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My hope is to catch up with the blog over the long weekend and finish posting a bit about each dress. I have been quite caught up awaiting the arrival of my niece who arrived today. Isn’t she gorgeous?

Cleaning Up the Madness!

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In preparation for Thanksgiving I finally had to clean up the debris of turning my little duplex in to a full on sewing studio. It wasn’t pretty and I can truthfully say I’m still finding thread, pins, and bits of fabric in random places. At some point I clearly lost track of pin cushions in the cleaning process because I made the closest thing handy in to previously mentioned pin cushion. Beer coozies clearly have many purposes.

The Blue Dress

As you will notice from the post on the black dress for the fashion show that this is essentially the same dress with no sleeves and mock cowl neck collar.  I made this dress first long before I totally destroyed the idea of the black dress I had in mind.  This was initially a replacement for the vintage style nighties that I made.  As I progressed with putting the outfits together for the show, the nighties just didn’t fit in with everything.  I’m holding on to them to either just post about or give as gift.  I’m not quite sure yet.  I didn’t have a design in mind to replace the nighties, but I knew I really wanted something that was vintage inspired, but not necessarily a modification of some fifties or sixties style.  I think what I ended up with is a nice balance of something that has simple flattering lines but is easily modern or vintage-like.

The dress has a flattering pleat in the front and is fully lined.  The blue fabric is a textured vintage knit that I found on a thrift store hunt while traveling for work in Washington DC.  Some people see monuments, I go to the Goodwill and come home with 6 yards of blue knit fabric.

I Want This Little Black Dress

Don’t get me wrong . . . I really like the black dress I made, but I would really like to recreate this Anthropologie LBD. It would probably be easier for me to sew than it would be save the money for this $168 dress.

The Little Black Dress

Initially for the fashion show I envisioned a sixties inspired little black dress cut on the bias with an open back, a unique fitted bodice that the skirt flowed from as if almost an empire waisted dress, but with a much more fitted look.  See sketch:  (posted when I track down the original sketch)

This vision – just didn’t become a reality.  I tried and I tried and I tried.  I made multiple mock-ups in muslin.  I had trouble in construction overall and just couldn’t wrap my mind around the whole execution.  If I didn’t have trouble with the construction during one mock-up then of course, I didn’t get the fit right.  If got the fit right, then the fit became all wrong when the skirt stretched (because it will) after hanging 24 hours.   I can honestly say for right now, I will never go down the path of anything bias cut (unless its bias tape) for the time being.  As a last-minute and I mean in the last 24 hours (yes, this involved staying up all night) before the fashion show I made a whole new black dress.

Simple, clean lines.  Flattering style for most anyone!  It worked out well – a nice, fully lined, little black dress.  It was a little big for my model (my friend Ona), but overall it worked.  With time on my hands it would have looked excellent with a belt.

Fashion Show Preview

Well I’m officially back to the land of the living!  I am exhausted and still playing catch up, but the Fashion Show went great.  Thank you to friends and family for helping me get it all together.  I am still in the process of receiving pictures from multiple sources so it may take me a few days to get things posted.  Here is at least one group picture.  (There is one dress missing, but there will be other pictures to share soon.)

Rage Against the Machine

Lesson 521: Never put regular all-purpose thread in your serger. Very bad things will happen. You will have to rethread the machine. You will have to read the book that came with the machine. You may have to watch the very poorly produced DVD that comes with machine that is harder to understand than the book. You will rage. You will conquer. Your cat will help. You will rethread the machine and wonder how many things you can do in the same color of thread so you don’t ever have to rethread again.image
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Inspiration Needed

The Fashion Show is this Saturday!  I can’t believe it.  I will admit that I am unbelievably tired and have spent more time than I like to admit hunched over a sewing machine or a cutting table in the wee hours of the morning.  As much as I would like to say that everything is show ready, the hard reality is that I still have a lot of finishing to do . . . hems, one zipper, and a quick change in a dress that I started designing just tonight.

I had grand plans that I would be so super organized that 1) everything would be ready 2) that I would have blogged daily, posting pictures of my progress and 3) would not have spent so much time fighting with myself and not trusting my instincts about things that just weren’t working.  For example, I spent a significant amount of time making and working a blouse that ultimately I didn’t like in the first place.  I worked so hard to make it work that I just ruined it.  Demolished it.  Wasted beautiful fabric. After literally crying at my sewing machine and doubting that I even had the ability to do this I received a little inspiration from Gloria Steinem.

