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.