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The theme for this year's 2019 Met Gala is "Camp: Notes on Fashion," which turned out to be an excellent choice as far as the red (or pink) carpet goes.  And for those of the attendees who chose not to dress thematically, well, they looked rather boring and out of place.  There were lots of Vegas showgirls, feathers, headdresses, some Barbie references thrown in for good measure, and some people definitely went with a rather avant guard take on the theme of the day, what I would call almost surreal in nature.  Another important factor in the evening's garment choices . . . confidence.  If you aren't secure wearing something ridiculous, no matter how fantastic the joke is, no one is going to get it.  Well, let's take a look at what everyone came up with!   

In my opinion, Janelle Monáe wins the night (if in fact it is a competition, which, let's be honest, it is).  I believe Christian Siriano created this piece, although I suspect Ms. Monáe has a lot to do with the creative aspects of her outfits.  One could argue that most of her red carpet looks, and even her everyday looks, are very "Camp."  I think she looks fabulous, from the perfect length on the skirt, to the fabulously exaggerated skirt silhouette, to the stack of hats perched atop her head.  I might call this more Surreal than Camp, but I love it, whatever you call it.  I even see a little Ballet Russes/Paul Poiret in the mix.  I am finding it hard to pick this apart, although is that a loose thread at the hem, or did someone else leave that there?  But joking aside, this is pretty close to perfect, and worn by someone who know exactly how to pull off such a major look.  Brava!



Now Tracee Ellis Ross comes in a close second for me.  This is amazing, and she is clearly having a blast.  Love the draping on that skirt!  I would have liked to see a fabulous necklace front and center in that frame,  though.  And what does the green purse have to do with anything?  Leave that at home, next time, or let one of your entourage carry it for you!



Okay, this just keeps getting better.  Lily Collins as Pricilla Presley is completely over the top, but magnificent.  The hair and makeup is amazing, and while that much dress could go wrong in so very many ways, the proportions are excellent.  Even the choice of a black shoe paired back with the dark hair speckled with florals looks perfect.



Now, in the real world, I would think that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley looks stunning in Oscar de la Renta.  The gown paired with the feathers is stunning, and she looks like she could step in for Ginger Rogers (minus the dance ability and talent, of course) but this is not ironic, or even that over the top.  Yes, there are a whole lot of feathers, but I don't think this was in the spirit of the evening, and therefore it stands out for the wrong reasons.  She should have saved this one for another event.



The same goes for Kate Moss in Marc Jacobs.  This outfit is amazing.  But is it "camp"?  And I hate the messy hair.  But the silver sparkles are to die for!  The makeup and accessories are a perfect match for the ensemble, and the length of the skirt is spot on.  Jean Harlowesque, for sure!  But is this "Camp?"  Not when compared to the rest of the crowd.



And here we have another "look at the beautiful people" theme with Tom Ford and Gemma Chan.  I suppose that headdress belongs in the "Camp" camp, but the dress and matching cape belongs on any red carpet.  Boring, Mr. Ford.



Now, this is more like it.  Julia Garner is wearing Zac Posen.  It's quirky, for sure, but the draping on the dress is exquisite.  This is what Zac Posen does best.  His obsession with the 3D printing is relegated to the headdress this time around, and it works beautifully.  And the Pre-Raphaelite curls with the dark lip is stunning.  I love this look!  And I generally hate silver and gold together, but this is wonderful!!



Wonder Woman finally gets to wear a cape.  I have said it before and I will say it again: Gal Gadot could wear a potato sack and look amazing.  However, I am not in love with this particular look.  She makes it work, but her stylists could have gone so much further.  I also think a deeper pink lip would have made her face stand out a bit more - and I would rather look at that than this outfit.



This outfit belongs on Cher, not Emily Ratajkowski.  The fact that this was designed by Bob Mackie just adds insult to injury.  I actually love the Nefertiti reference, and the look is stunning.  I just don't see the personality and showmanship needed to wear something like this.  And the fact that she looks bored doesn't help matters.



Here we have another Cher appropriate outfit, this time on Jennifer Lopez.  She is much more capable of pulling off the look than Emily, but is this any different than any other Jennifer Lopez outfit by Versace?  If you take off the beaded hairpiece, she might be attending any formal event.  I wish she had gone further with it.



Now, Katy Perry is another one who should have had this theme down pat.  However, this is not what I was expecting.  It's over the top, for sure, but what exactly was she going for?  And the way the headdress sits on her head is awkward.  It looks like the bedazzled a wig cap, for goodness sake - which is just sloppy.  I do love the shoes.  I was hoping to hear that American Duchess Historical Footwear was somehow involved in their creation!  One can only hope that her aspirations to play Lumière in Beauty and the Beast will come true.



I was hoping for more from Moschino.  Jeremy Scott could be considered the King of Camp, but I am not all that impressed with this outfit on Gwen Stefani.  Don't get me wrong, she looks fabulous, and like she is having a great time.  But his ensembles can be so clever, and this just seems over the top and obvious.  The fact that the bodysuit of jewels drops below the leotard just looks sloppy and unintentional.  If you are going for tacky, you have to be perfect with fit and proportion.



I am slightly confused by this one.  Is Nina Dobrev going to sit on the front of an expensive car or ship as a hood ornament and/or figurehead?  Zac Posen seems a bit obsessed with plastics and lighting these days.  Sure, push the envelope, but this seems so far outside his style and strength.  I blame the Met Gala dress worn by Claire Danes a few years back.  Posen received so much press over the light up dress that he is stuck on a theme that doesn't work with his aesthetic.  Also, aren't we supposed to be using less plastic?!  I guess this is one way to assure his designs will never disappear.  Also, I hope she doesn't get tired because sitting down seems impossible in this.



