Sunday, September 15, 2019

P Words - Petite and Proportions



On the nightstand next to my side of the bed can always be found a few sewing magazines. It is my "go to sleep" reading. There is a mix but mostly they are from my collection of Threads. I have never regretted dragging those mags from home to home over the years. I know, I can get the DVD archive but I just love turning  pages and reading from them as they lay open and propped up on a pillow on my lap. A screen does not give me the same thrill. Besides, it is part of what they now call "sleep hygiene." Screens are not recommended for good sleep hygiene!



Lately I've been enjoying a batch from 2001. Wow, there were some serious and inspirational articles in that time frame, Threads at it's best! Just look at the titles listed on the cover! One article really caught my interest recently, so much so that I felt a blogpost might be the place to further discuss. The mag is issue #94, May 2001 and can be found starting on page 48. It is six pages long with lots of photos! The article is about fitting and styling for petite women. Four lovely women have been chosen and they are shown wearing their own clothing which have made and quite nicely. There are comments from them about how they like to dress and some great comments from the author, Karen Howland. 

Let's talk how petites dress and what looks best on us. I am no style expert and sometimes I just want to wear something I love that really does me no justice. I think we all have those pieces in our wardrobes. But I've lived with my five feet of height a long while and made lots of style booboos along the way.  I think I now have a good idea of what looks good with my size and coloring and how to make a pattern or design work for a petite. Frankly, I feel it's all about proportion. If the proportions are off, The perfect color won't fix that. This article reflects the patterns of the time, 2001, although I would wear the clothing of one of the women today but just change the colors and prints. I did actually find a lot about the garments similar to what women of the same ages shown are wearing currently.  Here are a few bullet thoughts triggered by the article. . I am not showing the pics from the magazine, copy write, respect for the women and all. You don't have to have read the article to get my gist. 

5'3" and beautiful Julianne Moore in a dress that is comfy and does nothing , NOTHING for her loveliness. 
  • Quite a few of the garments were quite voluminous, lots of fabric and draping and long. We see this today as well  in Lagen Look inspired patterns and clothing. IMHO, these garments swallow petite women. I tried some. They swallowed me and as much as I wanted to be the cool girl looking so artsy and like I just left the gallery, I ended up donating them all. Some were quite nice but really not doing the petite form justice. OK, some petites are short AND round but adding all that fabric just emphasizes that, IMO. Those styles can hide a lot but I have seen petite and curvy women who emphasize their curves and they look fabulous. Think fit and flare as one example. 
Sherry Shepard in a fit and flare dress that complements her beautifully. Now picture her all layered up in Lagenlook.
  • Because petites are short, their waists can seem more vertically centered than their taller sisters who may have longer legs or torsos. Looking at the Threads photos shows Bird Ross wearing a dress with a waistline just a little above normal. It just looks so good on her. I have seen this silhouette being used today and the painted top I just finished  has that "lifted" waistline. 

  •  Why does it work on petites? It gives length to the lower torso. Nothing looks good cut n half, people. When I did custom window design one of the first things I learned is to not cut the window in half. Dividing the space in thirds, fifths, or sevenths is far more interesting. Those 6 foot runway models with the blazers ending at the fingertips? That is probably a third of their length. On a petite that blazer divides the outfit in half, not a good look. 
I love this tucked in tee, great proportions and she is a curvy petite. 


That brings me to the biggy. Petites need to be aware to not divide themselves in half.  It's just not our best look. FWIW, I've done it more times than you'd think. I make a beautiful jacket, a lovely skirt, and what is wrong with this and why don't I want to wear it? Well, it cuts me in half and it just doesn't look that good even though the separates are beautiful on their own. 

Vogue 1644, show that crotch line, petites!

  • Petites are the Queens of the short top, the short jacket, worn with longer culottes, maxi skirts, long wide pants, yes. It's all about proportion. I had a pair of pants for years I wore till they fell apart and I got more compliments on those pants than any I've ever worn.  They were classic slant pocket, wide legged, almost floor scraping wool flannel pants.  The truth is that it wasn't the pants. It was the proportions of the outfit.  I ALWAYS wore them with a very short sweater, top or tucked in white, tailored shirt. My legs looked longer. I was not cut in half. I really think if you have a tummy or booty you can still wear a long skirt or pant with a shorter top like the one above. It doesn't have to be Brittany Spears short but just don't let it cut your body in half. Again, all about proportion for petite.  Raise that jacket hemline!
Vogue 9347

