Friday, May 24, 2019

See & Sew 5148: Overblouse for White Strapless Jumpsuit

When I purchased this vintage multi-sized pattern for a coordinating skirt and top, I didn’t realize it was already cut to size 8.  That is two sizes too small, which essentially makes the top cropped and close fitting on me. Which was perfect for what I had in mind….

In my last post, I made a strapless jumpsuit in white twill with aqua accents.  
Which means that if I hit the streets prior to happy hour, the summer sun would be boiling down on my bare back and shoulders.

Some kind of cover-up is necessary if I want  to wear this from day to night and be appropriately clad, my back, chest and shoulders protected from the sun.

Wearing a t shirt is an option.

Another option is this coordinating overblouse made from See & Sew 5148:

The cuffs and shoulder insets for this pattern allowed me to combine the white and aqua fabrics I used in the jumpsuit.

The top was so small that I lengthened it by an inch, but that was still not quite enough length.  I finished the bottom hem with purchased white double fold bias tape, folded it up ½ inch and catch-stitched.   

I wondered how the top would look closer to "bolero" length. I folded up the bottom a few inches just to see.

Not bad.

A cropped top works well with the pants of this jumpsuit. Summer fun, here I come!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

McCall's 8633 (1983): White Strapless Jumpsuit with Aquamarine Accents

When I saw this pattern online, I snapped it right up.  The twirling girl on the pattern envelope deserves to be prom queen, be it 1983 or 2019.  The black on white polka dot fabric with black accents, even a petticoat underneath...what a beautiful, fun party dress!

But since I’m not going to the prom anytime soon, I seized on the jumpsuit version.  It gave rise to some enjoyable fantasizing. I saw myself wearing it at an outdoor rooftop bar as the summer sun set over the Hudson, laughing with my husband between sips of prosecco.  Interestingly, he gently communicated to me that this look might be a bit dated and possibly age-inappropriate. The jumpsuit might look good on a 20 year old heading for the nightclub after stepping through a time-rip, he didn’t say, but I keenly intuited.  His insights were quietly considered and then quickly disregarded.

I very much wanted this to be a successful project,  so I committed to making a full muslin. If you aren’t familiar, a muslin is just you sewing your pattern in a cheap fabric you don’t care about (an old sheet will do) or in muslin (which I did). Muslin is a rough, cheap off white cotton with no stretch that is typically used for this purpose. This way, you can see where you need to make changes in the pattern before you cut into your “fashion fabric."

A muslin helps with making fabric choices, too.  Poor fabric and pattern pairings are not unknown to me, so this was another advantage of making a muslin.  I initially planned to make it in a dark blue denim with black pleather for the 2 sets of contrast bands. However, the muslin proved that this would have been difficult to sew.  Each top contrast band has two layers of fabric between a layer of interfacing. Sewing through multiple layers of denim, pleather and interfacing could be tough on my machine and look bulky.   

I then started to entertain more colorful notions, imagining it in spring green, with black contrast bands and a black belt.  Purple was also considered.

Muslin of McCall's 8633 Jumpsuit version

Ultimately, I decided on white or off-white, because I had an awesome vintage 80s aquamarine leather belt that I decided to build this project around.  I used white cotton twill for the jumpsuit, and an aquamarine cotton sateen for one set of contrast bands at the top to match the belt.

Miraculously, the bottom of the jumpsuit fit perfectly.  Those of you who sew know how fraught sewing pants can be.  Often, they don’t fit right and complicated alterations involving the words “crotch length” and “crotch depth” are necessary.  I was really lucky that the pants part of this jumpsuit needed no alterations except to lengthen the legs by one inch, which is easy to do.

The top however, was enormous.  This pattern is a size 12, which means the bust is 34.  I guess it’s meant for a 34DD though because I was SWIMMING in this bodice.  Alterations for the top required that I take in a total of 2.5 inches total from the side and back seams.  I also lengthened the bodice by ¾ inch, and purchased foam cups that I sewed into the top to help fill it out.  The pattern calls for boning inserted into the side seams, which also helps keep everything up.

After figuring out how to make the top smaller, it was just launder the fabric (the aquamarine fabric twice:  I had visions of it bleeding all over the white after all was sewn and done. A horrible thought!), iron it, cut it and sew it.  

And here it is, in all its 80s fabulousness!

This jumpsuit has pockets.  Love that.

I wanted to see how the jumpsuit would look with sneakers and a t shirt.   So I threw on some Tretorns and a yellow t-shirt and went outside.

Haven't owned a pair of Tretorns since 1988

I'm not sure if it works, but it has a totally different vibe.

This color combo feels very 80s 

FYI my husband has changed his tune and rooftop drinks are in our future…..

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy

The last I knew, Andrew McCarthy was Blane in Pretty In Pink.  

Now here he is popping up in my Amazon recommends.

Andrew McCarthy, a writer?  

Laptop is in the back of the Jeep

Yes, he is.

Over the past several years, Andrew has established himself as a travel writer (he is Editor at Large for National Geographic Magazine), which gave rise to his memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Search for the Courage to Settle Down, published in 2012.  In his book, he examines his impulse to travel frequently as it relates to his, well, hang-ups about settling down with the mother of his young daughter (he also has a son from his first marriage).

