I rarely ever sew or buy neutrals. I’m always drawn to the patterns: the florals, the ginghams, the stripes, the abstract prints. My sewing stash is full of patterns (most of them florals) and my wardrobe is bursting with them too. As much as I love patterns though, there is something to be said for a nice neutral solid. Neutrals are just so easy to pair with everything- I guess that’s why they are “wardrobe basics”. I have been endeavouring lately to add some more neutral pieces to my wardrobe- after one too many times of trying to pair my separates and coming up with “pattern clashing” rather than “pattern mixing”.
Both my skirt and my blouse here, are recent additions to my wardrobe, to try and fill in the voids and create a more mix-and-match wardrobe. Strangely enough, this outfit is so neutral and monochromatic, and the only pattern comes in from the feathered clutch. Apparently it’s either “all the patterns” or none 🙂 I got this Hell Bunny Melissa top a few weeks ago, from Rowena, since I had a store credit to use up, and decided that a black peasant blouse would be a good option. This blouse originally had a keyhole in the front, but as that was too revealing for comfort, I just sewed a piece of black fabric behind the keyhole, and now it’s perfect. I really like this top as it is just a bit dressier than a t-shirt, but the cotton fabric makes it comfortable and still cool for summer. This outfit makes me think of something you would wear to a picnic in the 1950’s: wildly unpractical- but it looks nice!
So, as I don’t have much else to say about anything, I will stop talking for now. Oh, but one last note- these pictures were taken in front of our plum tree. Isn’t it beautiful? Or rather, wasn’t it? It’s finished blooming now. But, now the lilacs are in bloom, and after them, then it will be the peonies. . . isn’t it nice that flowers bloom at different times?
Do you lean towards neutrals and solids, or patterns? What flowers are blooming for you right now? (if you are in Spring/Summer where you live.)
ps: I might be smiling, but in reality I was being eaten alive by mosquitos!
I think a common misconception about sewing your own clothes is that by sewing your own, you can achieve a perfect fit each time and you will end up with a closet full of clothes you love.
In theory that is true, but I think every seamstress has, at some point in their sewing life, sewn something that has turned out terribly wrong. A complete failure. A dud. The fit is off, it’s too small, it’s too big, it has wrinkles where there shouldn’t be any, the armholes gape, you loved the look of the pattern, but once you put on the finished garment, you realize that you don’t look quite like the model. . . I could go on.
Making your own clothing is incredibly satisfying, when you end up with a garment you love, but incredibly frustrating when it turns out badly. While making a muslin, or tried and true patterns are helpful, sometimes despite all of your careful preparation, you end up with something that doesn’t turn out like you thought it would. This recently finished dress (Vogue 8789) that I’m sharing today, is one such example of dress that went wrong, but I was able to salvage and make something new out of.
I sewed a dress out of this fabric four years ago, based off of a pattern I had made for another dress I have. I loved the other dress, and really liked the fit and style. It had a fitted waist, like Vogue 2962, but with a regular sleeved top, not a halter. It was, I thought, a tried and true pattern, so I decided to make another out of this striped cotton. However, when I finished the dress, the bodice ended up too wide, and the neckline gaped. It looked OK, when I stood still, but, as I don’t usually stand in one position all day, it was rather ill fitting and uncomfortable. I wore the dress two times, and then promptly removed it from my closet and threw it into the box of shame (aka- box of unfinished sewing projects) where it sat for four years. 🙁
This past October, when I took part in Slow Fashion October, I made a decision/ pledge to use up my stash and finish up my UFO sewing projects, before I started embarking on too many new projects and buying new fabric without any plan of what I was going to make with it. And, when I saw “The Vintage Fashion Challenge” prompt on Instagram for today was “Me Made Style”, I knew that it was finally time to tackle this dress. And, as I wanted to highlight the stripe design, I decided that it was a perfect time to try out Vogue 8789.
