Thursday, February 20, 2014

Miss Peggy Sings the Blues

Good evening, my dear ones! I've been sewing quite a bit this week, thanks in large part to the Olympics. I'm a big sports fan--save football, which I have Violent Feminist Quibbles with--so every two years my brain gleefully geeks out on all things nationalistic and sporting. I watch all the events, even curling. There is no sport too esoteric for my enjoyment. 

Best of all, however, is figure skating. It's the combination off all my beloved things: gorgeous costumes, lovely music, showmanship, and death-defying ice twirls. I love a good ice twirl.* My event of choice is Ice Dancing, but I follow them all with rapt attention. Conveniently, I now do this while sewing. It doesn't feel nearly so self-indulgent to spend two weeks straight watching television, when I'm making things at the same time. 

*Yes, an ice twirl. I know there are real names, but no matter how many times Johnny and Tara (whom I adore!) explain the differences, they all look like fantastic mid-air ice twirls to me. I'm a plebeian, obvs. 

This year, Olympic accompaniment was provided by the Peggy skirt pattern, from Bluegingerdoll Patterns. Peggy is, as you well know, one of my favorite patterns. I've made it twice previously, in a cheery polka dot and a cozy winter wool, both of which I wear all the damn time. The high-waisted A-line silhouette is simple, but works beautifully on my figure. It highlights my waist, skims my hips, and is comfy enough to allow seconds of cake. Obviously, I need more of these in my wardrobe!

For my first warm weather Peggy, I used this blue floral cotton sateen from Gertie's Etsy shop. She's now completely out of stock, but last summer she was regularly selling some of the loveliest cottons I've ever seen. Thanks to her, I now own lobster print voile and entirely too many lengths of pastel gingham. This floral, however, was my favorite of the bunch. I'm such a sucker for floral fabrics anyway, but a bright vintage chintz on a black background? Be still my heart.

Honestly, I can't believe that I only bought two yards of this fabric. In person, I probably would have talked myself into five, so that it could become a skirt and a dress. For a sateen, it has both a lovely drape and weight. If there were just a bit more, it would have made a fabulous Georgia dress, thanks to a hint of stretch. Luckily, it was enough for a Peggy!

As for construction, there's really not much story here. I did a more exhaustive review of this pattern with my initial version and it continues to be a quick, fun project. While the pocket construction was a bit mind-bending at first, it's super easy once you've figured it out. Other than that, it's a straight-forward skirt pattern. I serged all my inner seams, used a vintage white button for the back closure, and did a standard hand-picked zipper on the back. So simple!

The details...

Things I Loved:

  • The fabric! As always, I'm all about the fabric and this floral is freaking gorgeous. If a Texas bluebonnet came to life, this is the skirt fabric it would choose. I am, basically, a human bluebonnet. You heard it here first. 
  • The pattern! The Peggy really works for my figure. If you're a curvy hourglass or pear shape, it will probably work similarly well on you, my dear. 
  • The pockets! This cute design detail never gets old. 

Things I Changed:

  1. Did a traditional zip, instead of a lapped zip. 
  2. Omitted the waist tabs, because they would've been lost in this print. 
  3. Took a really deep hem - about five inches. 

Things I Would Change, If Made It Again:

  • Not a thing!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Trust Abby's instructions. The pocket pieces seem odd, since the bag is larger than the facing, but that's what makes it poof in an adorable manner. Match your notches and believe!

Notions & Fabric:

  • 2 yards floral sateen - $14/yard
  • 7 inch black zipper
  • 1 vintage button
  • Featherweight fusible interfacing

Incidentally, this skirt is unwittingly appropriate for a sewalong. The Sewcialists are hosting Blue February, which I didn't intend to participate in, because I never follow through on such vows. And we are. One week left of February and I've sewn a thing that is blue! The mind, it reels. Admittedly, half of my stash is blue, so the odds were good on this one. Even more impressive, I've actually hit two sewalongs. Abby of Bluegingerdoll suggested people sew a BGD pattern in a blue fabric for a Blue Blue February. I am so on point! Is anyone else sewing a blue piece this month?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Miss Emery Finds Her Wiggle: Gertie's Wiggle Dress

Happy Valentine's Day, dear ones! This holiday has always been one of my favorites, no matter my relationship status. How much quibble can you have with a day that's centered around flowers, appreciation for your fellow man, and dessert? It's the triumvirate of happy things!  I've ever been a fan. 

