Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another Stash Project: Simple 30's Inspired Blouse

I only had about 1 1/2 yards of this cream colored rayon in my stash, so I knew it had to be made into something simple. 

I found the image of this 1930's blouse (the polka dotted one in the upper corner), and because it was so adorable, I had to try and copy it.  Yet another stash project completed.

Oh, and a little teaser for the next project I'm working on...think sheer cotton in a golden toned (with a bit of blue) plaid.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another Stash Project: Wool Skirt

Well, it's another stash project down.  I made a wool skirt yesterday.  I don't have much to say about it, other than it's pretty modern, was very easy to make, and was inspired by a skirt from H&M.

And even though you can't see them in the picture above, I have on some really cute vintage navy blue heels that I got on eBay.  They give off a sort of 40's vibe to me, but they are in such good condition, that I can't imagine they are really that old.  Can anyone take a guess at their age?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Early 80's Blouse??

Yesterday, I set about to use up some extra white rayon from my stash.  I knew it would be perfect for a blouse, but what kind of blouse I wanted it to be, I hadn't a clue.  So, I decided to drape it, rather than use an existing pattern or draft one.  This was definitely a spontaneous, let the inner artist come out, kind of project. 

At the beginning, I was feeling like it needed to be some kind of loose tunic, with maybe a boat-neck, or cowl neck, but as I sculpted it on my dress form, I started to sense a bit of a nautical kind of feeling coming from it as well. 

 Then, I remembered some vintage, metal buttons I had (with cute little coat of arms reliefs punched into them)....and it all sort of came together. 

 In the end, I would describe it as a sailor/school uniform inspired blouse, but it has a bit of an early 80's feel to it as well (probably because of the gathered waist).  I'm not sure if that's kosher in the fashion world right now...but I like it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Romantic Lacy Blouse

 I've been admiring the sort of Neo-Romantic wave in fashion lately.  Unfortunately my pocket-book doesn't admire the cost.  So, of course, I decided to make my own.  I was looking on-line for inspiration, and I found a shirt from the British store Topshop that I adored. Here it is. 

Fortunately, I had some creamy rayon in my stash that was perfect for the lining, or shell of the blouse. I also had bits of silk voile left over from past projects, and I found some inexpensive lace at Hancocks, bought a yard for nearly nothing, and voila! I was set to go.

I don't particularly like the way it look on me when it's hanging loose and free like it is in the Topshop image.  But belted, or tucked in...and I'm a happy camper. 

It's really quite dreamy and soft to wear. 

It puts me in mind of Anne of Green Gables, or A Room with a View.

 While I like to wear clothing that fits my style, and is evocative of vintage or antique outfits, I am not an outgoing, extroverted person.  I don't like being the center of attention, nor would I ever seek it.  But, I'm fully aware that if I choose to wear things out of the norm, I will get "looks."  I'm always battling my shyness, and constantly trying to get over my self consciousness when I dress vintage or "artsy" (as some people would call it.)  And because of this, I am soooo glad to see that Romantic and Vintage styles are coming back into the fashion scene.  Now I can wear them without fear of being stared at.  I took my daughter to swimming lessons this morning, and one of the female, college aged, life guards smiled at me and said, "I love your outfit!"  A positive compliment....

Another stash project completed.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sweater Revamp

Ok, ok...I know it's like 100 degrees outside, and no one in their right mind would even want to think about wearing a sweater right now.  But...  my thought is this... every year, when Fall comes around, I'm left wishing I had had the forethought to spruce up my cold-weather wardrobe.  But, by the time I get around to wishing this, school has started, my schedule is insane, and there isn't any end in site to the busy-ness of my life until some time after New Years.  Is that how your life is?