  • And one more comment about petite proportions: take that down to the details. Those big collars, capelets on the shoulders, pockets, etc.-----CUT THEM DOWN. Make them smaller like you are. Don't let those details wear you. Wear those details so you can shine in all your petiteness.  The grey top above is a perfect example. I would cut the collar height back maybe a half inch and definitely cut the cuffs back maybe a 1/4 inch as well. I would get the big buttons but probably in a color the same as the fabric. I almost always cut back any collar or pocket at least a quarter inch all around as the design allows. It makes a difference. Would you like to wear a voluminous dress, feel cool and flowey in the summer? I hear ya. Just cut it down so your not covered in what looks like your next load of laundry. Let yourself show. 

I would love to hear your comments on this subject or on the Threads article. Again, the clothing in the article reflects the times but Bird Ross has it all figured out. Her garments are quite different from the others but they look so great on her and SHE shines through. Being an artist she totally gets proportion and it shows in her clothing choices.  She was my fave of all the petites but I really appreciated how all the petites each had a very clear personal style.  I thank all the ladies in that article who so bravely put themselves forward and are all such incredible sewists! They are all beautiful! ..........................Bunny

Monday, September 9, 2019

New Look 6446 and the Holy Grail

I think I have found my pattern for the painted jeans romper (?).  In reviews it seemed a bit short waisted on most and some commented to that effect and said they would alter for that the next time around. I would not make this exactly as shown but this is the best base I found out there. I will "jean" it up with contrast topstitching and buckles and such. It is now the next project in the queue. Right now I am finishing up long needed draperies for the guest room, simple tabs with a faux roman shade beneath. 

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Sewing has its own set of Holy Grails. More than one is allowed, right?  Number One in my book would be the perfectly fitting pants pattern.  Another could be a White Singer Featherweight, found at a yard sale for 35 dollars and in running condition. How about the Greist Buttonholer? What would you choose as the Holy Grail of Sewing?  Well, from what I have read over the years, I found one yesterday at a local barn sale. May I present to you the Bound Buttonhole Maker! I am anxious to play with this and for an afternoon of fun at the going rate of 75 cents, I am such a cheap date!

Has anyone used one of these? 





I will do a bit of research on this before I decide to release it from it's long, plastic purgatory, then maybe some samples for fun. Can't beat a good New England barn sale!

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Do you remember studying Escher's Tessellations in math class?  Well, I have been really really looking into the pad making and have looked at a lot of patterns. I have figured out I have to make my own and that won't be hard. Why make my own? Because I want it TESSELLATED! If I tessellate the pattern I can cut it out so easily with nary a thread of waste and with a rotary cutter., zoom, ZOOM, ZOOM!  


You get the idea here but I will have to change this up as the pattern is not available, old old web page and it is meant for monthly pads, anyway. It won't be hard to come up with my own design which will have some changes from this one as well. Where's my graph paper?

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I have decided to try something new on the blog today. Let me know what you think. The colors offered for text in Blogger have black but it does not come out black enough for me. It really is a dark grey. It has been driving me nuts. I have seen this grey font being used all over, certainly not just blogger and it's a tough read. I have written the text in in Bold. Let me know what you think. I am not sure what I think yet but I was not happy with Blogger Black....Bunny








Sunday, September 1, 2019

Drips and dribbles!

You all know my pledge to work on one project at a time. Right now I am concentrating on a memorial project for a life long friend whose son took his life last year. He was a handsome, passionate  man besot by depression since his early teens. I am trying to honor him and his memory with a textile piece  showing his amazing skill at his chosen craft and his passion for pursuing that skill. So that's where I've been with my sewing time. I will not share this as it is personal and private to my friend and just not mine to share. I  do feel I have captured his heritage, his love of the Asian cultures and his skill that was recognized internationally. I am very near done.

In the meantime I have had many thoughts of sewing, what will I sew next, what is the buzz out their in the sewing net, and more. I will pass this on and hope you find it interesting. I'd love to know your thoughts on any of my drips and dribbles!
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I've seen a lot of talk lately about pattern weights. One FB page had people show their weights and there were all kinds, some funny, some clever, and some just utilitarian and isn't that what we just plain want anyway? 

