Friday, April 30, 2010

Gertie, Girl Reporter {4.30.10}

Hey hey, Girl Reporter is back! This is where I channel my inner Lois Lane to bring you the most interesting stuff from my Google Reader for the week. $550 khakis, the latex designer to the stars, and more!

  • In my absolute favorite article of the week, the New York Times looks into why a pair of khakis would possibly cost $550 in fascinating detail. I was prepared to be disgusted, but found myself pleasantly surprised by the amount of workmanship that goes into these pants. The retail mark-ups are ridiculous of course, but they're made in a union shop in Brooklyn which is pretty awesome. (New York Times)
  • Interestingly, Etsy linked to the article above in a newsletter sent to sellers to demonstrate the importance of not under-pricing their wares. I have to admit, this made me stop. Should Etsy sellers consider a 250% mark-up after parts and labor, just like Bergdorf's does? (Etsy)

    [From Etsy's newsletter]

  • But then there's NYT's miss of the week: suggesting that it's okay to wear a biking unitard as an outfit with high boots and a cardigan. It's not okay, people! (New York Times)
  • Meet Aksudo Kudo, the designer responsible for Lady Gaga's latex get-ups. (Salon)
  • You know how brands like Always are often promoting their charitable contributions of feminine products to third world countries? The general understanding is that, in underdeveloped countries, lack of these products keeps girls from attending school while menstruating. According to this article, though, that is only a fraction of the problem. (Jezebel)
  • Love this quote on feminism: "Unlike almost every other social movement, [it's] not a struggle against a distinct oppressor...It's against a deeply held set of beliefs and assumptions...This is the ultimate gift of feminism, that the personal is in fact the political." - Kavita Ramdas (Ted via Jezebel)
  • We may be seeing more plus size models in high fashion these days, but where are the plus-size models of color? (Jezebel)

That's it for this week, folks. Happy Friday!

Another Dress in the Queue

I just recently came across the above left photograph of Christina Hendricks. Isn't it breathtaking? I've never really been one for the whole Herve Leger bandage dress trend, but she wears this one so well. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's a GODDESS.) I just love the slightly edgy neckline detail. In fact, I've had this dress on my mind all week, wondering if there was a way I could adapt it to my style. And then I found the 60s sheath pattern (pictured on the right), and a new dress inspiration was born. Isn't there something so similar about the essence of each of these dresses? But I love how the bow gives a sweet vintage touch to what otherwise would look like a rather modern design.

Here's the pattern envelope (bought from Booty Vintage, by the way). I added it to my collection even though the neckline details would be easy enough to draft on one's own and add to a standard sheath dress. Sometimes I like to buy a pattern just to study construction details and such - sewing geekery at its best!

I think this would be just smashing in a clingy doubleknit for ultimate Joan Holloway curviness - fitted rather snugly, of course. I'm thinking a deep plummy red like Christina's dress above, or maybe even basic black.

And so another dress is added to the queue! Isn't it funny how inspiration strikes from out of nowhere sometimes - in the form of a dress just begging to be made? If only there were more time to sew . . . Story of a seamstress's life, right?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why Hello, Handsome!

Readers, I am totally geeking out over how awesome I think this bound buttonhole looks. I used a new method, and this was my FIRST TRY at it. I learned the technique in a new book I bought called The Sewing Bible (which by the way, is proving to be a totally worthwhile purchase), and it's very similar to this fabulous welt pocket technique. You face the buttonhole with a patch of silk organza and then position the "lips" behind it and attach them with a couple fancy moves. It's so completely rad that I'm going to make a video this weekend to show you the method in action.

You might notice that this fabric is the purple doubleknit I chose for my background dress. Which means YES, the Background Dress of Doom is underway! It's kind of a funny story. May I share?
So remember how I mentioned I was on muslin number three for this project and just couldn't get the fit right? Well, this is going to sound horribly careless, but I finally decided to just cut the original pattern with a bit of an extra seam allowance and hope for the best. I did a basted fitting. And guess what? THE FREAKING DRESS FIT PERFECTLY WITH NO ALTERATIONS.