At first I thought that Emily Blunt was wearing Dolce and Gabbana; turns out, this is Michael Kors.  It's very gold.  Very, very, gold.  It think Sharon Stone's character in Casino would be jealous.  I think the makeup could be a bit bolder, but she does look lovely, as always.  But I wanted more from her.  I am disappointed since she often has such wonderful style on the red carpet.  In some ways this is too much, and in others, not nearly enough.



Billy Porter does it again in The Blonds.  He out Gaga-ed Gaga, being carried in by six men wearing nothing more than gold pants.  And then he unfurled.  This is definitely over the top.  Anyone else would look ridiculous, but he definitely puts on good show, right down to the gold leaf makeup!  If this isn't Camp, I don't know what is.



All I can say is that someone better let Celine Dion take this Oscar de la Renta home with her.  Is she still performing in Vegas?  Because this is perfect.  She looks like an Erte illustration come to life.  And I imagine this is a hoot to wear with all of the movement from those strings of beads.  The only problem here is when her arms get tired from being outstretched - keep showing off that beaded goodness to its best advantage Celine!  You can do it!  Her face is slightly strange, all eyes and no mouth, but I am so distracted by the rest of the outfit, I almost can look past it.



My first thought on this dress was, why is Kim Kardashian West copying Beyonce's rubber mess from the Met Gala a few years back.  On second glance, however, I cannot really tell what this Mugler is made from.  The overly tanned skin, and the plasticness of her face and body is rather revolting to me, but could she be making fun of herself?  And the use of the crystals to make the dress look like it's dripping wet is rather genius.  I am not a fan of Kim, but I find the garment extremely clever.  The hair . . . I get that she wanted to look wet, but the stringy ends are the only sloppy part of this ensemble, and I find it distracting.  As far as Kanye goes, he looks like he got tired of waiting for Kim to finish getting ready, took a nap, and ran out of time to put anything on but a tracksuit.  Lazy, and boring.  But Kim, this dress is magical and a work of art.  Those beads really look like droplets of water, and it is mesmerizing.



As for sister number one, I think Kendall Jenner as Barbie takes Vegas is pretty great.  My one real problem with the dress is the lopsided feathers.  It doesn't look purposeful, just like she lost half of her wings.  Perhaps she could take some tips from Celine and use that feathered arm to pose the heck out of this thing.  But the makeup and hair are perfection.  I am not completely sold on the necklace, but that could be the lighting.  No, I think I want something more lavalier in silhouette to match all those sharp pointed feathers and beading.



Now this has got to be the most tasteful "camp" I have never seen.  I think Zoe Saldana blended over the top and classic with this Michael Kors.  I love the purple orchids as a contrast, and the Studio 54 hair paired with the feather jacket is spectacular.  But perhaps it isn't fair to look quite this good when being over the top is part of the theme?  But the color pairing . . . it's gorgeous on her!



An icon wearing an image of herself.  Not many people could get away with this, but I think that Diane von Furstenberg comes close.  Lady Liberty's crown and torch look cheap, which makes this ensemble less than perfect, but I appreciate the sense of humor.



I wish that the silhouette of this frock was a little more contained.  How Julianne Moore looks so great in this color is a mystery to me, but it makes her glow.  The overruffled gown by Valentino, however, needs some waist shaping to keep her from looking too Jessye Norman in a caftan.  And the choice of blue earrings and no necklace with that scoop neckline is a strange choice.



This lady has range on the red carpet.  I often think that Kerry Washington fancies herself a Lupita Nyong'o when is comes to fashion - she is not.  But Lupita knows how to handle herself on the red carpet, and this is proof.  I especially love the golden hair picks; sort of Nefertiti goes wild kind of thing.  The outfit is all over the place, but somehow it works (notice how perfect the fit is on her).  The proportions are excellent, and that eye makeup is amazing!



Hamish Bowles dyed his hair to match his feathered wrap?!  He looks wonderful in Maison Margiela.  I like that the cape has slits for the arms to go through - so much more wearable than without, right?!  I mean, how else are you going to hold the basket while perusing the salad bar at Whole Foods?



I really want to like Rachel Brosnahan in this Erdem piece, but I think the makeup is too minimal, and she gets lost in all that floral.  I also wish the bows were graduated to make the shoulders appear larger, and the waist appear smaller.  In a similar vein, I think that those bodice ruffles could have extended more toward the shoulder to improve the silhouette.  And do I spy horsehair in the flounce ruffles?!?  Oh no, I thought we were going to get through an entire red carpet lineup without having this issue.  The color show through is distracting, and I don't see why those ruffles needed the extra support.  Oh well, I guess it's tradition at this point, and someone has to use the stuff inappropriately.  Finally, I don't get the hairstyle.  This has potential, but needs more work.  That color is luscious, though.




I call this one "aging supermodel wants you to know her body still looks amazing."  This is just unnecessary.  And the fit in the crotch region just looks painful.  Perhaps if the feathered jacket was attached as a sort of tail à la Vegas showgirls after she removed it, with an added plume on a sparkly headdress?  But this just looks unfinished and silly.  Is Chicago still playing on Broadway?  Is Amber Valletta going out for the role of Roxie?  Because that is the only excuse for this. 



Paging Cher.  Ciara  has raided your closet.  Are you going to put up with this?!?  Now, this is a whole lot of look by Peter Dundas.  Love that green color, love the hair.  I wish the cutouts were a little more extreme through the bodice.  This doesn't look like it went as far as it should.  How about more of a neck cutout so that she could wear some oversized choker necklace dripping with beads.  As it stands, that necklace is chintzy.  Her face looks stunning though, framed in that crazy wig!  And in a case like this, a thigh slit is appropriate (and I don't say that often!).



