Friday, March 28, 2014

The Cool Lilly: Mad Men Challenge 3 Dress

I know everyone has been waiting patiently to see all of the Mad Men inspired fashions generated by Julia's Mad Men Challenge 3, like I have. So here it is, with as much fanfare and pomp as can be expected of  me at this time (only a little)... My submission for Mad Men Challenge 3: The Cool Lilly.

I've named this dress The Cool Lilly because it was inspired by the famous Lilly Pulitzer shift dresses which became so popular during the 1960s. The dress I made is a simple, 60s style shift dress in a bold print. However unlike the famous Lilly, which takes its own inspiration from the warm tones of citrus fruits and juices, my fabric is in a cool colorway of light blues and greens. Hence The Cool Lilly.

I actually didn't have a specific Mad Men look that I took inspiration from, but this is definitely a look which is iconic to that era. I always associate Jackie Kennedy and country clubs with this look. Coincidentally, Lilly Pulitzer and Jaqueline Kennedy, née Bouvier, were schoolmates.

Jackie Kennedy wearing a Lilly Pulitzer dress in Palm Beach

Lilly Pulitzer at one of  her shops 1962.
Still of Betty wearing a large-scale-floral shift dress, Mad Men.

For the dress I used Simplicity 1609. It is a reprint of a 1960s Jiffy pattern. The construction was pretty easy, and I probably spent a total of 5 hours across a couple days including ironing, cutting, and construction. This was my first time to do facings on a sleeveless dress, and I really like how it looks. The fabric I used was a decor weight cotton woven, so it was perfect for a pattern that used facings instead of a lining.
I eliminated the center front seam, instead cutting it on the fold, because I didn't want to interrupt the print. I didn't remember to subtract the seam allowance, so there was a little extra fabric in the neckline and I had to do some light gathers to make up for it. I actually think its a nice effect.
I ended up having my friend Hanna model it for me at work. I had made the dress for my little sister, but she is out of town until Sunday for her spring break.--Oh, children, still having an actual spring break with no obligations. You know not the value of such things.-- So Hanna graciously agreed to try on this dress and pose for a couple pictures. Thank you Hanna!

So that's it. I cant wait to see the reveal of everyone else's dresses/ outfits on JuliaBobbin next week!

Julia Bobbin - Mad Men Challenge III

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Update on Mad Men Challenge

Just checking in on to show my progress on the sewing challenge.
I will do a more detailed post once I have finished the zipper and hem, as well as post some pictures of my sister modeling it.
I will say that my brother was over when I had Molly try on the dress, and he didn't even know why I was making the dress. The first thing he said was "That looks like a Mad Men dress. Like a 60's dress."
Then I had to explain the reason I was making the dress :)
So here is a picture of the dress so far!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sew For Victory Sewing Challenge

It looks like I am going to spend a chunk of my spring break sewing for a couple of blog challenges. I have previously posted about the dress I am making my sister for the Mad Men Challenge at Julia Bobbin.
Now I am considering participating in Sew for Victory over at Lucky Lucille. I initially found out about this sewing challenge last year a couple days before it ended, and I was pretty sad that I didn't get to participate.
So this year when I saw the initial posting about a second round of Sew for Victory, I was excited at the prospect of participating.
I decided that in the spirit of the "Make Do and Mend" spirit of a 1940's sew along, I would try and use fabric and patterns existing in my stash, and try not to buy anything new for this project, apart from a couple notions if necessary.
I have already narrowed it down to some separates, with a 1940s Simplicity blouse pattern as the center.
This blouse features cap sleeves (hooray for me, sleeves I won't have to be afraid of), a button front, and a peplum. I have decided to do view A, with the scoop neckline to save a little time and in anticipation of warmer weather. 
I am also planning on making a pencil skirt to go with the blouse. Although I don't have a vintage pattern for this, I still think that a pencil skirt is an iconically 40's silhoutte, especially when paired with a tailored jacket or blouse with a peplum. I have a couple of different pencil skirt patterns in my collection:
Simplicity 1541 has princess seaming on the front and two panels on the back with a centered vent. I'm really not sure how historically accurate the shaped seaming on the front would be. However, I think that the princess seams are potentially flattering, which would probably make me more likely to wear it as a non-vintage item as well.
This McCalls skirt pattern features multiple lengths. It is also the most simple design with a single panel front and two panel back with centered vent. It also has no waistband. I have made this skirt before and having no waistband definitely speeds up the process. That being said, I usually prefer to wear garments with a defined waistband, mostly for comfort but also for the appearance.
Simplicity 2475 has 3 panels in the front and back as well as 2 back kick-pleats. The cover photo shows the skirt worn pretty low on the waist, almost at the hip, which would not be authentic. However, a quick image search showed that it can be worn closer to the natural waist.
I think I am trying to decide between the two Simplicity patterns for the pencil skirt.
Finally, I am thinking of making a simple dirndl/ gathered skirt in the same fabric as the blouse in order to wear them together for the look of a dress. This wouldn't require a pattern, and I have reviewed multiple tutorials for making a gathered skirt to make sure I will be able to do it.
As for fabrics:
For the blouse and matching gathered skirt I am thinking of using some Ralph Lauren sheets that my mom bought ages ago. The pattern is a light blue background with pink and yellow roses. It reminded me of a print that would have been used in a 1940's tea dress.Plus, how 40s is it to re-purpose textiles for another use?
This is the same pattern, but the background in this image is reading as more green than blue.

