Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Glasses! Yea or Nay?

Last week, I worried that my glasses would clash with a fascinator. I contemplated ordering some contacts, but I somehow found myself trolling vintage eyewear sites instead. (Oops!) These lovelies were added to my cart, and the rest is history. I've been wanting a second pair of glasses for a while now; something that would contrast with the chunkiness of my regular specs. (Not that I don't adore the chunkiness too!)

But here's my question for you: are these the perfect pair? (I deliberately ordered from a place with a good exchange policy since getting the right specs can be a trial - so swapping these for another pair won't be a problem.)

I initially worried that these are too small for my face, which Jeff says is absurd. However, he does feel that they err on the side of "costume-y." It's always a good sign when Jeff likes something right away (he has great taste, if I may say so myself). He's hedging on these, which worries me.

Here's how they look when I'm cuddling Pip, which she is so clearly enjoying. (She has a strong pro-Jeff bias, which I totally get. And little Henry adores me enough to make up for any slights from Pippi.)

Being on the fence still about these, I decided on a back-up pair should I want to make an exchange. Pretty sweet, huh?

Because I'm indecisive, I need your help, readers. What's your opinion? Keep the black, or exchange them to try the tortoiseshell pair? Hey, I've even put in a handy-dandy poll so it's easy for you to make your opinion known!

And, of course, I love to hear your comments below! Thanks, friends.

Pippi says bye!

Update: Here's a link to the online shop I'm buying from. They're fantastic; all their glasses are never-worn optometrist's deadstock. New glasses for everyone! Hurrah!

BurdaStyle Book: Me Too!

Hey, are you sick of sewing bloggers going on about their projects for the BurdaStyle Book that they can talk about (vaguely), but they can't share with you? Because I'm about to join them! (Sorry 'bout that.) I, too, am contributing a design variation to the book. Is it a dress? A coat? No, friends. It is . . . a BAG.

This is possibly as surprising to you as it is to me. You see, I never make bags. I also care not a fig about them, usually opting for an old canvas tote as my daily bag (blogged a bit here). But that's okay! I've been asked to contribute a bag, and contribute it I shall!

The project started like this: the Burda folks sent me line drawings for two designs: a dress and a bag. They asked me to come up with two design variations for each, and (gulp) sketch them. Upon viewing the sketches, they would decide which of my variations would be included in the book. I, of course, spent all my time thinking about dress designs - 50s and early 60s-inspired, of course. I couldn't imagine they would really have me do a bag! (Oh, the hubris.) My bag designs were a bit of an afterthought, I confess. I eagerly waited to hear which of my two dresses they would have me make. (Hubris. Gets you every time.)

Well, to make a long story short . . . they choose a bag. Hey, that's cool! It's been an interesting journey nonetheless. My outer fabric and the thread were sent to me by sponsoring companies, and the rest of the notions have been left up to me. So I'll confess that I've spent weeks staring confusedly at purse handles of all things. There are so many different types! I've been to Pacific Trim on at least five different occasions to look at the handles, but left empty-handed each time. But with my deadline looming next Tuesday, I am forced to make a decision. Tomorrow I will march back into Pacific Trim, and I won't leave until I have some handles, dammit! (A note on the deadline: I'm lucky that my office is a block and a half from the BurdaStyle office, so no mailing in the project for me! I plan to sashay in at the last minute and bestow my bag upon them. Okay, not really. I expect to beat the deadline by a whole day!)

The nice thing about bags is that they don't take too long to make and there's no fitting required. I did, however, make a muslin just to get the lay of the land, so to speak. So I feel confident about finishing up the bag this weekend, as long as I get a handle on the handle situation (heh).

