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.........