This year, of course, there are romantic things to celebrate. It's not only The Perry/Danielson Perry's first Valentine's as a married couple, but our first one living in the same city. Wonders never cease! Since we both have a healthy aversion to crowded spaces, Sam is making us dinner tonight (His world-famous steak, roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts, and fingerling potatoes, followed by my less-famous marble pound cake), then we're off to a showing of Dead Man's Cellphone, by the Baylor Theater Department.  It will be a lovely night! 

Naturally, I needed a lovely dress to wear. Or, let's be honest, an excuse to order this Oscar de la Renta silk faille from Mood. 

Y'all, I have never been so in love with a fabric. This faille is the perfect Mary fabric: bold color, giant flowers, retro feel, and so lush against the skin. I want to make All Of The Things out of it. Sure, an entire floral silk wardrobe may not sound practical, but it would be downright gorgeous. Which is more important? 

Practicality, I know. But: sigh and swoon. A girl does need a little pomp and circumstance in her closet, right? A silk wiggle dress is a basic, darling!  Everyone needs an emergency cocktail dress. This one is mine. 

While I labeled this the wiggle dress from Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing, that's not strictly true. Though her pattern is the inspiration, this dress is actually a mash-up of Christine Haynes' Emery Dress bodice and Gertie's pencil skirt. After making a muslin of the Emery dress a few weeks back, I fell in love with the bodice fit. It was the easiest FBA I've ever performed and fits like a dream. So, instead of adding a side bust dart and rotating it out, as Gertie's would require for a true FBA, I just chose Miss Emery instead! There will be a true Emery Dress in the near future, of course. You know I can't pass up a swooshy, full-skirted silhouette for long. 

So, the Emery-Gertie dress was born! 

Gertie's sizing is a bit weird for me--my bust and waist fitting a 14, but my hips needing the 16, despite cited measurements. I suppose I prefer a bit more skim over that region, than the oh-so-glamorous designer herself. For this dress, I cut a 14 at the waist, then very quickly blended over to a 16 for the hips, then back down to the 14 toward the knees, so it would be properly pegged. Since I was matching up two separate patterns, I also turned Gertie's skirt darts into pleats. Instead of moving darts, I just took a small pleat to match the placement of Emery's bodice darts. Then, I top-stitched them down two inches and called it a day! Too easy. 

To preserve the integrity of this wonderful fabric, I used a few couture techniques on this dress. Silk faille, though beautiful and perfect in all ways, frays faster than my nerves on an ancient, creaking Ferris Wheel. (I hate them so!) In order to mitigate that, I serged all the seams of the bodice, as they were sewn, and used French seams on the skirt itself. Then, I lined the bodice in black china silk. So fancy!

Additionally, I inserted a vintage metal zipper by hand. I love hand-picking in zippers, because not only is it a beautiful finish, but it allows me more control during insertion. They always turn out splendidly! I may never go back to machine zips, y'all. 

The final construction details were simple: slip-stitching the lining to the zipper and waistband, hemming the skirt by hand, and nipping in the upper hip seam just a bit. Voila! A wiggle dress Joan Holloway would call her own! 

This was such a simple make, friends. It turned out beautifully, but it's really a case of pairing super luxe fabric with an easy pattern. There is nothing more straight-forward to construct than a wiggle dress, as long as the pattern fits you well. I can't recommend either pattern or fabric enough, for that reason. Faille and a sheath dress are a sartorial dream team! 

The only thing I truly obsessed over with this one was pattern placement. With flowers this ostentatious fabulous, I knew they needed to match perfectly over the major seams: center back, the front waist, and the back waist. Otherwise, the eye could get lost in a sea of giant, mismatched petals. The horror! Luckily, all of my perfectionism paid off and they blend perfectly. Is there any prouder moment for a sewist than perfectly matched seams? I think not. 

The Details...

Things I Loved:
  • The fabric! This one is all about the fabric for me. My love for it abounds. 
  • The fit! Not to pat myself on the back, but I nailed it on this one. The Emery bodice was a dream to fit, of course, so that helped. 