I can't tell you much about the design and all that (blah, blah, I know) but I can tell you that it has a vintage flair and that it was inspired by the book A Guide to Elegance. It's not a dress, but I hope you will like it just the same.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cowls and Cowardice

Cowl dress pattern available here in a 34" bust!
I've had cowls on the brain lately. You see I've been thinking of other variations I could make of my draped midriff wiggle dress (last version here), and a cowl neckline keeps popping into my thoughts, especially in a nice jewel-toned crepe for fall. They're a more advanced draping (and sewing!) technique for sure; the use of the bias grain makes things notoriously tricky. But I was amused to see this sidebar tip in the book Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers:
"Note: Bias is an advanced technique. If this skill has not been mastered, save this technique for later design work."
So . . . is this as hilarious as I think it is? Let me get this straight: they're suggesting that if you haven't mastered the bias, you should come back at a later date . . . when you've somehow mastered it in the meantime by not practicing it at all? I'm so confused!

I certainly understand (and agree with) the concept of building up a good foundation of basic skills before getting into the tricky stuff. Perhaps that's all they're saying? Or that you should save cowls themselves until you've mastered the bias in other, simpler designs? (Yes! I do actually think that's what they're saying now. Whew! Only took me about twenty-four hours to work that one out.)

Anyway, I thought it was a funny quote and a good one for discussion. How often has a more advanced technique intimidated you or made you back away in fear? That quote certainly made me think twice about trying my hand at cowls! But the paradox at the heart of the quote holds true: if you never reach the point where you're ready to throw yourself into a scary new skill, you will most definitely never master it. There are always things you can do to make it easier on yourself: using an "easy" fabric or a simple pattern to start out with. But, at the end of the day, the only way to master the bias is to sew with the bias. A lot.

Cowls, here I come! (Gulp.)

P.S. For more information on sewing cowls, I picked up a tip on Pattern Review last night: Claire Shaeffer's High Fashion Sewing Secrets gives detailed instructions on constructing a cowl stay, which helps a cowl lay beautifully. I ordered a used copy for $2.53 on Knowledge is power!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Building a Better Muslin

Here's my muslin of the yellow dress I'm working on, and I'm thrilled with it! I decided to make a muslin of the bodice only, since the skirt will be a circle skirt that I've draped and sewn before. It will just hang from the bodice, so the fit isn't as tricky.

It needs a couple tiny tweaks, but it's way closer than I expected it to be with a complicated design like this. Better still, I love it and I couldn't stop grinning at myself in the mirror when I first tried it on! I think what really contributed to my success with this muslin was following Susan Khalje's advice step-by-step in the book Bridal Couture. There were a lot of extra steps, but it was sooo worth it.

The muslin was cut with 1" seam allowances. I started out by thread-tracing each of the stitching lines on my machine. Here's the upper bust piece, with the thread tracings in a dark thread.

Here's the under bust piece.
After basting all the pieces together, it's important that you basically make your muslin have all of the "engineering" that your finished dress will have: twill tape, bra cups, boning, and a waist stay.

The twill tape is SO important. With a dress like this, it helps cup the fabric to the bust. On your muslin, you just pin it to the outside of your bodice, like so.

I put the bra cups in with a big catch stitch. I could have just tacked them loosely in, but I wanted to practice the catch stitch since that's what I'll use on the actual dress, stitching them just to the underlining. I figured out the placement of the cups by getting topless, holding each cup up to my bust and then holding the bodice up on top of them and pinning them in place. These cups are great; they're from SIL Thread and they're very thin, but molded. Love them.

The waist stay (a length of grosgrain the exact length of your waist measurement) is pinned to the outside of the muslin for fitting purposes, with the bottom of the grosgrain ending right at the waist seamline.

I basted rigeline boning on the side seams only. I will probably use spiral steel boning on the final dress, but it was nice to use rigeline on the muslin since you can sew right through it. (If you're looking for information on sewing a boned bodice, it doesn't get any better than the bustier article in this back issue of Threads magazine.)

I hand-basted in a dress-length zipper to the back (it had to be long so that I could get in and out of it).

And then it was time to try on!

