Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Dating Vintage Patterns

I spoke last time about the overlapping of trends through the years.  One site I've used frequently for reference is Cemetarian, from which I quote:

"Style eras often crossed decade lines.  For instance it is very difficult to tell a 1938 pattern from a 1941 pattern.  The basic style and design elements were the same.  The same thing applies for 1959-1961 and again in the 60s and 70's.  There is more difference between 1964 and 1967 that there is between 1969 and 1971."

And also:

"Please be aware that even if a pattern is dated, it could have been in production for years and could even be a re-release of a previous number."

That brings me to another resource I often turn to -  Vintage Pattern Wiki.  I've found this site helpful if I find a vintage pattern I like but isn't in my size.  I've also used it to find out if it was even made in my size, and also if it was an original or a reissue.

For example this Spadea pattern N-1215 I got for Christmas! :

It was on Vintage Pattern Wiki that I found out it was re-issued in 1970's as Spadea 71704.

It indicates that with a bit of on-trend styling, this design was worth bringing back a decade later.  I paid a little bit more for it than I usually would for vintage patterns, but didn't mind because it could be a truly classic piece in any wardrobe.   It also lets me know there could be a dress pattern, Spadea N-1216, floating around out there that would go perfectly with the coat, if I wanted to create an entire ensemble!

Sites like these can also help if you are investigating the career, or following the creations of a particular designer.  Many couture designers also created patterns - Vogue is the one that immediately springs to mind with their Vogue Paris Originals and Vogue Couturier Design.

So what does this mean for my project?  Whilst I am looking for patterns within a certain time frame, and I am looking for certain iconic elements of design that are recognizable or unique about a certain time, there obviously needs to be a little flexibility.  Makes me think I want to go for some of those tiny terry shorts!

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Love Tiny Terry Shorts

I always wanted a pair when I was a kid.

It was something about the little look of overlapping on the sides, with the inverted v shape on the leg, and the contrast trim.  I thought they were so cool!  And it turns out that a lot of people I've spoken to remember these as very big in the 80's, and most owned a pair.
The tricky thing is that every pattern I've found for these so far has actually been from the late 70's. 


Which brings me to an interesting point.  When it comes to dating fashion, and consequently patterns, there is a lot of overlap between decades.  Trends in fashion weren't limited by what year it was, and these shorts are a good example.  Almost everyone I've spoken to remembers these being iconic in the 80's, even though the trend started in the late 70's.  So if I made these up, would they count for the 1980's, or the 1970's?

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

Keep warm, eat well, love strong... and best wishes for the New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Love the Holiday Season - and the 80's?

So what are you doing to prepare for Saturday?  I thought it'd be fun to get the flu right before friends and family came to visit, at the busiest time of the year.  What can I say, I like to keep things interesting!

I also discovered that I do not own a white zip the one thing I need to finish the first project.  I cannot express to you how lame that makes me feel.  That's an easy fix, just as soon as I cough up this lung and get out of my jammies and down to the store.

That hasn't stopped me from getting industrious at home though.  I think there was something special in one of the medications I took because it gave me so much energy, which was helpful - I did get our dining room wall painted - but not exactly conducive to getting well.  Oh well, at least the dining room looks great!

In the mean time I have been sewing up some holiday gifts and other things in anticipation of the above-mentioned friends and family coming into town.  It's kept me busy.  I've also been planning some projects for the next decade!

That's right, I've decided after one project to leave the 90's behind.  But there IS a way they'll be popping up later... in the 70's I suspect.

As for the 80's, well!  There are still a ton of patterns available for that decade too, everything from culottes to mutton-leg sleeves.  One of my least favourite fashion elements were these:

Remember these?  High waisted pants that tapered to the ankle and bloused out around your bottom?  And then the shirts that were tucked in to emphasis said bottom?  I distinctly remember this fashion on several young mothers, that even as a child I remember thinking that it was not a look I ever cared to try. When this look came back (of sorts) recently, and I saw a few high schoolers at our local mall sporting it, I nearly choked on my hot-dog-on-a-stick lemonade.  Even on a svelte 16 year old, high waists combined with blousey bottoms and tapered legs flatters nothing.  It makes your backside look several inches longer than it is, saggy or non-existent, and massively wider than it actually is.  Unless you're a disproportionately tiny-hipped marmoset, it's probably not really what you want.

