Ji-Sueng Han, 2006, color, In Korean with English subtitles. There's a more detailed review of the DVD here. Beware, the review has spoilers!

Someday aired November to December 2006 in 16 hour-long episodes directed by Kim Kyung Yong. Hana Yamaguchi (Bae Doo-Na) is a strange character; she's a successful cartoonist who writes about romance but does not believe in love. When her job is canceled, she goes on a journey to track down a long-ago love story and discover for herself if love exists. This story includes the three people whose lives she affects on her journey; the rich doctor (Kim Min Joon*) who has been obsessed with her and her art, his long-time platonic female friend (Oh Yoon Ah), and the street detective (Lee Jin-Wook) he hires to help Hana on her quest. This website, while rating the DVD, actually tells you a lot about the plot and characters. Because I don't want to know too much, I only skimmed through it.

Excellent video previews for both can be found on YouTube: Someday and Alone in Love.

* YUM!!!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fashion In Film: Now, Voyager (1942)

Director: Irving Rapper
Bette Davis, Paul Henreid
Costume Design: Orry-Kelly

Have you ever seen Now, Voyager with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid? I've now seen it twice in the last three months. I just get sucked in. The movie boasts one of those great makeovers but; unfortunately, we don't get to see a makeover montage. What's up with that?

We see this:

and then suddenly we see this:

In a modern-day film, we would have had to sit through the sorely needed eyebrow plucking scene and some scenes of exercise because there was supposedly a 25-pound weight loss. However, I don't think Bette was okay with looking fat because her character sure didn't, but in my opinion, if you are going to let them do that to your eyebrows you might as well let them pad you up.

Besides the graphic suit when she returns triumphantly to Boston, there are three dresses that have always intrigued and impressed me. Two of the dresses could be worn today and no one would find them dated. All were designed by talented costume designer Orry-Kelly.

The outfits I loved were the dress and cape ensemble she wears to her first dinner aboard the ship, the cape embroidered and beaded with butterflies and the dress, very Grecian inspired.

Then there is the black low cut dress with a pinned on Camellia she wears to make her shocking debut to her family, who are expecting the same dour spinster they've always known.

Last but not least; my favorite outfit, the gorgeous shimmering coat dress she wears when she is reunited with her lover. This outfit, I could see on any elegant woman today, what with its embroidery in that modern looking chevron pattern.

I was going to do a whole detailed post on the clothes and use pictures from likeabalalaika's great screen caps from the film, however, while searching for the ones I wanted to use, I found her fabulous blog; called what else, Like A Balalaika AND a post she herself did on Now, Voyager. So I now instruct you to immediately click on this link and read her words and then go check out her great Flickr groups on costume in film; her latest being Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop.

Images: thefoxling's Flickr stream

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Anniversary Time

Today, I am forty-one years old.

I don't know what I think about it yet, but first thing this morning, these lyrics came into my head...

"...another year older and deeper in debt*"

So. Not good?

* from "Sixteen Tons", by Merle Travis, written in 1946.