Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Starting From Scratch

This is a post for anyone who, like me, obsessively collects vintage sewing patterns, fabric and sewing notions.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how having all of this sewing stuff actually keeps me from sewing...it slows me down. Meaning that it usually takes me an eternity to choose a project from all of my patterns (and it actually takes an eternity to go through all of the patterns!). I like buying patterns because each one represents the exciting possibility of a future project or garment that I could make and wear one day. But what's the point of having said pattern if you file it away and completely forget that it exists and never end up make anything from it anyway? The same goes for fabric. And just because there's a $1.00 pattern sale at Jo Ann's or a huge bag of old crazy colored zippers or ridiculously low priced fabric at a thrift store, does that really mean that you have to buy them just in case that perfect project idea comes along one day?

Don't get me wrong - it's not like I'm drowning in sewing patterns and fabric here, it's just that I have finally (after a very, very long time) realized something about myself: there is truth to the saying "a cluttered house leads to a cluttered mind." Less is more for me. Too many choices actually mess with my head and I either procrastinate or give up, sometimes in the middle of a project due to the distracting need to move on to another one.

In order for me to be the best, most productive seamstress that I can be, I need to get rid of (almost) every sewing item that I own and start from scratch.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to whittle down my sewing pattern collection to 20-30 patterns. I'll be keeping most of my favorites (most of them Butterick Young Designer patterns from the 1970s) and a couple basics. Same goes for fabric, buttons, zippers, notions, etc. My goal is to sew through these patterns, then buy patterns and corresponding fabric ONLY when I'm absolutely ready to start a new project and see it through to the end. I will post all of my collection here and document each finished project. I actually want to work on learning how to draft my own patterns, so maybe I can eventually do away with commercial patterns altogether!

Kind of a wordy post, but I had to put everything down in words so I can be held accountable. As soon as I decide which patterns to keep, I will post them all here and get started on the first project! Wish me luck on choosing which ones to keep...it's going to be difficult!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Few Random Things

It's taking me way longer than I'd planned to finish my current sewing project. It's actually more of an ensemble piece - a button front shirt and drawstring waist shorts. I'm using a 1970s Kenzo pattern to make the outfit and the shirt was quite complicated to make. Now I just have to finish the shorts!

Onto another topic: I love Burda Style. Let me re-phrase that: I am IN LOVE with Burda Style!

It is such an amazing place to see mind-boggling creative sewing projects and meet other fellow sewing enthusiasts. I've been sewing for a really long time and can't believe that I just joined about a month ago! I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I haven't ever used a Burda sewing pattern to make anything...yet! ;)

Every week, the staff features a few members' projects on the main page. Here are a few of my current favorites (they are all incredibly inspiring!):

1960s sleeveless wool dress by Lily_Bart. Impeccably made from a 1960s Vogue Couturier pattern - need I say more?

Large Pocket Work Skirt by The House of Hearts. Super-cute skirt with cheerful yellow pockets made from reclaimed fabric. Perfection!

Chocolate Viscose Blouse by baroness. Amazingly too-cool-for-school mod blouse with matching orange gingham (!) fabric buttons and neck scarf. I need one of these!

Black, white and plaid blouse by smbriones. Gingham again, this time used to make a neat-o mod blouse with a Peter Pan collar and bow tie! To die for!

Maryy variation dress by tinybows. This seamstress churns out the most amazing creations at an enviable pace. And they all look just as cool as this 1990s grunge-style halter dress!

And onto another completely unrelated subject....I'm not sure if I have many (if any) Australians who read this blog, but it seems to me that home sewing is HUGE in Australia! I also have a vintage sewing pattern shop on Etsy, and at least half of my sales are from Australians. So I'm curious - is there a home sewing revolution going on in Australia? I'm hugely interested in the topic of home sewing, so if anyone can shed some light, I would appreciate it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vintage Patterns of the Week

Here's a fun mix of vintage patterns and fabric that I found on Etsy this week!

I love the unusual inverted darts/pleats on this classic 1950s skirt. A mere $4.00 from ChigalsPatterns!