Things I Changed:
  • Hand-picked zipper
  • Shortened the skirt by three inches.
  • Frankenpattern! Used an Emery Dress bodice and Gertie pencil skirt. 
  • Blended from a Size 14 at the waist to a Size 16 at the hips.

Things I Would Change, If Making Again: 
  • Not a thing!

Tips & Tricks:

Notions & Fabric:

Incidentally, these pictures are such a mismatch, I know! We had one sunny day this weekend, in between two well-publicized polar storms, so I dragged Sam to our neighborhood park to photograph this dress. Of course, I was also running a 101° fever at the time and could barely talk without grimacing. Most of the original photos reflected that, but they were on time for my MSN post, at least. Yesterday, hopped up on antibiotics, steroids, and the return of sunshine, I trotted out into the backyard for some happier shots. If any dress deserves two photo shoots, it's this one, don't you think?

Finally, thank you so much for all your kind words and congratulations yesterday! You made my first project for MSN all the better, because of your support. It meant the absolute world to me. You're the very best!

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quick Good News!

Good morning, friends! Today, I don't have a project to share, but rather some very good news. Yes, this is the big announcement I alluded to last month. Are you ready? Are you sitting on the edge of your seat?

I'm now a proud member of the Mood Sewing Network! Meg contacted me about coming on board late last year and I jumped at the chance. Like every other sewist, I've long swooned over the fabrics at Mood. Whenever I'm in New York, even if for professional reasons, their shop is a must-visit. I've been to fabric stores across the country, but none can oust Mood as my favorite. It's a wonderland!

Not only are the fabrics to-die-for, but the company here is pretty dang illustrious. Some of my favorite bloggers have long been MSN sewists and I'm beyond thrilled to be joining their ranks! Thank you, Mood!

Even better, my first project is up today. Tomorrow, I'll be posting project photos and full details here, but until then, go check out my Oscar de la Renta wiggle dress over at the Mood Sewing Network site.

Also, if you're craving more fancy, I'll be posting work-in-progress pictures of my next non-MSN make up on Facebook today. Have you liked that page yet? All the cool kids are doing it. A huge thank you to everyone who already has! You're the bee's knees.

I'll stop with the exclamation points now, but I"m soooooo excited!! (Those were the last ones. I promise.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Miss Mary, Quite Merrily, Got Married

Hello, my loves! Today, I skipped back from our mailbox, a ribbon-wrapped package in my hands. Our collection of wedding photographs, taken by the wonderful Michelle Boyd, have arrived! 

While picking my dress was the most exciting thing about planning our wedding, booking Michelle was a close second. Not only is she the wife of a dear childhood friend, but she's one of the most sought after photographers in Austin. After you've seen her photos, it's no question as to why. This lady is amazingly talented. I can't stop swooning over these shots!

Especially the ones of the dress. Can I just wear it every day? Pretty please?

Personally, I love ogling other people's wedding photos, so I thought some of you might have fun looking through ours. It was a simple, cheery affair that turned out just the way we wanted: filled with joy and cake. Here's a sampling of our collection, from cake to shoes to the first look.

Okay, kittens. Check out the shoes! All I wanted in the world were soft gold shoes with closed toes, so that I could add ivory bow shoe clips. Of course, I couldn't find I designed my own with Shoes of Prey. Best service ever.

 Buttons and bow! My platonic dress.

Isn't Sam's jacket gorgeous? We found this tartan velvet blazer in May and knew it was the one for him. He looked dashing, though I rather think he always does.

First look!

So happy!

My lovely best friends and family! Can you guess which one is my sister? Hint: my doppleganger over there on the right. 

The bridesmaids dress aren't actually for bridesmaids, but from the vintage reproduction shop, Dig for Victory. They were each custom fitting, lined, and utterly gorgeous. So much cooler than the usual threadbare, polyester shenanigans of bridesmaid dresses.

My familia!

Sam's familia!

Our getaway vehicle? The 1950 Ford F-1 that's been lovingly restored by my dad and brother. My dad is so excited to have professional photographs of it!