So how did I like this pattern? I did end up sizing down and that worked, although I think that if I ever make it again, I will actually size down once more, and do a full bust adjustment instead for a better fit. The muslin for this pattern worked out really nicely, but (again) when I sewed up the bodice there were many fit frustrations. I couldn’t get the darts to lie nicely, and they kept having bubbles on the ends of them that (to put it rather bluntly) were quite, um, nipply. I did so much research about darts, consulting sewing blogs and books and reading about how you need to keep them 1-2″ away from the bust apex, etc. but nothing was working. Finally, I read in one of Gertie’s old posts about using two small darts, rather than one large one, as a large dart will always end up being pointed. One of my sewing books recommends never doing a dart larger than 3/4″. So, I took out the dart, marked the apex and then drew two new 1/2″ darts, and the problem was instantly solved! If you have ever faced difficulty with pointy darts, I would definitely recommend using two small darts!
As for the rest of the dress, it went together quite well and I finished it up (even matching my centre back zipper perfectly). And they all lived happily ever after, right? Wrong! I tried the dress on, and it was too big! At this point, I despaired of ever having a striped dress, but I resolutely picked it out, and then refit the bodice, with my mom’s help. And then I sewed up the rest of it, and it was a success this time.
When I look at this dress, I see all of the problems with it. There are wrinkles on the back that shouldn’t be there. The skirt seam ended up being on the front. The waist seam over the zipper doesn’t match up exactly. But, overall, those are just nit picky complaints, and ultimately I have ended up with a dress that I love. I have worn it once already and I know that it is going to end up being a new favourite. I am also glad that I was able to save this dress, and make something “new” from it. So, the moral of the story is, when you turn out a new garment and it ends up being a failure, instead of despairing, see if you can turn it into something new. Although, maybe don’t wait for four years to do so 😉
Have you ever made a garment that was a complete failure? What did you do? Were you able to save it, and turn it into something new? Have you ever tried Vogue 8789?
I do love a good Instagram community challenge! Last year I took part in Me Made May, but this year I decided not to take part. I just don’t have enough homemade pieces in my wardrobe right now to make it significantly different from last year, and though I am sure no one else would have noticed, I would have gotten fairly bored with it. Thus, I was excited to see that there was another challenge being hosted this month, called “The Vintage Fashion Challenge”. (It’s nice to see a vintage focused event on Instagram). This one is being hosted by Carla of tinyangrycrafts, jennylee.knits and iliveinmylab and these three ladies came up with different prompts for each day of May. I have not been posting every day, but have been taking part when I have something for the prompt of the day. At the beginning of the month, as I was looking through the monthly overview, I saw a couple of prompts that I would need to sew something for. One was “Me Made Style”, (which I will be sharing next week) and the other was “Movie Style: A Film Inspired Outfit”. I decided that I would combine some of the prompts with blog posts, and to finish in time, I have been doing a fair bit of sewing this month- maybe at this rate I will be able to take part in Me Made May next year after all! 😉
I was quite excited about the “Movie Style” prompt, and started brainstorming for that one, before the challenge had even started. I love old movies, (actually I love new movies too!) and one of my favourite things about movies is the costumes. Costumes can make or break a film, don’t you think? It can be a great story, but if the costumes are off, it just ruins it. Conversely, sometimes I watch movies just for the costumes- even if the storyline isn’t that good. 🙂 I always enjoy good costumes, and then dream about “someday” sewing similar pieces for myself, but rarely do I ever actually end up creating those pieces. Having a challenge to create a specific film look was great, as I knew that it would force me to actually come up with something. (If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you might sense a trend here- I need deadlines in order to finish things- otherwise I procrastinate!!!)
Before anything else, first came the hard part of deciding which film look to recreate. So many old films, feature elaborate garments which I don’t have the skill or resources to create, and I also wanted to find a look that would be a valuable addition to my wardrobe. I mean, I do love the costumes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but where am I going to wear a sapphire blue evening gown or a leopard cape and muff. Ok, never mind- if those were in my wardrobe, I would find a reason to wear them! But, while so many costumes from movies are extremely glamorous and elegant, they aren’t very wearable for my lifestyle. Thus, I started combing through old movies, to find a film inspired look that would be both useful and versatile to wear, and reasonable to recreate. When I came across Roman Holiday, I knew I had found what I was looking for!