The tweaks that I'm definitely going to make are: 1) taking out a pinch of fullness at the top of the bodice, 2) taking out about 1/4" of ease on each side seam, and 3) adding another set of bones to the back bodice to prevent sagging. I'll position them right under the back darts, and they'll be sewn to the underlining only so they're invisible from the outside. It might also need a swayback adjustment, but I'm going to see if the boning takes care of the problem first.

Quite a process, huh? When I saw all the steps that Susan Khalje recommends in her book, I was a little incredulous, I admit. But they really made ALL the difference in this muslin. I'll definitely be following her advice through the construction process as well!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The 'Cry Me a River' Dress

So, I'm not totally feeling this dress. I made it so I could have another chance with this self-draped pattern, and I am happy with the adjustments I made: namely, lowering the empire line just a tad under the bust. But, I'm just kind of "eh" about it. First, I don't love the fabric. It's that $2/yard Vera Wang navy faille from It has the body of a tarp. I wish I'd just given it away, but for some reason I felt compelled to make the best of it. (Remind me in the future to not make any projects with fabric I'm just so-so about; life's too short!)

Secondly, it photographs terribly. The trim is two little white grosgrain bows (that idea was inspired by a 60s pattern design), not that you'd be able to see that from any of the photos I took.

Here's the back.

So, we'll see. I'm going to wear it to work and see if it grows on me. I'm also going to work on the styling of it. I love it with my lime green pumps, but the hair needs a do-over. This little bun is about all I could handle post-yoga in yesterday's heat. Plus, jewels! I need some baubles.

Gosh, I sound like such a sad-sack, don't I? To accentuate the positive, it's a nice neutral dress and the piping came out great. In other good news, I'm working on the muslin of the yellow dress and it's looking awesome so far. Onward!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fascinate Me

Figuring out the placement of my materials in the bathroom mirror, while wearing jammies. That's how I roll!

If you follow my Facebook page at all (and I hope you do), you'll know that I'm going through a bit of a hat obsession. I can't stop looking at them! There are so many beautiful headpieces out there - vintage, contemporary, couture. I've never been a hat-wearer myself . . . but no time like the present to start, right?

There's nothing more beautiful, I think, than a veiled hat. So I decided to dabble a bit in making some veiled fascinators, since that seemed like a good entree into the world of chapeaux. (You know, like a gateway drug for hats!)

I looked at some online tutorials (like this one) and they really demystify making little headpieces like this. It all seems very crafty, involving things like felt squares and glue guns. In other words: fun! So I went on an Etsy spree, and ordered some materials. I got a straw base and nude veiling from this seller, and she was fab - super fast shipping, even from the UK.

The trim I chose is a vintage millinery supply - velvet strawberries! (Purchased from this fantastic seller.)

I haven't actually put them together yet; I just started playing around with the placement while looking in the bathroom mirror. This is how Jeff found me before before bedtime last night:

I ordered the skin-toned veiling so it wouldn't compete with my glasses, but I feel like it might still be a bit too much muchness around my face. Might be time to place a contact lens order - sigh.

But I think this fascinator business is SO FUN, guys! I want to buy a bunch of feathers and flowers and ribbons and invite you all over for a slumber party and we can put stuff on our heads together! Afterward we'll watch old seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while eating cookies. Are you in?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Dreaded Hook and Eye

 Image from Threads magazine, issue #117

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently bad about a hook and eye. In fact, they can be quite useful little suckers. My problem is that I dread sewing them on. You'd think I was getting a root canal, the way I avoid them! I'm finishing up another dress based on this pattern that I draped (it's the exact same shape, but with an improved empire line, done in navy with white piping, if you're curious), and it will definitely have a hook and eye. When I saw my teacher Sharon last week, she reminded me that a hook and eye at the top of a back zipper will help the neckline of your dress lay perfectly. Plus, to be honest, the zipper on this one starts a smidge low. So there is no doubt that there will be the sewing-on of a hook and eye in my very near future. But why does it fill me with such dread?

