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Once again, work has gotten to be so hectic that time for everything else has just about dried up. I tried at first to buy some extra minutes by eliminating unnecessary words and phrases from utterance, such as “please,” “thank you,” “are you going to eat that?” and “you don’t mind if I cut ahead of you, right?” And although I found myself at the front of queues much sooner after implementing these changes, I still found myself short on time, which meant no sewing for weeks on end. I finally squeezed a few hours this weekend to finish up a stagnating project (most likely at the expense of lectures that needed prepping or students that needed help- suckas!) – a dress inspired by the Kate Spade “Jillian” polka dot dress. Here’s the original:

Sooooooo pretty, right?? This dress has been drooled over by many a seamstress, including Kerry, who took a much smarter and more efficient approach to satisfying her covet. Not so for the Selfish Seamstress, who had to do things the slow way. (Kerry, incidentally, is so similar to Selfish in proportions that Selfish occasionally dreams of annexing Kerry, installing her in the sewing room, and using her as some sort of feisty, live-action dress form. Oh, what fun we would have, and what a precise fit!)

I don’t know on what blog or website I first saw the dress, but I am sure that the picture above is the first one I saw, and the one I fell for.  I don’t think I would have gotten quite so excited over it if I had only seen the modeled dress. Subsequent research on the dress revealed a slightly more sedate, less flared skirt than I had expected as well as a rather polka-dot-disruptive back seamed skirt that I wanted to avoid (as I had done before when knocking off other polka dot garments).

And so I set off to improve upon the original to make it more to my liking.  Yes, you read that correctly- a crankpot nobody sewing blogger with average sewing skills, no fashion design training, and paltry creative vision of her own actually claimed she was going to improve upon KATE SPADE. Improve. Kate Spade. Hubrisalicious!

Planned improvement #1: more flare in the skirt.  Planned improvement #2: side zip instead of back zip to ditch the back seam. Planned improvement #3: COTTON. Online retailers described the original polka dot Jillian dress as being done in “heavy silk organza.” Really?  Looks like taffeta to me.  Whatever weave it is, it’s strictly a party dress in sheeny, stiff silk. And Selfish never gets invited to parties on account of her tendency to ruin everyone else’s evening, so she was aiming for a little more versatility- something she could wear to ruin general everyday events for people.

Improvement #3 turned out to be a rather tall order, as it was hard to find the right navy and white polka dot cotton fabric. I didn’t want to wuss out with some rinky-dink mid-scale 1/2″ polka dot. I wanted a proper, robust, intentionally large, unashamed dot. Plus I wanted a regular dot pattern, like Kate’s, and not an irregular, scattered dot. See this?  Unacceptable:

After much scouring of the internet, I found this perfectly patterned navy and and white cotton on Denver Fabrics, with just the right size dot (slightly less dense than the original, but not a problem) and a smooth, sateen-like weave, for the just-right price of $5.50 . (Of course, I was so desperate to have the dress that I paid the $40 international shipping to procure 2.5 yards of it.  Oh, Selfish, there you go again.) The dots are perfectly circular in real life- they just look a little eccentric in the picture.

The fabric arrived and although it’s not lightweight, it’s softer and drapier than I was expecting- it feels like the high thread count cotton Royal Sateen bedsheets that my mom loves, after they’ve been through the wash a couple of times. So, rather limp and prone to wrinkling- better suited to a softer, looser style of dress than the crisp fit and flare silhouette that I had envisioned. But I was determined and certainly wasn’t going to find a better print so I pressed on.

I was going to draft the dress from scratch, and then I remembered that I had a custom-drafted pattern with just the right bodice for it that I could use as a block- my good old Coffee Date Dress (download the pattern and instructions for free here!). I slashed-and-spread the skirt in several places to give it a little more flare for good measure (the original Coffee Date Dress draft has a rather modest flare) and added a 4″  inverted box pleat in the center front à la Kate. I omitted the Coffee Date Dress’s back zip in favor of a side invisible zip to avoid the dreaded polka dot disruption:

The side seam polka-dot disruption is much less jarring since the side seam of the skirt is on the bias and no strong vertical elements to get interrupted:

And of course, I drafted the fun midriff drape and the bow (the tails of my bow are a little longer than in the original. Somehow I thought the little bow looked rather twee, but with this style of dress that’s kind of like further splitting hairs that have already been split.) The bow droops a bit due to the softness of the fabric so I may open it up again and line or interface it.

