Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm in!


'I, Amy, of Sewing Through the Motions, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear only me-made outfits each day for the duration of May 2013, with the occasional vintage dress cheat day'

In preparation, I moved everything OUT of my closet except homemade stuff! My tally is 20 dresses and 4 blouses, so I totally got this.  I'll probably do weekly updates here on the blog, but I'm doing daily updates on Instagram with the tag #OOTD. You can follow me at amychillmer.  I'd love to follow you back!

I'm sort of cheating a little bit with the vintage thing, but I've got so many spring dresses that I've been dying to wear, and if it's a beautiful day, I want to be able to.  A lot of them are tailored/repaired by me so that kind of counts, right?

Happy May, lovelies!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vintage inspiration

The other day I was browsing eBay for vintage sundresses and came upon this one:

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It was Buy it Now for $25, and I was ready to click that so dang fast when I thought I should probably check the measurements first. Of course, 24" waist. When I first started sewing, it was because I loved vintage dresses but could never find ones I liked in my size. They're all so tiny. Were people really that much smaller back in the day, or is it because the common sizes are picked over? I'm a solid 8/Medium with a 36" bust and 28" waist and I find maybe, once a year, the perfect vintage dress that fits like it was made for me.

So, I did the next best thing: bought three yards of pink and white striped seersucker on eBay. For $8, it was an even bigger steal than the dress. I also needed some trims, and my friend Marylee helpfully told me they are called "venice lace", so I got those on eBay too. I used Butterick Retro 5748 for the bodice, and omitted the back center seam, and instead did a front center seam.  The bodice pieces are going to overlap and have a row of buttons.  There's still a side zipper, so the buttons will probably not be functional and be just for decoration. I used Colette Chantilly for the skirt. I know I could have just done a dirndl skirt, but I don't care about making an exact copy, and I like how full and swishy the Chantilly skirt is.

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I've done about as much as I can until my trims arrive. The skirt is put together and hemmed. The bodice is completely done. The pattern had you line it, but I didn't feel like doing a lining (I hate doing darts) so I did something I've never done before, which is to use bias binding. I like how it turned out! It was really easy. It will be sewn in place too with the venice lace trim, so I don't even have to worry about tacking it down.

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This pattern has a perfect scoopy back. I will definitely make it again. Probably never with the Butterick 5748 skirt, though, as I had one disaster this year with a circle skirt and that is enough for me.
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As far as the trims, this is the closest I could find. Hopefully they look good in person. Marylee is a trimmings expert and she told me to stay away from polyester or nylon so I did, and these are cotton rayon. The original:

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My eBay finds:

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So that's about what I was up to this week! Today is my orchestra concert, so I'll get to wear my new black Chantilly cello dress for the first time. I have about a million things still to do today, so I'll sign off with a selfie of my last project. I don't think it's worth a whole blog post, but it is cute and I do like it. Happy Sunday!

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Monday, April 22, 2013


Hi friends.  Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've been really busy lately, and I've been sewing a lot of things that aren't blog-worthy or ready to be written about yet.  I've gotten a third (um, and a fourth) Chantilly done, but one is very summery and the other is specifically for my orchestra concert this Sunday, so I was planning on getting some shots of it in action.  Besides, there's not much I can say about the pattern that hasn't already been said.  I love it, it fits me perfectly, it's super flattering, etc.  I had to pack it up and put it away or I'd have a whole closet full of them.

The other dress I made was just a basic, comfy, rectangle-with-elastic-waist kind of thing.  It's cute, but not really deserving of it's own post.  I'm doing Me Made May this year, so I need some comfy weekend dresses.

Mike and I have been doing this massive overhaul of our upstairs, and it is taking FOREVER because we are both so busy all the time.  Besides the wood in the hallway/sewing room, we are also getting new carpet in the front and back bedrooms, painting, and buying all new furniture.  I got a gorgeous mid-century walnut bedroom set from West Elm and it's being delivered in two weeks, so that has lit a fire under our asses to get everything in order.  Our house is really lacking in closet space, and Mike's clothes were all in the sewing room, which was getting annoying for him.  So we moved all of our dressy clothes into the sewing room closet, and now our everyday clothes are sharing our bedroom closet.  We also bought a beautiful 1960's walnut wardrobe, and after minor injuries actually got it in the house and in use.  It's housing pants, sweaters, and spare sheets.  Not having a linen closet in the bathroom really blows.