Perhaps it's just one of those silly chores that one hates for some reason, the way some people hate dusting or taking out the garbage (and yet they can perfectly tolerate washing the dishes or mopping the floor). I also feel I've never gotten my technique down perfectly. Ever since I saw an article in Threads on the subject which showed a hook and eye perfectly executed with gorgeous little blanket stitches (issue #117, if you're interested, it's a great article), I've felt mine were inferior. Yes, I know I'm feeling inferior to an illustration rather than an actual hook and eye, but there you have it.

And then there's the fact that there are hooks, eyes, bars - it can be mystifying! Also, Sharon suggested a hook with a thread chain - have any of you done this? 

So what's your dreaded sewing chore? Also, any hook and eye tips?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Problem with Praising Modesty

 What the what?

Monday's post on what men think of vintage style garnered so many interesting comments! I was especially pleased to see the conversation take a turn toward sexism and expectations of modesty. I won't quote anyone in particular (so as not to put any one person on the spot), but some were disturbed by the idea of men treating women more respectfully if we're more covered up. Because, after all, what's the flip side of that? Men feeling they have permission to disrespect - or even outright assault - a woman if she's not dressed modestly. It's a common problem in many cultures to believe that a woman is "asking for it" if she's wearing something provocative, is it not?

Let me start by saying that I didn't mean to imply that I commend men on the street for being more respectful towards me if I'm dressed in a vintage style. I really don't think it's such a great thing for cat callers to be slightly more polite to me; I would prefer if men did not cat call to begin with. Also, though I suppose I tend to dress fairly modestly by some New York standards, it's not because I feel that to do so makes me more worthy of respect from men. It's just a personal style choice - and I don't believe it makes me morally superior in any way.

That out of the way, I've been wanting to write about the troublesome notion of modest fashion for some time now, but I admit I've shied away from it. The idea of modest dress is inextricably linked to religion and culture, and the last thing I want to do is offend anyone based on their beliefs in that area. Additionally, standards of modesty vary greatly from culture to culture - for some it means being covered from head to foot. For others, it's covering the upper arms and cleavage. It's impossible to dilute the idea of modest dress into a simple set of rules.

But it must be said that the expectation of female modesty in many cultures is an inherently sexist one. The idea is often that men must be saved from their own thoughts of temptation and it's a woman's responsibility to dress modestly to prevent men from having these thoughts. (There's an interesting survey on what modest dress means to young Christian men here if you want to take a look. I'll warn you that I couldn't look long as I found some of the basic ideas so disturbing.)

There's not much that enrages my cold femi-nazi heart like this idea of protecting men from temptation by dressing modestly. Why?
  • Standards of modesty for women put the onus on women themselves to prevent unwelcome advances and sexual assault. See, men just can't control themselves! If ever an idea were insulting to both genders, it's this one. Why don't we try everyone being responsible for their actions?
  • These double standards create hurtful divisions among women. For example, many feel it's okay to "slut-shame" a woman who shows more skin than she does. How often do we call each other sluts, skanks, whores, or worse?
  • At worst, it's a form of rape apology. The belief that women are sending sexual invitations by the way they dress is a prevalent one, sadly. 
Of course, many women choose to dress modestly out of their own accord and that's great. But the problem comes when we start placing a moral value on this choice - when we believe that covering up makes us more worthy of praise and respect. (Also, it's worth noting that etiquette calls for more modest dress at a memorial service than a barbecue and that this is a separate matter of social norms and manners.)

So, to bring this back to dressing vintage: yes, vintage styles can be more modest than current fashion. No, that doesn't give any of us the right to demean other women for choosing to show more skin. And, above all, we deserve respectful treatment from men no matter how we're dressed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sixteen Yards of Yellow Fabric

Yep, that's what this is! I've been prepping for my next draped design, which is basically a knock-off of a current Anthro design (blogged here).

