Saturday, March 31, 2012

OWOP Day 7: My New Trousers

OWOP pattern: My new Simplicity 3688 black trousers made in a lightweight wool.  These trousers have been cut out for ages, so I am happy that OWOP week served as incentive to make them.  Black trousers go with everything and I am really happy with this pair!

Styling: I wore my trousers with my teal Pendrell blouse, my ness wedges and matching purse.  I also tried a new style for my hair (rolled in the back) and David says this is his favourite hairstyle on me!  It started coming down about halfway during the day, so I'm going to have to get clever with securing it!

What I did: Same as the other days.  It's still sunny but now it's cold again (think 52 degrees as the high...brrrr)

YAY for OWOP week!  I'll do a little recap tomorrow but I've really enjoyed it!

Friday, March 30, 2012

OWOP Day 6: Still Sunny

OWOP pattern: Simplicity 3688 navy blue trousers made in a lightweight wool.  First blogged about here.

Styling: I wore my trousers with a blouse that my sister gave me as a present.  The blouse has a tie belt which I sometimes use in my hair but this time I wore it around my waist.

What I did: I got to go to Glasgow for an all-day training workshop.  This amazing building behind me is the University of Glasgow!  I just love the architecture.  In many ways, Glasgow reminds me of New York City--a mish mash of different time periods and architectural styles.  It definitely is a beautiful city and it doesn't hurt that it looks great in the sunshine :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

OWOP Days 4 and 5

OWOP Day Four: Zou Bisou Bisou

OWOP pattern: Simplicity 3688 navy blue trousers made in a lightweight wool.  First blogged about here.  The name for this OWOP day comes from the fact that I can't get this song out of my head!  Anyone else out there completely obsessed with it?

Styling: I wore my trousers with my most recent Betty Draper blouse I made from a 1950's Maudella pattern that was a gift from MrsC.  I've been dying to try out rolled bangs/fringe for some time.  When I came across Esme's tutorial, I knew I had to try it.  So this is my first go!  I really like it!!  I still need some practice securing it as well as how to make sure the hair rat is fully covered.

What I did:  same as day three.

OWOP Day Five: Celebration!

OWOP pattern: Simplicity 3688 dark green trousers made in a lightweight suiting material.  First blogged about here.

Styling: I wore my green trousers with my me-made 1940's sequined blouse (I LOVE this blouse) and my new brown 1940's shoes that I won in a giveaway from Q's Daydream Vintage (a gift certificate to Wildfeld Hall Vintage...woot! woot!).

What I did:
Working like days three and four but the difference is that today included the BEST NEWS EVER.  I received the signed agreement for a major research grant I had applied for! YAY! Secure jobs are always good! David and I celebrated with some vino ;-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That's Sew Cinematic Style Inspiration: Marlene!

Marlene Dietrich's style inspires me so much:

All photos from the Dietrich flickr pool

I'm really attracted to her masculine suits at the moment.  I just love her strong style, which is also very feminine.  I'm hoping to sew something up as a tribute to Marlene....hey, I've already got the suit jacket done....but I better hop on it because summer's just around the corner and her style is definitely more suited (pardon the pun!) to spring/autumn.  Tell me, are you a Marlene fan?  Do you love her siren gowns or her masculine suits or both?

Monday, March 26, 2012

OWOP Day 3: Sunshine Galore!

OWOP pattern: Simplicity 3688 dark green trousers made in a lightweight suiting material.  First blogged about here.  These trousers are perfect for warmer spring days.

Styling: I wore my green trousers with my very first me-made garment, a blouse from a 1942 Du Barry pattern, my favourite black cardigan and my Ness pink tartan wedge shoes

What I did: I went to work and then went out at lunchtime to enjoy the absolutely BEAUTIFUL day!  My boss (who is Scottish) says that she doesn't remember ever having such a lovely sunny and warm day in March. Ever.  It was almost 70 degrees (20 degrees Celsius)--that's like our summer weather!

Here's to many more sunny days!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

OWOP Days 1 and 2

It's the 'One Week One Pattern' (OWOP) challenge being hosted by Tilly who blogs over at Tilly and the Buttons.  The idea is to take a tried n' true pattern that you've made several times and wear those items for one entire week!

One of my tried n' true patterns is Simplicity 3688 a reissued Simplicity pattern for trousers, jacket, blouse and skirt from 1941:

 It will be fun to get creative with styling my trousers throughout the week.  So far, I only have two pairs but I'm hoping I can sew up one if not two more before the week is through!