I will give Zendaya points for the theatrical spectacle that was her Cinderella inspired walk down the red carpet, complete with missing shoe and a dress that lights up with a little help from Law Roach/her Fairy Godmother.  But the fit of the bodice is distracting to me.  Perhaps the lightshow necessitated some bulky equipment?  Fabulous idea, not so great as far as execution goes.  And look at that sloppy hemline - the overskirt is too short at the front.



I know Hailee Steinfeld is making a statement, but I do wish that the execution of the skirt was better.   Why couldn't the phrase be added to a completely ruffled skirt?  The skirt looks unfinished as it stands, and I hate that you can see the hoops beneath the letters.  I do like the wild curls with the off center part and oversized bow.  But I can't tell if the petulant look is in character with the ensemble, or she is just bored with it all . . .



I like the mermaid theme, and I can't remember the last time that Kylie Jenner was this covered up.  The Versace gown has a great silhouette and the feathered sections are nicely balanced.  Overall, not bad.  Although I do wish that the bodysuit matched her skin tone a little better, or that they went with a more lavender or purple shade.  As is, it looks cheaper than necessary.  


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Butterick, Simplicity, and Vogue Patterns (all produced by the same company), released their Spring Catalogs within days of each other.  And while nothing has me clamoring for my nearest JoAnn Fabrics to scoop up the latest designs, there are a few that stood out to me.


I am sure it will come as no surprise that the one vintage reproduction from Simplicity is first on my list, even though I will probably never wear a bikini top with a pair of shorts.  But I can see myself altering the top to have a little more midriff coverage, and I will admit that I think the whole outfit it adorable, if not relevant to my wardrobe needs.


Cynthia Rowley has two new patterns released in this catalog.  The bathing suit and coverup is cute, but I have no use for it.  Should I find the need for a swimsuit, you better believe I would choose the retro Simplicity design over something modern!  But this dress looks nice.  There is really nothing special about it, so I have a feeling that the gingham fabric is what has me taking a second look at this one.  I have so many of the Cynthia Rowley designs for Simplicity, but other than the two that I made many, many years ago, I never seem to choose her patterns, so perhaps I should skip this one.


I do love a great shirtdress.  And the color blocked check print is really lovely.  However, this design has no waist seam, and that is just a recipe for disaster on me.  But I do find the print color blocking to be a striking combination!


And look, Vogue had the same idea with their own version of this design.  This one, however, has the same issue for me . . . no waist seam.  Thankfully, I probably have five other shirt dress designs calling my name from the sewing room.
The final Simplicity design that made me take a second look is this blouse.  I love the technical drawing, but it looks less than fantastic on the model.  Also, I never know how to style these things - I think they work best with a pair of pants, which doesn't work with my wardrobe.  I also know from experience that elastic waisted blousey garments do not look very nice on my body shape which means I would probably want to do some major alterations.  But I do love that neckline with the puffed sleeves!


Butterick also has a single vintage reproduction pattern in their new collection.  It's a cute halter dress with a bolero.  This is certainly a familiar silhouette and design, and not the most interesting choice, but I do like the addition of the coverup.  The sleeve cuff and collar look very smart.
At first glance, I was going to pass by Butterick 6679, but once I realized it was made for knits I took a second look.  I may want to add this to my collection because I have very few made-for-knit patterns in my stash, and I like the silhouette of this one.  Will this particular pattern make me want to use the knit fabrics I have languishing in the sewing room?  Perhaps.  I could definitely see the knee length full skirted version in my wardrobe.
While I like the look of this pattern (possibly because it reminds me of a 1960s silhouette, the drafting seems slightly off to me.  I think that the length of the overshirt makes the waist appear bigger than it really is, which makes the dress less flattering than it could be.  Now, is the pattern worth the price if I am going to want to make alterations? Maybe not.  But I do appreciate the vintage flair.
The final Butterick pattern that stood out to me was this blouse.  Yes, I am still looking for my holy grail top that magically goes with everyone and which I can make in every color.  I cannot imagine that this will turn out to be the one, but I find it hard to resist a blouse with a bow.  So, there you go.


There were no new Vintage Vogues released, which is a bummer.  This Nicola Finetti has a very 1950s silhouette, though, and I do like that the curved princess seamlines are unexpected.  But mostly, I think I love that textured fabric!  Does it come in any other colors?
I also find myself drawn to this Tracy Reese pattern.  I love the criss cross shoulder straps, which I think are quite flattering.  I don't love the thigh slit, but that is easily fixed.
And you know how I love an off the shoulder drape!  This silhouette is on the modern side, and I think that the shoulder straps are a bit too far out on the shoulder, but that could be a fit issue with the model.  Then again, can I really see myself making this, or will it get added to the stack of designer Vogue patterns that I never got around to sewing?
What do you think?  Do you have any new favorites that you can't wait to start cutting out?
[Click on image for source]
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When we last left off with my Haslam System of Dresscutting project, I had drafted the pattern pieces in paper.  I cleaned up those shapes and recut a new version of the pieces out of paper.  Of course, these pieces have no seam allowances, which is the proper way to draft a garment.  And since I was unsure what kind of ease was allowed with the Haslam draft, I wanted give myself a fair amount of seam allowance to play with.


What I came up with was marking the stitching line (the outside of the paper pieces) with a tracing wheel and wax transfer paper on muslin.  I then gave myself about one inch of seam allowance to play with around all of the edges, figuring that should be enough.


That was done with all of the pattern pieces.


And then it was time to put everything together.


Since the instructions given with all Haslam patterns are extremely limited, I was pretty much on my own as far as construction goes.  I ended up completing both the front and back as separate pieces, before stitching the shoulder and side seams together.  I was inspired by this 1940s reproduction pattern, as a similar construction order is used.


