Saturday, June 20, 2009

Burda 7791: Leggings

In follow-up to the One Problem, Several Solutions post below, I got Burda 7791 to make leggings.

I realize the thought of adult women wearing leggings can be controversial. Usually I'm in agreement with the overall opinion on boards about "what to wear" and "what not to wear." On the leggings front, I disagree. Leggings worn under a short dress or long tunic won't expose anyone to the sight of your thigh texture. I think they look more slimming than capris under long tunics. Both capris and leggings that stop at the knee or calf can make anyone look stubby. Let's just face that -- if you're choosing to wear capris for casual style or because they're longer than shorts, you're choosing to look a little stubby. Finally, leggings are comfortable. This is an OK look for Saturday errands or lounging around the house. One point I debate is whether there is an age limit for wearing these. In public. Perhaps. It depends on what you wear with leggings. I could see beige leggings, a white linen safari style big-shirt cinched with a raffia/leather belt, and a big straw hat being a cool comfortable look for women of any age. Throw on gladiator sandals for trendiness this year.

I'm willing to invest time to sew these and take a photo to see if I really do look ridiculous. If so, I'll let the idea go!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Problem, Several Solutions: =(T+D+L) =(T+T+C) =(T+D+C) =(T+T+L)

While surfing Japanese pattern books on eBay and Yesasia, I noticed a common thread between how I wore dresses in India from the Taj Mahal travel SWAP (pattern review writing in progress, to be posted soon), and how dresses and long tunics are commonly styled in the Japanese books:

Summer Style Recipe:
  • 1 T-shirt or Tank
  • 1 Dress or Tunic with spaghetti or thin shoulder straps
  • 1 pair of Leggings or Capris
Start with t-shirt and leggings, mix with dress or tunic on top. Add sandals or shoes. For warm temperatures.

Traveling in India, I felt too exposed to wear only a dress with strappy shoulders, so I layered them over other pieces. I wore capris under dresses and tunics on the trip, due to not having leggings in my closet since the 1980s. This combo was so comfortable! No worries about inadvertent indecent exposure due to straps slipping, neckline gaping, and bending over hem-lifting. No thinking about where my hem was while climbing out of vehicles, sitting in chairs, climbing stairs, etc. I wear pants 99.5% of the time, so I guess you could say I don't think very lady-like.
So let's assemble the ingredients ...

1 T-shirt or Tank
Oh please, I did marathon laundry last weekend and folded stacks of T-shirts that would fill a Gap store. All sizes and colors and styles. So T's and Tanks are another topic for another day.

1 Dress or Tunic
Japanese, U.S., and European patterns offer endless choices for stylish tunics and dresses. It does take work to look beyond the stiffer cottons in the Japanese photos and see how the style lines could be more flattering. I prefer drapier, flowier silks, rayons or jersey knits that don't stand so far from the body and make you look shapeless, bulky, frumpy. No offense to the Japanese photos. The stiffer cotton look is just not for me. Today's email from BurdaStyle showed exactly what I'm looking for in the Azalea dress -- some stylish detail, drapey and flowy in the right fabric, contrast fabric detail.

Have fun with fabrics! Try border prints, lace, rayon batiks, layered cotton voile or batiste. This is a chance to try sheers because you're wearing layers underneath. At Silk Road Fabrics in Austin, TX I have found silk/rayon brocade over-dyed and washed, once shiny and firm but now matte, soft and flowy. Transformed into a completely different fabric. Beautiful effect and perfect for dressing up this look with a silk jersey T.

1 Pair of Leggings
Although leggings are a (weak) trend right now, they're not easy to find RTW in many colors and they're expensive for what you get. So I'm searching for new or vintage legging sewing patterns to make leggings with stashed lycra knits. Some patterns: Butterick 6223, McCalls 5394, McCalls 5427, McCalls 5769, Stretch&Sew 5750, Christine Jonson Base Wear One, Simplicity 7449, Burda 7791. Some are undoubtedly vintage early 90s or 80s. Most can be found online for a few bucks. I have no idea of the pros and cons of each for fitting and comfort. I may try several for comparison. The Lazy Milliner wrote a post about teaching a legging sewing class at Vogue Fabrics.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OK, Maybe Not-So-Independent Style

Updating a previous post. I try not to be so imaginative as to copy an entire catalog look head-to-toe. But this time, I really don't care about lack of imagination. Why reinvent the wagon wheel.

Sundance T, it's here! I already have perfect dark dusty navy fabric and pattern to knock-off the skirt too (don't stashes come in handy). Project for this weekend when I'm back home. I also want to, carefully, bleach the T a little.

Liking Sundance's combo of beads and leather with pendant:

But can't justify the cost ($165 for beads & $110 for leather/pendant). The T is already an indulgence for just a T-shirt in these times. So, instead, Fire Mountain Gems has roundel beads of all colors for $3-$10 for 16" strand, leather, and a huge variety of silver pendants. There's even a simple chunky cross pendant that you can beat on with a hammer and run your car over it to make it look old. Ha. I'll probably go with a sterling silver prayer box pendant. Or maybe a horseshoe. And don't those of us who sew know where to find a closure similar to this:

Very likely to find a button like that in my stash too.

