Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gertie Fabrics Are Here!

What an insanely busy few weeks this has been, readers! I took a whirlwind trip out to Puyallup for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo and got back just in time for two weeks of photo shoots for my upcoming Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. In the midst of it all, my first line of fabric was released! Joann Fabrics now has the full Gertie line in stores. I was so excited when I saw them in my local store in Poughkeepsie, NY!

Would you like to know what each fabric is? Yes? Okay, here we go.

First, a classic rose print on a swiss dot! This is lightweight and textured, and would be perfect for blouses and dresses.

Swiss Dot Roses

I have my freshman design students at Marist College make tank tops as a first project, and I sewed my sample in this rose print. You can see the swiss dot texture here!

Here's another swiss dot with a floral-bow stripe print! This was inspired by Horrockses dresses of the '40s and '50s. I would love to see this with a chevron design on a bodice, like Vintage Vogue 8789.

Swiss Dot Stripe
Next, a rose border print with polka dots on cotton sateen.

Border Print Rose Sateen

I designed Butterick 6167 specifically with this print in mind. Here it is on display in Puyallup!

Is it okay to have a favorite fabric in your own collection? Because mine might be this one. Huge roses in lovely pink and red tones on a black background. This is also a sateen. My next project is to make a half circle skirt in this for spring.
Sateen Rose in Black 

It also comes in coral and yellow on cotton poplin! I want to make a HUGE full-skirted dress in this to go flouncing about in.

Coral Rose Poplin

Of course, we couldn't do without a tropical floral print sateen. This would be perfect in a Shaheen-esque pattern like my Butterick 6019.

Tropical Floral Sateen

Cherries! We have them on an aqua background in a heavenly rayon challis with an amazing drape.

Cherries on Aqua Rayon Challis

And on a white background on crisp cotton poplin.

Cherries on White Cotton Poplin

Another favorite: KITTIES. This is inspired by a 40s novelty print and is done on a poly chiffon with a sheer windowpane background. I was hesitant about polyester, but when I felt this one I was so in love! It has a really nice hand and feel to it. (Also, the grey kitty is my Henry. Obviously.) I'm going to be making the "40s-Style Blouse" from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual in this print. More to come.

Poly Dobby Chiffon Kitties

Also on the poly windowpane chiffon: BOWS!

Poly Dobby Chiffon Bows
Don't worry, I didn't forget the doggie lovers. Poodles and polka dots on cotton lawn. Squee!

Poodle Dot Lawn

Next, a mini-collection of three grey chambrays. These are all cotton and feel so nice. In little white bows:

Chambray Bow Print

Pink cherries.

Chambray Cherry Print

And red polka dots:

Chambray Polka Dot Print

Embroidered strawberries! This is on a medium weight ribbed-texture cotton.

Embroidered Strawberry Cotton

And finally (whew!): a really cool novelty weave fabric. It's a swiss dot cotton with polka dot chiffon "pinwheels" appliqued on top. This is super special and would make a beautiful full circle skirt.

Embroidered Swiss Dot in Black 

It also comes in pink!

Embroidered Swiss Dot in Pink 

Well, there they are! They are in Joann stores and on their website (which ships to the US and Canada. I will be doing a giveaway for international readers, so look out for that soon). I really hope you like them, readers. I would love to extend a huge thanks to Fabric Traditions, who made the line a reality, my supporters at Butterick, and of course Joann Fabrics and their dedicated sewing-obsessed employees.

Now that all my sewing for the dress book is done, I plan to spend some time making myself a spring wardrobe in these fabrics. More to come!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Brown Hair, Puyallup, and More!

Well, the deed is done! I'm back to my (kinda sorta) natural hair color. It required an enormous amount of work to get it to this shade, so I can hardly think of it as really natural. But I'm sure it's someone's natural hair color. My big photo shoot for Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book is mere days away, and I have a closet full of 25 dresses ready to go. I'm happy with the color, and think it will make a nice neutral "accessory" for the frocks. I'll admit that I'm kind of fried from prepping for this shoot and I'm looking forward to the downtime from when it's over. I'm already planning what I'll sew for fun and relaxation! (Gracious, this sewing stuff is addictive.)

