Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reappearing Act

 Two of my most admired sewing bloggers wrote me in the past few days to say, basically, "You Okay?" shams and Myrna both have busy lives with lots of fun stuff going on, i think it speaks to their thoughtful and generous natures that they took the time to reach out. Therefore, i'm taking this opportunity to publicly out them as the rock solid ladies they be. So there ;)

I am fine, just busy! With less time for leisure type activities, i've been sewing instead of blogging (somewhat abashed emoticon). In this blog post i'll offer a basic accounting of meself. First, i made up Colette's Hawthorn in a 100% cotton indigo chambray from Stone Mountain and Daughter. Fabulous, fabulous essential daily dress with well thought out variations. Basic, not too dressy for everyday, comfy and cute cute cute

layers nice too
 I got complimented on this dress mid-morning after i had slept in it the night before (did i say a bit busy?). This stretch cotton twill in pale camo tones is on it's way for version the next: with sleeves and a possible frankencollar from Marcy Tilton's Beatrice dress (Vogue 8876).

Speaking of the Tilton sisters, i took their Craftsy class The Ultimate Tee. If you have any interest in sewing tees, tops, tunics, dresses or etc. out of 'finer knits' stop reading now and go get this class. Two fantastic teachers with different teaching and creative styles, Marcy and Katherine Tilton cover how to handle all the fiddly bits (like when you splurged on a special length of fabric and don't have enough to make a muslin out of part of it), as well as taking you through all the steps from fabric choice, to pre-shrinking, to aftercare, binding variations, and seam finishes. The Tilton sisters give you all the practical knowledge you need in order to freely exercise your own creative choices, a rare mix.

 When i started watching the Ultimate Tee class I'd been stuck on this tank, inspired by the Alabama Chanin Basics line, for a few weeks. In The Ultimate Tee, Marcy shows a traditional men's crewneck undershirt neckline-type finish which she found on a RTW top in Paris. The idea of creating this neckline finish, which showcases the beauty of machine sewing, all by hand tickled me pink. So i went for it, and it cracks me up every time i look at it. I used Katherine's bound finish on the armholes, both in a cotton bobbinette. I love the way it turned out.

The Tilton sisters are a national treasure. Go give them some love!!!!

rayon lycra ITY digital print from Stone Mountain and Daughter fabrics

Another must-have pattern, this one for anyone who's hard to fit in the standard leggings out there (patterns and or RTW): Cake Patterns Espresso leggings. I always get mondo bagging right in the front of the crotch and i have to fold out alarming amounts of fabric to get anything near comfort - i've actually put horizontal darts in the crotch of leggings before. Why, yes, now that you ask, it does look incredibly weird and, frankly, verges on the pervy.

Espresso leggings in Nevada City's Broad Street Inn
But with Espresso leggings i'm pervy no more! This pattern is great if you have some sewing under your belt and want to crank out some outrageous covers for your gams, or if like me you have fussy, hard to fit and painful hindquarters. The template for creating your personalized pattern is very slick, and makes it incredibly easy to adjust for any fabrics or preferred wearing ease that doesn't fit the pattern specs of 5% lycra and 3/8" seam allowances. Just wrap the fabric around your leg at the measurement points (in the same direction the fabric will stretch as you plan to sew your leggings) and note how long it needs to be to give you the fit you want.  It's a snap to transfer these measurements to the proper place on your template because you labelled everything you need to know before - as part of the pattern generation. !SweeT! Seriously, it's like a public service.

The Phoenix Rose on Broad Street in Nevada City - go for the clothes, stay for the space

I've also made a muslin of the Red Velvet dress bodice. (I'll spare you the pics - i look like i escaped from reform school, eek!) I'm so enjoying the Cake Patterns - the whole system of fit, sizing and instruction is very different from the 'Big Four' which i can recite in my sleep. It's invigorating and good for the brain to work with a new approach - especially when it really works.

I appreciate Steph C's focus on practical, easy to make designs for producing reliable, fun to wear day to day clothing. I don't work in an office, i don't go to opera openings (sob), i don't frequent the club scene. I run around doing housework, a bit of gardening, lots of walking in towns and along hiking trails. Cake Pattern designs focus on garments which work in just this type of life, and i'm thrilled.

