Sunday, July 13, 2014

And the Wedding Dress Pattern Hunt Continues...

         Yesterday, I went with my mom, my best friend, my cousin, and my future mother-in-law to look at wedding dresses. As you may know, I fully intend to make my own wedding dress, but I was advised by my sewing teacher and my mom to try on different styles before committing to one to sew, so I scheduled a couple of appointments at the few local bridal shops.

       The problem is (and I knew it would be) that there are almost no styles remotely like what I'm looking for at the few wedding shops in our area! It seems that everything is long (I want a just-below-the-knee length), really tight on the hips (not a good look for me), really beaded and sparkly (I want something plain or maybe an unembellished lace), and strapless (I want at least straps if not sleeves). Oh, and did I mention that they were (almost) all crazy expensive? It was kind of disappointing, but at least my mom and Phillip's mom had a good time having me model dresses.

       I came away from the experience realizing that what I really need to do is just start sewing! I decided that I'll start working on re-creating my favorite of the vintage ones I shared in this post. I figure that if make it, modify it a few times, and if even then it looks absolutely hideous on me I can start over with another style.
(from Dear Golden)

        I've been searching long and hard for a pattern for this dress for a few months. I've come across a few that resemble it, but none that seem to be an exact match.

   Then, last night, I found this pattern image online:
       It's still not quite the same (obviously the skirt is totally different), but I think it's getting close! The problem is, that of course there don't seem to be any copies currently available from online sellers. I kept finding this book for sale, but I'm not sure what it is and if it has an actual pattern for the dress or just some kind of list in book form. Does anybody know?

        I'm sure that, with enough time and help, I could draft a similar pattern, but I'm really hoping to at least get a pattern piece to use as a guide. It doesn't even need to be my size! So, here's my request to all of you vintage sewists: does anyone have a copy of Advance 8394 that I could buy? Or, if you have one that you don't want to part with, could I borrow/rent it from you for like a week so I can trace the bodice pieces?

      Thanks guys! I can't wait to get started sewing this thing!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thrifty Thursday Vol. 72: Mid-Century Hutch

Hi everyone and welcome to this week's edition of Thrifty Thursday, where I share my weekly thrift store/swap meet/estate sale finds.

Today I'm sharing a very special find, one of my favorite pieces and something I was looking for a very long time- a mid-century modern hutch to display my vintage dish collection! Here it is in our house with all of my dishes on it:

 We had looked at several options at local antique stores and even a couple of estate sales, but none seemed quite right. Either they were too small and wouldn't hold that much, weren't quite the right style, or were just too expensive (we didn't want to spend more than about $300). Then I saw one in a Craigslist ad for an estate sale which seemed pretty nice and called to see if it was still available. It wasn't (had sold earlier that day), but the lady told me that there was another one available for $250 and sent me this photo of it:
I loved the shape and especially that it looked like it was roomy enough to hold most of my collection, so my mom and I drove up to see it the next day (Phillip had to work). I ended up buying it, as you know, and we hauled it down in my mom's van. It's hard to see in the fuzzy photo above, but the wood was really dried out and discolored and the handles on the top part were black and really chippy. Also, we realized that the top and bottom didn't seem to be the same style. When Phillip saw it he wasn't so sure we should have bought it at all, but I went to work to prove him wrong!

First, I sanded down the chippy black handles and spray painted them bronze to match the lower hardware.

See how much better they look? To me, you can't even tell they were spray-painted.

Then I gave the whole thing a really generous coat of Pledge. And when that soaked in, I gave it another, until the whole thing looked darker and a uniform color. It looked 1000% better and Phillip felt a lot better about buying it, hooray!

The lady I bought it from also threw in this chair and some other stuff from the house for free (it was her 92-year-old mother's who had moved to a nursing home). I was glad that the money I spent on the hutch would go to someone who was still alive and could use it. I re-covered the chair seat with some fabric I picked up at Birch. I think it turned out pretty cute!

Anyway, the hutch is great and really spacious! I know it's going to be a great piece of furniture for years to come. Here are some more photos of it done up with my collections. I still keep re-arranging it every week or so!

The upper cabinet stores my collection of speckled California pottery (a variety of makers I've picked up here and there) and some repro jadeite pieces.

