Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pajama Party!

When Karen announced she was hosting a pajama party sew-along, I knew I had to take part.  You see, I don't actually have a proper pair of pajamas.  I usually lounge around in leggings or sweatpants and a t-shirt.  Plus, I found this ridiculous pattern at Value Village for $.29.

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The two girls on the left are TOTALLY gossiping about the other girl.  Wouldn't you gossip about someone in such ridiculous pajamas?

Silly pajamas require silly fabric, so I chose this cotton print from Hobby Lobby.  I didn't make a muslin because, well, they're pajamas.  They don't have to be perfect.  I love how the bottoms turned out, but the top is kind of gigantic.  They're super comfortable, though, so no big deal!

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Karen asked us to reveal our bedtime reading. Usually when I get to bed, I'm pretty tired, so I read Us Weekly or Elle. That way I can check out a fashion spread or see "who wore it better" and it's okay if I fall asleep. I fall asleep a lot with my face in a magazine. Right now, though, I'm reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. It's the third book of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. I read the first two books and to be honest, I didn't love them. But everyone was always raving about how good they are! I thought they were a little slow and dark. Everyone keeps telling me to stick with it, and I already read the first two, so I'm powering through.

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My cat ALWAYS wants to join the party.

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And a full-length shot. I kind of like them! I'm not totally sold on the top but the shorts are adorbs and I will for sure wear them in the summer with a tee or tank.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Estate Sale Finds

Estate sales aren't something I make a point to go to.  I've been to a couple before, and everything is always too new, too picked over, or not what I am looking for.  An ad for one last week caught my eye, though.  It boasted 80 years of accumulation, including vintage clothes, multiple sewing machines, fabric, notions, and quilts.  Yes, please.  Unfortunately, like every other estate sale I see listed, it started on Friday.  Since I have a full-time job, I had to wait until Saturday.

You guys, THIS HOUSE.  I wish I had taken pictures.  It was an old farmhouse about 45 minutes outside of the city, and it looks like they never got rid of a thing in their lives.  When they ran out of space, they just built on a new room and filled it up.  It was insane.  There was a room that was huge, and all four walls were closet.  All the way around!  It was all typical old lady stuff - double knit polyester pants, acrylic sweaters, holiday sweatshirts, etc.  So I didn't find anything there except for some slips and a pair of cotton pajama pants.

I missed out on the sewing stuff.  All that was left was a serger and boxes of notions.  There was a thread cabinet that was pretty cool, but I don't really need it.  The craziest part was the sheer amount of STUFF.  Shoe boxes completely filled with bra-making supplies.  Entire boxes of elastic.  Drawers full of hooks and snaps.  It was like this lady was running a bra factory out of her bedroom.

At this point, Mike and I weren't really shopping so much as snooping.  We went outside to the barn and were poking around at some old toys and wicker furniture when I saw a garment bag.  Success!  I got these four pretty skirts:

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And my favorite:

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All four were a wee bit too small for me, but super easy to let out.  I've already fixed all of them and worn the three summery ones!  I just took off the waistband, let out a pleat or two, and sewed a new waistband back on.  My button-holer didn't even act up!  The pretty salmon pink one was missing the zipper, so I replaced that as well. 

I also found what is basically the prettiest dress that ever lived.  It's definitely from the 40's, and it looks like it could be worn as a wedding dress.  It has a satin layer with a sweetheart neckline and sheer embroidered overlay, and the best clear lucite buttons ever.

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It had a small rip under the left armpit, which was an easy fix.  Other than that, it was in perfect condition.  Unfortunately, it was way too small for me, and there's no way I would try to alter it.  This is the kind of dress you leave alone and give to someone who will be able to wear it.  So, my friend Ellie is now it's proud owner.  I'm so jealous!  It's perfect on her.  She looks like a gossamer angel.

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The dress was $18 and all the skirts were $3 each.  The slips were $1 and I got 4.  I also got a peach and gold 1950's Mexican Patio dress, but it's in bad shape and needs repairs.  I'll fix it up and it'll definitely make an appearance on the blog one of these days.  I think I will start keeping an eye on Craigslist for estate sales again!

Have you found any incredible bargains lately?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Shorts! (For real this time)

I had a pretty low-key weekend planned, which is great for me because - more time for sewing!  I dug through my pattern collection and I found four patterns for shorts.  One got nixed because it was for knits, one because the pattern instructions had Velcro for the fly (shudder), and one because they were just too board short-y.  That leaves this guy:

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You might remember that I disastrously made the skirt last winter. It was a disgusting blob of Pepto-pink gathered cotton and I was too embarrassed to post a proper picture of it. I actually tried to sell this pattern on Etsy and no one bought it. I'm not surprised. The shorts are pretty cute though, no? A little high-waisted, but I thought I could remedy that.

For my first attempt, I measured the rise of my favorite jeans, and the cut that much off the rise on the pattern (I didn't really CUT cut it, I folded it over). Fail. They were much too wide, and the crotch was much too short. I was not expecting that. Bummer, because I actually really like this fabric. I shouldn't have used it for my first attempt. It was a yellow linen tablecloth with white embroidered flowers.

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For the second attempt, I used an old sheet and I made the pattern as-is. Obviously, they were MUCH too high-waisted, but I was able to use this as a starting point and fold the waist over exactly where I wanted it to be.

