Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Shoes + Sewing Machine Upgrade

I haven't had too much free time to blog lately....or to visit other blogs (insert sad face emoticon here). I just finished making a few more one-of-a-kind pieces for iNDie here in Springfield and now I need to get back to sewing pants for myself since the weather is finally supposed to turn chilly this weekend!

I'm also finally going to add some new shoes to my wardrobe. I know there are lots of cliches about women being completely shoe-crazy.....I am not one of them. I think I have maybe 6 pairs of shoes in my closet, at least 4 of which I've had for over 5 years at least! I usually try to buy quality shoes that will last a long time, so I don't feel bad investing a little extra money in a pair of shoes. Here are the ones that I hope to get within the next few weeks:

Bass "Gloucester" heels. These are really classic and have a vintage feel to them. Can't tell you how desperately I need a pair of basic black heels!
A couple weeks ago, I finally broke down and tossed a pair of black Nine West Mary Janes that I'd had for 8 (!) years. These are the "Shivver" Mary Janes from Ecco. I tried them on at a local department store last week and they are crazy comfortable!
Yellow Box "Samantha" t-strap wedges in taupe. I really, really need brown shoes too, and I think these are really cute.
I have a pair of tall brown suede boots that I bought from The Walking Company 10 years ago. They are amazing and probably have another 5 years of wear left in them. I really want a pair of black boots, too. These are the "Casilda" boots by Nine West. I love the late-1960s vibe of these, and they are flats as well. I'm not a big fan of boots with heels so these will be perfect!

I've also decided that it's time to save up for a new sewing machine. I've had my current sewing machine for 10 years. It's a late 1990s Singer with a 4-step buttonhole feature and 5 stitches - an extremely basic machine and the motor is really, really L-O-U-D. I will always have a special place in my heart for this machine since it is the machine on which I learned how to sew and I can't even begin to imagine how many garments I've made with it! However, I feel that it's way past time for an upgrade. After lots of research, I think I've decided on the Janome Threadbanger tb30:

Isn't is beautiful? It's still a pretty basic machine, but it does have a larger variety of stitches, 6 different one-step buttonhole stitches, is computerized and, best of all, sews quietly. I do have a Janome serger which has been a really dependable workhorse of a machine, so I'm really confident with the Janome brand. Hopefully I will be able to get this machine before it's discontinued...I think it's been on the market for 2 years now. Anyone else had experience with this particular sewing machine?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tavi Gevinson and Childhood Nostalgia

I will admit that I had absolute no idea who Tavi Gevinson was before the most recent New York Fashion Week. I'm sure that most of you know who she is but, for the uninitiated, Tavi is the 14 year old girl behind the fashion blog The Style Rookie. She was a mere 11 years old (!) when she first started posting photos of herself wearing remixed vintage and writing quite eloquently about everything from couture to pop culture. Since then, she has become quite influential in the fashion industry and is a muse for couture labels like Rodarte and Commes des Garcons. At the recent NY Fashion Week, she had a coveted front row seat at many of the most anticipated runway shows, and her presence in the fashion world has been met with mixed feelings from many. I, for one, think she's pretty darn cool and here's a simple visual equation I made that I think sums up her current personal style:

If anything, Tavi and her obsession with fashion makes me kind of nostalgic for the time when I was 12 years old. Back then, the things I liked to do most was read Sassy magazine (a big inspiration for Tavi now), watch Brady Bunch re-runs and read Betty and Veronica double digest comic books. Why, you ask? I didn't realize it then, but it was for the clothing.

I know that the early 1970s wardrobe of the Brady family is universally reviled, but I was absolutely obsessed with it. The Betty and Veronica double digest comics I used to read in the 1990s were actually just compilations of Archie comics from the 1960s and 1970s and, well, Betty and Veronica have always "worn" the most fashionable clothing. I remember spending hours in my bedroom drawing pictures of women wearing 1960s and 1970s style clothing, much of it copied directly from what Betty and Veronica were wearing. How I wish I had kept those drawings! There must have been hundreds of them. And why my interest in fashion and sewing lay dormant until I reached my early twenties....I guess I'll never know!

And back to Tavi....if this video of her dancing to Abba's song "S.O.S." doesn't make you nostalgic for when you were 12 years old, then nothing will!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Completed Project: The Perfect Wide Leg Pants

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have an all-consuming love for 1970s fashion, so wide leg pants are an absolute must for my wardrobe. I've been searching for the perfect wide leg pants pattern for a very long time, and I knew that I'd finally found it when I saw BurdaStyle member Reneebies version of the high waist pants from Vogue 8604.

You're probably wondering why I didn't just use a vintage 1970s wide leg pants pattern - right? Well, I have used 1970s patterns to make pants before, but I fell in love with the built-in extremely high waist design of this Vogue pattern, plus the legs are super-duper-mega wide!

I anxiously grabbed the pattern during a sale at my local Hancock Fabrics and I already had some trouser-weight denim on hand that needed destashing. Add the zipper and 1/2 yard of lining fabric for the pockets and the resulting pants only cost me $20.00 and a few well-spent hours of my time!

