Thursday, May 29, 2014

70s Maxi Dress

I wanted a change from my usual knee length skirts, and since I won't be going shorter, I decided to try out a maxi dress.

I love how flowy this one is. There certainly is a lot of fabric in that skirt and it's wonderful how it swooshes about my legs as I walk. The fabric is a soft and flowy, gauzy cotton with a diagonal weave and I think it works really well for this style. The indigo color makes it fit right in with my laid back Summer staples. The pattern is vintage McCall's 6544.

This dress is supposed to have gathers in the back neckline but I ended up getting rid of them. It was just too much volume. I did this by taking a long dart at center back down to the waistline casing to get rid of the excess fabric. So it looks like there is a center back seam down to the waist. I don't mind the dart, but if I make this dress again I will take a wedge out of the pattern at center back, tapering all the way down to the hem. It just seems neater :)

I also took out some width at the sides. I always expect vintage patterns to have less ease than modern ones. Vintage Burdas for instance tend to be smaller in the shoulder/upper bust area. However, I've been finding that American vintage patterns tend to size big, at least the ones I've tried, including from the 50s and 60s. Do you agree?  So, yes, I trimmed this one down quite a bit and as you can see, there's still plenty of ease.

They have you sew in a tiny snap to hold down the neckline:

And a hook and eye to fasten the waist under the tie. both seem to perform well.
Aren't those buttons pretty?

This dress is really comfortable and the soft fabric makes it nice and cozy. This style is a change from what I'm used to, but I like it. Are maxi dresses a staple in your Summer wardrobe?

More 70s styles: Saint Laurent inspired safari jacketclassic shirtdress.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beautiful cheese

I just had to share this with you, dear readers, because it is the most beautiful cheese stall I have ever seen.

Sunday, at the Chartrons market in Bordeaux.

Goat's milk, cow's milk... Each has its own little shape. Molded, stamped, carved, rolled, coated in ashes, spices or herbs, flavored with cognac. There are the really fresh ones which are lusciously soft and creamy and the dry, pungent, aged ones, and all the stages in between.

The bun shaped ones sitting on leaves are formed by pressing in muslin draining sacks. They are the freshest.

And they taste as good as they look:)

More on Bordeaux: Tomoaki Suzuki at CAPC museum

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Grainline Scout Tee Dress

                                             I needed a grey t-shirt dress in my wardrobe.

Grainline Scout Tee Dress

I simply lengthened Grainline's Scout Tee and added a bit of shaping at the sides so the fabric wouldn't bunch up too much under a belt.

Grey can be tricky for me but this is a light, warmer grey. It's a marled cotton jersey, and the background is almost a sand color, so I think it suits my warm skin tone.

                                 About as simple and comfortable as it gets...

More spring essentials : Comfy linen pantsSafari Jacket.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wendy Mullin--Soft Rock

Soft Rock--Overcoat + Tank Dress

Wendy Mullin is back with a line called Soft Rock.

She says: "I woke up one morning and realized that my style was beyond casual... that most of my clothing felt out of style or too young and I didn't want to wear any of it. I wanted a wardrobe that was simple, comfy, sophisticated, washable, chic, and easy consisting of basics I could mix and match with existing pieces in my (diminished) wardrobe."

I think this is something many of us can relate to.

Soft Rock Tank + Ballet Skirt

I really love all the pieces in this collection. They make up an easy and functional Summer wardrobe.

Soft Rock--Day Dress

these styles feel like minimalist, grown-up versions of her nearly defunct brand, Built By Wendy : the slouchy coat, the dolman sleeved dress, the A-line skirt... all made out of cotton gauze : super comfortable and ideal for travel. I could easily dress like this all Summer. And my hunch is Wendy wouldn't mind if I drew inspiration from her new line for my sewing, because she is the champion of home sewists!

Let me tell you why Wendy Mullin is my hero. I learned to sew with her book Sew U. My first project was her A-line skirt. There are many cool beginner sewing books on the market now, but this is the original one and it is solid. It explores building a mix and match wardrobe with just a few basic patterns and lots of variations, and the styles are still current.
Then there was Sew U Home Stretch, with which I first tackled knits, and never looked back. The dress pattern in this book is killer and it has so many variations!
Built by Wendy Dresses is a bounty of girly dresses. My teenage daughter often flips through it for inspiration, and I've made her several styles from the book.
I also made a coat using her Coats book, which shows you how to use a few basic blocks to make all kinds of beautiful coats and jackets, by adding a hood, or a collar, pockets etc... For a beginner sewist, these books are wonderful because they open up a world of possibilities and demonstrate that you can really be creative with basic patterns, altering them to create infinite new styles.

Soft Rock--Smock + Boxers

It almost felt like she was my best sewing buddy, guiding me in my sewing endeavours and styling choices. And now that she has moved onto a more grown-up aesthetic, I can continue to follow her lead.