I've managed to cut and find a couple of stencils - that's Alabama Chanin's paisley design, with an altered flower shape. Finally, Mr. E and i have spent a few days in Nevada City this autumn...i took a bunch of pics of my Espressos at The Phoenix Rose while Mr. E explored their stock of unique steampunky slash Burnal Equinox designs. I took more pics of my Espressos in our room at the Broad Street Inn. I didn't want to forget that packer boots-violet lace socks-cattails leggings combo.

Nevada City shines as a beacon for eccentric dandies of all species. I believe that style encompasses what you do, even more than what you wear. Here's to all of us finding inspiration in our lives, and expressing that inspiration in what we choose to make.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Creating Columns Through Value Rather Than Color

Short post today. I like to watch the Fashion, Style & Wardrobe board over at the Stitcher's Guild forum. As the name suggests, this forum attracts all types of needle-wielders. The Fashion, Style & Wardrobe board has some great threads on wardrobe & capsule planning so you know it's like heaven to me. The Fabulous Doctor Elizabeth has run the various seasonal 6PAC sewalongs for years now. The idea is that if you sew along to the suggested 6PAC formula, six easy and coordinating pieces every three months, at the end of the year you will have a fabulous wardrobe of solid basics to complement and support all of your fun 'frosting' and 'dessert' pieces.

The Autumn 6PAC 'recipe' reads:

"Here is the autumn recipe:  pick a dark neutral, a light neutral, and a colour.  These should all work together in a way that pleases you (be it with minimal or strong contrast) The way we define neutral, after much discussion, is "a colour you would wear a pair of trousers in".  Thus, if you would wear bright pink trousers, bright pink is a neutral for 6PAC purposes!  However most people find more success with traditional neutrals such as black, brown, navy, stone, taupe, olive, plum, cream, or white.Sew up as follows:1 - a jacket or cardigan in the dark neutral.  In my opinion, you should sew this first as it sets the tone of the whole collection.2 - a bottom (trousers or skirt) in the dark neutral3 - a top in the light neutral4 - a bottom in the light neutral5 - another jacket or cardigan in the colour6 - a top in a "linking print" or the colour"

In this 6PAC's discussion, many semptresses brought up the whole 'matchy-matchy' idea lurking in this formula. The implication is that you'll make a third layer and bottom in the same excat color (possibly the same exact fabric), then a top and bottom in .... the same exact color, possibly even the same exact fabric....and a lot of posters opined that this would be (excruciatingly) boring to sew as well as too 'matchy-matchy' to really feel modern.

How to get the outfit cohesion and visually lengthening effects of wearing 'all the same same' without, well, wearing all the same same? And having to look at the samesamesamesamesame...... while sewing? By choosing fabrics all in the same value, while varying texture and hue. "Hue" is the actual color (red, charcoal, acid green, etc.) while "value" is where the fabric falls on the light/dark range. To illustrate this principal, which i've relied on for decades, i put together a few outfits illustrating this idea.

You can see that i've pulled all the color/de-saturated the hue in each look as well, which helps to make this aspect easier to see. You can do this yourself in any photo editing program (insert the name of your own photo editing software instead of GIMP, which i use). edited to add: Carol in Denver left some great techniques for 'seeing values' from the quilter's perspective in the comments: "Quilters look through clear red transparent film to see differing values, or take a black and white photocopy of a group of fabrics to discern differing values." Thank you Carol, both techniques would work great with outfit photos as well, and you could use the red film with your mirror. end edit.  You can also just stand back and look at your fabric or outfit through squinty eyes, through your eyelashes. Or, take a look at things in deep twilight, or at dawn's first light, when there's just enough light to make things out but you can't see any color. Like with any other skill, practice makes improvement.

Outfit details from top left, top to bottom in each look: Navy lightweight linen, charcoal cotton ribknit, heavyweight black linen; navy lightweight linen, charcoal cotton ribknit, dark wash denim; black/white stripe light weight cotton, black/grey print with taupe/grey embroidery in lightweight cotton jersey, mid wash coton denim; light sage silk broadcloth, stone cotton bengaline. 

