A Cozy Retro Detour

So of course as soon as I finished tracing out the pattern for Le Trench London weather turns too cold to wear trench. God has a very wicked sense of humor. I’m now considering putting Le Trench on the back burner and go for a full-on cozy cape or coat.

I got four less precious coat-weight fabrics and also two astronomically expensive cashmere. With my current state of slightly dodgy sewing skill and even worse fitting skill I think the cashmere will be safely tucked away for another year or two. So here are the candidates:

50ish Cape…

I quite like this 50ish cape from  Burda Style 2011-08. I got a rusty colored coating fabric I my Mom gave me which I think would work well. I can just picture this with one of my classic golden brooches. Mmmm…

Unfortunately there’s only 1-7/8 yards of this fabric, so even this short cape would be pushing my luck a bit. But as this fabric is stiff as cardboard, I’m hoping I can skip the facings in self-fabric and instead go for a thick lining fabric instead.

Who knows, I might even be able to squeeze a fabric tie out of it and wear it like in this jacket from vintage sewing pattern. (Picture from Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s.  I love that book for retro inspirations!)

Or 60ish Coat?

I also quite like the rather structural shape of Vogue 8548 coat. I like view A’s retro feel, but am not sure about 3/4 sleeves for a coat. I get too cold in the winter to wear shorter sleeves, and long sleeves poking out is going to  ruin the look. You need a pair of elegant, slim-fitting gloves to complete that look. So maybe view B would be better, if more boring.

Fabric-wise, well, there’s brown or brown or brown!

See what I mean about buying more of the same? 😉

OK, they’re slightly different weights. The left one is definitely coat weight. But I have just over 3 yards of this and it seems a waste to use it on this pattern that only needs 2-1/8 yards. The one in the middle I also have just over 3 yards. The one on the right is closest at 2-5/8 yard, but it’s a thinner fabric probably more suitable for a thick jacket. Urgh, decisions decisions decisions?

How would you decide?

Rules are meant to be broken right?

Tacky or Edgy?

Having riled against cheap fabrics what do I then do? Order some potentially tacky snake-skin print jersey over the internet of course! 😀

So the deed is done. In a few days, my stash would have gone up by 6 pieces or 18 meters. Three more and it’ll tip over. (If only the stock market is doing as well!)

At least none were over £2.99/m, and a couple even £1.99/m. And luckily I found the shop’s own website (www.minervacraftsandfabrics.co.uk) so was able to get free delivery as well. I had originally found the shop on eBay and would have paid at least £15 in postage. But the shop was very helpful. They helped me cancelled my eBay orders so I can order direct and save. Whether they can help me with tacky fabric choices or not is a totally different matter!

Here’s a couple that could be duds or gems:


Don’t ask. I always seems to fall for muddy colored fabrics that look interesting in themselves but terrible on me! }:-) I’m hoping these will look more Vivienne Westwood or Jean-Paul Gaultier than, erm, cheap club kids?

Vogue 1159

As for next project, I’ve settled on Vogue 1159 Donna Karan dress. Like a few others I’ve decided to go for a plain knit, but in a mid- to light-tone to better show off the drapes. At the moment I think it’ll be either one of  these new acquisitions:

At £1.99/m, the dress  will cost me a mere £4 if I succeed. Amazing. I’m not sure what to do for skirt lining though. Presumably it needs to be stretchy. But stretch lining come in such limited range of colors. I might try to do without the lining. Need to study other’s attemps more.

And I will definitely do something about the low armhole, see if I can raise it a bit at the pattern stage. Thank goodness for Pattern Review (though website-design-wise I like knitters’ Ravelry much better). I’m also not entirely sure I like the back sleeve view. A bit too sporty looking for me. One to sleep on.

One step forward two steps back

The weight of the next project hangs around my neck. Sigh, sewing shouldn’t be so stressful! So I’ve decided to go fabric shopping. Again!

You see, since I’ve started reading other people’s sewing blogs, I’ve realised the errors of my way. I get my fabric fixes mostly in NYC. So splashing out on expensive fabrics is the norm. In fact, on my last trip the cheapest was $7/yard. And that was for China Silk, good mostly for expensive lining or lingerie. Most are at least 3 times that. Hence my reluctance to make anything, especially as fitting is not my forte.

So I got three options on the table at the moment.

