Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Have You Seen This Fabric?

It is named Outfits (!) and is a print in the Little Apples collection by Aneela Hoey's for Moda Fabrics. I am in love with it and check it out every time I am in Quilting Adventures, my local quilting store. Because it's from Moda Fabrics it is much softer than the typical quilting cottons found at JoAnns or Hancocks.

Wouldn't this print be adorable in a retro-inspired short-sleeved camp blouse? Yes, yes, I am still inspired by the costumes for Amy Adams in The Muppets, especially the heart emblazoned blouse worn with the bird skirt.

Images: Fat Quarter Shop

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fashion In Film: The Muppets (2011)

Director: James Bobin
Jason Segal, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper
Costume Designer: Rahil Afiley

A nice simple cotton dress with a few interesting details, the ruching on the outer sides of the princess seams, two identical bows at neckline center, and the wide and lovely purple suede? belt

Now, this dress has some spice to it. Check out the wild almost Ikat print of turquoise and green; the matching belt, and those massive tulip sleeves. Note that the neckline and sleeve hems are bound with self-fabric binding.

Here is a sweet blouse and skirt combination. I love the pin-tucked front with the white porcelain-like buttons and that full skirt with the painted on or embroidered floral design. Hey, isn't that the same purple belt? Yes, and it matches the skirt perfectly! It also makes story sense as the character was on a week's vacation. If you notice in the film, she also wears the same style shoes, the Jig in different colors. (sorry, already sold out!)

Jig by Seychelle Shoes

This little number only has about 4 seconds of screen time but the photos show it to be something special. An all-over eyelet fabric lain over a red fabric which gives the dress an icing pink tint from a distance. I notice that the Colette Ceylon dress is somewhat similar to this style if you wish to replicate Mary's dress.

Now this blouse is my favorite, not because of the style but because of that wild semi-floral print and the sweet translucent mint green buttons. It looks like a Japanese double gauze, doesn't it? Perhaps Nani Iro? If it isn't vintage it might not be so hard to find. In fact, later in the film she wears a top that I actually tried on (and photographed!) in Anthropologie a few seasons ago.

Poster image, on display at the ArcLights Sherman Oaks cinema

This outfit only appears on the poster and not in the movie but it's so cute I had to look it up too. The poster doesn't show the skirt but I found a picture of the costume on display. I love the mix of prints, stylized red hearts on white and soaring black birds on red brocade satin. Also, notice the quilted matching belt? The blouse has a ruffled button placket and Bishop sleeves. The entire outfit is very Prada (or Miu Miu), isn't it?

The best dress! Unfortunately, this one also isn't in the movie but only on one of the many parody posters that Disney did. This harvest orange/red brocade with golden ochre flowers is probably vintage. Note the crisp knife pleats at the front of the skirt only and the double bow waist decoration in lieu of a belt. This is the second time that one of the costumes has had two parallel bows placed together...and I like it.

Images: Disney Pictures, Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props

Friday, December 16, 2011

Have You Seen This?

What we have all been waiting for...a Hey Girl site specifically for crafters and sewists! LUV IT!!

Here at: Handmade Ryan Gosling

Remember you can submit suggestions to the site at handmaderyangosling at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So, This Happened...

I am fine, but my car sure isn't. My poor sixteen year-old Honda, the first car that I ever bought now in my first ever car accident. Good times, good times...

On my way to work, hit by a car going through a red light, luckily he only hit the front because otherwise, he would have rammed into the driver side and me.

Taking some ibuprofen and going to sleep now.

UPDATE: In rental car (sweet!), his insurance accepted liability, and now just waiting on an estimate of the damage.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Go See The Muppets!

Obviously, many people already have or it wouldn't have made $69,837,000 already! If you haven't gone yet, go now.

As I said (hah! get it?) earlier, I'm a Muppet fan from way back. In fact, my friend A. and I realized that at our age we're actually the original Muppet fans. So, go bask in waves of nostalgia as all of the songs and characters that you've loved over the years appear on screen.

Sweetums, Walter, Jason Segal, and Amy Adams

If you were ever a fan of the show, you are quaranteed to love this movie. The songs are clever (written by Bret McKensie, one half of the Flight of Conchords) the dance sequences fun, and the celebrity cameos numerous. And for the readers of my blog, Amy Adam's retro Smalltown-USA wardrobe is adorable. If you enjoyed the costumes of Pushing Up Daisies then you're gonna like this too. Expect another Fashion In Film post all about the clothes soon.

I would love to send you to Youtube to see clips but I think it's better if you go in with no expectations. However, I will embed one of their movie spoof trailers. Enjoy!

So go and enjoy an amazingly written (Thanks Jason Segal!) movie. Oh and if you have kids, you can take 'em. However, it's not required.

