NYC meet up write up

A week on and finally a write-up. At my age even a couple of weeks of excitement is too much. Two days back in dreary old London and I’m still only 25% human. But if I don’t write it up now I’m afraid my memory will fail me too. So here goes…

It wasn’t the most auspicious of start. Rain was forecasted. And many had to cancel for other reasons. So I wandered through the FIT museum by myself. Sadly both bookstores were also closed for the weekend: I had forgotten that school’s out. Ah well, c’est la vie. I did find a couple of interesting pieces at the RetroSpective exhibition though:

  • Halson halter dress from 1972…The original convertible dress! And I thought Victoria’s Secret & the modern-day independent designers were being so clever.
  • Jean-Paul Gaultier 1988 seersucker jacket with black horizontal stripe detail at high hip & lace applique overlapping these stripes at the sides. I love these artfully arranged details.

Sadly no picture-taking in the museum. I actually set off the alarm a couple of times trying to get a closer view of the garments. Oops.

Next up, Bryant Park for meeting late comers. Thankfully a couple of you did eventually show up!

Jennifer of Workroom Social also brought along a couple of friends whom she managed to bully into take up sewing! Sadly they couldn’t stay for shopping. So Clio of Clio & Phineas was stuck with me for the rest of the afternoon. But what a lovely afternoon it was! For me at least.

While I’ve enjoyed the online sewing blogsphere, I haven’t manage to connect with other fashion sewers offline yet. So meeting and chatting to you gals in real life was such a treat. No funny looks for the weird things that we home sewers obsess about! 🙂 And Clio being familiar with NYC as it was when I lived there was just icing – or should that be Frosting – on the cake. Oh how I feel homesick for NYC.

Anyway, shockingly not much shopping was done on the day. Clio had no need for stashing as she can visit the garment district whenever she wants. So she only got some threads for her current sewing projects.

Me, I was too distracted by the company to shop properly. Plus I forgot that the stores close early on Saturdays. So the only things I bought was a large wax carbon paper & this lovely lace.


But fear not, I did return to the garment district the following Monday & Tuesday. Report on the Haul tomorrow.

Right now I just want to thank Clio and Jennifer for a lovely Saturday afternoon in NYC.

And thank heaven that it did not rain after all.

And Peter of Male Pattern Boldness too for pointing us to the flea markets: My other half ended up buying a heavy vintage microphone that weighs a ton, robbing me of precious baggage allowance for more fabrics I don’t need. Yet I couldn’t spot a single stall of vintage sewing goodies that Peter brag about all the time. Thanks a lot Peter! 😉

And the award goes to…

onelovelyblogWow. Yours truly has been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by just as lovely MezzoCouture!

I want to thank MezzoCouture for her generous kind words about my blog. And I want to thank you readers too. Yes, you Lurkers as well as you Likers and Commentators.

And one mustn’t forget Pattern Review without which it would have been harder for us to find each other. For it was through Pattern Review that MezzoCouture found me by way of SewStashSew, who had linked to my review of Vogue 1159 Donna Karan dress probably after seeing my shorter review of that pattern on Pattern Review. And it through Pattern Review that I found MezzoCouture via her review of Vogue 1324 blouse and skirt – surprise surprise, another Donna Karan creation. So maybe I should thank Donna Karan too for their collaboration with Vogue Pattern that brought so many of us together!

Anyway, you should check out Mezzo’s version of V1324. I especially liked her blouse, which I think is closer in spirit to the original despite a different fabric choice than what was recommended on the pattern envelope. And I love that the result looks so good on her womanly figure rather than being fit only for tall stick insects model figures! 😀

Is that a long acceptance speech or what? OK, on to the business.

Being relatively new to the blogsphere, I had to Google this OLB award and find out what is all about. Seems like its origin is vague, but the rules can be easily found via other previous honorees. So here goes…

One Lovely Blog Award Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.

OK. Done that. Thanks again MezzoCouture!

2. Share seven possibly unknown things about yourself.

But if I tell you I’ll have to … Just kidding.