For the pencil skirt I have some navy blue ponte du roma that I think would work great. It would make the skirt practical for fall, winter, and spring... and much of summer in Washington really :)
Does anyone else have some spring projects they are getting started on?

Mad Men Sewing Challenge

As many of you may know, Julia over at hosts a Mad Men themed sewing challenge every year before the new season of Mad Men airs.
As someone who really enjoys mid-century fashion, I thought I would participate this year.
I decided I wanted to make a dress for my little sister. She and I looked over some possible pattern options, and we both decided on Simplicity 1609, a 1960's re-issue of a Jiffy shift dress.

The pattern has neckline options for a scalloped peter-pan collar, a bow, or a plain round neckline with facings. My sister decided she wants the collared option.
I have pretty much narrowed the fabric selections down to a navy cotton-linen blend with mild stretch, or  a large scale paisley in a light blue and green colorway. Both of these are in my stash and wouldn't require any further shopping.
My sister is fine with either of these two options, although she originally said she wanted a solid yellow dress. When I let her know that I was hoping to use existing fabric and spend a minimal amount on the project, she said that whatever I selected was fine with her.
I am leaning toward the paisley print because it feels a little more spring-y than navy, However, I am unsure whether a large scale patterned fabric would compete with the more delicate detail of the collar. In addition, the paisley is a decor weight, so I'm wondering if it will be hard to match weights between the dress and the collar.
I'm planning on getting started this weekend. I'm interested to see how it comes together since the claim is that it should only take a "Jiffy" and is "Simple to sew using 2 main pattern pieces."
Is anyone else making something for the challenge? You can head on over to Julia Bobbin by clicking on the button in the sidebar if you're interested in what it's all about.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Little Fleece Coat for a Pup

I actually made this little doggie coat a little over a month ago and never posted about it.
I know, all you people who are shaking their heads right now. "Who puts clothes on their dog?" I used to think the same way you did. That was until my family got a small dog.
We had a medium sized French Bassett hound named Lucy during my growing up years. A hound dog, especially a sedentary breed such as the Bassett, is not the kind of dog you would think of needing to put clothes on. Lucy had a thick, almost oily water resistant double coat, as many hunting breeds do. Plus, Bassetts spend a majority of their time sleeping, and don't need much exercise to regulate their metabolism, so there wasn't as much need for added warmth for going on walks.
More recently, as we had to become used to the needs of our Yorkshire terrier Sprinkles, I have come to understand the utilitarian necessity of a warm jacket for some breeds. Many small dogs just don't have the body fat to stay warm on their own when outdoors. In addition, Yorkies don't have a thick double coat like many larger breeds do, and in fact have fine hair instead of coarse fur. So in order for little Sprinkles to stay warm during a wet-and-windy Washington winter walk (Alliteration! KA-BLAM![Who else remembers the show "Ka-Blam!"?]) she really does need a coat. Anyone who has ever tried to shop for a decently warm dog coat has, like me, experienced some serious sticker-shock. I decided I would just make one myself.
Enter Butterick 4885:
This pattern has a variety of cute, tailored features in a range of sizes. Most importantly, the pattern includes an option for a hood.
I finally decided to sew it up in a low pile fleece, and doubled it up by using the same as the lining.
I selected view C, minus the pockets and substituting the hood from version B instead of the fold-back collar.
Here is the result:
The hood ended up a little big. In fact, it totally covers up Sprinkles head when it is up, so, yeah, not useable. However, it looks really cute and overall the coat is nice and warm. I would make it again, with some adjustments to the hood.
What do you think? Have you ever sewn anything for a pet?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

