I Bought A Dress

As I noted last month ‘we’ have won re-election. That means there will be an official evening ‘gala’, not unsimilar to this one four years ago. I had grandiose ideas of making a dress. But, succumbed when I realized the event was going to be in early December, not mid January.  I had a vintage dress in mind, but it kind of came down to just not having the ‘right’ material. I wanted a 4 ply silk and it’s just not in the budget.

It’s an odd feeling because I am  *so* used to making fancy dresses! I look forward to every bit of the process. You get to sew something you normally wouldn’t wear and you have a dress no one else has. But, it wasn’t in the cards this year. I also suspect I’ll be asked all night if I made my dress and will have to hang my head in shame when I say, ‘no’.

So, I found this dress at Neiman Marcus Last Call. It’s a beautiful navy and a gorgeous, thick silk. It was originally $540 and I paid $120.  Mine is longer than the model’s. Err, rather, I am shorter than the model. I  may take it up an inch or two.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be sewing *anything*. The actual swearing in will be outside. In December. For two hours. Brrrr. I do have a good winter coat and shearling boots. But, I need a warm outfit too that can transition into a reception following.

Oh, and before you ask me about shoes. I, um, don’t have any. I’ll make my mom go looking with me in Florida this weekend. I think she actually likes shopping. But, I’m open to suggestions on Zappos for under $100. Ideally, $50.  But, beggars can’t be choosers. I’m an 8.5 wide or a 9 in a pinch. Thanks in advance, LOL!

Being On Trend

I’m still waiting for the Burda Easy Fashion with the shearling bomber jacket pattern to make its way to me from Oh, Canada!

I have this gray and black shearling from FabricMart for it. I think I will not have enough skins to make the jacket happen. But, I definitely have enough for a vest. I wanted the pattern to come before I left town for Florida / Thanksgiving with my parents. I was going to lay it all out and see if I had enough material. I’m so obsessed with this idea that I won’t be able to think of much other sewing until.  If I did come before I leave (Wed. night), I figured I could cut it at my parent’s place and leave my mom to contend with all the bits of cut fur / wool…. But, it’s not here yet.

I was thumbing through my crack US Weekly and saw this awesome faux shearling from H&M. I thought it was *so* cute. I thought, ‘Oh, if I had a jacket just like that! Where is my Burda Easy Fashion!’. And then I realized, ‘Crap. Dumb Dumb. You bought that jacket three weeks ago.”

You see, I bought it three weeks ago but at $50 I wasn’t sure it was ‘worth’ it. Not because I’m cheap. But, because I knew on a good sale I could get enough ‘real’ shearling to make this up. So, it’s been in a bag in my living room while I decided if I was going to keep it.

I really liked how it was sewn and wanted to keep it around for construction technique. But, after having my taste validated in a gossip magazine, I’ve decided to keep it. It’s super cute. And warmer than you would think. Warmer, but *not* breathable.

I’ll need to look out for the next FabricMart shipment of shearling. Actually, I’m pretty sure when they get it again I’ll finally just roadtrip out to PA to purchase. Then, I can make sure I have enough material.

Vintage Blue Coat

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It appears I’m on a bit of a vintage kick! I stopped by my favorite vintage store today and scored a gorgeous pastel blue wool coat. We were on a Civil War History Bike Ride and the store was across the street from the starting point. How convenient! I was thinking about a fancier coat for special events. This fits the bill perfectly!

It was so much fun showing you the construction of my yellow vintage dress that I thought I might do the same here. This time, I took photos in the coat :)  The first thing I noticed is the coat is fully interfaced, with more interfacing under the arms.

While inspecting the coat, I also noticed that it was underlined too with more wool!

The interlining underlines the lining and is treated as one throughout

Here’s a photo of the back of the coat

The seams inside are narrow, about 1/2 inch or less. They are left unfinished.

The coat collar attaches to the left

The lining actually feels kind of acetate. Thick acetate. But, acetate.

LOVE this coat and am super happy

But, and this is a big but. It’s filthy :(

I’m debating removing the fur myself and sending it to the drycleaner and reattaching the fur after it comes back. Perhaps even add snaps so that it’s easily removable.

Or, should I send the entire thing to a furrier? My fox fur and leather hat cost a MINT to clean. More than I paid for this coat. But, I bargained the price of the coat down because of cleaning costs.

It’s pretty dingy with some stains on the back. The shoulders are brownish / dingy in parts too. If not for all the interior structure, I would soak it in the tub at home myself.

Oh, an anyone seen looooong cream or gray gloves for sale?

Thoughts on cleaning? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?


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The weekend is a great time to vote as points are cumulative. I’m hoping my fellow nominees have shame and don’t bug their readers, friends and families to vote today too.

