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fzbhlkmcvlk!! dfg;jaoic.c. Crazy prints hippie skirt petticoat sloppy hat blanket??!! dfgkjnazerw dfoibhjrg:

kjnxzoisdr908t45 ;xclv monkey fur caveman vest bedsheet Hammer pants my eyes on fire WHATTA??! jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj:

dfiumxcds g9b Grammy’s blazer + lace cardigan love child scarf as skirt hiking socks and goats holy whatta flkjmzofpdi:

lfdkjgnoi Burda dfgjklnxcl every stash fabric from the 90s sdfkj kkkikikikkiiiik:


Okay. I think I got that out of my system. “Folklore Furor” indeed. The folklore of stashbusting, obviously.

Ahhh. Classic trenches. I feel better now.

Nice :) I’ll want to see the technical drawings to see if this is fitted the way I like my trenches to be, but doesn’t that look great?

I think this has huge potential on account of the interesting and elegant seaming. I think it takes a certain kind of chic that I do not possess to pull off the proto-sleeve thingies, so I’d probably opt out of those.

I do not love these, but after the Folklore debacle, I will not get upset with you if you do:

Note that the skirt in the latter photo appears to be the bottom half of the funky sleeve dress. I do like the skirt. I am GREATLY DISPLEASED about the reemergence of the dreaded WHITE TIGHTS. Whatta.

This worries me:

Why?  Because of this:

That’s the dreaded ruffle overload blouse from a 1981 issue of Burda, and it looks like 2010 Burda is treading some dangerous waters again.

I am feeling pretty good about this cute coat, though I am a little wary because we’re only seeing the back of it for now:

I’m not sure what those metal discs are along the side seam.  Anyone have any ideas?

Plus size wearers, once again you’re off the hook. You get lovely wearable classics with pretty details again.

Love the gathered neckline on that one, and the interesting-without-being-crazy sleeves. (What’s that kind of sleeve called again?  It’s sort of like the opposite of a leg-of-mutton sleeve, but I forget the name.)

And you get a classic trench as well:

And for better or for worse, crafts are back in the preview! Including some cracked-out foraged wood scrap trophies. I know that button eyes are all quaint and old-fashioned, but they scare the bejeezus out of me:

And this little leather bow thing in case you actually need the instructions to make this:

Anyway, I apologize for my earlier bout of incoherence and insanity. Burda just throws me for a loop sometimes.  A seriously crazy loop. Fingers crossed for some really awesome technical drawings. I need to go rest my eyes now.

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!

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.

Sigh. Here’s the backstory.  Several weeks ago (possibly several months ago), Dan sheepishly approached me with a couple of pairs of pants and whispered meekly that they had holes in the front pockets. I arched my back and bared my teeth, but he pressed on. Could I please, please unselfishly mend the pockets for him?

For those who aren’t already well familiar with my feelings about mending for others, here’s a quick primer. In any case, I’m sure you can imagine my response, the only rational response a rational person could possibly have. I called him a few choice names, threw things at his head, and then walked around all day muttering under my breath about some people who stubbornly insist on carrying their ballpoint pens in their front pockets and then expect other people to repair the damage afterwards. Then I tossed the pants in a corner where they started gathering dust and I growled ferociously every time he looked at them and said, “If you have a minute, could you…” I never let him finish the sentence, but I’m pretty sure I know where he was going with it. I think up until this point in the story, we can all agree that I was being more than fair.

Well, Dan turned the situation upside down yesterday evening. He went to the mall after work to exchange a shirt, and he came back with this:

Sigh, a new laptop bag in wine red polished leather that he found on sale. You see, the Selfish Seamstress has been in need of a proper laptop bag for a while. On a daily basis she uses a bright yellow messenger bag suitable for a bike courier but rather incongruous when she wears more business-y attire. The new laptop bag is professional, practical, and a lovely shade of leather that happens to go perfectly with a particular favorite pair of Michael Kors heels in the Selfish Seamstress’s closet.