(Sorry marmosets)

So what to choose to sew from the 80's... for an 8-year old?  Certainly there could be no absurdly high legged, deep v-front aerobic leotards.

Best not employ the use of any pattern requiring spandex at this point.

And I probably wasn't ready for a party frock: 

I absolutely fell in love with this pattern:

I love the pleating in the front of the bodice, and the skirt trim options - even the jacket option, although I'm not sure if it would get worn by the subject I'm sewing for.  My only hesitation is that I'll get bored if I turn around and sew another sun dress, even if it's a sun dress I really love.

So what I'm wondering is... would it be a better idea to sew some separates?  I thought perhaps I could pull off an oversized sweater, or a top with dropped shoulders or a batwing sleeve - perhaps in stripes - but haven't found any patterns in the right size as yet.  What do you think??

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Love/Folly Conundrum Pt 2 - Fudge

I'm almost done with the first decade of my 8/100 project!

Shortly I will do an update with how the pattern went and pics and all that fun stuff.  In the meantime I wanted to share something very important with you.

This fudge.

(image credit to cookincanuck on Tasty Kitchen)

I had to borrow the photo (with the owners gracious permission) because ours is but a schmear in the pan.  In theory I could show you my expanding bottom, but I value our friendship too much.

So what made this fudge so great?  It seems quiet enough, unassuming... until you read the description.  Nutella... Sea Salt... Fudge...

And with that I give you:

Get sound effects & royalty free music at AudioMicro.

Seriously, it's like the mysterious and handsome bachelor Mr. UndefinableYetTastySpread had a tryst with a rustic, yet beautiful, French salt raking maiden and made sweet little pudgy fudge babies.

This stuff is smooth people.  We're talking the kind of smooth that makes you look like you've stood there over the stove dissolving all that sugar whilst wearing a dinner jacket tailored by the kung fu moves of blind nuns from Hong Kong, because you're just that awesome.  And all you have to do is melt and stir!  I made it with my oldest two girlies and even making a few short cuts (not quite enough chocolate chips), it came out perfectly.  Not too sweet, a hint of salt, and wow.  Hellooooo stretchy pants!

Go forth and amaze, and share the Nutella Sea Salt Fudge Love.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Smoldering Love

It's this!  This red dress!

Is it not sensational?  The black is ok - chic, but straightforward.  And the print is delightful and more casual... but the RED!  Oh the red dress!  Even with that giant alien monster baby cocoon hat on, she smolders!  And with the fur, and the heels.... *le sigh*.

I cannot find it anywhere but here, and the cost is definitely prohibitive.  I do wonder how difficult it would be to copy, but my draping/drafting skills are still quite pitiful, so by the time I'm skilled enough to make the dress, I'm pretty sure I'll be too old to wear the dress.  But talk about inspiration!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blogging Folly

So I said yesterday that I would tell you .... today.... about the suspicious lack of photographs on the blog.

Yes, I have a camera.

Yes, I take pictures on it.

Yes, I have a computer.

So what's the hold up? You ask?

Three Things.

1) itunes - we listen to a lot of music at our house

2) photos - I like taking them

3) tutorial pdfs - I have a small problem.  But I can quit any time!

Our poor hard drive is maxed out.  In fact, lamely, I haven't put any new photos on the computer since March.  We thought we'd be able to resolve the issue around the time I started the blog - mostly by doing a much needed clean up.  We both worked hard but weren't able to clean up enough space for everything to run well.  It turns out it's harder to part with unwanted photos in iphoto than first realized.  There are about 3-6 photos named the exact same thing, so if you delete one unwanted photos, you might lose many more wanted ones.  Oh and the kicker is, you can't rename them either.

So, after a lot (and I mean a lot!) of researching and figuring out what to do, we came up with a solution.  A new hard drive, and Lightroom.  And we even found a way to get all our photos transferred over.  I'm very excited about the possibilities this will open up, not the least of which is showing you the progress photos I've been taking.  And a few other projects too!