My first time through I forgot about adding the front drape - which is another excellent reason to make a muslin, especially when there are no directions included!


I did cut the drape without any seam allowance so that I could see how I liked the proportions.


Next up, the sleeves!


I ended shortening the curve of the sleeve head in order get it to fit into the armscye properly.  I made a second version of the sleeve to make sure I was happy with the result.


Surprisingly, the dress ended up rather large through the waist and hip area, but not the bust.  I believe I removed almost two inches of ease in the waist, and probably a little more through the hips.  This seems rather extreme, and while I cannot be certain it was not user error, I really think I did follow the diagrams correctly.  I will have to remember this next time I draft one of these designs and see if I have a similar result.


Once I was happy with the fit, I trimmed my pieces so they had a 5/8" seam allowance.  I will not be using an underlining, so I want a standard seam allowance to work with.


The only major alteration I needed to make (besides trimming excess ease through the waist and hip) was an erect back alteration, which is standard for me.  Even using my actual measurements did not save me from this one!  But I didn't have to add length to the torso, which is a first for me . . . except for that weird Cynthia Rowley pattern for Simplicity that was way too long, even for me.  But I digress.


Up next is cutting into my fabric!  And here she is, an Ellen Tracey brocade from Elliott Berman Textiles.


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So the trick is now to turn these diagrams into . . .


pattern pieces that will make a dress that looks like the illustration.  The Book of Draftings tells me that I am working with Figure 9, and that my draftings are to be found on pages 9 and 16.  Great!  The only other "Helpful hints for the making of garments given in this book" regarding Figure 9 is this:
The vest portion of this dress is gauged along the bottom and inserted.  The front panel of the skirt is fixed in position and machined.  Gauge the centre part above the panel into 3-in. space and draw to the figure.  The drapery is slotted through and attached.


What I previously created is a basic block sketched in pencil on paper that should fit my body fairly well since is has been made using my specific measurements.  What I now have to do is slice, dice, and manipulate the block into my Figure 9 diagrams to create a paper pattern for the dress.


I start with the back since there seems to be less to do there.


"Pin up dart" seems fairly straightforward, and to counteract that fold, I "open for flare" by slicing from the hem up to the point of the dart.  That newly sliced and folded shape is then traced onto another piece of paper to give me my pattern piece. (In theory, at least!)


I decided to make a waist seam at front and back, although the illustration suggests that the back bodice and center portion of the skirt is one piece.  But hey, I'm the one putting this thing together, so I am going to simplify where I can since this is my first attempt to make something using this new-to-me system.


Now that I am a little more comfortable with the process, I decide to tackle the front.  The first thing I do is cut out the center front inset for the skirt.  The paper gets sliced from the hem to the angled section, and as suggested, is flared 5" at the hem, tapering to nothing at the top of the piece.


The skirt front is similarly sliced and flared to correspond to the diagram.  This portion of the skirt is expanded, which will then be "gauged" at center front to created the gathered look of the illustration.


Moving on to the bodice front, you can see I made a few drafting errors.  Thankfully, I caught my mistakes before moving on.


Remember, I am working without seam allowances of any kind.  Those will be added in after all of the slicing and dicing is finished.  This makes everything so much easier - especially when is comes to making sure corresponding pieces will fit together properly.


And eventually, I have my pattern pieces sketched out on paper.


Since the sleeve is a one-piece sleeve and bears no resemblance to the two piece drafted sleeve in the foundation draftings, I really think that you are expected to draft this from scratch.


I am slightly confused how the measurements on such a diagram can be used for a system that allows for such a huge size variation.  One assumes that a 24" busted individual's arm is going to be a whole lot different than an arm belonging to someone with a 50" bust.  This also applies to the flared portions of the skirt and bodice pieces.  If you want something to look gathered across a front portion of a chest that measures 12", adding 3" is significant, where that same 3" is going to do very little to gather fabric across 25".  


I would be curious to know what size the original drafted illustrations were made for.  There are specific designs made for children and some of the illustrations seem to suggest a more mature figure as they are drawn, so perhaps those issues are taken into account in some cases.  But I think gathering and pleating suggestions might have to be tweaked if you want your garment to look exactly proportionate to the illustrated figures.  But we will have to see how that goes . . .
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A couple of years back,  I was sent a lovely hemp/silk blend fabric from Organic Cotton Plus.  I posted about the muslin and the making of this dress, but I never managed to post final pictures of the piece.  Bad, bad blogger.


Well, I finally winnowed down the hundreds of photos taken on a day in late October 2017 (for a Marin Symphony performance), and here they are.


I usually have some idea of how I will style a garment while it is in the process of being put together on the sewing table, or perhaps the inspiration comes from handling the piece for hours at a time.  


Sometimes outfits require new accessories (or at least, I think they do), but in this case, I had the perfect options on hand.  First, I was given these vintage earrings years ago, but the beaded bobbles were coming apart.  I was never motivated to fix them until I NEEDED to wear them with this dress.  A needle, piece of thread, and a quick pinch with the pliers was all they required!



The beaded hair flower was carefully tucked away in a box.  I sometimes lament the fact that I can't get away from my preferred color palette, but in these instances, it comes in handy.  Back in 2010, I made another 1940s gown from a purple toned fabric and, of course, required a bit of flair for my hair.  Some poly organza, a lighter, a hair clip, and an antique beaded motif with some issues was all I needed.



And with that, the accessories for my new gown were taken care of.



I do love that 1940s dress design is full of sleeved evening garments which I find so much more interesting than yet another strapless gown.



I picked this particular Vintage Vogue design because of the fact that I wanted to use both sides of my hemp and silk fabric.  The front skirt inset felt like the perfect way to accomplish this.



