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Once again, I opted to prioritize hiking over sewing this weekend. And that means new jumpy pictures!

Hmm.  I should really learn some new jumps. But oh how I love a good jumpy picture. So much better than standing pictures.

Anyway, I did manage to squeeze in a tiny bit of sewing, though as usual with little progress to show for it. I’ve been wanting a graphic print shirtdress for a while now, inspired by a dress I once saw on an employee at a fancy fabric store, and the rendition on the envelope of Simplicity 2403:

Look how smug she looks with her super cool fabric.  I want to outsmug her. As for the fabric store employee, I was crazy about her dress and as she was cutting my fabric (long since forgotten), I asked her whether she had made the dress and if so where she had found the fabric. She responded that she had bought the dress and they didn’t sell the fabric. Boo. After many subsequent months of keeping an eye out for an appropriately modern graphic fabric, surprisingly hard to find in a shirtdress-appropriate weight and drape, I discovered this silk twill on Fabric Mart, and snatched it up immediately, as it had exactly the vibe I was going for and reminded me so much of the dress I had admired. Then clever Toby pointed out that the print was Isaac Mizrahi for Liz Claiborne from 2009. Sharp eye there, T! A little poking around revealed that this same print had been used on a shirtdress in that collection, albeit in cotton poplin.

So now I’m pretty sure that the Claiborne dress is the exact one that the fabric store employee was wearing, and that means that, once again, the Selfish Seamstress has gotten pretty much EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTS, except that haha, take that! Mine is silk! It’s like a fairy tale in which the evil stepsister comes out on top! (Incidentally, for those who followed the silk vs. acetate saga, the more I sew with it, the more convinced I become that it really is silk.)

I have to admit, I’ve always been a little bit wary of this view of Simplicity 2403:

because I always worry that with the wrong choice of fabric fabric and wrong fit, it could veer off into the territory of FLDS fashion, which isn’t really my style:

I’m still not convinced that this pattern isn’t going to look frumpy on me, but I’m hoping that the graphic print (and the fact that, my goodness, this pattern is a lot more snug than I’ve ever experienced from a Big 4 dress pattern!) will give it some cool. Cool like I work in an office where all the furniture and decor is white and there’s nothing on my desk but an iPad, a bottle of Voss water, a Moleskine notebook, and some very sharp pencils.

Oh, I guess you want to see the current state of the dress:

It still needs the sleeves, zipper (on the left side), hem, buttons, and sash. I like the collar a lot:

Maybe this will be finished soon. Who knows. Another really busy week up ahead.  Oh, and I may have ordered a Baby Lock Evolution today. Oops.

By now you know that I’ve stooped to exciting new lows, such as knitting a Missoni knockoff scarf with sock yarn. Here, I wear the fruits of my carpelly tunnelly labors at the market:

(For those who have asked about the Miele knockoff sweater, it’s on a bit of a hiatus because I decided after finishing it that I want to rip out the collar and make it a little narrower, but haven’t gotten around to it. All in all, it kind of looks like you’d expect it to. If you thought you were going to like it, you’d probably like it. If you thought you were going to hate it, you’d probably hate it.)

With that out of the way, I made the rash decision to go back to my roots – crocheting. Crocheting is definitely my “first language” of crafts, having been at it for about 27 or 28 years now. But I’ve never been much for crocheting clothing because in my opinion, most patterns for crocheted (non-accessory) garments look boxy, crafty, or Contempo Casuals circa 1997, none of which are my favorite aesthetic. But then I found this pattern from the Let’s Knit series…

… and thought it could perhaps look edgy over a long-sleeved fitted T, some skinny jeans, a wool cap, and my new knee-high slightly slouchy grey suede boots of which you’d be jealous if I had a picture to show you.

