Thursday, February 28, 2013

Helena Bonham-Carter, Style Svengali

Do you know dear Prttynpnk? When she comments on my blog, first I laugh, and then I think.  About my recent bloomers, she said "OOH! How is it that Helena Bonham Carter hasn't wrestled you to the ground for those?" And then she pointed out that this remark was a compliment!

No fear that I'd take it otherwise--I am a fan of HBC but hadn't given her a lot of thought lately (as I try hard to squash interest in celebrities in myself). But Prtty's comment made me go looking to see what Helena's been about, and I found the personal style part of her, well, persona, intriguing.

Here we see a grown-up woman (close to my age) who is clearly very interested in and deliberate about clothes. And yet she is not trying to use clothing to look younger, thinner, sexier or on-trend. Of course it doesn't hurt that she's a bona fide world-class beauty, but still, if you saw this person on the street, you would probably think, "What a nut!"

With a kindred spirit

Love the contrariness of this look

Dress, bloomers, knee socks and passenger tricycle--I ask you, does it get any better than this?

The eighties called and said they love you, too.

In full sail, with socks askew

From the bottom of my heart, I admire this woman.

Apparently Helena even launched a fashion line in the mid-2000s with British designer Samantha Sage called--wait for it--Pantaloonies. This venture seems to be defunct, however, if the lack of current info online can be considered an indication.

Pantaloonies: just the thing to wear with your Victorian mob cap (they really did offer them!)
Above all, Helena is unapologetic and consistent in her fashion impulses. She's made an art of appearing on Worst Dressed lists and she seems proud to acknowledge herself as a "fashion anti-Christ."

For the record, I know HBC is not the only wearer/designer/champion of this grungy, romantic, shabby, high Victorian style. But she has given it a higher profile over many years than anyone else.

Thanks again, Prtty, for the awesome compliment and for inspiring me to look up Helena Bonham-Carter!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ottobre 5-2009 Knit Dress #9

I made this dress once before, but a photo of it hasn't survived. No worries--it was charcoal gray and thus not my best color. The fabric was an interesting and appealing woven boucle with a bit of mechanical stretch (purchased from Unfortunately, its loose weave soon came, well, unwoven at the waist seam! I mended it a few times and then accepted the inevitable.

It finally dawned on me what this dress really is: the Hanna Andersson Play Dress--for grownups!

Why should the pre-teen crowd get all the fun? However, it is probably a good idea to stick to serious solid colors if you are, like me, a lady of some mature years.

Worn over a tshirt, it's very cozy
The fabric is a polyester wool double knit from FabricMart this year. I wish I had gotten more, as I love the camel color and it was very cooperative to work with. I will be interested to see how it wears.

It goes without saying this dress has great potential as a maternity dress. Luckily I'm not hung up on that!
Oh no, the dreaded back view! Not the best side for this dress at all.
When wearing this dress, I intend to stick to my usual practice of never looking at the back view of myself. I took these photos in part to determine whether to make another version of this dress with some new knits that came in yesterday's mail. From the front and side, I am enthusiastic about the dress, though no one would ever call it slimming. From the back, I'm not so sure whether another version is in the cards or not. But it is so comfortable and versatile!

Makes a great "over pants" dress/tunic

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ack! Bloomers!

Saw the cutest little knit pants the other day at one of Asheville's many fun boutiques, Hip Replacements on Lexington Avenue. When I was in the store, I was thinking, "I should copy those!", but of course I forgot about them pretty much instantly.

Then one of my swing dancing buddies showed up in a pair, and my jealousy prodded me into action.

Only after sewing up my interpretation did I search for a photo of the inspiration pants, and I see that the original is more like leggings, and mine are definitely bloomers. I may just have to do a legging version to compare, but I'm very happy with the bloomers! I also notice that I am not tall and thin and wearing towering heels, but I'm okay with all of that.

I forgive you if you think these are wacky!

The pattern I used was Kwik Sew 3115, size small.

I shortened them a very large amount (maybe 12"?), for a finished length of about 24". Instead of the waistband, I just added an elastic casing at the top, since it would always be covered. I had plenty of length to accommodate a 3/4" casing.

Naturally, constructing the pants was lightning fast, but adding the ruffles took much longer than I had anticipated. It would have been faster to sew the ruffles to the hemline while the pants were still flat (sewn together at the outer leg seam only), but I wasn't sure of the spacing and depth of the ruffles.

The bottom tier is a stretch lace, gathered and with the bottom edge left raw. The jersey tiers are 2 1/2" wide, with a serger rolled and lettuced hem. And the satin tier is a piece of satin ribbon I gathered and attached (that was a pain!). I marked the attachment lines with chalk and sewed the ruffles over the freearm of my Juki F600. Many cylindrical items can be sewn without a freearm, but it was really necessary for this application.

The matching skirt was already in my closet, an earlier make of Kwik Sew 3672.

These add so much comfort and warmth to this flimsy little skirt. My mind is busily envisioning a host of possibilities for ruffled bloomers.