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SWAP Review #5: Two pencil skirts

September 26, 2012

So, despite my best intentions, I was not able to enter this year’s SWAP contest at Stitcher’s Guild. I got most of the sewing done, with some modifications to the plan but promptly got sick and wasn’t able to finish taking photos in time to submit them.

I still want to work through the items I made though. This year’s SWAP involved creating two iterations of the same article of clothing or even the same pattern when possible for several items and then creating a few other items as well.

I had the option with this SWAP, when creating two of the same type of clothing item, to either use the same pattern or not. For the skirts I decided to use two different patterns.

For the first skirt, I made yet another version of Vogue 7937.

This is, possibly, my favourite pattern. It is easy to sew, is small enough that Views A and B can practically be made from scraps. I have made views A and C in the past so this time I wanted to made view D. I pulled out some leftover four ply silk from an ill fated suit I tried to make a few years ago and stitched it up.

Here it is with the pink silk blouse I described earlier.


The other skirt was inspired by my RTW skirt shopping trip much earlier this year during which I decided that I really wanted a high waisted, wiggle skirt.

I had some tweed fabric that I will hopefully make a suit from in the future and I used it to make Burda 8155.

Here that one is:

It works quite well for work.

 

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SWAP Review #4: The Dress

September 20, 2012

So, despite my best intentions, I was not able to enter this year’s SWAP contest at Stitcher’s Guild. I got most of the sewing done, with some modifications to the plan but promptly got sick and wasn’t able to finish taking photos in time to submit them.

I still want to work through the items I made though. This year’s SWAP involved creating two iterations of the same article of clothing or even the same pattern when possible for several items and then creating a few other items as well.

I was supposed to make 2 dresses but I only got one done. The other version of the pattern was a definite wadder but I have managed to give it a second lease on life as a swimsuit cover up.

This dress was inspired by Diane von Furstenberg’s Maja Dress, made famous by the Duchess of Cambridge who has worn it on several occasions.

Hers was green silk but my budget was slightly smaller than would allow for that – and besides I wanted to be inspired by the dress, not to copy it outright.

The pattern I found for the basic shape was Butterick 5211. It’s a Fast & Easy dress with a straight cut and a boat neck at the front like the Maja dress.

I found navy acrylic with a vaguely Rajasthani print on it (okay I thought it reminded my of the Rajasthani prints I was shown in India but I expect it is lacking something key) and I bought flat silver buttons rather than the flat gold ones of the original.

I did a muslin in which I used the same neckline in  the front but trimmed the neckline to a point at the back and added fabric to overlap for buttons rather than the zipper in the original pattern.

I played with darts for a bit trying to recreate the slight bagginess of the original pattern but I didn’t have much luck. I could not tell if the dress had dolman sleeves or not but I suspect it does and my set in version ensured a slightly different shape.

The dress is also completely lined.

Here is the front:
And here is the back:

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SWAP Review #3: Pants

September 12, 2012

So, despite my best intentions, I was not able to enter this year’s SWAP contest at Stitcher’s Guild. I got most of the sewing done, with some modifications to the plan but promptly got sick and wasn’t able to finish taking photos in time to submit them.

I still want to work through the items I made though. This year’s SWAP involved creating two iterations of the same article of clothing or even the same pattern when possible for several items and then creating a few other items as well.

I managed to make one pair of pants of the two I originally planned to make. For this I returned to one of my favourite patterns: Vogue 1051 – The Alice and Olivia dress pants.

I’ve made these pants before in black and grey so it was time to make them in white – a brown version is planned for the future.

One thing I did differently with this version was to leave some extra length below the knee because I had bought a new pair of heels that are higher than any of my other shoes so I made these pants the appropriate length for those shoes.

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SWAP Review #2: McCalls 5661

September 4, 2012

So, despite my best intentions, I was not able to enter this year’s SWAP contest at Stitcher’s Guild. I got most of the sewing done, with some modifications to the plan but promptly got sick and wasn’t able to finish taking photos in time to submit them.