I've tried all sorts of weights over the years and have two types both of which I equally love. What they have in common are a sensual smoothness that I really like to put my hands around, really heavy weight for their size, a large solid surface to lay directly on the fabric and they are just soothing to look at. One batch, what I am currently using now, are just big hunks of thick, smooth glass. People always ask where I get them. I get them at gift shops, yard sales and thrifts. Most seem to all have evolved from some sort of  destiny as a candle holder. The green square and the bright green circle were simply decorative pieces sold in gift shops. They are all heavy, smooth and work great as fabric weights. The long rectangle, my favorite,  is one of those things you would have to pry out of my hands. I put that one weight down on a grainline or fold line and I am good to go! 

The other group of weights that holds my heart  are my  beach stones. They are so very smooth, flat on one side, heavy, and all from Maine. My sis lived a block from a cove and beach for years and we would walk there and I always managed to bring back a few in my pockets for my collection. I think they are lovely and they remind me of my beautiful sister and the beauty of Maine, which I love. They are beaten so incredibly smooth by the ocean's power yet have only gained in beauty and function. An analogy to our lives? 

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I have decided to make my own mini pads. I know...........but this is a thing, way bigger than you might think.  I buy these by the skillions and when I think of them all going into landfills....I never used pampers with my kids for several reasons but that was also a concern at the time. Our country's leadership may think we are floating through space with no consequences for our actions but I believe there are and try to do my part. Every bit helps plus I am just tired of buying these things. I will do some experimenting first as I have received many great ideas and suggestions. You have no idea how many videos, FB pages, and websites there are to make your own fem hygiene products, really. This is a big thing out there. I think it would be just an afternoon project to make tons, from what I have read. Next, I buy these by the tons and they can be made from scraps. I would stick to natural fibers only but will experiment with some PUL as well. This is not to soak up big bladder issues or period flow, just that daily flotsam and jetsum we femmes deal with. Keep you posted. I figure this is a project for a snowy inside afternoon this winter.  A special thanks to my sewing and blogging friend, Kathy, who sent me some PUL, which I had no idea what was, and I  greatly appreciate her kindness. She has an amazing Etsy shop you may want to check out. Her skills are impressive.

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I am in love with this pattern, Vogue 1642, which I think is a new release. There is so much  detail in this top, side seams with zips, that awesome neckline, those almost cargo pockets. Suggested fabrics are wool and fleece and I have so many wools in the stash that would work. The only issue I have with this type of garment, raglan, is getting the curve of the should right but I think a muslin and a couple of slim shoulder pads  will take care of that.  I have a yummy boucle that I think would get more real world wear in this top than in the Chanel jacket it was originally destined for. It's 100% wool and from Fabric Place in Natick, Mass.



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I have really been on a fabric painting binge and love doing just that! Just two weeks ago our twin grandchildren came for a few days and we did tie dye and what fun that was!  I have been haunted by this garment for some time and have everything to make it and paint it, except the pattern. 

This would definitely work into my lifestyle and be great for work and tooling around the house. I have a great stencil I can use and some dark wash denim for the overalls. My issue is the pattern. I have the Burnside Bib pattern which I love but that has a very defined waistline. I also recently purchased the Rosy the Riveter pattern from Simplicity and  that is not what I want either. 

I would like an overall with no waist like the one above, loose and happy. This would not be my going out of the house looking well dressed outfit, but something fun I can wear around the little boys I am with every day at work. They would love it, especially if I painted flowers on it  and so would I. Any pattern suggestions greatly appreciated. I came really close to making the Rosy the Riveter coverall but looking at it on others made me realized it fit like Carhardts or even ski pants, a full loose butt for movement and slim legs to keep the cold out, so quite functional but not very  flattering. It works great as a costume but that's not what I want.  I'm still searching and all help appreciated. 

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I was so thrilled with my one Dye na Flow paint experience that I bought this grouping.  I really look forward to using more of this product. (no affiliation, as always). I have so many ideas! I also purchased 4 yards of white linen on sale this week to play with my paints so we will see what comes of all of this.  60% off plus 20% overall, can't go wrong! I always stock up on linens at season's end, best time to buy.

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 I am REALLY tired of sewists blaming pattern companies for what is often their own lack of skill.  Most who have been sewing a long time will be the first to tell you they don't know everything. You can sew a long time and still lack skills and you can also be an incredible newbie sewist, striven to learn and open to every opportunity there is to learn so this is not cast upon a particular group of sewists. There are so many resources out there for quality help with sewing for all of us, whether longtime sewists like myself or newbies. And there is always asking. Please don't assume it's the designer, the pattern, the grading, whatever. Sometimes it is,  but go on a forum and just ask, don't assume. Many are eager to help unravel your dilemma in a positive manner.  I have seen so many blame fests turn into the realization that a bit of knowledge was all that was needed to make things work. 