There's also tons of storage in the bottom. Currently it holds my Weilware dish collection:

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this week's Thrifty Thursday. Do you have any amazing furniture finds you've discovered at yard or estate sales or thrift stores?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sewing Project: Another Moneta in Stripes (A Love Story)

Ok, I've been a bad blogger... I made this dress a month ago and I'm just now posting it! 

This is my second version of the Colette Patterns Moneta dress, and despite it's simplicity, this is seriously one of my favorite things I've ever made. It's so comfy, simple, cute and it's so easy to throw on during those mornings when you just don't have the energy to pick out an outfit (and I've had many of those lately). I've worn it so many times since I made it, including to the (LA Blogger Meetup a couple of weeks ago and Disneyland). I've gotten tons of compliments on it despite it being such a simple style. One of the "would you like to take a survey?" girls at Disneyland actually stopped me and asked me where I got it!

The fabric is one of those kind of mystery fabrics I picked up on one of my many thrift store expeditions. It's a sort of thick knit fabric that I think might be considered a "pique." (More knowledgeable sewers are more than welcome to correct me if I'm wrong.) The funny thing is that I came really close to not buying it. It was $7 and I was having one of my thrifty "don't be a fabric hoarder" moments and almost talked myself out picking it up. I'm so glad my fabric-hoarder side won out though, because it ended up being perfect for the Moneta pattern, and there was so much fabric left over that I could probably make myself a duplicate after I wear this one out! Have you ever done that? Almost not bought something and then ended up absolutely loving it?

Oh, yes, and it has pockets. These have become a must-have feature on pretty much every dress or skirt I make!

This geometric necklace is another one of my favorites! I bought it at the Stitch Market from Sweet Bella Designs.

I look goofy in this picture, but here's how it looks with a cardigan. 

Like I mentioned when I posted about the Bronte top, I'm still a newbie with knits, but I'm falling hard for how comfortable and versatile these fabrics and, once you get the ballpoint needle thing down, they're actually really easy to sew. I'd love to find some cute knit fabrics in fun colors and patterns. Does anyone have recommendations for online shops?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LA Blogger Meetup Report

The weekend before last, I headed down to LA with my sewing buddy Erin for the long-awaited blogger meetup! It was such a fun day. I got to meet with so many fellow sewers, chat about sewing, blogging, and fabric, and check out The Fabric Store, which I'd never been to. We started with a lunch at Cafe Midi, where the waitstaff were very patient with our extremely large group (40 plus!). Then we headed over to The Fabric Store for a fun giveaway drawing (I didn't win anything), and then a fabric and pattern swap, where I made out like a bandit with some amazing fabric and got rid of some items from my way-too-large stash. We then chatted and shopped as we browsed through The Fabric Store's amazing selection of fabrics.

I'm still shamefully unacquainted with the fabled LA garment district (I live about 3 hours to the north and I haven't been courageous enough to venture down on my own and navigate the many confusing freeways!). So it was great to get tips from locals on different shops to check out, especially since I'm hoping to make a trip down to find some fabric for my wedding dress in the coming year. We were hoping to check out Mood as well, but unfortunately it was closed for some earthquake retrofitting. Oh well, next time!

The aftermath of the pattern and fabric swapping!

I snagged some great vintage patterns and this cute McCalls 6693 with the sheer bodice overlay. I was really excited about the cute wrap skirt of the right-most pattern, but when I took out the pieces I realized there was about half of the jacket in there and that was all. It's one of the sad realities of vintage patterns- you never know what the heck you're going to find in them!

I was beyond stoked to pick up these adorable retro fabrics in the swap! They are all exactly up my alley. And the mustard and white voile by Anna Marie Horner is one I actually had my eye on forever at Birch but couldn't justify was fate! I'm debating what to make with it...

I bought these two fabrics at the Fabric Store- I was shocked that after all of the gorgeous prints for sale that I ended up buying a couple of solids! I guess that none of them really "jumped out at me." I'm planning a summer sundress with the blue one- it's a chambray-like light cotton in a pretty light blue shade. The bottom one is a coral pink cotton that's a bit thicker and has a twill weave- I think it's going to be a skirt.

