from the jazz age to the space age

Category Archives: sewing

As I’ve been cleaning and packing I took a good, hard look at my sewing supplies. I haven’t sewn in years and I’m going to blame the baby. Realistically, it’ll probably be another 3 years before I have the time. And to be honest, when I do start up again, I’m not going to want to fiddle with doing a SBA. So, I’m selling my Colette patterns. I’ve already sold one, but I have the Anise coat and the Rooibos dress left. I’m selling them for $12.00 if anyone is interested. You can check them out in my etsy shop, or email me at nouvellegamine@yahoo.com if you don’t want to mess with etsy (some people don’t like it).

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It’s summer and I have a baby, so that means that like it or not, there’s a lot of sitting involved. I decided to revisit the glorious train wreck that is Once Upon a Time. I got hooked on it a few years ago and it remains my favorite guilty tv pleasure. The acting is mostly good and in some cases very good/spectacular- Robert Carlyle clearly acts rings around everyone, going from manic to menacing to tender in the blink of an eye. But the writing suffers from one of my least favorite narrative devices- telling instead of showing.
Seasons 1 and 2 are delightful. Imagine Dynasty and Dallas where everyone is magical. ZOMG! Beginning with season 3 and going forward the writers seem to just churn out stories with some new novelty and forget about developing the characters we’re (supposedly) invested in. Season 4 in particular was a nearly complete waste until the very last midseason episode. Luckily the second half of season 4 picked up a little.
Seasons 1 and 2 also have some of the best costuming. I’m not talking about the Enchanted Forest scenes, which are pure Alexis Carrington run through Drag Race- in the best way possible. No, I’m talking about what they wear in Storybrooke, which is a twee girl’s fantasy.

Mary Margaret Blanchard is werkin’ the Amelie vibe so hard! Of course I love it.
number 1- buy a cardigan in every color. Every. Color.

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I frequently page through my collection of Burda Magazines late at night and play dress up in my head. Can you tell I made a lot of paper dolls when I was a child… and a teen… and still. Anyway, Burda seems to have some holes in their pattern collections. I couldn’t find a simple shell with a lace inset collar. Obviously you can make one, which is what I’ll probably do. I don’t get paid by Burda, this is just because I love their patterns and find them incredibly reliable. But, I don’t spend much time on their website anymore since it turned into Craftsy.

I’ve recently figured out that the sewing world has changed enormously in the last couple of years- and not in a way that interests me. There are a lot of beginner seamstresses, which is great, but as a result there’s a trainload of money to be made is in simple, beginner patterns. And that’s trickled into every pattern company, including Burda. Along with the current fashion trend of simple shapes paired with expensive fabric this has resulted in the same ultra simple patterns all over the internet. It’s not that I hate simple. I just made a shift out of quilting cotton for crying out loud. But I’m definitely suffering from samey pattern fatigue. So, I’m consoling myself with my stack of magazines. These however I pulled from their website bc I’m not up for scanning everything.OUAT1x03_1838

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blouse

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plus blouse

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I’m so into this outfit. I love the shoes. I used to have 2 pairs of lace ups that unfortunately wore out over the course of 15 years. I’m currently on the hunt for replacements. And how hot was Graham? He was on some British show I tried watching with Gillian Anderson, but I decided watching serial killers with my kid was a bad idea. 117A_tech_dwg_large

pants

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plus pants

OUAT1x06_0855 OUAT1x06_1068So many cardigans, right? Anyway, this was my least successful Burda find. While I enjoy a mandarin collar, i thought it was weird that there weren’t more sleeve options. I like the skirt pleats though. I’m so in love with both of the plus dresses.Jan_109_tech_drawing_large

shirt dress

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plus shirt dress

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plus 40s style shirt dress

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Have I mentioned how much I hate pockets on dresses? Or anywhere on the lower half of my body. I think I’ve sewn one things with pockets and they were totally decorative. Oh- they work. You could put items in them, but never in a million years would I actually do that. Probably bc I don’t want to look like my saddlebags are giving birth to my keys. Anyway, this dress has been on my “easy make” radar since the issue came out. I love the Dior darts.117b_c_tech_dwg_large

strap dress

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plus strap dress

This one was impossible to find! It’s such a basic design that it seems weird that it wouldn’t exist. But I’m thinking that since most plus women are rectangular or ovoid with waists close to their bust measurement that maybe it’s not a popular style? I do know that the plus sized women I know in real life won’t be caught dead in a dirndl skirt, so maybe there’s that too.