 So, this year, I decided I would try to plan ahead a bit.  I went through my closet and dresser. Things that didn't fit, or that I hadn't worn in more than a year, I put aside. ( I might use these items later for various reworked projects, or I might just give them away to charity.)  After that, I made a list of "gaps" in my wardrobe.  What was I lacking for the cold weather months?  Are there any items that don't have a mate (meaning they don't match anything else.) Surprisingly, almost everything I own has a mate.  What I am lacking is a couple of nice blouses, a couple of A-line or pencil skirts, and a good pair of slacks...all staples, really.  I'm using fabric from my stash to take care of the blouses and skirts...and I don't think I'm ready to tackle making slacks yet (maybe some day), so it looks like I'll be buying those.  The only other items that I am sorely missing from my closet are sweaters.  I have ONE good sweater.  That's it.  So, rather than pay a gazillion bucks for a high end sweater that I most likely will get paint, or pastel, or charcoal on (I'm an art teacher), I went to Good Will. 

Admittedly, I am a horrible thrift store shopper.  I have expensive tastes (without the expensive budget) and I kind of get grossed out by touching other people's used clothing.  I know, it's a hang-up.  I'm working on it.  (And I'm also very inspired by so many of you lovely bloggers out there that are the queens of thrift store shopping!)  So, I'm very proud of myself for doing what I did today (did I say I went to Good Will?)  I went looking for used sweaters.  And found some.  Your first reaction to these sweaters might be ugly...or something along those lines.  But trust me...I bought them over-sized for a reason.  I'm revamping them! 

Sweater A: Before Image.
Cons: Too long and too wide. 
Pros: Great color and it's soft.

Sweater B: Before Image.
Cons: Too wide through torso and arms, and sporting a hideous 90's zip-up turtleneck. 
Pros: I love the lacy diamond pattern and chunky cotton texture of this one, making me think of 30's sweaters.

Sweater C: Before Image.
Cons: GINORMOUS! And it has an ugly collar.
Pros: There's a lot to work with.  And it's a loose weave, creating a flow-y and lacy texture.

Sweater A:  I cut off part of the sides to fit my width (forgot to show this in the picture), hacked off the extra fabric at the bottom, and re-attached the ribbed waistband.  After I sewed the sides back up, I used the left over fabric to create a feminine and floral applique around the collar.

Sweater B:  I cut off the extra width through the torso and and arms, and removed the zipper and turtleneck.  I stitched the sides and arms back up, used the extra fabric from the sides to create a fun, 30's style collar, and added a loop and button to keep the v-neck shape closed.

Sweater C:  Major reconstructive surgery here... Because of the ephemeral texture of this sweater, I really wanted something floaty and feminine to come out of it.  It ended up being more of a decorative cardi than anything.  I really hacked away at the length and width through the torso and arms, removed the ugly collar, and cut vertically up the center front.  I re-attached the ribbed waistband, sewed the side/arm seams back up, and used the left over fabric to create a sort of scarf-collar combo. 

I will let you be the judge of the results.

Sweater A: After Image.
It certainly isn't my favorite of the three, but it is functional now, and not terribly bad looking.

Sweater B: After Image.
This one is probably my favorite because it has a sort of vintage feel to it, which was my intent.

Sweater C: After Image.
Floaty and Romantic...perfect.

More sweater alterations might be in my was fun.  Maybe all this thrift store stuff isn't half bad after all.  However, I do NOT think I will be doing another sweater photo shoot in 100 degree weather...THAT was not fun. 

 If you've done any sort of revamping, or altering of non-wearable clothing, I would love to know about it.  Please leave a comment and link to anything you've done.  Let's share!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

1930's Dress: A Herringbone Linen Skirt

With only two weeks left of Summer break, I am frantically trying to build up my Fall and Winter wardrobe.  I have a large amount of stash fabric that needs used up, and I've made a list of items that I would really like to make with all of it. 