Coolest jumpsuit pattern EVER! $10.00 from SelvedgeShop.

Loose-fitting 1970s bohemian dress designed by Carol Horn! Includes pants and two different purses. Super-affordable at only $6.00 from SewTennessee.

This is my ideal summer top! Easy to make and loose-fitting with a 1970s bohemian edge. My favorite is the view 4 top. $5.00 from SewSewAgain.

Last is this 1980s jumpsuit pattern, which I think is most flattering in the capri-length version, but would make for a super-cute summer romper too! $4.95 from BlueCatVintage.

I already have too many pieces of floral vintage fabric, but something about the crazy colors in this vintage challis really appeals to me! $5.00 for a half yard piece from PintuckSew.

I've always been in love with crazy colors and patterns. This piece of vintage mod pop art fabric would make an amazing skirt! $13.00 for a little over a yard at SelvedgeShop.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Look Inside VOGUE PATTERNS Magazine - May/June 1975

I lucked out about a year ago and won an auction on eBay for 20 issues of Vogue Patterns magazine for only $20.00! And all of said issues are from around 1973 to 1979, so I am going to slowly but surely share them all with you! Here's a peek into the May/June 1975 issue.

You can tell that home sewing was a big deal during the 1970s from the amount of money (lots of beautiful on-location photography and detailed styling) and care that was put into each issue. The featured model in this particular fashion editorial (shot in "Mystic India") is a very young Jerry Hall! Remember to click on the photos to see them full-size - you won't want to miss all of the amazing details of these fashions sewn from Vogue patterns!

The three photos above remind a lot of the cinematography from the 1970s Australian film Picnic At Hanging Rock. Everything is so blatantly romantic and Jerry Hall is stunning!

The epitome of 1970s bohemian-chic! The close-up of the first photo was used for the cover of this issue - I NEED those platform sandals, by the way! The horse print batik fabric used for the hooded caftan above is amazing!

Gorgeous evening dresses. The orange dress was made from a Jerry Silverman designer Vogue pattern. The photo of Jerry Hall in the green dress is my favorite one from this issue!

Amazing hot pink halter top, high waist pants and jacket sewn up in fuchsia pink cotton. I love how the male model in all of these photos is basically just a prop. Ha ha!

Introducing a new bunch of designer patterns from Giorgio di Sant'Angelo - robes and dresses that are specially designed to be made from sheets! I'm pretty sure Vogue's translations of Sant'Angelo's designs were limited to the 2 or 3 in this issue - he had a very short run with Vogue, so I guess they weren't very popular.

And now for a few ads! There's an ad for Qiana by Du Pont in nearly every issue that I own. Same with Trevira fabrics, whose illustrated ads are so pretty!

I have a few spools of 1970s Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread on that trademark gold spool just waiting to be used. I seriously doubt that any advertiser today would dare put so much text into an ad!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Completed Project: Into the Woods Blouse

I'm on a roll! Here's my latest completed sewing project - a blouse that I made from Simplicity Simplicity 8927 (copyright 1970), View 2. There are so many design elements that attracted me to this particular blouse pattern: the small collar, the raglan sleeves, the retro mod style and the front closure which is actually a zipper concealed by a front placket.

The fabric is a cute Heidi Grace forest print with tiny birds, ladybugs, flowers and trees! The contrasting small collar and front placket are made from the same organic white cotton that I used for the trim and pockets on the 1970s apron dress. I used 6 tiny birds from the fabric to make the non-functional fabric-covered buttons for the placket.

This blouse was a cinch to make - only 4 hours from start to finish, so I recommend it to anyone who wants to make a cute little mod blouse in no time at all! For my next project, I'll be making an outfit from a 1970s Kenzo "young designer" pattern: a pair of paper bag waist bermuda shorts and a blouse made from a crazy vintage 1960s space-age print cotton that needs to be de-stashed!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I've Been Tagged!

The lovely Lisette at the Vintage or Bust! blog has tagged me. This is the first time I've been tagged and the questions are really fun, so thanks!