So, I ate the teeniest, tiniest sliver of humble pie that I could get my hands on, and sucked it up. Even though it’s not a fair trade by any means and he will owe me forever after this, laptop bag or no laptop bag, I mended the pockets.

It took forever and it was extremely challenging, but I figured that it would be worthwhile to go that extra mile and make sure Dan would be plenty indebted. Here are the results of hours of labor:

As you can see, it’s pretty intricate stuff. We’re talking about several inches of straight stitching, plus backtacking at the beginning and end, and clipping the threads afterwards. Maybe I’ll post a tutorial about the thread clipping some day, you know, for advanced sewers. Wanting to ensure the best, most professional results, I selected a lovely contrasting thread in a shade of deep plum because it was what was still in the machine after I finished my Burda 12-2006-109 dress.

Anyway, there you have it. The Selfish Seamstress mended three pockets today for someone else. I could hang my head in shame, but with the new laptop bag I think Dan is at least partway to making up the debt. And don’t worry- the Selfish Seamstress is fastidious about keeping score.

I’m feeling a little upset that the September BurdaMag preview has yet to show up on either the German or Russian Burda websites, so I’m handling this situation in typically diplomatic Selfish Seamstress style: by picking a fight.

Burda, here is your version of the 12-2006-108 tux dress:

And here is the Selfish Seamstress’s version. Don’t get me wrong, Burda. Obviously you are the geniuses behind this dress and I fully acknowledge that, but I think I WIN:

See how smug I look?

Look- even my back looks smug.

As usual, Burda provided a wonderfully drafted pattern. I graded it down to a 32 and the fit is just perfect without any alterations except for shortening at the hem and dropping the waistline about an inch. Oddly the bodice was really short before that, and that was without any petite alterations.

While I was making it, I was trying it on with my orange shoes just to check the length, and surprisingly, I really like the dress with these shoes. It’s extremely unintuitive to me, not because of the plum, but because of the gray. I never think of gray and orange working together. But Dan commented as well (without any prompting or query from me) that the dress and the shoes look unintuitively good together, so don’t try to tell me otherwise because I am not listening. I am a WINNER. Albeit a bowlegged one.

I think the photo of the skirt material I showed in the last post about this dress gave the false impression that I was using a rather coarse herringbone tweed. That’s not the case, though that would have been a great look. No, this dress was meant to use up remnants, and the skirt is actually a rather heavy rayon suiting with a very fine herringbone weave.

Here it is with no Selfish Seamstress inside:

As you can see, I made a few small cosmetic changes. I omitted the bow at the waist (though now that I think about it, I don’t think it would have looked so silly as I thought. But I do like wearing this with a skinny belt and the bow would prohibit that.)

I had meant to do the little skinny bow tie around the collar, but then I realized I’m never ever going to wear this with the collar closed all the way (makes it look very much as though my head is just balanced atop the collar), so I had to skip the neck bow because it would have just been two untied strings hanging off of either side of the collar. I also changed the placement of the buttons accordingly. Here’s a close-up of the collar:

I realized later that I actually installed the top collar ruffle wrong side out, which just means that the less neat edge is showing. The fabric itself is the same on both sides. Oh well.

And here’s a glimpse at the inside- I did French seams wherever possible and skipped the lining. Instead I used self bias strips as armhole facings. You can see that I hand tacked them at the shoulder seam to keep them from flipping outwards when I wear it:

Anyway, that’s about it. No hard feelings, okay Burda? You can’t win them all. Especially not with moiré.

I was flipping through my big old McCall’s pattern catalogue from 1957 again, and was struck by the abundance of garments sewn with a white contrast collar. I, as you may know, adore a white contrast collar. And although I’m not a fashion expert, it seems to me that the white contrast collar has never really gone out of style.