Because the fabric was so soft, I opted to do a full lining instead of facings to give it a little more body. I used a champagne taffeta lining from my stash- probably an acetate and rayon blend, but possibly full acetate. It has a bit more stiffness than Bemberg (a good thing for the soft fashion fabric) and the champagne color softens the sparkling whiteness of the polka dot fabric a little (also a good thing, in my opinion.)

I don’t regret adding in the extra flare to the skirt – this dress looks pretty much like what I imagined in my head. But the volume of the skirt does cause the front box pleat to get a little bit lost in the shuffle. And I always forget how short I drafted the original Coffee Date Dress- I’ve got about a 3/4″ hem only because I didn’t want to go any shorter with this style.

There you have it- inspired by the Kate Spade polka dot Jillian dress, knocked off and “improved” by the Selfish Seamstress on the cheap, ready to wear to any number of places and activities where you can fully expect that I will ruin your day and that of everyone around you. Oh, by the way, are you going to eat that? Thanks.

You guys, I think it’s going to be a good day. I’m wearing my stare-at-me-you-SOOO-wish-you-could-pull-these-off boots:

And even better, Community is finally back on the air. It’s definitely going to be a “six seasons and a movie” kind of day. [IMPORTANT: I have not watched last night's episode yet. Do NOT tell me what happens! You spoil my Community and I will SPOIL YOUR FACE.]

So Selfish is feelin’ fine today. Not cheerful or sweet or generous, of course, but ever so slightly less vindictive than usual. One might even say that I am feeling fair. So I’ll make you a deal. You help me out, and I will divulge valuable information that I have thus far been keeping to myself out of pure selfishness. K?

K. You help me first, obviously. There’s an odd little boutique right near our apartment that seems to be open only by appointment (i.e. it’s NEVER open), and always has the most magnificent Issa silk jersey dresses displayed in the window. They recently switched the featured dress to an absolutely drool-worthy candy striped confection with a cowl neckline. I snapped a pic last night with my phone, which doesn’t do it justice:

As you may know, Selfish is fairly new to sewing drapey (i.e. non doubleknit) knits. But she wants her own version of this dress rather desperately. The stripes are throwing me though, as it’s not obvious to me whether the stripe print runs vertically on the jersey, or diagonally, and what’s cut on the bias versus the straight grain. If this were a woven, I feel fairly sure that the bodice front would have to be cut on the bias in order to achieve that drapey waterfall neckline. And yet as I poke around the internets, it seems like it is possible to achieve that neckline drape with a knit fabric cut on the straight grain. Yes? No?

If the stripe print is vertical, that means that the skirt is cut on the bias and everything else is cut on the grain. Wouldn’t this make the skirt rather prone to growing in length over time?

If the stripe print is diagonal, then the bodice, sleeves, and waist wrappy things are cut on the bias, and the skirt is cut on the straight grain. Are bias cut sleeves even a thing with drapey knits? Has anyone done that?

Okay, collective human sewing brain- what gives with this?  What’s going on here? And even more importantly, where could I find a fabulous diagonal or vertically striped knit fabric? Silk jersey would be great, but I’d settle for ITY knit. NOW ANSWER ME.

Well, that’s about it for today. Catch you later. Oh wait, what are you saying?  I promised you some important secret sewing info?  Sigh, fine. I’ll hold up my end of the bargain. But only because I have that episode of Community to look forward to later and it’s keeping me “amiable.”

Remember the insane South Park silk chiffon I told you about the other day? Well, the only reason I even noticed that bizarro fabric is because it was in the same eBay store as another extremely covetable fabric of which I purchased 3 yards. That’s right- I knew that the eBay store had a ridiculous fabric as well as one that you’d probably really really want if you knew about it, so naturally I told you only about the former and kept the latter a secret. Even though I knew there was plenty of it left for you. It’s all part of my plan to keep myself gorgeously garbed while the rest of you traipse around wrapped in South Park and jealousy. Serious bitch move, and one that I’m proud of. But, since you’re helping me out with the striped jersey issue, here you go:

Yep, it’s Marc Jacobs silk crepe de chine, 45″/114 cm wide, in oh-so-trendy bird print, going for a pretty reasonable $14.99/yard. And I love that little teal blue bird with the purple cap. He’s definitely my favorite. Here’s what Mr. Jacobs did with the fabric:

This print made appearances in the Marc Jacobs 2010 resort collection. I haven’t received my fabric yet so I can’t say anything about it regarding quality, but I have high hopes and big plans.

