winged things

Anthropologie Mariposa Dress

This dress makes me so very happy.  The color is not the best for my skin tone, but an interesting lace with a keyhole back?  Yes, please.  I was hardpressed to find a pattern that is a good dupe.  I imagine that just cutting your go-to dress’s bodice back on the fold and actioning some sort of half-circle might do the trick.  This would require a side zip, which is basically my sewing nemesis, but it seems worth the headache.

Retro Butterick 5605 is quite nice, though it does have a gut-wrenching five-yard requirement.  (I swear, one of these days I’m going to sew up some of these five-yard dresses and report back with the actual amount of fabric used.)

Can we talk about the fabric now?   I am a fabric hound.  Interesting lace just might do me in.  The top three (butter, banana, and olive) are lovely cotton laces from Mood.  They are super lovely, relatively inexpensive ($14-$18), and would make sweet dresses.  The soft rose-colored lace is from B&J, purveyors of fabrics that make you wonder what the heck you’ve been sewing with all this time.  The grayish celadon lace is also from B&J, and I intend to run away with it.  Reader, I love it.  Reader, it’s perfect.  Reader, it costs $130 a yard.

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Isn’t it beautiful?  Just me?

I’ve been thinking a lot about slow, thoughtful sewing and wonder if that also extends to fabric buying.  Instead of heading down to 39th Street and haggling over fabrics of questionable provenance, why not just save for something that will really make a splash?  That’s always been my RTW buying philosophy.  Fine, I’m just rationalizing at this point.  Mark my words, you will be mine, my pretty.

portlandia: 2; witherspoon: 0

I’m not a huge believer in direct knock-offs.  They make me really uneasy.  However!  I do like getting inspired by an original piece and taking things from there, as you’ll see with this Milly dress.  This shirtdress is beautiful in every way, but it is too short for my taste.  I’d love to find a fabric that’s just on the gray side of taupe with a lovely print, but try as I might I cannot.  Do feel free to send over a heads up if you can, though.

Even though I prefer to dress like a nun conservatively, I still can’t quite shake this dress.  Maybe with tights and flats and legs that don’t start at my throat it might. . .oh, blast it.  It’s in the scrapper.  I do love a good bird, though.

Milly Cleo Bird Print Dress

I think that an integral part of slow sewing is careful wardrobe planning.  So a dress like this is in the queue.

This is more about inspiration than anything (and aren’t those Murano chickadees from Gump’s inspiring?).  A shirtdress with buttons on top, a defined waist, and a full-skirted bottom would be very Betty Draper.  These things eat fabric, though.  McCall’s 6506 calls for about 4-5 yards.*   Simplicity 2403 seems to be a good choice, too.  It’s one of the Project Runway patterns with a bunch of options, including a collar and sleeves.  No full skirt, though.

The fabric is not spot on, but rather helps capture the essence of the dress.  (La dee dah.)  The one on top with the meshy, netty business is from Manhattan Fabrics (aka Paron).  I’ve seen it in person, and it is so, so pretty.  The silk/cotton voile in the middle is similarly gorgeous in the flesh, and is from Mood.  The rose print on the bottom is impossibly inexpensive, which somehow cushions the five-yard blow.  However, I haven’t seen it, so I can’t vouch for its quality.  It could be sandpaper, it could be softer than vicuña.  Gamble, shall we?

*Randomly: When I first started sewing, I’d only had vintage dress shirtdress patterns, each of which called for upwards of 5 yards of fabric.  My grandmother always told me that three yards was a dress length, so I was basically drowning in three-yard cuts.  I thought I’d have to make baby clothes or something!

a world of interiors

Brooks Brothers Jacket Anatomy

I have an obsession with jackets.  They are quite literally my favorite thing to ogle.  It might have something to do with my menswear obsession.  These two jackets are the nicest items of clothing I own, bar none.  They’re not the most expensive, they’re not the flashiest, I don’t wear them the most often, but they are amazing.  Thom Browne for Brooks Brothers Black Fleece from the Autumn 2007 collection.  Usually they’re astronomically priced (jacket prices at Black Fleece have halved since then, oddly), but I managed to get these samples for a song.  However!  They have that hideous red marking over the brand-identifying labels and the lining is not the most inspiring.  Observe:


Lining Photo

I’m sans machine until the search is over and have decided that I need some busy work.  I’ve never worn either of these because Thom Browne is poorly acquainted with female anatomy (breasts, dear lamb; they’re called breasts), but the arm-shoulder-back areas of these jackets fit me obscenely well.  I figured it would be a lovely lesson in construction if I were to rip out the lining and hand-replace it with some sort of fabulous silk.  I had been lusting after these jackets since I first saw them previewed, but I was not a sewer back then.  I just thought, “Hey, awesome well-made tailored jacket.  Fabulous.”  Reader, when I approached the jacket I was shocked.