Option 1…

Finish the T-shirt block that’s a bastardization of Burda 2011-06-120. I chickened out with the pattern. Comparing the pattern to my store-bought T-shirts the pattern always won in bagginess, even with the looser-fitting store-bought T-shirts. So I’ve decided to take 4+” off at the hip and waist, 3+” off at the bust, raise the underarm seam / shrink the arm hole, shorten the bodice, and scoop out an U-neckline. So by the end, it bears little resemblance to the Burda original. I’ve got a fabric picked out – actually a tiny scrap I got from someone else. As expected, it curls a bit at the edges and grain isn’t straight. I’ve just got starch to sort out the curling. So it is ready to go. But rather uninspiring.

Option 2…

Perfect a basic sloper with the aid of Connie Crawford’s Patternmaking Made Easy, then figure out what modifications I’d need to make for each of the pattern brands. Once done I imagine I’d be able to churn out projects after projects like a well run Chinese Sweat Shop!

But gosh, it seems like an awful lot of effort to get there, and I’m not sure my web-conditioned attention span could cope.

Options 3…

Do as all you lot do – pick a pattern and just check the fit with really REALLY cheap fabric. That would of course require shopping for more fabrics!

So much for whittling down 191 pieces of fabrics. All of my recent projects bar one failed to diminish that pile. Frugal me managed to use the bare minimum so that I can squeeze yet more projects out of the scraps. So the current count remains. Maybe minus one – it’s awfully hard to keep track of that many pieces!

I’ve got a couple of patterns in mind already. Both Vogue Donna Karan. Both  inspired again by you lot…

So why these two despite everyone saying the patterns are rather difficult to understand, let alone alter? Well, that’s precisely the point. If it’s almost impossible to alter I’ll have no choice but to just make it without fretting about perfecting the fit first. But that of course hinges on using cheap fabric that I won’t regret messing up. Hence the need to go fabric shopping again.

See there is always method to my madness!

So I’m tending towards Option 1 while finalising plan for Option 3.  I’d imagine it’d take me a while to figure out where to get dirt cheap fabric in London / UK that isn’t utterly revolting. (Sorry, I can only go so low, the NYC snob that I am at heart! 😉

La Chemise

Finally London is sunny! So here’s how La Chemise turned out…

Les Basics…

Mit Frou Frous…

Mes Dames,

Le Scandal!

Les Westerns Bon Brute et Le Truand…

Apology for the Pigeon French, with gate crashing Bastardized German :o)

Overall I’m quite happy with how it turned out – a couple of Oops notwithstanding (1. miscalculated armhole depth – thanks Burda for the red herring – easily fixed! 2. misaligned underarm seam while fixing oops 1 – not worth fixing – no one’s going to get close enough to see). It’s already gotten some wear just days after. And so has les Frou Frous…

Cuff Sides & Brooch Fronts

Cuff Front et Back & Brooch Backs

La Rose Brooch Mein Weg

And to recap, this is how it looked in progress

7/13 Hopefully there’s method in the madness

How it all began…

Originally, I was inspired by these clippings of Vivienne Westwood’s  Autumn/Winter 1988-89 collection:

Vivienne Westwood Autumn/Winter 1988-89Vivienne Westwood Autumn/Winter 1988-89

Vivienne Westwood
Autumn/Winter 1988-89

The first fruit of those seeds was a slip skirt with frills & worn with a vinyl A-line mini-skirt I made, both long gone – the vinyl a victim of careless laundering.

Yes, I’m not very good to my clothing. Even designer ones have had trips to the painting studio. Call me a Romantic with a capital R. Clothing needs to be lived in. And lived in Beauuuuuutifully. No dry-clean only clothing for me. Well, almost none. And certainly no specialist cleaning – goodbye real leather and suede in pristine-only colors. But I digress…

Thakoon Autumn/Winter 2007-08

So anyway, no so long ago I came across this Thakoon dress in US Vogue Oct 2007.

I really liked the contrast between the rather monastic dress and the peasant cuffs, but couldn’t commit to such a permanent pairing. I’d rather have a sack dress that  could be worn separately as well, maybe with  a fabric sash for a 60ish look. So I brought the VW idea back from hibernation.

So part 1 of this look is now complete. Some day part 2 Le Sac will be made. Hopefully part 1 won’t have disintegrated by then! The gauze is rather delicate after all even if I’m not being typically careless 🙂

Vogue Pattern 7581

There were smattering of other inspirations as well. Like Vogue Pattern 7581 dress.

I never got the pattern as it seems like such a simple dress that one ought to be able to make something up oneself. But I saved the clipping for inspiration…mainly because of the necklace! I’m crazy about turquoise. And I’m wondering where I can get a tassled shawl like that, and pick up some flamingo moves on the way. ¡Olé!