First on the list was a functional 1930's style skirt. (I'm really enamored by the styles of the 30's lately...can you tell?) I drafted this one, and used some herringbone linen fabric (cool for the summer, but with a slip it will be perfect for the colder months.)  The buttons are vintage too, from my stash.  One stash project down...about 3000 more to go.  At this rate, I won't have to buy anymore fabric for a very long time (at least that's what I tell myself).

Friday, July 22, 2011

1930's Dress: Finished Grey Gown

I don't have much to say about the finished gunmetal-grey 1930's dress.  So, I will primarily let the pictures speak for themselves.

One thing I did differently from the muslin mock-up that I originally designed, was to eliminate the series of pleats along the waistline of the skirt. My reasons for doing this were two fold: one, they made the over-all appearance of the dress too busy...and two, they drew unnecessary attention to my middle (not a place I want the focus to be.) One thing I didn't count on, was that the bias cut fabric tends to twist around me...but that's just the nature of the beast, I suppose. Also, I'm pretty disappointed in the hem line...I'm just not very good with hemming, machine or hand stitched. I'm hoping that the more I sew, the better I will get at hemming. But it's been 3 years now, and...well...maybe no one will look too closely at my hem. However, the dress is uber-soft, and feminine. I love wearing it, and am so glad I decided to tackle the design, as I think it's a pretty flattering one.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Jane Austen Fest 2011: Photos

Just a quick note here to say that more, and truly lovely, photos of the Jane Austen Festival 2011 can be found on the Graphic Enterprises Website.  Scout around a bit, and you might even see someone you know!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jane Learns to Read


At the beginning of summer break, I started teaching Jane to read.  There were a few tears of frustration involved during the first couple of weeks...but there came a point where everything clicked, and suddenly she couldn't get enough!  Everyday she reminds me when it's time to do her reading lessons, and looks forward to it with joy.

Raised Garden: Reaping a Harvest

We are, at last, enjoying the fruits (or should I say vegetables) of our labor.  We have been swimming in lettuce these past 4 or 5 weeks, and it's only now starting to go to seed.

Our pole beans are coming in, and thick too.  Every time I think of green beans fresh from the garden, memories surface of me and my mom sitting in my grandma's kitchen snapping beans.  The chore itself wasn't all that fun as a child, but I secretly relished the time spent with the ladies in the family.

Our tomato plants, that we've had such a hard time raising, are finally showing some strength and tiny little green tomatoes are popping up everywhere.  But, I still fear they might not be the greatest, because a couple of the baby tomatoes are already starting to split.  I guess this just wasn't the year for tomatoes...sad, because I LOVE them so much in salads, sauces, and salsas. 

A few of our banana pepper and bell pepper plants survived the extra long rainy season.  I was planning on using the peppers in salsa...but with the tomatoes not coming out right...we will have to find another use.

Other crops that are flourishing at the moment are basil, carrots and cucumbers (my favorite cooling summer treat besides strawberries!) I 've already made a batch of refrigerator pickles...yum.  Our garlic and onions will be ready in the fall.

I would highly recommend raised garden beds.  There have been very few weeds creep in, and keeping the beds tidy has been easy.  For those of you with small plots of land, or no land at all, contained gardens are the way to go.  Also, if you don't raise your own vegetables at home, you should think about it purely on the basis of saving money.  Our produce bill has gone down considerably this summer, and the quality and taste of home grown, freshly picked vegetables is incredible.  Sustainable living at it's best people.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1930's Dress: Gunmetal-Grey

(Image Source: Bing?)

I've been in the mood for the past couple of months to make another 1930's inspired dress.  But, with school ending, and desperately trying to wrap up with all of the J.A. Festival projects, I haven't had the opportunity until now to follow through on my mood. 

The last 30's dress I made came out well, but I think it had a more tailored, or severe shape to it. So, this time, I've opted for a slightly more feminine flare. In my search, it seemed that nearly every dress I came across that I liked, was from the early to mid 30's...later 30's didn't appeal to me so much. I'm ok with that.  There are so many cute styles from the 30's it was hard to narrow it down to one design.  But, after much debating, I think I've finally come up with a plan.  In the end, I wanted something that I could wear during the school year.