The amazing organizers of the meetup, Erin, Kathy, Jill, and Laurie even put together these little goodie bags for everyone. It was such a great touch and it was so nice of them to make a little memento of the day!

Oh, and it was awesome to finally meet this girl in real life: the lovely Tanya of Mrs. Hughes, a longtime blog buddy!
To make the trip just that much better, while we we waiting to meet for lunch, Erin and I wandered into a clothing store next door, which happened to have racks and racks of vintage dresses- I was in heaven! I couldn't resist picking up this yellow one after I tried it on and it fit perfectly:

I think this might have to be my engagement photo outfit, what do you think?

Later, I picked out some of my vintage patterns to potentially make with my blue chambray cotton and asked my Instagram and facebook friends which one I should use. The responses were all over the board, so I just decided on my own. Which one will I make? You'll have to stay tuned, muahaha...

Anyway, a big THANK YOU to the organizers of the meetup and to all of the lovely sewists who came! It was great to meet you all and I hope to see you again soon! Happy sewing (and blogging!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pattern Testing the Bronte Shirt

       Hi guys! I've got yet another sewing project to share with you today. Can you believe how much I've been sewing lately? I'll attribute it to a lot more free time now that I switched jobs as well as being asked to test out a few new patterns. Which brings me to this particular project, which is the Bronte shirt, a brand-new pattern from Jennifer Lauren.

    As you can see, this is a knit top with a little shoulder detail, which you could either leave plain or add some buttons or other embellishment. I chose to add a couple of pink vintage buttons to mine. I really like that this is something I could wear anytime with jeans. I have to admit that my handmade wardrobe is lacking in "practical" pieces like this and I'm certainly planning on making a few more.

    This particular project was exciting for me because it was the very first knit project I've sewn! I was so happy with how this one turned out that I went ahead and made the Moneta dress I'd had sitting in my sewing room but was still slightly nervous about trying to sew. And then I made two more! Don't you love when you finally try something new and it works?

   I think that my experience shows that this is a great beginner pattern for sewing with knits. It's pretty simple and it also sews up pretty quickly- it only took me about 2 hours from cutting to finishing (and I'm a pretty slow sewer, to be honest). There are lots of variations you could make by changing the length of the sleeves, adding or not adding buttons, and using contrasting colors for the binding. I did make a couple of changes from the pattern for this version. First, I lengthened the hem by about 6 inches. I don't know about you, but I prefer my shirts on the longer side when wearing them with jeans to prevent any "exposure" issues when bending down or sitting. I also decided to shorten the long sleeves to a 3/4 length. I feel like when I wear long sleeves I always end up pushing them up, so I prefer 3/4 length.

Pattern: Bronte by Jennifer Lauren
Fabric: cotton/polyester jersey knit from Jo-Ann fabrics
Alterations: Shortened long sleeves by 8 inches
Added 6 inches to length

Thanks Jen for letting me test out your fabulous pattern and get over my fear of knits!

Just as a little side note, I've noticed some talk around the web about pattern testing and whether it seems sort of inauthentic and if readers begin to get tired of seeing these types of posts. I can't speak for anyone else, but here's my take on the subject: 

       In my case I've only recently been asked to test a few patterns, and I've always been glad to do it. I enjoy taking on a new sewing challenge while helping out a fellow online sewing community member and an entrepreneur who is trying to make a living (or at least a little extra money) following their passion for sewing and creating. I would love to do the same one day! 

      In general, I don't think that pattern testers usually get paid for their work, but they do receive a free copy of the pattern they test (naturally) which is a nice reward in itself. I personally don't mind seeing pattern testing posts on other bloggers sites, especially if it is one that I'm considering buying, because I like to see it made up in different ways and on people of different shapes and sizes. I always give my honest opinion about the pattern to the designer and on my own blog and hopefully this will help everyone when creating their garments and deciding if a pattern is right for them.

     Anyway, that's my opinion. What's your take on it?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Blogger Meetup in LA this Saturday!

 (image source: The Fabric Store)

I'm sure most of you have heard about the blogger meetup that's happening in Los Angeles this Saturday June 14th, but just in case you haven't, Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy and some other ladies have planned a fun day of lunch, fabric shopping, socializing, and fabric/pattern swapping!