I’m not going to make any of these anytime soon, esp since I already have my Autumn sewing plan. But I do love to day dream. Between Mary Margaret in season 1 and Belle in season 2, I have lots of clothes pr0n to ogle ;D

Ugh- procrastination over!

Screencaps from http://kissthemgoodbye.net/onceuponatime/index.php?cat=2


Even though it’s only August, the trees here have already started to turn. I’ve been thinking about Autumn and everything that goes with it: shorter days, cooler weather, beautiful foliage, PSL (and everything pumpkin- I don’t care! I love it!), and cute clothes. Ahhhhhhhhh the clothes! Karl will be starting Kindergarten which means I’ll have a few hours (sort of) to myself in the morning, provided Tony naps on schedule.
I lost the baby weight so I’ve been eyeing my patterns and daydreaming. But, after buying some fabric over the summer I’ve vowed to work my way through my fabric stash before I buy any more. I’m pretty confident I can sew at least 2 things.
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I like the neckline on the Eleonore (from the Republique du Chiffon book). I plan to transfer it to my Built By Wendy shift dress so I don’t have to make a toile for this. This is seriously the only way I can ever get anything done, sewingwise. These days I just don’t have the time to make endless muslins (esp from newer companies) trying to get a decent fit. The fabric is cotton from Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley.  I’ve been meaning to peek in there for the last few years, but never got around to it. I really love their selection. Someone complimented me on my geometric dress and collar! But I was too shy to tell her I’d made them. Unfortunately the aisles aren’t big enough to get my stroller through, even though it’s not very big- which I understand. Space is at a premium in Berkeley. I ended up taking the kids back outside, putting the stroller away, and carrying the baby. Unfortunately carrying a baby and trying to carry a bolt of cloth to the cutting table requires a bit of dexterity. I’m going to have to remember to pack the Babybjorn or more likely just wait until Mikael’s days off.

Karl has been on a dinosaur roll so I’ve been making him paper dinos to color. He’s been hogging the dining room table with them. Archeopteryx and Pteranodon like to nest in the flowers. I have nightmares of the vase overturning and destroying any books I leave on the table.

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I’m definitely going to have to make a muslin for this. It’s Burda 8/2009 #112 (BEST issue ever). I’ve had this pinwale, twee as fuck, corduroy laying around forever. I think it’ll be perfect for Fall. My son’s dinosaurs agree. I’m really, really excited to make this bc in the same issue there’s a more complicated version that I’ve been eyeing for a gazillion years. And yes, I have fabric for that too.

I also sort of inherited some clothes from Mikael’s Great Aunt. She was quite the beauty and a clothes horse. The clothes were shipped to my inlaws and I was given the chance to pick anything I thought might fit me. I’m also the closest to her in build, being tall and somewhat slim- although she had more of an athletic 1940s body as opposed to my pear shape. Her mother did quite a bit of sewing for her when she was young and turning the skirts inside out has demystified welt pockets for me like nothing else has managed to do. I picked out a few wool skirts as well as 2 Pendleton wool suits, a couple of beautiful day dresses, and a long cotton dress with a crazy puffed shoulder jacket that looks like something Rachel from Blade Runner would wear while picnicking with Deckard. I’m going to have to alter everything, but it’s doable so I’m incredibly excited. The best part is the colors! The most beautiful greens and deep blues. Gah! I feel incredibly lucky. The few things my Grandmother kept stopped fitting me when I turned 13 and grew into the kaiju I am today. I am happy I have a dress my Grandmother and I made together.

Back to work! I’m almost finished with a new illustration- then I have a painting I’m itching to do- and THEN I should be able to knock out the Eleonore dress and the Burda cape(let).


My son Karl just graduated from Preschool and I wanted something special to wear as well as something to wear with the Twin Peaks collar necklace I made last year. I found this lovely geometric fabric at Joanne’s in the quilting section. I washed it a couple of times and it got very soft, which is pretty standard for most quilting cottons I’ve gotten there. It’s thin enough to be breathable in summer, but thick enough that I didn’t have to line it or wear a slip. Here it is on the morning before we left for the ceremony. photo (6)

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And here we are after. I’m so proud of him! Yes, I’m a little wrinkled post sitting and socializing. Plus with a belt it has a tendency to creep upward, but all in all it’s very comfortable and easy to wear.

