Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dreams come true in Blue Hawaii

I just couldn't help a little Elvis reference there, do pardon. I have felt a recent urge for tropical print, hawaiian inspired garments, and found this tropical print rayon challis and this shell print cotton several months ago and couldn't resist. I decided early on that I wanted the challis to make a maxi-dress out of, but wasn't exactly sure what style of dress I wanted to make. I knew I wanted something a little more structured than the standard columnar, knit maxi-dresses that are all over stores right now.

I finally got it into my head that it might be fun to use the Vogue evening gown pattern that I bought for absolutely no reason other than it was on sale and I loved it. I do not have a life that ever requires an evening gown, or likely will ever require one, so it was a silly purchase really, but what the heck. Now this pattern is definitely intended for something other than an unlined challis, but after mulling it over in my mind for a long time I decided to just go for it. I read a few reviews of the pattern before starting, and everyone seemed to recommend definitely making a muslin of the bodice at least before starting (something that I generally am very bad about doing). The admonitions of everyone else convinced me, however, and I whipped up a muslin of the bodice fairly quickly.

I had to take a little bit out at the side seams, but not much at all.

There was a bit of pulling happening at the sides of the back, but it looked like something that would fix itself once the weight of the skirt had been added, so I left it as it was and it behaved as I had anticipated once the skirt was attached.

The skirt and bodice were only basted when I took these photos, and I hadn't finished the closure or the the shoulder seams yet, but it's a pretty faithful depiction of how it looks all finished.

I'm really happy with it. The bottom shaping is wonderful (I just love godets!) and the challis is so comfortable to wear. The top is going to take a bit of getting used to, since I can't wear a bra with it and it's pretty low cut, but as long as I'm conscious of that fact while I'm wearing it I should be able to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. I'd really kind of like to make another one, perhaps in a solid color. I haven't had a chance to wear it anywhere yet, but it's just so comfortable and elegant feeling I'd really like to have another (because I really need so many more clothes, ahem). 

The second major dress project from the last week was a 1950s inspired sarong dress. I've been itching to make one of these for quite some time now and finally sat down to figure out a pattern. I actually began with the lower bodice pieces from the above pattern and adapted them for the bodice, drafting the rest of the pattern from there.

The muslin fittings for the bodice were progressing pretty well, so I went ahead and cut out my dress fabric, using the muslin as my lining and adding boning to the side-front and side seams for a bit of extra support.

Playing around with the bodice decoration.
I got the skirt worked out pretty quickly and got the body of the dress together and took a couple of pictures before I went to bed that night to see how it was going to look with the halter strap attached.

I had originally put a kick pleat in the back (out of habit mostly), but I ended up taking it out in the end since the wrap-nature of the skirt front kind of negates it's purpose.

I wanted it to be convertible, with a strapless, halter and stole (if that's what you want to call it) option, and I also added a faux hip tie to finish off the skirt.

I was a bit lazy with my zipper and put it in by machine (something I don't generally do anymore) and I do wish I had just waited and done it by hand, but oh well. I don't regret it enough to take it out and redo it. Before I use this pattern again (which I'd like to) I'll do a bit more adjusting on the bodice pieces. I'm not 100% happy with how they fit, but for a first go-round I'm okay with it; and now I have my wardrobe taken care of next time I'm hired as an extra for an Elvis flick. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Swimming in a sea of polka dots

I've had the fabric hanging around for another version of the DKNY Vogue dress and I finally got it cut out a couple of nights ago. I love that pattern more and more each time I use it, and this version I'm pretty sure is my favorite. I still have to let the hem hang for a day or so before I can finish the whole thing, but I'll have finished pictures posted soon.

There is also a sash for this one, but I like the way the dress fits better with a separate sash versus the attached one. I also like being able to wear belts with it instead. It makes it a bit more versatile. I omitted the pockets in this version, so they wouldn't show through the light fabric.

Now, after getting all three of these dresses cut out and realizing how much fabric I had left from each one I decided to try and whip up a top from the scraps. That top quickly turned into much more. I began by adapting the top of this dress to make a '50s inspired wrap top; something I can wear with my new pants or my black 1949 shorts, etcetera. I lengthened the bodice by about two inches and improvised ties.  Overall I'm really happy with how it came out, since it was all essentially a make-it-up-as-you-go type of project.

I still had quite a bit of fabric left though....hmmm....what to do. I'd been thinking about the images of 1930s beach ensembles that I'd been digging through for the last little bit and remembered how much I like the simple, wide-leg trousers and low-cut tank top look that pops up so often. So here's what happened.

I used the tank top I had been wearing all morning as a pattern. It's far from perfect, but for an off-the-cuff experiment I think it turned out pretty well, and it's super comfortable. I think I could live in this outfit for a large part of the year; plus it used up some more big scraps.

Nevertheless, I still had a few decent sized pieces that I just couldn't bear to part with. What to do? Why not make a pattern from my favorite pair of underwear and make some more that fit the same way?!

So one dress, two tops and three pairs of underwear later I have finally used up an acceptable amount of fabric, minimizing trash. I have to wait for my foldover elastic to get here to finish these, but that'll be a quick and easy project to finish up in a week or so.


This is the finished dress.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Finished Pants

Here are the finished pants, please forgive the fuzzy photos. We're having extremely bad weather and the lighting, etcetera was horrible.

New directions...and some new pants.

