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Well, here we are, May 29th, on the brink of summer in the northern hemisphere, and this is the view from my window:
So since it would appear that I’m living in the Arctic, I think I shall abandon my plans to get started on a pretty, breezy navy shirtdress for the time being and get started on an autumn jacket. Another jacket. Another McCall 5525 to be precise. I should be able to sew it in my sleep after the last two. And I’ll use this leopard print peachskin (?) that I picked up in Montreal.
Other than that, I’ll spend the day whining and pitying myself and bemoaning the not-very-summery weather. So, pretty much like any other day here at Chez Selfish :)
No new sewing to report on my end, but I just noticed that the model and shirt sample for this Burda pattern look a lot like Dan and the shirt I made for him for Valentine’s day:
Uncanny, right? But I like mine better :)
It’s a great, great day. I received my package in the mail from Sew Sassy, containing my Elan bra pattern and Sew Sassy bra kit, joy of joys! Only after I opened the package, I realized that Sew Sassy had included the wrong pattern. I had ordered B540, but they had sent B510, their front close underwire pattern:
So, what makes it a great day if I received a pattern in the mail that I don’t want? Well, I emailed the good folks at Sew Sassy, who very kindly promised to send the correct pattern in the mail and said not to bother sending the B510 back. As they put it, “If you can’t use it, perhaps you have a sewing friend that can.”
But of course, as we all know, the Selfish Seamstress has no friends! Not a one! So she’s going to toss it into the reader pool as a giveaway, which means that once again, she can use this delightful windfall to turn all of you against each other like a pack of wild dogs fighting over a package of raw hamburger, an idea which delights her to no end. I’m sure even the vegetarians in the crowd will overlook that imagery for a nice bra pattern, right?
And you don’t even have to share the Selfish Seamstress’s, er…. maidenly contours to use this pattern, because it includes sizes 32A-D, 34A-D, 36A-DD, 38B-DD, and 40B-DD. It’s printed on nice sturdy paper too. And of course, you can get everything you need to sew it up from Sew Sassy. You can even opt for one of their handy bra kits (pattern not included in their kits.)
You have to do two things if you’d like to be considered:
1) Wander on over to Male Pattern Slander (lately quite the hotbed of lies about your poor, defenseless Selfish Seamstress) and leave a comment to let Peter know that in answer to his question, yes, the Selfish Seamstress does indeed have great taste in patterns
2) Leave a comment here on this post of 100 words or fewer stating why YOU deserve this pattern and NO ONE ELSE does. That second part is important. Seriously, girls, get your b faces on. In the estimation of the Selfish Seamstress, there’s not enough strife in sewing… yet.
Judging will be based on which comment makes me cackle in evil glee most loudly. Random number generators are only for those who believe in “fairness.”
Disclaimer 1: I assume it should be reasonably affordable to send this pattern to most places in the world, but if I take it to the post office and the cheapest shipping option is still more than $10, I reserve the right to throw it back into another giveaway.
Disclaimer 2: Judging by how glacially slow I was to send out the prizes from my last giveaway, the winner is expected to nag me repeatedly until they are sure that I have actually put it in the mail. Otherwise I have a high likelihood of flaking :)
Oh, let’s say you have until Friday at 11:59 PM Eastern time. Okay?
After all, isn’t the best way to follow up an enormous pattern haul a trip to the fabric store to take advantage of the $1.99 Simplicity and New Look sale? Okay, the truth is that I would have let this one slip by as I wasn’t yearning for anything in particular from Simplicity, and quite frankly I *never* yearn for anything from New Look. Until this morning.
I was catching up on my blog reading, on which I had fallen sadly behind while toiling and shopping in Helsinki, and I discovered Amanda’s latest and greatest Simplicity 6909. And you know how I feel about a feminine dress rendered in menswear. Her version is chic and adorable, and I’m going to need my own for work. I might have put it off, as I’ve got other projects lined up for now, but when I checked out the pattern, I discovered this view:
And that is pretty much what I was envisioning for my new houndstooth that I picked up at Eurokangas. I was going to draft it myself, but I’d rather pay New Look $1.99 to do it for me.
