29 September 2011

27 September 2011

24 September 2011

Style Principles, No. 1: Feminine Details

I've been thinking about the details that set my favorites of the clothes I've made apart from ones that don't feel "right."  Consider this the first in a series of my style principles, illustrated.

When I think of my ideal style, it's very unembellished--very austere and 90s minimalist.  My style reality has a lot more frills and ruffles, but when I sew my own clothes, I try to make the embellishment count.

I love lace and piping inserted into seams, fullness from bias cowls at the neck or armscye, and godets inset into sleeves and skirts.  Soft pleats are a restrained alternative to ruffles, if the latter makes you feel like a cupcake (, if that's a bad thing). 

If you don't mind looking like a cupcake: Katherine Hepburn as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story

When sewing my own clothes, I try to learn something new every garment (makes for slow sewing, but also rewarding).  I've got my eye on the following techniques for the feminine details in my fall sewing:

Padded trapunto or channel stitching, in a waistband, a collar, or around the hem of a skirt;
Kimono sleeves with gussets, with a cowl neck--this looks so sleek and seamless;
Double-needle pintucks down the front of a cotton batiste blouse;
Some kind of ruffles, using my new-to-me ruffle foot;
Long sleeves cut on the bias.

22 September 2011


Looking through old notebooks, found a page I wanted to share.

14 September 2011

Sailor skirt, christened (or finished).

Click image to see little anchors on the buttons!

I finally put the last rivet in the deck (or eyelet in the back waist) and hoisted the sails (er, threaded the back corset).  My Russian navy-inspired skirt is done, and I believe she is seaworthy.

Modeled by me and my photoshoppable twin!

I wore the skirt to work a few days ago, and while I feel reassured that the back eyelet detail is basically historically accurate, it does feel a bit like a ren-faire sexy-reenactment costume.  Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I wish I'd used navy eyelets.  Might do a nail-polish paint job some time.  It also needs a proper navy-colored (shoe)lace.

 My back detail on the left, my vintage reference garment detail on the right. 

The fabric is a navy silk noil from Fashion Fabrics Club that ran considerably when I washed it, so I'm not recommending it.  I underlined the entire skirt in a lightweight cotton sateen and bound the edges of the facing with vintage candy-striped bias binding.  The buttons have anchors on them, and were purchased in the garment district.  

The pattern is self-drafted from my sloper, with help from the Sailor in Bermuda tutorial on burdastyle.com.

12 September 2011

Chanel-ish Cardigan Preparations

Fall/Winter 1960 Simplicity Pattern Book

I've decided that the high-priority item on my fall sewing (and Colette Palette Challenge) list is finally going to be a Chanel-ish cardigan jacket.  I drafted a boxy knit cardigan pattern in school a few years ago, made it up in navy wool boucle and loved it until I foolishly washed it too warm.  Now it's a little too schoolboy-ish for me, and I want a replacement.

The Vogue pattern on the left, the McCall's pattern on the right.

I'm taking it easy, patternmakingly-speaking, and am going to work from a pattern.  (actually, is that going to make more work when fitting?  Probably.).  I missed out on the holy grail Claire Shaeffer Vogue pattern, unfortunately, so I'm torn between the Vogue replacement, view D (but shortened to A-length), and McCall's entry, modified to have buttons at CF instead of a zipper.  I'm leaning more toward the Vogue, as it has the same princess seams Shaeffer's pattern had.

My fabric is a raw silk blend I got from Leanne Marshall (of Project Runway fame)'s studio clean-out, last summer.  It's not boucle, and hardly appropriate for the coming winter, but I want to take it easy, so this'll be a wearable muslin, of sorts.

I'm planning to make my trim from self fabric, using techniques from 200 Braids, etc., inspired by braided trim in Signe Chanel.

04 September 2011

Colette Patterns' Fall 2011 Palette Challenge

In spite of only finishing a few of my chosen garments for the Spring 2011 palette challenge put on by Colette Patterns, I really liked the disciplinary focus it gave to my spring sewing (and fabric buying).  I'll be attempting to complete their fall 2011 palette challenge, with the following garments:

1.  Draped, long-sleeved winter dress, to wear with boots.
2.  Draped, short-sleeved silk blouse.
3.  Chanel-style cardigan or collarless jacket.
4.  Semi-flared high-waisted jeans, in a classic not-too-dark denim rinse.
5.  Long-sleeved jersey top.

I have been posting my sewn spring and summer wardrobe sporadically on my BurdaStyle studio, but will do a post soon, as a sort of checklist, to see how much of my proposed spring sewing I actually accomplished!

