Wednesday, February 29, 2012

See You in Puyallup?

I'm going to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo, readers! As some of you know, I was originally supposed to be teaching there, but the company sponsoring me had to cancel, and hence, my classes were canceled. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a teensy bit devastated, as this is only the largest consumer sewing show in the country and I like to be where the sewing action is. Enter my friends at Coats & Clark, who kindly offered to host me--just so I can hang out and experience the show! So, while I won't be teaching, I will be out and about--and trying not to do too much damage to my bank account at the vendor booths. Will I see any of you there? (I'll be blogging the whole thing too, if you're curious.)

P.S. If any of you have tips on how to pronounce Puyallup, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And the Winner Is!

Dude, you all get pretty worked up over a fancy sewing kit.1195 gushing entries--I've found my people! Alas, there could only be one winner and the Random Number Generator has spoken: it's Ms. Pattern, entry 249! Congrats, Ms. Pattern.

Lovely Kaufmann Mercantile was so sweet that they sent me a kit of my own, which arrived yesterday. I confess that it's so beautiful I can hardly bring myself to look at it, much less use it. But don't worry, I'm sure I will work up the nerve soon.

I'd like to extend another HUGE thanks to Kaufmann Mercantile for sponsoring this generous giveaway. You can buy a kit of your own here!

P.S. I'm in a giveaway mood, so there will be another one later this week.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Giveaway: The Fanciest Sewing Kit Ever!

Readers, I have such a lovely giveaway for you today! I was contacted by the folks at Kaufmann Mercantile, a purveyor of "carefully selected, high-quality products, and a blog about product design, art, manufacturing and materials." Well, they have selected a high-quality product that I think will interest you very much, readers. It's the Merchant & Mills Sewing Notions Set, a high-end, beautifully-designed box of fine sewing tools.

The $75 kit includes the following (I've included almost the whole description, because it's quite titillating):
25 finest handsewing needles, all sharps, but with assorted lengths and gauges for different types of cloth.

Black metal,
wide bow scissors that are sharp from joint to tip.

The beautiful black and white
tape measure is made in Germany, and measures out 60 inches on one side and 152 centimeters on the other. Soft and pliable, but stiff enough not to get tangled.

This waxy
tailor’s chalk is the same one used on London’s famed Saville Row — where absolutely every seam and cut is taken seriously. It’s beige for visibility, brushes off easily and won’t stain your fabric. Use this to mark out patterns or draw lines for sewing and cutting guides.

Tailor’s beeswax
is the unsung hero of sewing. Run your thread through this pure, 100% beeswax to make it stronger and last longer. Use it for the hard-working thread on buttons and it’ll be a much longer time before it needs replacing. Rub the end of a thread on it to make it much easier to put through the eye of needle. Made by the same manufacturers who supply Saville Row.

steel tailor’s thimble is the sturdiest you’ll find. It’s open at the top so you can feel the fabric with your finger. These are vintage deadstock thimbles — among the last to be made in Britain.

A box of versatile, all-important
dressmaking pins to make sure your sewing and cutting is accurate. You can’t see the difference with the naked eye between a high quality, sharply-pointed, smoothly polished pin, and a cheap one — but it will show in snags and runs in your fabric. The most avid sewers know that pins aren’t something to skimp on.

This is
seam ripper gets the job done when you need to open up a seam for alterations or mend a mistake (it happens to the best of us). It’s sharpened only at the bottom of the curve so you won’t accidentally nick the fabric as you tear out the thread.

pressed metal threader is made of sturdy steel with a good, stiff loop that will find its way quickly through the eye of a needle. It’s the last one you’ll ever own.

Deadstock vintage thimbles? The tailor's chalk used on Saville Row? If you try to tell me you don't feel lustful reading those descriptions, I'll know you're lying.

Kaufmann Mercantile is providing one kit to a lucky reader! All you have to do is comment here by the end of the day Monday, 2/27. All countries eligible. The only thing I ask is that you either include our email address in your comment, or make sure that your profile links back to some way I can contact you.