I remember wearing Frye boots to high school in the 1980s, a pair that my aunt gave me that she wore in the 70s. Heck knows where those are now. Maybe in a box in my parent's basement. During one of my many moves during and immediately after college, I left some things in a storage unit in one of the apartment complexes. There weren't many things in the unit. I remember a vacuum there. But there were some boxes along with the vacuum. I hope the Frye boots weren't there too. Because if not, there's always the hope they're in my parent's basement.
For this Fourth, we'll be walking around wine country (Finger Lakes Region and source of my fave, Riesling) and I like bare feet in the summertime. So, Frye sandals from Zappos ...

Huh! Duh ...

Out of town on business. Reading blogs with one eye, watching Batman Begins with the other. Bored. But this blog post woke me up ... a skirt/dress hem a little longer in the back than the front is not necessarily a mistake. This made perfect, immediate, intuitive sense. A figure-8 all around, I got some booty. I understand.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peony Power

Peonies blooming! And iris, clematis, geranium, catmint, salvia, columbine. My gardens are mostly in shade, so lots of shade-tolerant flowering plants mixed with hosta, ferns and grasses. My garden colors are purple, lilac, lavendar, magenta, only a few pinks, and throw in some yellows and whites for contrast. I use a lot of variegated hosta with yellows like June and her offspring. Took pics for a few hours this morning while I hung around outside with the cats. Will post soon ...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sewing with Recycled T's

Speaking of bleached T-shirts (spoken of in yesterday's post), here are some nice ways to re-use old T-shirts. I like the idea of the freeform stitch quilted jacket made from several layers of old Ts to give it some jacket-worthy heft. Love the surprise of the orange T lining.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Independent Style for Independence Day

I love-love this T-shirt from the Sundance catalog. But it's way showy feeling for my taste. I would lighten this T by bleaching. I'd like a very faded effect, like this has been worn and washed and worn and washed again and again since 1976. Maybe even rip it and repair it somewhere.

I would wear it with this silk skirt from Garnet Hill. I would dye the skirt. Haven't decided whether it would be dark navy or a deep magenta kind of color. Reddish, but not the same red as on the T-shirt. Slightly mismatched reds. But no, I would feel conspicuous in a red skirt so should dye it navy. I prefer dark bottoms. Actually scratch buying this thing, especially at Garnet Hill prices (sorry GH) -- Vogue Fabrics has crinkle silk on sale for under $4/yard!!! Sew it! And if you really want to get independent good ol' USA folksy style, add some stitching and applique like Alabama Chanin (and yes I realize this post advocating all these new purchases is not upcycling, not local, not sustainable, sorry, this is only fantasy here).

Then finish it off with these Frye boots from Garnet Hill. These boots need a darker skirt to work. So maybe deep navy it is.

If it's chilly at night, throw on a jean jacket, like this expensive but super-cool distressed jean jacket from Sundance:

How much more All-American can you get than that?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shaken, and Stirred ...

A sewing blog that I follow had a link to Sea of Shoes. Oh, did I not know what I was getting into when I clicked on Sea of Shoes. This is a fashion-talented teenager with vast resources to buy the priciest brands. She likes shoes. And she has a certain unique point of view to fashion. Click on the link. You'll see. People comment on how a 17-year-old could have such a strong sense of style. I am struck by how she balances aggressive (dominatrix?) shoes with feminine flounce. Sequins with flannel plaid. How could she have developed that so early in life? I was in awe at first. I felt, um, inferior, by comparison. What was disturbing: Who am I, a 41-year-old, even considering a 17-year-old for comparison? I don't do things like that. I'm beyond that stage of life. What is going on here? I was shaken, rattled ...

But then, dig deeper, consider this ... look at the pictures of this girl's shoe closet, and her mom's shoe closet. They're indistinguishable. Her mom also has a unique, very strong style. What mom of a teenager can get away with wearing a white sequined biker jacket? It's more-than-similar to her daughter's style. Or is her daughter's style more-than-similar to her mom's style? I wouldn't go so far as to call the Sea of Shoes writer a mini-me. Rather, remember that she has had a minimum of 5,840 days to study her mom's style. Plenty of time to be influenced.

So if you've felt sorry that you didn't develop such a fashion sense early on, or maybe still haven't developed it, don't feel sorry anymore. Some people have very close inspiration.

So was this time on Sea of Shoes useful at all? Actually, yes.

Here's where I got stirred. When I was rifling through my stash for a SWAP project recently, there were numerous "what was I thinking?" moments. The Sea of Shoes blog made me realize, there's benefit to knowing what you like and what you don't like. Don't get what you don't like. Even if it's on sale, a great deal, great quality, whatever justification, don't get it. It's not you. And if you already have it, get rid of it. Sell it, consign it, donate it. Get it out of the house. Keep a well-edited closet and fabric stash of the pieces that really speak to you and fit in your lifestyle.

This is nothing new. Sometimes it takes viewing the discipline of others to be inspired to adhere to it myself.

So watch for fabric postings on eBay, coming soon ...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer of Love Top

So, this top from the blog screams "Summer of Love?" Really? I had no idea. I'm an 80s kid. Growing up in the 80s gave me the skills to spot Flashdance and Madonnawannabe. Summer of Love, I have no idea. But this top caught my eye because I'd been planning to sew a top exactly like this with New Look 6684:

Out of this very lightweight, nearly sheer fabric:

But how to wear it?? The blog answers that question with a variety of styling ideas that Polyvore members put together.

Parting shot, see my beautiful bluepoint baby:

She's such a poser. Every time I pointed the camera at her, she looked away. Every time I pulled the camera away, she looked back at me. She totally knew she was being photographed. She's a sly one. She's the kind of cat who peeks around a wall and watches you with only one eye.
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