All I can really do at this point is laugh at myself and hopefully learn from the situation. Basically, a few things were at play.
  1. The pattern I had was a size 34" and I was convinced there was no way it would fit. I started adding a lot to the side seams without really checking. Bad Gertie.
  2. I also reshaped the skirt without making it up as the pattern called for first. I was hoping for a curvier look, so I used the silhouette of my Jenny skirt pattern - my tried and true pencil skirt - to get a new look. I seriously distorted the pattern this way without even realizing it, as the skirt is meant to be a bit more voluminous in the front than in back, and I completely threw off the balance. And the more tweaking I did, the worse I made it. I'll say it again: Bad Gertie!
  3. Lastly, I made my muslin in well, muslin, but I'm using a doubleknit for the dress. Doubleknits can stand in for wovens as they're a very stable knit, BUT: this particular doubleknit has a fair amount of two way horizontal stretch, allowing the fit of this dress to be more formfitting rather than tailored. So I had more wiggle room in the pattern than I thought.
So there you have it! Lesson (hopefully) learned. The very hard way.

Here's an in-process shot of the collar interfacing. VoNBBS calls for muslin interfacing to be basted to the actual dress collar, and then bound buttonholes are made at the neckline, after which the facing (with no interfacing) is applied to the collar.

Below is the side zipper in progress. (Look how different the purple looks in each of these photos! It's such a tricky color to capture.) VoNBBS and other vintage patterns often use a strip of fabric as a placket at the front side of the lapped zipper, creating a sort of facing. Let me know if you're interested in learning more about this method - I took all sorts of photos for a potential tutorial.

And thus the Background Dress of Doom marches on in its heretofore troubled journey towards fruition. May it be smooth sailing from now on!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sewing and Feminism 101

We've talked quite a bit around these parts about vintage sensibilities and feminism, but it occurred to me yesterday that we've never really gotten into the relationship between sewing itself and feminism. In other words, the basics. Women's feelings toward domestic arts have undergone such radical changes in the past sixty or so years, and it's interesting to examine how sewing fits into this puzzle. Now, mind you, I'm not a women's studies professor - I'm just someone with approximately a third of a PhD in theatre history, which I feel beholden to tell you is the same as no PhD at all. But here's how I understand it.

Let's start with the painfully obvious. Sewing is a domestic activity, and as such, has generally been in the domain of women's responsibilities. Prior to the advent of feminism, home sewing was wrapped up in all the other messy notions that prompted the need for women's liberation: the erasure of women into undervalued roles and social conditions that didn't allow for sustainable life choices choices outside of marriage and motherhood. (Just for the record: I am not bashing homemaking. I am merely glossing over several decades of women's history! I'm not sure which should offend you more.) With the publication of The Feminine Mystique and the evolution of first wave feminism, women began to detach themselves from domestic work and hence, home sewing became a less popular - perhaps even ridiculed - activity. We have the second wave of feminism to thank for many legal rights that women now have. But sadly, this era also saw the further decline of home crafts. For some, sewing might even have been considered an anti-feminist activity.

This idea has, thankfully, largely been criticized by third wave feminists, who, for the most part, rejected the idea that to gain power women must inject themselves into traditionally male activities and give up any aspirations of domestic bliss. As these feminists saw it, disowning any activity that was traditionally feminine further compounded the cultural notion that women's work is meaningless - that to do work of importance, we must take on traditionally male roles.

Feminism took a pronounced turn for the crafty with the publication of Stitch 'n Bitch, the book single-handedly responsible for making knitting cool again. Authored by Debbie Stoller, founder of the feminist magazine Bust, the book is both a how-to and a decidedly feminist call to action. The beautifully written chapter "Take Back the Knit" speaks volumes about the relationship between feminism and crafting. It's a gem of a chapter all around, but my favorite passage is this:
"Betty Friedan and other like-minded feminists had overlooked an important part of knitting when they viewed it simply as part of women's societal obligation to serve everyone around them--they had forgotten that knitting served the knitter as well."
In other words, crafts like sewing and knitting are nourishing to the soul, not just the home. Reflecting this idea, women today are far more likely to sew for themselves - because it feeds their creativity and sense of beauty - rather than a sense of gendered obligation. We live in a very exciting time in which feminism, punk DIY aesthetics, and eco-consciouness have converged to create a new crafting movement. And instead of feeling oppressed by sewing and other domestic arts, feminists now often use them as a means of connection to each other and to our creative selves.

But here's my question: why hasn't sewing become an emblem of crafty third-wave feminism in the way that knitting has? For whatever reason, sewing hasn't become a craft of choice for hip feminists, despite publishers' attempts to find the Stitch 'n Bitch of sewing. Sewing (or at least couture and vintage sewing) does seem to have less of a punk aesthetic than knitting - a bigger push towards refined methods rather than a scrappy DIY aesthetic. But I think we seamstresses need to start holding our own as crafty feminists!

