Saturday, December 24, 2011

Movies You Ought To See: The Thin Man Films

William Powell and Myrna Loy drink like fish, solve mysteries, and banter with the sort of affectionate gender animosity that passed for a happy marriage in the 1930s.  The movies are charming, funny, and (sexism, racism, and alcoholism aside) have a surprisingly modern sensibility.  The series spans my favorite period of history (first film 1934, last film 1947), and the clothes are straight-up gorgeous.  This is what Nick and Nora wear to get a midnight snack of scrambled eggs and toast:

Let's see that again from another angle:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lace-Up Trousers

Mission accomplished!

Lace-up trousers: high-waisted straight-leg trousers in plaid wool flannel, with notched waistband, belt loops, front pocket, and laces!

They came out looking distinctly more seventies than I expected, but I love 'em anyway.  I've really said most of what I have to say about these trousers--they were a pain in the ass, but I finished them anyway, in a mad burst of speed less than an hour before the Christmas party I wanted to wear them to.  Their dominant feature is probably the laces:

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do I Do With This Wool Suiting?


It's 60" wide and I have two and a half yards--wiggle dress?  Circle skirt and short drapey jacket?  It drapes oh so nice and has mild-to-moderate fray.  I have the opposite problem from many sewing bloggers in that I have a small but growing wardrobe of practical separates (you can never have enough) and zero me-made dress outfits, so as resistant as I am to sewing special-occasion garments, that's probably the direction I should go here.

Any pattern suggestions (I draft my own, but I often use vintage patterns as a model)?  Y'all know how I love vintage silhouettes.  Hit me with your best shot.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pants: The Anger

Pants, why do you fail me so?  I spent ages drafting this pattern from my original sailor pants pattern--narrowing the leg, mainly, and I'll get into where I went wrong there--then sewed it up in a lovely plaid wool flannel (being careful to match the plaids even though the print is tiny and unobtrusive!)--and what do I get?  Chaos.  Side seams that won't meet, much less lap over a zipper.  Lines where the fabric pulls over my (nice and round) tummy.  A seat so tight the stitches pop when I sit down.

At this point, I've made a million adjustments (probably more like five) and I'm just tired of stitching and restitching the same stupid seams.  I started out carefully basting but by the third time 'round I was just stitching recklessly with no thought for the future.

The problems may be many, but I don't want to just ditch these guys--too much work has gone into them.  I think the plan now is to make them into lace-up pants--stitch a modesty panel behind the side seam opening, throw some facings on the seam edges, put in a couple of impromptu eyelets, and lace up the side.  Yes?  No?  I just can't face throwing them away.  I will find a way to make this work.  And then I will add some ease over the hip, as I think I accidentally pared away too much when I was narrowing the leg.  The more you know!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Status Report: Quite Accomplished

Life developments of the nuptial variety have been absorbing much of my time lately (not to mention the usual slog of writing/reading/teaching[/eating/sleeping], week in and week out), but never fear: I'm still sewing!  The ever-encroaching Syracuse winter is a strong motivator to supplement my winter wardrobe.  With my wardrobe gaps in mind, as well as the adaptations necessary to turn my fall wardrobe into a winter one, I've created this outfit:

Refashioned sweater vest!:  I bought this sweater at the Salvation Army because it was all-wool (originally from Banana Republic) and a gorgeous color red, but when I tried it on it was definitely too tight at the armscye (and besides, three-quarter-sleeve tight crewneck sweaters are not my style).  I cut off the arms, deepened the sleeve openings a little, and finished them with the same bias tape from my chemise dress for a white accent that barely shows when I move my arms.  The sleeves were the perfect length to use as-is for leg warmers (a little droopy, but super warm!)  You can see both in the video above, which Dear Fiancée made to test her new iPhone.

I've got a petticoat sewn up and awaiting a waistband and hem--an adjusted trouser pattern in progress, in plaid wool flannel--an A-line skirt pattern to cut out in same--and the glimmerings of a plan for a back-button blouse in army-green wool jersey (Claire McCardell and I agree on the eternal appropriateness of wool jersey).  My sewing room is a mess, but I sleep easy in the knowledge that I will have no shortage of projects for the winter break.

Coming up: Pants issues, and how; also, I have some lightweight wool suiting and I have no idea what to do with it--I'll be asking your advice!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chemise Dress, Take Two

The stars aligned--my omens were propitious--I needed something clean to sleep in--so I sewed another chemise!

It's a bit see-through, so I'll let Dottie model it (that immodest slattern):

Chemise: Cotton muslin, made with this pattern, only I made it a little wider at the sleeves and hem (for comfy sleeping) and a few inches shorter (for lack of material).