Three interior welt pockets, one wth a nifty flap that hides its horn button closure.  Three exterior pockets: two flap, one breast.  Working buttons at the cuffs.  Keyhole buttonholes.  Cotton-modal blend lining for the body, Bemberg for the sleeves.  Catchstitching (?) on the lining.  This armscye thing whose name I don’t know but damned if it won’t go into every jacket I make.  All that stuff that Claire Shaeffer has been going about is in my closet!  All my favorite stuff about menswear (read: pockets!) with all of that other “hand-stitch until your fingers bleed” loveliness.


You see, I don’t snoop shop.  I either shop or, um, not.  I haven’t really shopped at all since I started sewing nor have I gone through my wardrobe to scope out details.  Bad sewer, party of one.   What I’m saying is that I have discovered a whole new world of interiors.  Late to the party?  Yup.  Enthused, either way?  Yup.

This is a revelation.  The above photo is a little off, but do you notice how the stripes on the underarm business basically match the stripes on the remaining lining?  See the perfectly matched pinstripes up top?  I want to go to there.

I recently got some it’s-my-birthday-so-I-can-rationalize-this fabric from Mood with the intention of making a jacket.  I thought I would use Claire Shaeffer’s V8333 as a starting-off point and modify from there.  Basically, I want a hacking jacket and a schoolboy blazer to have a cashmere baby by my hand.  That sounded odd.  Anyhow, the Thom Browne/Black Fleece/Brooks Brothers jacket is what I basically aim to do, tailoring-wise.  God.  I’m going to have to buy a bolt of muslin and a heap of patience, aren’t I?  I think I’m up for it.  Just have to find the pattern/s.  And the patience.  And the skill.  This will end well.

but there are birds, you guys.

My birthday is on Saturday (Bastille Day).  I’m turning old.  This is usually the time of year when I load up my shopping carts around Ye Olde Internets, and start plotting for the birthday/back-to-school deluge.  I sew now, though.  While I’ll probably buy some stuff, I’d rather like to make things, too.  My new rule is that I’ll only buy things that I cannot make (be it because of design technique or just a really amazing print).

This got me to thinking about why I buy things.  Really.  The reason I started sewing is because I noticed that all of the dresses I bought kept to a pretty standard formula.  Full skirt, fun print, would work with a cardigan or with tights during the winter, slightly retro flair.  That’s doable, I suppose.  Also, I wanted really exquisite garments and was tired of just drooling at streamed Oscar de la Renta runway shows.  The print issue tends to be what really gives me pause.  I can find fun prints on quilter’s cotton, but I hate using it.  Finding fun, non-floral prints on garment-ready fabrics is not as easy.  Japanese cotton, Liberty, and widely available designer fabrics do help a ton.  However, it’s really hard to keep this in mind when I’m in a store and a see beautiful dress with a lovely, interesting print that seems like it can’t be replicated.

The Anthropologie Native Birds Dress is a prime example.  I was looking at it and thinking that the darling birds would push it from my sewing inspiration queue into the to-buy folder.  Then I realized that there isn’t very much special about the birds, is there?

Anthropologie Bird Dress

Finding a strapless dress pattern is pretty easy.  I own the Colette Eclair and Vogue/Cynthia Steffe’s 1174.  Both patterns use boning, which is a key feature of my favorite RTW strapless dresses.  I think I could get away with doing it in an underlined (interlined?) cotton or silk.  Maybe.  (Erica B. did it in a linen/rayon blend a bit back.  Then again, she could pretty much make anything look doable.)

What about the fabric, then?

Childhood Tana Lawn A

This is Liberty Tana Lawn in a print called Childhood in view A.  I love the color scheme and the whimsy of it.


I actually own this one.  It’s a Milly georgette and wildly inappropriate for this application.  It would make a horrible strapless dress (or, rather, I would make it into a horrible strapless dress), but it is one of my all-time favorite prints.  I actively regret that I have but 2.5 yards of it.  Plus, it’s basically the Tupac of fabrics.  Just when you think it’s gone for good, Gorgeous Fabrics gets just a bit more of it in stock.  Tease.

Marc Jacobs Birds!

This Marc Jacobs fabric from Mood is lovely and bright and young.  The black makes it a bit more dramatic than the first one, though, doesn’t it?

I’d rather like to do this a bit more, this channeling the dress spirits and working on my crappy mood boards.  I do need stuff for school and this clarifies things greatly.  It would be two birds, one stone, yes?  I slay me.