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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Past Projects · 1930's Wool Coat

It's been freezing cold here this week, so I thought sharing the pictures of this coat I made a couple years ago would be appropriate!

Back in 2006, I was one step away from being completely obsessed with "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe".  This manifested itself in various manners, but one of the more productive outlets was a major desire for all of Susan's 1940s clothes. ;-)  They were so adorable, and looked so practical!  I never ended up making any of them, however I did manage to buy fabric to make a wool coat like hers.  The process of actually making the coat intimidated me for years, so I never got around to it.

2 years ago I was finally fed up with wearing a puffy ice-blue ski coat with all my vintage clothes, and decided that it was time for some outerwear that would blend in with the rest of my wardrobe!  We came across the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, and they had a fabulous pattern for a 1930s Coat with Stand Up Collar.  I ended up having just the right amount of fabric for the pattern. :-)

This was my first time making a coat with pad-stitching.  It's not perfect, but I'm still satisfied with the result 2 years later. ;-)  One thing that I keep thinking about though- I think several rows of topstitching around the collar would be really fun!  But at this point, I think I'll just leave that for a different project. ;-)

Fun geometric buttons add to the Deco feel of the sleeve cuffs. :-)  I love this unique collar.

The pattern went together very smoothly and despite not having as many instructions as a modern pattern, it was still helpful and intelligible. :-)

Check out the fun seaming on the shoulders- the 30s had the most interesting and unique designs!  I originally had a narrow belt on the coat, but after looking at lots of 30s images I realized that a wide belt was more common and I ended up preferring this look. :-)

After making the coat, I'm sad that I had been so intimidated for so long!  It really wasn't as difficult as I expected, and the result was definitely worth it. :-)

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

UFO · Re-Styling a Sweater

Guess what?  I have thrilling news!  I just did this project TODAY, and I'm posting it already!  This is so exciting. ;-)

One of my "somedays" is to finally complete all of my UFOs (UnFinished Objects).  Thankfully, in my favor, my mother is a great hater of UFOs and has not allowed me indulge my procrastination tendencies! ;-)  But having said that- I've been sewing for a long time, and UFOs are inevitable.  My collection of them is not too extreme, but never-the-less, it's still existent.  They range from sweaters I've been hoarding for years, to my newly-started-but-sorely-neglected-since-the-workshop riding habit, to my first-ever-yet-never-completed sewing project (a lap quilt), and even to my first-and-only foray into crocheting and beyond.  They've taken up storage space and produced more than their fair share of guilt- it's time to conquer them. :-)

My list currently shows 13 UFOs not including minor alterations and repairs, so I'm setting monthly goals to get them completed.  Most will take lots of time, but some can be cranked out in a day. :-)

Today's UFO is a cashmere sweater that I inherited from Mom a year or so ago.  It is a size or 2 too large, but fits well through the shoulders, so it's an ideal candidate for re-styling!  This is the 5th sweater that I've altered, and I'm becoming much more confident in the process. :-)  This alteration took less than 2 hours including picture-taking, so it's a perfect "instant pick-me-up" on an afternoon that I was feeling less than inspired. :-) 

Before- Sadly baggy and longer than I like  After- Taken in, shortened, new buttons added, and better lighting located! ;-)

To start off, I put on the sweater and start safety-pinning the sides until I'm happy with the fit.  This sweater was a bit full in the sleeves and armhole, so I took those in as well.

Transfer the safety-pin markings to the inside with straight pins, and even up any inconsistencies from both sides.

When sewing the sweater, be sure to use a ball-point needle and a walking foot on your machine!  Sew along the line indicated by the pins with a straight stitch, going all the way from the hem up to the armhole and down the sleeve seam.  At this point, I like to try it on quick to make sure I'm happy with the fit- I ended up taking this one in a bit more.

Once you're happy with it, serge the seam close to your stitching (zig-zagging works if you don't have a serger).
(I was so happy that we had serger thread that exactly matched! :-))

If you want to shorten your sweater, I recommend shortening in relation to the existing buttonholes.  In my case, that meant just shortening it up to the next buttonhole (2 3/4").  You'll be sewing along the top edge of the lower binding, using that as your guide.