What do you think? Do you see your sewing as feminist?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Clarks Diamond Heart Shoe: Yea or Nay?

Readers, I had such fun talking shoes with you last week that I decided I needed to do more of these posts! Whenever the seasons change, I go into major shoe-buying mode. I'm trying to be strategic this time around, though, and think about what would really be useful in my wardrobe - rather than just buying every brightly-colored, uncomfortable pump I can get my grubby hands on. I don't own any beige shoes, and these Clarks heels look like they'd be a versatile basic. But, on the other hand . . . is there a good reason I don't own any beige shoes?

Am I veering into fuddy duddy territory? I personally think not, and I'm about 90% set on buying these shoes. But please do let me know if I'm making a fatal fashion mistake!

Also, what are your must-haves in your spring shoe wardrobe? Let's be strategic shoppers together! Look for more of my shoe picks in posts to come - I've got shoes on the brain, people.

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my giveaway post! I've just drawn a winner by random number generator, and it is . . . Olivia! Olivia is a nice Swedish girl. (I believe. Am I right, Olivia? About being Swedish, not about being nice. I'm sure you're nice.) Karma was clearly at play when her name was drawn - Olivia was sweet enough to share the giveaway link on her own blog. I never would have done something like that, thinking it might decrease my chances of winning. Just goes to show you - I mean ME - doesn't it? Go, karma! (Olivia, please e-mail me!)

I do a giveaway every 500 followers, so you know . . . become a follower if you aren't already. I'll be thinking of a fabulous new prize to give next time!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Featured Sponsor: Heyday! Vintage Style

Yay, it's time for more sponsor love! I just adore writing these posts, because all of my sponsors are very cool women who run very cool businesses. Case in point: Shona Van Beers is the owner of Heyday Vintage Style, a company that makes reproduction vintage clothing, an occupation that was inspired by both her love for both sewing and competitive swing dance. Read on for my interview with Shona - and hear how she gets her 40s style trousers to fit perfectly every time!

Back to School!

I'm a big believer in continuing education when it comes to sewing. I've been in a bit of an academic dry spell, though, and haven't taken a class since last year. That all changes today, though - Gertie's going back to school!

I'm enrolled in "Pattern Draft Your Own Pant" taught by THE Kenneth D. King. I'm so excited! We'll be drafting a custom, perfectly fitted pant pattern. (That's trousers to you beautiful Brits!) And the good news for you lovely readers is that I will now be able to talk about pant fitting and sewing here, as several of you have requested. I love the look of a Hepburn-esque trouser, but I just find fitting so frustrating, especially for curvy ladies. (If you're interested in the class, there's another section opening up in June - check it out!)

I actually had to pack up my class supplies last night, which felt very nostalgic of the back-to-school seasons of my youth. I even joked to Jeff that I wished I had a Hannah Montana notebook to bring with me. Maybe next time?

In other exciting news, I've found a draping instructor who's going to be working with me one-on-one starting next weekend. More to come on that front!

I couldn't be more excited about these new educational opportunities - I didn't realize how much I was missing taking courses. How about you, readers? Taken any good classes lately? (Regional sewing school suggestions will be appreciated, I'm sure!) Or you prefer to learn on your own?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tribute to James Livingston, a Fabulous Teacher

I've hesitated to write something about this, because I did not know James well. But I took a dressmaking class with him last year at Sew Fast Sew Easy and he taught me more than anyone else about sewing technique. So when I received word last week that he'd passed away, I was struck by the sad news and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. As a little tribute, I thought I'd post my memories and thanks to this funny, smart, creative, wonderful man here.

