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The Selfish Seamstress Store is… here, sort of :) Right now it’s just a mug store.

For now you can get your favorite Selfish Seamstress haikus on a coffee mug ($14.80 and they’re doing free shipping TODAY) so you can show that annoying lady at the office just what you think of her suggestion that you sew her a dress “just like yours!”  Or gently remind your loved ones over morning coffee that perhaps they should learn to sew their own damn buttons. The mug also features the awesome new Selfish Seamstress dressform logo, courtesy of the very talented Dan.

And of course the best part is that 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Selfish Seamstress items (15% of the list price) will be donated to the Atlanta Humane Society to help sweet homeless puppies and kitties.  And who doesn’t want to help puppies and kitties, right?? (Sorry, I wish it were more, but the rest goes to pay the printing company!)

More fun Selfish Seamstress haiku items will be added in the coming days.  In the meantime, take a trip to the Selfish Seamstress Store and pick out your favorite mug, or get some as holiday gifts for your Selfish Seamstress buddies! (Saves you the trouble of having to sew something for them.)

Here’s an idea:
You stop asking me for stuff,
I’ll stop saying no.

Remember this Vera Wang brocade fabric?

I was contemplating making the Michael Kors Vogue 1117 dress from it for a while. Well, after having received Vogue 1117 and looked over the instructions, I’m thinking that the fabric might be a bit too rigid for the pattern. I’m going to hold out for a lightweight menswear fabric for it. But I was just trolling ModCloth and found this dress, which I think is the perfect cut for the brocade:

It’s just right, I think- I wanted something with some nice structured pleats (the fabric is just dying to be pleated) and after playing with the fabric a bit, I also wanted a little bit of fullness in the skirt, but again, something structured. So, game plan switched up again.  It’ll probably be months before I even think about starting this anyway.

But as for ModCloth, it’s one of those sites that makes me want to sew stuff.  I know for a lot of hobby seamstresses, Anthropologie has this effect on them, but for me it’s ModCloth.  There are the dresses that look like they’d be fun to draft:

And those that look like they’d be fun to drape:

I save all of the images in a folder where I keep sewing inspiration and then never get around to actually making them :)

Here’s a prime target for D.I.Y. Check out this insanely simple dress (by Betsey Johnson) that showed up today on ModCloth:

100% polyester with 100% polyester lining, for $428!  I don’t love it, but is anyone else starting to see why ModCloth makes me say, “I think I’ll make that!  And that…. and that…. and that…”

By now you all know how the Selfish Seamstress feels about sewing for others. But mommy is an exception. I don’t know if it’s just the urge to relive the feeling of bring home a pretty drawing from school and have her face light up with delight, or perhaps the fact that I’ve realized in the last few years what a super nice person my mommy is (she’d do anything for us), or maybe I’m just excited to cut into the new, fabulous fabric I got for her S.W.A.G. project:

It’s a green shimmery lightweight taffeta, somewhere between apple and olive green, with metallic thread embroidery and greenish-gold sequins.  Sure, perhaps not what I would pick for myself (I’m not so much on the shiny fabrics), but just perfect for my mommy, don’t you think?  She loves elegant cocktail attire of the Ann Taylor variety.

Because the fabric is elaborate, I wanted to make something without too much detail, and I first thought of a knee-length sheath with some simple pleats around the neckline.  But then when I got home and spread out the fabric, I started thinking that maybe mommy would not be so keen on glittery sequins from the neck to the knee. So, out came the giant stack of Burda, Patrones, La Mia Boutique, Mrs. Stylebook, Lady Boutique, and a couple of assorted others:

And I found this bolero from the 12.2008 issue of Burda (Bambi style!  Everyone needs a Bambi gown because we all know how much of the population of Germany attends the Bambi awards….)

I’ll edit it for half or 3/4 length sleeves.  If there’s enough fabric afterwards, I have my eye on a simple fitted shell from an Ottobre issue to make it a glamorous little twinset to go with the sort of elegant evening pants or pencil skirts that my mommy undoubtedly has hanging by scores in her closet. Off to S.W.A.G., catch you later!