I thought about going with a color, but then decided to opt for my usual standby of charcoal grey to cut the sweetness and frilliness of the pattern. It’s a charted pattern and easy enough, but I can’t read the Japanese instructions so I think my gauge may be off. My version will undoubtedly be slimmer fitting than the one in the picture. Here’s where I am so far after a day or two:

Basically, you crochet two “bib” pieces – one for the front and one for the back, then join them at the sides, and then crochet the border and the sleeves. I’ve made a couple of changes to the design so far, but nothing major.

At this point you may be thinking, “Crocheted sweaters?  Is nothing sacred anymore?  Is there no low to which the Selfish Seamstress won’t sink while NOT sewing garments?”

Nope. In fact, my next project…

… is curtains.

buh buh BUHHHHHH!

Readers, please.  You have to understand that the Selfish Seamstress is an extremely important and busy woman.  And now that she has landed in Europe, she finds herself absolutely swamped with new responsibilities. Think about it. It’s been a long time since Europe has had to contend with the Selfish Seamstress for more than a few days at a time. She’s got a lot of ground to cover- new colleagues from whom to alienate herself, new students to frighten, new friends to avoid making, and countless waitstaff and service industry people to annoy. Gifted as Selfish may be at rubbing people the wrong way, it’s still quite a lot of work.

Now, you in comparison, dear readers, are easy. All it takes for me to frustrate and anger you is to simply stop blogging and ignore you for a few weeks. And judging from your recent comments, I can’t help but pat myself on the back and think, “Job freakin’ well done, Elaine.  Go treat yourself to another croissant.” Oh, this continent is utterly teeming with croissants.

But as you know, the Selfish Seamstress has never been one to rest on her laurels (hence her need to find new parts of the world to abuse), and she therefore thinks that there may be more effective ways to get under your skin than simply ignoring you. So allow me to introduce you to my new friend Envy.

Yep, I’m still without my beloved sewing machine as it slowly makes its way across the oceans, but knitting continues in its usual plodding and mind-numbing fashion. A couple of chilly mornings sent me in a panic to a nearby department store for two skeins of Lang Jawoll Magic sock yarn with which to make my own knockoff Missoni scarf. (I’ve been rather fixated on Missoni knits lately. More on that later though.) The traditional fan and feather pattern is easy enough, though a scarf made from fingering weight yarn isn’t exactly an overnight project.

And while I’m bragging (which is pretty much always), allow me to point out that a similar-in-flavor actual Missoni scarf retails for about $270. (My yarn cost: approximately $22. Haha!  Take that, Italy.)

Green with Envy yet?  If not, perhaps you haven’t looked closely enough.  Here’s the Missoni-licious money shot:

Mwahahaha, miss me much?

Yup. The Carlos Miele sweater is getting bigger. Nope it’s still not finished. Nope, it’s still not terribly interesting to look at.

The BurdaMag that needs to get packed soon is shown for scale, and because I was flipping through it wistfully, reminiscing about my glorious sewing days (i.e. last week.) It’s dark times like these, as the needles click stitch by stitch, when I start to wonder whether you’re sorry yet that you told me to keep blogging about “whatever,” and whether the “It looks great so far!” comments are coming from other sewers who pity me in my sad knitting state. This is what it has come to. Pity and knitting. Perhaps I will put on some sweatpants. They’re more comfortable than yesterday’s cargo pants.

In the meantime, you’re best going off and finding something more interesting to read.  Maybe there’s some great stuff about sewing from Denise on The Blue Gardenia blog today. Oh wait, no, it’s just more about lame old me and my sad little sewing space which doesn’t even exist anymore. Definitely check out her fantastic blog for her previous posts about more awesome sewing spaces from more interesting bloggers though. Sigh. I think I’ll go mope more and bake some cakes for other people now.

It stands to reason that if knitting is slower than sewing, then blogging about knitting is going to be slower than blogging about sewing.  Granted, I’m making zippy progress with my Giant Yarn for Dummies and Tree Trunk Needles, but it’s still teeny steps compared with the zooooooooom! of the feed dogs on my increasingly dusty Husqvarna. I’m getting back into the rhythm of knitting now and starting to enjoy it, but it doesn’t change the fact that showing knitting progress seems a lot less interesting than showing sewing progress.  Case in point- a fair bit of progress was made yesterday during packing downtime on the Carlos Miele knockoff sweater.