I’ve only ever bought one New Look pattern in the past, and that probably over a decade ago. For some reason, I’m never drawn to them. But I think this may be because I have a hard time getting over the way they are styled on the envelopes. I’m often not imaginative enough to get over my initial impressions of them based on the photos, which is too bad because once I really look at the drawings, a lot of their stuff is cute with lots of potential. But I’m often not drawn in enough to take a close look at the drawings. Today I picked out three New Look patterns:
Those are 6824, 6587, and 6909. (Again, crappy cameraphone photos, sorry!). My point about the styling is that I find that a LOT of the New Look pattern envelopes really don’t do a good job of showing off the versatility of the patterns. Instead they tend to stick to a very “Sunday Best” aesthetic of pastels and bedsheet florals for a look that emphasizes “pretty” and de-emphasizes “stylish.” I have nothing against pretty, mind you. Nor do I have anything against pastels or florals, both of which can be used to stylish effect. But somehow this aesthetic repeated so frequently and amply throughout New Look’s catalogue really make me think of an outdated home sewn-looking wardrobe. Maybe this is the market that New Look is after, and perhaps there is a vast sewing audience whose sewing aim is a closet full of garden party dresses and the pretty floral skirts of your favorite kindergarten teacher, and for whom “chic” is not of interest. But given how versatile these patterns are it’d be nice if they did a better job showing off potential variety that they offer. You know, for the unimaginative people like me :) As it is, I find that only a handful of the photos and illustrations of the New Look envelopes look stylish (6909 is one notable exception, though I still take issue with the boxy fit of the sample), even though a lot of the patterns could probably be made into very stylish garments.
As a counterpoint, these are two Simplicity patterns that I picked up (What. I know I said there wasn’t anything I really wanted, but I was there and they were on sale, and they are cute. Whatever.) 2403 and 2648:
In terms of the patterns, these dresses aren’t that different in character than the New Look ones, but they are rendered in fabrics that make them look much more chic (and, in my opinion, just as pretty.) Look how much less home-sewn this dress looks. It could have walked out of Zara or Banana Republic:
Anyway, I don’t expect that New Look will be changing their stylists anytime soon, and if they’ve been around this long, then they must be getting through to the right people. I guess it’s up to me to develop the ability to look past the cutesy fabrics and see the potential for chic myself.
Or I can just keep relying on other bloggers like Amanda to make chic dresses so I can steal their ideas ;)
Well, it’s my last night here in Finland, and I’m off to the airport bright and early tomorrow. I’ve got another long time in transit ahead of me which means I’ll have to deny you my cheery and lovable presence for another day or so. But take heart, dear readers, because I’m sending you sunshine in the form of these happy yellow and white d’Orsay pumps that called out to me from a shop window as I walked by.
“Selfish!” they called, “Selfish, don’t you want to put us in your suitcase and take us home? We’re size 35, only 10 Euros, and such a lovely shade of daffodil yellow!” At least this is what I think they said, given that my Finnish is rather lacking. My ability to rationalize a purchase, however, is quite extraordinary.
See? Don’t those make you smile and cheer you right up? What? Oh, they make you jealous instead? Oopsie!
My meetings ended early for me, which meant more time for consumption, which society has trained me to believe makes me happy, and for which I begrudge society NOTHING. After I amassed a small boatload of gifts for Dan (can’t show you because he occasionally stops by here), it was time to hit up Stockmann to check out the Marimekko fabrics (again, pardon crappy camerphone pics):
As is often the case when I ponder Marimekko fabrics, I came away empty-handed. I can just never make it work. Many of the fabrics are better suited for home dec because of their weight and drape, and when they are light enough to be reasonable for clothing, the scale of the print is often too large to work. I’m sure one could make it work, but alas, I haven’t got that kind of design skill. I pondered that gingko print, but it would have been hard to fit a whole gingko leaf onto a garment. I also pondered that blue mini Unikko print on the bottom, but it’s laminated. I thought about a raincoat, but it felt better suited for an outdoor tablecloth. And at Marimekko prices, I decided it wasn’t worth it to buy some if I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to make it work.
