Friday, April 11, 2014

Let's Connect!

Antique Lightweight Empire Portable Typewriter, c. 1892 from ozTypewriter
 I apologize for my sporadic posting...I have so much that I'm eager to share with you! Thankfully, this semester is almost over. I have some personal vintage pieces, Kearny History Museum garments, and sewing projects all waiting to make an appearance on the blogosphere!

The social media platforms I use are essentially an extension of my blog: my Pinterest is my treasure-hoard of inspiring antique garments and useful techniques; my Twitter allows me to quickly jot down my sewing-related thoughts; my Tumblr is a moody exploration of art history and feminine beauty.

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I've added tags on the right hand side of my blog to make connecting super easy!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Toiling Away

Because of my schoolwork, my sewing progress during the academic year is pretty glacial. Each step seems to take at least two weeks, and self-established deadlines must be pushed back several times to accommodate term papers and exams.
Butterick 5605

My plans for Butterick 5605 have been developing at an irritatingly gradual pace. Since winning the pattern in November, I prewashed the fabric, traced the pattern and made a toile.

Sometimes the time I take to finish a project like this is beneficial--in the months since receiving the pattern, I decided that the superb black cotton I bought at a yard sale would be a shame to use as a lining. A thick cotton lining a wool dress might be both too bulky and too warm. Instead, I will purchase a black poly satin to line the dress.

This is the first garment on which I'm actually making a toile (normally I use the lining as the toile). This represents another step toward my development as a sewist (seamstress? sew-er?).

I'm glad I made a toile because this bodice was HUGE on me! Even the sleeves, which look tight-fitting on the pattern illustration, were cavernous on my wimpy arms. I was able to take out at least an inch of material from the front seam alone!

The toile might go through a few more changes, namely, redistributing the amount I took out from the front seam to the side seams so that the princess seam isn't so oriented to the middle. I also drew out a new neckline--a high neckline in wool just won't work for me.

Back of the bodice toile

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Inspiration Strikes

Last night I decided to take a well-earned break from homework by flipping through my Portuguese 08/2012 edition of Burdastyle magazine. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how dangerous that would be...

My 5 minute break became a half-hour design session. I found a length of attractive--if somewhat musty and dirty--polyester pink wool (?) my Grandma gave me. It's that kind of dark pink that non-pink-wearers like me can tolerate. It's so hard to choose between the two pencil skirt options provided in this issue--the godet is visually interesting, but would a plain pencil skirt be more versatile?

The drape is a bit stiff..maybe not right for a godet?
This photo comes closest to capturing the true color and the charming weave.
Godet Pencil Skirt #112
Pencil Skirt #111C

Readers, what do you think? Should I opt for a basic springtime staple, or mix it up with a decorative element that also provides greater freedom of movement?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fabric Warehouse

In a few of my posts, I've mentioned the mysterious and slightly creepy Fabric Warehouse, my go-to for affordable fabrics. Most recently, I bought several plaid wools for about $2-3 a yard! The store apparently sells name-brand fabrics at a discount, but since none of their bolts are labeled I'm not sure where the fabric comes from (or its fabric content, etc.)

The Fabric Warehouse is located in Belleville, New Jersey, and is accessible to those in the NYC area. It is right behind Route 21.

681 Main St, Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 759-8080
Mon - Sat, 10am - 6pm, Sun, noon - 5pm
There is also a location in Rahway, New Jersey.
970 New Brunswick Ave, Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 882-0007

They have a website, too.

Some info (the validity of which I'm uncertain about):

"Our retails stores are Fabric Warehouse.  Our online store is called Fabric Warehouse Direct.  We are the home of "Designer Goods and Below Wholesale Prices." That's because we offer exquisite first quality, brand-name upholstery, drapery, wallpaper as well as other home decorating products at more than 50% off retail prices. We only buy first quality designer goods from trusted sources that have been in the business for years. As a result, we are committed to passing on tremendous savings to our customers. We guarantee you will not find quality goods at our prices anywhere else.

Established in 1982. Fabric Warehouse has been in business for over 20 years and has three stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our main warehouse is stocked with 23,000 square feet of merchandise. At the urging of my daughter, we decided to jump into the modern age by putting some of our stock online at Fabric Warehouse Direct. Come check us out either on land or in cyberspace!"

Happy shopping!

February Fabric Haul: Plaid Wool

My local fabric store--the Fabric Warehouse--is creepy enough that I try to stay away. However, when I received a 50% off coupon in the mail, I couldn't resist.

I went to the Fabric Warehouse with the intent of "just browsing"--I feel like my fabric stash is out of control as it is. I need a pink cotton to line a dress I plan on making this summer, so that's what I was looking for.

I seriously underestimated the extent of the "Winter Clearance" listed on the coupon. Normally, the Fabric Warehouse doesn't have a good selection of wools. But right when I walked in (after passing the gaudy sequin trim and strange selection of Spiderman-themed baubles) I spotted a table piled with wools on sale for $2-4 a yard!

Turns out they didn't have any cotton, so I had to get some wool. I began creating ideas for my wool purchase. I've been wanting to create a Portuguese Folkloric Costume that fits me, so first I went searching the pile for anything solid. I found a blue wool that matched the traditional color--but its quality was sadly lacking: it was stiff and seemed to grab onto every hair, dust mote, and speck of glitter. Yuck. Then, I figured I could find something for a kirtle or something--everything was either too thin or too thick, or not enough yardage.

And then, peeking out from the pile, I saw this beauty:

My camera captured the color all wrong. The actual color of this plaid is olive and cream, which is one of my favorite color combinations! The remnant only had 2 yards, and the total came to $6.

Immediately after, my eye fell on another of my favorite color combinations--navy, purple, and cream! This plaid seems more modern in its aesthetic, but I love its Ralph-Lauren-esque feel. The 2 1/2 yard remnant cost $12.