T-Shirt Recycled to Pillow Tutorial

I recently revisited a recycled-materials project I have done in the past.
For this project I turned an embellished girl's t-shirt into a decorative pillowcase. My younger sister is at that pre-teen/ early teen age when girls just grow and grow like weeds. She is also at the transition from very cute girl's clothes to, in my opinion, more generic teen clothing. As a result she is outgrowing some barely used, nice quality clothes.
While I am a big believer in handing things on to acquaintances or charity-shops, sometimes there are items that are just to unique or delightful to let go of. In this case it was some embellished t-shirts from Gap- girl.
My sister actually asked me to make these shirts into decorative pillow cases for her bed, since they matched her "Paris Shopping Girl" themed room. I knew I could do it because I had done another one for her last year. And this time I actually remembered to take pictures of the process, so I will outline the process as a tutorial in case anyone else has had the same dilemma of not wanting to throw out cute t-shirts.
You will need:
Embellished cotton jersey t-shirt
Thread (color should be in the same intensity, ie pink tee+ white thread, not black)
Scissors or rotary cutter
Pillow insert (depending on size of shirt)

Step One

Make sure your t-shirts are clean and wrinkle free. I don't usually iron knit shirts. Instead I hand them on hangers straight out of the washer and let gravity do the work for me.

Step Two

Turn the shirts inside out and lay flat with the embellished side facing up toward you. Use a ruler to make a straight line continuing in the line of the side seam over the sleeves to the top of the shirt. Trace the line with seamstress' chalk/ pen and cut along the line. If you are using a rotary cutter you can just line it up on the ruler and cut. Note: You will have to include the armhole seam inside your cutting line. The last time I did this project it was with a raglan-sleeveless tee, and that had a little bit smoother finished look. But it will be fine in the end if your pillow is big enough to stretch out the fabric a bit.
Repeat this process with the top of the shirt. You will want to line your ruler up just below the neck opening to guarantee that you don't lose any of the image/ embellishment to the sewing and turn-out process. It will also make for a centered image on the front of the pillow.

Step Three

Pin along your raw edges and sew a straight stitch from the side-opening up to the top, then the top edge, then the other side edge. I haven't sew with knits much, so all I can say is that you may want to make sure that the thread tension is decreased slightly to prevent puckering. Otherwise, I just set it up like I was sewing a straight stitch on a woven fabric.
Not being well versed in knits, I also don't have a serger. So, since this was meant to be a quick-and-easy project I just sewed a straight stitch first, then went back over with a zig-zag stitch to create kind of a faux serged edge. You can see it before I trimmed the seam allowance in the picture on the right.

Step Four

Turn inside out and insert your pillow. I used the inexpensive pillow insert brand from Jo Ann Fabrics, and those work just fine for a decorative pillow. In this case, and last time, I used an 18" square. This worked for a girl's medium shirt the first time and a girl's x-large shirt this time. Any larger and I would say you probably want to use a 20" square just to be sure that it will stretch the fabric enough to keep the image or embellishment smooth. Also, if you have poly-filling and don't want to go out and buy a pillow insert, you could sew most of the bottom edge, leaving a 5 in gap in the center,fill up your pillow case, then sew the last of the bottom edge closed by hand.

And there you have it!
A great way to re-purpose a cute tee that you'd rather not give away.
What do you think?
Have you ever used a fashion item to re-purpose as a decor item?
Or maybe the reverse?
Let me know in the comments.