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Built for Vintage Fashion


I’m attending a wedding in Atlanta at the end of the month and needed a dress to wear. I had every intention of making one, but stumbled upon this gem at a vintage store in town. The price was too good to pass up. And, the color looks pretty awesome on me. My friend Liz thinks this era suits me because of my build. It would suit me better if my arms weren’t as muscular! I find that these clothes fit me well in the torso, but are awful on any part of my body that has muscle tone.

It’s not a perfect fit. The bust is pretty snug and the back is tight. But, I was happy to discover the dress had been taken in at some point. So, I was able to get about 3/8 of an inch extra in the bust.

The yellow is a poly blend of some sort and I honestly think it’s never been worn! For its age, there are no body stains, no worn spots, no sign of wear whatsoever. Honestly, I found myself pressing the seams open and flat!

I wanted to post this dress because the construction is beyond belief. The entire dress is underlined with organza. It could stand on its own it’s so structured!  While the dress is underlined, there is no lining. The seams are finished with pinking and a straight stitch. Luckily, I have yellow on the serger and finished as many seams as I could.

The back uses a metal, lapped zipper application.

There is a wonderful deep hem which keeps it nicely formed and gives me room to play with the length.

I LOVE the bow right at the top and how it peeks through with the jacket.

Yes, there is a matching coat. It’s stunning. Stunning! It has the same princess seams as the dress.

 The bound buttonholes are nicely tailored and look amazing with the buttons / chain.

The jacket is lined with a matching yellow. It too has a deep hem.

My favorite touch is the union label in both the jacket and the dress. And, I’m a sz 10 by those days standards. Hmmm, I’m pretty much the same size now :)

I’m thrilled! I can’t wait to wear it at the end of the month.

Tracy Reese for Sally Hansen


I’m pretty fascinated by the sponsorships / merchandising deals that designers take on. A friend who is a publicist in New York says fashion shows are incredibly expensive and can only be done with sponsorships. So, when you see that Clairol is doing hair and Loreal is doing makeup, you know who paid to put on the show.  Another extension of that is nail polish.

While I haven’t been taking photos of swatches and posting them as much (turns out my nails hate acetone. Am growing them out again), I’m still entrenched in my nail polish addiction. While most of us love the Tracy Reese for Vogue patterns, not everyone in the sewing community knows that she has also partnered with Sally Hansen. This drugstore line collaborated with Tracy Reese and Prabal Grung for the Spring / Summer 2011 collection.

You’ll notice in the store that the collection is not specifically marked ‘designer’ or ‘Tracy Reese’. There doesn’t seem to be the big ‘launch’ such as Issac Mizrahi at Target or Hello Kitty at MAC.

The designers supply Sally Hansen with new colors, catchy names and plenty of publicity during their New York fashion week shows. In exchange, Sally Hansen pays the designers a sponsorship fee and provides a team of nail technicians who give models carefully orchestrated manicures and pedicures

Wall Street Journal

Last week they were buy one get one free (BOGO) at Rite Aid drugstores. Below, I’ve paired the colors to reflect the inspiration from her Spring and Pre-Fall 2011 collections (runway photos are from Style.com). This is actually the tenth year that Tracy Reese has collaborated with Sally Hansen.

Malt is a good, old fashioned, neutral

You didn’t expect me to say ‘no’ to a pastel pink, did you? First Kiss.


I love pastels and lavenders on my nails and couldn’t resist Delphinium


My favorite by far is Barracuda. I have so many pastel blues it’s *almost* shameful


Last up is Summer Plum. It seems pretty deep and vampy for a ‘summer’ color. But, I loved the rich tones.

As I noted, I left two shades out a gray and coral. I liked the gray I saw. But, I have several grays that were close enough. And, as I have mentioned before, I personally hate coral.

There is only one display per store with two colors of each item. None of the colors are exactly unique. So you wouldn’t need to go out of your way unless you wanted to say you had the Tracy Reese collection. I will say though that the Complete Salon Manicure formulation is the longest wearing polish I have. But, again, I change mine every two to three days :)

So, there you have it. How fashion is influencing your nail polish choices!

Everyman Theater Gala 2011

Back in April, I had a Mad Men themed fundraiser to attend for Baltimore’s Everyman Theater. Because of trips to Santa Fe and Tampa, I didn’t have time to whip something up.

 

 If I had had the time I would have done some kind of Diana Ross spectaculuar. But, instead I relied on my vintage find from earlier this year. I thought I’d share some photos. 

Don’t worry. Those cigarettes aren’t real. They are candy and each purchase was a raffle ticket.


I’m sad to say the original belt was too small to be worn with the dress.

The woman on the right picked up her dress in Florida and had it shortened for the event. It’s *not* vintage if you can beleive!


My jewelry is vintage too. I bought it during Philly PR Weekend.