OWOP Day One: A Little Bit Fancy

OWOP pattern: Simplicity 3688 navy blue trousers made in a lightweight wool.  First blogged about here.

Styling: I wore my trousers with a blouse I made from Wearing History's 1934 pattern called 'Manhattan Melodrama' (originally a gown pattern that I made into separates).  Made last February for Valentine's Day.  I accessorised with a vintage navy handbag.

What I did: David and I went out in the evening with his boss and some of his colleagues down in Portobello (which is right on the beach).  It was really, really foggy during the day (and yes, I did wear a coat--but I was glad I was wearing the Manhattan Melodrama blouse because the restaurant was really warm!)

OWOP Day Two: A Groovy Spring 

OWOP pattern: Simplicity 3688 dark green trousers made in a lightweight suiting material.  First blogged about here.

Styling: I wore my green trousers with my pillowcase faux wrap blouse and my Ness pink tartan wedge shoes.  Instead of tying the belt around the blouse, I wore it in my hair and tried to do a sort of 60's vibed hairstyle.

What I did: Not a whole lot!  It was definitely a lazy Sunday with some time spent outside and some time spent sewing!
Are you participating in OWOP?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Betty's Riding Jacket and Bow Tie Blouse

First, I wanted to thank all of you for your prayers and thoughts for Kal who went missing two weeks ago.  I've just received good news today! She was found safe and well in Cornwall.  I don't know the details yet but I'm SO RELIEVED!

In other good news...I finished Betty's riding jacket and bow-tied blouse and it's featured today over at The Sew Weekly!!

First, let's talk about this blouse.  I LOVE this blouse.  I got this pattern in the post as a gift from Mrs C who blogs over at the Hectic Eclectic as a little thank you gift for the Sew Grateful week (how sweet is that?)  I must say that I actually gasped when I saw the pattern because it was Betty Draper's riding blouse--a perfect match!  I had been searching high and low for such a pattern.

Can I just say that I might be in love with Maudella patterns?  This was a superbly drafted pattern and was very easy to sew up.  The pattern itself is unprinted and the only instructions are all in text printed on the back of the pattern envelope.  Surprisingly, I found the text only instructions easy to follow.  The only tricky part was that pattern pieces didn't have numbers, instead they had names.  So at one point it was a bit confusing as to which facing pieces belonged to which sleeve version!

I made the blouse from a nice weight blue cotton sateen.  I had the exact matching buttons in my stash as well! I really like the shape of this blouse and it goes perfectly under a tailored jacket.

Now onto the jacket.  I used McCall 3260 which is a pattern from 1939.  I love how this pattern transcends time and looks almost modern.  It features a notched collar (or a collarless version), neatly shaped front pockets, a pleated sleevecap and a fairly straight sleeve.

The pattern instructions are very complete and include instructions on interlining the facing and collar (which I did with muslin), using tailor's tape as well as lining instructions.  I didn't have any tailor's tape so I just cut thin pieces of fusible interfacing and placed it just inside the seam line all the way down the front facing of the jacket and also in the collar. 

And wow, what a difference that makes to having a crisp edge.  I didn't use interfacing anywhere else in the jacket as per the pattern instructions.

I forgot to mention the fabric.  This is a British lightweight wool that I got on a super sale at my local fabric store (with a groupon voucher no less).  I LOVE this fabric.

I was very careful in cutting out the fabric to try and match up the plaid stripes.  Can I just say that I love the shape of the pockets as well--a neat crescent shaped opening at the top of an otherwise normal patch pocket.  Topstitching pockets always makes me nervous, though!

 I lined the jacket with some remnant mystery fabric that I got in San Fransisco (when Mena introduced me to all her crazy amazing fabric haunts) for $1.  I believe it is also some sort of sateen.  It's not your normal lining fabric and has a medium-hand.  I really like the structure it gives to the jacket.  I also forgot when I was inserting the lining: a) how much time it takes to hand sew it down, and b) how you need to leave quite a bit of ease in the lining fabric. 

Here's a photo at dusk.  I just love how the light plays off the almost budding tree stems:

Since we are on the topic of riding....I want to introduce you to Megan who is a member of our family.  This photo was taken at one of the riding stables in Washington:

We've had Megan for 24 years and she's definitely my mom's baby (we often joke that she's the other sibling).  She's now 30 years old (!) and living in happy retirement with lots of fresh grass and regular brushing.  Isn't she a cutie?  She's a 5.11 hand Morgan horse and just an absolute (and spoiled) sweetheart.  This is me in my early teens.  And my goodness, what is going on with my hair in this photo?  ;)

What about you? Horse-lover or scared to death of horses?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

That's Sew Cinematic: Mad Men Style

You may recall that the Sew Cinematic challenge I'm participating in includes both creations inspired by the silver screen but also television!  Which is a good thing because there are two TV shows that have our little community all abuzz--Mad Men and Downton Abbey.  I LOVE both and I hope to create an outfit inspired by each of these great period dramas.