I'm not sure when we'll get it all up and running - maybe this weekend?  But in the meantime I am hard at work!

Hint: there is a lot of dust and spray paint involved!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sewing Follies (or I Can't Use A Tape Measure)

So, what's the 'haps?  What's going on here?  Where are your projects??

Well there are some reasons I've been posting without photos, which I will explain to you tomorrow.  But in the meantime you'll be glad to know I'm working on the first item from my 8/100 project, Vogue 9479.  I've also been trying to tidy up a few wadders loose ends that have been plaguing my sewing closet.  I also prepped a Singer 3116 that was "my" sewing machine for a few years - I was actually borrowing it in an extended fashion from a friend and since receiving the amazing gift of my own sewing machine, I can return it.  Ah the memories...

So I finished up a pair of karate pants that were originally for my second daughter - they will now fit my third.  These were from way back when I first started re-learning how to sew.  I'm pretty sure they were my first project actually.  For some reason, even though I was diligent and carefully measured and pressed seams, one leg is shorter than the other.  I'd actually go back and fix it if I wasn't afraid it would just end up languishing in the closet again.  Instead I'll just giggle every time I put them on her.  The other thing I did with these is that the elastic in the waistband is way too long so I put them on her and they fell right off.  She looked down at them on the floor around her ankles, perplexed.  Uh, Mum?  They're not supposed to do that.  Ok, so I WILL fix that.

I also tried to finish up a little skirt for my middle girlie, and again ran into issues with the first time using my pinking shears.  Apparently I've so neglected them they are terribly famished and proceeded to EAT my fabric.

Also I went to the dermatologist today and had an close encounter with liquid nitrogen, and it is so dry I'm having a serious not-talking-to-you bout with my hair which is determined to frizz like it's 1987.

I feel so Lucille Ball right now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Love to be thankful...

How was your Thanksgiving?

Mine was simple and sweet and nice - and in between trying to slice chunks of my finger off right before we walked out the door, and the Sous Vide turkey (the suffing was simply fantastic!), and some smack-talk laden games of pinochle -  I managed to squeeze some pattern/fabric deliberation with my dear friend, Naomi.

I did have some limitations with fabric lengths - and desperately wanted to use the yellow flowered fabric as a skirt but didn't have enough.  We hummed and hawed over it, examining yardage allowances and wondering just how much we could fudge the pattern layout to get what we wanted, and came up with (what I think are) some good options.

Now to get started on my first item!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stash Shopping

This is a selection of light to medium weight cottons from the stash.  Still haven't chosen which pattern view to do yet thought.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Inspirations?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Pattern that Redeemed the 90's.

Finally, after much searching (and giggling), I found this pattern Vogue 9479:


Here are the line drawings:


The description reads: Sleeveless dress, above mid-knee, has close-fitting, self-lined bodice, raised waist, A-line skirt, and back zipper.

This pattern got my attention for a few reasons:

1) The possibility of contrast fabrics.

2) With a solid colour tiny details like gathering can create interest!

3) If given a reason to use giant rick rack, I'd be a swingin' my teddy bear too!

4) Even with simple lines and a crisp solid colour, pockets add a playful whimsy.  (The ice creams don't hurt either!)

Interestingly, reader Naomi suggested something just like this (not knowing I'd already purchased this pattern!) "Well you could go with the essence of the 90s, like veto the frills and gaudy prints..."  I hope this fits the bill!

The A-line skirt and raised waist were definitely styles popular in the 90's, but I also liked that it wasn't as full as many styles of the 90's, and had a self lined bodice. 

Vogue's recommended fabrics are faille, broadcloth, and lightweight denim.   I'm guessing in the 90's a chambray probably could have been used also.  While I don't think I could get on board with the denim, I'll definitely be looking for natural fibers to make this comfortable for the long, hot summers here in Southern California.  Time to go shopping in the stash!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Parameters (or How I'm Going Stop Being a Sewing Weenie)

Being one of those artsy types, if given the opportunity I tend to get very carried away with my projects, so I thought it would be wise to set some parameters for this projects, in order to focus on my goals.