I hope this illustration gives you some ideas on how to create 'columns' that are more exciting to sew, and fun to wear, than 'all the same, all the same'.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Desert Island, My OneTrue Love, The Beatrice* Dress: Vogue 8876

As soon as i spotted this Marcy Tilton beauty on the Vogue patterns website months ago, i knew. Come to momma, little one. This baby is mine. Cara mia!!! (swoon)  Seldom do i see a design which speaks to me so completely. Everything about this design clicked for me: stylish yet not trendy at all, this take on the classic shirtwaist reminds me of the ladies in early twentieth century novels by various modernists - very femme with antique details (high, ruffled collar and little puff cap sleeves over a slim arm) but extraordinarily modern in it's complete practicality (pockets!).  * my nickname of 'Beatrice' for this dress design just happened, but i suspect it hinges on precisely this antique aesthetic vibe/ birth of modernity intersection.

Easy to wear, with plenty of room to move, this dress can be made up sleeveless in cotton gauze for a summer garden party; in heavy linen hopsack with cap sleeves and sturdy buttons to toss on over whatever while gardening, cooking, or pulling a transmission; or in embroidered silk shantung and organza with cap and long sleeve as a stunner of a cocktail dress - try ivory for a completely adorable bride. Made up in, let's say, a medium weight printed linen in neutral colors a single iteration of this dress can be easily dressed up or down with accessories and pieces worn under (petticoat & cami) or over (little shrug or jacket). It also takes quite nicely to belting.

the detail on this print is so fine i wanted fine details in the construction too. i used the black & white stripe to finish the armscye as well as the pockets.
Even though i'm a diehard "small, highly edited wardrobe" gal i never could see myself wearing a uniform, committing to one look day after day. I always figured my big question was how to have a bunch of variety without a lot of clothes. Until i finished this dress, and immediately wore it for three days straight. Sure, we were having a heat wave, so i spent some time lounging around in my skivvies or a slip or a kimono, but still. I can see having a handful of these dresses in different fabrics making up the bulk of my closet and me being a happy girl.

While that was a big surprise, at the same time it confirmed my desire to focus on taking the time, effort, money, and thought to make pieces that i reallyreally like. It's fascinating how little it takes to satisfy you when that little is EXACTLY what you want.

The last few months i've been meditating on or contemplating the idea of slow fashion. I've been taking my time sewing these garments in a way quite new to me. I've never been a quick sempstress, but for many years my focus was on speedy, sturdy techniques i could use to 'knock out' clothing in as little time as possible. I do believe there's a place for this type of sewing, like when you have little kids who can't run around naked ALL the time, or when you need clothing pieces and you're not all that excited about the process (making workhorse tanks or leggings, maybe). I was just ready for a change.

Just shy of a Watteau back - so graceful, so easy to wear.
This last while i've set no deadlines for myself. I just started and took my time until i was completely satisfied with what i'd done.  On this dress i probably took the most time in laying out the pattern pieces to showcase the print of the material. I didn't clock it (another new practice), but somewhere between four to six hours sounds about right. I cut pieces in single layers to get the print placement just so, and cut four instead of two front yokes to have a cleaner finish on the inside.

I've also completely re-done parts of garments in the last few months, something i would never do before. I didn't want to 'waste' the time and was uber-focussed on the end product. While making this dress, i originally machine stitched some white cotton blend tape down the front facings under where i planned to place the snaps. But the poly in the tape and the  machine stitching made it very stiff, and the white was too bright.

all this hopping around gives a girl a certain glow....
So i ripped it all out by hand, very carefully as as not to leave any marks, then drew new placement lines and hand sewed this black trimmed eggshell tape in it's place. All this fussing added about three hours to the construction, but the end result is astronomically preferable to my eyes and hands.

Ironically, over time all this slow sewing ends up streamlining, simplifying the whole process. As i pay attention i make fewer mistakes and have more control over the process.  I've figured out the fit and construction techniques on this dress, and every time i make it in future i'll be quicker through practice. Construction details techniques, types of materials, fitting strategies - the more familiar i am with my preferences the fewer fuss and fumbles, the more i can quickly hone in on what i want to make and how i want to go about it. The calendar time stretches ever longer, but the quality of that time is smooth, satisfying, regenerative.

When i started my style journey years ago, i thought i would end up at a more efficient, organized place. I have gone about much of my journey within a rational, logical framework. But the meat of it all comes back to a very intuitive, fluid, almost leisurely approach.  Magdalen Rose was spot on!