Before:

And after:

As you can see, significant progress has been made, and yet it’s really no more interesting than it was yesterday.

To answer a couple of questions that came up before my mind starts to wander again, yes, the gauge is huge. I put my seam ripper on the work so you can get an idea of the scale.  Here’s a close up with a quarter to show you just how big those stitches are:

To answer a few more questions, I’m knitting on straight needles because the circular size 17 needle cost about $22. I love a good quality bamboo circular needle as much as the next Selfish Knitter, but the likelihood of me making future projects this tremendously chunky is very low, so I opted to make a smaller investment in the needles. The purple needles in the picture are the size 17.  The gold needle is a size 10 or 11 that I’m just using as a stitch holder. The interesting thing with working at this size is that you can grab just about anything in your vicinity to use as necessary.  I actually used a teaspoon as a cable needle yesterday because it just happened to be lying on the table before me. It was nice – the bowl of the spoon kept the stitches from slipping off while I worked my cable.

So. Yup. I guess that’s about it. Is this what knitting blogging is like? Is there anything more I should be telling you?

And so it comes to this, readers.  Your Selfish Seamstress stoops to knitting. For those of you unfamiliar with “knitting,” it’s kind of like sewing’s slower, ergonomically problematic, more tedious cousin. I’ve started on the Carlos Miele knockoff sweater and here’s last night’s progress (after I could pack and clean no more.) Looks tiny but the gauge is actually about 2 stitches per inch.

The backstory is that I went to the fancy yarn store and found that the super bulky yarn in wool or alpaca in the quantity required to make this sweater would have run in the vicinity of $150-200. I do occasionally splurge on yarn and much like with fabric and sewing, I don’t like to invest lots of careful hand labor and use poor quality materials. Generally I feel there’s not much point in doing beautiful blind hems by hand on off-grain prints or lovely lacework with fibers that feel nasty against the skin. But I certainly don’t want this sweater $200 worth. And beyond that, this is sort of a risky and crazy sweater, as you’ll recall:

It could clearly go either way (well, judging by the polarized responses to my last post about this sweater, some of you think it can only go one way and not well at that- believe me, I also harbor suspicions that this could turn out very very poorly!), and it’s by no means a safe bet. And I’m not so keen on spending a lot of money just to satisfy my curiosity. And super bulky yarn isn’t the easiest yarn for me to repurpose if I decide to frog this one, since there aren’t a lot of other chunky projects that interest me. Even if it does turn out well, I don’t expect that it will be a heavy rotation garment anyway. So off it was to Michael’s to buy some crappy Lion Brand Wool-Ease on sale for $6.99 a skein. I’ve knit with it before and it’s really not the worst stuff. They did have a chartreuse/apple green color much like the one pictured above and I was tempted, but lately I seem to have sewn and knit a lot of clothes in that leafy green family so I opted for a change with the heathered pumpkiny-rust shade, which will be nice for autumn with some of my wool pants:

Knitting with giant size 17 plastic needles and giant yarn makes me feel kind of stupid and clumsy, like trying to work out multivariable calculus problems with a big fat crayon. I’m really much more of a laceweight girl. But the pattern is quite interesting, knit in a single piece from cuff to cuff, sort of like a cross shape with a hole in the middle for the neck opening, and it gets folded in half to make it into a sweater.

Here you can see it folded to form what will eventually be the sleeve and one side.

Okay, blogging about knitting is boring me almost as much as knitting itself (just kidding, sensitive knitters. I’m one of you too.) But seriously. I’m also wearing cargo pants right now. This should give you an idea of just how low I’ve sunk.