So, to sum up!

As previously mentioned, my ultimate goal is to create a child's size 8 wardrobe for my oldest daughter, through the last 100 years of fashion - that amounts to approximately 10 pieces (not including underwear, jeans or basic t-shirts at this point).

This means I get to combine some of my current "loves":

Minimalism - to put it simply, I'm learning that in life, not just sewing, I prefer quality over quantity, so I want to only make pieces that will create an overall wardrobe that is not only wearable and functional, but stylish and beautiful!  This also means I'll be...

Stash Bustin' - shopping out of my stash first when looking for fabrics to work with.  When I'm unable to come up with the goods there, then I want to work with...

Genuine Vintage Items - this means that where possible (after going to my stash, and within my google search abilities and budget) I will work with patterns and fabrics of the time, and also...

Learn - the techniques of the times and combine them with design ideas of today.  I have the basics but without focus I've tended to avoid buttonholes the things I dislike the most and roll in my fabric do the things I like the most.  While that can be very satisfactory, I've become stagnant quickly.  And I want to make that spectacularly awesome designer cape from the 60's, so I'd be up the creek without a buttonhole paddle, which means I have to...

Stop Being a Sewing Weenie - buttonholes, I will own you!  Hand-picked zippers, you are mine!  Smocking, easing, lining, hong kong binding... well, you get the picture.  I want to be brave!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Follies of the 90's.

The first decade in my project as I sew an 8 year old's wardrobe through the last 100 years, is the 1990's.

Not having anything in my pattern stash from that decade I started poking around.  I found, in no particular order:

Many of these: 

And these:

And remember these?

And these:

 And let's not forget these:

(I had to show you two of the last one, because they are just. that. awesome.)

In between nauseous shivering as I recollected my own fashionably dubious decisions of the 1990's, and laughing uncontrollably at some of the images I found, I realized that the first decade I attempt might just be the hardest one.  What to do?  With the follies of the 90's so fresh in my mind, I just could not imagine putting my girlie in the giant collars, giant sleeves, nor the heavy workman's boots or boxy, dull separates, the oversized bows, the ... what is that last thing?  (I think I'd just be asking for some kind of Violet Beauregarde situation.)

So, ladies and gentelmen, I was in a pickle.  A 1990's pickle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Perfect Project

So I had this fantastical idea that I could incorporate a whole bunch of my current "loves" and sew my way through the last 100 years of fashion... In this day dream there were unicorns thoughts of one pattern per decade, 10 pieces in all, that would stretch my sewing skills both in technique and experience working with new fabrics - but also put some unique and hopefully classic pieces in my wardrobe.

The trouble was, in going through my wardrobe recently, I discovered that in a lot of ways I already have lot of unique and classic pieces, and while certainly there are areas I'd like to expand (shirts for example - shirts are good - and dresses), I didn't feel the need for a range of 10 pieces.

Separately it had occurred to me that 1) my oldest daughter is growing like a weed 2) we are running out of hand-me-downs 3) I really dread going to the mall and 4) my tastes run a little too expensive for our budget.

The mental equation went something like this:

The sewing equivalent of unicorns + I love sewing + I love vintage fashion + my kid needs clothes = an absurdly monumental task that both delights and frightens me.

That's right, not only am I going to sew my daughter her 8 year old wardrobe, I'm going to sew it through the last 100 years of fashion.  Vintage patterns, vintage fabrics, twists, turns, unicorns, and maybe I'll actually learn a thing or two along the way that helps me be braver.

As you can guess, my other "love"?  Yep, biting off more than I can chew. 

Tomorrow: The trouble with the 90's.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I love projects.

Today's project was the craft/school cupboard.  Periodically it becomes such a quagmire that even I, in my optimism, can't face another day staring at the disaster that has befallen three shelves of stationary and pens, and assorted games and craft items.  Let me just say, there is a reason they call it Play D'oh.

I avoided it for a while, dodged around it, stepped lithley over it, danced about it, and basically did everything I could not to actually sit down and do it.  But then I saw a miscellaneous thumb tack (what!!) and realized the risk was far greater than I first realized...