So there you go. Feel free to express your undying gratitude below.

[UPDATE: Wow, you guys bought that up that Marc Jacobs fabric fast.  Here's the link to a new listing for more of it.]

[UPDATE #2: Well, my greedy little monsters, looks like you have bought it all up and there's no more left! Good job!]

[UPDATE #3: And it's back! Get it while you can!]

Even those of us who satisfy our hunger for darkness and solitude by living under a rock can’t help but be exposed to something spectacular every now and again. But on the off chance that the news hasn’t reached your rock yet, allow me to inform you:

November 23. Lanvin for H&M.

If you’ve been following for a while, you know of my love/hate/guilt/admiration relationship with H&M. But this collection is looking monumental, and I’ve got plans to camp out outside of H&M so I can check it out as soon as it opens. Oops, someone’s going to be a little late for work next Tuesday.

I get the feeling that I probably won’t end up buying any of it, but I do plan to try stuff on for ideas, if I manage to get my hands on any.  The gorgeous yellow ruffle dress above (even I can get on board with the one shoulder thing for a dress like that) is one that I can easily recreate at home, and in a color better suited to my skin tone (jewel-toned teal, perhaps?) This is another example of one shoulder done beautifully in this collection:

And I’m dying to slip this over-the-top jacket over the dress for an over-the-top ensemble:

Here’s another magnificent confection that looks easily recreated, if you could only find the marvelous retro rose print fabric.

The dresses and coats run between about $150-$350, perhaps somewhat out of the price range of the average H&M teenybopper client, which perhaps means that mature career ladies like me will have fewer lithe, spry 17-year olds to punt out of the way to get to the racks. They can go for the collection’s lower priced t-shirts, skirts, and accessories.

The collection also has a less-exciting but still quite chic selection of menswear. Oh, and shoes at a relatively gentle $99 a pop.

Anyway, check out this heart-breakingly, tooth-achingly delicious collection of sweets, fashion-loving members of the proletariat. It’s Lanvin for the masses! And lest you think the once-rarefied has become all too accessible, don’t worry- the video is still delightfully artsy-fartsy :)

Oh yeah, by the way, the collection is only in limited stores, so check the website before you pitch your tent ;)

Many a sewing blogger and sewing enthusiast sighs over the lovely early 60’s style costumes featured on Mad Men, and the Selfish Seamstress is no exception, despite never having even seen an episode of the show. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has promised to make herself a Mad Men style wardrobe someday or at least a couple of pieces. I’m also sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t gotten around to making that wardrobe and quite possibly never will.

Take heart, readers, all is not lost, especially if you’ve got some spare change (or possibly spare trust funds) lying around. The producers of Mad Men are holding a charity eBay auction to benefit City of Hope, and they are selling off, among other things, DRESSES.  Yes, actual dresses and garments from the show.  And furniture and props and even a walk-on role for the theatrically-inclined among you. More info here and here, and the auction runs from August 12th-22nd. I don’t expect to be bidding, but I’ll be peeking for sure.  And if you win anything, come back and show us!

Driving around grey, chilly Seattle today with my cousin after brunch and a stroll, something practically jumped out at me from a shop window and fluttered before my eyes. I exclaimed, “Oh my god, what is that?!” and my very patient cousin (you’ll recall that the Selfish Seamstress has the attention span of a particularly ditzy fly) graciously drove back around the block and stopped the car so I could get out and have a better look at this:

This, as it turns out, is one of the monarch butterfly dresses, a signature silken confection of one of Seattle’s local star designers, Luly Yang. It is utterly dreamy. Subtle it is not, but I’d wear it in a heartbeat if it were mine. Unfortunately the store was closed for the holiday and I think I might have left my American Express Black Card in in my gold wallet in the diamond encrusted glove compartment of my other Aston Martin. My cousin mentioned she has a friend who went to high school with the designer, which I suspect … will not help me at all in acquiring this dress. (Not that she was suggesting it would, it was just an offhand comment.)

What do you think, readers? Is it a hopeless cause, or is there any chance that something like this could be recreated by yours truly, a decidedly intermediate home seamstress with no silk painting experience, without it looking like the cheap drugstore Halloween costume version?? Probably not so much, huh?

