Tag Archives: style

Vogue 8804 – Chanel Style Jacket

27 Sep

It’s been awhile since I’ve had anything happening in the sewing room that I felt was blog-worthy.  Now, however, I have an EPIC project that I want to document and share.  It’s the new Claire Schaeffer, Chanel style jacket sans motorcycle helmut and leather gloves:

It’s an epic project because of the preparation and sewing techniques involved.  My goal is to greatly improve my sewing skills during the construction of this jacket.  Hope springs eternal.

I bought the fabric during a wild shopping moment in London.  Don’t ever go to Joel & Son unless you want to unload some cash!  It IS a wonderful fabric store, but I’m glad it isn’t located in my town!  The fabric is a beautiful pewter gray boucle with “Chanel” written all over the selvedge.  I don’t really know what that means, except that perhaps the fabric was made for Chanel?

I purchased the lining at this shop, as well.  It’s a gray stripe silk – a beautiful piece that will look perfect with the boucle.

It took several weeks to accumulate the notions and trims, especially the trims.  Here is what was needed:

I had to get silk thread in this exact, sort of odd gray color, silk buttonhole twist in the same color, 1/4″ cotton woven stay tape, gold chain, buttons, interfacing and trim.  Most of that had to be ordered online, since there were no stores in my area that carried these items.  For the trim, I took some of the fabric apart and made a braid.  I made two other braids with some lighter and darker mohair, then I plaited the three braids together.  If I use this braid, I will put a black petersham ribbon under it, since I can’t find a gray ribbon to match.

The other option for the trim, and one I am favoring at the moment, is to fringe the boucle and use that as the trim.  The fringe on the boucle is really pretty, as you can see in the picture, so that may be the one.

I have just finished cutting out and marking the boucle.  Here are the pieces:

Now I am ready to cut out the lining and interfacing.  I am a very slow sewist as it is.  This will take some time, and I intend to enjoy the process.


Travel Wardrobe – Finished

17 Apr

The title is a bit tongue-in-cheek, because the travel wardrobe isn’t finished until the suitcase is zipped shut for the final time, but at least I can say the Spring Six-Pac is finished.  This is probably the best collection I’ve ever put together, simply because each piece goes with other pieces in my closet.  I learned a lot about combining colors, and especially about Nanette Lapore’s “column of color”.

Simply stated, the column of color is the anchor of a collection.  Besides being slimming, it offer the opportunity for throwing just about anything in your closet (especially if you are working within your personal color zone) over the top to create an entirely new look.

I extended the column of color to include a draped cardigan in the same fabric.  I figured it would offer lots of mix-and-match opportunities.  I will say that I have finally come to the conclusion that a draped cardi is not for me.  This one is the StyleArc Abby cardi, and it is good as far as draped cardis go, but I’m just not crazy about the look.  I will wear this one, though.

Here is the collection:

From left to right, the Abby Cardigan from StyleArc, the Creative Cate top (under the cardi) from StyleArc, Vogue 8435 raglan sleeve top, The Sewing Workshop Quincy top without pleats at the bust, another Vogue 8435 top, Cutting Line Design Discover Something Novel pants, and finally, Annie’s Cami from StyleArc.

The missing piece here is the Vogue 8435 skirt made from the same fabric as the Quincy top (a wonderful rayon tencel from Marcy Tilton).  I didn’t have enough fabric and had to order some more (actually, I think I accidentally threw a piece away, but that’s another story).

The scarf was a bit of serendipity – a piece of silk from my stash that I had purchased long ago to make a scarf, but never did.

By the way, I love, love, love the Quincy!  I intend to figure out how to make it without the zipper, either with one large button at the top or no buttons at all.  I like it without the pleats, and got the idea for that from TerriK on Stitcher’s Guild.  Thanks Terri!

I’m off to a spa in Utah next week for 3 days with a dear friend of mine.  I am so looking forward to it.  I’m sewing a couple of tops and some pajamas that I will post about later.

Here are two more pictures of the collection:

Chado Ralph Rucci and Marcy Tilton?

24 Oct

My next project is a Marcy Tilton jacket and Chado Ralph Rucci pants. It seems like an unlikely pairing, but in my mind it works because of the proportions.

The Chado Ralph Rucci pants, Vogue1215, are slim, which I have been looking for.  Slim pants are going to be tricky, because I don’t want to look like a lollipop on a stick, a mushroom, or any other top-heavy shape you can come up with.  I want to look like the svelte model in the picture below:

That will only happen in my parallel universe, where all things are skinny and beautiful (hopefully, y’all know I’m teasing – I’m pretty comfortable in this old body).  I love the shape of these pants, though: not too tight, a bit flowy and feminine – just perfect.

