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Friday, August 11, 2017

· Cornflower Blue ·


A couple years ago, JoAnns carried a few lines of fabrics from Denise Schmidt that I was absolutely smitten with!  I made sure to snatch them up when I saw them on clearance, but, as in the case with this blouse- there was frequently only a yard or so left.  Perfect opportunity for a blouse!


I was inspired by a cute blouse from a movie set in the 1950s and I decided to use my trusty kimono-sleeve bodice sloper as the base.  Well, I'm not sure what the issues were... but man. This was one stinker of a project.  My basic pattern did not work AT ALL but I'm not one to give up without a major fight.  I beat it into submission and it's still not awesome... but it's passable. Good thing it has cute details and is fabric I love. ;-)



Target had the cutest flats this spring and I've been tickled pink with how well this color fits into my work wardrobe as well!
The blouse closes at the side with snaps.  I have been using zippers at the side of blouses without center front openings, but I'm not always sold on that- they can get so bulky feeling and the zipper pull can tend to be lumpy under skirts.  I decided to take a page out of pre-1940s sewing and try out a snap placket and it's been great!  I used snaps on a heavier-weight blouse as well, but that was a dismal failure.... so I still don't have a favorite method, haha!




I talked more in detail about this skirt over here- happy to have another blouse to wear with it!


The "bow" on this blouse is just a strip of fabric pinched in by a fabric tube in the middle.  I sewed the ends of the bow to the blouse, but left the sides free to keep the 3D effect.


Buttons on the shoulder add a fun touch and a little something to set it apart. Part of my woes with this blouse involved too little overlap and various other shoulder issues.  A few tweaks mid-project and a little extra grace.... and I'm safely to the other side and successful! ;-)

Do you find that you frequently change gears due to necessity?  I seem to have this happen to greater or lesser extent, but I think it's one of the reasons I love sewing- overcoming difficulties, challenges, and puzzles is right up my alley!  I usually find that I'm happier with the result than the initial idea as well!

· photos by the ever-amazing Kathryn! ·

Saturday, July 29, 2017

· Fairy Queen ·


In celebration of finally getting back to this blog (I've missed you all and blogging!!), I had to share my favorite new photos first....  At the height of my estate sale excursions a year ago, I came across a sale with this lovely organdy dress in just my size!  I am not usually a purple person, but when the dress fits perfectly... you just roll with it.  I'm so glad that I did, because I am in love with this delicate orchid/lavender color and I honestly don't know why I haven't worn this color before!


I was afraid that I would have to hem this dress because the original owner was quite tall, but with heels and good posture I manage to just barely avoid tripping! ;-)



Has anyone else been loving the show "The Crown"? I know I'm late to the party, but it's sooooo good!  The clothing/hair/makeup is so perfect and such a delight to see!  This outfit makes me feel like I could be in that show, which is one of the best feelings ever. ;-)


This vintage hat was part of a large collection that was generously given to us by a stranger my mom met in a hotel lobby while traveling.  She was part of a historical museum that was running out of room and she shipped a giant box of hats across the country to us.  That's one of the reasons I love vintage and am so passionate about wearing older styles boldly- vintage appeals to such a wide range of people and has a wonderful ability to inspire conversations with total strangers. I love the interactions I have on a regular basis with just about anyone and everyone! :-)



The dress is made of a stiff cotton organdy (why, oh why is organdy not a commonly available fabric?? this stuff is Amazing.) and lined in taffeta. The inner bodice is a simple rectangle with an elastic casing at the top.  It's remarkably still stretchy after 70ish years.... They really don't make elastic like they used to!  The dress closes down the bodice with large covered buttons and on the side with a zipper.  The sash is attached on one end to the zipper, but there was no fastener visible? I've made do with safety pinning the other end in place for each wearing, but I'm not sure what the original plan was! I think I'll end up sewing snaps for an easier way to get dressed. ;-)




The skirt isn't terribly full, but the fabric still makes it feel elegant and dramatic.  The huge tuck in the skirt also adds lovely weight and body to the skirt!



My lovely gold Chelsea Crew shoes are the perfect touch to peek out. :-)



For such a simple dress, it does have some fun unexpected details like the top buttons which are attached by a thread chain and each placed through bound buttonholes at the neckline.

I decided that this dress had a simple elegance of its own, so I kept the accessories super simple for this dress and only wore a pearl necklace. :-)


Thanks for hanging in there during my prolonged absence! While I'm continuing to figure out how regularly I can keep up with blogging, I do have several more posts already on the docket to share. :-) See you soon!

· photos by Kathryn ·

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

· Working Girl ·


Dress for the job you want.  That's the saying, right?