(Image Source: Costumer's Manifesto. )

 I'm in love with the bell shaped sleeves on the orange gown in the picture above.  So, sleeve idea....done...and check.

I had a difficult time choosing the style of skirt I wanted, and bounce back and fort between a couple before I landed on the v-shaped insert like the one above.  Skirt inspiration...found...check.

(Image source: Woodland Farms Antiques, click for different views of the dress.)

I nearly passed out when I found the above dress.  Gorgeous!  It's definitely the style of bodice that I'm most attracted to.  I even like the over-all color of the dress.  Gunmetal-grey.  Bodice...check.

Fortunately for me, I have some silky soft, poly-rayon blend deliciousness (in gunmetal-grey of all things!) that will work perfectly for this dress.

I drafted the bodice using my sloper, and instructions from an on-line source called Vintage Sewing Info (that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore...I printed directions off a few years ago.  You can still, for the time being, acess the site via web archive.)  Making the reversed t-shape, and gathered under bodice was fascinating and not a little fun.  (On a side note, I actually fill out the bodice a little more than my dress form does...poor thing.)  Have I ever mentioned how much I love to draft and drape?  Seriously, what did I do with my life before I learned to sew?

I'm only in the mock-up stage right now, of course.  ALWAYS make a mock-up first people!  It's best to fit a toile to you before you cut and sew into the real thing.

BIG BOW!  Can I handle that?  I mean, in the grey fabric, it won't be so stiff...but still...

Skirt mock-up....The Y-shaped insert inspiration dress didn't have pleats at the top of the skirt, but the grey dress did...and I like I added them to mine.

Total affect...minus sleeves.  The bow doesn't bother me so much here.

But when the sleeve is added...the bow just seems so BIG and in your face placed in the center of the bodice like that.

If I move the bow to the side, it doesn't seem so bad.  What's your opinion on the bow?  I mean, it's classic 30's, but I think it goes better with a short sleeved gown.  Keep in mind the grey fabric will drape better.

Next up...cutting the gunmetal-grey fabric!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zimu Lovin'

For those who have met my cat Zimu Paka...and think she is Satan's may now eat your words.  Her latest past-time involves curling up in Jane's lap, any time Jane sits still long enough that is.  Proof that she's a loving, sweet, and (not so little) furry creature.  (At least with us.) 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jane Austen Festival 2011

I've finally recovered enough to write a little something about this past weekend's Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove of Louisville, KY.  I've been putting off this blog post for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I suffered from what I believe to be heat exhaustion this weekend. and quite possibly dehydration.  The 90+ degree heat, plus every ounce of moisture from the Ohio River deciding to float up into the air and drench us with smothering humidity, made the weekend oppressive.  At the time of the festival, I stubbornly refused to acknowledge any of that, but once home, it all caved in on me, and I've been recovering ever since.  Secondly, I've read (and you can too) Sarah Jane's post on Romantic History and Natalie's post on A Frolic Through Time, and honestly, I can't think of anything I could say to rival their incredibly talented writing.  They've said it best.

However, aside from the oppressive heat, Locust Grove was beautiful as always, and my husband and I had a marvelous time.  I didn't get quite as many pictures of this year's Festival as last year's Festival.  Hopefully, mine, combined with the photo's from others who went will be enough to satisfy your vicarious appetite.

Carson walked the grounds, following paths under the shade of the trees in the local forest, and discovered a fawn nestled down under a bush.  I strolled though the green, taking in the sites of a couple having a picnic by a beautiful Phaeton.  I would have loved a chance to ride in the carriage...maybe next year JASNA?  I browsed though shops in "Meriton", limiting my purchase to a couple of stockings and some leather garters (Carson's stockings refused to stay above his knee without them.)  I was sorely tempted to buy a gorgeous pair of green, leather shoes from Spencer's Mercantile , but left without them.  I convinced myself that Spencer's Mercantile would be at the Fair at New Boston this Autumn, and that perhaps by then I would be able to afford them as a birthday gift to myself. 