Needless to say, I ended up being pretty glad I saved my Euros once I got back to Eurokangas. This store is all about top quality, and you’ll pay for it too:
Ooh, there’s my thumb! Here are some lovely ruby toned fabrics, including the softest silk charmeuse:
As you can see, it’s going for a steep 69 Euros per meter, and there are far more spendy options as well. I spent a long time pondering the many Burberry plaid silk shantungs, thinking that they would be wonderful lining for a classic trench:
Until I realized that I couldn’t really spend $150 to line a coat because I’m not married to a prince or a Trump. But it wasn’t all insane. In addition to reasonably priced knits and cottons, there are also designer remnants to be had by the kilo!
Of course, that prince would come in handy in the event that you actually want to buy a full kilo of designer remnants for 300 Euros.
From the not-designer remnant pile, I snagged about 2.5 meters of very lovely quality spring green seersucker. Perhaps not the most interesting, but I’d been wanting green seersucker anyway. Bad photo of said seersucker:
But my real splurge was this couture houndstooth that had drawn my eye almost immediately, but that I had first dismissed as being rather ridiculously priced for fabric without any cashmere in it:
At some point during my visit though, I picked it up and held it to my face in front of the mirror and I just felt so PRETTY. Not wise, mind you, but pretty. And the selvedge delights me:
I know you’re probably not seeing it from these photos and perhaps even shaking your head. But trust me- you’ll see once it’s made up :) PRETTY.
My body has no idea what time it is. The time change caused me to lose an entire day, and the near round-the-clock Finnish sunlight is also throwing me. I don’t know if I slept an entire day or haven’t slept in a day and a half. All I know is that it doesn’t matter. Why? Because of this sweet haul (Please pardon the cameraphone photos):
Whoo-hoo! Patrones 291 , May La Mia Boutique, June Burda, and the Spring/Summer Ottobre. (I refrained from buying the May Burda, Burda Easy Fashion, Diana, Verena, ONLine, and Filati. See? That’s what we call restraint, kids.)
First up, LMB. Sometimes LMB is a little too out there for me, but this issue has lots of stuff that I like:
Ottobre is never really my style, but I really like this top:
And this pretty vintage-inspired coat:
And you’ll notice that they also have a feature which is based on American classic cinema, with that “can’t put your finger on it but something’s not quite right” flavor of awkwardness that comes from a not-quite-native fluency in American pop culture. Above we have our good friends Giles Davis and Minnie Holiday in “Rue de Jazz” featuring the “Silky Smooths!”
And the timeless Suri Loren in “A Trip to Remember”:
And of course, who could forget Gerry Cooper’s and Marjorie Kelly’s star turns in the sultry classic, “Orchard of Passion”?? Only ol’ Gerry could make holding a peach look so steamy:
But the definite star of the bunch is Patrones. I was a little disappointed at first to find that I had arrived in time for one of Patrones’s “Fiesta” issues. Although the clothes are usually pretty, my need for evening dresses is low and my desire to sew them is even lower, so I usually don’t have much use for the (often slim) Fiesta issues. But wow, check out some of these lovelies, which could easily be adapted into less formal fabrics for knockout office wear or dinner out:
As for Burda, I think we’ve done a thorough job covering the June issue. But I wanted to share with you a terrifying tidbit in the July preview that almost escaped my notice. Remember when I revisited a pair of Burda issues from 1981? I prophesied that the trend of belted athletic shorts would reappear in this year’s July issue. Well, it turns out I was mistaken- the frightening 1981 trend that is returning just in time for July is…
Sleeve ruffles. ACK!!!
I would say it’s going to give me nightmares, except that I think my jetlag will keep me wide awake. Miss you guys!
Where in Scandinavia is the Selfish Seamstress headed? How bad will her jetlag be and how many times will she fall asleep in her all day meetings? Will she have time to go to Marimekko despite her all day meetings? Will she once again refrain from buying Pieni Unikko fabric on account of the fact that she doesn’t know how to handle the strong horizontal and vertical elements of the print in a garment she’d want to wear? Will she spend her entire three hour stopover in Frankfurt going to every newsstand looking for issues of Patrones and La Mia Boutique? How about on her return trip? How many fried muikku can she fit in her mouth at once? Why isn’t there an English Wikipedia page for muikku? Oh, I guess there is. Since when is “reindeer” just another word for caribou and why don’t they look anything like the animals that pull Santa’s sleigh? Will she be able to find the long skinny fruity licorice ropes that Dan wants even though she can’t even find a picture of them on the web? Is it going to be as freezing cold as it was last time she was there? Do any of you know of other good places for fabric in Helsinki?
