Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Country Singer Dress

Quite a while ago, I discovered this vintage Western style dress on Pinterest and was never able to get it out of my head.
I just adore that combination of rick rack and fringe! And it's so clever how the fringe is sewn into the seams of the tiered skirt. I knew I wanted to copy the dress at some point, and it finally happened. I think I've mentioned here that I sing in a little local rockabilly band, and I needed a good performance dress. Obligatory guitar shot!

The pattern I used is from my upcoming book Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. It's a variation on the Plaid Rockabilly Dress.
As I've mentioned, the book has included patterns for interchangeable bodices, skirts, and sleeves. This design uses the Basic Bodice (V-neck variation), Puff Sleeve, and All-Around Pleated Skirt. I did a little trick where I sewed the neckline facing to the wrong side of the bodice, and then turned it to the turned it to the outside, so it's a design feature on the outside of the dress. This gives you a place to insert trim, like this rick rack.

So for my Country Singer dress, I did the exact same thing with the exact same pattern pieces, with one big exception: for the skirt, I shortened the pattern piece to about 10 inches, and gathered it at the waistline instead of making the pleats on the pattern. Then I cut reeeeeaaaaalllly long 10" strips of fabric to make the lower tiers, and used a ruffler foot to form the gathers. I inserted fringe into the seams of the tiers, and then topstitched rick rack above the seams.

This used an obnoxious amount of fabric. The lower tier is over ten yards long!

I used the same neckline facing trick as in the book, but inserted fringe instead of rick rack. 

I love how it turned out! (That's a portrait of my grandmother next to me. Isn't it amazing?)
Hey, what's that fabric? It's a design from my upcoming spring collection! It's a dotted swiss cotton with strawberries and blue roses. Swoon! Here's a close up of the texture. It's not available yet, but I promise to post about it as soon as it is.
Side view with super big Country Singer hair! (I just discovered this product and it's a total game-changer). The puff sleeves have a little binding at the hem.

I lined the bodice only in white siri cotton. I found the perfect color crinoline to wear under the skirt. This is the Hell Bunny 25" petticoat in turquoise. 

It makes the skirt even swingier. 
And since I always get foundation garment questions, I'm also wearing a longline bra and high-waisted panty to get a really smooth line. Wearing vintage-style foundations definitely helps to achieve the right silhouette. 
I wore this to a performance at an Irish dive bar, and got some hilarious comments from the local drunks, including: "Are you Cinderella?!" and "Did you just come from a rodeo?" Sigh.

Anyway, the book has the pattern pieces for this design (without tiers), as well as detailed instructions. It's coming out in less than a month now! I'll be posting more photos and designs as we get closer. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Spring Butterick Patterns

I'm super excited to show you my new Butterick patterns for spring! I have two new dress designs, both of which are shown in my new fabric collection. The fabrics will be coming to Joann Stores in the next couple months, and I'll be sure to do a separate post about them. 

First up is B6322, a corset-styled dress with ruching. This one was directly inspired by a sweet little pink dress from the '50s that I found at a vintage show. 

It's super dirndl-y, which is funny because I designed this before I left for that trip for Germany that got me all dirndl-obsessed. I guess it was fated! 

It's shown above with a crinoline, and below without one. 

It has a low scoop back. 

This fabric is a cotton sateen in pink floral, which will also be available in blue if that's more to your liking!

There's binding around the neckline and armholes for a clean finish.

I made this recently in a border print sateen too! You may recognize this fabric design from last spring (it had a grey background), and now it's going to be available in two new colors--yellow and aqua.

Next up is B6323, a one-shoulder dress that's also great for showcasing border prints.

It's shown in one of my new favorite spring fabrics, a really fun beach print with polka dots, umbrellas, and retro girl silhouettes. There's a small border of umbrellas on one selvage, which can be used across the neckline and for the shoulder bow.

The small border continues in the back.

Of course, you can also sew up this dress in a non-border print, as illustrated here. This rendering also shows a new fabric, a yellow and ivory rose print in rayon challis.

Make it with or without the shoulder bow.