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I felt good enough to start on the real thing. This fabric didn't really cost me anything - I reupholstered our dining room chairs with it and I had a little bit left over. I love this fabric. Our walls are that teal color, but we have a ton of posters with red in them (we go to a lot of concerts and we always buy a poster) so I thought that could sort of bring the two together. Plus, it's such a cheery print.

The final results are pretty good. For one, they actually fit! And I think they're pretty cute. I would definitely wear them.

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They still need a button and a hem, but that's all finicky stuff I can do tonight while watching TV or laying in bed.

The fly was surprisingly easy.

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My only complaint is that the waistband piece was a big long rectangle you folded in half. It doesn't curve to my backside and gapes a little. I wish I could re-cut it but I don't have any fabric left. It's not a big deal at all with a shirt over it, and maybe I could add some belt loops for if I wanted to wear it with a tucked-in blouse.

The second real pair turned out the best. I made the darts on the back a little bigger to accommodate my rump, and I self-drafted a curved waistband. It makes a pretty significant difference in fit.

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See, compared to the straight waistband of the previous pair:

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It's still freezing here (I miss my fake summer we had back in March!) so I probably won't get to wear these for another month. Which is fine, because I need to start scouring eBay and Etsy for pretty tops to wear with them. I wear dresses so often I barely have any shirts!

I have a couple other finished projects I need to tell you about. I've been busy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shorts!

I've never considered myself a "shorts person", and I probably haven't worn them since I was a kid (with the exception of some denim cutoffs I wear in the summer under really short dresses).  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, my office institutes Casual Summer with "Super Casual Fridays".  Meaning that shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, tank tops, are all acceptable.  I've never partook, mostly because shorts aren't really on my radar.

I was in Gap yesterday looking for jeans, and I saw these shorts and loved them and tried them on.  They were so cute! 

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There are shorts everywhere!  I also fell in love with these from Anthropologie.

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And these from Express.

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Colette Patterns even released a pattern for shorts due to overwhelming demand!

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I am suddenly aboard the shorts train. Are you? Time to start looking for patterns and fabric!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hunger Games Inspiration

I'm obsessed with the Hunger Games right now.  I've read the books and I've seen the movie twice, and would seriously go see it again.  It's that good.  The first time I saw it, I was pretty blown away by Effie Trinket and decided on the spot that's what I would be going as for Halloween this year.  Who cares if it's 6 months away?  Ha.  It's going to take me a long time to make the costume, and I might as well start while I'm feeling inspired.

The second time I watched it, I found myself being drawn to the outfits of District 12.  Is that wrong?  I know it's a poor, starving, post-apocalyptic community, but everyone was wearing such pretty 1940's-style dresses.  Check out a few from the Reaping scenes:

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Just look at that beautiful ruching and those fluttery sleeves.  I have some vintage fabric I've been hoarding for a while, so I decided to make myself a Reaping dress. Morbid, I know. I'm sorry.  I have a few 40's patterns in my stash, but none of them were quite right, so I bought this New Look pattern from Joann's for $4.  The pattern envelope doesn't look like much, but the line drawings were pretty close to the dress worn by Katniss.

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Like a good little sewer who doesn't want to waste 4 yards of vintage rayon, I made a muslin. I wanted it to be wearable, so I used this calico linen from a thrift store. This pattern was a delight to put together. It was different than anything I've ever made. The shaping comes not from darts or princess seams, but from gathering and yokes. Lots of yokes. Of course I sewed them on backwards the first time, but it was an easy fix. I love the soft gathering at the shoulders and under the bust.

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The pattern had a zipper up the back. I prefer side zippers because then you don't break up the fabric's print, and it's not as visible, but I gave it a try. It looks okay, I did a lapped zipper and I sewed the whole thing by machine this time. My machine magically stopped acting up about two weeks ago, and I finally have my confidence back that it's not going to eat my zipper.

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It's a little off on the back yoke, but not too bad. I think it would be really hard to make it match perfectly.

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It fits great and I enjoyed putting the dress together, so I went ahead and cut into my vintage rayon. I found this in a bin at an antique store marked "Silky Fabric $7". There were four pieces, and I bought all of them. One has been turned into a dress, another a skirt, and I'm hoarding the best piece for something really special.

I think this one turned out even better. The only alteration I made was to move the zipper to the side.

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Check out this lapped zipper, yo. My machine is really stepping it up a notch.

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Happy sewing, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Better?

Yesterday, I asked for opinions on a jacket I was on the fence about.  It's cute in theory, but something was...off.  Well, you all agreed with me because I got comments saying the jacket was cute but the fabric was frumpy, looks like something my mother-in-law would wear, and definitely needs some embellishment.  I totally agree, and I'm going to see what happens after I add buttons or a waist closure of some sort.

I whipped up another one yesterday (seriously, this pattern is great) and I ask:  Is this better?  It still needs buttons, but what say you - cute? Or give up on this pattern?  I like it so much that I was tempted to make a matching pencil skirt and have a cute little retro suit, but I got a "oh honey, no" from the husband.

It was really bright, so sorry about the squintiness. Man, I need to trim my bangs too.

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And the one no one liked. I think it'll be better if I make the jacket edges rounded like I did to the one above. I wish it was cuter because it is really well made and very comfortable. Mike thinks the problem is that the fabric is not jackety, it's more blousey. I still have 5 yards of it, so maybe a blouse is in the cards.

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Honest opinions please.  My fate as a "jacket person" rests in your hands.