IMG_3939 IMG_3940I added cuffs and a sleeve pleat from a Burda Easy pattern. I wanted an early 80s look with the shoulders which I think worked out nicely. I’m one of those broad shouldered women with even broader hips (Hello Joan Crawford!) so a strong shoulder balances me out nicely and makes me look less pear and more hourglass shaped.

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I used the Built By Wendy Shift pattern from her Dresses book and swapped in the sleeve head from Burda Easy Spring/Summer 2013 (one of Burda’s best issues in my opinion).IMG_3950Given that I’m 35″ bust and 41″ hip post baby, with a few more pounds and LOTS of toning to go, I should have cut a Small bust and a Large hip, but I like my clothes slightly more fitted & in my experience most modern patterns have loads of ease. Loooooooaaaaaaads of it. I used the Xtra Small through the bust and graded out to a Medium in the hips, which ended up being totally unnecessary and I ended up with a Small through the hips ( which is bonkers).

IMG_3951As for the sleeves, I used the Built By Wendy sleeve and added the Burda Easy sleeve cap. It turned out perfectly!

I added an invisible zipper, which took forever for me to remember how to put one in, but eventually it worked out. The insides are just pinked so there’s no fancy finishing to show off and instead of a facing I used bias tape for the neckline, which reduced bulk.

Now I’m off to the store and hopefully I’ll be able to get some drawing done this afternoon~


I made this dress last year when I was pregnant with Tony. These photos were taken in late August or early September- when I was around 8 months pregnant. The pattern is from the book, Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha. It’s pattern 3, the “Boatneck Dress.

I LOVE this pattern. It’s incredibly easy. The neckline is wide enough that you don’t need a zipper, but it doesn’t gape. Be warned, the sizing on this is… interesting. The dress is supposed to be loose, but I like my clothing a little more fitted. Initially, I made a size Small, which is a finished bust measurement of 38.5 inches, including ease. this was way too big for me, even in the shoulders. I ended up making an XS, which has a finished bust measurement of 37″ and grading out to a Medium for the waist and hips to accommodate my tummy. At the time, my bust measurement was 36″, but post pregnancy, as I’ve been going back to my normal weight, I’m going to have to take it in quite a bit. I know a lot of people shy away from Japanese patterns, thinking they’ll be too small, but trust me, the fit is usually so loose that you often have to take them in for a more American look. I am 5’9″ so I had to lower the bust dart, but I didn’t have to lower or widen the arm at all. On the book model dress length is mid calf, but I cut mine to right above the knee for a slightly 60s look.

After these photos Karl and I made cookies!
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My first Burda Easy Magazine (covering sizes 34-44) came in the mail last week. Usually the patterns inside don’t spark my imagination, but this time, there were these:

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thumb_800x600_10-3What the what? These are great! You can check out the rest on the Russian Burda website. (P.S.- the Russian Burda website is all you will ever desire in a Burda website.) Instead of waiting for it to pop up on ebay for $20, I just signed up for a year subscription (2 issues) for the same price. It’s a really cool magazine. Here’s what it looks like inside:

IMG_1078As you can see, it has eight patterns, and two of those you draft yourself. (The monthly Burda has 16 to 24, not counting childrens, crafts, draft yourself, and multiple versions.) Still, the four patterns I showed above are so awesome, for $10, I’m sold.

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IMG_1081There are multiple tissue patterns in the center. They aren’t printed over each other in different colors, like regular Burda, but you still need to trace them bc the patterns are printed on both sides of each sheet.

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IMG_1083The back of the magazine features detailed, for Burda, sewing instructions. All in all, this is fun. Karl starts preschool next week which means I have two mornings to myself. I do have a project I need to finish the first week, then it’s on to producing some dolls and paintings for sale, but I’ve promised myself that I have to get into my five year old fabric stash and make some clothes for myself, my husband, and Karl. I refuse to be a doll lady whose dolls are better dressed than myself. Refuse.

As you may have heard, if you read the American Burda website, there is going to be an American version of Burda. Apparently, it will have fewer patterns, but more detailed instructions. I think it’ll end up being something like Burda Easy. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, bc I feel that there’s a market for it. But I’m glad the other international versions with more variety will still exist and will end being the copies I buy.


Saturday Mikael, Karl, and I went to Big Wow, the San Jose Comic Con. I’ll blog about tomorrow. On the way home we stopped by Kinokuniya and I found this beautiful sewing pattern book. I freely admit, I bought it for the gorgeous William Morris wallpaper behind the model, as much as the simple, lovely patterns.
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Oh hey, I’ve finally decided to use my Cal Patch book for something other than slash and spread tutorials.