1. You must get the haircut/style of a cartoon character. Who would you choose?
Josie from Josie and the Pussycats - she has the cutest mod bob!

2. Name one vintage style/type of garment/accessory from your favorite era that you could do without.
Hmmm....I really love 1970s fashion, but I could probably do without the over sized eyeglasses/sunglasses that came back into style several years ago.

3. What fabulous fabric do you have that you will never make anything out of because you are afraid to ruin it?
I have a piece of vintage 1950s sheer burgundy dotted swiss fabric stashed away. I've had it for at least 10 years. Even though I found it an an antique store for really cheap, I can't bring myself to make anything from it because it's so fragile!

4. What is your favorite modern magazine?
I don't read many magazine at all, actually. I think the last one I bought was an issue of Bust, though.

5. What do you do to pick yourself up on a crummy day?
Sew, Baby, Sew!!!!

6. You get to be an extra in a period film. Which one?
Do films from the 1960s count? If so, I would choose Blow Up. I had a big crush on David Hemmings when I first saw it 20 years ago and I always wished I could be a fashion model in swinging London! If not, then I would choose to be an extra in the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of A Room With A View.

7. What are your thoughts on Steampunk? Does it pique your vintage taste?
I like the dark Victorian-era romanticism of the Steampunk look, but don't have the slightest interest in trying the look myself.

8. What is your go-to neutral?
Denim, for me, has become the modern neutral. You can wear it with anything. So a pair of denim jeans is my go-to neutral.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Completed Project: Vintage 1970s Halter Apron Dress

Remember the pattern that I wrote about in this post? I finished the dress last night and wore it today! It only took about 5 hours from start to finish (although not in one sitting, which is impossible to do when you're the mother of an 8 month old boy!).

The fabric that I used is a vintage cotton calico printed with teeny-tiny cherries and daisies. And - get this - I've had it for 10 YEARS!!! So sad. I've been sewing for a little longer than that. This is why I am busy stash busting! The trim/straps and over sized pockets are made from an organic white cotton that I got on clearance from a big-box sewing store a while ago.

I usually don't put patch pockets on anything that I make, but I decided to this time, and I'm glad that I did! I trimmed each pocket with a 1" fabric covered button. Also, I think I have officially found the perfect photo-taking spot, which is outdoors in our backyard against the house. Usually I take photos inside against a gray wall, but the results have been hit-or-miss lately.

The back of the dress is gathered with elastic. I had to shorten the elastic so it would take in the dress more; it was a size 16, which is the perfect pants/skirt pattern size for me, but always ends up being way too big in dress patterns.

I think this dress will make a smooth transition from summer to fall as a layering piece to wear over long sleeve tops and tights. Self-Stitched-September, here I come!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Patterns of the Week (Returns!)

Here is the re-launch of my annual "patterns of the week" post! All of these patterns are from my Etsy favorites list and they are all pretty much too cool for school!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret - I don't really like to wear dresses very often. I think it's the perpetual tomboy in me who yearns to constantly wear denim trousers and t-shirts. I do love skirts, though, so this pattern offers the perfect compromise. $10.00 from bluettecourt.

Super-cool mid 1960s pattern inspired by Mondrian color blocking that was popularized in clothing by Yves St. Laurent. $14.99 from Mysweetiepiepie.

The dress is kind of plain, but that trapeze jacket with the Peter Pan collar and bow tie closure is cute-as-can-be!!! Only $6.00 from C8H10N4O2.

I'm a huge fan of blouses/tops with yokes. Plus, this is a 1970s pattern, so it's been hard to resist buying this one! $4.95 from BlueCatVintage.

Sigh...how I LOVE 1970s Betsey Johnson sewing patterns! $15.00 from SophieBeatrice.

I couldn't resist spreading the word about this discontinued Alexander Henry fabric with a 1970s models theme. I have no idea what you would make from it since the print is kind of busy (maybe a purse or a throw pillow), but I still love it because it's truly bizarre! $10.50 per yard from enzedr.