Good luck, and a big thanks to Kaufmann Mercantile!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In Progress: a Dressmaker's Quilt

The home dec sewing has begun! And I discovered a way I can make it more interesting: by using remnants of my favorite garment fabrics. I once saw an exhibit of quilts at the Folk Art Museum, and some of my favorites incorporated scraps of fancy dress textiles: silks, velvets, and the like.

This past weekend I made a dress out of this amazing magenta rose-motif brocade (it's for a magazine article, more to come on that in the future!) and I had a little over a yard left. I thought about putting it aside for a blouse, but then I realized how luxurious it would be made into a throw quilt. And so the piecing began!

I added some length to the brocade I had by piecing together some scraps. And then I remembered this vivid pink dupioni I have in my stash, and that became part of the mix as well, just in a corner (I love little quirky details like that in quilts.) The finishing touch? A silk velvet backing, also from the remnant stash.

I sandwiched cotton batting in between the layers and basted them, and now I'm in the process of hand quilting it. I was inspired by these quilts from West Elm, which are made from vintage saris and have prominent hand stitching in a contrasting color.

I loved the idea of a humble running stitch on these luxe fabrics. So I'm using some Coats Button and Craft thread (the same stuff Alabama Chanin uses for handstitching) in ivory.

 I absolutely love how the hand stitching looks on the velvet.
I'm planning to bind the edges in the velvet, I think.

I also found out that my throw looks pretty great with a pink chandelier, so I'm going to start convincing Jeff we absolutely need one. I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thank You (Sniff.)

Okay, I know I said I would be back on the topic of sewing today, but I really need to write a post about how awesome you all are. (Sewing is awesome too, we'll get back to that shortly.) I quite frankly did not expect the incredibly sweet and generous response to my Twitter plea post yesterday. And I certainly did not expect several hundred new followers, and messages that were so nice they made me a little teary.

Okay, before I get weepy again! A few of you asked for book updates. I can tell you that I spent yesterday reviewing the final proofs, that it's releasing this September, that it has an awesome cover that I hope to reveal to you soon, and that I will write a special post the minute (nay, the second!) it's available for pre-order.

In the meantime, know that I am incredibly thankful for all of you (and so is Henry).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shameful Twitter Plug

Readers, I have a favor to ask you. I hate to do this sort of thing, so I'm going to get it over with as quickly as possible. It's come to my attention that the major book retailers are looking for a high number of Twitter followers to determine if they carry a book or not. (You can probably see where this is going, right?) Anyway, I'm not going to do some giveaway where you have to jump through 5 hoops to enter (though there are some great giveaways coming up!), I'm just going to politely ask you if you would consider following me on Twitter if you don't already. Just click here to get to my profile page, or look me up as @SewGertieSew.

Thank you for your support, dear readers, and we'll be back to your scheduled sewing content tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My New Online Course: The Starlet Suit Jacket! (Plus 50%)

Readers, great news! My new online course with Craftsy released yesterday. It's called Sew Retro: The Starlet Suit Jacket, and it's the follow-up to my Bombshell dress class. As you may guess from the title, this one is tailoring focused.

A few fun facts:
1. It includes a downloadable pattern designed by moi, in sizes 2-24 (Bust sizes 32" to 54"). Bonus skirt included!
2. The pattern was inspired by the movie Captain America. (Now, there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.)
3.You can watch the trailer here.
4. The course has two tracks: fusible tailoring and hand tailoring. Bound buttonholes and welt pockets are optional add-ons.
5. I made not one, not two, but THREE suits to prep for this course. I will show you garment details in coming posts.
6. You can take the course at your own pace and once you sign up, you always have access to it.
7. And, most importantly, you can get 50% off the course price by using this link.