And I am sure that I had something more insightful to say about this project back when it was fresh in my mind, but I am just going to leave this post here with the note to myself that I am quite pleased with how this dress turned out!




Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 2354
Hair Flower:  Made by me
Earrings:  Vintage
Shoes:  Banana Republic

[Disclosure:  Organic Cotton Plus provided me with this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]
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A few months back, a new pair of shoes and a special cut of fabric from New York had me searching for a suitable 1940s dress pattern.  


Of course, I couldn't make things easy for myself, because when I came across the middle image sourced from The Haslam System of Dresscutting over at Mrs. Depew Vintage, I couldn't get it out of my mind.  Which meant that I would have to learn how to use these printed rulers and the accompanying diagrams, and hope for the best.


There is not a whole lot of online information about how to use this particular system of drafting clothing to your specific size; just the minimal directions that come with the "book of drafting."  I have previously used the Eclair-Coupe Paris system for this project, but the Haslam system had me stumped for a brief moment.  I was so intrigued by the diagrams and unfamiliar instructions that I completely forgot about the ruler!  After a very frustrating hour, I stepped away, and the solution quickly presented itself.  I was missing an entire piece of the puzzle!


After that ridiculous and rather embarrassing attempt was out of the way, things went a whole lot smoother.


The basic idea is that you take a bunch of measurements including the basics like bust, waist, and hips, but also neck, torso length, shoulder width, arm length, armhole circumference, etc.  Using your own personal measurements, the theory is that your drafted dress foundation will be perfectly fitted to your particular shape.  In reality, things like an erect upper back adjustment cannot be accounted for, so there will probably be minimal alterations to the final drafted pattern to perfectly fit each unique body shape.  I was also completely unsure how much ease might be included, and I couldn't find any mention of it anywhere in the directions.


It certainly was fun to see a basic dress block emerge from making a series of dots on a piece of paper with the help of the special ruler.  Numbered dots correspond to the body measurements that have been taken of the individual to be fit.  It's pretty genius, actually.  The ruler is inclusive of children and adults, from a 24" to a 50" bust.


My main confusion (after the missing ruler incident) was the sleeve.  The only foundation drafting is a two piece sleeve for coats which was not what my chosen dress needed.  I pushed ahead anyway, figuring a little more practice with the ruler was not going to hurt.


Here is my two piece sleeve . . .


which wasn't looking very helpful when compared to my Figure 9 sleeve.  But it's a process, right?!


In the end, I just started with that long dotted line for Sleeve, Fig. 9 which looked like the best way to attempt to recreate the sleeve.


I cannot be sure if this was the intended means of drafting, but it worked out in the end.


But back to my basic dress block . . . from there, the fun begins.  Using the diagrams specific to the dress figure you wish to recreate, there are quite a few changes to be made by measuring, slashing, spreading, and marking all sorts of things.  But that will be for another day.


Clear as mud, right?!?
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Ever since hearing that Gertie would be moving her pattern line to Simplicity, I had a sinking feeling that their many fabulous vintage reproduction patterns would be decreasing in number from the current catalogs.  And I fear that my suspicions were well founded as there is a single vintage reissue for Spring.  But boy is it a goodie!  I have seen this pattern illustration on Pinterest many times, and I just love that skirt with those oversized pickets.  Do I need another strapless dress in my life?   Probably not, but that skirt will definitely be added to my project list in the near future!


Okay, so there were two vintage reproductions, but I am not counting this caftan.  Simplicity continues to reproduce these things, so someone must be buying them, but I just don't get why we need twenty of the same basic pattern.  It continues to remain a mystery to me.  But if you are in desperate need to use up five yards of stashed fabric, this is your girl!


As for the Gertie patterns, the blouse is my favorite.  I think that this pattern has a lot of possibilities.  In fact, I am in the process of making up a wearable muslin, and so far, so good.


The other Gertie offering is this dress.  That bodice certainly looks Audrey inspired, and I like the lines, although I am not sure I need another simple sun dress.  



Butterick released a single vintage reproduction this Spring, although it is not from the Retro Butterick line.  Are they phasing that out?  I hope not.  This particular pattern is from the Making History line and includes instructions for the hat that is showcased in the photos.  The polka dots and the pink had my immediate attention, and I do enjoy the neckline.  But if I had to choose favorites, I am going to stick with the skirt on that strapless Simplicity.

Hooray for large brimmed hats.  I have a few hat patterns stashed away, and have made a few up in upholstery weight fabric to these to keep the sun off my face while out walking Tino.  I suspect this pattern is very similar to something I already have stashed away, so I will probably skip this.  But I do hope they continue to release more hat patterns.  Those vintage reproduction ones from Vogue were so fantastic.
Well, the back of this dress is gorgeous.  However, the front of Butterick 6661 is not very flattering.  Is it worth altering the shape?  Probably not.  But I do love that strappy back!  And in stripes?!?  Excellent fabric choice, Butterick designer!



And I am slightly intrigued by this blouse.  Throw in a tie collar and I get interested really fast!  The sleeves in views C&D are lovely, but do I really need another shirt pattern in my life?  I am going to have to think about this one.

What do you think of the Spring collections this year?  Did anything catch your eye?
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The 2019 Oscars Red Carpet had a few goodies along with the standard "what were they thinking!?" choices.  And lots and lots of PINK!

I am having a difficult time picking a favorite, but Allison Janney sure looks spectacular.  I am not completely in love with that necklace choice, but the dress with the combination of velvet and satin, with a touch of tuxedo and an asymmetrical peplum is perfection.  The fit is just fantastic, and that plunging neckline is gorgeous!  I like the hair, the makeup, and the clutch; even those diamond studs work perfectly with the dress.  Just trying to think of a better necklace option . . . perhaps a vintage lavalier to match that fabulous linear neckline?  I'm going to have to ponder that for a while.