I still want to work through the items I made though. This year’s SWAP involved creating two iterations of the same article of clothing or even the same pattern when possible for several items and then creating a few other items as well.

The second pattern I worked on using to create two items is; McCalls 5661

I’ve used this pattern before and I really like it. It works as both a tucked in and untucked blouse and I think it’s a great wardrobe building pattern.I prefer the gathered neckline variation over the princess seamed one as I think it is just easier to work with as a blouse and I struggle more with FBAs on princess seams. Both of the blouses I made use the gathered neckline.

I made one sleeveless blouse out of a floral print slippery satin fabric.

Here it is, tucked into a pencil skirt.
I’m actually not too fond of the way the heavy satin draped. It tends to bulk up and bulge just above my breasts rather than flowing down over them so it looks slightly odd but I’ve worn it a fair bit because it’s flexible and makes outfits seem more summery.

The other version I made had 3/4 length sleeves.
This version is more dressy and is silk. This piece of silk started off life as a sari that I found at a local thrift store. I loved the colour so I grabbed the piece without examining it that closely other than thinking “ooh, looks nice, feels nice, and it’s $3.99.”

It wasn’t until I got home and pulled out my purchases that I took a closer look. I noticed the way it caught on my fingers, how light it was and the muted glow it had. So I did the ash test. I clipped off a tiny corner and held it over my kitchen sink while I lit it on fire. Sure enough it smelled like burned hair and turned to ash rather than melting into a plastic goo.

I’d bough 6 metres of silk for $3.99!

So I made a blouse and I hope to make a dress from the rest of it, once I decide what sort of dress to make.

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Fashion and Cultural Identity

September 1, 2012

I spent this morning having a lovely time at the McMichael Gallery’s Fashionality Exhibit. The McMichael Gallery is best known around here for its permanent collection of Group of Seven work. Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven are required learning in your average Southern Ontario elementary school art class so I had been there before, but this exhibit was fascinating.

It was described as an examination of the role fashion and clothing plays in our personal and national identity and there were definitely some installations that spoke directly to those themes particularly a discussion on sterotypes that included 20 ft tall red flannel shirt with buttons the size of my handspan and a wool work sock that would have made a family sized sleeping bag. Go Canadian “fashion” stereotypes! There was also a series of paintings of the favourite dresses of prominent Canadian women and a discussion on cultural appropriation in fashion which I think I will leave to another post.

Several of the installations struck me in particular.

1. Natalie Purschwitz spent a year making clothing: outerwear, underwear, shoes, and she wore nothing she had not made herself that whole year. Now I, like many other home sewists, will often wear full outfits I’ve made myself but, so far, my wardrobe is not completely home made and I don’t know the first thing about making shoes although I am beginning to think I should remedy that.

The exhibit included a display of the clothing and shoes she made and images of her wearing the different outfites. There was a combination of woven and knit items and she has an unfinished, raw, sort of aesthetic to what she has created that seems to reflect items sewn in a hurry out of necessity. I could imagine creating similar outfits if I woke up one morning to find all of my clothing gone and find, in its place, a pile of fabric and notions.

She has blogged about her project here: http://makeshiftproject.blogspot.ca/

2. I was also mesmerized by the beautiful creations of the WeedRobes project:http://www.nicoledextras.com/index.php?/garmentssummer/weedrobes-wardrobe/ .  Artist, Nicole Dextras created fabulous outfits out of plants and then allowed them to decay naturally and demonstrates that they retain a certain beauty even then. The video accompanying her work shows a model wearing one of her Victorian plant dresses (Anne of Green Gables would kill for those puffed sleeves) in a shopping district and engaging passers by in conversations about the importance of knowing where and from what your clothes are made.

She also created a dress that could double as a tent in which the hoop skirt doubled as the tent frame. I’m sure the ladies of the hoop skirt era would  have been scandalized to expose their hoops in such a way.

3. Barb Hunt’s examination of war and death by working with camouflage material was compelling: http://www.barbhunt.com/
and Michèle Karch – Ackerman’s project to create miniature sweaters to honour the 801 Newfoundland soldiers who fought in the battle of Beaumont Hamel in WWI was similarly inspiring.