Over and over again I see a sewist slamming a pattern company for being just horrible, having bad instructions, never fitting, when they do not do their own due diligence to make sure the pattern works. This is not just a Big Five thing. It happens in Indies as well. One of the biggest misunderstandings out there contributing to this is the concept of ease. That alone deserves it's own post and there may  be one coming but there are other things as well. Matching seams and truing them is another. And how about just buying the right size? I know it's tough when there is no one teaching us things until we get frustrated enough to just blame but let's just ask more and make it our business to be better informed.  

All skills require learning, practice and mistakes, over a period of time, to master. Ask a wood carver, a plumber, a baker. Nothing any of us do will come out perfectly in the beginning. We have to pay our dues, put in our time, make our mistakes, take responsibility, seek knowledge and move forward. We move forward by not blaming, by seeking more experienced help, taking classes and respecting those who are good at it. This goes for any craft or trade. I have a good friend who is a master plumber and we have great convos on just this subject. We need to recognize that  even after doing something for decades, there is still something to learn and still mistakes to be made. Let's stop the blaming. Yes, pattern companies are not perfect, but neither are all we sewists.  I know I will get the but , but, but, and yes, I know what you are going to tell me. But it's a two way street. Sewing is Fitting. Sewing is Pressing. Sewing is Learning, and it never stops no matter how long you have been at it or who you are. ........Bunny



Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Dyna-Flow Top, Butterick 6486


I am 90% pleased with this wearable muslin. It is a muslin as well  as a painting experiment, after all. I'll go through and let you know where it failed. My goal here was to find a pattern for a dress/jumper that would basically hang from the shoulders but still fit those shoulders. I wanted something I could wear a turtleneck under in the winter, make out of warmer, bulkier fabric; and whose bodice I could manipulate into a curved waist that you don't see here (in my head).  Basically I was looking for a loose fitting block to play with at a later date and I found it.

Pattern:

This is Butterick 6486.   It is described as "Misses loose fitting , gathered waist pullover top with bell sleeves." I will now get back on my Ease Rant. This pattern got terrible reviews on Pattern Review due to the  fit. Did you know that the words pattern companies use to describe their patterns are up there with biblical book and verse? If it says loose fitting, it IS loose fitting, people. ALSO, in the pattern books at the store as well as on line on their sites are the ease charts for the Big Four pattern companies . If the pattern company describes this pattern as "loose fitting", (back to book and verse) by the ease chart, that means there is 5 1/8 to 8 inches of ease above your bust measurement for this particular pattern design. This is DESIGN EASE. This is not ill fit. Know what you are buying. Do your homework. If it has that much ease and no darts, you know it will be a bag. So if your bust measurement is 34, this could be up 42 inches wide at the bust. I was looking for something that would just hang from my shoulders. It works for me. If you want a bodice that is fitted with darts, this is not your pattern. I will now get off of my Ease Rant soapbox that I know I have been on a lot lately. I apologize for being so brusque!


All that being said about the fit of this garment, it went together perfectly at all seams. I was very pleased with the drafting. The pattern, once the fit is understood, makes a great, loose fitting, comfortable top, one I think that can be pretty versatile. There was not too much ease in the sleeve caps. The sleeves were beautifully shaped with a distinct and welcome difference in shape between the front and back armscyes. I applaud these sleeves.  Here, at the waistline,  is where I saw a problem, the ten % that failed, IMO.


 OK, I have boobage, a C cup and narrow torso. I did some measuring. For me to make the back bodice match horizontally with the front bodice I would have to either lengthen the front or shorten the back by 1 3/4 inches at CB or CF. I noticed this hiking up on most views I saw on PR. Boobage made it worse. The less endowed did not have as much of an issue. Yes, darting could help but I really think it was an intentional design call that just  flunked. I looked at other patterns like this that I own and they are longer in the back as well. Is it prego? baby doll? both? Just personally I would prefer either a horizontal waistline front and back or something with a distinct design curve that gave a reason for the lengths being so different. That is my only complaint with the pattern but one easily fixable in the next iteration. I made notes and will work around this next time. 