In the meantime, I'm headed to Puyallup for the Sewing & Stitchery Expo! Perhaps I will see some of you there? I'll be in the McCall's/Butterick/Vogue booth on Saturday (I'll be there all day signing books and such) and we're going to announce the Gertie's Grand Giveaway winner! There were so many amazing entries, and Butterick has created this super cool look book of all of them. It's so amazing seeing all these fantastically creative versions of my patterns!

Thank you so much to all who entered! I can't wait to reveal the big winner!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of Brunette

Goodness gracious, are you so sick of hearing about that Fifty Shades movie everywhere? I will fully admit to reading all three of books (all the while complaining about how terrible they are, yet unable to stop myself). But I think I must draw the line at seeing the movie. (Though seriously, go see it for me and report back please!)

Anyway, I'm much more interested in talking about shades of hair color at the moment. You see, I've almost certainly decided to go back to brunette later this week. In case you haven't been following my hair saga, I dyed it pink over two years ago, then went purple. Then came blue. And then purple again! I haven't seen my natural hair color in quite some time. And I've loved it. And I don't think I'm completely done with the crazy colors.

The thing is, there's the photo shoot for Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book in just a few weeks. I'm modeling 25 dress of various colors, textures, and prints. Add colored backdrops to the mix, and I felt like my purple hair color might clash in some of those photos. How about a nice neutral brunette instead?

The great thing is that I get to choose the brunette I'd like since my base hair is bleached at this point. And who can remember their natural hair color after so long anyway? So I've been collecting images on my pinterest board and having lots of fun doing it. I wouldn't mind something a little warmer and a bit red, like Lana del Rey's hair above. Or maybe even an outright auburn!

There's the classic deep chocolate Bettie.

Or Zooey.

Or maybe something a little paler.

Or, perhaps the wisest and safest bet: get the salon to try to match my actual natural hair color!

At first I thought it seemed a little strange to dye my hair just for the purposes of the photo shoot. But now I'm really into the idea. Hey, natural hair color seems like a novel idea again!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Snow Day, Sew Day!

We've been hit with lots of snowstorms in the Hudson Valley this winter, and I can't help but love it. Is there anything better than watching the snow fall from a cozy vantage point sitting at a sewing machine? The past year has seen some changes for me, including going back to work part time (more on that some other time) so I have to take my sewing hours where I can get them. And there have been a LOT of sewing hours recently.

I'm working on my next book, which will most likely be called Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. I'm making 25 dresses. When I plan these things, it always seems so do-able and natural. "Of course I'll make 25 dresses for the book! Any other number would be insane!" I don't know if trying to make 25 dresses in a relatively short period of time is a sign of insanity, but it certainly causes it.

In good news, I'm on dress 24 and I'm proud to say that I couldn't be more excited about this project. The most difficult thing about making sewing books for me is trying to get my vision to align with the finished product. Things always seem to shift and change along the way of course, but there's always a fundamental concept that I want to come through in the end. (In my first book, the concept was vintage couture inspired by Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing; in my second book, the concept was the way vintage can be sewn and worn in our everyday lives.) Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. It seems to be happening more often than not on this project, so I'm happy as can be.

There's also something to be said for sewing 25 of one thing in a row. 25 zippers, 25 hems, etc. Just logging in those hours in the sewing room makes one a better seamstress. How could it not? I can't share the dresses with you yet, but I've sprinkled this post with some little detail shots that I've been taking along the way. And a cat.

In other news, I have a new Butterick pattern out! B6167 is a dress meant to get us all thinking about the warmer days to come. It's made here in one of my new fabrics that will be available in Joann stores next month. I love roses, polka dots, and border prints, so . . . why not all three?!

The dress has a boned bodice, a gathered bust inset, straps, and a full gathered skirt. 
I hope you love it!