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!

Grosgrain first came onto my radar after I read about it on Angela’s blog, but I wasn’t following it super closely until I rediscovered it when I stumbled upon a Frock by Friday sew-along using the Coffee Date Dress, and now I’m hooked. If you haven’t been following Grosgrain, you *should.*  It’s beyond fabulous. Part sewing and part design, it’s not your run-of-the-mill online sewing journal. Not “commercial” exactly, but professional and polished – like something put out by a hipper Martha Stewart :) Kathleen is a design genius, and her photos are gorgeous. So many fun ideas- clever DIY accessories like shoe refashioning, tons of giveaways both from her and her sponsors, but the dresses she makes… oh the dresses…

… could you not just cry over how beautiful these are? Dainty and modern yet vintage-y, with lovely details. Well, now Kathleen is hinting that she’s thinking about opening up an Etsy store to sell her patterns, and she wants to know which ones you’d want to buy. So definitely head over to Grosgrain and tell her you want that yellow one with the pintucks on top. Or the blue one on the bottom with the organza frill.  Or the blue one with the red bias binding.  I don’t know, I can’t decide.  Just go and make it happen!

Back in college when the Selfish Seamstress was a mere Selfish Regular Person, or perhaps more accurately an Avidly Unselfish Crocheter, she experienced a pair of rather traumatic back-to-back events. She was minding her own business at her academically rigorous liberal arts ivory tower in the Northeast when she received two extremely disturbing pieces of post in her campus mailbox: the J.Crew catalogue and the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. You see, younger readers, it was a simpler time when the interwebs was just a nascent technology, and online shopping was a rose just beginning to bud. We would receive these “catalogues” made of “paper” in the “mail” and then promptly run off to our dorm rooms to our Apple computers (think like an iPhone but with wires and much bigger and you couldn’t take it around with you) and order things on sale online before they ran out of our sizes. We thought we were pretty fancy, snapping things up before the old people who still relied on the paper order forms in the catalogues.

Wherein lay the trauma, you ask? Well, in this particular year, within the span of a few short months, J. Crew stopped selling size 5 shoes (the only place she could reliably find them at the time), and Victoria’s Secret discontinued the only bra she had ever found that actually fit, the racerback Second Skin Satin. Between daily dance classes, a teenage metabolism, and (gasp!) cheerleading practice, she had quite the pixie-ish figure at the time, so a fitting bra was no common occurrence. Needless to say, it was shaping up to be a tragedy, and the Avidly Unselfish Crocheter feared entering her senior year barefoot and unsupported. She managed to find the occasional size 5 at Nine West and padded her toes with tissues when necessary. She prudently bought up about a dozen of the treasured VS bras on clearance and rationed them out little by little over the next ten years or so.

Fast forward to now. The addition of pounds and years has done nothing to enhance her bustline, but the flourishing of interweb shopping has made the finding of tiny shoes much easier. As for bras, the 21st century has been accompanied by the ever increasing ubiquity of H&M, which, for all of its faults, recognizes the need for a true A-cup, and is even so understanding as to provide it in colors other than white and beige.

And still, much like the 20-year old who survived these traumas, the Selfish Seamstress has the attention span of a fly. Her obsession over shoemaking is simmering on the back burner while she fixates on the idea of making her own bras (by most accounts an achievable feat with some patience). And oh how the interwebs makes it easy for her to plunge right in, despite a bunch of other projects that are still waiting for hems and zippers!

I just clicked the “Submit Order” button on the Elan B540 bra pattern (pictured above) as well as a Sew Sassy kit (actually for a different bra, but it looks like it contains materials that could be used for the B540). Yes, the kit only comes in white, but I figured it would be a good idea to get a starter pack to try it out before investing in prettier choices that will likely have to be purchased in larger quantities. Like these:

And who knows?  If all goes well, I may have to indulge in some of these magnificent (and surprisingly reasonably priced) lingerie kits from Kantje Boord. Unless I get distracted by something else first, that is.