I just checked the trusty Selfish Seamstress blog spam filter and discovered a comment that got caught in there, even though it’s clearly in response to an entry.  It is, however, just about the meanest comment (also kind of hilarious) I’ve ever received!  (And as you well know, the Selfish Seamstress is not exactly sweet herself.)  In response to my post concerning the two grey pleated Burda dresses I made, a reader in Singapore named “Step” (parents obviously not so good at naming their kids) writes:

You look a bit better in the sleeveless one as the other made you look stout, especially on your upper torso.

In my opinion, you are a little too short and/or your frame doesn’t go well with the cut of the dress. Both also made you look older and prun-ish.

I would suggest make the sleeveless dress couple of inches shorter, put on proper make-up and please remove your armpit hair before stepping outta the house and/or take a picture.

Anyway, I’ve been fortunate to have not received any unkind comments thus far, and normally I’d just hit the delete, but this one is sort of awesome in its offensiveness so I couldn’t bear to just delete it. Plus I assume they wrote it because they want the attention anyway. So, Step, thanks for caring, and kiss my stout, short, old, prun-ish (sic), un-made-up, armpit-hair-covered ass!

P.S. I just checked the photos and those armpits are as bald as armpits can be. But I think your acute case of the nasties is showing!

You implore sweetly,
“Can I have it when it’s done?”
You ask dumb questions.

The Selfish Seamstress loves a good sleeveless turtleneck. Is it just me or is a sleeveless turtleneck the ultimate sexy-but-elegant-and-still-casual garment?  And especially a black sleeveless turtleneck.  I’ve always got one in my wardrobe somewhere, and I don’t think I’ve been without one since college. I love the Burda 10.2005 cowl sweater I made recently, but I I decided I wanted one with more cowling around the neck and less spread around the shoulders, so I whipped up this quick one:

 [Ok, those of you have been following along know that I put myself on a S.W.A.G. diet and swore no new sewing for myself until all the S.W.A.G. projects were done.  Well, I guess that lasted all of about a week.  But really, if it weren’t for S.W.A.G. this wouldn’t have even happened. Basically, I sewed myself the teal cowl, which led me to decide that sewing some cowls for my sisters would be a good idea.  And then I sewed the green one and I liked it so much I decided that I should make a sleeveless one for myself from the remnants, but after I drafted the pattern I found I didn’t have enough fabric to make it out of the green sweater knit, so I used some leftover black double knit from the English Tutor dress, and…. well, at least I busted through some remnants and reduced the stash right?  Oh, just let me rationalize. It took less than an hour to make anyway.]

The Minimalist Cowl pattern is available for free PDF download in size XS/S.  The top is about as easy and basic as you can get with just 3 pattern pieces.  Instant sexy for you.

As a teenager, I often bought clothes because they had a detail, feature, or color that I liked with little regard to whether they actually looked good on me.  As a wise old lady well into my 30s, I’m much more careful when shopping to make sure a cut and color are flattering (or at least not unflattering, as it is often difficult to find things that are actually flattering in RTW.)  

As someone still relatively new to hobby seamstressing, I find it somewhat more challenging to make things that flatter me and avoid trends that simply don’t suit me.  First of all, it’s hard to predict what something is going to look like without trying it on first, and trying it on requires making it.  Secondly though, some things just look like they’d be fun to make.  

For example, this dress from Ann Taylor. It looks like it’d be an easy, satisfying draft.  Simple, elegant, dartless.  A long sleeve sloper adjusted for minimal ease, a single style line with that circular flounce inserted.  Who doesn’t love the magic of watching a circular ruffle cascade into place the first time you hold it up after stitching it?


But do I love this dress?  I’m not sure.  That ruffle is going to look dated quickly, the fitted knit will be unforgiving of anything but a perfectly trim figure, and I’m pretty sure the long, slim, fitted silhouette isn’t the best choice for my rather shapeless, compact frame. The back view is even making that slim and gorgeous model look pear-shaped- it can’t possibly work on me. So why are my fingers aching to draft this?

Much like the black bike shorts with the floor-length, circular, black and white striped chiffon drapes attached to the bottoms that I bought in high school (and then later gave to a tall, lanky, blond male friend who liked to dress in drag and looked amazing in them), it’s going take a while to curb that instinct.

It’s no secret that the Selfish Seamstress has a weakness for vintage patterns. She has a huge stash of treasures and goodies under her bed which she occasionally takes out and stares at wistfully, wondering how it came to pass that her waist is not the same circumference as her neck, as would be necessary to do these garments justice:

Today I’m going to show you some of my favorites from the formalwear collection. It’s time to wake up your inner girlie girl! (Click on the images to see them in detail.)