So there we go! Our wedding. It was the most wonderful of days, not because of cake or champagne or even that swoonerific dress, but because of the man who shared it with me. Not to get all mushy on y'all, but Sam is the bee's knees. I have no idea how I got this lucky, but am so grateful for him. Marriage gets more fun each day, with him by my side. 


Vendors: Venue - Mercury Hall in Austin TX, Photography - Michelle Boyd Photography, Dress - "Annie Dress" by Joanne Fleming Design, Shoes - Shoes of Prey, Invitations - GoGoSnap, Flowers - Alice Meek, Bridesmaid Dresses - Dig for Victory, Cake - Sweetish Hill

Monday, February 3, 2014

Miss Anna Looks Nice Today

Sewing mojo, that fickle beast, has abandoned me in recent weeks. I'm blaming its departure on two things: knits and snow. Not only did I spend four days working on an absolute disaster of a dress, but it's been too damned cold to wear anything not made of wool. Conveniently, I refuse to sew any more cold weather pieces, since I do still live in Texas. It's going to be unbearably hot soon, I just know it! 

What's a girl to do, when she wants spring dresses in the middle of winter? Sew one anyhow. 

When inspiration flies out the window, returning to a beloved pattern always helps. If you can pair it up with luxe fabric, so much the better! Personally, I was rescued by By Hand London and Nani Iro. 

This is my fifth version of the Anna Dress and, hands down, my favorite so far. Though I loved my previous versions, some fitting issues bothered me. The pleats went a bit too high, negating the bust definition, and the waist wasn't quite snug enough for my tastes. So, I retraced the pattern. To address my quibbles, I shortened the pleats by an inch and widened them to take more width out of the waist. 

Voila! A perfectly fitted bodice! The changes were small, but really helped the pleats "open up" under my bust, as the design intended. 

The fabric for this dress is, as mentioned, Nani Iro. I am absolutely in love with this line of Naomi Ito's double gauze prints. They feel amazing against the skin, as soft as your favorite pajamas, and come in the most beautiful, romantic prints. Before making this dress, there were four lengths of double gauze in my stash, which I ogled but didn't dare cut into.They were far too pretty to risk ruining!

When looking through my Giant Fabric Closet last week, however, these fluorescent polka dots demanded use. This particular length was purchased from Harts Fabric, using a credit won from the lovely Melissa's blog, Scavenger Hunt, and made me ridiculously happy. Up close, the teal double gauze looks as if someone came along with highlighter ink and dropped it all across the fabric. It's whimsical, cheery, and just thing for a sewist in the doldrums.

Once again, I paired the Anna bodice with a gathered skirt. With a fabric this drapey, it would be a shame not to add some swish to the dress! So, this skirt is as full as the narrow fabric would allow and filled with the swish factor. It's a perfect spring dress - flirty, colorful, and comfy.

All of the inner seams were serged, because the fabric frays apart like crazy, and the hem is narrowly turned under by machine. As for the zipper, I used a hand-picked zip, that you cannot see in any of these pictures. We're still figuring out the lenses for my camera and the back shots were, invariably, a bit too blurry to use. Trust me: it's there, it zips. Hoorah!

Incidentally, we had one seventy-degree day between cold snaps, just in time to photograph this project! Even our crazy weather wants me to wear swishy dresses. Spring really is just around the corner, no matter what that insipid groundhog says. On that friends, are you aware of our odd US tradition of using golf course vermin to predict the weather? This can't be a worldwide thing. Tell me there's not a kiwi in New Zealand determining the length of summer!

The details...

Things I Loved:
  • The fabric! I always love the fabric I use, as that's the reason I sew in the first place, but this Nani Iro double gauze is just heavenly. I swoon, I sigh. 
Things I Changed:
  • Lowered & widened the pleats.
  • Added a gathered skirt. 
  • Added a hand-picked zipper, as per usual.

Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Nothing! The fit is pretty spot-on, now. (Excuse the pun.)

Notions & Fabric:
  • 3 yards of Nani Iro double gauze in "Pocho Teal", no longer for sale at Harts, but available from lots of sellers on Etsy

Construction Time:
  • Four hours, mostly because I inserted a zipper by hand. 

Murals have been popping up on the sides of buildings across town, but this newest one is my favorite, even with its missing comma. You look nice today, Blogland!