I'll have more news on the fabrics soon! I hope you like the new patterns.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My New Dress Book! A Sneak Peek

I just got my copy of Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book and I couldn't wait to share a few pages with you! It's such an exciting day when the postman brings that first copy. This is my biggest book yet and I practically sewed my little fingers off making all the dresses!

Like my other books, it was illustrated by Sun Young Park. Her tonal chapter openers are so gorgeous.

And here are a few of the dresses! The lovely photos are by Karen Pearson. With 23 designs, there's something for everyone. And the mix-and-match aspect of the patterns means that you can change things up to your own taste. (There are five bodices, six skirts, six sleeves, collars, cuffs, and more!)

There are simple day dresses . . .

Fun party and date dresses . . .

Office wear . . .

And even a wedding dress!

I'll be doing some posts with more details on the patterns and designs, but for now I just wanted to give you a little bit of the flavor of the book.

More to come!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Knit Wrap Top Sew-Along #7: Final Steps!

Ready to finish your top? I promised to show you a cool trick to hem your sleeves by machine, and here it is. This is a good trick to know for hemming any lined sleeves by machine.

You'll be starting with your top right side out, and you'll have two sleeve layers inside each other.

Turn in the seam allowances on the sleeves (in just one little spot) the way they will be sewn. So the seam allowances will be turned in and facing each other.

Next, dig into the sleeves a bit so that you can pin the seam allowances this way from the inside. Don't worry too much about how this is done, just that the two layers are pinned together the way they will be sewn.

Remember that opening you left in the waistline? Dig in there with your hand and pull out the sleeves that you pinned. They'll look like this.

Now, pin the sleeve raw edges together all the way around. It's funny looking, like two elephant trunks touching and then getting pinned together at the edges.

Take to the machine and sew around the edges you pinned. Use a straight stitch and stretch the fabric as you sew. I'm pulling up the two sleeves here so you can get a better idea of how the sewing works.

Here's what you'll have.

Push the sleeves back into the opening and put one sleeve inside the other. The sleeve hem is finished! You'll want to give it a little press.

Repeat the above steps with the other sleeve.

Next, we're going to edgestitch the side opening for the ties. Remember these?

Make sure those seam allowances are turned in, pin them in place, and then edgestitch around the opening.

Your final step is to hand stitch the opening at the waistline closed. A slip stitch or ladder stitch is great.

Hey, your top is finished! Give it a light press, lightly pressing all the edges flat. It's ready to wear!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Inspiration: Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

I was going through some boxes recently and discovered a completely new, shrink-wrapped copy of Pee-Wee's Playouse Christmas Special. How did such a treasure get packed away?! Because, readers, it is indeed a treasure. This 1988 gem is everything we love about the playhouse, plus a stellar list of guest stars. It has Cher! Little Richard! Oprah Winfrey!

Costumes will be of upmost important to readers of this blog, I suspect. Let's take a look at the best of the best.

Annette Funicello appears wearing a '50s themed outfit, complete with felt circle skirt appliqued with a Christmas tree.

This special also introduced me to the wonders of the Del Rubio Triplets, whose "dulcet tones" are accompanied by mini-skirted (emphasis on the mini) ensembles.

Charo sparkles in a sequined beret and leotard-thing. She does "Feliz Navidad" ("Hit it, Konky!") while Pee-Wee stumbles about trying to hit the piƱata.

In my eyes, no one can outshine Miss Yvonne, the Most Beautiful Woman in Puppetland (and I've written about my love for her style before). And boy, does she outdo herself in the costume department.

In fact, my own holiday dress was inspired by her this year: strapless, red velvet, with greenery accessories!

There are a few misses, costume-wise, in the Pee-Wee special. Grace Jones wears . . . this.

K.D. Lang is an all-around disaster, in a self-consciously extra wacky version of Jingle Bell Rock. I would normally approve of a snowflake applique western shirtdress, but hers is so unflattering. Fast forward, readers!

All in all, however, this Christmas special is a treat! It's now taken up permanent residence next to my DVD player to be enjoyed any time of year. Watch it now to start planning your ensemble for next year, or just to squeeze in some last minute holiday cheer before New Year's.

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