  • In our class devoted to zippers, James asked me to get out a needle so he could demonstrate hand-basting in a zip. My couture skills were lacking, to say the least, and all I'd brought with me was a huge, dull embroidery needle. When I went to hand it to him, he howled with laughter: "I said get out a needle, not a NAIL!" James could say this in a way that had everyone cracking up. Anytime I'm tempted to cut corners on hand-basting now, I think of that moment.
  • I made a perfectly-fitted sheath dress under James's instruction. I spent $25 a yard on this amazing ruby-red double wool crepe. When I said in class I couldn't believe I'd spent that much on fabric, he looked at me, incredulous: "Do you think you could buy a fabulous dress like that for $50? I don't think so!" He definitely knew the value of good materials.
  • After I'd inserted my zipper, I had the faintest of bumps at the base. I tried on the dress and showed it to James. After taking a look at my backside, he said, "If anyone is looking at that tiny bump while you're wearing THAT dress, there's something wrong with them!"
  • He was generous with his knowledge. He gave us lists of books to check out, and introduced me to the work of Adele Margolis.
  • He was a life-long sewist. He told us that his mother wouldn't buy him the trendy clothes he wanted as a kid, and told him to sew them himself! And so he did, and the rest is history. He had a sense of style all his own.
Taking his class was definitely a life-changing experience. Because our group had bonded so much, they set up a second level course for us. I had just lost my job and couldn't afford to take it anymore. I so regret that now!

My thoughts go out to his partner and the rest of his family. You will be missed, James!

Did any of you take a class with James? I'd love it if you shared any memories here!

Friday, April 23, 2010

1000th Follower Giveaway!

Guys, I love you. I love that you come by every day to read my ramblings and to leave witty, brilliant, informative comments. I love your opinions on shoes and that you cheer me on when I need it. I even love that you tell me when I'm wrong. A lot of different voices contribute to this blog and for that I thank all of you. I wish I could give you each a present! Alas, I have but one to give. A brand new copy of Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s is up for a giveaway!

This is one of my favorite fashion history books, so it seems a fitting celebratory prize. All you have to do is leave a comment here to be entered. You can enter until Monday, April 26th at midnight EST. All countries are eligible! Make sure you stop by on Tuesday to see if you're the winner.

Thanks for reading, dear friends.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Zipper Lust

Readers, have you ever seen Riri zippers? Pacific Trimming here in New York carries them, and they've just increased their stock to take over an entire wall! I first read about these zippers in Threads magazine: they're renowned for being very high-quality. And they're really quite beautiful too; the teeth are so glinty and jewel-like in the hypnotic way that very shiny things are. Riri is a Swiss company and the zippers are made by hand in a small town in Italy. Doesn't that all sound so romantic?

I love the way they slide open smoothly, and the metal teeth are pretty in a utilitarian way. You'll find metal zips in vintage couture, like this Ceil Chapman below. The last time I went to Anthropologie, I noticed a lot of the retro summer dresses had metal zips as well. I think it adds a lovely authentic touch to vintage-inspired dresses and the mixture of beauty and sturdiness really appeals to me.

I ended up buying two of these lovely zippers: one plain white and one in black satin. They're not cheap: they run around $12 a pop. But they're just so lovely and special that I can't wait to put them into some new dresses.

Here's a peek at some satin-tape zippers. Wouldn't they be pretty in an exposed application?

Sadly, Riri zippers are difficult to find online. The Sewing Place has a nice selection of the decorative type with the multi-colored teeth, which isn't really my thing. But perhaps you'll dig it:

However, Pacific Trimming has tons of info about the zippers on their website, so perhaps you can call or e-mail them with a mail order. (Though Pacific is always such a madhouse it's hard to imagine them running a mail order business. But hey, who knows?)

Have you ever used these zips? Do you think $12 for a zipper is insane? Let me hear it in the comments!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Greta Shoe: Yea or Nay?

Readers, I don't think I've ever felt so ambivalent about a shoe before. Let me explain my dilemma. You see, I'm trying to introduce more comfortable shoes into my wardrobe - walking everywhere in heels is really taking its toll on my poor feet. I love Re-Mix Vintage Shoes, and their 40s "wedgies" have been calling my name lately (just try to say "wedgies" with a straight face).

I ordered a pair of their Gloria wedges in red, which I love, but I don't think they're the comfortable walking shoe I was looking for. But goodness - they're cute, aren't they?

So I seem to keep coming back to the Greta shoe, which is also a true reproduction of a 40s wedge but has a lace-up design.

I look at it one minute and think "Cute! Quirky . . . but cute." Then I look back the next minute and think "Good lord, those are some weird looking shoes." So, which side are you falling on? Weird or cute? Yea or nay?

While you're at it, if you could recommend some cute, comfy, vintage-style shoes to wear with skirts, that would be awesome. What are you into - wedges, saddle shoes, Keds, Chucks? Do tell!

I will now close with a new picture of Henry.