Images from the Metropolitan Museum Database, Gilt Groupe, Vanessa Jackman, the FIT Collection of Chanel SketchesVogue and style.com, as well as various blogs.

30 August 2011

Clothing for someone else.

I've just finished two garments I was hired to make for someone else, with one more to go.

It's made me change the way I sew for myself, in that I usually take my time (over several months, if necessary) finishing projects.  This summer I've had these other designs hanging over me, so every piece I've worked on for myself has been sewn in one or two days.  The compressed time frame means I get nearly instant gratification, but it also means I have less time to puzzle through tricky fitting and construction snags.

A few pictures of the first garment:

It's a cowl-necked raglan-sleeved blouse, sewn in multi-colored silk charmeuse and black silk gazar.  It is unlined, with Hong Kong-finished seams.

The front is cut on the bias, while the back is on the straight grain.

The second garment is an unlined seafoam-green linen dress, with 3/4-length sleeves, in-seam pockets and a simple princess-seamed pleated front.  

The collar has an asymmetrical overlap that mimics a lapel.

The inside of the dress-front, with the in-seam pockets flared out like wings!

The final garment will be another day dress, probably in raw silk, with kimono sleeves and a skirt inspired by this practice-drape in muslin:

10 February 2011

Starting the Sailor Skirt

I've been wanting a pair of sailor pants for years, but every time I try them on, I remember how comical I look in high-waisted pants.  Foolish doesn't being to describe it--it's more like an upside-down lollipop.  In spite of my limitation, I love the slimming effect of two rows of buttons running up to the waist, and the lacing at the back waist works like a corset, but somehow more Popeye-wink and less Victoria's Secret-leer.

I've decided, at least until I accept my lollipop shape, I'll stick to sailor skirts.  They're easier to fit, anyway.
Here's the basic design I'm working on.  Posting this, I realize the top front button needs to be doubled.  I'll be working from my basic sloper.  I remember a burdastyle tutorial on sailor-ifying a bottoms pattern, but I'm not finding it right now.  I'll post it in if I turn it up.

This'll be made in a lightweight navy silk suiting I have from fashionfabricsclub.com, and probably underlined in a lightweight cotton (not sure about this yet).

Spring 2011 Sewing Plan

I think I've figured out at least the tip of my spring sewing iceberg -- a gentle mix of basics and frivolity.

From left to right:
Blue hammered silk sleeveless wrap-dress.
Navy polka-dot silk faille gathered short-sleeved blouse.
Metallic linen cuffed short-shorts, with invisible back zipper.
Beige microfiber trench coat, using Simplicity 4084.
Top-handled purse, in leopard and caramel leather.
Navy silk suiting sailor skirt.

All patterns by me, unless otherwise noted.  The first three patterns are finished, and have gone through one muslin.  The trench coat will get a muslin, the handbag will be slowly drafted, and the sailor skirt will be based on my basic skirt sloper.

24 January 2011

Vesper Dress

I've had a real crush on the red wrap dress Eva Green's spy character wears in her final scene in Casino Royale since I first saw it.  It's been simmering as a vague idea for a while now, but my recent discovery of a cache of screenshots on a fan-site and a short film on youtube have given me the details to flesh this dream dress out.  
I'm thinking of ordering some 4-ply crepe from Dharma Trading Co. and dyeing it red, but I've got yards and yards of a light hammered silk in bright turquoise blue at home already, so I'll try my newly drafted pattern out in that first.

Fashion illustration

Flat illustration

23 January 2011

Colette Patterns' Spring 2011 Palette Challenge

I'm putting myself forward to participate in Colette Patterns' Spring 2011 Palette Challenge, wherein I'll make a number (4, 5?) of garments in the coming months fitting into the above palette of colors, and drawing from the above inspiration images. It's basically a condensed version of the designs I've already been considering, but working alongside the other participants will hopefully keep me on track.  I'm looking forward to the challenge!

SS'11 Jacket Inspiration

Vogue, Harper's, Lucky, Vintage magazines.

Short Jackets
L'Officiel, Vogue, Harper's, Lucky.

SS'11 Blouse and Shirt Inspiration

Vogue, Harper's, Lucky, style.com

SS'11 Dress Inspiration

Color Inspiration
Erdem, Christopher Kane, Dior.
Wrapped and tied dress inspiration mainly from Vogue and Lucky magazines.

Draping Inspiration
Vogue, Lucky, Harper's Bazaar, and more.

Embellishment Inspiration
Vogue, Harper's and Vintage pattern websites.

Spring/Summer 2011 Sewing Inspiration

Dresses first, starting with this relaxed & glamorous version of a vintage shirt-dress.