Images: Box Office Mojo

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Rounding the Bend...

Yes, those Pajama Game dresses were lovely but let's move on.

Did I ever tell you I was taking a class this semester? Well, I did and it's done now! Whew! I now officially have one more class (already signed up in) in the spring and I will be done. Yes, and I actually believe it this time. My only problem is the money to pay for it; I paid for this last class by installment, but I'm sure something will work out.*

So, no more school until January 17. However, there are two sewing projects (Pastille, Vogue duster) that I vowed HAVE TO BE DONE before the New Year and some dozen holiday gifts to be made. Luckily, I won't see some family members and friends until after the festivities so I have some extra time, but there are still at least five that need to be done in less than two weeks. Have I started? HECK NO!

This weekend will hopefully be a busy one with the sewing and a very much anticipated viewing of The Muppets movie!! I am not ashamed to admit that I own soundtracks to the original The Muppet Movie (1979)and the John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979) TV special. Also, in the last few years I've developed a little bit of a crush on Pepe the King Prawn. Okay?

*Though some sales in my Etsy shop would certainly help. Hint, hint.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fashion In Film: The Pajama Game (1957)

Director: George Abbott, Stanley Donen
Doris Day, John Raitt, Carol Haney
Composer: Richard Adler, Jerry Ross
Costume Designer: Jean & William Eckart

Check out those lovelies above from the company picnic scene in 1957's The Pajama Game starring Doris Day. This scene is a large part of the film and is filled with summer dresses like these. Great inspiration all around, even in the choice of colors, there was definitely a defined color story involved. In group shots, you will notice a repeat of the same color or an equal number of striped or checked garments interspersed around. The men also wear these great gingham shirts where the squares, usually 1/4 to 2 inches, are done up in truly over-sized checks; note the orange one on the fellow in the background above.

This was one of my favorites dresses (the blue+white sailor-inspired one above is another) as I love the combination of pink+orange or red+orange. Actually, I think orange looks great with everything, depending on the shades. I love the dark orange piping around the bodice and the exuberant orange petticoat. The petticoats under all the dresses added surprise to the dance scenes, see that baby blue dress below with the lime green underskirt?

Meet the exuberant Carol Haney (above and below), who steals this movie away from Doris and the male lead, John Raitt, in his only leading film role. A Bob Fosse dancer, she originated the Gladys role in the 1954 musical. You can see an eerie future influence when you know that Shirley MacLaine was her understudy for the role on Broadway. They seem to have had similar haircuts and color, right?


Notice the exuberant, brightly colored and highly graphic "factory" outfits on the women below. You can't ask for any more excitement in the work place, can you? Check out the bright pinks and those crazy-loud stripes on the left and do you see the extreme pattern mixing on that first jumper with mustard stripes worn over a pink+red floral print with a starched white collar?

Finally, we come to Doris, the actual title star of the movie. Her best outfit, seen at the picnic, is a full white dress with a tiny blue scarf worn around her neck. Unfortunately, I could only find one color picture online. Also, here are two of her work/play outfits, notice the same colors as found in the picnic scenes and also the use of gingham and stripes. The red shirt reminds me that I want to make some spring pieces out of gingham for next year.

Having never seen the play or movie before, I was extremely surprised how many of its songs I had heard before. There were so many memorable songs in this production, songs like Hernando's Hideaway, Steam Heat, Hey There, and There Once Was A Man*. That last song is amazing, exuberant, and fun. It has almost a Sondheim feel to it, and I love me some Sondheim.

Over all, it was an enjoyable film, despite the non-feminist message, and because of the definite eye-candy quality of the costumes.

*Links lead to the performances on YouTube.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holiday Haul Of Books - If I Win, You Win

This year I am participating in the Chronicle Books Happy Haul-idays contest.

It's wonderful, you can enter to win $500 worth of books from one of the best publishing houses! To enter, all I have to do is post my book wish list and designate a charity, in my case, the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The bonus for you is that by commenting on this post, if I win a randomly selected commenter will also win the same list of books. Free. So let me know what you think about my choices or what book do you wish was on the list.

Here is my list of Chronicle books that I would buy with $500:

  1. Pattern Magic: Laurence King Publishing

  2. Pattern Magic 2: Laurence King Publishing

  3. Pattern Making

  4. Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book Laurence King Publishing

  5. Instant Gratification: Jewelry: Fast & Fabulous Projects

  6. Knit Knack Kit: Simple Instructions and Tools for 25 Terrific Knitting Projects

  7. Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects

  8. Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design

  9. Between the Bridge and the River

  10. The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation

  11. Art of the Modern Movie Poster: International Postwar Style and Design

  12. Winerd: The Wine Tasting Game that Crushes Grape Fears
My total is $487.70

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just Slow-Poking Along...