The inspiration! (Which, in turn, is very 50s-inspired itself.)
I began draping the dress on my own (without the help of my teacher Sharon). I got through the front bodice and hit a major wall. In fact, I was ready to throw my muslin at said wall! Luckily, Sharon came over the next day and sorted me out. It turned out that I was quite close; I just needed some help tweaking it. I didn't document the entire draping process this time (since I had no idea what I was doing), but here's a little peek at start of the bust draping:

The straight grain is the fold running diagonally across the bust. I'm kind of amazed I figured that out on my own! You can also see in the picture above how the fabric is trying to form itself into a dart below the bust apex. Sharon always says you should let the fabric tell you what it wants to do. Cool, huh?

Here's what that pattern piece ended up looking like, in the muslin prep stage:

Interesting, isn't it?

I made a decision to really work on my couture dressmaking skills with this project. I'm going all out, with the help of the book Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje. It's sadly out of print, but you can buy a CD version here.

As for all that yellow fabric? The body of the dress will be a beautiful cotton/viscose faille. The whole thing will be underlined in silk organza - I choose a very bright yellow to make the fashion fabric appear even more vibrant. And then a buttery yellow cotton batiste for the lining. The funny thing is that the fabric ended up costing about $160 - and the Anthro dress costs $158! Anyway, I know I don't need to explain to you all why you can't really compare the costs of the two - apples and oranges and all that.

I've also been gathering notions: horsehair for the hem, grosgrain for the waist stay, boning, bra cups, interfacing, and a zipper. (Whew!)

I'm finishing up another dress made from my last draped pattern, and then I'll be ready to go into full muslin mode on this yellow concoction. I already feel like this will be a very special dress, and I have high hopes of wearing it to the Golden Age of Couture exhibit in Nashville at the end of August. A special exhibit calls for a special dress, right?

I heavily documented the draping and design stage on my last project, but I feel like this one is going to be all about the construction. So I'm looking forward to really getting my inner sewing nerd on and sharing lots of technique pictures with you. More to come!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do Men Find Vintage Sexy? (Do We Care?)

 Photo of a model wearing Dior's 1947 New Look by Richard Avedon (The menfolk are intrigued!)

I've been thinking a lot lately about how vintage style dressing is perceived - by ourselves and by the world around us. Two of my favorite outfits lately have been my pink swirly dress and my red suit, both coordinated with matching beige sandals and pocketbook. There's something about these ensembles that makes me carry myself slightly differently - in a sort of prim, ladylike way. (It must be the little purse!) And I've found myself being given the chivalrous treatment by men while in these outfits - doors are opened for me and elevator buttons are pressed.

Even the cat calls have gotten polite! (Cat calling is a hobby of many men in New York.) Where I'd gotten accustomed to a "Hey Sexy!" I'm now being called pretty. And the cat callers are noticing my outfits. While wearing the red suit: a man grinned at me in a predatory manner, and then said, unexpectedly, "That's a very pretty suit!" And while wearing the pink dress: "That's a pretty red dress - with a pretty lady in it!" (Everyone thinks my pink dress is red for some reason. Maybe it really is red and I'm the only one who hasn't noticed?).

In light of this, I've been thinking back to the chapter titled "Sex" in A Guide to Elegance. The author created lists of things that men find attractive or not, saying that she would once and for all separate "fact from fiction" on the matter. On the attractive list is "full skirts, tiny waists, and a long-legged look" and "collars on suits and jackets." On the unattractive side? "revealingly tight skirts and aggressively pointed bosoms" and "spike heels." (I find the idea of aggressively pointed bosoms very comical. Do they think our bosoms are going to come out and get them? Brings new meaning to the torpedo look!)

It's a bit of a twist to imagine men being turned off by tight skirts and spike heels. But I do think there's something classically appealing to men about the New Look era of dress even if they're socially programmed to like things short and tight. But truthfully, there does seem to be something girlishly feminine about a lovely shawl collared jacket that men find attractive, especially when paired with a full skirt. And the vintage look is often portrayed as whimsically sexy in movies (think Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.)

But all this begs the fundamental question: do we care what men think about how we dress?