The fun will start at Cafe Midi (next door to The Fabric Store) and then move on to some shopping at The Fabric Store. Best of all: there will be a fabric and pattern swap as well! I'm bringing a Colette Patterns Negroni and a Sewaholic Cambie, as well as some cute vintage Butterick patterns! I'm still trying to decide which fabrics I'd like to part with. I've got some cute vintage ones I'll probably never use...

Anyway, if you'd like to take part, please contact Erin so she can include you in the lunch reservations, or if you'd like to skip the lunch part feel free to just show up at The Fabric Store the afternoon of the 14th. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pattern Testing: The Betsy Skirt and the Ava Jacket

 Hi, and for those of you who don't already know me, I'm Melissa and this is the second-to-the-last stop on the Betsy and Ava blog tour!

I was a more than a bit flattered when Abby of BlueGingerDoll Patterns emailed me a couple of months back about testing out a couple of her new patterns. I had seen several of her adorable designs around the web but I hadn't yet gotten a chance to make one up (I'm sure I'm not the only one out there with a "to-sew" list a mile and a half long) so I was excited to try out a couple of her latest designs.

First, here's my Betsy skirt:

I chose to make view A, which has these cute little button tabs. I love little details like these.
I have to be honest, when Abby told me I'd be making a pencil skirt, I was a little nervous. I have a very pear-shaped body type and I usually gravitate towards more A-line or flared skirts rather than tighter skirts that emphasize my hips. There is also a pretty significant difference between my waist and hip, so I knew I would need to add a little bit of room for my hips while keeping my waist measurement the same. I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book (1970 edition), which I would highly recommend to anyone who sews and especially if you love vintage styles (there are lots of them on Ebay). Here's what they had to say about this issue:
A closeup of the diagram:

Here's my alteration on my Betsy pattern. It was a bit of trial and error and I actually ended up taking off some of the volume that I added, but it did succeed in the end!

A closeup of the waistband. I'm always happy to have an excuse to use some of my vintage buttons.

And the back view:

I love how it looks with a cute top and a cardigan, and I've already worn this one several more times since I took the photos for this post. It's really comfortable to wear, especially with the little bit of stretch in the fabric, and the denim matches with pretty much anything, and despite my fears I don't think it highlights my hips at all and is actually rather slimming. I think I'm now fully converted to the pencil skirt camp!

Pattern: Betsy by BlueGingerDoll Patterns, view A
Fabric: Stretch denim from Jo-Ann fabrics
Size:16 with full hip alteration

Now for my Ava jacket. As you can see, it's a loose, kimono-style jacket. I made this one in a yellow linen-rayon blend from Jo-Ann Fabrics and lined it with a very lightweight gray-and white striped cotton.

Let me apologize for the wrinkles in these photos! I ironed my jacket at home but by the time I got to the restaurant where we took the photos it was wrinkly again. That's linen for you.

I decided to try it out with a belt as well. What do you think? Yea or Nay?
Belted back view:
I have to admit that, like the Betsy skirt, this jacket ran contrary to the styles I would normally sew for myself (I tend to be more comfortable with the "fitted on top, loose on bottom" thing). However, just as with the Betsy skirt I ended up really liking it. It's also very comfortable and it has a vintage look that I really love. Just goes to show you that it pays to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, in sewing and in life!

Pattern: Ava by BlueGingerDoll Patterns
Fabric: main: rayon/linen blend from Jo-Ann fabrics,
lining: lightweight shirting cotton from Jo-Ann

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out these lovely ladies on the blog tour and see their fabulous versions of Ava and Betsy!

29th May – Tanya at MrsHughes - ( Betsy)
1st June – Liz at Sewn by Elizabeth - ( Betsy & Ava as well as a little interview with Abby.)
2nd June  – T at uandmii ( Betsy)
3rd June  – Mary at YoungBroke&Fabulous
4th June – Mary at Idle Fancy
5th June – Andrea at foursquarewalls
6th June– Tanya at MrsHughes - (Ava) 

7th June - Melissa at Scavenger hunt 
8th June -  T at uandmii ( Ava)

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