Tuesday, April 17, 2012

They Don't Make Them Like This Anymore

At the risk of sounding like one of those grumpy muppets, I have to say that they do not make patterns as cool as this one any more. The dress with those awesome pockets! The elegant lines, the no nonsense neckline, the perfect pushed up three quarter sleeves...but the piece de resistance is that white cape collar topping - sheer genius.

J'adore the brooch pinned at the impossibly thin waist. Gloves like these need to come back in style right NOW this minute - I want some!
Love how Miss Turban with the flashy feather has her shawl so elegantly tied about her tiny waist. Love that little white cap -that outfit almost looks like a nun's, but not.
These ladies are members of the Church Auxiliary, I think, planning their annual Fundraiser and Jumble Sale. Miss Green Gloves is Madam President, and Miss Red Feather Turban is rolling up her sleeves, getting to work on rounding up volunteers and donations. They run that auxiliary with the ruthless efficiency of the Allied Command planning the Invasion of Normandy. Women's talents were so under-utilized then! Nowadays they would all be College Presidents, Senators and CEOs. We've come a long way baby...except I miss the clothes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top From Scraps, or Color-Blocking by Necessity

After cutting Vogue 1291 out of two colors of stretch lace from Gorgeous Fabrics, I had so many ginormous odd shaped scraps that I thought I'd try to make another top out of them.(The Vogue pattern has very weirdly shaped pieces and HUGE sleeves.) As we all know, one of the most important Sewing Commandments is Thou Shalt Not Waste Fabric. I used the selvage for the hems on both the body and the sleeves, because they were pretty- and I wasn't sure how I'd like machine hemming the lace.

I used a strip of selvage as the neckline edging.I did not follow their directions,(which are wackadoodle, btw) but instead, sewed the selvage strip on the wrong side first then trimmed the seam and folded it over the front and then zigzagged that down with matching thread. It's a clean finish on the inside and super pretty on the outside:

This is an adapted version of Simplicity 4076 view C with elbow sleeves instead of bell sleeves. I drafted them myself by copying the top of the long sleeve and measuring how long I wanted them. Easy and I knew they'd work because they were drafted from an existing sleeve. Also I didn't have enough of the fabric for the longer sleeves, but it's almost summer anyway. Who needs long sleeves now?

It came out pretty for what is essentially a free top. I still haven't finished the Vogue one yet. But it's in the stack. It was more fun trying to make the free one work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Colette Patterns Coming, and Happy Birthday to Little Hunting Creek

Are you ready for summer? I am so ready. I'm a former California Girl, and in winter I dream of sundresses, shorts, going coatless and bootless and scarfless. These pretty patterns will inspire you to make shorts and sundresses even before the weather heats up, because they are so darn cute.

Since it it Little Hunting Creek's tenth birthday, we're going to take pre-orders on these patterns now, and ship when they arrive next week. As a little birthday bonus, we'll give FREE Shipping if you buy TWO or more Colette Patterns (instead of our usual THREE patterns. We'll take the discount off in the shopping cart, so don't be alarmed if you see it.)

These shorts are the kind of patterns that I'd like to make ten versions of, in every sherbet color.
May summer last a thousand years!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The More Things Change...

I made this skirt and top back in the 1970's when I was a biology major at U.C. Irvine. I was less an anomaly for sewing my own clothes (lots of girls did back then) than for being a biology major. (That was considered a little quirky.)
Patchwork has languished in fashion since the hippie chick styles of the seventies, but I see signs of a resurgence. What else is "color-blocking" but Mondrian Patchwork?
This new HotPatterns Skirt caught my eye, but more importantly, gave me lots of ideas.

What if I took any center paneled design and inserted a patchwork panel?
for instance, a panel of silk patchwork in view D McCall's 6566, below:

This idea would work in almost any multi-seamed design. My proclivity for saving small pretty scraps is finally paying off! (Mr. Hunting Creek sighs. He claims that I have a box in my sewing room labeled, "Scraps Too Small To Be Saved")
Are you planning a garment featuring Patchwork or color-blocking? (Do you save small scraps too small to be saved?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

You’re Not Just Paying for the Dress

Anyone who has taken Econ 101 knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch.When you buy something in a retail establishment, you aren’t just paying for the raw materials. For example, in this amusing video on Slate, a bride asks why her wedding dress was so expensive, when the fabric and labor cost so little.
Dear Brides-to-be: you aren’t just paying for the dress. When you buy any dress any where, say for example, Nordstrom, built into that dress price is profit for the store, which will pay for that nice store, the real estate, the parking lot, the clerk, the electricity, the hangers,… you get the idea. You are also paying for the shipping, the handling, the boat trip and air trip from China/Malaysia/India/Mexico, as well as the designer, the patternmaker, the marketing and the wages of the multiple workers who assembled the dress. But why, you ask, is the dress so very much more expensive than a maxi dress?
One, there is more to a wedding dress than your average maxi or evening dress. Two, people don’t buy very many wedding dresses. You buy many dresses over the course of a year, but most people, (the non-Kardashian part of the population) only buy one wedding dress per lifetime. The manufacturers know this. That’s why they sell wedding dresses with so much fantasy attached. It’s your Special Day! You’ll have these memories for a lifetime! The Wedding Industrial Complex has spent a lot of time learning just what buttons to push in our psyches to get us to pay exorbitant sums for what should just be a short service with a nice party with guests and cake and dance music.
They know that no woman in her right mind would pay thousands of dollars for a Cinderella costume that she will only wear a few hours. So they make sure that you aren’t in your right mind. Go to any Bridal Salon. It’s fancy – it has couches.
You have to make an appointment. So far, all of the messages you are getting indicate that this is no ordinary dress. This is a Magic Dress that will transform you into a Princess. You want to be a Princess, right? I did the whole princess for a day thing, but back when I married; it wasn’t such a huge deal. The dress wasn’t that expensive. Nowadays though, they can be thousands of dollars. If you’re comfortable spending thousands, fine. But after seeing many of my daughters’ friends get married, I’ve decided this whole wedding racket is Bogus. A Conspiracy to get perfect sane young people and their parents to part with their hard earned money for a fantasy. Tell the truth, now. Don’t you think that modern weddings are BORING?
They are all the same. All the brides wear that same strapless dress. They all have the same script…yawn. Such a lot of dullness for so very much money.
My kids and I have discussed this, and we agree that we’re going to do things differently.
If they ever get married, they aren’t doing the same old same old.
We break those wedding rules – you don’t have to wear the official Wedding Dress. It can be any nice dress, it doesn’t even have to be white – but it can be. Make your own, or have a dressmaker make you a pretty dress. Be different. You don’t have to have cake.
Remember that this whole wedding Fantasy Script was brought to you by the same Mad Men who convinced women that a Diamond was Forever, when they are nothing but clear rocks. And we all know that they have our best interests at heart.
I spent $400 in 1980 for my wedding dress. I made my own veil (it came out great for less than 25 dollars!). How much did you spend on your wedding dress?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Out of the Box Thinking

Back in 1981, I was living in Maui, and I would have made a pattern like this one, but unlike the crazy creatives at McCalls, I would have worn shorts or a skirt with my top.
Of course, I am assuming that they meant this as a TOP and not a really super short dress, in which case I stand corrected.