In Pretty in Pink, he plays a rich kid who falls for Andie (Molly Ringwald), the feisty girl with no money but a vintage-y, one of a kind wardrobe that I instantly coveted when I first saw this movie at the mall with my cousin for her birthday in 1986.  After I saw the movie, I experimented with shopping at thrift stores and tried my hand at “re-fashioning” vintage clothing for myself….sadly, none of these artifacts from the 80s remain and are lost forever to the sands of Time.

Before he was Blane, Andrew needed his first big acting break and that was the lead in the movie, Class (1983), co-starring Jacqueline Bisset and Rob Lowe.  He answered a call for an actor who was “vulnerable, sensitive and eighteen.” This lead to parts in several classic 80s films. Fast forward about 30 years and here we have Andrew:  vulnerable, sensitive, and middle-aged. He is still struggling with the “ambivalence” that he feels became a “defining characteristic” of the character Blane as well as the character Kevin in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985).  

This long-standing ambivalence (and the insecurities behind it) is the central theme of the book. He yearns to feel he is a part of the flow of life, yet at the same time feels the impulse to reject and distance himself from others (including his fiancee).   For him, travelling opens the door to insights that help him resolve this inner conflict.

I won’t go into further detail, so as not to ruin the book for those who haven’t read it.  I do feel that it’s worth a read. Andrew is a very good writer. Also the ending is pretty great, I have to say.  There’s suspense and some twists at the end that are very realistic and enjoyable and life-affirming.

Since the publication of this book, Andrew has had another child, and published a young adult novel called Just Fly Away.  He continues to write, act and direct. His article, “A Song for Ireland” can be found on the National Geographic website, along with other travel pieces written by him.  This particular article fits with this book, as Andrew is continuing to “find his way home” by tracking down and meeting his long lost relatives in Ireland. As they shower him with hugs, Andrew marvels at how he used to avoid such “active connecting” with his family.   He has given us an authentic snapshot of his experience with this not-uncommon struggle, and a reason to believe that things can change.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Simplicity 6686 (1984): Navy Windowpane Dress with Bias Panels

I first sewed View 2 of this dress a few years ago in a grey plaid.  The bodice looked very short to me, and I’m a little long-waisted, so I added 1.5 inches to the length of the bodice without a second thought.  

Well, that was a mistake.  This dress is a bit voluminous and any extra fabric, anywhere, is neither necessary nor desired.  The grey plaid, combined with the bagginess on top, made for a rather frumpy frock, even when I cinched the waist with a wide belt.   

Later, I separated the top from the skirt, hoping to save this garment by making it into two separate things.  But, this hope was never realized and sadly, they remain apart.

The thing to do instead, I decided,  was to start totally from scratch with a lovely navy windowpane fabric I had purchased a few years ago from a NYC fabric store called Paron’s, which is now out of business.

Paron’s was great because you weren’t crammed in there with hundreds of bolts of fabric leaning against each other, 2 feet deep, like some fabric stores in the garment district (although that can be a heady experience).  Rather, there was plenty of space to stroll, the inventory was well-organized and each bolt of fabric had a plastic covered tag at the end, with a complete description of fiber content and origin. I very much appreciated the calm and order of Paron’s in this oft-times chaotic world.  Of course, I have misplaced the fabric information they so thoughtfully provided, but it seems have a touch of wool while being very light with a nice drape.

This time, I cut the bodice without altering the length.  The center panels of the bodice as well as the cuffs are cut on the bias.   Here you can see the two bodices, side by side: the longer grey plaid and the navy windowpane.  The plaid is a LOT baggier and the colors just don’t work as well as the navy:

I began by constructing the bodice.  I was trimming the seam allowances under the collar facing to reduce bulk (which I had not only attached to the collar but also understitched) when I cut my dress by mistake.  I PUT A HOLE MY DRESS. In the front center bias panel, right at the shoulder. When I realized what I had done, I froze for a moment in disbelief. I stayed calm and started emergency procedures. I immediately patched the hole with stitch-witchery (a light-weight fusible tape). The more I touched the injured area, the more the edges of the wound began to fray. The hole was getting bigger with each passing moment. I reached for a scrap of fabric to somehow put behind it, and quickly realized the foolishness of this approach. I got a needle and thread and started to close the fraying edges. Within seconds, it was obvious my patch job was going to look totally, totally hideous, something akin to Frankenstein's stitches, and my dress was ruined.

I rationalized that, if this was the worst mistake I ever made in my life, I’d be doing OK.  But I was pretty disappointed until my husband suggested I just replace the center panel.   And you know what? I had JUST ENOUGH leftover fabric to cut another center panel. Which was so very fortunate because I couldn’t run out and buy more, since Paron’s no longer exists.

So I cut a new panel, ripped out all the appropriate seams, removed the original center panel and put in the new, unblemished one.  It added two or three extra hours to this project but that’s home sewing for you. You wouldn’t think so, but there are often unforeseen, unexpected (and time-consuming) crises when sewing ….and sometimes, moments of triumph.

The rest of the construction was, thankfully, smooth sailing.  

This dress is breezy, light and perfect for spring weather. I accessorized with a vintage 1980s faux leather kelly green belt.   

The straw hat with navy band is Italian, bought on a trip to that country in 2015.

I love this dress!

The Maddie Hayes Look

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