P.S. Just as a follow-up to yesterday's post, I want to again apologize to anyone who took my comments as demeaning to homemakers or stay-at-home moms. It was not my intention at all, it was rather a failed attempt at a breezy tone. Jeff has now forbidden me from "blogging while cranky." BWC - it's a crime, people! Today you'll see that I've stuck to the less controversial topics of shoes and kitties. Who could be cranky while blogging about shoes and kitties?!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Now with Domestic Servitude Included!

In this post, we looked at the history of the house dress, that humble uniform of domesticity which speaks volumes about gender and class. But even more fascinating, I think, are garments that included a household tool - like a potholder or an apron - attached to a main garment like a ball and chain. (Oh the tortured symbolism!) Simplicity 8413, pictured above, is a prime example. The dress and bolero are classy daywear, but at any point the detachable apron can be buttoned back on, ensuring that the little lady never strays too far from the kitchen!

Claire McCardell herself, the pioneer of American women's sportswear, seems to have perhaps initiated this idea. Take her early "popover dress" for instance:

Behold the attached oven mitt! The Met's information on this dress includes the following tidbit:
In utility achieved with ingenuity, McCardell found a synergy. The modern woman could both be chic and do the cooking. In a photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, the model wearing the "Popover" has one hand in an oven mitt and the other in her capacious pocket.
Of course, this text fails to note that the oven mitt was ATTACHED to the dress - they make it sound like the photographer stuck it on the mannequin on a whim. No, the whole idea of the dress - style paired with domestic labor - was very premeditated.

The idea was certainly reflected in patterns of the time, as on this 40s house dress with the oven mitt tethered on.

The concept also seems to have evolved into "hostess outfits:" dress ensembles that included aprons or smocks. Hostess aprons were often made of tulle or chiffon, and were meant to be seen by guests. These patterns, like the one below, went so far as to coordinate the whole domestic ensemble of dress and apron, both meant to be worn while entertaining - not as a house dress for chores only.

This maternity pattern with an interchangeable apron and stole really says it all, don't you think?

I think this was very much sold as the aspirational lifestyle for a woman of this time - switching effortlessly between gorgeous home and street wear, all while tending to her burgeoning brood. Though that chiffon apron will look mighty amusing during the third trimester, I think. Not that the pattern illustrations could actually show a pregnant woman. (Gasp! My delicate sensibilities!)

This pattern for little girls starts 'em young.

And perhaps the pattern most fraught with symbolism EVER: a wedding gown with an apron.

Chew on that for a second, will you? Though it's not of the decade we're focusing on here, I just couldn't resist.

So there you have it, readers. Aren't you glad our dresses have broken free of the shackles of the attached oven mitt?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fat and Sassy

It's been a long time since I've done a Tidbits from VoNBBS post! If you're unfamiliar, this is where I share funny little literary morsels from our favorite vintage sewing book, Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing. The writers of VoNBBS so often amuse me with their quaint little sayings, and this one is no exception. You'll never guess they're calling "fat and sassy" . . .

Tailors' tacks! Here's the little tidbit of fabulous text:

[Click to see larger]

No dears, do not fret if your tailor's tacks "are not so fat and sassy as ours shown here." The ladies at Vogue Pattern Service (who were responsible for preparing VoNBBS) seem very sweet to me - they don't want you to feel your tailor's tacks are anemic! So before your tacks have a body image crisis, assure them that they "look exactly as tailors' tacks should."

Speaking of VoNBBS, actual work on the Background Dress is under way! I've taken to calling it "The Background Dress of Doom," so that should give you a clear picture of how we've been getting along. I did three muslins, and then had to wipe the slate clean and go back to the original pattern. I'm taking advantage of the natural stretchiness of the doubleknit I'm using and allowing this to be a snugger fit, more like a knit garment than a tailored one. Which fits the spirit of the image below, certainly.

My goal is to have it completed by next week. It's been looming too long, friends!

I hope you had a productive weekend of sewing, whether you were going whack-whack into your fabric or making (not so) fat and sassy tailors' tacks!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Go to the FIT Museum in Your Jammies

Want to see detailed glimpses of a vintage Claire McCardell or Dior without getting out of your pajamas? Or this lovely James Galanos, above? Of course you do! The FIT Museum has a small but fabulous online gallery that you should run, not walk, to check out. (You only have to run in the virtual sense. I love the internets!)

I would suggest you start with their Mid-Century Gallery. It has 78 couture items, which is a very small amount when you compare it to the Met's ginormous online database. But I prefer FIT's because of the wealth of info included with each entry. Just look at the detailed description of this McCardell "popover dress," which I am obsessed with, by the way.