 Please let me know if you have questions!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finished Rose Applique Dress

It's done! The Joan Holloway-inspired dress I blogged about last week is now complete, thanks to an old tablecloth and a little crafty thinking. (A big thanks to those who gave me applique tips in the comments; I took note for next time!) It seems pretty appropriate to post on Valentine's Day, doesn't it?
The pattern is this one that I draped last year, and am still perfecting the fit on. (I wear my green polka dot version all the time, and get so many nice compliments on it.) And yes, it's more of the pinky-red merino I made that little suit out of. And I still have some left! I must have bought out the entire stock of that stuff. What can I say? It's my color.

It has a centered, lapped zipper, just like Joan's would have. (I also have a classy Joan-esque chignon, thanks to the multi-talented Fleur!)
It's lined in bright red silk Habutai, and the midriff section is interfaced to keep it smooth. 

An applique close-up:

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I've gotten a little applique-happy. There's a vintage lobster tablecloth coming my way in the mail. (Lobsters!) And then all the products I have to look into: stabilizers, interfacings, threads . . .  Watch out, world!

Friday, February 10, 2012

In Progress: The Joan Rose Applique Dress

I realized that I don't do a lot of posts as I'm working on a project lately. Being a drama queen, I'm all about the "big reveal." But I feel like there's something useful in watching the progression of a project, right? So I thought I'd do a little post about what's in my sewing machine right now.

So, you all realize I'm obsessed with Joan from Mad Men, right? I know I'm not unique in this obsession. But I do feel a personal connection to that character. It has nothing to do with her personality, it has to do with her hips. That's right, hips.

I know lots of us find it refreshing to see Christina Hendricks's body type on a current program. And for me, it's become almost therapeutic. You know those "OMG my hips are huuuuge!" moments? When that happens, I say two words to myself: Joan Holloway. ( I refuse to call her Joan Harris, it's true.) And it actually works! Instant therapy. Actually, it only works in conjunction with a mental image like this one:

So, long story short. I think about Joan a lot. I also think about her dresses a lot. And one of my favorites is the rose applique dress she wore on what I call the "accordion dinner party episode."

I recently had the idea to copy this style by taking vintage rose fabric and using it for appliques. I found this tablecloth:

It has many large stains on it, so I didn't feel bad about cutting it up. (I don't think I could bring myself to cut a usable vintage tablecloth!) The background matches the pinky-red merino wool I have. So I started cutting out individual roses, leaving 1/4" around them. I experimented with appliqueing them by hand, but found I preferred the polished look of machine applique instead.

I assembled the bodice of my dress and arranged my roses around the neckline, pinning them in place.

This took a lot of playing around and squinting at it. I even had to sleep on it one night, and come back to it fresh the next day. When I was happy with the arrangement, I glue-basted the roses in place.

Next, I began machine appliqueing them in place, using a narrow zig zag on a very short stitch length. I did a couple samples to get the setting I liked best.

And here's where I am! It needs a little work cleaning up the edges of the appliques, but you get the idea.
More to come!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Finished Vogue 8640 (a.k.a. "Suits Gone Wild")

I started this little ensemble several weeks ago. The impetus was the purchase of this amazing merino wool in my favorite color: bright reddish-pink. The pattern is V8640, which was sort of an experimental look for me: I love this kind of high-waisted skirt, but the jacket is boxier than I usually go for. But the illustrations were so cute!

I went with a brooch instead of a knot on the ties. Just experimenting! Still, I don't know if this whole look is for me. The two pieces felt a bit too conservative together or something.

So that's when the jacket came off. 

And the brooch went on my top.
My friend and first-class photographer Fleur suggested I throw the jacket jauntily over my shoulder. Done and done!