Most fun of all, this photo was reprinted in the Baltimore Sun. I’d call it my socialite moment.

Bunka Garment Design Textbooks Are Amazing.

I am not selling my books nor do I have access to the discounted price I originally paid. If you are interested in buying these books, please use Amazon Japan. The books are about $40 each plus shipping. If you email asking where to buy the books or asking to purchase mine, I will not respond.

Thank you


You may have gathered from this blog that I have a love of all things international. Through much hard work and calculation, I have struck up a unique relationship with my counterpart in Japan. So unique, that when Trena went to Tokyo, my counterpart actually took her shopping — and we’ve never met!

At anyrate, when this week’s delegation came to Baltimore for three days, with them came four of the five English languageBunka Fashion College textbooks. Ginevra first tipped me off that they were coming and Christina let me know they were out. Oh, BTW, Bunka is pronounce Boon-ka. These look small in the photo, but they are 8×11 size (really A4, but whatev).

I am going to do my best not to gush too hard here. But, I am BEYOND excited about these books. Mostly, because they only cost me $100 for the four. They are selling in the states for $44 each. These are definitely text books. But, what I like about them as textbooks is that they, wait for it, ACTUALLY TEACH SEWING. See that below? Those are directions on how to sew a skirt, where to add lining, how to sew lining, how to cut it out, ways to pretreat, suggested fabrics for garments, places for interfacing, etc.

Yes, home sewers have sewing books that teach you this, but I can tell you that my garment design textbook (which cost $100) DOES NOT tell you *how* to sew.

There is a GREAT deal of information on fit and drafting. Ways to alter your sloper (including for bust)  and EXTENSIVE instructions on drafting one. There is a four page glossary on the little symbols and markings that are used on the Mrs. Stylebook / Japanese drafting patterns

I’m also enjoying reading about the history of garments

And this is all just in ONE BOOK.

Of course, there are things I don’t like. First, according to their charts I’m like the LARGEST size possible. After spending four days with six Japanese women, I would agree. I am huge.

But, what’s interesting about their sizing charts, is they take AGE into consideration. Now, call me crazy, but I suspect I won’t age like a Japanese woman. But, I do like to know that they take that into consideration in their drafts.

The other thing I don’t like, so many new products for me to track down! Mostly a few rulers like the D-curve (which looks like my #6), the reduction ruler, thier sleeve pressing ham (I like that it’s shaped more like an arm than my sleeve roll), and pressing horse.

I am resisting their pressing ham, pressing board, handy mat, crossarm and Yukiwari — our tailoring board. Hmm, but I cannot resist the needle board. It might be good I can’t find it on their website. Or this bobbin holder.

Someone I know is going back to Japan in March. My plan is to save up, do a huge order and pay the $50 extra luggaage fee on Al Nippon Air!

So, to sum up, if you can find at least the first book, Fundamentals of Garment Design, I think it it well worth the money if you are interested in fit and working with the Japanese patterns. If you are interested in drafting on your own, then I would get the remainder. The last, Coats and Capes, comes out in December. And, if you are thinking of ordering from Amazon.com Japan and saving some money. shipping is almost $50 for the four.

I’m busy at work / Happy Halloween

blah, blah, blah. Two weeks of of my backside being the top photo on my blog is long enough.

Last night, my friend and I attended a fundraiser / costume party for the Greek Hero’s exhibit at the Walters Art Museum.

I went as a Greek goddess. The dress is a J. Crew wedding gown that I bought from another friend this summer for $75 after she got married. She even threw in the shoes. She wasn’t going to wear it again and you never know when you’ll need a dress.

Today I send off a delegation from Odessa, Ukraine that’s been here for a week and tomorrow pick up a delegation from Japan that we’ll be hosting until Wednesday. After working three solid weekends I am taking this Thursday and Friday off. I would say I’d do some sewing, but I have a house guest coming that we all know but have never met IRL and I need to prepare for her! All to be revealed in due time :)

They Must Go to the Same Fashion Shows

Desperation set in and yesterday I headed to the mall for a pair of jeans. After finding a pair marked down from $70 to $15 (SCORE), I went snoop shopping at Anthropologie.

I think Burda designers must be going to the same shows as Anthropologie’s.

Here is the Checkered Please Coat that I tried on ($178). Oh, and you can now download photos from  Anthropologie.com!

You can’t tell from the photo above, but the jacket has a pieced yoke in the back and front (is it called a yoke in the front??) that extends through the shoulders.

Here is the #108 jacket from the October Burda.

The difference? The pieced yokes on the Burda are on the bias.

Check the line drawing, right down to the pieced shoulder, hood and back.

The same pattern. Oddly enough, I even have a houndstooth black, white and grey wool. What I don’t have, is the time :)

** Photos from Anthropologie.com and Burda.com