You can zoom in very close, like on this hand-embroidered Dior:
The selection is top-notch. Another fabulous Dior!
I love the clever use of pattern on this McCardell day dress:
Two chiffon beauties by Desses:

Anyway, you get the point. Head over to the FIT Mid-Century Galley for some awesome inspiration. See you there! I'll be the one in my jammies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekend Reading

Here's a little tip: Never go to the FIT Bookstore on pay day. It's like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you know? You just want to buy everything. I spent about an hour in the store last night (until they kicked me out for closing time!), and somehow managed to leave with only buying one book. Albeit a very expensive book.

I love the FIT Bookstore. As long as it's not the beginning of a semester, it's always very peaceful. Plus there are big comfy leather chairs to sit in and read. And not the gross, greasy chairs that most bookstores have, but lovely, pristine chairs. They have more sewing and fashion books than you've ever seen in one place in your life. If you're ever in town for a visit, this bookstore (along with the FIT museum across the street) is a must-see. For what it's worth, there's another great bookstore across the street called Fashion Design Books, and it also has a great selection - as well as cheap muslin in many weights and a ton of notions and patternmaking supplies - but it's not as browser-friendly.

Anyway. The book I bought is Draping for Apparel Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. Thanks to your recommendations on yesterday's post, I decided to start my draping education with a good textbook. Hopefully there will also be a draping course in my future, but I'll start out with a little book learning.

Of the three books I was considering, I chose this one for a few reasons. First, I have the patternmaking book by the same author and really like it. Secondly, it's a huge, information-packed tome. I especially liked that there's a whole section on Vionnet's draping techniques.

And lastly, look at this design below:

Isn't it so similar to the Ceil Chapman rose dress I wanted to knock-off? I just adore this combination of a low cowl and a sweetheart bustier. Fabulous!

So there you have it! My weekend reading. I'll write a more in-depth review of the book once I've tried the techniques in it. Speaking of which, one of my many goals in the next few weeks is to update my post Building a Sewing Library so that it becomes an always-current resource list, and to link to it in my sidebar. More to come!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why I Need to Learn Draping, Exhibit B

I think the sewing gods are trying to tell me something. First they send me the fabulous Ceil Chapman rose frock with an incredible draped neckline. And then they present me with the movie Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story. (Stay with me here.) There's a scene in which one of the extras wears a dress very similar to the green one on the pattern envelope above, which I cannot stop thinking about. That draped shelf bust is so amazing, right? I've spent way too much time looking for the above pattern (Simplicity 1848, on the wiki here), striking out, and pining for it sadly. And then it occurred to me: I'm so inspired by draped designs lately, wouldn't it be helpful for me to actually learn how to drape?

So I've been researching some options on classes. I took a flat pattern making class at FIT last year, and while it was interesting and informative, I would much prefer to take a class more geared toward the home seamstress rather than fashion students. I really don't need the stress of midterms and such in my life right now, if you know what I mean.

Now I'm not implying that I think I'll take a couple classes and then magically turn into Ceil Chapman reincarnated. But I would love to be able to add draped details (cowls, swags, and bustles, oh my!) onto existing patterns. So I'm curious how complicated draping is to learn. Have any of you taken classes or read any books that you found helpful? Please share!

In parting, a few more draped lovelies for you to feast your eyes on.

Another fab Ceil Chapman:

I adore this Tiffany blue chiffon number:

And an amazing emerald green dress with sarong styling:

Sigh! Don't you just wish you could drape up one of these gorgeous designs right now?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Featured Pattern: a Divine 40s House Dress (Plus My House Dress Plans!)

I love so many things about this pattern from my sponsor ZipZapKap: the pinafore styling, the ruffles, the sweetheart neckline, the pockets, the fact that it's a generous bust 36". I'm giving you ample time to go buy it before I do. Ready? Your time starts . . . now!

I've been dreaming of house dresses ever since our lovely discussion on the subject last week. I even bought some perfect fabric! Want to see? Pics after the jump!

Isn't this cute? I first thought they were little blue apples, but I suppose they're really flowers. In any case - very retro, no?

I'm especially excited to play with the grain on this fabric. I'm going to use the rows of apples as stripes, creating a chevron look, like in the lefthand view below.

But before I dive in, I'm going to stitch up my next muslin for the background dress, which has me feeling very demoralized. Sigh . . . I'm definitely going to need some advice from you fitting geniuses! More to come.
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