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Those lovely marks on the wall are from where my husband used to store his bikes. We finally got a bike rack so I’m able to sit in front of the window!

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Karl is busy making dinosaur sounds.

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I really love the gathered shirt and cuffed pants look.

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I don’t know why there’s a raglan pattern. She doesn’t cover that. The instructions for patterns are: knit shirt w/ set in sleeves, button up woven shirt w/ set in sleeves, a-line skirt, and pants. The dresses are extensions of your shirt patterns. And there’s some fun beginning pattern manipulation involving shifting seams, and adding fullness in creative ways. My two favorites are creating a shirt with a pin tucked placket and creating a knit blouse with a bib? and then gathers around it. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s the purple blouse above.

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The other thing is, she doesn’t give any yardage information. Since you’re creating a block that’s unique to you, that information would be different to each person.

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She has a single page on grading and goes over the basics. It very informative for people who don’t know why commercial patterns are restricted to certain sizes.

IMG_0214 I really love this book. I’ve had it since it came out. It introduced me to the correct way to add fullness to pattern pieces, as opposed to just adding fabric to the sides (whoops!). It also has a great introduction to drafting knit shirts. It’s not a sewing book- at all. It’s strictly very simple beginner pattern making. She doesn’t even really talk about bust darts. I’d almost recommend it for the insane amount of measurements she has you get in order to make a sloper. Anyway, the information is great and works, although I added bust darts. I also tackled skirts in a slightly different way. Instead of choosing patterns from my widest hip measurement, which is my low hip, I’ve started choosing the mid hip measurement and then widening 3 inches down where my saddlebags start. Otherwise I end up with an excessive amount of fabric in the upper and middle hip region. I’ve been working on a new set of slopers for my post baby body.  Even at nearly the same weight my body is shaped differently, which is kind of fun. But clothes definitely fit me differently. The good news is I can wear different styles than I used to and like the way I look in them. Hello shifts!


Ok, so I’m super into this. For Valentine’s Day I asked Mikael for “DIY Couture” by Rosie Martin. I’d been looking at the amazon preview for a while, but I already have so many sewing books that it was going to take something special to entice me to buy. I’ve been hit with sewing book burnout. Either the book starts at size 36 bust and I’m feeling too lazy to grade down, or I realize the patterns lack some basic info and I’d have to make a muslin just to figure what size I should then make a muslin in, or the patterns are like ones I already have so even though I like the book, there’s no reason to own it. And of course, the main reason is that since I have so little time to sew, I’m reluctant to add new projects to my sewing wishlist. I’m currently stuck on a Burda pattern that isn’t hard, but I just haven’t had time to focus on it (it involves drafting an asymmetric collar).

A little about DIY Couture: the idea is, by using half circles, rectangles, and by tracing around clothing that already fits you, you can make simple clothes. Usually I recommend practicing first by making a tea towel or tote bag or something, but I can honestly say, after using some scrap material to get familiar with your machine, you could probably actually make an item of clothing from this book. I grew up with sewing patterns around. My Grandma was an amazing seamstress and her photos bear witness to her skill. But, through the years of talking to my friends who want to take up sewing clothes, but never do, some people just don’t get patterns or the idea behind sewing curves into 3d dimensional shapes. So, I can see where this book would be great for them. Some people fall outside the size range of commercial patterns or have to do so many alterations to patterns that it becomes overwhelming. Some people want to make simple clothes but can’t find any very easy, uncomplicated patterns. And finally, some people suffer from sewing burnout in its various forms.

What attracted me to DIY Couture? Well, through my 30s, I wore fitted clothes, usually made out of wovens with minimal stretch. I favored a “soft vintage” look with a girlish vibe or else an early 60s Audrey/Jackie look. But post baby and on the cusp of 40, while the classic early 60s look still works, I’ve been feeling a little “mutton dressed as lamb” in my “Aughts referencing the 70s referencing the Victorian/Edwardian era.” I want to pare down my style to something simple and more mature that’s still fun and eclectic. As a result, I’m really feeling the glam side of the 70s and the new wave side of the early 80s. I recently cut my hair into a bob, and that was definitely a part of my desire to wear clean shapes.