Find out the answers to some (but not all!) of these questions and lots more about when the Selfish Seamstress brings you “The Selfish Seamstress: Helsinki Edition“! Just because she’s not sewing in Finland doesn’t mean she’s going to stop yapping.
[And, ugh. While I'm in transit and without means to engage in online blog warfare with my foes, can someone please head over to Male Pattern Suckness and kindly tell Peter that lies, libel, and polyester hair are all extremely unbecoming? Seriously, what is that guy's problem?? Maybe try to use the words "jerkface" or "doodyhead"? If anyone would be so kind as to defend my honor as a selfish b, that would be just super. Thanks!]
Readers, pardon me if I am treating you like objects that I exploit for my own benefit, but right now you look like one giant collective sewing brain. And I want to pick you.
Remember this skirt? I don’t wear it often. But I put it on today (with a brown fitted v-neck sweater that hit at the high hip and disguised the high-waistedness, and those orange shoes) and it was looking pretty good and I was feeling pretty good.
Until I walked out the door, that is. I hadn’t been out of the house for more than two minutes when I felt the lining riding up. By the time I got to my stop, the whole lining was bunched up around my hips! Fortunately the wool is fairly thick so it wasn’t showing any lumps, and it’s not itchy either. But still, I felt pretty ridiculous.
So tell me, my vast font of sewing knowledge, is there a way to make a fitted lined skirt such that this doesn’t happen? (Corollary: how do you make a pencil skirt that doesn’t twist around your waist when you walk in such a way that when you look down after five minutes, you realize that the side seam is running straight down your middle?) This is a problem for me when a lot of RTW skirts as well, but it miffs me more when something I made myself acts annoying. Is there a trick to getting the lining to just stay put and not bunch up?
Tell me, oh mighty collective sewing brain!
I have no new sewing to show you. Plus, our camera broke so if I had new sewing to show you, I wouldn’t be able to anyway. But following up on yesterday’s guest post from Inkstain (Dinah Lee Küng) on Little Girl Dressing, I thought I’d show you a glimpse of the very far extreme end of the scale (undoubtedly well beyond what Dinah was referring to in her essay).
After reading yesterday’s comments, I was reminded of the “Sweet Lolita” trend in Japanese street fashion. For those of you not already familiar, this fad has been around for several years (perhaps that means it’s no longer a fad?) and I remember noticing families of Japanese tourists here and there a few years ago in New York, in which the teenage and 20-something daughters were dressed in this style, which was probably at the height of its popularity. The first time I saw someone in this dress, I assumed she was performing in some sort of play. When I saw someone else in this type of outfit in a different part of the city later in the day, I figured there must be some sort of event going on in New York. I didn’t realize that this was simply a clothing style that people wore out until some weeks later when I discovered tons of books and magazines of Japanese Lolita fashion sewing patterns while browsing eBay for Japanese sewing books.
Here’s a page from one such book- you won’t find these patterns flipping through the Simplicity catalogue!
As a Westerner and one who has only ever visited Japan as a tourist, it’s hard for me to make any sort of meaningful or insightful commentary on this style that isn’t totally warped by my own expectations arising from the culture in which I was raised. If this trend had originated in the US among American teens and 20-somethings and they were popping up at the Whole Foods dressed like this, I’m sure I’d be ranting to friends and co-workers using very judgmental words like “pedophilia” and “infantilism.” But Japanese street fashion is its own wacky machine, a far more extreme form of self expression through clothing than any zany trend you’d see in New York, with its own set of gender and sexual connotations. It’s undoubtedly perceived differently in Japan than it would be in the US, though I can’t even begin to fathom what those differences are. So all I can really say is, “Ummm… yeah. That’s… pretty wack” and stare with my jaw hanging open. But I guess you probably don’t go out in this if you don’t want attention:
Incidentally, the Sweet Lolita trend is tightly intertwined with the Gothic Lolita trend, being sported in the photo above by the girl in black- it’s similar with a bit more of a goth or steampunk flavor.