In a different structured look, we have Amy Poehler in Alberta Ferretti Limited Edition.  I love this!  The hair, not so much.  The length of the pants, not so much.  But the tux with tails on a fabulous lady, with a perfect diamond brooch as an accent at the lapel?  Pretty darn great!


I have mixed feelings about Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen and Tiffany diamonds.  I love a structured hip; I am obsessed with them.  But in this case, the structure with the added volume of the gathered skirt is confusing to me.  The shape of the hips from straight on is also extreme and not the most artful shape that could have been created.  I love the necklace with that neckline, but the drop earrings are too much.  A stud would have been less distracting from the main event - that massive diamond.  But it's dramatic, and I would have been disappointed with anything less.  And the leather gloves are a very Gaga detail!  I'm not completely entranced, but it's growing on me the more I look at it.


Speaking of dramatic - Billy Porter in Christian Siriano has everyone talking.  I love a tuxedo pant on ladies on the red carpet, and this is the obvious parallel - a man in a tailored voluminous gown.  I love the oversized bowtie, and the velvet inset on the torso makes this look almost Elizabethan.  The satin lapels look wrinkled for some reason, but what most concerns me is the ruffled cuffs.  Everything else is so structured, and they throw off the masculine and tailored look created by the rest of the ensemble.  This mostly makes me crave a few hours swanning about in a hoop skirt!


And speaking of structure . . . dangerous curves ahead!  Ashley Graham looks amazing in this Zac Posen.  I am normally not a fan of a fishtail silhouette on anyone less than six feet tall because they tend to shorten the figure.  But really, this is pretty spectacular.  The simple hair and jewels are the perfect finishing touch.  And look, no hip bone high slit needed to look sexy.


Oh, Chanel, I just don't get why you continue to create such unflattering silhouettes, this time for Tessa Thompson.  The lowered peplums make her body look misshapen and dumpy, especially with that short hemline.  I am sure this is a work of art from a construction perspective, but it looks terrible on the body.  The lady needs to fire her stylist immediately.


And in a surprising turn of events, here is another Monique Lhuillier gown that I love - this time on Martha Hunt.  I fear this is made of polyester (yuck!), but the lace edge on that dramatic neckline paired with the gathered hip feature is exquisite.  But the hair.  This is what mine looks like in the morning - bits of hair have made their way free of my scrunchie and look like a bedraggled mess that needs to be washed.  Who'd have thunk it was red carpet appropriate!  How does this pass for acceptable anywhere other than your own couch is beyond me.  But the black lace . . . I love the black lace!!


I really want to love Melissa McCarthy in this look, but the cape needs more volume to make this work.  It looks like she picked that part of the outfit up at the last minute and threw it on as a joke.  The undersized cape also makes her look larger than she is since it looks too small.  And the scraggly hair pulled from the up-do looks terrible.  No more silly straightened wisps of hair, please.  This makes me very sad because the overall idea of the outfit makes me think this could have been fabulous; it just needed a little more finesse and focus on proportion.


Regina King chose Oscar de la Renta, and the draping on this gown is lovely.  She looks like a regal queen.  Oh my goodness, I just realized her name is Queen King - that is rather awesome!  I am not a fan of the massive slit up the leg, and I would have preferred a shoe with an open toe.  But overall, she looks wonderful.  That neckline is perfect with her shoulders and amazing arms.  I just wish this had been made up in a bright and saturated color instead of the white.


I love when an illusion neckline works!!  And this one certainly works for Marta Nieto.  This could probably be half an inch shorter in the skirt, but I just love the collar and folded organza "cuffs."  Love this!! Love the center part in the hair, and the red lip.  And I am sure most people will appreciate the pockets (although I could take them or leave them on a formal).  You know, I think this might be one of my favorites!


It's always interesting to see what Sandy Powell comes up with for the red carpet.  This female Zoot Suit with the crazy stripe pattern is over the top.  I love the scarf done up as a tie, and the jaunty beret is a wonderful touch.  I am not in love with the shoe choice, but the overall look definitely works for her.  But let's be honest, for me, nothing is going to top the deep red suit she wore to the 71st Academy Awards.


I am not a huge fan of Molly Sims in Zuhair Murad Couture, but I am fascinated by the almost damask quality that they have created on the sequined gown.  I suspect that there are bits that have been placed on top of the sequined fabric, and I think this technique has a lot of possibitilites.  But the makeup makes her look like she has two black eyes, and no lipstick - we know how I feel about that!  And the hairstyle is too extreme.  But the textile possibilities are promising!  Maybe two different tones of the same color?  I see it working in a dark aubergine or a forest green . . .


Oh, Amy.  You look amazing.  The fit on this Versace is perfection.  I think the choice of necklace is brilliant paired with the bracelet.  But I was very surprised to see the curled hair.  I would have like to see what this looks like with a straight blow out (I know, crazy, because I usually can't stand flat ironed hair paired with gowns).  Still, this is definitely a winner!


I am not sure who designed Amanda Stenberg's gown, but it needs serious work.  The draped beading makes the bust look droopy, and the skirt fringe looks anemic.  The idea has promise, but the execution is not great.  I love the hair, though.


Michelle Yeoh looks wonderful in Elie Saab.  I am not thrilled with the hair, or the clutch.  But the most disturbing part of this gown is the hem.  The narrow hem looks horrible.  What, Elie Saab didn't have enough of the fabric to make a nice wide facing?!  That hem just looks cheap.  Too bad, because that neckline is stunning.


I love the pink tone on this Balmain.  Where the draping on Regina's Oscar de la Renta is perfection, this is a mess.  I am fairly certain that this dress was made especially for Emilia Clarke, so why isn't the fit better?