The Selfish Seamstress is officially unemployed. Surprisingly, this is not because she was dismissed on account of her attitude problem and inability to get along with others. No, nerdy little Selfish decided to change universities, abandon the igloo in which she currently lives, and head back to Europe where she can alienate and irritate a whole new set of academics. She is now in between the two jobs and in the stressful throes of culling and organizing, neither of which she is any good at. Selfish’s delightful mancessory Dan also has found exciting employment in their soon-to-be place of residence as well, and Sasa is blissfully unaware that she will be shoved into a bag and transported within the next few weeks.

As you can imagine, sewing time is going to slow to a drip, if not disappear altogether for a while. At the moment I’m working on what I’m referring to as “The Last Dress… for Now.” Made from the graphic print black and white ponte di roma that my parents hauled up to me last week using a very modified version of the Simplicity 9482 wrap dress (probably out of print, as I’ve had this pattern for about 7 years and it’s kind of not that great). Here it is in its half-finished state, looking a bit sad and droopy on its hanger:

I was going to use my beloved modified Vogue 8379 pattern, but after playing around with the fabric, I decided that the double pleats in the the Vogue bodice would detract from the strong, straight, diagonal elements of the print. I really wanted to minimize the details to keep the print as uninterrupted as possible. So I dug out the old Simplicity pattern, which is so minimalist it’s practically a bathrobe pattern. Although I graded it down to a 4, the dress has some largeness issues at the moment that have to be fixed. But other than that, I think it’s working out decently well and I’m pretty sure that this is the dress that this print was destined for.

After The Last Dress… for Now though, my plan is to not start any new projects until after the move. If I do have sewing time, I’ll finish up stuff that I started a while ago and never completed.  (That’s the plan at least. But you never know with the capricious Selfish Seamstress. She could at any point decide that she needs a new coat RIGHT NOW.)

Even after the move, it will take a while before my machine, patterns, stash, tools, and notions arrive in Europe. That leaves me with the small matter of what to do in the meantime with the online bucket of whining that I call a blog during the coming hectic and sewing-impoverished weeks (possibly months). What do you think?  Go on a blogging hiatus? Switch to being a knitting and crochet blog for the time being? Rant about all things sewing-related without actually sewing? All haiku all the time? Get by on hand sewing? I feel like I should keep it up in some fashion, especially since I don’t have any Real Life friends so you’re the closest thing that I’ve got. So, what do you want to read? No promises, of course ;)

I’ve been short for pretty much my whole life, with the exception of a period around the 6th grade when I was smack in the middle of my class in terms of height (I know this because they lined us up according to height for our “graduation” ceremony and I was dead center for the girls.) And you always hear about things that don’t suit this body type, styles that don’t look good on that height or whatever. And then you go to your local Banana Republic or Macy’s, try stuff on, and the mirror confirms what all the magazine fashion “advice” says.

But to tell you the truth, I’ve always held some skepticism about those generalizations for petite people, because so many of them seem to be based on taking garments, shortening at them at the hem, and then declaring that they don’t work. And we all know that correct proportioning is a lot more than just hemming to the right length. I’ve long suspected that some (though not all) of the styles and garments that are deemed to be “unflattering” on short women would actually be fine if proportioned correctly. I secretly even believe that short women could pull off the dreaded cape if they made them at the right length for themselves rather than trying them on at the department store (but testing that theory is not high on my list of priorities right now.) And after discovering last week that pencil skirts don’t turn me into a stump if I make them to fit myself properly instead of relying on Armani Exchange to make a bottom that looks decent on a 5’0″ woman, I’m feeling somewhat emboldened.

And so I’ve decided to take on Vogue 1051, the alice + olivia pant that is decidedly wider in the leg than is generally deemed advisable for a woman with a 25″ inseam. (I’ve gone back and forth on this pattern for a while- I’ve seen the pants made up a lot and while they usually look nice, the made-up versions I’ve seen generally don’t have the swingy edge to them that I like so much about the pattern envelope picture and look more like a standard bootcut trouser silhouette. We’ll see how mine go.)First of all, these pants are loooooong. I did three petite alterations- one in the thigh, one at the knee, and one in the calf (because remember- it’s not just about shortening at the hem!) and probably removed a total of 6″ of length altogether. The final length should be just an inch or two above the floor when I’m wearing heels. And I muslined them up, and you know what?  They don’t turn me into a stump! My theory seems to be panning out thus far.