  1. Many an obsession of mine started with Japanese Girl’s Manga. But not my sewing nor my humongous fabric stash.
  2. My English name Pia is lifted from one such Japanese Manga. A mermaid character would you believe it.
  3. I lost my sweet tooth somewhere along the road. But I can easily polish off a big bag of salty chips (or crisps as they call them here in old Blighty) any day.
  4. I once wore postcards as brooches. Thank God I lived in NYC at the time. Anywhere else (except in Japan perhaps) and I would probably have been bullied. In NYC, no one bats an eyelid!
  5. My favorite fashion magazine growing up was a Japanese one named after Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoon. (Now you can see why I’d even think to wear postcards as brooches. Those crazy Japanese kids! :0)
  6. No, I’m not Japanese. By descent or otherwise.
  7. I was Coco Chanel in my previous life. No, really!(OK, you caught me out, I was already born when she passed.)

3. Nominate fifteen or so bloggers you admire.

Oh dear, where do I start? I’m subscribed to over 45 blogs on my Google Reader and discovering new ones regularly. Sadly some of those  don’t seem to be updated anymore. Some are so popular judging by the amount of comments they get that maybe they’ve already had the award twice over. And can one nominate the person who nominated you in the first place? (OK, maybe Mezzo has too many link from one post already, and need to share the love around a bit! 😉

So here are some random picks from the perhaps lesser known gems (judging by relative amount of comments) who deserves wider recognition. Maybe some will accept and pass on the honor to others.

  1. Bag’n-telle – by bag designer & educator Don Morin. One can never get enough tips from the experts! 🙂
  2. A Little Sewing
  3. Allison C Sewing Gallery – who inspired me to buy so many patterns that I wouldn’t have otherwise given a second thought to.
  4. Chanel No. 6
  5. Did you make that? – OK, Karen gets oodles of comments. But she cracks me up.
  6. Goodbye Valentino – Brave lady campaigning to live another year without RTW purchases. I was tempted to join in. But I chickened out. I couldn’t do without more fitted cardies after the moths regularly decimate my wardrobe.
  7. I Can Make That
  8. Mercury – Handmade Fashion
  9. Miss P }
  10. Petit main Sauvage – Into the land of self-drafted patterns!
  11. Pretty Grievances – Another wisecracker to brighten your day!
  12. Sew Tawdry
  13. So Sew Lovely
  14. Handmade in Style
  15. last but not least, and this time not a sewing blog…
    Growlingbelly – a friend’s mouth-watering food blog

Dec 13 Correction:

The full rules of the game are actually:

1. Thank the person who nominated you
2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award to your post.
3. Share 7 things about yourself.
4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5. Include this set of rules.
6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs

Oops. I blame Go0gle for not ranking their results by the clearest instruction criteria when I tried to find out the rules of the award! 😛

Better go tell my nominees now, even though some of them have already been nominated by other bloggers subsequently. See, they must be worth checking out if they’re getting nominated left right and center! 😀

Paradigms of retro glamour

Hurray! The Crumb Catcher Cape is finished! But it’s getting too dark to take pictures for a Show N Tell. So you’ll have to wait.

Next up: all hands on deck with Petit Main Sauvage’s Retro-Dress Draft-Along. Speaking of retro dresses, I just have to share this luscious blog post on Sew Weekly blog which I found via Oonaballon’s ” I lika de lace” blog post:

So old worldly elegant. Yeah, if I were there I’d be staring and pointing. And if I were a British builder I’d be wolf-whistling. Way to go ladies! One for the Inspiration Board.

Detour to a Retro Draft Along

Furry cape has stalled. I’ve been too distracted by Petit Main Sauvage’s Retro-Dress Draft-Along to finish off the cape.

Indecisions Indecisions Indecisions!

So the usual then…I’ve always wanted to make some retro garbs. I’ve pined my way through Wade Laboissonniere’s Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s countless times. I even have a few issues of 1950’s Vogue and Bazaar. But when it comes to the crunch, I couldn’t decide.

As Petit Main Sauvage said, we don’t have 1950’s figures anymore. And I have one too many No-Breathing sewing projects as it is. So the classic fitted bodice and puffy skirt is out of the question.

Plum Skyes in Pink DressI was a bit tempted by this take modelled by Plum Skyes in an old issue of American Vogue.

The lowered waist works much better on modern figures I think. It’s easier to see the waist and it elongates the torso so that it’s not so squat & square.

But most puffy skirt dresses takes yards and yards of fabrics. And most in my stash are only 2-3 yards each.

So I needed a different strategy than the others, who started by analyzing their figures and what silhouettes suit them. I started with a fabric, one that I have yards and yards of.  I ended up with this:

Prime candidate draft along

I was going to make an A-line summer coat with CF bust darts like a coat I saw in a Notting Hill boutique ages ago. I’m still hoping there’ll be enough left over for this.

