Friday, January 28, 2011

Oolong Dress - Colette Patterns #1008 - Part 4!

To see earlier updates read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

I wasn't going to post another update but after seeing just how incredible this dress looks with the neckline finally stitched, I just couldn't keep these in-progress pictures away from you.


Well, as you can see the grading worked! The neckline came out gorgeous. Look how neat and professional it all looks? Now, this isn't personal bragging, no, the way it looks is a testament to Sarai's design.


Check out the inside of this dress! The rear neck facing sets off the back nicely. Because it is stitched on top of the lining there is no worry about the facing ever flipping out.

Surprisingly, my favorite part of this dress is now the part I was most worried about in the last update...the front facing.

I LOVE the facing that Sarai developed for this dress. So much, in fact, I wish I could wear the dress inside out because of how cool it looks and because the colors are amazing together. Another ice blue and winter red dress is definitely on my wish list now. I am seriously tempted to make a dress where this color combination and that neckline detail would be seen on purpose. Perhaps I'll attempt it with the Chantilly, my next favorite Colette Patterns dress.

I kind of wish the sleeves were also going to be lined in blue so that the interior of the dress would be as impeccably finished as it is on the outside. However, I think I may have a fix for that.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jeanne Lanvin

Originally published on the Coletterie blog.

Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946) French

Anne Gunning, 1954.

At age 23, Jeanne Lanvin began working as a milliner, having apprenticed in the trade since age thirteen. In 1909, she joined the Syndicat de la Couture*, the union authorized to determine the requirements of haute couture. With this move, she was now officially considered a couturiere and the House of Lanvin came into existence. Lanvin was noted for a youthful quality, preferring to use plain fabrics that were then decorated by staff in the machine embroidery department. Many designs were romantic party dresses of organdy or broderie anglaise, a type of eyelet. Playing with fashion history, she sometimes incorporated even older details, such as panniers, crinolines, and rear bustles into her designs.

Gold robe de style, 1923.

Lavin became one of the only couturiers to design for the whole family, having started her career by making children’s clothing and continuing to design for them throughout her career. Menswear became its own department in 1926.

Silk and metal gown, 1938.

Family life, her daughter, Marguerite, and motherhood, though not normal inspirations in fashion, influenced her work immensely. In fact, she became famous for her mother-daughter ensembles even though in the 1920s, her decidedly feminine dresses contrasted with the popular styles fit for androgynous figures. She instead was known for her “robes de style”, which were dropped waistline dresses with ankle-length full skirts.

"Rosaraie", 1923.

The House of Lanvin eventually grew to produce women’s sportswear, home décor, furs, children’s wear, menswear, fragrances, and lingerie.

"Phedre", 1933.

Hollywood connection: Her clothes were worn by actresses Mary Pickford and Marlene Dietrich.

Vogue Paris Original 1338

Home Sewing connection: The House of Lanvin created patterns under the Vogue’s Paris Originals series.

Robe de style, 1922.

Gown in Lanvin blue, 1934.

Her style, innovations, and influence on fashion:
  • She designed romantic and theatrical items such as beaded dance dresses (flapper gowns), fantasy evening gowns with metallic embroideries, dinner pajamas, dolman-sleeved wraps, and bloomer skirts.
Evening coat, 1927.

  • Lanvin was known for her use of quilting, intricate machine embroidery, and the discreet use of sequins.
  • She was a known influence on designers Schiaparelli and Balenciaga.
  • The artist Paul Iribe designed the mother and daughter-styled logo that the house uses to this day.
  • Along with designer Paul Poiret, Lanvin was one of the first couturiers to establish a perfume business, producing such notable fragrances as My Sin and Arpège in custom-designed Lalique containers.
  • She developed a particular shade of blue, known as Lanvin blue, and eventually opened her own dye factories in 1923 to secure exclusivity of her color formulas.
    Designed by Armand Albert Rateau.
Sources: Dressmakers of France (1956) Mary Brooks Pickens; The World’s Most Influential Fashion Designers (2010) Noel Palomo-Lovinski; Women of Fashion (1991) Valerie Steele.