First up, some marvelous masses of tulle to satisfy the fairy princess prom queen in you (top L. to R.: Vogue Special Design S-4606, Simplicity 1770, Simplicity 2231; bottom L. to R.: Simplicity 3503, Advance 8952):

Then some brilliantly jewel-colored cocktail, bridesmaid, and garden party dresses for a little romantic fanciness (top L. to R.: McCall’s 4425, McCall’s 3537, Simplicity 1153, McCall’s 3933; bottom l. to r.: Simplicity 1610, Simplicity 2766, Simplicity 1795):

Some large format extravagance, by which I mean the envelopes for these patterns are gigantic (L. Vogue Young Fashionables E-11, R. Vogue Couturier Design 883):

An absolutely smashing strapless top for the diva in you (Simplicity 4320):

And lastly my absolute favorites- the full on gala gowns that pull out all the stops (top L. to R. McCall’s 3466, Vogue Special Design S-4795, McCall’s 3399; bottom L. to R. McCall’s 3439, Simplicity 4440, Advance 6291):

Jealous yet?  The Selfish Seamstress grows ever more powerful as she feeds on your envy. And she’s got a lot more patterns under the bed that you haven’t seen.

In all seriousness though, does anyone know how copyright on these things work?  They’re all from the 1950s and early 60s.  If I wanted to, could I make them freely available for download on my website? Or would a 97-year old pattern designer from Advance come after me with her cane shrieking, “You take my ball gown pattern off your web computer internet e-site right now or I’ll sue, you sassy digital age strumpet!”? Ha. Sorry, I’m still working on my little old lady impression.

UPDATE: I just got this from McCall’s customer service (in response to my inquiry, that is.  They’re not just randomly surfing my blog):

Thank you for your email concerning McCall Patterns.  Whenever possible we try to provide our home sewers with the information they request.  The copyright is still held.

Meg Carter,
Consumer Services

Bummer!  Oh well, feel free to draft from scratch as you see fit.

More S.W.A.G. progress! I finished the two cowl necked tops for my sisters this weekend:

You’ll recall that when I first purchased the fabric for these, I was disappointed that they weren’t as soft or pretty as my teal one. I was okay with the charcoal grey shade, and a little bit skeptical of the dark army green. I have to say, after a washing they have softened up quite nicely, and the dark army green one in particular is looking kind of awesome.  I started to wonder if maybe I like it better than I like the teal one I made for myself.  Naturally, I had to try it on:

Yeah, that looks good on me. And naturally I thought about keeping it.  Thought about.  The problem with that is that I would have to embark upon yet another S.W.A.G. project to replace the gift. What’s a Selfish Seamstress to do in such a situation?  The only viable solution is to give it  as a present, and then borrow it at some point in the future.  Borrow it permanently.

With two S.W.A.G. gifts down, I turn once again to the brown cotton velvet albatross that taunts me from the shelf:

Oh yes, that is a partially sewn brown cotton velvet sportcoat that I started for Dan in 2007, shortly after I began sewing in earnest.  A sportcoat with lots of fiddly details that I as an amateur seamstress in 2007 wasn’t ready for and that I as an intermediate seamstress in 2009 just don’t feel like doing for anyone other than myself (welt pockets in cotton velvet?  Come on!) 

Since I began the project, Dan has had numerous birthdays and Chanukkahs pass by for which he has been promised this jacket and instead ended up with something else.  Every once in a while I take it out thinking that this time is the last time and it WILL get done, only to put it away after some incremental progress. I have some deep forest green satin to line it, after having long ago re-appropriated the teal jacquard lining originally intended for it to line a jacket for myself.

Well, dear readers, let it be declared here that this S.W.A.G. albatross is the next project on my list and it WILL get finished for Channukah.  (Of course, I say that knowing that if I take the Selfish route and put it aside in favor of other stuff for myself, you’ll only be cheering me on. Enablers!)

A cotton velvet sportcoat.  Why would anyone take on such a complicated and challenging project in such a fussy fabric for anyone but herself?

Oh yeah, I remember now.

You’ll buy the fabric
If I’ll sew the dress for you?
What’s in it for me?