A few reviews I read have thought DIY Couture was geared toward younger seamstresses, but really, I haven’t seen a recent sewing book that isn’t. And The 10 basic clothing shapes seem pretty flexible:

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1. straight skirt (A line, straight, or pencil)
2. grecian dress (dolman/kimono sleeves)
3. skater skirt (a circle skirt)
4. waistcoat (trapezoid and rectangles)
5. cloak (circles)
6. slouch top (super cool and reminiscent of Japanese pattern books)
7. goddess dress (easy riff on Marilyn Monroe’s “Some Like it Hot” dress)
8. hoody (dolman sleeved jacket)
9. trousers (elastic waist)
10. romper (trousers above with a top piece)

Note! nothing has darts. A few pieces have pleats or tucks, but not the straight skirt. I recommend you make it out of material that has stretch or just wing it and put some darts in during the fitting before you sew on the waistband.

Each of these pieces is then shown in one of eight collections, with cute titles like:
Acid Candy, Monochrome Art, American Road Trip, Rude Disco, Coffee Classic, Jungle Punk, Safari Prep, and Tea Picnic. With the exception of Rude Disco and Jungle Punk each collection has something to offer me- esp Road Trip, Coffee, and Safari (pics below).

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I find them simple, but thought provoking. I like circle skirts, but it’s nice to see them in a non-vintage setting. They look so fresh and clever when done in unexpected fabrics (like black denim) or paired with structured, geometric new wave blouses.

I feel the book succeeds brilliantly in what it sets out to do: introduce novices to sewing and empowering them to make their own clothing by demystifying the technical aspects of sewing. She’s definitely punk’s response to Pink Floyd. And I love pretty seam finishes as well as the next person, but I find even the idea of keeping up with the home vintage couture craze exhausting. My only wish is that she’d talked a little about grain and nap. To be clear, if you love detailed, complicated patterns or clothing that fits closely, this book is not for you. If you want your structured clothing to mold your body into a shape other than what it is, this book is also not going to make you happy. But if you’re a fan of Japanese pattern books and soft, fluid styles, clothing that flows over or floats above the body, in an origami way, and yearn for very simple patterns, then this is a great book. I for one, want to explore some rad, batwing New Wave looks crossed with plaids, tweeds, and florals. Why yes, I have been looking at early Vivienne Westwood ;D

diy_0006For each project, there’s a large photo of the Acid Candy version, paired with a drawing of the pattern pieces you’ll make as well as small photos (different from the ones earlier) of each variation.
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Next, there is a front technical drawing of each variation paired with written instructions explaining how the variations differ from the Acid Candy version.
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Detailed visual instructions with both photos and clear, technical illustrations show you how to create the shape, cut the fabric, and sew together the Acid Candy version. If you want to create a different version, refer to the written instructions at the beginning of the project’s chapter. If something diverges radically, then Martin often has a special page devoted to the variation to help you create anything too difficult or hard to visualize.
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Who knew there were so many variations of a circle skirt? Not me.
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This one is my favorite. And I love that it’s so easy.
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At the end of the book, there are line drawings of most of the variations for you to copy and mix and match together.

Today I dug through my ridiculous fabric stash and found 3 fabrics to start with. After my Burda dress is finished (I refuse to ufo it), I want to make a woven plaid circle skirt, a grecian dress cut down to blouse length, and a waistcoat. Obviously, I’ll be modifying the patterns a bit by using invisible zippers instead of the simple lapped zippers shown, as well as sewing up the sides of the coffee classic waistcoat instead of having it wrap. But the thought of just sewing something up and not fussing with set in sleeves is really nice right now. I’ll keep you posted!


“You took my hand and led me down to watch a papillon parade,
And we let the kittens lick our hair and drink our chalky lemonade”
~Andrew Bird, Masterfade

I finally finished sewing something. Finally. FINALLY. It’s only been three years, so I may be a little excited. I sewed up a frenzy while I was pregnant, but after my son was born I just couldn’t budget time for husband/child/art/ and sewing. Annnnnd, I have a terrible sewing confession: I was a fast and dirty seamstress. I’d get so excited about making something I’d rush out, buy the fabric, cut it and sew it up- immediately. No pre-washing. Inevitably, when the blouse, dress, or skirt would need washing they’d shrink and obviously no longer fit. Also, seams and hemming, very sloppy. It didn’t even bother me because I’d have so many ideas I’d just move on to the next project. My Grandma would have been horrified.