I haven’t seen the movie for ages, (if you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it) but I knew that Audrey’s Roman Holiday outfit would be perfect to recreate as all I needed was a circle skirt. The colourized photo versions of the costume show a blue skirt, but I found this image which shows a tan skirt. I believe that the original costume was tan, which for some reason was colourized to blue in the photos. Tan is a great colour for my wardrobe, so I decided to make a tan circle skirt, though I thought that if I couldn’t find any suitable tan fabric at my local shop, I would make it out of blue chambray. I did find fabric, but since I really like how this skirt turned out I might end up getting some chambray anyways. I have been wanting a circle skirt for a while and this tan circle skirt has proven to be a great addition to my wardrobe already. It goes with everything. I made it out of a tan slubbed cotton/poly fabric. I wish that it was 100% cotton, but they didn’t have any nice cotton fabric, and so I decided to just go for it anyways.
The skirt took me a few days to sew up. I sewed it in one evening, left it to hang for 24 hours, and then went to finish it two days later. Of course, despite all my meticulous measuring, I ended up having to take 1.5 inches out of the waistband. I hate having to pick things out, and it took me a while to redo it all, but I still ended up finishing this project relatively quickly. The most time absorbing part was the hand stitched hem- this is how I prefer to finish my garments, but it sure is time consuming! I hand stitched it with lace hem tape, but did it while watching movies (over two evenings), so it went relatively quickly, and at least I got to enjoy a movie at the same time 🙂 I also made a separate slip to wear underneath as the loose weave of the fabric is slightly sheer. I decided to make a separate slip, rather than just lining the skirt, so I can wear the slip with other dresses and skirts.
All in all, this turned out to be a very quick sewing project and the only part left was to style it as a Roman Holiday look. I didn’t want to take this outfit literally, and copy the shoes, the belt, the scarf etc. exactly as it was in the movie, but rather took the basic formula to create my own look.
I chose this tie front blouse, which is actually quite similar to the one Audrey wore, with the rolled sleeves and collar, because the colour of tan in the leopard print pairs perfectly with the colour of the skirt. I think that this shirt goes so well with the skirt, and as I haven’t had much to pair it with so far, I am excited about being able to wear it more often.
Next was the shoes. I have these brown shoes which used to have a zigzagged elastic which made them into a slip on shoe. However, by the end of last summer, the elastic in one of the shoes had stretched out, so I had been thinking of replacing the elastic with proper tie laces. This look is quite trendy right now, but is quite a vintage look too, as illustrated by Audrey’s look in Roman Holiday. For these photos, I used black shoe laces (that’s what I had), and tied them around my ankle for the same look. I am planning on getting some shorter brown laces, and not wearing them looped around my ankle. (I don’t think it is the best look for me, though it was fun for this outfit)
The final touch to this movie inspired Roman Holiday outfit, was adding a vintage off-white sheer scarf. In some of the pictures you can see I’m wearing it tied around my neck, while in others it is under my collar. I decided after a few photos, that it looked like a neck brace in some of the photos, and having it tucked under my collar looked better 🙂
The only thing left to do to finish my Roman Holiday outfit, was to bring out my bicycle. As I don’t have a vespa, like in the film, a bicycle will have to do for my own “Rural Holiday”. 😉
Have you seen the movie Roman Holiday? Have you ever watched a movie and then wanted all of the outfits? If you were going to recreate a movie look, which would outfit would you choose? Share in the comments, so we can all look up your favourite movie costumes. . . and then add them to our own lists too 😉
Capes are amazing, don’t you agree? Superheroes wear them. Medieval warriors wear them. Little Red Riding Hood wears one. Movie starlets wear them. In short- you should wear one too. (Except if you are talking to Edna Mode in which case she will advise you “No capes!”) I had a black cape once, a few years ago, but unfortunately it hit me right at the widest part of my hip and I discovered that was a rather unflattering length. So after many years of admiring capes, I decided that it was high time I finally made a cape for myself. After all, how hard could it be to make a cape?
Well, considering that it is now March 17, and this is the first project I have completed this year… apparently it was a little more work than I first thought it would be. . .
The first step to making my cape was choosing the fabric. My first thought was a length of plaid wool I picked up a few years ago. However, the mistake I made when I bought it was that I only purchased 1.5 metres, which is not enough to do much of anything with. I thought that I might be able to squeeze a cape out of it, but, alas, a cape takes a surprisingly large amount of yardage, and it was not to be. I was on the lookout for a nice wool, but the fabric stores didn’t have anything I wanted. Then, in January, when I was at the local thrift store, my sister noticed a length of green wool for sale for $10.00, for 2.8 metres. Thrift score!