And speaking of fit, this suit needs some work on Awkwafina.  I believe a lot of the colorful suits on the men at the Academy Awards were also created by Dsquared2, so maybe they aren't used to dressing women?  It's too bad, because a sparkly suit is pretty fabulous.  But the shoulders, the lack of visible feet, the pulling at the jacket button, the sleeves just a smidge too short . . . it could have been so much better . . .


While I am not sure what Marie Kondo is doing on the red carpet, I do love that pale pink color!  The gathered sleeve is wonderful!  How fabulous is a sleeved formal gown!!  The starburst gathers on the bodice are lovely.  I do think that the sequined embellishments needed a bit more work on the skirt.  Someone got a little lazy and called it a day, when they needed a few more motifs and a little more time on the spacing of those embellished bits!  I also don't love to see the chopped hemline because it makes me think this is made of polyester mesh.  Oh, how much more lovely would a silk chiffon be?!


I want to love this 1930s inspired frothy confection on Kacey Musgraves by Giambattista Valli Couture.  I want to so very much.  But that random brooch on the waistline doesn't work.  Why didn't they attach it to a belt to finish it off?  The skirt ruffles have a little too much volume - they should flow into the next, in my opinion, not stand so far away from the body and each other.  But there are some definite possibilities for this one, it just needs a few tweaks.


From the side, this gown is lovely on Kiki Layne.  And the color is amazing on her.  The back drape is wonderfully dramatic.  The makeup and jewelry are minimal so as not to complete with the dress.  It's very, very good, but not one of my favorites, although I can't put my finger on why not.


Who knew that wearing a parachute could look so chic?  Gemma Chan is wearing a whole lot of Valentino Couture.  The neckline is framing her face beautifully, and the color is incredibly complimentary to her skin tone.  I also appreciate the shaping through the torso to keep this from becoming a complete muumuu.  But it still looks like a parachute.  A parachute with pockets, but a parachute, none the less.


The print on Maya Rudolph's dress is distracting to me.  Normally, I love a floral print, and I adore the color pink.  Perhaps the tones are too saturated, or too similar, or there is just one too many ruffles or bows to keep my focus.  I do love those earrings, though.  Not so much with this particular dress, just in general.  Not sure what she was thinking here.  


Who knew that much volume could actually work (provided one's abs are in excellent condition).  This Brandon Maxwell on Sarah Paulson is . . . interesting.   And controlling that much fabric is a feat in and of itself.  I appreciate that the necklace matches the neckline perfectly, and I feel a sort of 1960s vibe washing off of this.  I don't hate it, which has caught me off guard.  But why no bright pink lipstick?  Someone get these makeup artists some lipstick, for goodness sake.


On the other hand, that much volume can can go horribly wrong.  Case in point, Linda Cardellini.  This frock desperately needs more waist definition.  That pale pink ribbon just ain't gonna cut it.  And I don't care how fabulous your legs are, nothing is going to save this thing.  On the plus side, this was probably a lot of fun to wear so long as all that tulle wasn't super itchy.  And black shoes?!?  What was this lady smoking when she got dressed?


And it's Helen Mirren to the rescue!  This color is scrumptious on her!  I wish that the gathering over the bust area was  little more dense so it doesn't look like there are nude portions.  But the hair, the jewels, the pink lipstick (hooray for lip color!), the sleeve length, it's pretty darn perfect on her.  Dame Mirren looks fabulous!  But are we really surprised by this?  No!


Marina de Tavira is covered in tulle ruffles.  I suspect that wearing a gown like this would be a dream come true.  But I feel that the execution could have been better.  Those two strange spaces between the different ruffle widths is strange.  And the triangle ruffles on the bodice makes her waist look wider and the bust smaller.  And those earring don't seem to have any connection to the dress.  I do love the color of the frock with her hair, though. 


Oh dear, I have no idea what Rachel Weisz was thinking with this Givenchy Couture.  Was she planning for a rainstorm?  What is that unflattering vinyl coverup about, for goodness sake!?!  The skirt makes it look as though the dress had some promise.  I also have no idea what that headband thing is about, or how it works with the vinyl or the embroidered bits.  It also look like the sheer overlay on the skirt stops short of the lining by two or three inches.  No, no, no. NOOO!


There were a couple of asymmetrical gowns similar to Jennifer Hudson's choice of Elie Saab Couture.  I think this is one of the more artful options seen last Sunday.  The shoulder ruffle cascading into the hip drape is wonderful!  I don't even mind the slit here.  And I love the one long sleeve.  I suspect this is a textile that I might not like so much up close and personal (can we say synthetic?).  I also take issue with the lumpy bust area on the strapless side.  Is that an undergarment issue?  And wouldn't a rusty red lip have look fabulous?  Why the nude lip, Jennifer?  And what about a gorgeous bracelet on that bare arm?  But the overall look is not bad!  She does look fabulous in red!


I call this "when bad things happen to gorgeous colors."  Hannah Beachler's skin looks spectacular in this hue.  And that's the best part of this whole look.  The fit on this is terrible.  The ruffles look like they are attacking her face.  The shoes were a terrible choice.  But worst of all, take a look at the construction on this atrocious dress.  The hip wrinkles are no bueno.  The lining on the slit appears to be rolling outward.  The same issue is happening with the train.  Did this garment get laundered after it was stitched together and the fabric shrunk at a different rate than the lining?  Oh my goodness, there is a sleeve under the ruffles.  I just noticed that.  Why bother?  It's barely visible.  Did the unknown designer run out of time?  What is the story behind this mess of a dress?