I do care what my husband thinks, mostly because Jeff has great instincts about clothes even though his own sartorial motto has always been "I'm no fashion plate." He'll tell me when my French darts look nipply and when my bow ties are too big. He'll even catch slight fitting issues that take a garment from problematic to perfect. But I can't say that I'm trying to send any covert sexual signals to him through my dress. In honesty, I think I would be disappointed if that were my mission. If I'm looking to "snare" him, the best way is usually through humor and intellect. And I think I'll keep it that way, thank you very much.

As for men on the street? Eh. It's kind of charming to see cat callers suddenly turn gentlemanly and appreciative of a shawl-collared suit, but I'd really rather not have any unsolicited comments on my looks from the peanut gallery.

And, of course, it must be said that all of this works purely on a heteronormative level. (Please excuse the academic jargon.) In other words, labeling what men find sexy is based on the assumption of a heterosexuality in which men are the pursuers and women are the prey, dressing only to claim the prized male gaze for themselves. It's certainly uncomfortable from a feminist perspective, which is why I think so many modern women are loathe to admit to dressing for men.

Now: as for the old adage of women dressing for women? Duh. Who else is actually going to know the difference between a shawl collar and a notched collar? Talking outfits with the girls is one of the great pleasures of being a woman, I think. Plus, it must be said, any compliments from women are generally not considered to have sexual or predatory undertones (because that would make women sexual aggressors and we can't have that!).

How about you? Do you think men find vintage style sexy? Do you care?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Code Name: GardeniaGertie (Featured Pattern and Sale!)

Guess who has a three-day weekend? ME! Highlights will include a little fabric shopping this morning, a burger date tonight, a draping lesson on Saturday, and some yoga and relaxation on Sunday. Bliss!

So I'm just popping in briefly to share a faboo pattern and give you the inside scoop on a sale you might be interested in. Denise of The Blue Gardenia is oh-so-kindly offering my readers 20% off your purchases this weekend! Just use the code GardeniaGertie to get your 20% off; that's good until midnight Pacific Time this Sunday.

GardeniaGertie is definitely going to be my code name if I get involved in any glamorous international espionage. (It's especially apt since I love gardenias; I wore the most gorgeous one ever in my hair at my wedding. Their fragrance always takes me back to that day: sigh! I later tried to grow a potted gardenia plant and I killed it within a week. Boy, I'm chatty today!)

The pattern above caught my eye on my last visit to The Blue Gardenia (it's in a 34" bust on the first page of the 50s patterns). The shorts and top are cute enough, but the bikini top has that extra something special. I love the structured, lingerie-look of it, don't you?

I will henceforth quit my yammering so you can go peruse the Blue Gardenia site. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Draping a Dress, Part Six: Show Off Your Design!

Gosh, it's been so fun sharing the process of this dress with you that I almost don't want it to end! That's okay, there will be many more draping projects to come. So here it is, the finished dress. I made it up in a polka dot cotton faille from B&J. (Side note: did you know that faille is pronounced like nail "file"? I'd been pronouncing it FAIL, somewhat appropriately. You know, because I was FAILING at pronouncing it? Anyway!)

The empire line might be a smidge too high.

The back was certainly the hardest part to fit, but it came out fine, I think.

This picture shows the actual color of the fabric best, but it turned my skin a bit orange. Cameras are funny things, aren't they?

Unsolicited hair commentary: I've been playing around with this up-do. It's a slight bouffant in the front (helped with a bump-it) and a French twist in the back. I like it with my bangs down, like above, but they annoy me pretty quickly and I shove them behind my ear.

But back to sewing! I did a back lapped zipper for the first time, and I don't think I'll ever do a back centered zipper again. This went in so nicely. I hand-picked it, as you know I love to do.

I lined the bodice in cotton batiste. I ended up pick-stitching the lining around the zipper as well on a whim, and it worked really nicely!

The lining creates a sort of underlap for the zipper.