Part of this huge process has been going through my clothes and sorting them into piles.  Keep, Fix, Donate, Resale Shop.  I've been being pretty ruthless and getting rid of a lot of things, and now I have a huge store credit to use at my favorite resale shop.  I've also been painstakingly tailoring, repairing, hand washing, and ironing all my vintage beauties.  I've been trying to tackle three a night.  I also have an "undecided" pile, and it's largely homemade things.  I made a lot of turds my first year of sewing, and I never wear them, but it seems like such a huge shame to just get rid of them.  Some are definitely worth fixing and I will, but others I know I will never wear.

These are the three first dresses I ever made. None of them fit. I didn't know what a FBA was when I started sewing, so the mustard/brown one smushes my boobs. The blue/pink teardrop one is too big. The western one is just bad all around. I hemmed it with glue!

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The two blue ones will probably go in the Donate pile. The mustard one is a'ight and I've worn it, but it's not my favorite.

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This is the fourth dress I made. The zipper is surprisingly decent, but the waist gathers are atrocious, and I can't wear it without a cardigan because the bodice is so loose. I'm not even sure I like the fabric. This is a donate.

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My first attempt at making myself an orchestra dress is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. I can't move my arms in it, which defeats the purpose, right? Plus this fabric is flammable. No question, trash this one. I took off the zipper first, which was a vintage metal one.

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This is in the resale pile. It looks like a poop. It's chain-print cousin of the same pattern is still one of my favorite things I've made, and it still gets worn regularly. I wore it to work last Wednesday. So in this case, it's not the dress, it's the fabric. See ya!

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I will keep this forever just because it's hilarious. OBVIOUSLY I have never worn it.

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This is a muslin that I ended up finishing. It's a sheet. I mean, obviously it's a sheet. Why am I asking if I should get rid of this? Obviously I should get rid of this.

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Also a sheet. This was my muslin for my Swirl dress project. It totally looks like a sheet, right? I should donate it, right? I'm having trouble letting this one go. I sort of like it.

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I don't think I ever blogged this dress? I couldn't find it in my blogger-uploaded photos.  It's probably that New Look bodice I made 300 times when I first started sewing, with the skirt from a Butterick Retro.  I still love it, but the zipper is crap and the bodice doesn't fit great. I adore the fabric, which is a lovely vintage crepe.  It's definitely in the "Fix" pile. 

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Anyone else out there have trouble getting rid of their early homemade garments, even when they're crap and you'll never wear them?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chantilly #2

I finished my second Colette Chantilly last night and wore it to work today.  I could just keep churning these out, for real!  I love this dress so much.  It's so flattering, and there are no frustrating moments when sewing it.  You know, like when you get to a part of the pattern that you absolutely  dread, and you have to sort of talk yourself into going forward?  For me it's usually doing facings, or when you sew in the lining and then have to turn it right-side out.  Yeah, none of those.

For version 2, I used a poly from Vogue Fabrics. I don't usually like to sew with poly, but this seemed less flammable than most, and the hearts/dots were cute. The pattern envelope says 3 yards of 60", which I call b.s. on, because I got this made up out of 2 yards of 60" fabric with a one-way directional print. Okay, I had an epiphany while sewing this dress. It turned out really beautiful. So did my last dress. What did those have in common? They were made from actual apparel fabrics, from the apparel section. I usually make things out of whatever thrift store sheet, quilting cotton, or mystery estate sale fabric I come across, and the majority of them turn out looking like shit. So maybe I should can it with the thrifted mystery fibers and actually buy real apparel fabric MEANT for apparel? Ha.

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I love the deep scoopy back.

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And it twirls!

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This dress makes me so happy!

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Okay, I feel silly. Stop taking my picture.

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And one last shot for y'all, of the bodice. Look how crisp and pretty my waistband looks! This fabric gathered like a DREAM. It was the best. I think I'll be making a trip to Vogue soon to pick up a few more poly prints.

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And now I need to go hide this pattern away before I make it in 5 other fabrics!