I am pairing these pants with the new Marcy Tilton jacket, Vogue 8693:

I love the drape of this jacket – casual, but elegant at the same time.  This is a similar silhouette to Vogue 8582:

This pattern has become a TNT for me.  I’ve made it up in long sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, scoop neck, and turtle neck.  I like that the narrowest point is just above the waist, which is my narrowest point.  Here is a picture of last top I made out of a rayon/lycra knit:

I realize that the top and the jacket are different in many ways, as well.  For one thing, the jacket looks like it has lots of ease.  That, or the jacket on both models is too big.  I will have to be careful of that, perhaps using the smallest size and adjusting from there.  However, because of the “wings”, there is plenty of ease in the waist/hip area, so I may not have to worry about that at all.

The other difference is the fabric.  I usually look best in a thin, drapey fabric.  This jacket will be made out of an unusual cotton double knit I got from Emma One Sock.  It is a double-sided knit; one side is a gray, heathered solid and the other side is a creamy-white and gray print (sort of a small houndstooth, but not really).

Here are the two fabrics for the project.  On the left is a gray, stretch wool for the pants.  The two on the right are both sides of the cotton double knit I will use for the jacket.  The side I call “houndstooth” and the side I call “heathered solid”.

Marcy shows the latest jacket she made from this pattern in “Marcy’s Closet” on her blog.  Here it is:

I intend to play with the fabric, alternating the sides to come up with a similar effect.

This is my last week of freedom before I have surgery on my foot.  I don’t know when or if I will be able to sew for awhile, since the foot needs to be elevated for about two weeks after surgery. But, you can bet I will do everything in my power to make sewing a priority, especially, since I have this project in mind. Right now, I have visions of me sitting at the sewing machine, legs splayed, one foot on the peddle and the other propped on a pillow sitting atop a chair. Nice visual, huh? I hope it works.

Mad Men, Style, and the Shattering of Cultural Illusions

22 Oct

Carolyn, over at The Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, recently brought up the topic of Mad Men. I’m so glad she did, because I have a few things to say about this show. Since I couldn’t say it all in a blog comment box, and since I have my own blog in which to spew my pig-headed opinions, here goes.

First of all, if you haven’t watched this show for the clothes alone, you’re in for a treat.  It is 60’s retro on steroids.  The period clothing is well researched (as is everything else in this show) so you can look at the clothing knowing that this is what city folks were wearing at that time. Here are a few pictures:

Not only is the clothing amazing, but the photography is stunning!  They only shoot about 8 episodes a year, so it looks like they spare no expense on those episodes.

Now for the meat.  This show is a culturally accurate depiction of  the era that begins before the civil rights movement (actually, the movement is taking place in the background), the feminist movement, the anti-war movement,  and any other of the huge social and political movements that began in the very late 50’s and continued into the 60’s and beyond.

Pay attention, get past the gorgeous clothes and the pristine photography, and what you will get is a cultural history lesson, my friends.  Life in the USA was not always as it is now. . . a good thing to remember.  What you will see are depictions of male/female relationships and office politics before the feminist movement, gender identity issues before it was possible to “come out”, racial attitudes that will make you hang your head in shame.  And it’s all accurate.  This is the way we were.

As I commented on Carolyn’s blog, I sometimes have to remind friends my age who are living in a nostalgia vortex, that those were not the good old days. If people who actually lived through it can’t remember how bad it was, then it occurs to me that people who didn’t live through it might be taking what we have for granted.  And judging from some of the things happening in our political system right now, I think that’s exactly where we find ourselves. We’ve come far, not far enough, but far.  The point is, we don’t ever want to return to those attitudes, so a little reminder can’t hurt.

So, look at those gorgeous clothes, marvel at the beautiful cinematography, but pay close attention the message, because Mad Men is more than a soap opera. . . much more.

Combating Jet Lag and Other Trip Goals

28 Sep

We leave for Pisa, Italy on Thursday, so this will be my last post before the trip. I have spent the last few days preparing for jet lag.  I’m one of those people who gets slammed to the point of completely missing the first two days of an overseas trip.  I usually feel like someone just dropped me off on Mars and expected me to function without a space suit.

It’s such a waste of adventure, not to mention money, to miss days of a trip due to jet lag, so I try to prepare in advance.  Through trial and error, I have figured out what works for me, so maybe it will help someone else.

About five days before an overseas trip (eastbound), I start going to bed one hour earlier each night and getting up one hour earlier each day.  This is the fourth day, so I will go to bed at 6:00 pm tonight and get up tomorrow morning at 2:00 am.  Last night, I went to bed at 7:00 pm and got up this morning at 3:00 am.  For westbound travel, you would reverse the process and go to bed one hour later each day.

Am I tired?  Oh, you betcha!  I think what really happens with this scheme is that I get the jet lag over with before I go, so that I can enjoy my trip when I get there.  It really works, though, so I’m not complaining.