4. I was also intrigued by the satirical work of Kent Monkman whose work on exhibit poked pointed fun at the cultural appropriation of native North American art and tools high heeled red patent leather platform stilleto peep toed moccasins anyone? and also seemed to touch on our current obsession with brands. He created a quiver printed with a garish Louis Vuiton-esque print: http://kentmonkman.com/main.php

It was a fascinating exhibit that is, unfortunately leaving the gallery on Monday. I’m very glad I got to see it and I am looking forward to further exploring the work of many of the artists involved.

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SWAP Review #1: McCalls 6078

August 12, 2012

So, despite my best intentions, I was not able to enter this year’s SWAP contest at Stitcher’s Guild. I got most of the sewing done, with some modifications to the plan but promptly got sick and wasn’t able to finish taking photos in time to submit them.

I still want to work through the items I made though. This year’s SWAP involved creating two iterations of the same article of clothing or even the same pattern when possible for several items and then creating a few other items as well.

The first item I worked with was a knit shirt/T-shirt. For this, I made two versions of McCalls 6078

For the first shirt, I used Version A, which involved a remarkable amount of fabric for a simple knit top. I had a bit of trouble fitting it around my shoulders so it would keep from sliding around (and off) my shoulders. I also worried a bit about it exposing my bra strap.

Here is  the shirt:
If I were to make it again, I think I would combine the concept of this shirt with Burda 7866 which I made last summer and give the shirt and empire waistline with a ruched lower panel. I am hoping to try this soon.

For the other knit shirt, I made version B and found that the full back made the shirt much easier to fit. For this shirt, I dipped into my stash and found some old sparkly silver fabric that I bought about 10 years ago and held back on using it until I found something good enough. I still have plenty left to make the flashy tango dress I would love  to have someday when I learn to tango but I decided, for realism sake, to use some of the fabric to make a sparkly shirt.

I think it turned out pretty well.  I really like the drape of the neckline and I think the weight of the fabric I chose worked well.

The sparkly fabric is slightly sheer so I lined the front of it with some thin black tricot I bought in Japan to keep from feeling self conscious about it.

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The $3 Dress

August 7, 2012

I went to a wedding last week. The invitation said it was to be a casual sort of wedding but a dress still seemed appropriate as some of the other people I know who are going indicated they plan to wear sundresses. So I started looking around for sundress inspiration.

I really like this summer’s chiffon trend. I’ve always loved the wonder that is the chiffon overlay and when something I like is actually in style it seems like the perfect time to go for it.
After poking around online and doing some window shopping, I decided that the dress that seemed to hit the spot between chiffony stylish and cute/casual was Vogue 1178

It’s a two tiered chiffon wrap dress with short sleeves. I decided that I could make it a bit more casual by omitting the sleeves entirely. I also realized that I didn’t need to buy this particular pattern in order to make the same basic dress – sorry Anna Sui, and Vogue.

You see last summer, I  made myself a wrap dress that I still need to blog about and I used McCalls 6024 to do it.

Looks like the same basic shape to me.

From my stash I pulled some purple chiffon that was left over from the lining of the ill thought out version of Vogue 1223 I made last summer and I also decided to use some chiffon I bought at Value Village a few weeks ago when I decided that I wanted to be a little bit on trend and sew with chiffon. I believe the piece I chose started life as a dupatta.

These are the two different fabrics.

I decided the dupatta would serve as the top layer of the skirt and the bodice. The more sheer piece would be the bottom layer and the ruffle. The more sheer piece also has metallic strands in it that I hoped would catch the light through the top layer.

I modified the pattern by doing a semi FBA and removing the darts from the skirt. I wanted a slightly fuller skirt so I expanded the skirt pieces as much as I could within the fabric width and gathered it instead. I used the bottom layer to cover the arm seams since I omitted sleeves from the pattern.

 I call this the $3.00 dress because everything was from  my stash except for the dupatta which was $1.99 + tax.
I love it when sewing actually does save me money.

Here I am, all ready to go