Ok, so now, about the muslin… I was, as usual, out of old bedsheets to cut up, so I started looking through my stash for something suitable that I didn’t mind sacrificing. (I was going to use some plaid flannel that Dan bought when he decided he was going to sew doggie jackets for all four of his family’s dogs. I told him that after he made one he might not want to make the other three, but he went ahead and bought enough fabric for four anyway, insisting that he would. Guess how many he made. In the end, the dogs just took turns wearing the jacket, and Dan discovered firsthand how stash happens. Anyway, the flannel is soft and nice and would be a great lining for something, so I decided to save it.) It’s utterly shameful to say, but what I decided to sacrifice was… Pendleton wool. Yes, for a muslin.

This is not just any Pendleton wool- this is the wool that BurdaStyle sent me to make the BurdaStyle book coat. Ultimately I ended up substituting coat fabrics due to a necessary last-minute design change, so I ended up with lots of this wool left over. And as shameful as it is to use Pendleton for a muslin, I just knew that I was never ever actually going to use the fabric for a proper garment because it’s not my color:

It’s on a hanger because it’s just far too scratchy to wear without lining. It’s a jacket or heavy bottom weight flannel. The color is darker than sky blue, but not as dark as French blue, and so I’ve been calling it “Viagra blue,” for reasons that should be obvious:

Haha, Viagra reminds me of these little guys. Anyone remember them? I should make some with some of the remaining Pendleton. This is serious.

The pants are kind of fun to put on though because every time I look in the mirror I think I should make a little matching jacket and a polyester tie neck blouse so I can look like a hip grandma from the 70’s. Or better yet, like Mr. Furley:

That guy totally rocks this color. I, however, don’t look so good in it.

For the real version, I’ve cut into one of my most treasured pieces of fabric in my stash, a heathered mocha brushed wool flannel that I picked up on a fabric bender at Mood during the holidays last year. I don’t know how they made this stuff so amazingly soft, but it feels like cashmere and I can easily wear it unlined. It would have been well worth it even at twice its $18/yard price (on the high side for me.)

So that’s where I am, trying to defy well established style advice about wide pants on short legs, using Pendleton as scrap fabric, and making somewhat obscure references to the late 70s and early 80s. I should quit here.

After a day of hiking boots, fleece outerwear, fresh air, sunshine, socializing with other humans, and rigorous exercise, all counter to the Selfish Seamtress’s natural tendencies, there’s nothing she loves more than unwinding with painstaking precision sewing and a little alliteration. Hence the plum poplin and pintucks:

This is the beginnings of BurdaMag 12-2006-108, the tux dress pattern that I posted about earlier:

I’m planning on making several changes to this dress- making the collar band a little less tall, eliminating the waist bow, doing the whole bodice in one color rather than with a contrast bib, skipping out on the prescribed tulle petticoat (Petticoat with an A-line skirt?  Hrmmm.), and ditching the pockets. I’m not so keen on pockets right over my belly on a dress. I’m also finding that the bodice of this dress is super short even though I didn’t make any petite adjustments to it at all, so I’m going to drop the waistband a smidge. And I’m going to skip the bodice lining as well. It makes sense for BurdaMag’s original fabrics (moiré and taffeta!) but not so much for the lightweight poplin shirting I’m using (leftover from Dan’s Valentine shirt and the still-unfinished Camicia #9).

Here’s where I am so far:

I’m planning on doing the skirt in some dark gray herringbone rayon suiting that I purchased in Germany back in 2007 and have had in my stash forever (somehow or other 6 meters of it seemed like the right amount to purchase at the time):

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got going on now. What are you up to?

