Wednesday, March 21, 2007

70's Style Updated

I peruse fashion magazines for trends and styling tips, and tear out the pictures of garments with interesting decorative details, embellishments, fabrics, etc. This spring one trend that caught my eye was lots of feminine blouses with gathers, ruffles or flounces. A lot of them resemble what I called "peasant blouses" back it the 70’s when I sewed and wore them for the first time. Here is the pattern from my collection. Using my Dollar Store magnifying glasses, I see that the date on the envelope says 1971, so I would have been 14 years old at the time. I remember making the blouse and doing the cross stitch. I definitely did not do the head scarf. In the past few months I have collected several pictures of this style of blouse, but they are all paired with slim pencil skirts, not the more common multi tiered calf length skirts that make you look like a dancer with a Latin American Folk group. One picture is a Banana Republic ad (the blond), showing a blouse with neckline gathers, band and front button placket, tuked into a slim pencil skirt. This silhouette appealed to me.. My basic shape is elongated pear. This outfit would add bulk on top where I need it. It was slim on the bottom, which I can do if you get past my waist. The front placket contributes to a vertical line. And I have always liked the blue, tan color combination for summer.. When I spotted the pattern for New Look top 6678, I quickly purchased it. It was so close to the pictured blouse, plus it also had waist darts to keep the waist slim. Looking at the full-page magazine ad, I thought the blouse was made of sueded silk, so I ordered some dark turquoise sueded silk from After checking out the BR web site I found out the blouse was actually cotton and looked a bit wrinkly. I have never noticed Banana Republic stores before. But in the time since I tore out the ad, I have read two articles that suggested BR as a good store for "classic fashion updated with modern details" for the over 40 customer. Here is how the blouse turned out after much work and some tweaking. I widened the band 5/8 " towards the neck, to make it easier to work with and cover my bra straps. The original band was 7/8 wide, with 3/8 seam allowances. I am really happy with the way it turned out though the sleeves are a little foppish. I may restyle them by removing the flounce, gathering the bottom edge, and enclosing it a bias binding. Hours after finishing the blouse I felt I had to make myself a skirt like the one in the picture too. I was in "Get er done!" mode. So I quickly chose a tapered skirt pattern from my stash based on the written description of "tapered, kick pleat" and 1 yard 60" fabric required. I didn’t have enough wool gabardine for the kick pleat so I made a creative design decision and used brown scalloped edge lace instead. I was liking the way the skirt was going together until I was pin fitting the side seams, and realized the unique back yoke emphasizes the derriere area. The yoke curves over the butt cheeks and ends in a point just below the butt curve. The kick pleat starts at the point the yoke ends, Way up high! Very revealing when the kick pleat is made of lace. The lining does not cover the kick pleat. This was not what I had planned for a skirt to wear to work. I am not the office hottie! To tone it down, I plan to remove the lace and replace with similar colored silk shantung. Hubby likes the outfit, but thinks I should wear the top button of the blouse unbuttoned like the BR model and the pattern envelope picture. His idea of appropriate clothes for me are best described as " aggressively sexy". I am flattered he thinks I can carry it off, but it ain’t going to happen. And that BR model, comparing her picture to mine, I realized the poor girl has no hips!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can't Stop

SWAP momentum can be strong. It caused me to created two more garments, in the past weeks, that could be included in the SWAP if I chose to switch out some pieces. I intended to stop making SWAP stuff, and switch to vacation sewing, but the fabrics, threads and patterns were still in my "sewing room" (the dining room). And in a moment when the need to make something was strong, I grabbed the next fabric/pattern pile. What emerged was a fitted safari style jacket (Vogue 7764) made out of a sueded distressed looking print which goes well with the SWAP pants and pencil skirt. The fabric came from the home decorating area of Joanne's. When I buy non garment fabric for garments, I always worry that someday, someone will comment that my jacket matches their curtains or couch. Wouldn't it be amusing, in a warped way, to make a garment out of the same fabric as your couch and then have someone take a picture of you wearing it while sitting on the couch. I wonder if it would be a surreal photo of an disembodied head (matching jacket) or legless torso (matching pants). Yes, it is past my bedtime.

Anyway, I also put together another reversible jacket (Vogue 8167) that was alternative B on the reversible garment list. I wasn't as confident it would turn out well, as it was a non TNT pattern and a style I don't usually make. The remaining black wool poly Timmel fabric was used for one side of the jacket. The other side is a lightweight beige pinwale corduroy. I chose the pattern because it had a sewn on scarf type front and I had purchased a fringed jaqcuard woven scarf in my SWAP colors that I wanted to use in lieu of the front. It turned out fine,a little dramatic looking for my taste, and I need to remember that cut on sleeves are not the best look for my sloping shoulders. Shoulder pads to the rescue.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

All Done!

I have finished all my SWAP garments. The last two tops are the Issey Miyake blouse in a lightweight gold red cross woven silk and a Carolina Herrera inspired blouse in the wool poly blend from Timmel Fabrics. The CH blouse did not turn out as light and ethereal looking as the inspiration picture. I used commonly available polyester ribbons for the trim. I suspect CH used lighter weight silk or rayon ribbons in keeping with the weight of the garment fabric. I have rolls of white silk ribbon I could have dyed, but with the time constraints I decided against that approach. I also lined the blouse body with Bemberg rayon so that I didn’t need to worry about the color of the bra I was wearing. I have a penchant for brightly colored undergarments.
I have 11 well fitting, well made, coordinating garments that make a great work wardrobe. I haven’t got a SWAP name yet, but am seriously considering "wonderful work wardrobe" abbreviating it to www. Remember I work in IT. Okay, so IT people can be weird some time. I still have some other garments planned that I may use in the final 11-garment submission. My strategy has been to share my ideas, progress and pictures along the way. The pictures especially provided me with visual feedback on fit and color coordination, and a record of the possible combinations. Other SWAP participants chose different sharing strategies based on their technological restrictions, and I suspect also, their competitive style.
I am glad I finished early. Life is starting to throw distractions at me. Like gorgeous spring weather. It was 70 degrees here yesterday. On a morning yard tour, I found daffodils and miniature iris in full bloom. I bought some seed packets for flowers and herbs recently. I need to get them started. Eldest son announced he is in the school play (the chorus) and needs various costume. And an Easter week vacation on a Caribbean island has caused me to lose interest in winter fabrics and colors. It has also changed the location of my lunch hour from the cafeteria to the company fitness center. I thought about a small vacation SWAP, but really don’t have the time. Though I am using my SWAP planning experience to choose the clothes I will pack for my vacation. Maximizing wardrobe combinations and minimizing suitcase size.