A Wiggle Dress, or Joan Holloway for the Day

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When it comes to music, my heart belongs to the ’60s. Long before Mad Men came on the scene, I had spent my teen years singing along to the Beatles and other British Invasion bands, Motown groups, and whatever else the oldies radio station would throw at me. I also thought Paul McCartney was just the cutest thing ever (was I even aware, watching A Hard Day’s Night, that he hadn’t been that age in 30+ years?). So in honor of my beloved decade in music, I thought it was high time I made myself a ’60s-inspired wiggle dress.

The pattern I chose is from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, and boy did those gussets give me a hard time! They pretty much landed this dress in UFO territory (that’s “unfinished object” to my non-sewing friends). I even posted it as my UFO photo for Bimble and Pimble‘s #bpsewvember challenge on Instagram. It was folded up and stored away. I felt free.

But, you know what? Between wanting my very own Joan Holloway dress and receiving encouraging comments to finish it from my Instagram buddies, I decided to give it another go. This dress had its challenges, but it’s done, I learned some new techniques, and I can add it to my FESA tally. Win-win-win!

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I Met Cynthia Rowley!

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You guys! I met fashion designer Cynthia Rowley last night! Completely unexpected, too. I was at a work event hosted by Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village, and as the evening was wrapping up she happened to stop by. It was the perfect way to end the night; as you can see, guests had left by that point so special thanks to the Murray’s staff for letting us sip one last glass of wine with Cynthia (feels funny to just call her by her first name, but weird not to?).

She was super nice, and we chatted about sewing for a good long while. And then a good while longer about her restored 19th century townhouse (I’m an architectural historian, so I loved that bit just as much!).

My co-workers helped make this happen: one told her that I sew and another mentioned my blog. Thanks, you guys, you’re the best. :-D Seriously, I’m the worst at getting conversations started, but once I’m in I can be surprisingly chatty and excited…especially when it comes to sewing! This was particularly evident when my co-workers told Cynthia that I show them all my fabric and yarn purchases when they arrive at the office. Ha! They know and hear more about my crafty adventures than anyone.

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FESA: Butterick 5455 Pencil Skirt in Plaid Wool Bouclé

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Here’s the follow-up to my outfit post from last week where I’ll be focusing on the pencil skirt I made to go with my new Marion cardigan (update: the wool is a bit scratchy where it directly hits my skin, which was always one of my hesitations with knitting, but it’s not too bad and I ain’t stopping now!).

Anyway, this is the skirt portion of Butterick 5455, another FESA creation and a dress pattern that I scored for a song at a thrift store this past summer. What a glorious feeling! I’d like to try the whole pattern one of these days.

I had to bring in the waist a bit, but I’d leave it as is if I made the dress. Actually, I took the waist in just a pinch too much and really had to pull at the fabric in the hopes it would stretch to fit me more comfortably (saying “please, streeeeeeetch” while you’re doing that helps). Thankfully, it worked. Just remember you learned that “industry” tip here first. ;)

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Another perk was the pockets in front, which I quickly realized would be a little tricky to pull off considering the needed plaid matching. Even then, if the match was good the pockets would visually disappear. Cutting on the bias might have resulted in a busy look? I then opted for side seam pockets. I’d show them to you except…I forgot about them! Seems I was so focused on matching the plaid between the front and back pieces that by the time I realized this I’d have to unpick everything. Not too easy to do with black thread and wool, especially when the thread just sinks in to the thick fabric. Oh well, no biggie.

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Despite how this looks I’m not telling you to “talk to the hand,” I’m half attempting the pose in the poster…!

The fabric is one yard of 60″ wide wool bouclé that I picked up from Mood‘s Black Friday sale last year (whoa, that’s coming up again pretty soon!). The sale is only available online, which I suppose is a good thing. Can you imagine all the crazy madness if everything in the brick and mortar store was on sale? Actually the idea of women scrambling over each other to grab all the fabric seems funny, but I’m sure Swatch the dog wouldn’t appreciate the chaos.