Fabric:

This was the fun part! Being a trial garment, I searched the stash for something I wasn't too invested in. I dug up a very soft, much washed but still lovely, damask tablecloth that I believe to be a heavy cotton. It's "card table" size which indicated it being quite old. I had been researching DynaFlow paints and decided this muslin would be a great chance to just try some out. The paint and the fabric did not disappoint and I go into more detail about the painting process in my last post. I first cut out my pattern pieces. Then, I painted them, let dried and then heat treated them for permanence. After that is was crank up the machine. The fabric was a bit ravelly but we managed. I love how the color separated in other shading. If this were done outside in the hot sun I think the colors would have dried to quickly to separate and would have remained more intense. I will definitely be ordering and using more DynaFlow again, great paint. In the first photo of the front of the top you see swirls on the breasts. It doesn't come across like this in reality. The damask design in the fabric is lighter and picked up the flash from the camera in a way that made it shine far more than it does. You don't motice it much at all in person. The fabric was great to sew on. Love those natural fibers! 

Construction:

ditch stitching in well of shoulder seam and understitching

There is nothing difficult about this pattern. I did tweak a few things, aka, did them my way so here is a rundown. 

* I did not use the pattern recommended French seams. I wanted to be able to adjust my muslin if needed. I opted for a simple and quick stitch and serge for all seams. 

* I used the recommended facing for the V neckline. I did the Nancy Zieman triple stitch treatment for the understitching and serged the edges. It was interfaced. The facing was then ditch stitch at the shoulder and CB seam wells as shown above. 

facing triple zigzagged and interfaced. Fabric is baby cord.

sleeve head catch stitched to seam allowance between notches

* When the top was complete I felt like the sleeve cap was caving in. I had left my seam allowance in and pressed it toward the sleeve but it just didn't give the nice roll I like. What you see above is a strip of quilt fleece catch stitched to the seam allowance within the seam allowance so no stitching shows publicly. This is then flipped toward the sleeve with the seam allowance and gives the armscye a bit of a soft roll. 

* I used what has become my "signature" machine hems. I started using this just on knits and now bring it forth whenever I need a machine hem.

inside hem


outside hem


* The hem is made by folding under a 1/4 inch and then turning to the inside another inch and pressed into place. The hem is edgestitched with an edgestitching foot and then again almost an inch away to catch the top edge. There were a lot of thread color changes while making this top.

Conclusion:

I think I have a cute top to wear with jeans, dark or white, or with a flowy pair of white linen pants. I recommend the pattern with suggested awareness about the design ease as well as the shape of the waistline seam, which I don't think flatters anyone. Otherwise, this is wearable, cute and fulfilled it's goal of giving me a loose block to play with in the future.

I apologize for no personal modeling but hubs and I are in the midst of carpentry on our facia boards and painting the house. We are doing it ourselves and have two weeks to get it all done and are in full focus mode. I am not sure what my next project will be. Have to get this house painted first! Color: Sherwin Williams Peppercorn!. ....Bunny

ETA: We had some visitors in the yard for brunch this morning!




Monday, August 5, 2019

A new top, Butterick 6486 and painted!





I am going to call this The DynaFlow Top. It has really been fun to play with. I got this pattern some time ago and a pretty floral to make it up with. Will it fit? On Pattern Review there were numerous comments about how large the pattern ran. I was specifically looking for a pattern for a future project that would have a rather loose hanging bodice with an attached skirt and this looked like one I could use to reach that goal, something along these lines.  I do promise you, my plaids will match a bit better than these if I use them!





 For now, it's hunt something for use as a muslin from the stash.



I started to search  and since I had a pretty good go with my Dandelion Dress muslin I looked at better fabrics but not fabrics that were too too good. I was just playing here. This was a loose fitting top so if the fit was a bit off on the wearable muslin I could live with it.  I decided on a vintage cotton damask tablecloth in sky/baby blue. It  was beautiful square cloth and so very soft but, ugh, that baby blue! The contrast on this photo has been exaggerated so you can better see the fabric. The design is not yellowy at all in reality and is really pretty. Having been washed countless times, it has that worn softness  and should be comfy to wear. The sample you see above also is from the scraps. When something goes into the stash and has a defect, I mark it with a small safety pin so I won't not notice it when it is time to cut.


This project has been in the "to do" pile for quite some time and in the meantime, on a Pinterest binge, I clicked and discovered a paint called DynaFlow (no affiliation). Then I got sucked into Youtube vids on said paint and I was sold. I cautiously laid down my plastic on the Zon for one bottle but in my favorite color, periwinkle. I thought I would try just this one bottle before buying one of the sets of colors. It was in the six dollar range. I did find that Amazon has limited color choices and there is a lot more available at Dharma Trading.  Let's see what happens!