Most people at the festival wisely lingered in the shade.  Even sitting under tents and trees, it was hot.  Once again, I was able to see the Regency Fashion show presented by the incredibly talented seamstress Betsy Bashore.  Due to insurance reasons, the side saddle riding display, the gentleman's dual, and the archery contest were canceled.  I was desperately disappointed by this.  I do hope, that in the future, the insurance issues will be resolved.  These events will bring not only fabulous entertainment, but wonderful educational opportunities for the public.

In the spirit of Elizabeth Bennet, I took a short walk around the grounds.  The garden's were in full (bee buzzing) bloom, and the small, but cool stone outbuildings were a refreshing reprieve.  I was glad to have my parasol.

For me, the best part of the weekend was getting to meet (and see again) so many lovely on-line or historical events only (those people that I see only once or twice a year) friends.   Sarah Jane, of Romantic History, and part of her sweet family were there.  She is a sewing hero of mine, and I can't say enough about how kind, gentle and incredibly talented she is.  Of course, I spent some time with the Bluegrass Regency Society Folks, Natalie, Polly, Sharon, and Caroline.  Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, and The Doctor and Miss Waterman were in attendance,  It was wonderful to meet Maria Clemmons, as well as Kathy Chopra and Mr. and Mrs. Heink.  Oh, and Deanna, Hannah, Stephanie, etc, etc, (so many, that I'm really sorry if I forget to mention you!)  I only wish I lived closer to all of these dear people.  Seeing them so rarely isn't enough for me.

Carson and I took tea on Saturday morning, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised this year at the quality of this tea.  Last year, I complained a bit (sorry, JASNA Louisville), but this year they really outdid themselves.  What a lovely brunch it was for us!  We ate mini quiche, scones, benedictine sandwiches, and lavender rum cake....yum!  I had a black tea named after Marianne from Sense and Sensibility (can't quite remember the name), but Carson had a decaffeinated blend called "Compassion for Mrs. Bennet's nerves."  Clever...

We made it to the ball that evening without too much of a hitch.  Being slightly familiar with Louisville helped me to navigate the streets fairly easily.  The Ball was held in Spalding University's Grand Ball Room.  It was a gorgeous open space, with wooden floors, balconies, high arched windows, and neo-classical inspired architectural decor.  It put me in mind of Bath, England.

My camera batteries died after only a few minutes into the ball, so I don't have many pictures of the evening.  There are some of me dancing on Sarah Jane's and Natalie's blogs.

But, suffice it to say that the dances were delightful, and the dancers were everything you could imagine them to be...graceful, jolly and light on their feet.  Well turned calves and billowing gowns were abundant.

Carson and I stood up for 4 dances each.  Maybe it's just that our confidence is growing, but I believe we are getting better at English Country Dancing.

I forgot the pins I was going to use to polonaise my train, but draping the robe over my arm worked just as well.  And despite the heat and humidity, my hair held up rather well...much better than last year's ball where it drooped and wilted.

On Sunday of the Festival, we volunteered in the Hospitality room, making sure the vendors and volunteers were supplied with ample amounts of refreshments.  This was not only an easy job, but a rewarding one as well.  We were able to meet and converse with numerous reenactors
 Now that the weekend is over, I face life "post Jane Austen festival."  I always feel a slight let down when these events are over...kind of like the day after your birthday.  I have an entire year to wait for the next event.  But this also means that I can start a whole new planning process for outfits, accessories, etc., and I can relax a bit knowing that there is plenty of time to get everything done.  No rushing anymore.  Besides, now I can look forward to the Fair at New Boston and possibly Mississinewa in the Fall!