This week is perfect for some Mad Men inspiration as the premiere of season 5 starts this weekend (for those in the U.S.).  I might just have to have a two hour skype session this weekend with one of my friends stateside :)

There's so many outfits from Mad Men that I would love to recreate and that inspire my sewing.  So I thought I would share the outfit that I've been working on lately.  This outfit is one that I just couldn't get out of my head and have been thinking about sewing for ages.

 Photo source:

I've been in love with Betty Draper's riding outfit forever.  I know many of you were expecting a Joannie dress or one of Ms. Menken's killer suits, but honestly it's this simple ensemble of tweed jacket and formal yet feminine blouse that gets me every time!

I love Betty's riding jacket with the notched collar, tweed wool fabric and slightly longer length.  Maybe it's because it reminds me of the tweeds in Downton Abbey or from Ralph Lauren's recent collection that I posted about here.  There's something about this classic jacket that is screaming that it needs to be in my wardrobe.

I also adore her bow tied mandarin style blouse.  While I originally thought I would do a blouse in yellow like the one above.  I think I like the blue riding blouse she wears in another episode:

Photo from here

What about you?  Are you working on a Mad Men creation this week (for the Sew Weekly theme or Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Dress Challenge)?

Some Very Worrying News...

23 March 2012 UPDATE:  Thank all of you for your prayers and thoughts for Kal who went missing two weeks ago.  I've just received good news today! She was found safe and well in Cornwall.  I don't know the details yet but I'm SO RELIEVED!

I've just heard that Kal, the owner of the new Edinburgh Sewing Bee Cafe has gone missing.  She was last seen on the 7th of March and the Lothian and Borders Police are actively searching for her.

Photo credit: Edinburgh Evening News via

Those that attended the Crafters' Ceilidh meet-up back in January will remember Kal as our lovely host for the pattern and fabric swap.  She spoke to us about her plans for the sewing cafe and for engaging the community and graciously offered us the use of her space before she was open (and even brewed us all cups of tea).  

I am really devastated to learn of her disappearance.  Can you please say a prayer/offer up your thoughts she will be found soon alive and well?  If anyone that has good pictures of Kal from the meet-up can you send them to me?  They might be useful to the police as the last picture of her is the one above taken in November. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

That's Sew Cinematic: Influenced by Rita!

When I was first thinking about what I wanted to sew for the Sew Cinematic Challenge, all I could think about was Rita Hayworth and her fabulous outfits (all the photos from here).

All of my favourite movies have Rita in them (Cover Girl, You were Never Lovelier, Gilda...among others)!  I just love her sense of style.

Perhaps my favourite Rita outfits are the fabulous gowns that she wears!

Of course you know there is ONE gown. THE gown that I most associate with Rita:

I HAVE to make this gown (from the movie Gilda) and I have the perfect event.  David is graduating from his Master's programme this June and they are having a black tie ball.  How fun does that sound???  This dress would be perfect for just such an occasion! 

I'll be sure to do lots of posts on the construction process.  I'm already thinking of using Gertie's bombshell dress for the bodice of the gown!  I'm doing the version of the gown pictured above (sans the big bow).  This will probably be the last of my Sew Cinematic creations but I had to share my plans for it first because I'm so excited!!!

What do you think?  Would you wear the Gilda gown? Which one of Rita's other outfits do you love the most?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham and her Purple Suit Dress

Photo from here

Glad to read that so many of you are just as excited about Downton Abbey costumes as I am! This is the first in what I hope will be a series of costume close-up posts.

Probably one of the most iconic costumes in the first season is Violet's purple suit.  I definitely think the Dowager Countess is my favourite character.  I always look forward to her witty banter and fabulous expressions.  Dame Maggie Smith really is a star!

Here's a close-up of the blouse and jacket of the suit:

I immediately noticed several things about the blouse by looking at the close-up.  It appears the bodice is gathered to the neck band in a sheer dotted swiss (or voile?) fabric.  The lace bow appears to be separate and simply fastened onto the blouse at the centre front.  