And let’s not forget the period dramas…

Like the visual feast that is UK Channel 4’s English Civil War drama, The Devil’s Whore

The Devil’s Whore, episode 1,
with scenes that could have come straight out of the Old Masters. You can watch it on Channel 4’s You Tube channel (at least in the UK). Or you can get the DVD.

The Devil’s Whore, episode 2

Finally, not so much an inspiration, but another idea of how to wear La Chemise…Another Vivienne Westwood:

Vivienne Westwood Spring/Summer 1991

She likes her historical inspirations doesn’t she. Peasant Punk! I think I’ll do without the slashy denim.

Oh the foolishness of youth!

It’s youth’s perogative to be over-optimistic and foolhardy. So there goes 20 – 30 or so Vogue patterns, several expensive designer ones amongst them. All cut out to a youthful size 8. Now at least two sizes too small – and counting! Many weren’t even ever made. Sigh.

Let that be a lesson to any beginners – always, always, I repeat – ALWAYS- make and work on a copy. Keep the original. Maybe one day they’d be vintage and you can flog on eBay for a princely sum!

So, amongst the carnage were these gems:

Vogue Pattern 1479 Bellville Sassoon dress

Never made. Looks so pretty & feminine. But maybe a tad too much with the lace – almost bedroom naughty! If I can salvage the pattern I might make it with lined chiffon for the main part & unlined chiffon border instead of the lace.

Vogue Pattern 1390 Genny wrap top & skirt

Adapted the top to copy a Romeo Gigli wrap top. But the fabric color doesn’t really suit my skin tone. So now in the TBA pile. Shame. I might attempt again with a more flattering color, though I better check it’d fit still.

Vogue Pattern 1891 Oscar de la Renta evening dress

Never made. No occasion. But a girl can still fantasize! Maybe it can be shortened, made with menswear fabric minus the bows for a more wearable version?

Vogue Pattern 1793 Marc Jacob dresses

Made the one on the left. Again fabric color wasn’t the best. (I seem to have a whole pile of them – so lovely by themselves, not so lovely next to my skin }:-) Had to give it away to charity shop when I grew sideways and could no longer breathe in it 🙁

Vogue Pattern 1639 Badgley Mischka dress & jacket

Vogue Pattern 1633 Karl Lagerfeld jacket & pants

Never made. interesting details, but not really sure about the overall silhouette.

Vogue Pattern 1638 Oscar de la Renta jacket & skirt

Vogue Pattern 1224 Karl Lagerfeld jacket & skirt

Made the skirt on the left, and the jacket on the left.

1638 looked like a clipping I liked which I still have somewhere. The skirt was a dark brown boucle and got lots of wear. So much so that it got a bit thread-bare in places and had to be chucked.

1224 jacket was my first tailoring attempt. It turned out well…except the silhouette didn’t really suit me: Too wide at the shoulder, too short in the bodice, big lapel that make my upper body look rather stumpy.

Vogue Pattern 1918 Michael Kors jacket, top, & pants

Never made. Am still thinking of making the jacket. Normally they’re quite spacious aren’t they. So hopefully I can just make the cut out size 8 and it’d still fit right?

Vogue Pattern 1608 Isabel Toledo top, shirt, skirt, & pants

Made the sleeveless top in some leftover baby blue satin. Another one that turned out well, but had to be given away because I got fatter. Bummer.

The shirt and skirt I’m not so sure about. The detailing’s interesting, but it look like a potential figure puffer. Leave it for the tall girls I think.

Vogue Pattern 1415 DKNY jacket, dress, & shorts
+ unkown DKYN shirt pattern

Never made. Sorry, I lied. I kind of adapted the dress for a satin skirt, which didn’t work out so well until I chopped the length. It’s kind of a cute silhouette – the jacket & short combo.

The shirt I never got, and can’t figure out the pattern number anymore. Shame as I kind of like it now.

Vogue Pattern 9015 jacket, skirt, & pants

Made the jacket in a stiff ribbed silk blend. Got a few wears out of it, so not so bad. But the one in the picture looks much nicer. Love the rich red, softer fabric. Mine didn’t drape so well when worn open.

Vogue Pattern 9000 dress

Made and failed. Love the pictures, but mine didn’t come out right. It was tugging at the wrong places and just looked dowdy. I might have thrown the pattern out after that – I can’t find the pattern in my stash anymore.

So there you go, live and learn. Maybe once I’m back in full swing I can pick up some grading skills and salvage these.

In the meanwhile, they’ll be safely locked away in the PSV (Pattern Stash Vault).