Finally, today I got a chance to play with my paint and my soft, blue tablecloth. I cut out the top but only with my usual petite adjustments. There were no darts which worries me but we will see how it looks. In reviews the top pulled up on the uber busty but on those just a little extra busty it seemed ok.



I  cleared my work table and was thankful it was so long. Then I laid down what the bag said was a drop cloth but when you pick it up for a dollar at the dollar store you can't expect much. It was a big sheet of very thin plastic but it worked. I covered everything around my work area in case of over splash. the sheet was secured and then I spread out my pattern pieces flat on top. I did some piecing on the peplum strip to accommodate the design in the tablecloth and max out the yardage. This top pulls over the head. I did my best to match the design of the damask as I cut out.



Next I sprayed the areas of the garment pieces where I wanted to paint with water. This paint is the consistency of water itself but quite intense in color. It flows like watercolor paints but is more saturated. You can play with it like water color paints. It is heat set in the end and all I read and see says it is very permanent. Those areas I sprayed? Not enough water and too futzy. I switched to a bowl of water and a clean two inch paint brush. I just brushed water generously where I wanted to put paint. This technique made the fabric stick to the plastic sheet in a nice flat surface to work on, no wrinkles.

Once everything was wet. I poured straight DynaFlow into a junk bowl and dipped in that same brush. I painted along the top edge of the peplum and I wanted more intensity there. Then I cleaned my brush and just pulled down the paint with a clean wet brush which made it lighter, just like a water color would behave. By the time I did the full strip of the peplum I went back and did another coat near the top edge to intensify it further. I painted all my pattern pieces in this method as I had envisioned. I shut the light out, went upstairs, grabbed a beer and made dinner.


A couple hours later I went back to my studio to check things out and loved what I had found. The color had migrated a bit in a nice soft way and it had separated into different tones in a few places, very pretty. I liked it even more now.  This morning, after drying all night, it looked great, what you see above. When it is all dry for 24 hours I have the option of ironing it or throwing it in the dryer to set the color.



Here we are after 24 hours. Years of painting fabrics have taught me that the color can migrate to your ironing boards and show up when you least want it to on a white shirt. I covered my steam press with a heavy towel, laid down the pieces to be heat set, put a press cloth on top, and turned the press to "cotton". I used no steam.  We are now ready to mark and get sewing. This looks like a pretty quick top. I will pay close attention to the upper chest armscye area per the reviews on PR but the largeness I think may be what I want for a future project and this experiment will let me know that. The DynaFlow muslin top begins!      Bunny

Saturday, August 3, 2019

I have found my Muse



I have finally found a woman I can really relate to, someone who gets my love of color, love of painted natural fabrics , and love of tailored details. I think this woman is beautiful, wears clothing extremely well, and inspires me to dress in ways I hadn't thought of. I don't know her name. I don't know the designer she models for. All I know is that if I could dress like her and even look like her in my dotage I would be very happy.  Why wait for my dotage? I am inspired to copy this garment now!


I keep seeing the name "Milano Moda"  and Daniela Gregis come up when I search these photos. Is this the designer? Is this the model? To me this outfit exemplifies how women of a certain age have earned the right to wear whatever they want and look like they are having fun doing it! Unfortunately, what I often see happening is the exact opposite of my muse above. Notice her simple hair, her lack of makeup, her bit of tan, breaking all the rules, the classic simplicity of her clothing paired with the vibrancy of color that many of a certain age simply over do or forget to do.

Often, when one does a search for fashionable women over 60 we get nothing like my Muse. The blog "Advanced Style" rises to the top on that Google ride. Photographer Seth Cohen has made a career of roaming the streets of New York City and other big cities around the world photographing some well known and some not so well known lovelies in their favorite clothing. I find the photos interesting and the subjects appearing to be really enjoying being models in their later years. They always seem to be having fun, lots of smiles! Yay for that. But sometimes, they really have dug a little too deeply into the back of the closet! Often the women are over corseted with over Botoxed faces in combinations of garments and jewelry whose scale is so out of sync it appears to have jumped from the cartoon Maxine. These are beautiful women. I just don't want to ever look like them. In my opinion, they would be far more beautiful without all the exaggeration. Too many bracelets, too many necklaces, too many patterns , too many colors, too many styles at once, and all happening at the same time. Feel free to cruise the "Advanced Style' Blog to get my drift. Do they get dressed in the morning hoping to run into Seth Cohen or are they really like this? Is this a Big City Thing? My muse above and her designer appear to be a part of Milan Fashion week so no lack of sophistication there.


