Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Riding the Bandwagon in the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress

For many, many months I successfully resisted the urge to follow the crowd in making the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress, even though every member of the crowd had a very nice, flattering, simple but lovely dress to show for her efforts.

I kept thinking that surely (surely) with all the knit top and dress and skirt patterns I've got laying around here, I ought to be able to assemble the equivalent of this dress without purchasing yet another pattern. But deep in the most rational reaches of my brain, I knew it wasn't true. I wish I had the skill to combine different elements into a perfectly pleasing, yet completely simple, whole, but...well.

So I bought the PDF already, and I feel ironically better knowing that, yep, I couldn't have gotten the same result through my own pattern drafting efforts. Look at the way that skirt falls!

The fabric used here is a doubleknit in "deep mint" from FabricMart. It doesn't really have the 40% stretch specified by the pattern, so the bodice is a bit on the snug side, especially in the back.

I cut the size 3 in the shoulders and upper chest, tapering to size 4 for the waist and skirt. I shortened the bodice 1" total and then took an additional 5/8" swayback tuck at the center back.

This is the unaltered full-length sleeve with a narrower cuff than specified by the pattern. If you are taller than my 5'2", you may need to lengthen the sleeve, particularly if you prefer to turn up a hem rather than use a cuff.

I wore it with a corduroy jeans-style jacket for my day of substitute teaching for the eighth grade. Several girls said I looked "cute", which suggested the possibility of age inappropriateness, or else cheerful with-it-ness. I'm going to go with the latter!

Emerald Green Simplicity 1882 in Action!

The last time this dress appeared, it was hanging over a lampshade in a half-finished state. I was inspired to hem it up for Swing Into Spring, a swing dancing weekend workshop in Columbia, SC.

Now that I've danced several hours in this dress, and sat on the floor in it, and sweated all over it, and washed it gently by machine, I can say with confidence that it is a worthy addition to my wardrobe!

The polyester crepe back satin was not, as I rather feared it would be, unbearably hot, though the evening was chilly and the venue not overly packed. More investigation is needed before I sew with this fabric again, but I enjoyed working with it and I appreciate its easy-care nature. Plus it was just the color I wanted and reasonably priced at Hancock's Fabrics.

And here's another dress, Simplicity 2247, which I blogged about back in 2012, in action at the Friday night dance of the weekend.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Style Icon: Again with the Helena Bonham Carter

The new season of Project Sewn starts later today with the first challenge: style icon.

The world doesn't lack for vintage and modern celebrities with admirable personal style, but very few of them are what I would consider a "style icon": someone whose style has relevance to me. I might admire Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Hutton and Iris Apfel, but I just don't feel the least inclined to appropriate any part of their look for myself. Most of my style icons are sewing bloggers, a class of people I find a whole lot more interesting and inspiring than celebrities.

But I do love me some crazy Helena Bonham Carter, as I have written before.

Yesterday I finished a new wool tunic sweater which lends itself to some HBC interpretation:

HBC reference: messy red hair, long layers, pantaloons and laceup boots

Obscure HBC reference: lace ears
In the wild, sans ears. I couldn't wear the ears into my yard for all to see, but the outdoor photo shows the details of the pieces much better.
The tunic is a mashup of the various knit tunics and dresses I've been making lately (New Look 6700, Butterick 5203, Vogue 8699). It's made from chocolate wool jersey from FabricMart and it is accordingly warm and soft. I don't mind a bit of wool next to the skin if it's a fine jersey. The long top under the tunic is a t-shirt dress (Burda 7287) in a white modal jersey, which I then dyed to this indeterminate brownish rose color. And the bloomers were a creation from just about exactly a year ago

So this kind of wacky Bohemian style is accumulative, but with a theme. It's not "all about the mix" in the current fashion editorial parlance, but rather about assembling a lot of ruffly textures and layers with a kind of "more is more" philosophy.

The much more conventional way to wear this top, with jeans (and maybe a crazy big fabric flower).
I've found that I go through phases with my appetite for channeling Helena Bonham Carter. Sometimes responding to the attention generated by wearing ruffly bloomers feels like a little too much effort. I don't suppose HBC has this problem so much, because she is going to generate attention just by being herself and walking around in the world. But the style is extremely comfortable to wear, and the whimsical theatricality of it really does appeal to me. 

Another prospective style icon: Vivienne Westwood

She is so tall and regal, which I am not and am not likely to become, which limits her appeal as a personal style icon.