Sigh. Look at those Miu Miu heels. The Selfish Seamstress once considered learning how to whittle just so she could have a pair of these shoes. With a rather dainty foot (size 4.5 or 5 US) she has a hard time finding pretty shoes that fit, given that most stores don’t even stock shoes smaller than 5.5 or 6, and that kids’ shoes, well, often look like kids’ shoes. Naturally she has often fantasized about becoming an expert shoemaker and being able to make any shoes she could dream up or copy any shoe she saw. (It should be noted, however, that this was her motivation in learning to draft, but the closetful of custom-made, perfectly fitting designer knockoffs has yet to materialize.) Since she has not had the opportunity to sew in recent weeks, she’s once again become fixated on this fantasy.

Mary Wales Loomis has published a manual on making your own shoes at home with her adorable hand-drawn illustrations like the one above. As she promises, the process requires no special or expensive equipment. I did buy the book, but after reading it, I found the whole process rather intimidating – the sort of thing one would probably rather learn by watching than by reading, like, say, filling a cavity or giving someone a perm. The book has been around for a long time and is pretty informative, but I have seen very few accounts from people who have actually tried the process, fewer who have had success with it, and even fewer resulting shoes. I get the feeling that if I try it, I will end up with a big wonky mess.

And so my latest obsession is with the idea of taking a shoemaking course. As it turns out, there are many seminars (well not many, but a handful) for laypeople who want to learn to make shoes. They’re not fashion certificate programs; they’re not intended to make you a professional cobbler or train you for a job at Jimmy Choo. Just seminars or continuing education classes in which you’ll make a pair of shoes, possibly of your own design, using professional equipment, and subsequently become completely addicted to making your own shoes. Courses range in price from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, and wow, are they tempting.

Those are some pictures from Prescott and MacKay, which in addition to offering a variety of shoemaking courses also holds other tempting classes including millinery, tutu making, and bag making in London and San Francisco. They look like they’re pretty serious about their accessories.

Cleveland dwellers, or those who can travel out there for two days, can take a class at International Shoemaking Design, whose emphasis is on fun and sexy shoes- spectators, pumps, strappy sandals, mules… nary a Croc nor Birkenstock in sight! Check out these fun shoes from the site- you can’t buy them so you’ll just have to make them yourself:

New Yorkers have an enviable array of choices, including lots of options at the Manhattan JCC (2-month courses are less than $300!), a sandal and evening shoe course at Make, and an upcoming stiletto-making course for rank beginners from Koronya!  That’s right- four days of your labor at Koronya, and you could walk out in a pair of these:

Damn, yo.

So yeah, you can bet I’m going to be thinking about these courses when planning my next vacation, not to mention eyeing vintage fabric remnants with a whole new perspective: How would that look on my feet?

And in case I do have the good fortune to take one of these classes and end up with a closetful of adorable and covetable custom footwear-  don’t ask, because you already know the answer.  No.

Ok, my travel is coming to an end with a wedding in Evanston (coincidentally the same Chicago suburb where the Vogue flagship store is located. Hmmmmm. Is there anything wrong with going to a fabric store dressed in wedding guest attire?) And as of tomorrow I should be reunited with my sweetheart at home whom I have missed terribly after a weeklong separation. Oh, I hope my darling Husqvarna has been true while I’ve been away!

First up, a quick update on Arielle: the wonderful Cidell of Miss Celie’s Pants has volunteered to collect and consolidate all packages for Arielle.  She will send them to Arielle’s courier service so that Arielle doesn’t have to pay to receive dozens of individual packages. Thank you, Cidell! (I apologize for not offering to take care of this myself- for those of you who have not already figured it out, the Selfish Seamstress does not live in the US, so it would be expensive for most of you to ship to her, and expensive for her to ship out!) Also, if you haven’t already, do stop by Cidell’s blog and wish her a happy birthday.

At this point, I believe that everything on Arielle’s wishlist has been promised. If there is anything additional you would like to offer, you can email her at lakaribane[at]gmail[dot]com to ask what she needs. I believe she has near-daily access to email at this point.

And now, for those of you who have been worried that your selfish needs have been ignored by my blog for the past few days, don’t you worry. I found something that you might want. As you know, I’ve been on a little bit of a print kick lately, and I was scoping out some Alexander Henry lately when I stumbled upon this fabric called “Perfect Pattern“, the ultimate fabric for the sewing-obsessed:

Oooh, see?  It’s fabric printed with pattern pieces! Is that not the sewingest fabric ever!  And it’s somehow much cuter and edgier than fabric printed with, say, buttons or spools of thread. I can’t see wearing this fabric (perhaps some of you could swing it as a novelty skirt though) but if I had a sewing room, I’d be snatching up  yards of it (the third one is my favorite) for curtains, seat cushions, and other decor details. Adorable!

