Friday, January 27, 2012

Flattering, Forgiving Sweater Dresses

Hello, everyone! I apologize for the lack of outfit posts recently; the truth is that I gained eight pounds over the holidays (I told you they hit me hard)! That may not sound like much, but when you're five feet tall, it's enough to render all of your clothes too small. Especially when it all goes to your hips (Thanks, Mom)! Growing out of your clothes is always very unpleasant, but I think that when you sew your own clothes, when you invest your time and love into each garment, it is especially hard.

Perhaps it was the fact that I was in charge of Christmas dinner this year; of course, I had to test (eat) all of the recipes before I served them! Or it could have been the dozens of cookies that my mother-in-law baked and then left at my house; I mean, I couldn't let them go to waste...Anyway, since I will be working hard to shed those extra pounds, I haven't been too keen on sewing anything that might not fit in a month or two. My solution: knits! If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that altering knits is already one of my favorite things to do. They're stretchy, so they will still fit me after I (hopefully) lose a few inches, and it's the perfect time of year for them. Since I currently have almost nothing to wear, and since my husband gave me a serger for Christmas this year (so exciting!), I've been furiously working on some '30s-style knits. Here are some pictures that have been inspiring me. All of these photos come from reproduction knitting books available at Iva Rose Vintage Reproductions. I could look at the pictures on her site for hours; so much inspiration!

A knitted pantsuit! I don't think that I could pull this off.

If you want to see that amazing dress on the lower right in person, check out this post from A Cat Among the Pigeons. Beautiful!

Knickers! I think that, traditionally, Henry is really too young to be in knickers. It seems that in most of the old pictures I've seen, boys his age are in shorts year-round, and the boys wearing knickers are older. I just can't put him in shorts in the middle of winter! And the knickers are so cute. If only I could find those socks!

Speaking of knickers and Henry, at least I can share an outfit post of him:

These are the same shoes and knickers that he was wearing in the last post. The shoe paint has held up pretty well; however, there was an incident when he tried to jump into a swimming pool (indoor!) fully clothed. The paint sort of sloughed right off. I'm not sure if it was the water, the chlorine, or something else, but just keep that in mind if you plan to try this technique. The hat is vintage; I found it in a flea market last summer, and he has been wearing it nonstop ever since. I made the shirt a while ago, and the vest is from Carter's. He is obsessed with pockets right now, so I have just finished another pair of knickers for him, with pockets this time. Looking at these pictures, I decided that he needs some little ties!

I finished my evening dress, and it was a hit at the wedding, as was Henry's outfit. We just got a new camera, so as soon as we figure out how to use it, I will share pictures!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Aviatrix Costume: The Coat

I'm back! Boy, the holidays really hit me hard this year; I haven't done much sewing, blogging, or really much of anything since Thanksgiving! I almost didn't post this one since it has been so long since Hallowe'en, but I had it mostly written and decided that I really wanted a log of the entire costume. If you're tired of seeing the same pictures that you've been seeing for the past two months, scroll down; I finally managed to post a few photos of my little one!

As I used real leather to make the coat, I really wanted to be able to wear it again. I used the leftovers from a huge thrift store coat that I had cut up to recover a chair cushion, so most of it was in pieces.

I used parts of several different patterns to make it. I had to do a bit of improvising, as I needed to use the largest pieces for the sleeves, hence the panels in the bodice. I didn't take as many pictures of the process as I had thought, so I hope that you can see how it all went together . I was finally forced to do bound buttonholes; seven of them! I was terrified to do these in leather, as I don't have much practice with them in the first place, but I found that the stiffness of the material actually helped a lot.

I had originally planned for the coat to have four buttons, but then I found these amazing vintage buttons on etsy, and I decided that I wanted to use more of them! Luckily, it worked out that I could put another buttonhole between each one that I had already done; I had to lengthen the coat slightly to make the spacing right, but I think it still looks fine. And yes, I did use one of my son's blue crayons to do all of the markings. It worked like a charm and wiped right off!

Putting on the waistband. Have you ever tried to gather leather before? I hadn't, and I hope that I never have to again! It does make the back look pretty, though. Here you can see how the waistband is pieced together, and how I couldn't quite make the seams on the bodice and the waistband match up. They match in the front, though, and it's really not noticeable when I'm wearing it. I still think that it turned out better than it would have if I had used a vinyl or some other cheaper material.

To make the coat more versatile, I wanted to make the sheepskin collar removable. I had this big piece of faux sheepskin that came home with us from the hospital when I had Henry and which has been sitting in my stash ever since.

I cut out a piece the size and shape that I wanted it, and lined it with some brown satin.

You can see how bad the bound buttonholes look from the inside in this picture. Don't look! Allow yourself to be distracted by the clever way the collar buttons onto the jacket!

The lining was a pre-quilted acetate that I got on sale from my local fabric store. I was so proud of how the lining came out; I don't line things very often, and I really struggled to figure out how to put it all together. Especially the sleeves. Success!

Here's what it looks like without the collar. Sorry for the quality of the photo; our camera broke last month, so it will be more of those old camera phone pictures for a while! This was an unseasonably warm day, so we decided to do some outdoor activities.

I was inspired by the jacket illustrations at the lower left of this advertisement. I'd love to have these sporty skirts and blouses, too, and especially that plaid sweater!

I made this little scarf and hat using a regular-sized scarf from Target. Making the sweater-covered buttons was a nightmare, but I think it was worth it.

Here we are getting ready to go on a little hike.

I made Henry's knickers using brown corduroy, and he loves them! He won't even wear regular pants anymore, especially since we attended a showing of "A Christmas Carol". When he saw Tiny Tim, he decided that he would "be that little boy when he gets bigger". I'm so proud of my husband for letting me put girls' tights on him. (On Henry; not on my husband. Although there was that year that I convinced him to be John Adams for Hallowe'en....)

The hat is an adult hat that I found at Goodwill; I just put a seam up the back to make it fit his head. It does look a little big, but I think it works! The sweater came from a resale shop, and the scarf is mine. The shoes were white; I painted them brown using these Angelus Leather Paints. Worked like a charm!

And now that the new year is here and I have finally finished talking about my Hallowe'en costume, on to other things! I've been working on my very first evening dress, which I plan to wear to a cousin's wedding in a few weeks. Since I can't seem to concentrate on just one project at a time, I've also been sewing a vest for my husband, a few more dresses for myself, and the cutest outfit for Henry to wear to the wedding, which I can't wait to share!