*now known as the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

Stitch Magazine!

Have you seen the new Winter/Spring issue of Stitch magazine?

It's huge! The cover caught my eye immediately because of the cover project, the Felt Confetti Pillow decorated with felt circles and designed by Lisa Cox. Well, this design looked amazingly like my new PJs. Maybe I'll have to make a pillow to go with them or perhaps just a bag to take them in when I travel. How quaint would that be?

The instructions for the pillow (very easy!) can be found here, but you should still check out the whole issue. It is the Techniques issue, which means it covers a lot of sewing techniques that you might want to know about.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yes, Imma Tease...

Look what I did this weekend!

More details to come later this week...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oolong Dress - Colette Patterns #1008 - Part 3

To see earlier updates read Part 1 and Part 2.

I can see the end in sight!

First step: I tried on the dress after a couple of months of it hanging in my closet mocking me to find that it was now a bit snug in the chest area. Since this dress has no zipper or opening other than the neckline, I didn't want to risk ripping the seams when I put it on over my head. Apparently I only gained weight in my chest and it was giving off a mono-boob appearance. So I opened up the side seams and reduced the seam allowance to 1/2", resulting in a dress with 1/2" more ease.

Second step was adjusting and reinforcing the front gathers with a strip of twill tape on both the dress and on the lining.

Next step was attaching the facing (made of the fashion fabric) to the right side of the lining (wrong side is showing in picture) As you can see when you stitch on the facing, you have to stitch across the bust gathers on the lining too. I have to admit I was worried how that would effect the fit of the lining later.

Where I am now:

I am sewing the neckline seam that joins the dress and the lining. Then I will have to notch and grade the seam allowances so that the neckline lays flat and has a defined v-shape at the center, like this one:

The very last steps will be attachment of the sleeves and the hemming of essentially two dresses.

Woo hoo - the end is near.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hubert De Givenchy - Couturier Confidant

Originally published on the Coletterie blog.

Hubert de Givenchy (1927-  )

Audrey Hepburn, 1964.

Hubert de Givenchy was born to a prestigious family. Though he thought of studying law, he became a fashion designer instead. He is now known for clothing of superb cut and workmanship made up in beautiful fabrics. His clothes were pure, classical, and sometimes severe in their simplicity of design.

Silk and coral gown, 1963.

His career began through working for French designers Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, and Lucien Lelong. At Lelong, he worked with another unknown, named Christian Dior. He eventually worked under avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli before he opened his own shop in 1952

Audrey in the 'Larrabee' party dress from Sabrina.

At the early age of 26, he gained notoriety by becoming the favored designer for Audrey Hepburn. In 1953, by personal request from the 24 year-old Hepburn, he designed the majority of her wardrobe for the movie Sabrina, when the character has had her French makeover. His most famous design from the movie would be the frothy, strapless “Larabee party” dress with elaborate black and white embroidered overskirt.  However, due to stipulations in her contract, Paramount designer Edith Head was listed solely as the movie’s designer and she received the Oscar that year for costume design.

'Les Muguets', 1955.

After that film, Hepburn made sure that he was the contracted designer for almost all of her future films. As well as creating a majority of her off-screen wardrobe he also became her dear friend until her death in 1993. Other famous and devoted customers of Givenchy were Grace Kelly, members of the Guinness and Kennedy dynasties, and The Duchess of Windsor.

House of Givenchy, 1967-69

In 1988, because of financial reasons Givenchy sold the company to the Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessy (LVMH) organization. When he retired in 1995, even though he had picked his successor, he was overruled by the new owners and designer John Galliano was installed as head of design instead.

Silk and satin dress, 1968.