Progress, but no progress worth photographing. Just comparing my coat armscye to other well-fitting garments. I had no idea that pattern alteration would get me so anxious. I just want this to work so much that I'm scared to cut into the pattern. I should just trust my instructions.

Next project: A stuffed toy for my step-grandniece. There are so many choices to choose from, but I only have until next Wednesday.

By the way, I now have my own practically never-used copies of both the1961 Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Book for just $7 and the 1971 copy of Designing Dress Patterns, Third Edition by Helen Nicol Tanous for $2.44!

I ordered them from,* my favorite place for used books and better yet, these books are in excellent condition; no marks, discoloration, warping, bent or ragged pages, and the covers are in excellent condition too. The only negative is that being in storage for so long, they have a horrendous musty odor. So no pictures until they come out of their "cage" (a tightly closed plastic bag with a box of baking soda). But, really they look just like the photos above!

*I have yet to get a book from Alibris that wasn't in near brand new condition. You just have to look for sellers with the best ratings and very thorough product descriptions. These made both books sound worse than they really are.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Taking A Measure...

Sorry, no progress to show. All of my garment construction has been happening in my head...I have been researching fitting and adjustment materials to improve the fit of my garments.

I was first looking for info on narrow back adjustments for the coat, which lead to looking in those same sources for remedies to the fit issues of the Colette Pastille (too-long bodice, narrow back adj?), my potential Colette Clovers (full belly adj, crotch length, sway back?) and instructions on grading my Vogue 1922 pants pattern up two sizes.

It led me to decide to wait a bit on alterations. The research led me to the conclusion that what I really needed to do first was the basics: I needed to record my personal measurements. This is also the first step to drafting my own patterns.

To help others here are some sources I have found interesting:

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Pattern Alteration series

  • Threads articles on measurements

  • Sew Stylish Ready...Set...Measure!, p. 80, Volume 1

  • Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina

  • Kwik Sew Measuring and Pattern Alteration Guide

  • Design It Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified Taking Your Measurements, p. 30.

  • The biggest thing I found was that different sources have different ideas on what "the" essential measurements are and also have different ways of correctly measuring them.

    So I am going to pick one source and follow through with that system's plan for doing adjustments since those personal measurements are essential to make the correct changes. I will be using the AgriLife Extension series for both my measurements and for alterations for Vogue 7714, the Pastille and the Clovers. I will use the Threads instructions to grade up my Vogue 1922 pants pattern.

    The best thing is that once I have my measurements recorded I can compare them to paper patterns and make some changes even before the first muslin is made.

    Save time and fabric? Sounds good to me!

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    Fitting The Pastille!

    Pastille Fridays, part 2

    Fitting Issues with my Pastille

    Doesn't look that bad from the front, right? That is if you didn't know my waist was smaller than this, you wouldn't be suspicious. However, the dress is too big at the waist and directly above and below despite my measurements exactly matching the pattern measurements. Just goes to show you, it really is proportion and how your body is distributed, not the size numbers or the weight.

    However, check out the back.* Despite how pretty close it fits in front that is some truly excessive fabric pooling back here. I had no idea about that until I went ahead and basted in the zipper to check. Thankfully, I do have more of this fabric if I need to cut two new back pieces (and there is still some in the stores too) However, I really don't want to redo that neckline and facing. I did a great job the first time.

    I can't say this is a sway back problem because it fits great over the rear. This is more a back length problem, I think the bodice is too long for my body. The zipper is only hand-basted so I can remove that and maybe bring in the width by at least a 1/2" on both sides, deepen the darts and shorten the back bodice.

    Side view. Ugh.

    Also, can you see how the waistline dips down towards the back? It's even more obvious when my arms are down. At that side seam, my actual waist is at least one inch above that line. Though it might have stretched while it was on the hanger. I like the way the skirt fits so I only want to alter the back bodice pieces. Any suggestions?

    These two pictures show where my actual waist is located compared to the waistline of the dress, a more than one inch difference. This is where comprehensive body measurements or a muslin could have really helped me out.*

    That is why I started to look up information on taking your correct body measurements that can be compared to pattern pieces before a muslin is cut out.* I will be writing about that in another post that will include all the online and print resources that I have found.

    *I promise I will never NOT make a muslin again!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Stitching The Pastille!

    In honor of The Colette Sewing Handbook showing up in stores and mailboxes a bit earlier than expected (NOW!) I am going to let you in on my time constructing one of the new dress patterns in the book. In fact, it just happens to be the dress on the front cover. Enjoy the journey.