The Selfish Seamstress, being your run-of-the-mill self-absorbed, sewing-obsessed eccentric, is generally uninterested in reading anything on topics other than:

1) Sewing
2) Herself
3) Why cat friends are better than people friends

As such, she’s not one to get terribly engaged in United Airlines’ seat pocket magazine, Hemispheres, as so few of the articles deal with those very important subjects. Nevertheless, as she was flipping through something pretty caught her eye:

 

I tore the article out of the magazine, and then, as you can see, it got a little crumpled in my bag.

Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock and am the last one to know, but in case I’m not and there one or two of you out there who haven’t yet heard, H&M apparently has a home decor line which is heavy on the textiles! Yes, this from Hemispheres:

“H&M Home launches its spring line of textiles and soft accessories featuring a pop-inspired aesthetic – think psychedelic pillows depicting Viking princesses, paint splattered duvet covers and graphic throw blankets… The bad news?  So far the linens are available only online in Sweden and its Nordic neighbors (plus Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands)… the jawdropping prices (4.90 to 49.90 euros, or around $6.50-$68, for everything from candy-striped cushion covers to organic cotton bed sets), are earning the company plaudits fro design-hungry bloggers around the globe.”

Forget about cushion covers; I’m picturing the dresses I could make from the bedsheet version of that purple flower pillow and they’re looking very good indeed. And this tablecloth too.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with H&M.  On one hand I love the fact that they bring design to the masses, and on the other hand I’ve got guilt over their labor practices (one of the many reasons that I sew for myself). If I had a third hand, I would use it to point to their inconsistent quality and workmanship. But this new development is going to make it interesting. I’m downright giddy at the thought of H&M perhaps one day selling fabric off the bolt, like Ikea or Marimekko, a potential game changer. Did I mention that I might have to go to Helsinki next month?

Readers, I need your help yet again.  Remember this top from Burda 2.2010?

I downloaded the pattern from Burda, graded it down to my size, cut it all out, and then promptly never got around to making it. I’ve recently become fixated on the idea of making it out of black and white striped stretch jersey, perhaps a fabric sort of like this:

And for the life of me, I can’t seem to find a source for black and white striped jersey!  Seems so basic, doesn’t it?  I am a *little* bit picky here– I would ideally like cotton with a little lycra in it, something not too flimsy or drapey. The stripes don’t have to be that exact width either- I could go narrower or wider. I’d consider a baby rib knit; I’d prefer not to go the nylon route. And yarn dyed stripes would be ideal.

I did spot some black and white striped knit at my local fabric store, but the stripes were printed rather than yarn dyed and the printing was so sadly off grain that I didn’t even consider it.  I’m not keen on spending hours of my time for something that I know can never look better than a cheap factory second, no matter how carefully I stitch!

So readers, a.k.a. Human Collective Google, have you got any ideas for where I could pick up a yard of black and white striped stretch jersey? If you point me to what I’m looking for and I end up acquiring it based on your tip, I will immortalize you in a glowing tribute post in which I laud your brilliance and resourcefulness!

The Selfish Seamstress must be feverish today. Nothing else could possibly explain the sudden overwhelming burst of generosity that has overcome her- a generosity that she suspects she will come to regret, a generosity that tastes foreign and bilious in her mouth, a generosity that she will probably later decide you did not deserve. But by then it will be too late.

First, a word on wearing curtains.  If it’s good enough for Scarlett O’Hara…

And it’s good enough for the Von Trapp family…

And it’s good enough for the magnificent Melissa of Fehr Trade (okay, to be fair, her beautiful Burda dress is made from a shower curtain, rather than drapes per se, but same concept)…

… isn’t it good enough for you too?

Most notably, don’t you think you need the new spring Vogue 1174 Cynthia Steffe dress…

… sewn up in these vintage new old stock (i.e. they’re vintage but have never been used) drapes?

As of the time of writing this post, these lovely pristine drapes are available on eBay (yep, to the folks who were asking where I get my vintage fabric, that’s my main source).  Two panels of 24″ by 84″ (though I’m guessing that width would probably be greater once if you let out the pleats, not exactly sure how pleated drapes are measured) for a not too unreasonable $59.99. It’s a Buy it Now, so first come, first served! (If you’re reading this post and someone already got to them first, haha, sucka!)