My draping teacher Sharon is coming over on Saturday and she's going to evaluate the fit of this for me. I told her to be brutal with me, but I don't think she has it in her. She (wisely) says that fitting is the only way to learn how to fit and that every garment I work on gets me closer to being an expert fitter. Isn't that inspirational? Sharon's the best.

I'm excited to use this pattern again - I'm thinking I'll pair the bodice with a circle skirt next.

So that wraps up this little draping series! Want to relive the fun? Here are links to the previous five parts.

Part One: Inspiration
Part Two: Getting Drapey With It
Part Three: Making a Muslin
Part Four: The Second Muslin
Part Five: Planning the Construction

Thanks for reading along!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guest Post: Sewing Knits Without a Serger

 I love these pieces from Alyson's current collection. Plus: puppeh!

Alyson Clair of Clair Vintage Inspired is taking it away again with a super hot topic on knits. Enjoy! - Gertie

Hello again lovely readers! I hope you are working on all kinds of fun projects. This post is to address a burning question: how to sew knits on a home sewing machine without a serger.

Can it be done? Yes. Do I recommend it? No, but I do understand that sergers are not cheap and it is a major investment to buy one.

I wish I had a magical unicorn answer about how to sew knits on a home machine and achieve the same results as using a serger. To me, the point of sewing with knits is to get stretch and comfort in a garment. One of the reasons I got so personally interested in sewing these fabrics was my own body. I know throughout the month I fluctuate in body weight and size, no matter what my current weight is. I feel like knits are my friend - if I'm a little bit more robust around the middle they can grow with me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Covert Fashion Spy Mission at Anthropologie

I rarely shop ready-to-wear anymore (too busy fabric shopping, I suppose), but yesterday at lunch I made a brief reconnaissance mission to Anthro. You see, I had spied this aqua version (below) of the "Tracing Twirls" dress online and fell madly, deeply, head over heels. Look at that 50s-inspired bustline! I knew I would have to attempt to drape this design. (You might remember that I blogged about this dress back in March - I was in love with it back then too.)

But how to begin interpreting the design? (Besides writing a desperate e-mail to my draping teacher telling her I must drape this design, stat!) I knew it would help tremendously to look at this dress in person. Luckily, it was in stock at my local Anthro, albeit in the black and white colorway above. I grabbed it, along with a few other dresses I wanted to study and made my way stealthily to the fitting room with my secret fashion spyware. (Okay, I actually just walked to the dressing room with my iPhone in tow.)

I took tons of pictures of the dress, from the inside and out and studying it closely definitely helped me understand how it was designed and constructed. I stared at the bodice pleats until they made sense to me. Here's a covert pic of me wearing the dress. (The fit isn't bad, but it's not perfect - just more reason to make my own!)

I especially liked the colorful petticoat detail on the lining.

I also tried the Dagmar shirtdress, because I was attracted to the skirt pleating patterns and the side seam pockets paired with a side seam zipper. I love the shape! I wouldn't have thought to put the pleats in the center only, but it was super flattering.

I also tried the Cascading Bows dress because it looked like it had high-quality construction. It did! Look at the lapped back center zip. (I put one of these into my latest dress and they're my new favorite thing.)

Here's the metal zip exposed.

And here it is open. There's a lovely grosgrain ribbon detail behind the lap.

But the fit - horrors! I tried a 10 and the bodice was too big while the hips were pulling tightly.  Note to self: bows "cascading" down the abdomen = not a good look. Ugh. On the bright side, it's my color!

All in all, it was a productive visit. I got to look up close at some great dresses, and also be reminded once again of the beauty of not having to rely on ready-to-wear.

Later in the day, I couldn't stop myself from practicing "draping" the Tracing Twirls dress bust with a paper towel at my desk. Yes, draping is definitely taking over my brain!

P.S. The draping project I've been documenting is thisclose to being done! I finished it last night, but then decided I needed to fine tune the fit on the hips. Hopefully I can take pictures sometime this week. More to come!
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