 Want your own L’Wren Scott-inspired English Tutor Dress?  I’ve made an “English Tutor Dress Kit” available for free download.  The kit comes with the patterns for the collar, sleeves, and cuffs, which you can use with Simplicity 2473.  (Obviously for copyright reasons I can’t post the whole pattern.)  The kit is currently available in Simplicty size 4 (corresponds to RTW 0-2, or Burda 32.)  If you know how to draft, it should be easy to grade it up if you need a larger size.

As always, keep in mind that I am not a professional or expert drafter. Use my patterns at your own risk, and don’t skip the muslin!

I needed a little break from S.W.A.G. projects so I finished up my L’Wren Scott-inspired version of Simplicity 2473! Here are some photos:

In homage to the Headmistress dress, I’m calling this the English Tutor Dress.  Is it a tutor of English or a tutor who is English?  You decide!

Keep your eyes peeled for downloadable patterns for the sleeves, collar, and cuffs so you can make your own.

Here’s the review I posted to Pattern Review:

The Review
I fell in love with the L’Wren Scott Headmistress dress but a $3000 dress is out of the question. When I saw this pattern, I thought it would be a great one to adapt to make a similar dress. The pattern worked out a great, and with a little simple drafting, ta-da! Designer-inspired dress custom made for me! 

Pattern Description: 
Project Runway misses’/miss petite dress with slim or flared skirt.

Pattern Sizing:
4-20. I cut a size 4.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? 
Yes, with the exception of the changes and additions I made. I used the slim skirt variation and drafted a new slimmer sleeve, an asymmetrical contrast collar, and contrast cuff to make it more like the L’Wren Scott dress..

Were the instructions easy to follow? 
Yes, they were very easy to follow. Because the Project Runway patterns have a lot of options, it might be a good idea to go through and highlight which parts are relevant to what you want to make.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 
I really like the princess seaming – the style lines are very slimming. The midriff piece is also very flattering, especially if you’re like me and don’t have a very defined waist. The fit of this pattern is great- I didn’t need to make any changes for fit.

I especially like all the variations that are included– you could make a lot of different combinations for very different styles. It’s very simple to assemble the basic dress pieces, and then the sleeve, skirt, and collar variations give you lots of cute options.

The downside of all of these options is that they provide individual fabric measurements for each component. But when you add them all together, you end up with a fabric total which is much more than you actually need if you actually lay all the pieces out on a single piece of fabric in an economical way. Essentially, if you follow their fabric amount recommendations, you’ll probably end up overbuying.

Fabric Used:
Black double knit for most of the dress. I think the double knit is rayon, polyester and lycra. White ponte di roma (100% polyester) for the contrast collar and cuffs. The double knit is nice and sort and smooth, but the ponte di roma is not pretty- it looks cheap and strangely “medical.”

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Because I was using a knit I decided to eliminate the vent in he skirt. I’m not fond of vents on knits because they’re not crisp, and because the fabric stretches and the skirt is not that narrow, the vent wasn’t necessary. I also eliminated the neck facing and added an asymmetrical contrast collar, which I drafted. I also drafted a slimmer sleeve with a contrast cuff.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I really want to make up some of the other variations of this dress. I really like the sleeveless version and the collar that comes with the pattern. This pattern is very versatile and quick to make up. I’d definitely recommend it.

This is a fun, easy pattern that you can use to achieve a lot of looks. And I got the designer-look dress I wanted for a teeny fraction of the price!

Do you like Selfish Seamstress haikus? Do you want to use them to send a message to all the people who think you can just whip up a dress or stitch on missing buttons for them in all of your copious free time?

The Selfish Seamstress is considering opening a (not selfish) shop to benefit her favorite animal shelters, P.A.W.S. Chicago and the Atlanta Humane Society (where she met her beloved kitty Sasa). 100% of the proceeds would be donated to the shelters. Above are some samples I made (virtually).  The real ones might be a little different.  Prices would probably be something like $13 for the mug, $20 for the shirt, and $24 for the Sigg water bottle.

The question is, what kind of Selfish Seamstress Haiku charity merchandise would you want to see?

Think I’m selfish now?
Just wait until you see me
Shopping for fabric.

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.

Little Black Dress Medium

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100% of sales proceeds are currently being donated to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Total donations to date:
$270.00 to the Atlanta Humane Society
$464.00 to the American Red Cross
$119.56 to Doctors Without Borders

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