One kind of has to be impressed- these girls go all out. It’s not just the dress, but the ruffled bonnet and petticoats, the lace-trimmed socks, the parasols, bows on the shoes, and even… a teddy bear?? There’s certainly no lack of attention to detail or skimping on accessorizing!
Ultimately this trend strikes me as being less influenced by Nabokov’s Lolita (whom I always picture in tomboy clothes rather than lace), or children’s fashion, but rather the desire to look like a life-sized baby doll:
Well, for those of you whose love of ruffles knows no bounds and want to try out this look, it’s a good thing you sew because these garments aren’t so easy to come by in most of the world. Head on over to eBay to check out some of these books!
And do come back and show us what you’ve come up with, ok?
I just created a new FAQ page to address some of the questions I commonly get in comments or via email. Let me know if there’s anything I missed that I should be addressing!
This is a first around here: The Selfish Seamstress “shares” her blog with a guest blogger! Though admittedly the guest blogger would (rightfully) disagree that the Selfish Seamstress is doing this out of generosity or any understanding of the concept of sharing.
A few days ago, I noticed an insightful and potentially controversial observation from a reader about the current trend of “precious” clothing for women in commercial and DIY fashion. Curious to hear more, I asked reader Inkstain if she would be interested in elaborating upon her perspective for everyone. Lucky for all of us she was up for it, and her writing is fascinating and articulate. Plus she’s really good at putting the Selfish Seamstress in her place! It turns out (and I didn’t know it at the time I invited her to write the post), Inkstain, a.k.a. Dinah Lee Küng, is an award-winning author and journalist! Lucky us, right?? If you enjoy her essay, wander over to her website to learn more about her writing, and maybe pick up a copy of her Orange Prize 2004 nominated work of fiction, “A Visit from Voltaire: A Comic Novel.“
The standard disclaimer: The essay below reflects the opinions and perspectives of the author, and not necessarily those of the Selfish Seamstress blog.
MORE IMPORTANTLY: I welcome your responses to this essay, but please keep the tone of your comments civil and respectful to our wonderful guest blogger regardless of whether you share or disagree with her perspectives. After all, she has spent hours of her time writing something for you!
Little Girl Dressing
By Dinah Lee Küng
This is the Guggenheim Coat in its completed state! I finally got around to doing the buttonholes and buttons today and once again dragged Dan out to take dozens and dozens of vanity photos so I could pick the ones that make me look least short. As you can see, the occasion called for some serious backcombing.
This coat is just McCall 5525 minus all the bells and whistles- no pocket flaps, no epaulets, no button bands, etc. I didn’t topstitch the seams either. I originally started with black topstitching, but the near-straight lines of stitching didn’t work well with the swirling black lines of the fabric so I unpicked it (note: unpicking triple straight stitch takes FOREVER.) But even though I eliminated a lot of the details, this coat still took a fair bit of time because I kept adjusting the fit. I didn’t make a muslin since I’ve made this pattern before, which means I just kept basting and ripping and basting and ripping to tweak it. I wanted a more fitted, dramatic silhouette than my Key Lime Trench (also McCall 5525, taken in just slightly at the waist). For the Guggenheim coat, I took in a lot from all of the princess seams and side seams and narrowed it slightly at the shoulders. In the end, the fit is almost dress-like. It won’t work over anything bulky, but I don’t intend to wear it with anything bulky anyway. I made the collar and belt a little narrower and went with a longer length.
The fabric is a stretch cotton sateen (lovely to work with!) that I got a few weeks ago from Fabric.com. It must have been a popular buy and if you blinked you might have missed it. I was sort of keeping an eye on it for a couple of days, pondering whether it was too frivolous and unnecessary a purchase, and when I saw how quickly it was disappearing, I pulled the trigger. I made four fabric covered buttons out of white bits of the fabric because I wanted them to be unobtrusive to keep the aesthetic of the coat clean and minimal. Or as clean and minimal as one can get given that giant print.
The coat is lined in white Bemberg rayon, and because so many of you suggested piping, I decided to use some (actually just some black bias tape that I happened to have lying around rather than bona fide piping) between the lining and front facing. Thanks for the suggestion – snazzy!