 And yes, I'm participating in Visible Monday, not least because dear Patti manages to comment within minutes of any post publication no matter how many months since i've last posted! Supernatural powers, i'm telling ye! And of course wearing a garment you made yourself always ups the visibility ante - no one else to take the blame or credit.  But by making a garment designed by a goddess (Marcy Tilton) you can hedge your bets ;)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who knew i had two blogs in Bloglovin'?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Again, hoping to make following more seamless and somnolent....

Claimin' The Blaugh For Bloglovin', Maties

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Hopefully this and the addition of a small, orange square will help make reading your favorite Eccentric just that much more convenient and mesmerizing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lantern Skirt and Deadwood Vest

I finished these two pieces months ago and have been getting a lot of wear out of them. In fact, although i just drooled over this Marcy Tilton for Vogue Patterns vest design from the get-go and couldn't wait to make it up, i still have been surprised by how much of a workhorse it's ended up being. It's got the structure of a jacket with a lot less heat (no sleeves and whatnot). No reason i shouldn't have sussed that one out before, but i'm more than happy to learn from experience!

The skirt is genius. Hot Pattern's Fast & Fabulous Lantern Skirt is the same front and back, so it cuts out and sews up very quickly and easily. The contoured waistband sits comfortably along the navel and the roominess of the skirt makes for happy legs. I chose natural linen for my first version and it's saving my life during hot, cranky days when i want to look stylish and/or other than bedraggled. I plan on a dark version for colder seasons, and i'm seriously eyeing all the polka dots i come across for a fun print version. This could be a rewarding project for an advanced beginner who likes the silhouette, due to the straightforward fitting and construction. I'm very happy to have this as a TNT skirt, and scheming to try it out as a frankenpattern skirt option for dresses, too.

The 'Deadwood' vest is a more intricate pattern and i took my time with it. I chose a glistening/pearl finished linen with a plain reverse side, as well as a silk/metallic blend for the ruffle trim. In the photo above i tried to convey the sparkle and see through effects of the silk blend.  The texture variations subtly enhance the natural color of the materials, adding a bit of femme flash. Of course i love my neutrals, but the natural scheme also downplays what could be a pretty dressy piece so i can easily wear it with jeans and denim.

I decided to finish the inside seams with bias cotton lawn leftover from this Sorbetto top. It took a lot of time, i think over a month of working on this vest - partly because this was my first time finishing a garment in this way, so i had to stop and think deeply at intervals. I so enjoy wearing a nicely finished garment! Such a different feel than ready to wear. The best way i can describe it is that the piece functions as a harmonious whole.

But who is that mysterious figure strolling the beach? A while back i learned that Magdelan Rose had posted a very flattering and touching piece on how The Dashing Eccentric had influenced her personal style. Well, all i can say is i still blush occassionally thinking about it, and you should check out her site! Lots of thought provoking fun in the archives. However, i was so tickled by the graphic she chose to illustrate her post, because i suspected it could solve a big sewing problem for me, one i've had for decades. I've wanted a personal label FOREVER. But they were all geared towards....well, grandmas with buns sewing teddy bears for grandbaby number 32. Tumbling blocks, ABC's, pastel colors, pink for girls and blue for boys. Very nice, just not me.

Of course, with the internet all variety of personalized items are more available, including sewing labels. But what with one thing and another, i guess i just wasn't in the habit of of looking for labels of my own and made no progress. But when i saw this lady on the beach, i knew. She embodies slow fashion, i love bustles to the point of wearing them in real life, i'm known for scarves and canes and overly exuberant hair, i went to UC Santa Cruz (school mascot is the banana slug), and this lady is a wonderful pun on my last name. I made up a graphic file from the common domain file, then printed some up on printer friendly cotton. Next thing i knew, i have my own exquisite clothing labels, only thirty five years later.  All thanks to the beautiful Magdalen Rose!

 Marcy Tilton designed this vest as a showpiece for unique buttons, and i followed her lead on this garment. I've had some of these buttons for over twenty years now, i still love them and they still work wonderfully with my style.  Never let a great button escape your grasp!