As you've all noticed, even since I've been back my postings have been virtually non-existent. Attempting to back track and recount everything I've been wearing for the last month and a half would be difficult enough, but since I don't have pictures of the vast majority of said outfits, doing this is essentially impossible. This break in the original project has led me to think about what I'm going to do now. Counting  back and starting up again on day two hundred and what not (or wherever I am at this point) is just too complicated (mostly because of laziness), and for this reason I have decided to rethink the purpose of this blog. The daily outfit chronicling has more or less served it's purpose in my opinion, letting me take a more critical look at what I really do and don't wear and therefore making an impending closet purge a bit easier. While there will still be outfit posts here and there, whenever I think it's an outfit worth sharing, the primary focus of this blog is going to be more sewing/project related. I will make a concerted effort to better document my projects in their various stages of completion (starting with the next one), and hopefully through this process will also take more time and care with certain steps that I tend to fudge and cheat through in my sewing. I will of course also be including chronicles from any trips or events of any interest as well, along with any other interesting tidbits I come across. That said, posting will no longer be daily, but I will hopefully have at least one thing a week to share (hopefully more as long as school is out for the summer and I have more crafting time). So, that said, I'd like to kick off this new stage in my blogging life with a new(ish) project.

Many of you remember my tan palazzo pants...

A couple of months ago I purchased more of this linen/rayon blend in black and red to make two more pairs of these incredibly comfortable pants. I started the black pair before my trip in hopes to have a second pair to wear in Panamá. However, someone has a tendency not to make notes on patterns when I make alterations and frequently the second time around things don't work quite so well, despite my best efforts at rechecking measurements. I got the fabric all cut out and the pants almost finished when I decided it might be a good time to try them on. Woops. So apparently I forgot to add some extra seam allowance or something and that six pounds I gained last semester wasn't helping things either. Needless to say, the pants didn't get finished before I left and have consequently been sitting in a bag waiting for some attention for almost two months. These were the first things on the docket when I got back, since I have a bad habit of letting unfinished projects sit forever. I managed to lose that extra six pounds when I was in Panamá, which helped, but they were still just a bit on the snug side, particularly around the low hip. My first thought had been to add a self-fabric stripe down either leg (a-la tuxedo pants), but the slight bias of the pants seam was not really conducive to this (especially since I wasn't thinking things through too carefully), and it resulted in a bit of unsightly stretching on the right outseam. I scrapped the stripe idea and attempted with sufficient success to press out the seam so it would hang straighter. The fabric has enough give that it should stretch a bit, but I still need about an extra half inch through the hips. After consulting my mom and another seamstress friend, I decided to add a narrow yoke and button plackets down the sides. The right will be a false placket, and the left should give me just enough extra room to make them fit alright. I may just have to refrain from eating in these pants until they stretch with a bit of wear. Oh well. I think the problem is more or less solved and they are turning out pretty cute. The pictures aren't great since I was taking them at 2:00 am last night, but you get the idea.

The fact that I had just eaten an entire can of Pringles and a bowl of cereal was not really making effective fitting much easier.
I found a picture of some Schiaparelli beach pajama designs from the early 1930s online while trying to figure out what to do with these pants, and one of the designs had a pointed yoke that I thought was cute.

I decided to do a narrow, shaped yoke and shaped button plackets to make them a bit more interesting. Obviously they're not nearly finished yet, but this is how they're turning out. I found these buttons in our button stash, not wanting to make a special trip to find something to finish these pants with. No point in spending more money on notions if I don't have to!

My goal is to get these things finished today, but if not then tomorrow at the latest. Then I'm moving on to another dress project. It will either be a polka-dot version of the DKNY Vogue dress, or a maxi-dress (something I avoided for the longest time but have recently come to love, despite my mother's insistence that they were bad in the '70s and are still bad now). We'll see what I feel like working on once these puppies are finished up.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Because there are just too many pictures for one post...

I have to break this up a bit, because otherwise it would just be too much for a single post.

We took a day trip to an Emberá village. This was easily one of my favorite trips. We took dugout canoes down the Chagres River, then went on a short hike (I ended up hiking barefoot) to a waterfall where we went for a quick swim. After that it was back in the canoes and further down the river to the village.

This was our lunch at the village (along with a buffet of fresh tropical fruit); fried tilapia with patacones served in a banana leaf with hibiscus garnish. This was without a doubt the best fish I have ever tasted in my life, and was one of the two best tasting meals I think I've ever eaten.

We all went to a salsa club one night.

We spent a few days at the Decameron Beach Resort. I took a little Thomas Hardy to the beach with me this day. 

The last official weekend of the trip a few of us went to San Blas in the Kuna Yala comarca/reservation. We took a boat from our island hotel to Isla Perro on our first day there...

This is the view from the side of our deck.

The boys finally managed to get these hammocks up, although they still weren't the best arranged hammocks any of us had ever seen. Comfy enough though.

The morning of the 31st I went to the airport with everyone else and got my ticket changed so I could stay an extra week. Wednesday I went with a couple of friends who stayed on a few days to Panamá Viejo, the ruins of the old city.

This church was really neat.

Thursday we took the ferry out to Taboga to go to the beach. We spent most of the day there. It's a really beautiful island, but we all got really sunburned.

Eating vanilla ice cream pops.

One of my hosts, Victor, eating raspaos on the patio (they're like snow cones).

J.J. - cutest three year old in the world. He lives next door.
 Victor gave me this hat the night before I left. I have never worn baseball caps, but I love this one and I think it actually looks pretty cute. I've carried it with me since I got back, and will definitely be sporting it often this summer. I will wear mi gorra panameña proudly.

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