Hollywood connection: Designer of Audrey Hepburn’s costumes in the majority of her films after 1953, most notably Sabrina (1954), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Charade (1963) and How To Steal A Million (1966).

McCall's 4875, c. 1959.

Home sewing connection: Givenchy created patterns for Spadea, Vogue’s Paris Original series, and McCall’s throughout the 1950-60s.

Magazine ad for separates.

His style, innovations, and influence on fashion:
  • His first collection showed skirts and blouses made in inexpensive cotton shirting fabrics. 
The "Bettina" blouse, 1952.

  • He named both his first collection in 1952 and a full ruffle-sleeved cotton blouse after his muse, model Bettina (aka Simone Micheline Bodin Gaziani).
  • Even though Coco Chanel is frequently said to be the originator of the little black dress, his versions of the LBD in Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are the ones most popularly referenced.
  • In 1957, he created the fragrance L’Interdit for Hepburn’s personal use. She later convinced him to commercially market the scent.
  • Givenchy’s own fashion idol was Cristobal Balenciaga whom he considered, “a great architect”, because “all the proportions of Balenciaga are strong, modern, and wonderful”.
Sources: Dressmakers of France (1956) Mary Brooks Pickens, Dora Loues Miller; Fashion (2003) Christopher Breward; 100 Dresses (2010) Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Who’s Who in Fashion (2009) Anne Stegemeyer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sleepshirt - Kwik Sew 2529 (OOP)

Pattern Description: Sleepshirt View B has a v-neckline with self-fabric neckband, long sleeves, and side hemline slits. Designed by Kwik Sew founder Kerstin Martensson.

Pattern Sizing: Size S out of a multi-size pattern containing XS-S-M-L-XL.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the fit across the chest and the v-neckline. This is my second version of this top and I am still wearing the first one even though it is a bit snug now.

Fabric Used: I used the coolest printed flannel (a Snuggle flannel print in Ripple Circles on sale for $2.39 per yard) I have ever seen, even though the pattern specifies 25% stretch. I ended up prewashing the fabric in my bathroom sink. It was scary how much ink washed out, yet the fabric is still as vibrant as can be. It took three thorough rinses to get it semi clear. As a result, I will probably wash it by hand from now on.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made no design changes and only one alteration. Because of my fabric choice I needed a way around the 25% stretch requirement. I cut the neckband on the bias and about an inch longer than the pattern piece provided in order to have it fit the neckline.

Would you sew it again? I will probably not make this top again as is, but I definitely plan on making the other pieces (the tank and boy-leg briefs) in coordinating colors for the spring. For those I will use either a thick interlock or fleece as suggested.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes, definitely, if they can get their hands on a copy of this out-of-print pattern. It is definitely worth it.

Conclusion: A warm and cozy sleepshirt with a lot of pizazz!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christian Dior - Structural Designer

Originally published on the Coletterie blog.

Christian Dior (1905-1957) French

Dovima With Elephants by Avedon, 1955.

Christian Dior originally wanted to become an architect, but was instead directed by his parents to pursue a diplomatic career. Even when he finally became a fashion designer, he did not leave those architectural desires and instincts behind. He used solid, rigid construction to achieve his delicate-looking “femme-fleur” look, sometimes requiring up to 15 yards of fabric for the skirts.

 "Gruau" gown, 1949-50.

Christian Dior appeared on the scene after World War II, at a time when women were craving luxury and the excess of fabric, trim, and dyes were again possible because wartime rationing had ended. He believed that he “…designed clothes for flower-like women, clothes with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts, and willowy waists above enormous spreading skirts…” as a contrast to the drab colors and masculine-styled angular clothing that had been worn by women in the past few years during the war. Some thought his new silhouette that emphasized the curves of the women who wore it was also in sympathy with the new need to increase the nation’s birthrate after the war.

 "Junon", 1949-50.