I have to admit i have a terrible time remembering the various numbers associated with this and that Big Four pattern company offerings. That part of my brain is slippery as boiled okra. Fortunately (for me) a few designs suggest their own name and i don't have to remember that four digit sequence, at least when talking to myself or writing myself little lists. Thus, Vogue 8599 will always be the Deadwood vest. Trixie would rock it in a magenta and tangerine striped cotton sateen with black swiss dot ruffle; Joannie of course would don it in burgundy velveteen strewn with cobweb grey lace; Alma Garrett could wear view A straight off of the envelope photo; and i like to imagine that Calamity Jane herself might wear my humble version in some beautiful alpine meadow alive with chattering tanagers and larkspur shimmering through a cerulean sky, in a land she wanders hand in hand with her impossibly wild and dashing man.........

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Just An Outfit And Some Deets

I really liked this look so i wanted to post it. Yes, those are new shoes to the blog - Fluevog Wonder Everests, in fact. I saw these shoes a year ago last January at the Union Square Fluevog store. I tried them on and took a couple of pictures, then waited more than nine months for the price to come down. Thanks to the holy mother mountain goddess and various Fl-Angels my size was still available.

Using this picture as my computer wallpaper for most of the interim may have played a factor, i don't know. But, in addition to being gloriously beautiful and quite walkable, these shoes bear the name of a significant obsession in this household.

I see there's a number of missing titles (in the attic right now) including: Boukreev's book The Climb, Dickinson's The Other Side of Everest, Breshear's history of Everest climbs with the section on finding Mallory's body, and Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall. That's just the ones i remember of the top of my head, and just the ones on climbing Everest in particular rather than high altitude mountaineering generally.

I love this little bubble cardi, it actually provides a wee bit of warmth while being quite comfy even in a fair amount of heat. How, i have no clue! I finally purchased a bit of cotton netting with which to replace the nylon now comprising the edging and cuffs - more comfy and i think a nicer visual weight, calling more attention to those fun details.

Close up shot of the shoes. The stitching is dark grey. I actually prefer these to the black and white pair, you can go from low to high contrast by choice of socks or hose. Same with adding color - very flexible for such a statement shoe!

Here's a picture of the snap details from my Katherine Tilton jacket for Butterick from the last post. I used light dusty pink and violet embroidery floss, and like how the floss and dimples show on the right side.

Lastly, go to sham's blog and check out her outrageously divine Geisha Faces Duster! Let me tell you my friends i would be gnashing my teeth in stomach-gnawing envy at the sight of this creation, or at least dusting off my B & E skills, were i not 80% finished with a pretty great piece myself. I'm not saying it's up there with sham's duster, but i am pretty pleased. So, until we meet again, i'll be getting to work and wholeheartedly enjoying the sartorial awesomeness of my sisters in style!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Katherine Tilton Trapeze Top: B5891

Hello you all!  Reader Adrienne of Wear The Hat left a nice comment a while back: "We miss you you must be sewing up a storm!!!" aw, well, i miss you all too; it's funny how a person really notices not having the back and forth, the lack new ideas (visual and verbal), the not putting out one's own ideas and efforts out for the whole wide world to take a look at. Plus, once you start blogging yourself you realize the time and effort and creativity it truly takes to produce the 'web content' out there. From everyday people sharing how they dress, to technical tutorials on arcane sewing techniques i love it all and it's all so helpful and inspiring that i feel like a wee bit of a thief if i read and don't give anything back!

I don't know about any storms, but i have been reliably clunking along and have a few garments to show for it. As much as the state of my wardrobe could stand a more rapid infusion of new duds, i've never been that speedy of a sempstress. So i've been taking my time, adding those touches which i know will add to my enjoyment in the making and in the wearing. And i take little bits of sewing time  where i can - if i have ten or fifteen minutes i can sew a couple of seams or make a couple of alterations to a pattern, so even in a busy week at the end of it i can see i've made visible progress. Yee haw!

Katherine Tilton designed patterns for Vogue Patterns for years and i liked her designs quite a bit, along with those of her sister Marcy. Recently Katerine has moved from Vogue to Butterick, and i have to say i like her Butterick designs even better than the Vogue ones!  As soon as i laid eyes on this shirt jacket (B5891) i loved it. Loved the lines, loved the practicalities, loved the pockets, loved the many collar options, highly intrigued by the vest included in the pattern.....