Make sure your binding is the same size or smaller than the body of the sweater- you don't want the sweater stretched out!  I haven't run into any issues with the knit stretching out of shape while sewing on the binding, but I take my time and the walking foot is a MUST! :-)  Then serge close to the stitching.

To finish up, I like to slip-stitch the seam allowances in potentially-visible parts so they don't peek out or shift, like the center placket and the bottom of the side seams.  

I replaced the dark grey buttons with light shell buttons, as I think that will be more versatile in my wardrobe (And because I currently have a distrust for most greys... Ironic considering I'm wearing a GREY skirt today, but hey!  I'm in the recovery process.  It'll take a while before I can cope with grey buttons, too.).

I'm currently debating over whether or not I want to embellish this sweater, and if so- what to do.  But that'll be another project for another day.  For now, this has moved from the Land of Unloved and Unwearable Garments to the Drawer of Favor. ;-)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

· Taking the Next Step ·

Setting up this blog was one of the most frightening leaps of faith I've taken.  There is something very vulnerable about putting your name, your face in front of thousands of strangers.  When I first started this blog in August, I had very low expectations both of my diligence, and also of the reception I'd get.  I was (and continue to be!) completely shocked by how this venture has succeeded, and I am so very humbled by the wonderful response I've received.  To each and every one of my followers, commenters, and readers- Thank You.

Now that I've had 5 months to get used to this whole blogging thing, I'm ready to really get into it. :-)  I love blogs that truly reflect the personality of the writer and make you feel like you're getting to know a person, rather than viewing a parade.  Now, I really do realize that I've been firmly ensconced in the latter camp for the last 5 months, however, my dream is to "someday" become one of those other bloggers.  But, it requires so very much more vulnerability to put your opinions, feelings, ramblings, and musings out there, too!  So please bear with me as I take another frightening step of faith out into the unknown. :-)  One of my goals for 2014 is to discover and develop my "writing voice", and to share more regularly about my day-to-day life, not just my more glamorous moments. ;-)

When I was thinking about what I wanted to write, I was quickly getting overwhelmed. :-)  I have a whole post forming in my head about my New Year's Resolutions and how they'll affect my life and this blog, but I feel like it needs a little background to help set the stage.  This post today is not what I hoped it might be.  It's not glamorous, it's not amusing, it has no pictures.  But it's what I needed to write now.

2012 was a year of major lifestyle changes.  Up until then, I had spent every year in the same, expected place, doing the expected things.  Yes, there were changes to my schedule that came up every now-and-then, but overall, my life was extremely predictable.  And I liked it that way, thank you very much!  I delight in order, details, sameness.  So when God was leading me to an opportunity out of state, and with total strangers that summer, I was apprehensive.  What would I do without my cocoon of the well-known?  Would I cope gracefully?  What about my mandatory 9 hours of sleep each and every night?  Wouldn't I shrivel up and die without that?  How would I possibly survive being surrounded by so many people each day??  After all- I am an extreme introvert!

Confident that this was in fact my God-given direction for the next 5 months, I lived a life unlike anything I had experienced before.  I learned that I could survive in conditions that I previously thought nearly impossible.  I survived with 6 hours of sleep a night or less.  Survived stress.  Made close, strong friendships with people who were previously strangers.  Learned that I could let go of my perfectionism, after all!  Learned that I could live with chaos.  Discovered that lurking underneath all my introversion was a desire and even delight for people!

It was a good year.  A year filled with stretching, painful stretching.  But in the end- I ended up with a bigger picture of my life; a stronger understanding of grace and how to extend that to others.

If 2012 was the Year I learned that I could Survive, then 2013 became the Year I learned how to Thrive.

This past year was characterized by my many opportunities to travel, visit friends, and do work outside of the normal.  In those travels, I began forming more decided opinions on what course I should be pursuing.  If there is anything to get me in the life-planning mood, it's travel. :-)  It allows me the opportunity to view the everyday from a removed perspective, and broadens the horizon of my prospects.