And, as per usual, once I got going chugging happily along through various artistic interpretations of mermaids underwater adventures, Charlie and Lola go to the hair dressers, and Impressionistic Backyardigans (stopping here and there to peel puppy stickers off the floor) it wasn't quite as bad as I feared... I just had to face the fact that the journey to a clean craft cupboard is paved with - well... the strewn contents of the said craft cupboard.

Why mention all of this?  Well I've had a few ideas for projects that have been pottering about in my head most of the summer, and it struck me today I might be stuck in the "dodged around it" phase longer than necessary.  The fact is, I just need to sit down and do it.  I need to face the fact that the journey of a project is paved with the strewn contents of said project.  And that's ok. 

This is my jumping in -


More details to follow.  Hope you'll travel with me!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Headwear Folly

What goes well with a designer gown in yellow?  Why Balding Beige, naturally!

And this:

 Because sometimes, on really special occasions, there is a need for some spontaneous cheer-leading.

(I'd be cheering too if I was wearing a dress like that - the magenta number is especially yummy!  You can buy the pattern here at So Vintage Patterns.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Love Links

Spotted this week:

One truth about shared domesticity: Pleasant View Schoolhouse

Elegant Pumpkins by Papernstitch

Overwhelmed by your underwear?  There is help over at Minimalist Moms.

Easy, tasty veggies for fall and beyond - Simple Bites

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A taste of the Love/Folly conundrum:

I call it The Happy Bedtime Song and Dance:

A: I'm going to bed, uh huh!
C: I'm going to bed, huzzah (insert mod hip twist)
D: I'm going to bed, oh yeah!
B: Mom, you're cute, but seriously?  Every night?

pattern available here at The Blue Gardenia

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Love Lazy Glamor

I am loving these "faux separates" dresses that have been appearing around the place.  These are from another of my loves, Anthropologie.

  Vestiges Dress                                      Seaside Fields Dress

Curtain Call Dress                                      Stylist's Eye Dress

This concept has been around for a few seasons now, but in looking for a pencil skirt with a knee split I had picked up Simplicity 2724  (check this version out).   The new appeal of this dress now that I'm sewing again is actually sheer laziness on my part - a kind of dressing "2 for the price of 1 if you will".  One dress + accessories and you're done.

Additionally, the flexibility inspired me. All kinds of fabrics are represented here: cotton, wool, silk, modal... and types of fabrics - shirting, jersey, brocade, chiffon...  Consider the dynamic possibilities as you dress up, dress down, and accessorize and layer through the seasons.  See - lazy glamor.  Don't you love it? :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Love or Folly?

Flying 14 hrs around the world with 3 small children to visit family, with 10 days notice??

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Love or Folly?

Sometimes I just can't tell.

Would I look so super chic that my body morphs and I go into sexy overload, or would I look like a squishy alien in Outerspace Hospital leaking black blood through my medical bandages.

Either way I still kinda want it.  You can buy it here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A thought about Love

"Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer." - Mark Z. Danielewski

Monday, August 30, 2010

My latest L&F

To kick things off I thought I'd share my latest Love and Folly:

Sock Dreams Sock It To Me Raccoon Argyle

I'm torn. I love these because I never see raccoon anything anywhere - and let's face it they're pretty stylish creatures what with those big masked eyes and stripes and all... And historically the only thing they ever got credit for were wilderness hats... But here they are sweetly arranged with their tails in argyle (and let's face it, that's pretty tasty all on its own!)

Why might this end up another classic Cat fun vs chic folly?  Two words: raccoon. argyle.  Is it fair to heap the prestige of argyle onto a mischievous neighbourhood pest?  Where would I wear these socks?  The store?  Shows?  To bed? Then no one would see their awesomeness.  Can a thirty something girl with kids realistically pull off a raccoon on her sock paired with converse? (which I love) or... What else?

That really is the question... what does one wear with raccoon??

But, at five bucks (including shipping!) I have to say that even the risk of folly is too tiny to bear in mind. And if I can't find a pair of shoes to work them, then the only folly will be between my very happy toes and the bed sheets.

I'll race you to them!