For those of you in this stormy winter weather, I hope you're safe and enjoying being snowed in and getting some sewing done.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Introducing My New Fabric Line, With Sewing Contest!

I'm so happy I finally get to share this with you, readers! I've been working with Fabric Traditions on a line of retro-inspired apparel fabrics that will be available in Joann Fabric and Crafts this March. To celebrate, Fabric Traditions and Butterick (home of my pattern line, Patterns by Gertie) are teaming up to do a fantastic giveaway.

First, a little about the line:

  • It's a collection of 17 designs on apparel fabrics: cotton sateens, cotton poplin, rayon challis, Swiss dot, chambray, and more. 
  • The designs range from classic vintage florals to 40s- and 50s-inspired novelty prints (cherries and strawberries and bows and poodles!). There are also some super fun novelty weaves especially intended for retro dress patterns. 
  • The idea was to create special vintage prints that are hard to find, produced especially on apparel fabrics. (Retro kitty cats on a textured chiffon, for instance!)
I hope this all sounds interesting to you, because it's pretty much my dream come true. I will be sharing more of the fabric designs as we get closer to the actual release date. 

Now! More about the contest. For a grand prize, we're giving away a bolt EACH of all the designs. (That's over a hundred yards of fabric, and worth $2100!) Have you made any of my Patterns by Gertie? Because to enter the contest, all you need to do is send in a photo of the garment. I will be announcing the winner in February at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. The winning garment will be displayed in the Butterick/McCalls booth. All the rules and details are right here. If you want to make up a garment specially for the contest, there's time! Submissions are due January 31st. 

I hope you will consider entering, readers. I can't wait to see the submissions! And I can't wait to show you more of the fabric designs. There's a stunning large-scale rose print I'm dying to sew with. Hmm, I wonder if  I have time to make a dress for myself for the expo . . . 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sewing Your Own Retro Lingerie: Are You Into It?

As you may know, last year I released a lingerie pattern with Butterick for a vintage-inspired knit slip, cami, and panties.

Since then, lingerie has been on my mind: sewing it, researching it, shopping for it. My Butterick pattern was easy to sew and super simple. A big part of me wants to go deeper into the whole subject: more complex designs, more authentic retro styling, more lingerie knowledge for everyone! I love the vintage-inspired designs from Gossard (see the Retrolution collection at the top of this post), What Katie Did, Dita Von Teese, Agent Provocateur, and Kiss Me Deadly--to name just a few.

Agent Provocateur Abby Basque
What Katie Did Valerie Cathedral Bra
Dita Von Teese Star Lift collection 
I suppose this post is an informal post of sorts. Do you share this interest in sewing retro lingerie, readers? How into it are you: would you make your own slip? Your own bra? Your own corselette? Would you buy a whole book on the subject, or maybe just an individual pattern?  

If you are interested in sewing lingerie, what has stopped you up to this point? Difficulty finding patterns, notions, and instruction? Lack of time? Fitting concerns? 

I'm so looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Several years ago, I brought up the idea of writing a lingerie sewing book, but there's always been a concern that it's too much of a niche topic. What do you think? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Comfiest Ever Pencil Skirt

I keep meaning to write about this skirt because I'm so darn proud of it! I made many prototypes trying to get to a casual wear version of a retro pencil skirt for my new book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. I knew I wanted it to be made out of a knit fabric with an elastic waist, but still have the structured look of a classic pencil skirt with a high waist and a tapered silhouette. Many test versions later, I came upon this: the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt.

For me, the real triumph is the hidden elastic waistband. It's smooth and lays completely flat so you don't get that sweatpant look around the middle. It looks cool on the inside, too. At first glance, it looks like a facing.

But flip it up and you'll see the secret!

One of the reasons the skirt is so easy is that it just has one pattern piece: the skirt front/back. It has a cut-on facing. You serge or zigzag the elastic to the facing and then flip it in.

I've made several more of this skirt for myself, including this floral version.

(Excuse me, I was having a bad face day.)

P.S. The book also has a '60s inspired mini skirt version and a '40s gored, flared version!

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