Sewing Inspiration: What I Should Be Sewing

It’s been way too busy here with holiday parties, trying to work on my portfolio, trying to catch up with freelance and trying to have a social life that I haven’t been sewing. So here are the things that I should be working on:

Vogue 7538. This was the coat pattern that I should have been working on, but productive sewing has promptly trailed off after October or so.

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I really like peplum dresses and need to make a proper one.

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I’ve made at least two versions of this, one in pink and one in yellow, but find them both to be unwearable as they aren’t that flattering. The colors are also way too bright and make me feel really self-conscious. It’d be nice to make a wearable version.

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Another pattern with an interesting corset-type design that I have yet to sew.

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The color-blocking on this version looks a little extreme, but I think it might be interesting if done with tone on tone colors.

What I’m Working on This Week

Butterick 5824, Advance 4518.

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I’ve decided to try my first coat pattern, Gertie’s coat. I’ve been looking for a knee length princess coat for awhile now, and haven’t found any yet. Hopefully if I start now I can finish it in time for winter.

I usually only do one project at a time, but since a coat might be at time-consuming project, I also want to start on Advance 4518.

The Rose Print Blouse: Simplicity 1554

Still not sure how flattering rolls are with my thick hair, but this will have to do for now. I think I’ve finally gotten over my vintage fashion-rebellion and am going back to what I’ve been sewing before. I’m slowly getting over my fear of color as well, but so far have been sticking to dark background prints, red, and black.

I finally this blouse a week or so ago and only had a chance to write about it now. Shown here with Wearing History shorts, I think it’s very versatile and should hopefully work long past Summer and straight into Fall.

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Fabric: Rayon, $7/yd, 2 yards
Pattern: Simplicity 1554
Year: 1945
Notions: black plastic buttons, $1
Time to complete: one week, working on it mostly on evenings
First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet!
Wear again? Yes
Total price: $15

Pattern used:

Simplicity 1554. I made View C, with the peter pan collar.

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I’ve made this before, but only once in View C. It’s hard to see the collar there under all that hair, but it’s there! I used rose print rayon that felt very 40s to me. It was a dream to sew and has great drape.

This is one of my favorite patterns since it can look different with very few pieces and I’d like to make it View D, the only one I haven’t made yet.

Oh. I know I said “no more vintage patterns”, but I should probably be more careful of absolutes from now on. Vintage patterns are definitely back.

What I’m Working on This Week: Simplicity 1554

I started on Simplicity 1554 this week. I’ve made this three times before, but it’s really only been wearable the past two versions. I still haven’t made all the views, but it’s so versatile that I really plan to before the year is out.

I know I said no granny floral print, but I couldn’t resist this rayon fabric I found over the weekend. Since it’s black, red, and the floral print isn’t too small, I hope it doesn’t come off as super granny.

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In the meanwhile, I’ve been watching a lot of old movies. Why did I only discover Elizabeth Taylor now? She’s awesome, and of course my favorite vintage style role models (other than Marilyn) are all brunettes.

McCall’s 7262: 1940s Playsuit

I just bought this pattern now on a whim. As much as I like sewing and wearing knit dresses, I do miss the slow process of fitting and muslins. Although I wear my finished knits quite often, it doesn’t feel as rewarding to finish knits as it does to finish my older vintage projects. I’ll definitely have to tweak the styling so it looks more modern and edgy, but this might just be my cue to go back to a modern and less costume-y way of sewing and wearing vintage patterns.

As for McCall’s 7262, I’ll have to alter this so it’s somewhat wearable, but I picture it mixed with sheer chiffon dressses and lace skirts, and transitioning into the Fall with tights, layers, tall boots and sweaters.

Schiaparelli and Prada’s Impossible Conversations

I finally had a chance to check out the Schiaparelli and Prada exhibit at the Met over the weekend. I’ve been a huge fan of Schiaparelli from even way before this exhibit, having found out about her when I first started learning how to sew and then subsequently sewing vintage patterns.

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The first part of the exhibit, Waist Up/Waist Down, paired Schiaparelli’s embellished jackets with Prada’s skirts. Schiaparelli focused more on the upper part of the body since most of her clients back then sat in cafes and would be more likely to be noticed that way and Prada focuses on the lower half.

The second part (Ugly Chic, Hard Chic, Naif Chic) talked about similar elements of their clothes, whether through the use of similar fabrics, motifs (insects, military style, lips, sari fabric, fur, feathers or leather).