Here is Violet wearing the outfit.  You'll notice that they put an amethyst brooch on the centre of the bow on the blouse and that the character accessorized the blouse with a long waist length necklace:

Photo from here

This is a close-up of the jacket.  It appears as if the pattern in the fabric is slightly raised (it's hard to tell from the photos and unfortunately, I couldn't touch it!)  The fabric is definitely textured:

The jacket features black coiled trim along the outside and beautiful pleated sleeve caps.  One interesting thing that I didn't notice until I looked at the pictures is that there appears to be a collar in black with cream flower shaped embroidery (?) and scalloped edges around the neck.  Do you see it?

Here's a front shot and side view of the suit:
Photos from here and here

The colour on the left is a much better representation of the actual costume than the one on the right.

Here is a close-up of the cummberbund/belt:

It appears to be wrapped?  I think the belt buckle is just for decoration and that the cummberbund closes via hook and eyes or snaps (can you see there is one at the top of the cummberbund that is slightly visible?) The belt buckle itself is in a sort of elongated heart shape and is quite large.  I also love that we can see the trim on either side of the jacket has a small tassle!

This is a good close-up of the blouse sleeve peeking out under the jacket:

I really love the cut of the sleeves on this jacket with the slight flare just before the wrist.  This picture shows the blouse sleeve fabric much better than any of the screen or still shots of Dame Maggie wearing the outfit.  We can see that it is a very delicate fabric with an intricate design.  I'm dying to know if the whole sleeve is made out of that material (which is different to the blouse bodice) or if it is just the cuffs of the sleeves.  hmmmm....

They did have photos of the hat at the exhibit but all my photos came out slightly blurry.  Here's a close-up photo of Dame Maggie wearing the hat:

Photo from here (also check out this link for a funny handmade version of this hat)

Are those shells on her hat?? The best shot I could get of the hat is this one:

What do you think? Do you love this dress?  What about some of the design questions (blouse construction, cummberbund closure, suit material, hat material, etc.)?  Do share!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mission McCall Monday: Some Early 1900 patterns

I'm delighted to share some early McCall patterns (all of them for sale at A Golden Afternoon on Etsy).  A big thank you to Vicki who blogs over at Another Sewing Scientist for sending me the link to these patterns.  They are some beauties....

The first one is McCall 9152 which is from the early 1900's:

I'm just loving the James McCall logo on the side of the pattern envelope and all the directions printed on the back.

The next pattern is McCall 2173 for a lovely bed jacket.  Don't you just find the drawing of the woman mesmerizing?

Again, this is from the early 1900's.  The pattern says 'patent applied for', which I find really interesting!

 The next pattern is a similar one but for a nightgown (McCall 2205) and it says: 'Patented, March 1908'.  Which makes me think the previous one is from either 1907 or 1908 based on the pattern number.

Which means this would match the pattern leaflet from 1907 that I posted about in January which had the guide for all the notches on the patterns  (that Lauren from Wearing History kindly scanned for me).

Last up is a little girl's dress (McCall 9403).  I think this is the oldest one of the lot but I'm not sure what year it is from:

Aren't these great?  I just love seeing patterns from this time period that are still in good condition.  Which one is your favourite?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Creative Stitches Exhibition

I had the best time yesterday at the Creative Stitches exhibition in Glasgow.  I went with Kate who runs a lovely Etsy store called Wee Red Suitcase and Rachel who blogs over at The Crafty Traveller.  You can get a sense by looking at the photos above of the size of expo.  It was full of stands selling yarn, fabric, patterns, other craft supplies such as beads, ribbon, etc.

Here I am scoring an amazing deal on some fabric:
I got five metres of linen look fabric in an amazing teal colour--the last metre was free because I only wanted four metres and there was another one on the bolt! whoohooo (and it was already cheap to begin with!!)

There were several great exhibits within the expo center including some amazing quilts.  This one was my favourite:

I just love the story of The Owl and the Pussycat and it was great to see how someone made it into a quilt design!

Though hands down the best exhibit was the showcase of dresses from Downton Abbey.  I was very happy that we were allowed to take pictures and I took way too many!  Expect to see several posts with detailed and close-up shots from some of my favourite outfits from the first season including the Dowager Countess' purple and black suit, Lady Sybil's harem pants suit, Lady Mary's burgundy gown, Cora's cream suit with black braid trim, Lady Edith's white dress and Mrs. Isobel Crawley's black dress.

How to distinguish the sewists from the crowd...
...examining all the seam and contruction details!

A really wonderful day!  Here's a photo of Kate and I on the train ride back to Edinburgh:

Thanks ladies for the fabulous outing!  Stay tuned for some more posts of the Downton Abbey dresses!
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