Overall, my time spent at home was where I learned the most, though.  If my discovery last year was that I could survive on 6 or less hours of sleep, my discovery this year was that I thrive on 8-9. :-)  If my realization last year was that I could live with chaos and less than perfection, my realization this year was that I am the happiest and most satisfied when I take the time and effort to strive toward order and excellence.  Yes, I can live with less than ideal circumstances- in a way, I can even thrive there, too!  However, I flourish the most in a controlled environment- one of schedules, checklists, and order.  So since my life right now will allow for that, it is worth fighting for.  

In a way, I have come full circle from where I started out at the beginning of 2012- I'm back to my quiet, disciplined life.  However, all the things I've learned in the intervening years have brought depth to my goals, strengthened my resolve, and given me encouragement to face the intimidating and actively strive for the next level! :-)

I would like to see 2014 be the Year I Flourish in my present circumstances.  I have so many things I want to do and be "someday".

This is my year for "somedays".

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

· Costumes for Some Dear Friends ·

· This post was initially scheduled for last week, but due to some internet glitches, it didn't quite make it.  I'm pleased to finally present it in its intended form this week! ;-) ·

There is a family that holds a very special place in my heart.  Seven and a half years ago, I first started going over to help out each week.  Over all the life changes that have occurred since then, it is the one part of my schedule that has remained constant.  Knowing this family has changed me and been a part of shaping me into who I am today.  The children are like all the younger siblings I never had. :-)  The second year after I started helping out, I wanted to sew the children a Christmas gift, so I made each of them a cape for playing dress-up.  The next year, the idea got a bit more elaborate (as all good ideas have a tendency to do... ;-)) - knight tunics for the boys and princess dresses for the girls.  Over the years, they've gone from 4 children to 7, and I've made aprons and felt food, peasant outfits, Indian outfits, and Renaissance outfits.  The challenge each year is to find a new idea, while trying not to get too out of control. ;-)

Given my natural inclination for historical clothing, I usually try to go with a historical theme and this year ended up being roughly late 1880s-90s.  My idea was to have something inspired by the book "Little Town on the Prairie". (a bit later and less "sun-bonnety" than Little House on the Prairie)  

The girls' dresses were made with Simplicity 2843.  It was the perfect pattern- 3 different options build right in! :-)  I ended up almost exactly copying the pattern cover, fabric-wise.  I try not to do that, but what can I say?  The cover dresses were pretty cute! (well, and those were the best fabric options I found at the store....)

The boys' vests were made from Simplicity 4762.  I was really happy to finally use this pattern- I've really liked it for a while but never had a good time to make it. :-) (this may or may not have been the deciding factor in choosing this theme....) The shirts are Simplicity 5448.  The cravats are simple rectangles, and the hats were made using online directions for 19th cen. engineers' caps.

The vests and hats were made from scraps of fabric in our stash- I was pleased with how well all the colors coordinated! :-)

I love the back of these vests!

Recognize this vest fabric?  Now I wish I had purchased 50 yards of that stuff.  It's perfect for everything.

The 2 smallest vests were made with a toddler pattern, and I just added the Simplicity collar to them.

I wanted to add a little interest to this dress, and we ended up having the perfect match in the ribbon hoard. ;-)

Back bow detail, also showing the crocheted trim on the "apron" drape.

Gathered eyelet trim on the smallest dress

Gathered flounce on the smallest dress

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sweater Re-Fashion · 1930s Style

This sweater was a fun re-fashioning challenge!  I loved the color of this sweater I found a few years ago, but it was so plain, and really didn't fit in with the vintage wardrobe I was trying to emulate.

So, I looked for some 30s inspiration to add interest.  I didn't have my collection of books back then and it was pre-Pinterest, so I turned to our handy collection of movies made in the early 1990s and set in the 30s. :-)  Early Poirot movies, Jeeves and Wooster, and Campion all have fairly accurate and inspiring styles.  The Poirot movies in particular are my favorite- the range of characters goes everywhere from lower-middle class up to the very height of fashion, and there are lots and lots of episodes to draw ideas from. ;-)

I made the collar from a mid-weight linen and traced off the neckline to get the right shape.  I cut out the collar, roll-hemmed the edge, and finished off the neck edge with bias tape and sewed it just inside the neck edge.  The triangle piece on the neckline was originally part of the sweater.  The front detail is 2 pieces cut on the straight grain, roll-hemmed, and kept in place with a fabric "tab".