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I really love the grid of raised threads on this fabric! The nice thing about ordering online as opposed to the store? Take a look at the description they offer you:

Italian Black & White Plaid Wool Bouclé (wool blend, 60″) – A really interesting wool-blend bouclé that’s tailor-made for fall and winter cardigans, capes, ponchos, jackets and skirts. The right side features a textured grid interwoven with twisted threads of black and white, while the wrong side is brushed soft like a blanket. You can’t go wrong with either side as the primary fabric.

At the store it’s sometimes difficult for me to figure out what I’m buying without asking. I don’t need that whole description, but just having some basics is helpful (and in Mood’s defense many fabrics are labeled and/or organized into sections based on material). I like Paron and B&J Fabrics for the informational tags they provide. Of course, I’m just thrilled to have a neighborhood full of fabrics so I’m not seriously complaining, I’m just saying it’s helpful to have some labels. :)

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Hooray for plaid matching! I didn’t have enough to cut the waistband on the bias, which I had wanted to do, so I was very careful to align the plaid there with the one below. Lots of pins, lots of pins.

I used the waistband piece from my BHL Charlotte skirt. In the photo above I’ve pulled the overlapping tab back so you can see the snap closure. I’ve used these in one of my previous Charlotte skirts, and while it works I’d like to find a more graceful way to keep the tab in place. I had thought about creating a buttonhole, but I didn’t interface the waistband and was concerned that fraying would ensue. Next time!

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The skirt features two back darts, but no front darts. This works for me as I usually remove front darts to eliminate bubbling fabric below them.

I think I might like the cut of the Charlotte skirt better on me than this one, but I still like it.

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Butterick 5455 comes with a vent, but not a lining. I chose this “black solid soft lightweight poly lining” (thanks, online Mood!) from my stash. This is another piece I picked up during last year’s sale, and when it came in I wasn’t thrilled with it. Kind of felt like it would cling to tights and even the wool skirt itself. I put it aside.

Then what happens? Having forgot about my initial hesitation, I hesitated again before thinking, “I guess it’ll be okay.” Nope. My caution was justified! It’s definitely clingy, even with my favorite pair of rayon tights that feel as soft as a slip. They’re seriously magic and I need to pick up a few more pairs! I guess we’ll see if the clingy lining gets to me enough that I’ll take it out and just use a slip instead.

Do you have a favorite pencil skirt pattern?

Marion KAL: Jalapeño Cropped Cardigan

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This is my fish face, apparently.

Aha! I’ve finally gotten around to posting my finished Marion cardigan from the KAL hosted by Andi of Untangling Knots. The KAL ended on October 25th, but I’m mighty pleased to say I had this baby blocked and ready to wear about three or four days ahead of the deadline.

(And then didn’t get around to taking photos before going on vacation to Savannah and Charleston. Whoops!)

I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, the recommended yarn for this cardigan. As a knitting novice, I liked working with it and found the smaller skeins (110 yards) handy for carrying on the subway. Downside: more ends to weave in! It didn’t grow after blocking, not that I noticed anyway, and it feels soft.

Halfway through knitting this cardigan I worried the wool might feel scratchy against my skin, but it thankfully doesn’t. In these photos I’ve paired it with a black camisole and a wool bouclé pencil skirt I also recently finished. I’ll follow with a post on that one soon.

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FESA 2014: Hmmm, the Mock Wrap Dress

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Hi, all! Hope you had a nice Halloween/weekend. I’m here to start November off with a little number I wish I could say I was happier with, but it’s just a bit “meh” for me. Oh well, have to have those every so often.

This is one of my FESA creations, the first of a few unblogged projects from the past two months. Despite my infrequent blogging I’ve been on a sewing roll so I look forward to sharing stuff with you!

This is McCall’s 6884, a mock wrap dress pattern. Though I’m very happy with my Vogue pattern I figure you can’t have enough of something that you really like, and I do like me some wrap dresses! The mock design kind of defeats the purpose of a wrap – and I know some of you agree – but I thought I’d try it for one big reason: wind control factor. You see, between walking in the city and standing on subway platforms there are definite opportunities for a wrap dress to go flying all over the place. When I saw this mock design I thought it’d be neat to get the look without that worry.

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