Let's look closely at how she's working it. She is always in flats, usually Mary Janes. Nothing is corseted and she is clearly comfortable but she doesn't look like a lampshade from your grandmother's victorian parlor. There are no super voluminous shapes with layer after layer after layer of ruffle, no intentional hiding of the female form. (Think Tina Givens). She is belted, often. She goes braless but not blatantly so. She rocks being braless and who's to know? . If she has an extra layer, it is because she needs that layer. She has no fear of simple. I love me some simple, in my home and in my clothing. Yes, Simple shapes, Fabulous natural fabrics, Yes!



 Our Muse loves color. Do you see that bit of red lining peeking out? Those orange shoes? Just the right spot where  you need it.

Our Muse is comfortable, so comfortable. Have we not earned that right by her age? My age? I think of years of stilettos at work>bunion surgeries;  years of pantie hose>yeast infections; years of underwire bras> they still sag. All that was collateral invested in the future time when we could just be comfortable. Our muse shows we can be older, comfortable and beautiful.

I have been searching as I write this post and have found that our designer is Daniela Gregis who I believe is part of the Italian fashion scene. She is known for using models whose ages cross a broad spectrum. Her male models are not the perfect Calvin Klein underwear type of guy but good looking real men just the same and it is nice to see them up on the runway as well. I am going to continue to follow her designs. Here is another of her models from the runway that is not fitting the standard model mold, beautiful woman, a tad younger than my muse. Here is a link to her garments which I find so inspirational. I hope you do too. I must, must, must make that pants and top garment you see in the very first picture. Thank you for such gorgeous clothes and models, Ms. Gregis. You know  how to dress a women well!.........Bunny


Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Periwinkle Linen Dress




The Dandelion Dress served as the muslin for the Periwinkle Linen Dress. I love them both and they  are really both quite different as you will soon see. They are both made from New Look 6866 with original alterations  to change the silhouette and hem finish. I was inspired by the garment you see here. With the Periwinkle dress I went for simple, letting the fabric shine.



Pattern:

New Look 6866 is a flowy, summery maxi dress that the pattern describes as  "five styles with length and neckline variations." They are all sleeveless and the necklines are all lovely. I went for the high front neckline and the V back. This is a fabulous basic pattern with lots of design ease but it fit me well in the upper chest/shoulders so I am very happy with that. I flat pattern measured and there was no need to do an FBA for my C cup. I will get on my high horse and say once again, this is design ease, that extra room, not a mistake in drafting the pattern.  You want big and flow-y, you get bigger and flowier than the basic pattern block.  Design ease..........



Fabric:



The computer does not do this fabric justice. It leans toward lavender and I used lavender thread to sew it. It is a yarn dyed linen/cotton blend, a fabric I have used many times and think is one of the best values out there. However, I am stymied. I want more of this periwinkle but did I look at the bolt end for info? Just quickly to discern that it was Essex linen from Kaufmann. Now, when I go to the color charts, I can't find this color. I can find Cadet but that is blue and I have some of that. This has a green selvage. I am going back to the quilt store where I bought it to see if they can help and hopefully order some more. You can never have too much linen. It is the fabric that will be in style forever.


Another issue with yard dyed fabrics, well let me stop right here! Just in case you don't know what a yarn dyed fabric is here is an explanation: Yarn dyed fabrics have the yarns/threads dyed before they are woven into fabric. This allows you to have all of your weft threads one color and your warp threads another color. It gives a lot of character and depth to the fabric. If you've seen iridescent silk dupioni, you have seen a yarn dyed. Kaufmann's Essex blends are often  a colored linen thread and a white or black cotton thread going the other way. Back to the issue---I wanted to topstitch this dress, all over. It is hard to make prominent topstitching on yarn dyeds. Which thread do you match up to? Doesn't  matter the match will disappear and the non match will sort of look yucky. Either way, they just don't stand out. Above you can see some samples I did. On the right is the thread I was using for the construction, a lavender periwinkle color. You can see it just disappears in a regular stitch. In the middle, same thread with a triple stitch. I don't think it looks that good and my machine does a great triple stitch on other fabrics. On the left I tried a darker thread, really no improvement. I made the executive decision to not topstitch this dress anywhere. I liked it's soft look and was going to go with that. 