I’m not the biggest or most extreme stasher, but if you’ve been following along, you know that I can hold my own in fabric and pattern acquisition. But despite having plenty of both around the house, I often find myself running up against a bottleneck because I’m low on something else. For example, I’m forever running out of lining and interfacing and I never seem to have the right type, length, and color of zipper in the house. Frustrating, and yet I find it hard to stock up on these things strategically.

So this past weekend, I made a little trip to my local fabric store to take advantage of the 50% off sale, and came back with some of my favorites:

Covered button sets in different sizes (I love these things! I already broke into one pack for the plaid pants hat), denim needles, hook and bar sets for pants, and just because I figured I would eventually need it (and learn to use it,) clear elastic. Interfacing, lining, and zippers were also 50% off, and I picked up a few yards of lightweight fusible interfacing, but once again I stood in front of the linings and zippers with no idea of what I’d have a need for down the line.  (Doesn’t help that the linings at my local store are pretty weak and that 50% off still leaves them at $8/yard.)

Oh, and teeny tiny confession- although it had been my plan not to purchase any more fabric, I was seduced.  By a charmeuse of all things, and you know I generally have no love for slippery, silky things, either for sewing or wearing:

But ohhh the color, somewhere hovering between grass green, moss green, and olive, with a muted, subtle shine. I was sucked in by it and by the quality of it. It feels and looks like silk, but I’m pretty sure it’s not given the general caliber of my fabric store, so perhaps it’s rayon?  It doesn’t look, feel, or move like polyester, but perhaps they’ve really improved the technology for making poly charmeuse. All I know is that I’m rediscovering how little I enjoy sewing with slippy fabrics, as I make up yet another Burda blouse 119 from the February 2008 issue (still in progress):

Fortunately it requires no lining or zippers! How about you?  What notions or materials do you find yourself unable to keep in stock? What strategies do you have for making sure you’ve got a healthy supply of basic sewing necessities without having piles of stuff you’re never going to get around to using?

Last night was my final dance class for the month.  If you recall, inspired by Amber and her insane fitness workout, I did a one-month self-imposed boot camp of five day per week dancing (four classes per week and then usually one additional dance thing somewhere).  Now that I count it all up, it amounted to about 7-8 hours of dancing per week which in retrospect really isn’t all that much exercise :) Kind of a paltry “boot camp.”

I’m not so good at tracking things, so my final progress report is pretty weak.  I don’t own a scale so I have no idea if I’ve slimmed down. And I haven’t been taking any measurements so no known change there. No noticeable change in overall fitness, shape, strength, or muscle tone either. Aren’t you glad I’m updating you on my progress?  Super satisfying for you! But ooh, I had so much fun. I’m signed up for more classes for August, but not as many because there aren’t many classes offered in August. Here comes a segue into sewing.

There is, however, notable progress on my long-coveted leopard print pencil skirt:

As you can see, the outer is mostly assembled. The only thing I changed from my muslin was to drop the front center waist about a half inch. I tried it on and it’s so comfortable and it fits so nicely that I really don’t want to line it, even though I had planned to in the first place. As I’ve mentioned, lately I’ve been finding skirt linings so annoying when I’m wearing them. My plan now is to do a facing on the waistband (already mostly done) and a Hong Kong-type finish on the seams. Dan asked this morning if I wanted to go to the fabric store this evening (because he’s getting a haircut and it’s right near his haircutting place) so it sounds like a good opportunity to tag along and grab some bias binding. It’s like he can read my evil mind.

The fabric is a dull stretch satin (or possibly a shiny sateen?), left over from the Drama Queen Jacket, which I ultimately did not love:

Update on that not-quite-right garment, however- I mailed it to my mother, along with the Swallowtail Shawl, and she called me up to say she loved it, which is high praise from my mother who is too stylish to wear something simply because her daughter made it. Even crazier, she said my dad loves it. I have never known my father to voice an opinion on any piece of clothing ever. I guess a little leopard print just does something to a person. I’m certainly smitten with it.