Dior never learned to sew or even cut a dress; therefore, the sketches he presented to his team were not always reproducible. He would sometimes assign the same sketch to several teams and then select the muslin that most resembled what he had pictured in his mind.

The House of Dior was in business from 1946 to 1957, before his sudden death of a heart attack. However, his house was able to produce 70 collections in those ten years. Please note that a draft collection for Dior could originally consist of 175 outfits, which over time would be edited down to what would finally appear on a runway.

"Virevolte" suit, 1955.

Hollywood connection: He designed the off-screen clothing for actresses Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, and Irene Dunne.

Vogue 1398

Home sewing connection: Licensed designs for the Vogue Paris Original series for the Vogue pattern company.

"May" gown, 1953.

His style, innovations, and influence on fashion:
  • The New Look; known in France as the Corolle (ring of petals) line, was a longer skirt with a smaller waistline silhouette presented in 1947.

The "Bar" suit, 1947.
  • The now iconic ensemble from the New Look collection, the “bar suit”, is one of the most referenced pieces in fashion.
  • As part of his training, the young Dior freelanced for Elsa Schiaparelli and Cristobal Balenciaga.
  • Dior used boned corsets, rounded, sloping shoulders, built-in petticoats, and hip pads to create the understructure and curved stand-away shape to his garments.

    A-line suit, 1955.
  • Some of his collections; the H-line in 1954, A-line, and the Y-line in 1955 were named for the letters that resembled the silhouettes formed by the clothes. The term and shape for the A-line is still known and used to this day.
  • The Lily of the Valley was Dior’s favorite flower, the dominant scent behind his fragrance Diorissimo, and the name of his 1954 spring collection, known as Muguet in French.
Images: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, New York, NY.

Sources: Dressmakers of France (1956) Mary Brooks Pickens, Dora Loues Miller; Secrets of the Couturiers (1984) Frances Kennett; Fashion (2003) Christopher Breward; The World’s Most Influential Fashion Designers (2010) Noel Palomo-Lovinski.

In the Details: Vintage Men's Shirts Pt 2

Yes, here are more shirt pattern goodies. These are from the more experimental 1960-70s.

McCall's 7590

Here are some shirt/jacket hybrids of the 1960s. This one is so cool you can smoke a pipe in in! Note the jacket-like waist band and the side pleat detail on the back. I had a white cotton jacket in the 1980s (McCall's 9637 - very Miami Vice!) that had that same detail.

Butterick 2956

Very Route 66, right? This is the sort of shirt/jacket that I can see made in a cotton/poly blend that would be rain repellant, don't you? The one in the top right has a sporty detail of outside patch pockets placed directly at the hemline. I think I have a soft spot for that hip navy blue and green madras version.

Simplicity 7711

Well, well...father and son pullover shirts. I prefer to just ignore the ones with the lacing, ok? I'm pretty sure those were made with some sort of chamois cloth or Ultrasuede. Instead check out the use of altering the fabric's direction to add interest via horizontal/vertical and straight grain/bias. Also note again, the hemline placement of the pockets.

Simplicity 7145

This is the hipster's version of sporty casual wear, flat front creased slim pants and another version of the pullover, this time without a separate front yoke. Once, twice...three times a lady, there are those low sporty pockets again! I could really dig men wearing these pants again, especially worn with those short leather Beatle boots.

Simplicity 8006

Ooh, this one practically screams Bill Bixby and The Courtship of Eddie's Father* to me! Lovely Nehru jacket design can go as out-there as you want it to go depending on your fabric choices. It strangely is also the first mens pattern I've seen without pockets as an option.

Butterick 5897

Look closely! I had to include this fairly conventional shirt because it actually features princess seams! I suppose they are included to ensure a slim fit on the front; however, they are abandoned on the back of the shirt. You can't ignore View E's super long lapels, now can you?

Images: Out of the Ashes and Stitches & Loops patterns

* Yes, I was a fan in reruns, since the show came out the year I was born.