The true color of this plaid

I have long harbored a love for pleated plaid skirts...a love that has for far too long been unfulfilled. The RTW pleated skirts are either too short, too unsubstantial, too long, too large...not a perfect love match for me.

I have a few designs in mind for these plaids, and now, I am torn between several different aesthetics that I think will all work well in my wardrobe.

- an a-line or circle knee length skirt
via Etsy
- a short pleated skirt with a wide yoke
- a long pleated skirt with a narrow waistband

So many lovely options, so much diverse inspiration! What to choose, what to choose?

via Rusty Zipper

via ikat bag

Monday, March 17, 2014

Completed Edwardian Drawers

Last night I finished my Edwardian Drawers! They are far from perfect--I really did not have enough material to make them as full as they needed to be. These drawers were an exercise in compromise: despite their inadequacies, they are lovely and wearable. If you squint from a distance, they might look pretty decent!

The waistband is sewn with the legs sandwiched between. I figured that if ever I made new drawers, I could use this waistband. Having just one line of stitching to remove makes that easier! I used fabric loops instead of buttonholes because my handmade buttonholes are atrocious, my machine-made buttonholes are unreliable, and I can easily remove the loops later when I redo these drawers.

The legs overlap and are attached in the front by a few inches of surprisingly neat stitching.

The bottom button could've been placed lower...oh well.
Since I had so little fabric to work with, the drawers must sit low on my hips in order to fit. I made a boo-boo when sewing the leg seam, and didn't realize that the seam came up too high. Because of this, the top of the seam rolls toward my backside, and the front of the drawers has unattractive gathering.  I can fix this by inserting a triangular gore in the back in the future.


The back also gapes a bit.
Historical Sew Fortnightly Information

The Challenge: #4 Under It All

Fabric: Poly-Cotton blend for the waistband, cotton curtains for the legs
Pattern: Self-drafted
Year: 1900-1910
Notions: Embroidery floss, 2 purple buttons, single-fold bias tape, thread
How historically accurate is it? 50% -- They're not made with enough fabric, and the fabrics have synthetic content. If you squint from a distance, they might look decent.
Hours to complete: Not sure--it was worked on during short bursts during the semester
First worn: For pictures 
Total cost: $0 -- All stash materials

Friday, March 14, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Late Challenge

I love the Historical Sew Fortnightly: the challenge themes, the inspiring entries. Except no matter how many great things I can think up for the challenges, I know I won't be able to make them (2 majors, a minor and a part time job do that to you....).

However, I convinced myself to complete at least 2 HSF challenges this year. I initially intended to submit my Edwardian Drawers Made from Curtains for Challenge #3 Pink, because of the pink embroidery. When that deadline came and went, I figured I'd have them completed by Challenge #4 Under It All.

Yeah. The deadline for that challenge was several weeks ago. I've been so swamped with midterm exams and projects that I haven't even touched the drawers in that time. My Spring Break has officially began, and in between catching up on homework and doing those things I don't normally get to do during the semester--dust my room, manicure my nails, clean the crumbs out from the bottom of my purse--I want to work on several UFOs, including the drawers.

At this point, the embroidered monogram on the waistband of the drawers has been completed. My next step is to attach the legs to the waistband, sew the waist darts to the waistband, and add buttons and buttonholes!

The color of the embroidery is actually pink, not orange!

The embroidery is done in split stitch, french knots, and lazy daisy (detached chain) stitch. I was going to have leaves on the outside too, but I thought it looked too cluttered. The thread is a pretty soft, baby pink, but shows up as sorbet in my camera.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Making Edwardian Drawers out of a Curtain

My mother found this white kitchen curtain when she was cleaning up a closet. Her taste has certainly evolved since the frilly curtain days, and so the curtain was gifted to my fabric stash--as all the abandoned linens in our house are!

I've been craving an Edwardian wardrobe for some years now, since I started a pintucked shirtwaist about 3 years ago. With my crazy school/work schedule, I figured that Edwardian drawers would be a simple and portable project.

The cotton curtain is decorated with a pleated cotton eyelet lace that seems marginally better than most store-bought qualities. I could easily envision the curtain as a pair of Edwardian drawers.

I began by slicing the trim off the bottom edge of the curtain, as well as removing the rod pocket from the top. I then cut the curtain in half, to form two rectangles decorated with the trim along the bottom.

I wanted to accentuate the eyelet with pintucks. I did two rows of narrow tucks which I am rather impressed with!

I knew that I didn't have a lot of material to work with. These drawers will not be wholly accurate--they will serve as a good practice pair so that I can learn the patterning and techniques for my future Edwardian wardrobe. The pattern is clobbered together from The Laced Angel's antique pair and her reproduction, Tanit-Isis Sew's version, Ella Rodman Church's The Home Needle from 1882 (pages 28-32)  and personal guesses. By the way--The Home Needle encourages drawers as "more troublesome to cut than any other undergarment"...dun dun dun!

I tried to sew the leg seam with a flat felled seam, just as the The Home Needle suggests. However, I was sewing after a long day of classes and homework, and the next morning I realized I had actually made a sort of french seam...don't sew when exhausted. Just don't do it. I also could've made the inner leg seam much shorter, in order to give more floof to the seat...oh well.

Each leg piece is faced with a one inch strip of bias tape. The waistband has already been cut out; it will have a rounded "dip" in the front, on which I will embroider my initial surrounded by a wreath of flowers.

The right leg...notice how the back is cut with more material.
The leg opening facing...pretty well done I think!
The crazy not-really-French seam!

I'm hoping to complete these drawers for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge # 4 Under It All. I meant to make it for #3 Pink (because of the pink embroidery), but I just ran out of time! Stay tuned!