If you’re sewing for yourself right now, raise your hands in the air and yell “WOOT!”

WOOT!

Haha, we looked dumb doing that. Whatever, I’m sewing for ME! Not a trace of goodwill towards others in sight, which is just how I like it. And the leopard pencil skirt is underway!

You’ll recall I started with this high-waisted pencil skirt downloaded from Burda:

I muslined this up and as it turns out, high-waisted skirts work much better if you actually have a waist, rather than some undefined mass of flesh between your ribs and your hips which is roughly the same circumference as your waist and hips. So, snippy snippy snip and now here we are:

I dropped the top edge to about an inch below the natural waist, and brought the hem up by about 3 inches. Then I added a 3 inch wide thing at the top- I’m not sure if it qualifies as a yoke, or whether it’s just a really wide waistband. I closed up the darts on the waistband and smoothed it out. The neat benefit of the yoke/waistband thing is it eliminates the darts in the skirt entirely (I’m easing out the tiny remaining darts in the back so as not to have two goofy teensy darts). This is not only nice and clean, but it saves me from having to sew the darts. Don’t get me wrong, I *will* sew darts when a design calls for them, and I’m certainly a capable dart-sewer.  But for some reason (I don’t think it’s just laziness, but maybe?) I just never like sewing darts. I find it weirdly unenjoyable.

Ok. So all that done, I pulled out some crazy stretch cotton sateen with some crazy huge fruit punch-colored roses and whipped up a muslin (it’s not hemmed, no zipper, back vent is just kind of hanging open at the moment):

The fabric is some stuff I got off of eBay a while ago, thinking it was going to look more like a 1950’s classic rose print, but never used because it, um, doesn’t. I get the feeling that a bunch of people are going to exclaim that the love this fabric and I should wear the muslin, and a bunch of people are going to say, “yuck!” I’m not going to get into that debate. Dan seems to be taken with it. Amazingly and coincidentally, through no effort of my own, the print actually ended up blending pretty well at all the seams (look at that side seam, and the yoke seam!), so it *could* conceivably be de-muslin-ified. It just looks so much like fruit punch.

Here’s the front view- the fit is working out great for me, and I think I might be well on my way to a go-to pencil skirt pattern.  The only change I think I’m going to make now is to drop the front center waist a smidge. Otherwise it’s nice and slim but not binding.

Am I imagining things or am I making a vaguely Trena face here?  If so, I think that’s a good thing :) She cute. Does anyone else see it? [UPDATE: OMG! I was so sucked in by staring at my face before that I didn’t notice the really weird thing about this picture. What is going on with my right hand?? Does it look like some weird teeny rubber hand or something? Eww it’s so weird! Why’s it so small and squishy looking?  Creepy.]

Ok, keep your eyes peeled for more skirt!

A Coffee Date Dress by Tina!

Well, everyone, after much struggling with WordPress, I have put the Selfish Reader Gallery online!  Thanks to everyone who has submitted a photo so far of their Selfish Seamstress pattern creations, and please keep them coming. I can’t believe how pretty and creative they all are- great work Selfish Readers! I had some technical struggles and unfortunately was not able to link to people’s blogs in the photo captions. Right now the gallery photo links to people’s blog URLs if they sent me one, and to the full-sized photo if they did not. This is really not ideal, but I’ve spent about an hour and a half trying different solutions and will have to put off my investigations for another day. Because…

… after a week’s worth of procrastination, I *really* have to get back to sewing the BurdaStyle book coat!  It MUST get done this weekend, which means another self-imposed sweatshop for me. Dan’s gone off on a grueling hike, the kitchen is stocked with fruit and cookies, and I’ve got my good buddies Biggie, L.L., Missy, Big Boi, Revened Run and DMC queued up on the playlist to help out. And I’m going to need all the help I can get.