I knew I wanted to create long term clothes this time around, but inspiration still eluded me. I ordered the Colette Sewing Handbook on a whim. It’s very pastel. Very. Like a packet of candy hearts. I look like shit in pastels, but sometimes you have to break out of your comfort zone. I skulked around the Coletterie blog reading past posts and saw a few patterns made up for Fall/Winter in palates more suited to my coloring (I’m an Autumn) and fell in love. That’s when I ordered the book. I read through it and was impressed. It’s- hands down- the best modern beginner clothes sewing book I’ve come across. I really can’t say enough nice things about the book. I decided to tackle the Licorice dress and make a loose blouse. Because I didn’t sew the waist shaping darts, I didn’t have to do a Small Bust Adjustment- warning, the patterns are drafted for a C-cup instead of the usual B-cup. My original book review is here. I mention having a cold. Turns out that was pneumonia. I got better, but then it was time for the holidays. So yes, now I have finally finished it. I love it. The pattern was a dream to work with.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI wanted it to be a little short. I’m pear shaped and let me tell you, long loose blouses do not do me any favors. Blouses that hit at my high hip are just right.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASoooooooooo, what happened here? Short answer, I forgot to sew them closed and by the time I realized my mistake I’d sewn the outer fabric, collar, and lining together and really, really didn’t want to unpick it.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI knew I’d have to narrow the blouse to prevent front and back gaping. I used this tutorial (the second one) and it worked beautifully.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI left the sleeves unlined. Hello Bubo (or Nyctimene, but that story’s kind of gross).

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAhere it is! What was going on where I forgot this?

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Next up, a dress from Burdastyle Sewing Vintage Modern Book!



I had the pleasure of seeing Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. And yes, it’s very current Tim Burtony with all of the good and bad that goes with that. The good is that the movie has a lovely painterly aesthetic, without the cgi blurriness of his Alice. There’s still cgi in Dark Shadows, but it’s not as overwhelming (until the end). The bad is that it needed an editor in a couple of scenes (such as the end) that wanted to be “Mars Attacks so-bad-it’s-good” but were instead, just bad. Of course there’s no coherent plot, but after all this time if you’re still watching a Tim Burton film looking for plot then you deserve to be disappointed. Visuals are where he excels, and he mostly delivers. After some opening plot- that will also be all the plot you’ll get for the next 2 hours (until? yes, the end. Not the end-end, which was good, but the almost end. Ugh.)- we have the lovely visual above: a train winding its way through autumnal New England while the Moody Blues, “Nights in White Satin” plays. And since I’m super into autumn trees, I’m pretty much set for the film. But then the real star shows up: Colleen Atwood’s costumes. Do you like 60s/70s bohemia? Troubadours? Barbara Hulaniki’s Biba? Then sit back and enjoy the clothes prOn.

click on pics to enlarge~
No joke, I thought it was, “Knights in White Satin,” and had something to do with courtly love a la, the Rolling Stones, “Lady Jane.” Nope. Totally fooled by those troubadour shirts that the band wore in my imagination. Anyway, how cute is her coat?
Close up of the adorable cloak/coat.
There will be a follow up post regarding Michelle Pfeiffer’s amazing hair. In the meantime check out that gorgeous green and plum print! She’s also wearing macrame owl earrings!
I love the keyhole neckline on Victoria’s dress.
Michelle Pfeiffer/Elizabeth Collins Stoddard killing it.
Adorable jabot. I actually have a pattern from my Grandma with a similar look.
Victoria Winters bears a striking resemblance to Elizabeth…

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Helena Bonham Carter as Dr Julia Hoffman wearing vintage Biba

HBC busy being awesome.

Johnny Depp as Barnabus Collins. He was pretty funny and definitely enjoyable. Also, his cloak/coat is gorgeous (and actually dark green). His Lugosi crossed with Orlock vampire worked for me visually. He was just handsome enough to be… well, handsome, and just gross enough to be awesome. His hands in particular are delightful. He wears prosthetics and seems to enjoy using the skills he picked up on Ed Wood of hypnotic vampire fingers.

links~

c20vintagefashion, felicelog, joblo, newsie_nympho screencaps

various patterns from Burdastyle if you’re inclined to create your own romantic 60s/70s style.












well, it pains me to write it because I’m a total Burda fanatic, but the Burda Classics issue was a bust.