    Part 1

    In the spring, I responded to a request from Sarai of Colette Patterns for pattern testers. I had tested the Oolong dress for her before. This time I was offered two patterns from her upcoming book, The Colette Sewing Handbook. Licorice, a loose shift-like dress with sash and draped collar and Pastille, a fitted sheath dress with a modified sweetheart neckline and petal-like cap sleeves.

    While I liked both designs, Pastille called out to me because I could see it fulfilling an important purpose in my wardrobe. I saw it as a potential job interview dress. Professional, non-fussy, classic, but with a non-corporate vintage edge. Styled with a cool vintage enamel brooch this dress would be great in my wardrobe, pretty and feminine enough for a dinner date but also appropriate for more serious occasions.

    I will be posting a traditional review of this dress (see the teaser at left) later but I wanted to write in more detail about what I learned while making it. As it turns out I found myself trying out some new techniques when constructing my version of the Pastille dress.

    My new pattern weights

  • My first move was to go to Home Depot and buy some metal washers. These would be my new pattern weights instead of straight pins. At first, I only saw the small ones that weighed nothing but eventually I found the heavy steel/zinc 5/8" size which were perfect. I now have 14 of them at only $.46 each! They work wonderfully in holding down your fabric and I've already used them on stretchy Lycra knits. In addition, re-positioning of the pattern is now quick and easy.

  • The second new thing I did was use clear tape to help out my dart making abilities. I have never been able to sew a straight dart, they always veer off course and end up where they're not meant to end. This time I replicated the dart lines from the pattern using a straight piece of tape instead of straight pins. Then I could just sew along the edge of the tape. So fabulous and my darts for this project were perfect.

  • Then I used my new friend (adhesive tape) to mark the three horizontal pleats along the bottom half of the skirt. The instructions say to thread trace the lines but I first wanted to make sure my lines were straight. I didn't have any fabric markers that would show up on this fabric so I used my design ruler and laid tape exactly where the lines were needed. With two contrasting colors of thread I then hand basted across the three skirt pieces right next to the edge of the tape, resulting in perfectly straight lines of stitching. For maximum visibility, I used yellow and orange thread to mark the different rows and I loved the resulting contrast on the dark gray fabric. Perhaps I'll use the same technique as a permanent feature on a future project.

  • However, this project used up a lot of tape, so next time I will be using painter's tape. It has a very low adhesive factor so that it can be used again at least two more times. Not as wasteful.

    Coming up: Fitting issues with the Pastille.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    I Forgot... I Have Always Loved Dusters (2)

    Yes, I forgot that I have two similar long jackets (dusters) in my closets! Albeit two that were destined to Goodwill because I never wear them anymore. However, I still adore the brown, 100% silk Ann Taylor jacket, it was part of a fabulous suit. Because it is a size 2(!), I eventually outgrew the pants. The blue one is a perma-crinkle 100% linen jacket by Mandolorama (?) in Euro size 42 that I bought in New Orleans. So, I suppose I was missing this type of item in my closet and that's why this coat became so important to me. Hmmm.

    So lucky me, I can compare the fit of each jacket to my muslin in order to pinpoint what it is I have to change to get the final shape I want. Note: These two jackets don't really fit anymore because of my hips, so they don't look good buttoned, one of the reasons the new jacket will not have any closures.

    Front view of the muslin looks good. Compared to the other two I think it may have a better fit in the shoulders, while the others hang over the shoulder points a bit.

    Sleeve cap, I have no idea which one looks the best. I know the muslin has too much ease because I had to gather a bit, but in regard to the shape of the others, I have no clue.

    It looks like the brown might fit better? What do you think?


    Back span, with arms raised, I don't like how the muslin shoulders stick up but they do look better than the blue one. The blue also has these horizontal wrinkles along the back I didn't know about. I was surprised to see them because the jacket didn't feel tight at all when I raised my arms.

    The brown one, again, looks the best. It is of course a much more fluid fabric than the crisp linen and a cotton comforter cover. Most importantly, you can see that both finished coats have some shaping at the waist while the green muslin falls straight down from shoulder to hip.


    Rear view is the big problem. What I don't like: how the muslin bags out above the rear, is too wide everywhere above the hips, and has those vertical lines alongside the armscye. You can see that the shaping at the waist of both the blue and brown flatters the rear end view. Both of those jackets also have a center back seam which might be my salvation and a better solution than a narrow back adjustment*.

    Side view, again too much fabric in the same exact spot: around the waist and above the rear. The shaping on the other two give a slight bit of shape to this view too.

    My next step is to compare the measurements from the finished coats to the corresponding points on my muslin and see where I stand.

    * Though I did find excellent instructions for one on the web from Threads, various blogs, and this great pattern alteration series from the Texas A&M AgraLife extension program.