Some other things I do for jet lag are to drink lots of water on the flight, limit my food intake, walk around the plane a bit, and try to get some sleep.  I try to stay out in the sun as long as possible when I get to my destination.  If I do all of those things,  I can usually stay up until bedtime (overseas time) the first day, which is the main goal.  After a good first night’s sleep, I’m fine.

So, now that I’ve overcome jet lag, what are my other goals for the trip?  I have a list of all the things I want to see, the food I want to eat (it IS Italy, after all), and the places I want to shop for fabric.  But, one of the things I’ve decided to do while I’m there this time is to take as many pictures of middle-aged, Italian women as I can.

Italian women are the style icons of the planet, but every time I tried to find pictures of middle-aged, Italian women when I was planning my travel wardrobe, I ran into a dead-end.  It seems that those lovely, middle-aged women are as invisible as we middle-aged, American women…sigh!

I know I’ll have to be careful when taking the pictures.  I don’t want to look like I’m stalking these poor ladies.  I do hope, however, to have enough pictures to post here, so that we can all get style ideas from them.  I think it will be fun.

It’s a two-week trip, so I’ll “see” you all when I return.

October Travel Wardrobe

3 Jul

While I’m finishing up Elisha’s dress, I’m planning a travel wardrobe for a trip to Italy in October.  I’ve been to Italy twice before, so I have a pretty good idea how I want to dress.

The first time I went to Italy, I was traveling with my then college-age son.  We were very casual, to say the least.  It was a 30-year heat wave in Italy, so I wore hiking shorts and t-shirts, with a “trendy” pair of Birkenstocks thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile, the beautiful Italian women were wearing gorgeous, long maxi dresses in lovely pastel colors. I remember feeling incredibly under-dressed and dowdy.  Since then, I have learned that the Italians consider it a courtesy to others to dress well.  I don’t think that means they dress expensively as much as it means that they dress neatly.  An Italian woman wouldn’t be caught dead in baggy (read American comfortable) clothing.   Not to say that an Italian woman won’t wear a t-shirt.  It’s just that her t-shirt would be well-fitted and stylish.

Two years ago, I went to Italy with my husband and another couple.  We decided to take a private tour to the Vatican, instead of going there on our own.  We were recommended a tour company, and on the day of our tour, the lovely Marina, our tour guide, showed up at our B & B.  She was dressed very casually, by Italian standards. She had on a t-shirt and city shorts, with strappy, flat-soled sandals.  For all that, she looked quite put together.  Her t-shirt was fitted, with cap sleeves to allow her entrance to the Vatican (your shoulders must be covered).  Her city shorts were slim-fitting, and came just to her knee.  The clothing was neat and, obviously, very well made.   She didn’t have on any makeup, and no obvious jewelry.  Her hair was casual, but stylish.  That’s Italian dress in a nutshell.

Why is it important for a foreigner to dress appropriately when visiting Italy?  Because, as I said before, Italians consider it a courtesy to others to dress well.  I’m sure that by now, they understand that Americans don’t have that same cultural belief (it’s pretty obvious when you watch the American tourists walking about), but, when in Rome, why not show them the same courtesy they would happily show you. Besides, it’s a great time for an American girl to dress up a bit without everyone gawking at her.  Right?

I’m not sure what the weather will be like in northern Italy in October.  It could be warm, or it could be cold, so I’ll need to be careful in my planning.  The plan is to take pieces that are not too heavy, but can be layered.  As far a fabrics go, I’m thinking  medium weight rayon wovens and knits, washable silk, ponte knit, light weight wool, etc.  Basically, anything that will pack small, be somewhat wrinkle free, and not too hot.

This plan is evolving.  I just hope this one doesn’t “devolve into chaos”, which many of my wardrobe plans do. First, I went back and forth about whether I should include jackets in the plan.  I finally decided that I am more of a cardigan girl, so I went out on a limb and bought a tan/black, tweedy, boucle knit in a wool/rayon blend.  Now I have a fabric to build the rest of the wardrobe around.

Today, I bought this black, light wool Eileen Fisher cardigan.

So, it seems that the basic plan calls for fabrics that are black, tan/camel, white, brown….very neutral.  This is what I’m thinking so far:

Black (may be rayon woven or ponte knit or a combination of the two)

1 pair pants

1 skirt

1 Eileen Fisher cardigan

1 shell

a dress (maybe/maybe not – the skirt and shell would be a two-piece dress)

Tan or Camel (same as above)

1 pair pants

1 skirt

1 tan/black boucle cardigan

1 shell

Three other tops in various colors (white, pink, brown, gray?)

1 raincoat that folds into its pocket (it’s reversible – light taupe on one side, dark taupe on the other)

2 pair comfortable shoes

It’s a plan made for changing, but at least it’s a start.  More on the patterns and fabrics later.

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