No, I’m not the one selling them so I can’t tell you anything more about them other than what’s on the eBay description.  I have, however, eyed them longingly a couple of times in the last few days before reminding myself that I don’t need any more dressy fabric.  Or any more fabric that matter.  But if you want them, get them now before I have a change of heart.  I can already feel the selfishness bubbling up inside of me, and it’s starting to make me wonder if maybe you just don’t deserve them.  Go!

Regular readers of this blog (not that you are in any way regular, as you are all special and magnificent!) are probably already aware of my obsession with vintage gowns and vintage gown patterns, namely those from the mid- to late-1950s. Of course, my occasions for wearing frothy 55-year old tulle and organza confections dwindles as my age increases (and it’s been more than two years since I’ve gotten my butt out to a swing dance, which previously was how I “justified” sewing and buying such gowns, even though 40s and 30s fashion would probably have been more era-appropriate.) But the love is still there.

If a magical fairy came to me and said she would imbue me with the design abilities of any designer I liked, there are days that I would pick Dior or Givenchy or Chanel. Ahh, to have that genius and sense of style and beauty. But today (and many other days), I crave the skills of a much lesser known creator of marvelously and brilliantly draped 1950s party garb, Ceil Chapman. I don’t know much about Ceil Chapman (you can find a bio of her from the Vintage Fashion Guild), but wowee zowee, could she drape! And her eye for those gorgeous feminine lines and silhouettes of the 50s – the wide necks, the wasp waists, the elegant deep backs, the use of ruching to flatter the bust and hips… *swoon.* Nonstop feminine glamour. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Right?  Am I right?  Ah to be able to pull out a couple of yards of taffeta and your dressform and be able to whip up something like this. Well, we’re (sort of) in luck, because as it turns out, the Spadea pattern company did publish some Ceil Chapman designs! They’re hard to come by and can get pretty pricey, but they do pop up on eBay and other vintage pattern places:

And even luckier for us (and by us I specifically mean “me”), Vintage Fashion Library produces a reasonably priced ($24.99) Spadea pattern reproduction of what I find to be one of Ceil Chapman’s most beautiful and iconic designs, the “Skylark.” (This name should have been a more graceful and evocative dress title, but I think Buick came along and ruined the  mystique.)

The portrait collar and draped bust, the draping across the hips, the slim skirt with flowing panels… it’s almost too much 1950s goodness crammed into one dress! I’d been waffling on buying this pattern for a while and finally I decided I’d better just get one because surely at some point in my life I’m going to want to wear that :)  (And yes, I was sure to buy mine before telling you about it, but there are more copies still in stock, so if you want one, head over there.) Granted the pattern is for a 34″ bust and I suspect that figuring out how to re-engineer that elaborate bodice down to 29″ (Sigh. So not a figure built for the va-va-voom 1950s fashions that I love) will not be trivial.

So there you go. Ceil Chapman is the person I want to sew like today. How about you? Who’s your current fashion and design idol?

Nope, no time to sew. Haven’t sewn a stitch in many many days. Heading off to Washington D.C. this afternoon for top secret government shenanigans. The closest I’ve even gotten to sewing in the last week is taking an occasional break to hunt for patterns on Ebay which I will not buy because I have more patterns than I could possibly ever sew up in my lifetime. That and most of them would be too bustacular for me. But you should seriously consider this for a perfect summer dress (B34):

Or this insanely elegant ensemble (B31) for your next evening out or stint as a wedding guest.  Sigh.  I love that tulip-y lapped skirt. So much so that I seriously considered not telling you about this one so I could snag it myself.

Or how about this confection of lace and pleats and drapes (B34)?  (Obviously there was some sort of misprint since this should have been done up in midnight blue rather than lipstick red.  Don’t get me wrong, I like lipstick red, but not so much for lace):

And finally, the covet of all covets, this gorgeous evening gown with overskirt (B34). Oh, how I adore an evening gown done up in an elegant print:

They’re all going for about $5-$7 (though I think that last one may have gotten some bids which pushed it higher) and ending within the next 5 days or so, so go forth and stalk them. You know you want to.

Come on, you didn’t think I was going to leave without giving you a another reason to resent me, did you? It’ll probably be quiet here for the next few days, so take advantage of that time to write scathing and hateful comments for me. They will only make me grow more powerful.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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