When I decided to transition away from doing entreprenurial/creative work as my main source of income, I knew that a predictable office job would fill the deficiencies I felt.  Something entirely unrelated to sewing has freed me up to pursue personal work and a few select customer projects without feeling extra pressure.  It's been a win-win so far, and I'm so glad I took this step!

Of course, what would the point of this blog be if I didn't have clothes on the brain while coming to this decision?? As you can tell from my Film Fashions series, I've been crushing on vintage secretarial clothes for well over a year now and I'm so excited to have an excuse to "need" them!


My work place is sadly not in this epic Art Deco beauty (love, love, LOVE it!!), and my office's dress code is rather casual, but that's no reason why I can't get excited about fulfilling my own fantasies of working as a secretary in a 1930s private detective's office or a 1950s department store.  My workplace's dress code allows for lots of lee-way, so I'm still able to dress for my fantasy job. ;-)


Years ago, I purchased as much of this herringbone rayon as the store had- which was not much.  I've been hoarding it ever since and trying to decide on the perfect use.  You know, like I always do with fabric, haha!

I had a test-run of this pattern with my red wool 1930s dress a couple years ago and I knew this would be the perfect fit!  Re-capping from my dress post, this pattern is from Mrs. Depew and it's a 1930s French pattern drafting system style pattern.  I've had sort of mixed success with this style of pattern- I mean, they always turn out looking like the illustration, but I never can tell how much major re-engineering of the pattern was required to get it to that point! ;-)  In short, it can be a fun challenge but must always be viewed from that angle- no quick and easy project here!



The fabric is so lusciously drape-y and perfect for this blouse!  I wish I could find this fabric in tons of colors!


The fact that I decided to make a skirt from the same pattern (McCalls 6993) I used for the aforementioned dress made for a funny coincidence!  I really adore the seaming on this pattern and we had just enough of this rust wool suiting left from a different project to make a skirt!  Bonus- stash busting!

This pattern has rather odd views of how to achieve a high-waisted skirt, however.  I'm not really sure how to accomplish that, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't the best way. ;-)  I was hoping this waist area would be less of an issue over time, but it seems to keep having issues- sigh. :-P



Hem lace- I feel like such a noob to have taken so long to appreciate the wonder of it!  Way back when I made the copy-cat dress, I was in a quandry as to how best to achieve a truly invisible hem.  Answer: hem lace.  WHY was I so resistant for so long??  Say hello to my newest friend and closest ally!  I'll definitely be making up for lost time now!  This is going on EVERY project from here on out!


Back view! Hand-picked zipper! Let's look at anything other than the fact that, goodness gracious, this poor skirt is crying out for an iron! ;-)


Here's to more vintage secretary-inspired makes!

· photos by the ever wonderful Kathryn! ·

Thursday, March 23, 2017

· Lindy Hop Vibes ·


Do you have any outfits that will predictably garner the same comments/compliments each time you wear them?  Every time I wear this outfit, without fail, I'll receive some form of "do you dance Lindy Hop?".  It cracks me up how predictable the response is, and I find it fascinating in a way.  Of course, this is veering more into the "teenybopper, soda fountain" style of 1950s than I usually tend towards, so I suppose that makes enough of a difference!

I'm pleased to report that within the last few months, I've finally learned the basics of Lindy Hop though!  Now I don't have to feel like such a lame person when people ask.  Because really- if you're going to dress like this all the time, you really *should* know some moves, right?? ;-)



This outfit is so simple that it's practically boring!  My apologies in advance that my "sewing" blog is so lame.  We'll just categorize this one under "vintage style" instead. ;-)  The skirt is made from one of my favorite fabric lines from Denise Schmidt ever.  It's so vintage-y, what with its printed bias plaid, that I couldn't resist the chance to pick some up on clearance.  It was unfortunately one of those annoying JoAnns "clearance" experiences where the marked down price is more than half the original price, so there's no more savings than if I had purchased at the regular price and used a coupon. (grrrr, I'm really not fond of that new habit of theirs!)  However, I was desperate since I knew I'd regret it if I never purchased any and I picked up just enough for a full dirndl skirt.  I figured it would be a nice basic skirt for my tops and sweaters and I was right!  It's just the right shade to work with several different things in my wardrobe. :-)


I wasn't quite sure how to make it a bit more exciting.... and I really never did figure it out!  So plain and simple it is, and I focused all my extra energy on matching the plaid everywhere.  Because having a simple AND quick project is against my principles. ;-)


The belt came from my all-time favorite source: a local thrift store that sells them for 10¢!  I never really know what I'm looking for in a belt while I'm there but at that price I can just buy lots and see what ends up working with my wardrobe!