I had purchased this length of printed linen as an end cut at Marcy Tilton's website a few months back. At that time i'd envisioned making it up into a duster in Marcy's shirt/jacket/dress pattern Vogue 8709.  I started by making a muslin. I knew i had to in this case, because i had a strong suspicion that either this pattern would just not work on my figure, or it would be a huge production number to make it work. This design combines a lightly shaped bodice with fabulous slouchy pockets flowing into an asymmetrical peplum. It is the perfect combination of slouch and dash on rectangular figures with small shoulders and busts. However, as i feared and learned, on ladies with lineback shoulders and a substantial bosom it's just too much extra fabric on top of your larger areas and not many opportunities to create any definition.

I made a muslin right out of the envelope with no alterations, and the pockets seemed to pop up about 2" below my bust - as if each bosom needed it's own personal pocket! My own gals being more freewheeling types, they don't need to take along any personal articles, so i tried lengthening the bodice and adding a bit of a french dart. But when i lengthened the bodice enough to give my bosom some 'breathing room' the overall proportions were not doing it for me anymore (no surprise as by now i'd pretty much scotched the designer's original vision) and the whole thing was turning into too much fuss.

So i decided to make up the Katherine Tilton jacket, and only did a tissue fitting before cutting into my linen. I don't have a duster, but i have a good yard and a half left over for another garment.

Which is what i figured would happen from the start. I was simply so inspired by all the fantastic versions of Vogue 8709 i've seen over time that i didn't mind if the whole exercise went bust.  It was fun to see how the design went together and i learned a lot about how my figure interacts with various shapes. By now i have enough experience sewing and dressing this body that i knew which design would work with my figure and why, as soon as i looked at each. But, i feel it's good to stretch every once in a while, to make sure you know what you're on about or even discover something new.

And there's another factor to this whole figure-flattery tale. Marcy Tilton has a petite rectangular figure with a dainty bust. Katerine Tilton has a long torso with nice square shoulders and a substantial bosom. Now, i feel that a big reason i love both Tilton sisters' designs is because they are designing for themselves - women a bit older, with artistic sensibilities and a largely casual lifestyle.  Like me, adn like lots of you. And i'm strongly suspecting that they also tend to design for their own particular figures - and who can blame them? Luckily for us we've been blessed with two designing Tilton sisters with two different figures!

I wore this piece over in the Haight and got a number of nice compliments on it. As i try to convey in this pictures, this piece is a lovely shapeshifter - it can be a triangle, look squarish from the side, or worn open drape casually over a little cami top. I also put a couple of special touches on the interior - but those will be revealed another day. I want to get this published!  Hold your families and friends close on this holiday and talk to you soon!  steph

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pure Frosting, Straight Up

I wouldn't be surprised if i come across as very interested in, but not passionate about clothes. What with all the checklists, planning, charts, discipline (restrict all your purchases to only two colors for a year for utmost re-mixability), rules (NEVER EVER buy a piece unless it goes with every other item in your closet)........well, a person could definitely get the impression that, pour moi, clothing remains a strictly intellectual exercise in planning, being reasonable and staying practical.

Ha! I may not have them often, but i do have my moments. One occurred a couple of months ago, when Marcy Tilton posted this Orlando French Viscose Knit fabric to her web store. Be still my heart!! Mesmerizing curlicues emneshed in a romantic-moderne pattern, aquas and roses melting into a whole range of yummy neutrals in taupe and burnt umber, on fabric with a subtle sheen and so so soft on the skin. It is very rare for me to find anything quite this luxurious (which could be why i focus on the analytical so much - to compensate ;)

Now, one often has to pay for this much yummy. The Orlando fabric is no exception. Happily, gift money appears during the holidays, which money is only truly honored when spent on those pricey, splendid items one normally avoids. I had made up Katherine Tilton's 8817 tee once already and found it to be the most flattering and flexible pattern of it's kind. I laid out the pieces to see how much i'd need to order, and did so.

As often happens in fairy tales, the yardage was even more wonderful in person, and ridiculously easy to work with. I had a lot of fun laying out the pieces in such a way as to emphasize the curlicue knots in the design and the glowing bands of rose.  In the end, i think i would have preferred the back to be the front if that makes sense - the lighter shades and colors flatter my complexion more than the darker tones of the front. But that is nit-picking in the extreme!