I decided to line the cape in a gold/tan, because there was no green lining available. The other choices they had at the fabric store were brown or black, but I like how the gold picks up the warm tones of the wool. If you look closely at the wool, you will see that it is woven with gold, green, brown, cinnamon and russet coloured threads. If you can’t match your lining, it’s fun to contrast it so it becomes a feature.
Now that I had the fabric picked out, the next step was the pattern. For a pattern I chose Butterick 3642. This was for no special reason, other than that I was at my local fabric store and this was the only cape pattern they had. I could have bought an indie pattern, but I never really thought about it, and this one seemed fine. I think that this pattern is actually out of print, and there was just one lone pattern left at my local shop! I was planning for a WWII nurses cape style, and the drawing on the back of this pattern looked quite similar in style to that. I decided that I wanted to make the cape knee length, which would put it at the hem length of most of my dresses and skirts. The pattern had two choices- mid calf and mid thigh- but it was simple enough to adjust the pattern to the length that I wanted it to be at.
At this point, I was a bad blogger and dove right into the project without taking any pictures! All, I got was a picture of the stack of fabric before I started cutting it. Oops. The cape went together fairly well, although it took forever to cut out the pieces as there was just enough fabric to fit all the pieces on, and it was like a puzzle to lay them all out exactly! It took me about two days to sew together the pieces, the lining, the collar and the buttonholes. . . and at this point you might wonder why I am writing this in March, not January.
Well, once I got the cape pretty much together, I realized that whoever designed this pattern must have planned to dress football players. The shoulders in the cape were much too wide and the shoulder point hung way off the edge of my shoulder. This resulted both in throwing the direction of the fabric off, as well as looking way too big. I was swimming in fabric. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a cape being too large- but this one was. At this point I was in the depths of despair at the thought of all the work I had done so far, and now had to undo, so I threw it away in disgust and didn’t pick the project up again for a month. (In defence, I was also busy during February preparing for my art show, so I didn’t have a lot of free time to devote to working on a fussy project that was turning out to be more complicated than I originally thought.) So, the abandoned project sat there until last week. I knew that if I didn’t do it now- it would never be done- and I really wanted to wear it! When contemplating what to wear for St. Patrick’s Day, I remembered that I own very little green, and knew that this cape would be the perfect thing. There’s nothing like a deadline to force you to hurry up and sew 🙂 (ps. I do have a small bit of Irish heritage, but have never done anything more to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than dressing in green!)
In regards to fixing this pattern, I ended up pinching out about three inches of fabric from the shoulder and tapering it to the hem. Taking out that fabric made all the difference to the shape and fit of the cape. Instead of looking like I was wearing a blanket, it now falls somewhere between the fit and flare of a nurses cape, and a 40’s swing coat style.
The two things I do not like about how the cape turned out are, one, that the collar likes to roll out. I did everything, including cutting the under collar smaller, and steaming it in shape, but it does still like to flip out. However, if I decide that it bothers me too much, I can always wear it with a fur collar over top. The other thing, is that the hem puckers a bit. I’m planning on taking it in to my local dry cleaners for a pressing. I have gotten garments pressed before (without getting them dry cleaned), as it is actually quite cheap and gives a much more professional finish to a project that you just can’t achieve with an iron. I think getting home sewn garments professionally pressed is totally worth it- especially where wool is concerned.
So there you have it. After all the trials that the fitting gave me, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the finished cape. I do have a history of getting my projects finished and then not liking them, but I actually love how this one turned out this time! I think I will be able to get a lot of wear out of this piece. This colour of green goes very well with so many colours, and capes are great for those chilly days where you need some form of outerwear, but not a buffalo robe. In other words, because I live in Canada, I am going to get a lot of wear out of this before Spring and Summer come around 😉
Would I sew Butterick 3642 again? I don’t think I would. The pattern doesn’t actually call for a lining, and adding a lining to a pattern is always tedious. The aforementioned fit problems were kind of bothersome too, so even though I have fixed them now, I don’t know if I would want to sew it again. I would also like to try a different style of cape, with a different kind of un-seamed shoulder. Maybe I’ll try an indie pattern next time!
Do you have a cape, or wish you had one? Do you have any recommendations for a different cape pattern than Butterick 3642? And, do you observe St. Patrick’s Day, and are you wearing green today?