As you can see, the problem with the patterns is that they lack both vintage fit and vintage details. I have a number of Burda patterns with far more detail and much better cut. Few patterns would be fine, but who buys a vintage inspired pattern collection for shapeless styles? 3 of the 5 jackets have very little shaping. And I love pencil shirts, but how hard would it have been to throw in a raised waistband variation? I do realize that 16 patterns for $10 is a steal, so I’m not complaining too much, but I am disappointed. The retro inspired features in Burda’s monthly magazines are some of their best designs. August/2012 retro Chanel/1940s mash up was beautiful! 9/2012 retro 60s and  70s designs were endlessly inspiring and useful. Sigh.
And the dresses give us the choice of super generic LBD and frankly out of place wrap dress.

The faux fur short jacket is cute, but the Chanel inspired jacket is bulky looking in the arms.

The Yves Saint Laurent inspired group was hit or miss, but I did like that they used a mature model. This particular jacket pattern is nice.


Yesterday I went to the Colette Patterns Fall 2012 Launch at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. My husband, son, and I started off next door at James and the Giant Cupcake. Yeah, delicious cupcakes and an awesome low key atmosphere. They even had a table with paper and markers for kids to sit at. Unfortunately I ended up with blue frosting on my pants. What can I say, you can’t take me anywhere. Seriously though, if you’re in the area, check them out.

After the cupcakes, I went next door to A Verb for Keeping Warm. Their shop is lovely. I really wanted to see examples of the Colette patterns made up and I wasn’t disappointed. They were even better in person than in the pictures, as well as a little less intimidating. To expand on that- I discovered that they would also look good on my tall, small breasted pear shape and aren’t just for busty women.
It was interesting to see the fabrics chosen for varous designs. Quite a few were cotton/batiste/voile as opposed to a rayon or challis or other typical dress or blouse fabrics. I LOVE working with cottons so that was a big plus. The patterns have amazing details. Very vintage-y without being costume-y, which is important to me. I love vintage designs, but some clothing from the 40s or 50s, if done accurately, tends to make the wearer look upholstered and honestly, matronly. Beware, it’s a small step from Joan Holloway structured brilliance to looking like my Grandma’s ottoman. The Colette patterns sidestep this problem nicely by having small details like notched sleeve bands, tucks, small gathers, and clever, unobtrusive pockets without being fussy or overly cutesy. Quite a few would look perfectly at home on the set of Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” I fell in love with many patterns. There may be some Colette fan art from yours truly in the near future.
Despite my crippling shyness I did manage to meet Sarai & Kenn & have her sign my copy of the Colette Sewing Handbook. They were both polite and neither mentioned the blue frosting on my pants. I also ended up buying the “Anise” coat pattern. I was on the fence bc it doesn’t have bust darts and thought it would flatten me out more than I am. But, after looking at the samples I decided to take a chance. Worst case scenario- I add bust darts to the muslin.

I have something to admit: I am only a recent fan. Colette patterns are drafted for a c-cup {most patterns are drafted for a B} and I was reluctant to add another pattern alteration to the legion I already have. They also have their own sizing- I’ve written before about my loathing of vanity sizing as well as using random numbers to describe a size. My dead hobby horse is that sizing should just be measurements. Oh look, a 34″ bust, this is the one I buy. BOOM- problem solved. It is a little weird that on Colette sizing i’m a 2/4 when in tradtional sewing sizes, and my vintage clothes, I’m a 12/14. I buy a 6 or 8 in most stores (hello vanity sizing). It may seem obvious, but definitely double check your measurements for their size.

The Colette Sewing Handbook is the best modern sewing book for beginner/intermediate seamstresses I’ve read. Even better than my beloved Burdastyle {book, not magazine. The magazines are a totally different beast and are not for beginners} and Built by Wendy. The Colette book takes you through five projects of increasing difficulty. Everything is laid out in an easy to understand way and there are profuse photographs of everything. After reading through the whole thing, I started the “Licorice” dress at the end {I’m already an intermediate seamstress} and shortened it into a blouse. It’s almost finished despite me and my son Karl battling this ridiculous 2 week cold. The pattern was wonderful. First of all, the size 34″ bust fits my shoulders and arm scythe perfectly. I had to do a front & back gaping neck adjustment, move the bust darts down an inch, lengthen the sleeves & torso… and that was it. {That may seam like a lot to you, but trust me, I’ve had patterns where nothing fit correctly.} I only sewed the bust darts and omitted the waist darts bc I wanted it a little blousen. I think bc of this I didn’t have to do a small bust adjustment, which was a nice surprise. I’ll post photos when i’ve finished.

My sweet Karl at the beach.