It was so nice to actually get dressed up and wear these today just for the heck of it! My son turns 1 year old on October 6th and, being a new mom, this past year has been a particularly unfashionable one for me. After my pregnancy, I quickly fell into the all too easy and convenient sweatpants and t-shirt routine. My hips also spread 4" and, although I am roughly back to my pre-pregnancy size, those hips just aren't going anywhere. So I had to completely get rid of my former pants and skirt wardrobe. And since I prefer to sew my own clothes, I'm in desperate need of pants and skirts....mostly pants.....and it's taking me an eternity to build my wardrobe back to where I want it to be.

I also want to give myself motivation to dress up everyday so, by October 6th, I hope to take daily "what I wore" photos and post them here, if not everyday then at least once week. Here's the breakdown for today's outfit:

Pants: Handmade
Shirt: Vintage 1970s - thrifted for $1.00
Necklace: Kohl's
Belt: Banana Republic on big-time sale
Shoes: Doc Marten Mary Janes


Friday, September 17, 2010

My Sewing Soundtrack

Music is an absolute must for me when I'm sewing. I just finished making the pants from Vogue 8604 tonight (they are the perfect pair of wide leg pants, by the way!) and this is a sample of my latest sewing soundtrack, all of which contribution to the completion of the pants!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Little 1960s Inspiration....Just Because!

I have a bad habit of saving random images onto my computer without keeping track of where they came from. I saved all of these images because they are connected to the 1960s in one way or another and, well, I LOVE 1960s fashion.

When I lived in Los Angeles many many years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a 1960s "Mods and Rockers" themed film festival at the Egyptian Theatre. I had already been long-obsessed with 1960s pop culture, but this specific event is what inspired me to teach myself how to sew with the hope that I would eventually be able to make my own 1960s style dresses. Hopefully you will find these images as inspiring as I have!

Models from the 1966 film Where Are You, Polly Maggoo?

Mia Farrow during the filming of Rosemary's Baby.

Twiggy wearing the most exquisite babydoll mini dress!

Amazing 1960s color block dress.

Lush red babydoll dress with all of the most drool-worthy details (sheer balloon sleeves, pintucked bodice, buttons and a bow!).

Linen color block dress with a keyhole peek-a-boo bodice.

Sylvie Vartan wearing a snappy Peter Pan collar dress and jacket.

I love oddly-shaped collars like this one! These were used heavily during the 1960s, especially on little girls' dresses.

Detail of a stunning layered petal petal bodice from a 1960s Vogue Couturier pattern.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Built By Wendy - Fall 2010 Collection

Probably the only contemporary designer whose designs I've followed on a regular basis throughout the years is Wendy Mullin.

She has made quite a name for herself in the home sewing community with her books on sewing, most notably her first book Sew U: The Built By Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe. And then there are the Built By You series of sewing patterns that she designed for Simplicity (the majority of which are now sadly out of print).

Her transition from self-taught home sewer to designer is quite inspiring, and you can hear her tell the whole story in her own words at Craftsanity. It's a must-listen for anyone who loves sewing and fashion design!

The Built By Wendy Fall 2010 collection was launched online today. It's heavily inspired by traditional menswear, early 1980s New Wave fashion and preppy Ivy League collegiate styles. Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pattern Making Books

For years I pondered whether or not to go back to school for fashion design. When I say "go back to school", it's because I already have a degree in filmmaking (which, unfortunately for me, I got before I started sewing and - literally - could not stop thinking about sewing!). Missouri State University offers a degree in fashion design and I recently weighed the pros and cons of attending. The cons far outweighed the pros - I have a young son who deserves all of the attention I can give him, my husband is currently going to school full time, the thought of borrowing more money for school sends me into a panic and, ultimately, an official fashion degree would be worthless to me since I like working independently and making limited, one of a kind designs. I do, however, want to learn how to make my own patterns. That's where these books come in:

I got them through our public library (which is a pretty darn fabulous one!) to "preview" before actually investing in them. Patternmaking for Fashion Design is massive! It's filled with 800+ pages of detailed pattern making goodness. Draping for Apparel Design is shorter in length but just as detailed. Up until now, I've used basic vintage patterns and mixed-&-matched or altered the pieces to make my designs a reality. I want to eventually move away from commercial patterns altogether, but I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and will take a long time. I figure that I can devote at least 60 minutes per day, and will probably begin with the flat pattern drafting book. Does anyone have experience working with either of these books or have recommendations for others like it?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fashion Icon: Diane Keaton as Annie Hall

This was inspired by a post on 70s New York Fall Style from the cool fashion blog Stars We Are.

I love 1970s fashion, especially the layered, sophisticated and liberated American style of 1970s New York. If I could swipe the wardrobe of any movie character of any era, it would be the wardrobe worn by Diane Keaton in Annie Hall which embodies this 1970s New York style.

Technically, the title of this post really should just be "Fashion Icon: Diane Keaton" because the outfits she wore in Annie Hall were all inspired by her own distinctive style. Here's a collage that I made from various photos of Diane Keaton and scenes from Annie Hall which, if you haven't already, you should find and watch immediately (click to see the full-size collage):