That being said, there may be some incarnations of the white collar that you’re not so eager to revisit. Mmm, thank you Ali MacGraw and Simplicity for this excellent exercise in repurposing old placemats:

Needless to say, I prefer 1957’s take on the white collar to 1985’s. What struck me most was the variety of lovely and innovative uses of the white collar. Sure, there are the expected sailor collars and demure Peter Pan styles:

But it’s also used in so many other delightful ways:

The white collar is put to especially good use in portrait necklines and shawl collars:

After seeing this one, how could you not want a perfect sheath in yellow polka dot with a pristine, white, clavicle-displaying collar?

But my absolute favorite is the classic white on black with enough gumption to stand away from the body just a bit:

Incidentally, don’t you find it rather amazing that those two dresses are from the same pattern? Today’s patterns often show a more formal version and a more casual version, but these looks are just so completely different. Love it!

Have you employed a white contrast collar in any of your garments?  How so and what kind? Who wants to get started on a new dress with a gorgeous white collar right now??

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?

Okay, after this weekend’s green slippy fabric impulse buy, here’s something to show for it. Another incarnation of Burda 2-2008-119, the tie-neck sleeveless blouse:

Silky clothes aren’t really my thing, but I just love this color, so I think I’ll be getting some good wear out of this one. It’ll work well under a cardigan too. I like it with these sort of loose windowpane check pants, but I think it’ll also work well with lighter pants.

Here’s the side view. I think I’m channeling a candidate for class president in this photo. See?  I’m inspired!

Vote Selfish! Vote Selfish! Vote Selfish!

My first version of this blouse (and ever so slightly more detail about the construction) is here.

Okay. We’ve got friends visiting from out of town so we’re off to hike for a couple of days. Try to behave yourselves, okay? I don’t want to hear any stories when I get back.

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?

Don’t get me wrong, Readers, I love a good scandal, a bit of intrigue, and playing the victim while snickering maliciously under my breath all the while. But for the record, I should probably state this: I *don’t* think that clothing designers and RTW manufacturers are ripping me off.

I’ve received several emails from readers in the last few months (thank you!) pointing out dresses that bear a resemblance to my Coffee Date Dress design and suggesting that perhaps the dear Selfish Seamstress’s ideas are being swiped. The emails range from joking-wink-wink to seriously conspiratorial in tone. I do adore that you readers are noticing these things- it makes me feel like I have a little International Army of Selfish Spies looking out for the well being of me, the Selfish Spy Commander. But at the same time, I can’t quite bring myself to believe that major mass market retailer Ann Taylor:

famed Aussie designer Alannah Hill:

or the indomitable McCall’s:

are really trolling my blog for new designs :) Though I do love the idea of calling up an Ann Taylor branch and yelling, “Put me on the phone with Ann this instant, you inept, glorified cashier! I need to put a stop to this blatant poaching of my intellectual property right now! What do you mean, ‘Ann who?’ Ann TAYLOR, you imbecile!” to whomever picks up.

I myself did not “copy” the Coffee Date Dress design from anything I saw either. In fact, the Coffee Date Dress, which I designed in February 2009, was originally an attempt to reproduce a dress I saw on ModCloth that had a single ruffle that went all the way around the neckline. But after gathering the long strip of fabric for the ruffle, I started playing around with it on the dress, and ended up liking the zigzag ruffled jabot variation so much that I decided to veer from the original plan. I don’t recall having seen it before that, but the fact that it looked “right” to me probably means that I had seen something similar that had slipped into my subconscious, or else that the time was just right for that particular detail to look nifty. I’m guessing that’s also why it felt “right” to the folks who designed the garments pictured above. In any case, I don’t think I can take any credit for breaking new ground, nor do I believe that my little design has influenced designer or mass market fashion in any way.

But before you go pointing fingers and saying cruel words like “modesty” and “humility,” I would like to point out that I am STILL SO AWESOME. And so are you, my precious little spies!