(side note- no clue what my foot is doing there, haha!)



My trusty beret finishes off the look- this silly little purchase has inspired so many compliments and I'm constantly amused by that!  I purchased it from Wal-Mart of all places, for $2.  And I wear it All. The. Time.  Of all the amazing vintage hats I have to choose from, this silly little modern beret gets the most mileage of any! :-P



The zipper/pocket combo is hidden in a pleat in the side seam.  After trying on three different skirts, I *finally* figured out my favorite way to assemble this combo! :-)


And as a final nail in the lame seamstress outfit... a store-bought knit top!  Well over a year ago I was seized by a need for some Breton stripe knit tops.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I went with it.  Fortuitously enough, they were in style at that moment and easily available at Target!  I knew I wanted the typical white with black stripes, but this blue/navy combo, the mint/white stripe, and the pink/navy stripe were so tempting!  I solved the dilemma by giving my sister the mint and pink (you know, for convenient "sharing"... ;-)) and keeping the blue and white shirts.  The blue, funnily enough, has become the most loved color!



Heehee!  The thing about (amazing! awesome!) local theaters is that you never can control what they might be billing on the marquee. ;-)  Maybe not my typical choice of offering.... but when you take photos in Oct, I guess you really can't expect much different. ;-)

· photos by Kathryn ·

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

· Estate Sale Score! ·


My apologies for neglecting this blog of late!  Life has been a new kind of busy lately and I'm still working on settling into the new normal :-)  I've had several posts waiting in my drafts folder and I'm super excited to share them!  Of course, I've been enjoying the anticipation of sharing these for the past few months, but that only does so much for you...  This post has been waiting too long to share, but in my defense- it's only just now seasonally appropriate again. ;-)


This was one of our very first vintage dresses that actually *fit*!  We happened upon it at our first estate sale and didn't have the opportunity to try it on before purchasing, but it ended up fitting like a glove. :-)  We've picked up several vintage pieces that we can wear in the past couple years and like I've said before, it really has had a big impact on my personal style and mental process of creating new garments.

It's also funny what I'll wear for the sake of vintage- I'm really not a big fan of navy.  I've never been fond of it and I don't think it's a good color for me.  It's something I'm definitely willing to overlook in the cause of wearing an amazing and fun 1940s dress though!


This dress was also one of my first steps towards building up a tolerance for high, high necklines.  Oh, the mid-century love of choke-y necklines!  I've become quite adjusted to them by now, thankfully. ;-)

Can we just take a moment and admire that awesome neckline?!!  I think it's so clever to use just the smallest hints of a contrasting color to add interest to this dress and the zig-zag neckline gets major cool points in my book.  The overall styling of the dress is just enough different from my usual designs that it is a great inspiration to think outside of my usual rut!


GAH. Miss L Fire wins again.

These great shoes were a purchase from Royal Vintage last year, although they're out of stock now. :-(  RV has more Miss L Fire styles in stock, and the detailing of them is always superb!  I adore the shape of these and that little curlicue is the icing on the cake!


My only caveat is that I think MLF's peep-toe styles fit me better than the closed toe...  These shoes don't live up to an all-day outing, but that just means I have all the more reason to wear them on partial-day outings. ;-)


And then vintage dresses have funny little quirks like this!  A back neck zipper, 5" of seam, then a back waist zipper.  This is a subject I'm pretty ignorant on- anyone know why they did that?  I always thought it was because a zipper going all the way down a back seam ends up bubbling due to the extra bit of bodice length for ease.  Is that true?  I've come across long vintage zippers before, so I don't think that was the deciding factor.  Pipe up if you have any insight!! :-)




Since I don't gravitate towards navy or maroon, I didn't have any accessories in those colors.  I do have lots of black, though!  This 1940s hat was a surprise find at an antique store when I was least expecting it, but it's become such a staple for my 40s looks! 


Sweet scalloped gloves!  And also- why do I ever wear black?? So. Much. Lint. :-P


Until I had this dress, I was under the impression that peplums and larger hips didn't go well together.  Now that I've dispelled that notion, and I'm excited about the options that have opened up! :-)


Dramatic vintage poses are always a good idea.  Until you're posing in front of a public building and then discover that you've attracted an audience of spectators inside.

Ahem. I may or may not have this experience frequently during photoshoots... "Carry on! Nothing to see here!"  Just yet another chapter in The Awkward Life of Lily. ;-)

· photos, as ever, by the remarkable Kathryn! ·

*I received my shoes at a discount in exchange for posting online and all links to RV are affiliates- thanks for helping me indulge my love of shoes! ;-)
 

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