Apr 19, 2012

Fun With PhotoShop and a Dress Project

One of the perks of having my husband go back to school for advertising is we finally have a legit copy of Photoshop, which I recently (five minutes ago!) discovered can help with dress planning.

My friend Amy is having a special event next fall in Scotland, and she has asked me to make a dress for her. She really dug my Peacock-print Bombshell Dress, and wants something similar. And being an artsy gal herself, she's designing the fabric and having it printed via Spoonflower.com. Her designs are all based off of photos she took while on a trip with her sweetheart, and the event is a meet-the-parents, not-exactly-a-wedding type thing, so the personal print will make it super special.

Anyway, to help Amy make her decision, I was inspired by Mika of Savory Stitches' cool Photoshopped illustrations that combine the line drawing from a pattern with the fabric she intends to use for a particular garment. She helpfully pointed me toward this easy-to-follow tutorial at The Curious Kiwi,
which tells you step-by-step how to make a mock-up of your garment. Here are a few of the ones I made for Amy's dress:

This illustration combines the line drawing of the bodice for Burdastyle.com's Bustier Dress With Draped Detail and the Linda Skirt. Cool, right? I'm totally hooked now on this technological advance.

In other news, my crushing allergies seem somewhat abated by last night's rain, which is a relief. I've been so ill. I hate the Spring.

Apr 10, 2012

Who Doesn't Love a Little Western?

I tell my husband all the time how lucky he is to have a stylist. 

AND a personal seamstress? Not many men who make less than six figures have access to such largess. Who are you anyway in that custom-made classic Western shirt, Nelson Rockefeller? And in a perfect baby blue with pearly snaps no less:

That, ladies and gentlemen, is McCall's 6044 in a medium. Ryan was right. He is a medium. Look how perfectly this second shirt fits (I sewed it this morning in about 2 hours). There's just something about a Western shirt, isn't there?

There's that pose again
Don't tell Ryan, but he looks like he just found head lice in that photo. We need to work on our poses.

Does anybody know where to get pearly snaps for a good price? I bought these at SIL Thread in New York's Garment District. They were pricey at $6.50 for six snaps. Of course, for a short-sleeved Western shirt you need eight snaps.

Here's the large version, now with snaps added. As promised, this dear man wore this shirt today, even though it's a touch larger than he would like. In this photo he's in the middle of telling me how he keeps seeing Stephen Baldwin on the Metro North train home late at night after class. As a former Pentecostal, Ryan has a special disdain for the likes of the born-again Baldwin. Note my bias-cut pockets and placket (I should have also cut the yoke on the bias. My oversight):

I thought I should show you the back, though really: you've seen the back of a man's shirt, you've seen them all, right?

Of course, this pattern has long-sleeved options, but summer is coming as my itchy eyes have made evident, so I'll keep sewing him this seasonally appropriate version until fall. What colour/print would you choose? 

Apr 9, 2012

A Few Questions and Some Fabric Porn

That's right: I'm sewing for a man again. This shirt above, modelled by my husband Ryan (who favours the neck-scratch pose for the striking effect it has on one's jaw line; he gives good face, right?), is McCall's 6044. I'm hoping with a few adjustments it can become a good go-to pattern when Ryan needs a new button-up (or snap-up, as it were). Lucky guy, right? That, and I make coffee everyday.

Anyway, I made him try it on this morning though I had yet to add closures. Then I dragged my kid  to the hardware store and bought a $5 rubber mallet so we could take turns hammering on the pearly snaps — because it just wouldn't be a western-style shirt without them. Three-year-olds have very good work ethic when it comes to smashing things. She also helped me paint a wall this weekend. That's how we do, as my friend Lizzi would say.

My husband, he says the shirt is too big. I sewed a large, which is the size he wears in vintage Wrangler western shirts. I guess large in the 1970s was a little smaller than 2012 large. The next one I make will be a medium. He's a good man though, so I know he will wear this anyway:

My question is this: why do commercial patterns add 5/8-inch seam allowances, and then make you trim off 2/8s of an inch — even on collars, collar stands and plackets? It makes no sense. It demands more effort of you, but for what? In my patternmaking classes, we added 3/8-inch seam allowance to necklines, collars, collar stands, pockets, plackets, cuffs, and the like. Everywhere else got 1/2-inch. Why 5/8, McCall's?? Why? Are they in cahoots with fabric distributors and figure forcing you to add an extra couple eighths of an inch in every direction will multiply the yardage you need for any given project? 

Also, this patterns instructs you do to a ridiculous amount of basting. Again, why??

McCall's 6044

I bought that brown and mauve plaid cotton shirting at Metro Textile (do I ever go anywhere else? Only if I can't find what I need for $5 there first). While I was there, Emmet from Project Runway come in. (Remember him? He was sweet and kind of dazed...and they made him don a hot pink skating outfit at one point. Poor guy.) I'm much too self-concious to ever announce to a famous person I know who they are...or ask for a picture. But he did recommend Chinese herbs to me for my seasonal allergies as Kashi and I were lamenting the high pollen count. I live and die by the pollen count in Spring. 