The fit of the sweater and the length of my skirt remind me a lot of styles from 1930-32.  The downside is that it looks a bit 20s to some folks....  I had one older, very well meaning gentleman call me "flapper girl". *sigh*  I guess that is what comes from finger waves...

A tabbed detail on the skirt adds interest and is a great place to use more buttons- one can never have too many buttons in an outfit. ;-)

These Clark shoes are my very favorites- so comfortable and practical!  I swapped the traditional shoelaces for ribbons in a fit of "Pinterest emulation".  Please overlook the fact that they're in dire need of polishing.... ;-)

This sweater was a great place to showcase this adorable vintage "Hershey's kiss" button we had!

· Picture credit to Kathryn! ·

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Pretties · Dress Clips

For Christmas this year, one of my very favorite gifts were 2 pairs of antique dress clips!  I've been admiring dress clips for a few years, but we don't come across them frequently when we are antiquing.  They are a great start to what I expect will be a growing collection! ;-)

These marcasite dress clips are prettily understated, and I can't wait to try them out! :-)

I was so thrilled to get this Coro Duette set!  It is a 3-in-1 combo- all pieces can be attached together, and worn as a brooch....

....Or worn separately as a brooch and dress clips!  Such a clever design.  Why don't they make jewelry like this anymore??  I really love the Art Deco vibe on this one, and I'm seeing the need for a fabulous 30s dress to go with it!

The most expected way to wear dress clips is in the corners of a square or sweetheart neckline, but I did a little searching around for some other vintage ideas on showcasing them.  Here are a few of my favorites!

This collage has several different ideas for utilizing one or both of the dress clips.

I liked this unique idea for placing them on a lapel!  My pinterest board has more ideas I liked. 

Of course, after looking at all these ideas, I think this calls for a new dress... ;-)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Organization · Fabric Inventory

Every year, between Christmas and New Year's, I update our fabric inventory.  I love things like this, and it's something I look forward to doing each year. :-)  We have a small closet in the sewing room, and it's the perfect size for 2 stacks of giant Rubbermaid tote boxes.  Over the years, the fabric stash has grown and we now have 7 totes.  I'm trying to keep it to that amount, but it's proving most difficult!  Several years ago I decided to take an official inventory of our stash and label all the boxes.  Hoisting several 50 lb boxes once or twice a day does have the attraction of encouraging good lifting habits, but has little other benefit. ;-)  Over the years I've made a few tweaks to my system, but overall it has stood the test of time and has worked well for us!

I measure each length of fabric and then cut a small swatch and record the length, width, and fiber content.  I try to organize the fabric by types or fiber content, as much as possible.  Some years everything fits evenly into boxes, other years- not so much!  Each tote gets a label with the general contents and a number that correlates to the master list.

My master list is very low-tech, since computers are very close to being my Nemesis.  I just use a few sheets of notebook paper and tape them to the inside of our cupboard door. (although now that I'm thinking of it- I really should put it on the inside of the closet door!)  Each line allows enough room to record the info, and the fabric swatch ends up being large enough to trigger my memory.  Since I'm fairly well acquainted with all the stash contents, using a larger swatch seems unnecessary and I like to keep all of my remaining fabric intact as some projects use Every Last Scrap.

If I use part of a length of fabric during the year, I like to update the list with that info.  I don't worry about adding fabrics to the list until the end of the year, though.  Updating the list each year is pretty straightforward and I just remove the old swatches and glue them to the new list.

Photo-corners mean that I can update the labels easily each year!  This idea has ended up working even better and lasting longer than I originally thought! :-)

And in other news- I recently got a new camera and am looking forward to learning how to utilize it more efficiently and effectively! :-)  So far, it has proved to be much less frustrating and much more enjoyable than our previous one.  Hooray!! :-)

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