Perusing my Colette Sewing Book {now signed!}

The Anise Coat pattern

The little book of instructions inside the pattern

a place for your notes


i made this about 5 years ago from the “sew u” built by wendy book. i can’t say enough nice things about this book. the pattern is super simple, just 2 pieces with darts. i really wanted a long comfortable skirt in a neutral color that i could personalize. i actually made a few skirts from this pattern with different embroideries. it’s addictive 😀 
skirt front: rabbit and pocket.
i drew and then embroidered the rabbit.

velvet ribbon

action! 
i don’t actually know what’s going on here, but it appears i’m about to fix james bond a drink. obviously i’m ms. moneypenny. wallflowers unite!

karl wants to take photos too! 
“Dada!” {mikael is taking the photos}

karl is wearing a star wars shirt that’s, inexplicably, in rasta colors. we’ve dubbed it, “episode 4:20.” yeah, we’re lame.
the best part? people ask me where i bought it!

{obligatory feet photo. i’m a product of my time.}


joann’s is having a sale on simplicity patterns that started yesterday and ends november 12th. 5 patterns for $5. limit 10. there are a few other limitations but most of simplicity’s patterns are on sale.
i picked up 5 yesterday. i didn’t really need any new patterns, but i’m kind of a pattern ho. i’ve had my eye on these but just could justify the expense. yesterday was my lucky day! 

2 retro simplicity patterns.
honestly, picked up 2154 just for the “mad men”  vibe and beautiful cover colors.

3588 is from the 1940s. i adore at waist pants & these are beautiful. i love their side zip. the blouse is pretty awesome too. it features double darts in the front!

2282 i picked up for the lovely princess seams. i might even try making a bib necklace.

2305 is a cynthia rowley pattern. i love the rounded hem and soft easy style.

2211 is a lisette pattern. i’ve wanted a skirt like this forever, with the pleats on the seam lines. it has a very “amelie” kind of vibe.

close ups of the retro patterns. see what i mean about 2154? total trudy campbell outfit!

good luck shopping and get there before all the good ones are picked over!


i’ve been wanting to post some of the clothes i’ve made, but painting has been occupying all of my time. however, i finally got it together, a little, to post a blouse i made 2 years ago when i was pregnant with karl.
first, i really wanted a cool cotton blouse for the months of august and september. we lived in san francisco at the time and no one has air conditioning. even though i’m normally cold all the time i was hot-hot-hot when i was pregnant. i found some lovely cotton and preshrunk it.
i used the top and back of burda 6/2009 # 123 and the bottom of burda 2/2009 #110. on #110’s piece i didn’t cut it on a fold. instead i extended the fold another 2 inches and connected the front center pieces with a seam. the most challenging issue was the bust. i wasn’t sure what to make in order to accommodate pregnant/nursing breasts. i ended up adding 2″ to my bust measurement in preparation and it worked out wonderfully. but for you, i would ask whichever female relative you take after and get a good estimate.

here are some photos of me while pregnant.

but, they don’t really show the blouse, probably bc my priority was getting shots of my tummy.
so, today i took some photos~
trimmed with ric rac. 
i love the sleeves. 
here are some pictures of my blouse from different angles. there are more details to be be seen, but since i’m not pregnant it doesn’t fit right.   
i like the back quite a bit. it reminds me of a sack backed dress. 
i feel like the mymble from “moomin.”
plenty of tummy room. 

ps~ taking actual pictures of myself is very awkward. trying to figure out what to do with my arms so that people could see the blouse was murder! 
from burdastyle 6/2009 and 2/2009


my 4 year anniversary approaches on august 2nd! i can’t believe it’s been 4 years already. my husband mikael is my absolute dream man. now that we have karl i don’t have much time to sew, although after i’m done with my current art project i’m going to take a month off from painting and make something- anything!
i’ve always wanted to make my wedding dress. i originally chose a vintage vogue pattern but adding 2″ to the length of the torso was going to prove too difficult. i happened to browse through my then newest issue of burda and fell in love.
issue 3/08 had a bridal pattern inspired by wallis simpson’s wedding gown. it was perfect! easy to add length to the torso and skirt and easy to add width to the hips. i made a muslin first and worked out the kinks, mostly fitting through my hips. my measurements then were 34″-25″-38″.  
made from champagne silk shantung. i omitted the belt bc i loved the triple darts in the front and wanted to show them off.
i loved the 30s vibe. we felt like the hippy version of nick and nora!
yes, we had a keg as well as almond champagne. my priority was to provide great drinks and food for my guests. i appreciated them coming to share our day!
stationing han and leia on planet cake!