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.

Coat Inspiration

I’m still undecided about what fabric to use for my Gertie coat, and though I own a lot of black for Fall/Winter (and year round), I really don’t want to make a plain black, super practical coat, but I do want to make something that is neutral enough to be wearable all season. Here are some coats that I’m looking at for inspiration.

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Pink Coat

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I can’t decide if this coat is too light-colored for me or too light-colored to wear in winter. I tend to look washed out in pastels and lighter colors, too.

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Olive Military Inspired Coat


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This is a Balmain melton military coat. I really like olive since it’s not black, and therefore details can be seen, and yet it’s versatile enough to go with browns, blacks, and other deeply saturated colors.

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White Fancy Coat with Lace Border Details


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I love the lace border on this fancy coat. I don’t know how practical winter whites are for me since most of my Fall/Winter clothing is dark-colored though.

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Black Polka-Dot Coat


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I really like the subtle texture on this coat. It’s black, so it will go with everything for me, but the polka dots are small and give it some texture.

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Red Coat with White Piping


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The white piping on the collar and sleeves really makes this coat stand out.

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Leopard Coat


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This is the Betsey Johnson But Darling jacket. This happens to be a jacket, but I love the leopard print contrast cuffs and collar.

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Mauve Coat


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Mauve is another great color for Fall/Winter. It’s subtle enough to go with lighter pieces and strong enough to go with darker pieces. It’s also a very unique color.

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Purple Coat with Black fur trim


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I really like the black fur on this deep purple coat. It looks very luxe.

Pattern Acquisition: Butterick 9427

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From the Vintage Pattern Wiki: Butterick 9427; ca. 1960; Misses’ Quick ‘N Easy Dress. Soft dress with bias cut bodice and skirt, shaped cowl collar continuing into a shoulder bow, self-belt. (A) Short sleeves cut in one with bodice. (B) Sleeveless.

I really like the sleek lines on this pattern, however I don’t know how I feel about the gathered (undefined?) skirt. I’ll have to take a closer look at the pattern, but I will probably change those to darts.

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

Future project: Butterick 3742

Other than wearing long flowy maxi dresses this whole summer, I’ve also really liked wearing cotton jumpsuits. I currently have one jumpsuit that’s a hand-me-down from my mom which I’ve been wearing to death, so it’s time to make another one.

This pattern dates from the 80s (or late 70s?) so I don’t know if it even counts as vintage, but I really do miss sewing older (40s/50s/60s) patterns.

Sewing Inspiration: Lorena’s Black Dress

Lorena and vampire Bill.

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I’ve been watching a lot of True Blood lately, and I really like this lace dress that Lorena wears on it. I can’t find more pictures of the rest of it, but it’s basically a sleeveless sheath dress with black lining and lace on top.

I really miss working with wovens again, and it wouldn’t be too hard to draft something like this based on my slopers.

Sewing Inspiration: Other Designers

Since I’ve moved away from the traditional vintage silhouette (there are a few exceptions, like pencil skirts and kimono sleeves), I’ve been inspired by a lot of other designers out there. I’ve never been a person to just be impressed by a name or a label, but these designers produce interesting clothes that look wearable and comfortable.

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Rick Owens

These are all from the Lilies line. I really like the simple colors, how everything looks drapey and comfortable. My only criteria is it needs to be fitted at the waist and the torso or I will look like I’m wearing a paper bag, and these seem to accomplish that.

Source: barneys.com

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Complex Geometries

These were taking from their FW2010 collection since I liked those pieces better. Very simple colors, only greys and blacks, lots of drapey pieces, and a very simple silhouette: fitted bottom over draped tops.

Source: complexgeometries.com

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All Saints

I love everything All Saints makes. I love the textures, the attention to detail, the simple grey/black/gold color scheme. I especially love their distressed leather. I usually stop by their Soho store when waiting for martial arts class to start and touch everything I see, since they are way above my price point.

Source: allsaints.com

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There’s a lot more that I’m inspired by, but these are indicative of the direction where my style is going nowadays.

SS2012 SWAP, Revised: Spring palette, what Spring palette?

I’ve been seeing a lot of gorgeous pastel-inspired Spring palettes out there, but you won’t see anything like that here. Spring palette, what Spring palette?

The best thing about sewing entirely in monochrome (off-white, light grey, medium grey, dark grey, black, silver, black/white patterned) is that there’s never an expiration date for this season’s “colors”. I wore black for years and years year-round before I started to sew. I was always told it was a “New York thing”, and lately I’ve been starting to embrace it again, only this time adding pale grey and off-white to the mix.

Here are my candidates for the Spring/Summer 2012 SWAP (sewing with a plan):

Dresses: 2 – Long Dress, One-Shoulder Dress
Tops: 2 – Basic Shirt, Basic Blouse
Pants: 3 – Colette Clover in grey twill (not shown, already done), Colette Clover in metallic denim, Colette Clover in black denim

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Here are larger photos of some of my favorite fabrics from this batch.

The metallic denim I found is gorgeous. It’s very very dark blue but photographs almost black and is shot through with silver.

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This was the fabric that inspired it all. I found this splotchy black/white rayon last week.

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I’ve been quietly following a lot of modern designers as well, but that’s another post for another day.

Image sources: thank you Net-a-Porter for letting me dream big (and plan even bigger.)