I stuck with an all black and white ensemble for these photos, but I think that this coat is going to be surprisingly versatile for a crazy lady coat with a hugenormous floral pattern. I expect it will pair well with bright greens, yellows, reds, fuchsias, etc. But here’s a pop of color for those of you who are craving one now, in the form of the first dandelions of the season (I don’t have a lawn so I love dandelions):
I’m not usually one to make matchy accessories from remnants, or at least not wearing the garment and the matchy remnant accessories at the same time because I worry that it makes things look homemade. (Evening dress and matching evening bag may be an exception.) But at some point I tied a scrap around my head and Dan responded very enthusiastically to it, so I stitched up a quick impromptu headband for the photos. I’m a sucker for a compliment. The ends are just fastened together with a safety pin because I was too lazy to dig out elastic :)
Anyway, I am totally getting mileage out of McCall 5525 pattern, and you can expect to see it again in leopard in the not-too-distant future.
Best of all? The Guggenheim Coat is finished just as spring is finally arriving!
The sewing obsessed are already undoubtedly aware of the independent pattern company Colette, which produces lovely vintage-inspired patterns, like the Chantilly dress pattern above.
Colette patterns come in sizes 0-18, which I think are meant to be much closer to normal RTW sizing than the Big 4 sizing scheme (how many home seamstresses got messed up by making a Big 4 pattern according to their usual RTW size rather than their measurements the first time they tried to sew something?) Colette is also notable for using models who look like pretty ladies you’d see out in the park or at the office rather than 5’10″ fashion models. I won’t use the phrase “real women” because as one who lacks curves, I can tell you that it’s no fun going from being teased by other kids about one’s scrawny, undeveloped physique from the age of 12 to being told repeatedly as a grownup by other grownups and the media that “real women have curves.” This is *my* reality. And it barely fills an A-cup.
But on that topic, the Colette patterns are generally shown on beautiful curvy, zaftig, hourglass-shaped women, perfect for modeling the retro styles from the era of classic pinup girl. And most of the Colette garments I’ve seen made up on blogs and websites are on ladies of at least average curviness (and by this I am referring to shape, not size or weight). In fact, the according to the size chart, the Colette size 0 is designed for a 33″ bust (body measurement, not finished garment measurement). I wear a size 0 RTW, and with the Big 4 patterns, I wear (or grade down to) a size 4. However, the size 4 bust measurement for a Vogue or McCall’s is Selfish Seamstress-sized 29.5″ (don’t even get me started on the Big 4 waist measurement BS), a full whopping 3.5″ smaller than Colette, so we’re potentially looking at a very non-trivial SBA with a Colette pattern.
Granted, I know that there are some Colette styles that wouldn’t suit my figure even if I could get them to fit properly simply because the styles themselves look best on curves, but I thinking even a gamine like the Selfish Seamstress would like a coat like Lady Grey?
My question is: have any of you who have been “blessed” with a boyish figure (again, talking about shape, not size) tried out Colette patterns, and if so, how did the fit work out? Are they cut for a different kind of ladyshape than Burda or the Big 4? Ladies of modest endowment and minimal waist definition, pipe up!
Wow, is this new? Burda’s got an issue just for kids patterns! I don’t remember seeing such an issue before, at least not in recent years:
I, um, really don’t care. But I thought maybe you might, so I’m letting you know.
As far as I can tell, the issue is a compilation of kids patterns from recent regular BurdaMag issues. So if you’ve got a subscription, don’t bother.
But while we’re on the subject, what the f is this??
The Selfish Seamstress is no prude when it comes to showing skin, but even she can’t help but notice that they put that little girl in an awfully trampy bikini top. Seriously, Burda. I can’t tell how old the models are, but they look like they’re beyond the running-around-the-beach-naked age. That little tie-around thingy almost distracted me to the point that I didn’t notice the boy is wearing some sort of wrap-around skirt/gaucho pants combo. I’m guessing the photo was snapped a few minutes before he got beat up by some other kids yelling, “Dumb Pants! Hey, Dumb Pants!”
Anyway, there you go. Lots of Burda patterns for those who fail to heed the message of the Selfish Seamstress and stubbornly insist upon sewing for their children. Pfft. Love, schmove.