I love the skirt.
It's faced, and I used boning in the facing to keep the skirt from buckling around the waist. I just extended the facing an inch in length (I don't like boning to end right at my waist because I've found it can leave a crease in the skirt fabric). I also put the boning casings on the inside of the facing (instead of on the side of the facing that touches the skirt), to reduce the chance of the spiral steel bones showing through to the right side of the skirt. I kind of like how the black casings look on the facing, but you could also use pretty ribbon or something.
The jacket and skirt are both lined in Radiance cotton/silk sateen, which I scored on eBay. I wasn't sure if it would be a good choice for lining, but it turns out I love it. It's substantial, easy to work with, and slippery against the skin, tights, and blouses.

I finished the lining hem off with some lace.
I will probably wear the jacket again, just not with the skirt. Could be cute with little denim pedal pushers or something, no?

The good news is that I loved the merino wool so much I bought five yards of it. A matching dress is in the making!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ryan Gosling Loves your Sewing

Hey girl, I'm having a bit of a hectic week. And, like most humans, I often need a bit of stress relief. And I've found my favorite, and it doesn't involve chocolate or other substances! It's Handmade Ryan Gosling (blogged here previously), which is the gift that keeps on giving.

I have a friend with a high-pressure job who periodically checks throughout the day when she needs a mindless and soothing activity. In my fantasies, Handmade Ryan Gosling is updated as much as (Hey, you can submit ideas for new posts here!)

I'm pretty sure a dissertation (or at least a detailed psychotherapy report) could be written about why this whole thing is so appealing to me--and other sewists/crafters. But that would take away the fun. Let's just accept this beautiful gift that has been given to us.

Have a good day, girl.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Upgrade on the Walkaway Dress?

Hey, have you all seen the new Vintage Vogues? 8788 is adorable, and it has a remarkably similar construction to the famed Walkaway dress (blogged, with ambivalence, here).

See how it has two panels that wrap around each other?

It ties in a cute bow in the back.

Here's the Walkaway reissue, for comparison's sake:

I think what I really like about the new Vintage Vogue is that it seems less boxy in the bodice. Also, the elegant jewel neckline and the flattering princess seams. (Related: I need the purse in this illustration.)
What do you think? Is this a better version of the Walkaway dress? I suppose only time will tell! Who's going to make it first and report back please?

P.S. I also love 8789, which is made up in a floral stripe. I think Vogue outdid themselves with the styling for the photography on these new releases.

Isn't it very Horrockses? One of my favorites from the V&A, for a little eye candy:


Friday, February 3, 2012

The Daily Dress: Dior's Sheer Roses

I am so pleased you all are into the idea of a home decor series! But even more than that, I was thrilled that one commenter asked for more Daily Dress posts. I miss writing these suckers.

So let's jump back in with a very au courant frock: this sheer loveliness from the recent Spring 2012 Dior Haute Couture show. This is one of those shows that everyone kept asking me if I had seen: after all, it has '50s-inspired couture, horsehair braid, roses--all of my favorite things! I finally got around to checking it out online, and it does not disappoint. Of course, every review of a Dior couture show mentions the absence of John Galliano. I kind of miss that little jerk too, but I think this Bill Gaytten fellow is really finding his stride. 

The dress pictured above is one of my favorites. On the surface, it's classic. The surplice bodice, kimono sleeves, full skirt, obi-style waist embellishment, and glorious rose embroidery are all straight out of the late '50s. It's pretty similar to this pattern I posted about last month, isn't it?

The twist in the Dior show was using sheer fabrics so the inner workings of each piece are exposed. These two detail shots (of similar dresses in the collection) show horsehair braid in the sleeves, and crinoline net underneath. (And boobs. I always feel sorry for the girl who has to wear the "edgy" see-through thing without a bra.)

I'm really loving the vintage-y waist drape. So perky!

I'm trying to incorporate something kind of similar into a design I've been working on, and I have a collection of vintage images as inspiration. A friend pointed out today that two current Vogue patterns have a really similar detail. First is 1108 by Bellville Sassoon:

And secondly, 1270 by Kay Unger, a much more subtle take on the bow.

What did you think of the collection? What do you think of perky waist drapes?

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