I think technically I’m barred from showing you any pictures of the BurdaStyle Book coat along the way until BurdaStyle gives me the okay to do so (which may not be until after the book is published- I don’t really know).  But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give you a teeeeny tiny taste of where I’m at with it right now to whet your appetite:

Yup. I’ve managed to cut the margins off all 48 sheets of paper. Pretty groovy, huh? *Pats self on back for tenth time today*

This coat needs to be done in about ten days, so I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend. But before you accuse your Selfish Seamstress of being a total slacker, I should note that this current delay is not 100% procrastination on my part, even though I haven’t had much sewing time lately. First there was a mix-up about which materials BurdaStyle were going to provide and which ones I would need to buy for myself, which left me waiting for a package from them that was never going to come.  When we managed to figure this out, they ran around trying to find some of the fabric I would need but weren’t able to find it. So I checked out my sad little local fabric store and of course came away empty-handed as well, problematic since my design kind of depended on this fabric. This mess wasn’t anyone’s fault, just a simple miscommunication, but it has delayed the whole process quite a bit and unfortunately the BurdaStyle folks are on a tight production schedule, so so am I.

Finally it was determined that I should just ditch my original submitted design and redesign the coat using materials I have access to for expediency. So I’ve been redesigning it in my head. I’m going to go try to find alternate materials today and I hope it works out, otherwise I’m back to square one.

I suppose I could have taped the pieces together in the meantime, but why half-ass your procrastination when you can go all out with it? Anyway, wish me luck- I’m going to be a one-woman sweatshop this weekend!

Whew!  It’s been a busy couple of days here at Chez Selfish with little time to sew, and I’ve been making some sloooow progress on a McCall 6305 blouse in navy poplin. I’m kind of lukewarm on the poet sleeves so far- they feel a little bit current-day Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton- pretty and elegant, but a little lacking in edge, and maybe not really my look:

Anyway, seeing as how sewing progress has slowed to a near halt, I thought I’d look for something else to show you, namely these two enormous vintage pattern catalogues that I purchased a few years back. You know, the kind you flip through at Jo-ann, but back from the days long before Jo-ann. They’re McCall August 1957 and Simplicity 1959 volumes (did they really put these things out monthly back then??):

I love looking through these, especially the McCall’s one, as 1956-1958 are some of my favorite years for fashion. Flipping through them, I notice a number of neat trends that I don’t see much these days but that might just be due for a resurrection. I thought I’d share a couple of these with you- who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to add one to your list.

For today, I’m featuring the short cape, which was a staple judging by the 1957 McCall book, for both day and evening wear. It appears this little garment was even more popular than the bolero, which is what I usually think of when I picture a light layer over a 1950s dress. (All of the capes pictured are from the McCall book):

Although the short cape is often included with a dress pattern that has a full or semi-full skirt option, the cape is almost always shown with a straight skirted dress, which balances the flare and keep it sleek.

And I especially love the examples in which the short cape is actually integrated into the design of the whole ensemble, such as in this outfit, in which the pleats of the dress are repeated on the cape- how much more interesting and pulled together this looks than it would have with a plain cape!

Or this outfit, in which the cape physically buttons onto the straps of the dress, making for a cute open look, while keeping the cape on the shoulders. This would be so easy to make and add to your sheath dress:

Even very simple short capes add elegance and sophistication:

And check this out- the short cape worn over a jacket! Who would have thought? That’s almost like wearing two jackets! And yet, so much cooler- if I’m not mistaken, the cape actually slips under the collar of the jacket and then attaches right onto the jacket buttons. Oooh, I love brilliant sewing engineering!

I think this trend of the 50s may be due for a revival. In the last few years, we’ve already seen the resurgence of capes in general, usually hitting at the hip or longer and filling the role of light- to mid-weight outerwear. (Actually, now that I think about it, Burda 8/2009 did feature a short version of a cape- it was cute!) The short cape seems like it could fill a somewhat different role, and could also be worn by women who aren’t built like trees. What do you think?  Are you interested in seeing this one come back? Weigh in!

Also, let me know if you found this interesting- there are a lot of other nifty vintage trends in my pattern books that I’d be happy to show you as well :)

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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