More inspiration: Reaping inspiration from the fashion showsStyle Dichotomy

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nettie Bodysuit + 90s Sarong Skirt

I was amazed when I first saw Closet Case File's Nettie Bodysuit pattern, because with all the thought and effort I've put into my yoga capsule, it never occurred to me that I needed a bodysuit! Doesn't it seem obvious that a bodysuit should be at the core of such a capsule? Donna Karan has said that she always wears one, so she's always yoga ready.
So here is my first attempt. There will be more.

Since Nettie, the lovely inspiration for the pattern has said herself that the high back version can feel very tight across the upper back, I sized up in that area by cutting 2 sizes larger at the back armscye only. I also did a forward shoulder adjustment which is standard for me. Other than that, I can say this bodysuit fits really well, and I love the shape of the front scoop neckline, as well as the low cut leg openings.
I have already tested it out in yoga class, and it performed really well and was very comfortable. It's really nice not having to worry about exposing my belly when upside down, which does happen with my tank tops!
The only changes I will make in the future will be to replace the binding at the leg openings with stretch lace for a seamless look, since I will be wearing my yoga leggings over the bodysuit (the binding is a little bulky). And I might try making a sleeveless version, which would be even more practical for layering. Overall a great basic, and I'm not surprised everyone seems to be making it!

The skirt is a Butterick pattern from the year 1990. Sarong style skirts were very popular in the 90s and there are lots of different patterns to be found.

I chose this one because it is a true wrap, so it's really easy to put on and take off over my yoga gear. I really like this style of skirt because it's a chic pencil silhouette, but with the ease of movement of a wrap skirt.

I made view C, which fastens with hooks and eyes, and the fabric is a lovely cupro which looks and feels like a sand washed silk. I have actually made this skirt before in a drapey wool blend and liked it so much I had to have a summery version.
Remember Jimmy Two Times, from Goodfellas? He said everything twice. Well I make every pattern twice, at least!

More on yoga my yoga wardrobe capsule: Yoga Wrap

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Peacoat--Me Made May update

MMMAY'14 Day 6
I've been posting my daily outfits to the MMMay'14 Flickr pool. It's really fun to share pics with other members and watch their progress. Some of these women have such beautifully distinctive style! I'm not going to post all my pictures here because I don't think it would be terribly interesting in my case. For me, this experiment is about assessing how balanced and versatile my pared down Spring wardrobe is. I only wish the weather were cooperating so I could actually wear my Spring clothes!

However, I feel like my peacoat deserves its place on this blog. It may show some wear, unlike the new makes I've been posting, but it's one of my favorite garments in my closet. I made it at the end of last Summer and have worn it a lot ever since. I wore it most of Fall, part of Winter, and since it's pretty chilly these days, it's getting worn a lot in Spring. It's always appropriate, goes with everything and I invariably feel good wearing it. It's wonderful when a hand made item becomes such a staple. If you want a versatile coat, make a peacoat!

MMMay'14 Day 3
I'll just say a few words about the pattern. I started off with this 70s Simplicity.

When I muslined it, I found the fit was pretty awful. It was very roomy, which you wouldn't expect from the illustration, and there were diagonal drag lines and all kinds of fit issues, but the collar looked great. I chose to spare myself a lot of trouble battling with this pattern and decided to graft the collar and fronts onto a Burda pattern with similar bones. I chose pattern 121 from the June 2012 issue of Burdastyle because it has shoulder princess seams and no shoulder pads.

For refining the pattern and construction, I referred to the excellent RTW sew-along

Do you have a handmade garment which has become a staple in your closet?

More cassics: Classic ShirtdressSaint Laurent inspired Safari Jacket

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Yoga Wrap

I love the look of ballet wraps, but they are not very practical. The straps get in the way, having to thread them through a slit is a nuisance, and you have no other choice but to keep your cardigan closed. I wanted a more practical version to wear to and during yoga class, and a fitted tie cardigan seemed ideal.
I used McCall 6559 for this, but I wanted to be able to wrap it at waist level. Version A was too short and version B would wrap at your hips, which seemed less flattering and not at all practical for practicing yoga. So I used version B and shortened it above the ties by about 10 cm. Now I can wear it at the waist as well as up high.

Getting fancy: as a bow:)

I can leave it open. The ties don't get in the way too much.

This is how I will wear it most: wrapped at the waist. I can either knot it at the back or just tuck the ties, which would be more comfortable for yoga.

I'll be making more as this is really a garment I need and will use. The tank dress is an old fave: Simplicity 2865, a Built by Wendy pattern. I made it several years ago to wear to class over my yoga gear. As you can see, my yoga capsule is an ongoing project! Do you sew for specific activities?

More on my yoga capsule: Nettie Bodysuit & 90s sarong skirt.