I have a very adorable friend named Helen.  She’s actually a former grad student of mine, but really more like a sister. If I had to use one word to describe Helen, it would be sunny. She is smiles, whereas the Selfish Seamstress is scowls. She is blue skies, while Selfish is drizzles and gloom. She is genuine and lovable, while Selfish is all deception and malice. She is violet and turquoise and emerald and daffodil, while Selfish is charcoal and black and navy. She makes people feel good about themselves, while the Selfish Seamstress cuts them down. It is nearly impossible to be anything but happy around Helen, and much like an impish singing and dancing orphan with a heart of gold who wins over the grumpy old loner against all odds, she can even tug the barest hint of affection from your crochety old Selfish Seamstress.

Helen and I have two things in common: 1) we are both rather obsessive about recycling and avoiding waste and 2) we are both quite small. A few months ago, Helen brought me a gift of a pair of very cute glen plaid pants that no longer fit her:

The manufacturer is Garage, and the fabric is cotton with a smidge of spandex. Unfortunately the pants were also much too small for the Selfish Seamstress, but Helen did not want them back, so they sat on the shelf for quite a long time.

Last night I pulled them out again and like the Grinch, post-epiphany, decided that environmentally passionate Helen would probably appreciate a little refashion job. I’ll call it a S.W.A.G. project for the sake of convenience, but it wasn’t really.  After all, only for sunny Helen would the Selfish Seamstress cheerfully and willingly match plaids and topstitch with painstaking precision:

The pattern is from the Japanese hat pattern book I got from Kinokuniya some months ago. I added on the button band and reused some of the buttons from the pants as embellishments. The fabric covered button on top is new though. I was going to line the whole thing in pale pink Bemberg rayon, but after I started cutting the pieces, it occurred to me that what Helen would probably appreciate more is knowing that there is a rainbow inside her hat. So I went digging through my lining collection, which admittedly has a lot more burgundy and black than sunny yellow or indigo. I briefly considered cutting up the rainbow fabric from a broken umbrella that I salvaged from the trash a while ago, but then thought the better of it- umbrella nylon is probably not the most comfortable fabric to have on your head. What I came up with isn’t exactly a rainbow (unless your idea of a rainbow includes tan), but is perhaps motley enough to convey the feeling of a rainbow in one’s hat:

Clockwise from top- pale pink Bemberg rayon, leaf green cotton lawn, forest green (though it looks turquoise here) poly satin lining, silver blue rayon, tan jacquard rayon, and burgundy rayon (though it looks brown here.)

I have not given it to Helen yet, so you get grumpy old Selfish as your model for now. (When I give it to her, I will try to convince her to let me show you a photo. She is far more adorable and photogenic than I. It’s amazing that I show up in photos at all.) Wow, it is hard to a take set of close up pictures that both show the hat properly at different angles, and don’t make my face look way scary. These are the best I could do and they are intentionally small.

I pulled out my straightening iron and tried to make my hair look like the Japanese models’ hair in the book, with sort of mediocre results. (Did you know you can curl hair with a straightening iron?  You can.) I do like the hat though, and it would break my selfish little heart to part with it for anyone but Helen. Current and prospective grad students take note- no handmade hats for you!

I may make one for myself, but it will have to be out of different fabric. With the plaid matching and long bands, the hat consumed a surprising amount of pant. All that’s left now is a bunch of oddly shaped scraps and strips, as well as a bizzarro plaid thong/holster/garter belt artifact:

No, I did not try the holster thingy on. I told you, the pants are too small for me.

Oh, simple leopard print pencil skirt, I love how you go with almost everything in my closet.

Sigh. Pencil skirt bliss. To tell you the truth, I’ve never even owned a pencil skirt before. I had never found one that didn’t make my legs look stumpy and I had always suspected that maybe it was a bad look for the short-legged. Turns out it was just a matter of making one that fits. I’m going to need a few more of these. Details of the material and construction are here and here.

Oh, and I’ve had a few questions about these shoes in the past- they’re BCBG Girls (which is not actually a children’s line), bizarrely comfortable for a near-stiletto heel, and I bought them about two years ago. I don’t think they make them anymore, but these look similar (the black patent view).

Isn’t it funny
How you only ever call
When you need stuff fixed?

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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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