I also used a white  100% cotton voile to underline this dress. I did a "flat lining" in the method you see here. It worked out perfectly. This made the dress very  comfortable. I wore it today in 100 degree heat to a "backyard" wedding. The dress kept it's looks all afternoon and was spot on for the occasion. 

The facings were fused to cotton woven fusible interfacing. 


Construction:

Here are the changes I did for this dress, some of which were not done in the Dandelion dress. I wanted to reduce the volume a bit. You will see the difference:

* My usual petite shortening in the upper chest. 
* Raised the armhole 3/8ths of an inch at the side seam tapering to nothing at the notches to hide my bra. 
* Reduced the front width at center front by a half inch. 
* Reduced the back width at center back by two inches. 
* Reduced the "bumpouts" one inch from the Dandelion dress bumpouts. 
* Flat lined the garment which meant all vertical seams, really only 3, were able to get a Hong Kong finish. This was nice. The HK finish was on the hem edge at the top, the facing edges and all of the sides seams as well.  By flat lining I was able to catchstitch my hem and facings to the voile underlining. 


                                  
Another thing I did was to do a diagonal basting of the underlining to the dress, front and back,  after it was flat lined. I also basted diagonally on the  area where the upper hem edge would be. I let my dress hang out on the dress form for a couple days before doing this basting and trimmed as needed, not much. 

 The darts in the dress were made to include the flat lining. A line of basting was done down the center of the dart on the lining to hold the two layers together while the dart was being sewn into the dress. The hem band is just the linen layer so no special treatment on the hem darts. Just mark those top and bottom edges of the hem band.



The picture above shows where the seam gets ditch stitched to secure the hem band to the dress. This is done on the right side of the dress.  I think failure to do this will cause the wide hem to billow and this holds it flat. It also sort of bolsters the shape of that side seam bumpout.

I did have a screw up, totally my fault. In my unbridled enthusiasm I did not read my pattern instructions. Heck, I just made one of these although it wasn't lined. After the dress was flat lined, hung out, and the lining hand basted diagonally to the fashion fabric, I stitched together the shoulder seams. I bound the edges of the facings with the voile, stitched them together and attached them to the neckline. Next was my favorite, understitching the facing with the triple stitch a la Nancy Zieman, all well and good. Nope. Seems now I can't stitch the armholes and turn them. I looked on line for some sort of magic I knew nothing about to solve this. There is none. I was too late for magic.  I slept on it. What to do?  I refused to rip out triple zigzagging on this lightweight fabric. 


Luckily, this fabric and lining are quite lightweight. I did a wide bias binding, understitched with the triple zigzag, turned and pressed, pinked the edges so no bulk, and catch stitched down to the facing. I think it will pass. It doesn't add bulk and is neatly finished. 


Another issue that came up was the refusal of the side seams to lay flat in the curved bumpout area. I decided to catch stitch them down. I so love to catch stitch.  This actually helped reinforce the shape.


Here they are, all catch stitched, tamed and tidied. Now it was on to catch stitching down the facings but only under the arms. The rest of the facing is free floating.  I also catch stitched the upper hem edge. I just can't stop catch stitching once I get started!


The inside is all finished and pretty! No topstitching in sight, volume brought down as desired, fit is spot on, life is good. The dress is fitting snug on my form as I am a size or two  smaller now than I was when I made the form. 



In Conclusion:

Once again, I am really happy with this pattern and the changes I've made to it. I look forward to making it also as it is designed, as a long flowy maxi dress maybe in the view with bow in front and in a softer fabric, perhaps a cotton lawn print. I will be on the lookout for that. In the meantime I think I am putting aside my beloved skirts that are my  summer staples and joining Team Dress! It's just such a comfortable, cool way to go. I highly recommend this pattern and love the way the dress is draped from the bust and shoulders. Flat pattern measure first and make a muslin. Do not assume the pattern is too big. You decide if you want the design ease that has been put into it. I like it either way. I love the full volume of the Dandelion Dress and also the more conservative look of the Periwinkle Dress. I will say that whenever I wear the Dandelion Dress in public people stop and compliment left and right and ask where I bought it. We will see what happens with the Periwinkle dress. I like that the  Periwinkle look is a great foil for my jewelry too. 


And just in case you missed the last post here is another pic of our recent house guest:

Happy sewing!......Bunny

P Words - Petite and Proportions

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