Constance Wu is wearing custom Versace.  The yellow color isn't my favorite, and Constance looks a bit washed out in it.  I love the pleating of the chiffon on the bodice, but the asymmetrical ruffles look like a mistake.  There also seems to be some kind of embellishment along the neckline which feels like overkill and takes away from the overall delicacy of the fabric.  And why the narrow hem?!?  If this is made of chiffon, then go for a wide hem, or if it's some kind of mesh, then why hem at all.  I do love the overall lightness of the look, though.

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Back to this colorful lady . . .


The lining was completed to this point when I pulled the original pink version out of the bag.  It's a bit wrinkled, but nothing an iron couldn't fix; which is why I jumped right into the periwinkle wool version.  If I had my druthers, I would have picked a slightly brighter blue lining to pair with the lavender toned wool, but I think this works nicely.  And it's certainly preferable to being scrunched up and left unfinished in a plastic bag!


So, to continue with the sewing . . . the sleeve hem was catch-stitched in place on the wool coat.


I used my beloved seam binding as hem tape for the skirt hem.


To avoid bulk at the seamline, I clipped diagonally.  This particular wool is not prone to raveling, but since the lining hangs free of the hemline, I thought this would be a nice finish.


The lining was attached to the shell at the armholes and basted into place.  The sleeve lining was then hand stitched to the coat.  It's a technique that you often see with vintage coats, and it makes it very easy to remove if the lining ever fails since nothing is machined to the wool.


If you have ever come across a vintage coat, it is likely that the lining fabric has shattered if it is silk, or may have sustained damage over the course of its life.  The coat itself, however, is often in excellent condition.  So if all you have are hand stitches to pull out, it is very easy to remove the lining sections and replace, giving new life and adding another forty or fifty years to the life of the coat.  Alterations are also easier when you can access the innards with minimal effort.


Here is the almost finished bound buttonhole, right next to the arrow tack that covers the waist seam join.


I had a bit of trouble removing some of my basting threads, until I decided to use tweezers - they work great!


I also used seam binding to finish the small portion of raw edged facing that is not covered by lining.


The facing is trimmed before turning it right side out.


Then I get to do a bit more hand sewing.  The catch-stitch is becoming one of my favorites!!


And then everything is really close to being finished.


This particular lining is free hanging.  Because it isn't all that thick, I decided to fold the lining under twice instead of using seam binding.


Then the lower inches of lining get hand stitched down.


Which covers up the final raw edges of the garments.


To keep the free handing lining in place while being worn, I made a couple of thread tacks to join the lining to the coat at the seamlines.


And as a final touch, I added one of my new labels.


I also stitched matching arrow tacks to the covered button to tie those details together.


And here is the completed coat!


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In an effort to reorganize my sewing room, I have been going through a lot of boxes and bags, some full of old projects.  This was one off those.  I got as far as constructing most of the lining, and began work on a bright pink textured wool blend for the exterior.  Unfortunately, I never really loved the fabric, and so the project was set aside.


So I decided to ditch the pink, and finally found a use for this periwinkle wool coating that I have been trying to match to a project for years.


One of the challenges with this particular fabric is that it doesn't like to take marks from pencils, chalk, fabric pens, etc.  And with all of those exposed darts, there was a lot of thread tracing to do!


One other challenge I faced was pressing the fabric.  As you can see in the following photo, this particular coating wrinkles, but a good press with a clapper was smashing the loft of the fabric.


The solution was to use a press cloth.  This was not something that I expected from this fabric, but I was lucky that I experimented with a scrap before messing up a portion of my coat.


I also added a cotton facing to the upper portion of the front and back bodice pieces.  The fabric has a lot of give, and I thought this would be a good solution to keep everything from stretching widthwise.  (The cotton does not have any extra slack when on a dress form or a body!)


One of my favorite parts of the coat design is the pleating in the front skirt.  To construct this portion of the coat, it is necessary to clip into a reinforced corner.  The instructions suggest that a line of stitching will do the trick, but I prefer to go the extra mile with a scrap of silk organza.


This wool doesn't really fray all that much, but it still makes me much more comfortable to have an added layer of protection when I am slicing into corners.


At this point, the entire body of the coat is attached at the shoulders and the side seams of the bodice and coat, but not the dropped waist seam.


The pleats are then basted into place.  I did this by hand with silk thread, knowing that I did not want to fight removing those bits of threads later in the process.


And then it was time for the lapped waist seam.  I marked the seam lines in chalk on the wrong side of the wool as best I could, and thread traced those seam allowances, making them visible from the right side of the fabric.


Then that seam was lapped and basted into place by hand.


The coat was fairly heavy at this point with all of that fabric, and there was no way that topstitching that bulky seam was going to go perfectly without a little bit of basting help!


One of the first things that drew me to this pattern was the exposed darts.  They are used (rather ingeniously, I think) to attach the sleeves to the front and back bodice pieces.


First, the underarm seamline, from notch to notch, is stitched as normal.  The outermost dart on front and back bodice is basted and the lapped over the edge of the matching sleeve, and finally, stitched along the dart.


The final step is to fold the sleeve right sides together to stitch the shoulder seamline.


This is the first coat I have ever come across that is constructed in this manner.  There really is nothing like vintage patterns and designs when it comes to clever construction techniques!


The coat is closed with a single button at center front.


I worked a bound buttonhole (of course!) but used the technique that is similar to a welt pocket instead of my favorite bound buttonhole.  The two separate lips work especially well with thicker fabrics.  I can think of two other modifications to bound buttonholes that I have used in the past . . . my choice really just depends on the fabric I am using and the look I am going for.


I added a piece of seam binding to the front opening edge for stability.  Twill tape works too, but it was easier to lay my hands on the seam binding.  (There are issues with reorganizing the sewing room - some things have a habit of playing hide and seek until they find their new forever home.)


And that's probably enough for today.  I will get through the rest of the construction photos soon!


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