In these two views you can see the delightful asymmetry in the way the print fell on this top
While waiting for my package to arrive, i'd schemed about different fabrics and trims i'd combine with the Orlando in order to create an 'arty tee' as the Tilton sisters call them. Oh, i had fun daydreaming! (scroll down and click through).  But when i got the fabric and draped it on myself while looking in the mirror the way to go was obvious. There was so much going on in the fabric itself that adding anything more would be gilding the lily.

I did want to bring more of the rose tones up towards my face. To do so i added a strip of the Orlando in rose between the two center front pieces, barely under the bust. And i used some dusty rose/taupe silk organza (scavenged from an ill-fitting RTW blouse) to bind the neckline.  I feel these subtle touches can make or break a garment. They're well worth the time, trouble, and thought.

 I wanted to include these pics as a little warning on taking photos too literally. They were taken with the same camera at the same height at the same distance from the camera one minute apart. The only real change is in my pose. To my eye, the picture on the right really over-emphasizes my bust, and if that was the only image i had to judge this top i'd have serious misgivings about wearing it out of the house. Now, i have mirrors and people around me who give me honest feedback, plus training in life drawing and photography, all of which gives me the experience and feedback to know that the image on the right is an inaccurate representation of how i look. Which is just to say - give photography it's proper due in outfit evaluation, but be aware of it's limitations.

I didn't style an outfit for this post, my hair is looking a little skeevy, the lighting's a bit winter-drab, but i couldn't wait to show you this piece that i love love love!!! I hope revealing my drooling-lust-consumed-clothing-floozy side isn't too shocking for long-term readers. If it is, brace yourself, because i bought another length of fabric at the same time based on sheer lust as well!

Have any of you fallen head over heels in love with any gorgeous things recently? Were you able to bring the object of your affections home to live with you? I hope so! As much as i harp on the importance of planning and discipline for making a functional closet, no one can be truly stylish without true passion and living without any indulgence ever drains the joy out of life.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Festive Duds

By Christmas Day i'd finished my bubbly twinset. What a treat to be thinking, as i usually do in the holiday season, 'what to wear, what to wear......' and, instead of biting my nails in frustration, think, "Oh! yeah, right!", go to the closet and pick up this little twinset. Done!

Bit by bit i move closer to my dream closet, one by one i tick off the items i've so painstakingly identified as worthy of a spot in my wardrobe. At times it feels so slow!  But more and more often i'm able to realize the fruits of my labor.

I'm not feeling 'wordy' at all about this outfit, but it was a lot of fun to wear and quite physically comfortable as well. Elastic waist and loose overtop is perfect for your feasting-type holidays ;)  In future i'd like to try this look with some sheer/patterned hose. But we've been experiencing a chilly winter this year, with temps around freezing many nights, so i wore wool blend tights instead.

I really like the cut of the little shell in this pattern. I've been wanting to develop a TNT (Tried N True) pattern for a tank/shell for quite a while. This pattern looked very promising so i'm running it up in the leftover fabric from my latest leopard print jacket. I love the pretty little jewel-type neckline of the original pattern, but alas high and close necklines don't flatter me at all. I ended up tracing out the neckline from one of Katherine Tilton's tees onto the body of this little shell, and i am very excited about the results. I've worn a tank just about every day since mid-November, it's been so cold, and i only have 3 or 4 in my dresser. A wider selection would be welcome for aesthetic and practical reasons!

The only trouble with this twinset is finding your way into it. Which side is out, which end is up, front versus back, and so on - it's all so confusing when the material itself is so transparent and similar on both sides. Thankfully i had a wee brainstorn, and marked the inside back neck of the shell with a little embroidered rose.

These are my favorite type of handmade roses. I've seen them called 'bouillon roses' (from the embroidery stitch used to create them) and also 'rag roses'. They're so three dimensional! I stitched this one onto one of the bubbles in the scrap, then trimmed the bubble out when i was done with the rose. I then stitched the 'rose-ed bubble' onto a similar 'bubble' at the center back neck, using tiny stitches and (most importantly) matching thread.

ah, beautiful are those things which are whimsical, frivolous, and banally practical all at once? I can't wait to wear this twinset over my cadmium red medium tank.....

Happy New Year! Best Wishes to you and yours! May you have extravagant luck in your own wardrobe and outfit pursuits this year!