I also splurged on a few yards of this lovely silk printed with poppies (for myself!): 

 There's a signature "Milly" on this print, which left me wondering what designer's end roll this came from. I'm guessing it's this Milly. Though I can't find any garments made using the print I bought, I can see she knows how to make good use of of patterns (and likes red):

My plan for this print is to make the long-sleeved option of Cynthia Rowley's Simplicity 1872. It's going to be very girly:

But that man pictured above may need to thank me for sewing him such a splendid new shirt, and this dress would be just right for anywhere with creme brulee on the menu, oui?

Apr 3, 2012

Guilty Pleasure: Fashion Star!

This is REAL, people!

There's a lot to like about my husband, not the least of is his proclivity to enjoy the same TV shows I do. When Project Runway is in season, I save each episode to watch on his one night off each week, because I don't want to miss his commentary, which is an entertaining to me as Michael Kors' similes. If he watched the new episode of Mad Men without me, I would divorce him and expect no less from him if I stray.

And the latest show we're learning to love together is Fashion Star. If you haven't seen it, allow me to describe it for you in the words of my husband, Ryan: "It's like Project Runway, without the talent," and "It's everything I imagine L.A. to be, TIMES 10!" and: "Nina Garcia would be vomiting in her mouth if she could see this!"

I'd say it's actually like Project Runway meets The Price is Right. There's a live studio audience (though they never really show it in its entirely, which makes me think it's actually 40 production assistants and a clap track). And to disguise the fact that B-list models are strutting down the runway in Sears-worthy shirt dresses, there's plenty of smoke-and-mirrors. And lasers. Bubbles... faux palm trees. Top 40 tunes. And bikini-clad dancing girls! (See the photo below; that's a runway show!).  Also: completely non-sequitor performances by LMFAO? It's just insane.

Contestants are grouped in 3's for their runway shows, which are followed by a critique from the mentors (Jessica Simpson, Nicole Ritchie and John Varvatos, who are all actually sweetly supportive and quite likeable) and — then! —the lasers flash, and intense reality show music crescendoes as they turn to the "buyers":

This part is interesting because these three people above represent Macy's, H&M, and Sak's, respectively. Following each runway show, they have the chance to bid on each contestant's piece. The highest bidder "buys" it for their store, where it's available immediately after the show ends. (The winner of Fashion Star will have their collection sold in all three stores.) That dude on the right? He does not suffer fools gladly.

At the end, the bottom three designers face elimination, ultimately at the hands of the buyers, and are told "You are NOT our Fashion Star (TM)!" Hysterical. What's not to love?

OK, two things drive me crazy about this show: 1) the format doesn't give equal weight to all contestants. Just when you think you have a handle on it, they slip in these strange re-caps that breeze through a runway show without showing you the details. C-mon! If you can't show me all of the runway shows, you're editing it wrong! 2) There's an utter lack of transparency. Where do they get their fabric? Who are those people flitting about in the background? Are they sample-makers? Paternmakers? If so, that's ok. After all, in real life designers don't sew their own samples like they do on Project Runway. But why don't they address that fact? It's kind of skirted around....they show them sweating it out over a drawing or a pile of fabric, and then cut to the runway.

Shorts. We don't really know who made them. But whoever did inspired a bidding war between Macy's and H&M, resulting in a $120,000 order from my least favourite contestant. Want your own pair? You can buy them at Macy's for $59. (But don't, ok? That Ross guy is irritating.)

And if you want to sew your own version of these designers' winning creations, McCall's is selling a line of Fashion Star patterns. So far there are just four, including this one:

McCall's version

I think this was the former schoolteacher Kara Laricks' dress, also available for sale at Sak's (Poor Kara; she always looks like she's one deep breath away from fainting):

Sak's version
 And here it is as it walked down the runway:

Fascinating. So far there aren't any patterns I'm clamoring to buy, but you never know. We're only three episodes in, so there's plenty of time for you to jump on the Fashion Star bandwagon. Who do you think will be the Next Fashion Icon (TM)?

Apr 2, 2012

Third Time's the Charm for BurdaStyle's Cap Sleeve Dress

I didn't participate in Tilly's One Week One Pattern challenge, though at the rate I've sewn Burdastyle's Dress With Gathered Skirt and Cap Sleeves, it would have been possible.  I didn't get in on the fun because I didn't know about it until quite late, and I don't have enough items sewn from a single pattern to make wearing it for a whole week possible. (And though I now have three of these dresses, the weather has not been co-operating lately for such summery clothing.)

Anyway, I was still not quite satisfied with the fit of this dress even after a bust dart rotation took out a bunch of ease at the neckline. The back was still big for me (I'm short through the waist) , so I  found a way to remove the excess. I slashed a straight line from the neckline through the armhole, overlapped the two pieces by 7/8 of an inch, then taped it together, and reshaped the neck and armhole using my French curve. It looked like this: 

The fit is pretty darn spot-on now:

I had this lightweight cotton leftover from a peplum blouse I made for Patternmaking class at FIT a couple years ago. I bought it at Mood, and I love it...it's sort of Starry Night-inspired, but Spring-y:

This time around, I went with the simple gathered rectangle skirt, even though i think dirndls generally look straight out of the Von Trapp Family Spring Collection:

So am I satisfied with this pattern now? The bust is a little pointy due to the size of the dart, which makes me just want to create a princess seam for a better fit. But then, you know, it's basically a whole new pattern at that point. I think it's time to move on. So long. Farewell. Auf wiedersehen, goodbye Burdastyle Dress With Gathered Skirt and Cap Sleeves!


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