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The third part showed Prada’s clothes next to digital projections of Schiaparelli’s clothes.

All through the exhibit they had an imaginary video dialogue projected on the walls between Prada (playing herself) and Schiaparelli (played by an actress), talking about their lives and what influenced them.

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Lobster Dress, 1937: white silk evening dress with a crimson waistband featuring a large lobster painted (by Dali) onto the skirt

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This exhibit is one of the smaller ones I’ve seen in the Costume Institute, but it was good to see Schiaparelli’s incredible well-preserved pieces, most dating back from the 30s or 40s. Personal favorites: Schiaparelli’s lobster dress, dress with cape attached, light pink dress with butterflies (fitted bodice and full skirt), dinner jacket featuring a beaded optical illusion of a vase of roses/face on the back; Prada’s black pleated skirt with rayon and beaded appliques of cherry blossoms.

Source: hyperallergic.com, metmuseum.org, Schiap wiki

Re-fashion: The 40s Inspired Cardigan

Front, view 1.

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Front, view 2.

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Front, closeup view.

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(Source: By Gum By Golly)

This re-fashion has been inspired by the beautiful colorwork cardigans that are popular in the 40s.

The Facts

Fabric: Thrifted cardigan, size large
Pattern: n/a
Year: 2012
Notion: n/a
Time to complete: 30 min
First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet
Wear again? Yes
Total price: $8

I haven’t been a knitter for years and I wasn’t about to attempt my own sweater project, especially on something this complicated. I found this colorwork sweater in the thrift shop. It was bright, had well-defined colorwork, and was way too large. The sweater itself is a size large and fits probably a bust 38 to 40.

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You can see how large it is on the dressform.

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Closeup of colorwork.

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I used Casey’s tutorial to take in the side seam through the sides, up through the underarm area and tapering to nothing by the elbow area.

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If none of this makes sense, it’s ok. Bean also looked very confused during the sewing stage.

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I used the zig-zag stitch to seam the edges and finished them off with my server.

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I also fixed up some loose knitting stitches that looked like they were about to fall apart. I sewed them together by hand. The sweater itself is very warm and will come in handy during the cold winter we’re still having.

Simplicity 1554, Swiss Dot Blouse: 40s does 60s

Front view, #1.

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Front view, #2.

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Front view, #3. Ignore my wrinkly pants.

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Side view.

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Closeup of brooch, swiss dot, and mother of pearl buttons.

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I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men lately and it’s been starting to show in my projects.

I need more versatile white blouses in my wardrobe and made the peter pan collar version of Simplicity 1554.

The Facts

Fabric: Swiss dot, $7/yd, 2 yd. Cotton batiste, $5/yd, 2 yd.
Pattern: Simplicity 1554
Year: 1945
Notion: snaps, mother of pearl buttons
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet
Wear again? Yes
Total price: $26

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Pattern used.

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I’ve made this blouse twice before. The swiss dot I was using was sheer and see-through, so I underlined it with white cotton batiste.

Everything went smoothly until I got to the buttonholes. Since it was underlined, the buttonhole had 4 layers of fabric to go through, plus interfacing, and my buttonhole maker got stuck in the embroidered dots of the swiss dots. I hand-sewed some snaps and hand-sewed some mother of pearl non-functioning buttons on the front side. I used French seams on it also.

This is a really good basic piece. It wasn’t too boring to make and will hopefully go with a lot of things. This project is also part of my SWAP.

Spring 2012 SWAP, Revised

After taking inventory of my fabric closet, I’ve revised my sewing with a plan yet again to include even more plain and basic separates and tied the silhouette together even further to look more 40s.

Spring 2012 SWAP:
4 bottoms – 2 pants, 2 skirts
4 tops – 4 blouses
1 dress

There’s nothing more inspiring than watching Hoarders while trying to organize your stash. Most of the fabrics on there are also remnants that I found from sorting my stash over the weekend.

Spring/Summer 2012 SWAP: Revised

Spring 2012 SWAP:
4 bottoms – 2 pants, 2 skirts
4 tops – 4 blouses
1 dress

Since most of my blue twill is suddenly gone (more on that later), I decided to revise my Spring/Summer choices. I also included more versatile bases like high-waisted pants in denim and a more plain skirt. I included Simplicity 1554 a few times since I only have 2 yards of the cotton voile each (and maybe less for the polka-dot rayon) and wanted to make the best of it.