The other consideration was that I needed a simpler design. Simpler than ones I’d usually be attempting. Otherwise I’d fall behind the Draft-Along schedule. But a plain fabric with a plain design is just…Yawn. So an embellished fabric like this would be just the ticket. It’s too fussy for intricate details. It’s my way of tying my hands, or in this case my imagination, so I don’t go OTT.

OMG, a decision finally!

Christian Dior Winter 1955-56In the end, my inspiration was this Christian Dior dress from Winter 1955-56, published in L’Officiel No 81, 1000 Models: Dior 60 Years of Creation.

I like the slimline shape coupled with the extravagance of the back sashes, the slight off the shoulder v-neckline alluding to a womanly hour-glass shape. But it probably requires a fabric with a bit more drape than my embroidered silk. And the neckline is perhaps a bit too risqué for every day wear.

Retro Dress Draft-Along DesignSo here’s my adaptation:

Bodice with raised / below bust seam fitted through high hip. Cap sleeves of some sort. Pencil skirt in the front and pleated skirt in the center back to mimic a overskirt. (Nope, a leopard doesn’t change its spots. Commit to one style – are you kidding?)

I’m still not sure about the sleeves and top back. And the skirt design is a bit of a risk. But nothing ventured nothing gained, right? (She says nervously.) The drawing by the way, was done on a custom croquis.

Custom Croquis Instruction

Basically you take photos of yourself in close-fitting garment like swimwear, leotard, or underwear. Do front, side, & back. Use a tripod if necessary. Then print out & trace out the outlines to use as your croquis / design dummy. Or if you have Photoshop or Gimp, try this YouTube tutorial on turning photo into a drawing. Then you can play paper doll with yourself & your own designs! Simple.

I’ll leave you with this image of Big Bertha caught in the act:
Retro Fabrics 2
Big Bertha getting decadant & vain: Pilfering another piece of silk I was considering as an accent fabric, and my furry pillbox hat-to-be on her neck. It’s faux fur on one side and faux suede on the other. I’m too scared to sew into it as any mistake would be fatal – the faux suede once pierced is pierced forever. But winter is coming so one day soon I will take the  plunge. Especially as faux fur stole seems to be all the rage in the shops right now.

That’s why I sew

Right, that’s it. I’ve had enough of losing things I kept in the ridiculously shallow pockets of my Top Shop Trench.

First my outrageously expensive annual travel card. Now my classy Brooks Brother sunglasses all the way from America. If I’ve had doubts about why I bother sewing this is it: sensible pockets to my heart’s content!

I’ve been tempted to make a trench ever since I saw the Selfish Seamstress’ stylish renditions in delectable prints. But now it has shot straight to the top of the sewing list. The ever popular McCall’s 5525 at the ready, I just need to figure out what tweaks to make to ensure it’s more chic than frumpy.

And those all important pockets, they’re already on the alter list after reading about 5525’s similarly shallow version on Patterns Review (What is it with trench & shallow pockets?) I think I’ll also throw in an inside double-welt pocket or two for good measure.

McCall 5525 E

McCall 5525 E

Of course trench has always been on the list. But I’ve just never seen any pattern I liked. Most tend towards the frumpy side. Even the photos on 5525’s pattern envelope look borderline. If it weren’t for the Selfish Seamstress’ great fabric-pattern combinations (+ a dose of ANTM attitude thrown in for good measure), I would have passed on this pattern.

To avoid disappointment I have chosen an ugly cotton twill from the stash for my muslin test. Ugly because the fairly traditional beige is not very flattering for my skin. There’s also not enough of it, so I’ll have to figure out where to save the yardage.

One possibility is adding contrasting border to the hemlines like this Louis Vuitton trench…

Or go jacket style with more fitted bodice, shorter length, and  3/4 sleeve like this Dolce & Gabbana number from Fall 1995.

Here’s another D&G from the same season I really like. But I don’t smoke, am not blonde, so will never be able to pull it off with the same Belle De Jour panache…

And another  risqué one, from Donna Karan, requiring miles and miles of pearls and legs…The peals I definitely can do. And maybe the empire waist. Seems a bit counter-intuitive to place it above the slimmer waist. But maybe the elongated line actually creates an even more slimming effect for those of us not blessed with a womanly hour-glass shape.

Finally, a more ladylike beltless one by Todd Oldham, again with an empire waist…

Probably for a future attempt as this is way off the beaten trench path. (Sorry, I just can’t help myself with the clipping porn once I start! }:-)