At my mailbox was my latest issue of New York Magazine where Gloria’s lovely face was staring at me looking somewhat tired, yet seemingly confident with her cigarette perched in her hands.  A picture taken at the precipice of the launch of Ms. magazine.  This is exactly what I needed to see at that moment.  I needed to remind myself that this (i.e. launching a fashion show for a good cause) all started when a group of strong women who got together and asked themselves what would it look like if we did the thing that we were scared to do, the thing that we always were thinking about to be our more creative true self.  This magazine came at a time that reading the oral history of Ms. magazine was truly inspiring.  How can you not be jazzed by a group of women that forty years ago . . . .

“started a magazine for women, published by women—and the first issue sold out in eight days.”

I’m doing nothing like launching a major media source that has shaped the feminist movement but really what great timing to hear about the Redstockings who said enough, is enough, we have a voice!  It helped me root myself in why I’m inspired by the vintage aesthetic that celebrates a time period of women who planted the seeds of change for my generation and others.

I read that article cover to cover, looked myself in the mirror and said I can do this!   I want to do this!  I’m having fun – heck I just spent four hours working on a blouse and didn’t even realize that much time had passed!  I still have fears . . . what will everyone think, there are things that aren’t perfect, I don’t have time to line that dress, will everyone think that’s quaint but not  really interesting.  What I’m realizing with the help of my friends and family is that it just doesn’t matter.  I have designed and redesigned six vintage inspired pieces, sewn one outfit multiple times, made the same dress twice just because I didn’t like the fabric, and I have ultimately enjoyed every minute!  Sure, I’m exhausted and I can’t wait to take a breath, but I have already accomplished something great.  I have learned to trust my designer/seamstress side.  I still have fears to conquer and confidence to build, but I can’t wait to share what I have created.

For my blog friends you will just have to wait until have after the show when I will post pictures and give the post-mortem on the process.  Clearly it was just too much to blog and sew at 3 am, so I just opted for the sewing instead.  Never fear – there will be plenty of pictures and sketches, and funny stories to share!  AND after all that – what’s next?  What will be my next great adventure?  We shall see . . .

Fashion Scoreboard:

All but one outfit basically complete.

All fittings went great!

One package of Twizzlers lasted two days AND

I have enough coffee to make at least one more pot in the morning!

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Preview – The Classic

Things have been super busy and one great example is trying to work with this vintage fabric.  I’m using the below super find for a dress I’m calling the Classic.  i.e. the classic sixties knit dress with loads of darts for a super fit!!

It looks fantastic, but has been such a beast to attempt to match up this lovely double-knit.

Notice in the pic above . . . vintage fabric meant it already had some issues with the grainline.  It’s all okay though, my cutting partner (Thanks Marcy!) got it all worked out.

Let’s Talk About Size!

Can we talk about size for a moment?  Since I took on this project and really challenged my sewing skills to go beyond the hobby territory, I have had nightmares of all things related to measurements.  Often it comes in the form of flying numbers chasing me down, as I am lassoed in by a large pink plastic measuring tape by an unknown figure who forces me to watch a never-ending slide show of people in ill-fitting clothes.  I shiver just thinking about it! Which is ironic considering at the moment most of my clothes are entirely too big.  Granted this a good problem to have but perhaps these nightmares are more of an indication of my own clothes being a bit in transition . . . off topic . . . where was I?

No wonder I get the cold sweats thinking of sizing and measuring – because its confusing!!  I’m working in a sewing studio (see pic above) with dress forms from all years and it can cause a bit of chaos for those of who haven’t taken the history of fashion.  Needless to say what was a size 10 in 1960 is not the same as 1970, 1980, 1990, etc. in the design industry.  Even today the size differences   (1) between stores (2) between designers (3) between manufactures causes a little multiple personality disorder in your closet.  I’m not shocking anyone who has three different sizes hanging up right now not so much because of an extra 5 pounds, but simply because you went to three different stores at three different price points.  For me I am working with vintage clothes, vintage inspired design, and vintage sizing while attempting to use the measurements of multiple people of all different sizes.  Ack!

Example of One Item from the Collection – Take one lovely homemade vintage store find with no size listed.

Take measurements of person you want to fit it to.  Who by the way, wears a size 6 and/or small. . . .

Find a dress form with similar measurements.

Start pinning and modifying.

And almost done.  There you go a size 6 or perhaps size 11 petite . . .depending on what year it is.  As long as it fits, it matters not!

There is a ton of fascinating information and history to absorb about the fashion industry.  If you want to really nerd out and read up on all sorts of sizing and manufacturing check out Fashion Incubator.  Love it!

Fashion Show Scoreboard:  LOTS TO DO.  Little sleep.  Multiple trips to fabric store of crazy things that I seem to be forgetting.  Contemplating a Christmas job cutting fabric.  I’m there often enough I feel like I should get sort of employee discount.

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