What I’ve Been Working on This Week: The Steampunk Dress

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Simplicity 1819. I’m making the shorter version.

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Here is the line drawing. I love those ruffles and cascading layers.

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I spent a fair amount of time tracking down all of the pieces and cutting it out.

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For most of the year I’ve been sewing things I’m more likely to wear, which are knit tops and dresses. I’ve been wearing almost all of my projects that are knits, but sometimes I do miss making challenging things with wovens. Hence my latest most impractical sew-for-fun project: the Steampunk Dress, Simplicity 1819.

I don’t really have an occasion to wear this to, but I might just start wearing it to work or some other normal activity, just not totally dressed up so it doesn’t look so costume-y.

Simplicity 5601: Skull & Roses Tote Bag

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I’m back to taking pictures inside my living room, but hopefully not for long, since I could barely get decent pictures of this project.

This year’s first finished sewing project is a tote bag. I actually finished this last year, a few days ago, but only had a chance to post about it now.

I’ve wanted a really cute tote bag to bring when I do errands for a few months now. I almost bought one on etsy, when I realized I could make one myself for a fraction of the price. I used leftover black denim for the bottom piece and some quilting cotton skull and roses fabric for the main piece. I lined it with the quilting cotton. It’s lightweight and folds up nicely. I’ve used this already to bring my gym things and so far, so good.

What I’m Working on This Week: Simplicity 5601, Tote Bag

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I’ve never had a tote bag as a beginner sewing project, but I wish I did.

I have one beaten up tote bag that my dad gave me a few years ago that has his company logo. I stuff all kinds of things in it, from spare shoes, spare gym attire, bag lunches, fabric. It is large and folds up nicely and is very lightweight, but it doesn’t match anything I wear. So I’ve decided to get out of my sewing ennui by making a tote bag.

I’m well aware a tote bag is all rectangles and might be boring to sew, so I bought some skull and roses fabric and am using some leftover black denim for the bottom piece.

Simplicity 4043: The Mermaid Tail

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The Facts

Fabric: Green lamé, 2 yards, $5/yd
Pattern: Simplicity 4043, tail only
Year: 2012
Notions: Green invisible zipper
Time to complete: 3-4 days, evenings only
First worn: Over Halloween weekend
Wear again? Maybe for Mermaid Parade this summer.
Total price: $10

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing over me
And the questions I have for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean deliver me

I’ve been listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine during the past few weeks, so this costume was obviously inspired by sirens, mermaids, and vaguely inspired by Florence and the Machine and the decadence of the late 20s.

I’ve been a mermaid already once in Halloweens past, but I’ve never had a proper tail, fins and all, until now. I followed the instructions for the tail but greatly simplified it. I didn’t put any sequins on it, I didn’t stuff the tail, and I only interfaced one side of it. The green lamé frayed very easily so I serged the inside seams, and my iron at one point got too hot and melted the inside waistband piece, so I left that out.

The bulk of this costume is in the embellishments. The sequin tank top I’ve had in my wardrobe for years, the gold netting I bought with the green lam&eacute and tied over the skirt, and the gold mesh belt I found in Michael’s while I was buying ivy for a different costume. I bought loads and loads of pearls and seashell necklaces and just piled the on, since I’m guessing mermaids love to hoard jewelry. The trident was from my former mermaid costume.

All in all it’s pretty successful, and I’ll probably wear it again this summer for the Mermaid Parade.

( cross-posted at Sew Weekly )

Simplicity 4043: Work in Progress

Edit: I need to take a better photo of this when it isn’t midnight.

I know I haven’t been posting lately, but I haven’t been sewing as much as I should have, also. Things have been busy all around, but I’m getting back into the swing of things, slowly but surely, and that includes sewing.

This Halloween I am (hopefully) going as a mermaid. I’m on the fence about my tail, which looks baggy. Granted this is pre-styling, pre-embellishments, and I haven’t attached the side zipper yet.

I need some advise, guys. Should I:
1) Make it work! Leave the pattern alone, and rely on embellishment, glitter, fishnets, tridents whatever it takes!
2) Make it work: modify the pattern. Attach the zipper, taper the side seams to produce a thinner silhouette. Also pile on the embellishments.
3) Re-draft a new tail pattern?

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.

Simplicity 2178: Asymmetrical Dress

So I finally joined this century (or this decade).

Dress: Simplicity 2178
Shoes: Steve Madden
Belt: vintage (80s?)

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Front view.

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Front view, 2.

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Side view, 1.

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Pattern used:

Simplicity 2178.

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Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Misses’ dress in two lengths, Cynthia Rowley Collection.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 6-14. I ignored the bodice and cut a size 12 skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? It would have, but I swapped out the bodice entirely.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t read the instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Likes:
- I really like the asymmetrical neckline

Dislikes:
- The way this was constructed, the bodice was very fabric hungry
- I hated the gathers in the bodice, and used my own self-drafted side shoulder block for the top
- The gathers make the skirt look like a hot mess
- The hem needs a facing, why?!

Fabric used: Rayon.

Pattern changes or design changes made: Many!

I used a self-drafted top for the bodice, since I hated the gathers that were happening everywhere. I got rid of the waistband piece. I kept the asymmetrical draped skirt, the floppy bow part, and the shoulder strap since I felt those were the core elements of this pattern. I pieced together the ties instead of cutting them all in one piece. I also lengthened the skirt by about two inches.

I also did not cut out the bodice facing but used seam binding for the edges. I added an invisible zipper, and serged the hem and top-stitched it, not using the hem facing.

Any problems encountered while sewing this pattern? None.

Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction? The Featherweight for the straight stitching, the Hello Kitty one for the zipper, and the serger for the seams.

Will you sew it again or recommend it to others? I might make the longer version of this at some point. It’s very unique-looking, so yes, I do recommend it. But the construction is more complicated than it needs to be.