Thursday, August 23, 2012

Finished: Anthropologie-Inspired Curtains

I made curtains. This is a big deal for me. I can't actually remember the last time I had curtains in a room in my house, including my bedroom. I suppose the last time I had curtains was in high school, except it was actually a shower curtain. (That counts, right?) Which means I've been curtainless for almost 10 years. More if you don't count my shower curtain.

I interrupt this post for a gratuitous kitten picture.
Obviously, curtains never seemed important to me. More like something you hang to make your house feel like a home. And since I moved almost every semester in college, and almost once a year after college, why bother getting comfortable?

In my nomadic mind, I still want to move, but I have decided to put down some roots at my current apartment. And that means making curtains.

I saw this amazing tutorial from Besserina for some beautiful Anthropologie inspired curtains. She goes in to amazing detail for getting them perfect, and I did my own take on it (to an extent - it's still mostly her!).

The kitchen/living room in our house has sort of a fall look to it. Some rusty oranges and reds. Green is the perfect complementary color. Because we have radiators that get really hot underneath our kitchen windows, I wanted to have short curtain panels. I'm not sure what the actual risk of fire actually is, but I'd like to avoid that if I can.

I looped the fabric around a bathroom suspension bar (curtain rods are too much work) and cut off the fabric where it hit the window sill. Then I created 2 strips of pleats per panel. And guys, that is so much work. I didn't even measure out the pleats - I just eyeballed it and folded - and still. Wow.

And then, you know, you're supposed to go through with an iron and destroy all the hard work you put into your pleats. But don't think about that. It's worth it.

I folded the last scraps of fabric over to create loops to pin the curtains back.

I added the pleats to the panels with a decorative stitch. I originally wanted to do a decorative stitch around the entire curtain panel, but I forgot that was the plan until I was halfway through. And even though they're short panels, it's still a lot of fabric and it just didn't seem worth it to go back and undo all of my hard work. (Plus, I'm pretty lazy.)

Doesn't the stitch look pretty? (And almost not worth it since you can hardly see it??)
So yes! After a few weeks and using up exactly all 4 yards of my fabric, I have curtains in one room of my apartment! I feel like such an adult.

Total cost for 2 windows: $20
(Versus $168 at Anthropologie - and I like mine a lot better!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vintage Sewing Pattern Giveaway: Simplicity 5154

In honor of back to school, and the weird still summer, but almost fall season, I'm giving away a pattern that's extremely versatile! It's a school jumper, and it will look cute in the last few weeks of summer, and even more adorable layered in the fall.

The downside is that it's a bit on the smaller side. I thought about enlarging this pattern to fit me, but I figured I wouldn't get much use out of it anyway since it's not totally my style. But it could work amazingly for you!

So it's Simplicity 5154 from 1972. Size 11/12. Bust 32". Waist 25". Hip 35". All the pattern pieces are included (though they are cut), along with instructions and a handy guide for sewing with plaids.

To enter:
Leave a comment below telling me where you'd wear this.

Additional/Optional entries:
1. Follow this blog and leave a separate comment saying that you do.
2. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with a link.
3. Post this giveaway on Pinterest and leave a separate comment with a link.

Rules and Things
There are 4 ways to enter, additional entries/comments will be deleted. Two winners will be selected via and the winner must respond within 48 hours or I'll select another winner. I'm opening this one up to other countries - so anyone from any country can enter! Contest ends August 28th at 11:59pm EST.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finished: 1950s Vintage Dress for Promaballoona!

Don't forget to check out and enter my pattern giveaway!

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. It's time for Promaballoona! Be prepared for lots of pictures. In retrospect, I probably should have posed with my boyfriend as well, but who would have taken the picture?

Very quickly, I'll give some background. The whole idea of Promaballoona was to celebrate Oona's birthday (in real life, if you happen to be in LA! - which I'm not. Sigh.) with a prom celebration. 

I never went to prom. In fact, I think I went to 2 dances in middle school and that was it. I don't even think there was any dancing with boys. That's not to say I wasn't asked. I was even asked to prom by 3 different guys. One of whom was cute and semi-popular (I was one of the smart dorks, but definitely not one of the popular smart dorks) and I completely laughed in his face. But not because I didn't want to go with him. I really wanted to say, "Me? There are so many girls who are prettier and funnier and more __ than me. Why do you want to go with me?" 

But I didn't say that. I just laughed. He looked shocked and hurt. I looked around awkwardly. Then I walked away. Trey, if you're out there and reading this, I'm sorry.

Yes, I was once painfully shy and awkward. For about 15 years.

So anyway, I developed social skills some time after the age of 22. Long after the time for proms and dances. Which is part of the reason I was so excited for this! While I couldn't make the party, I did want to make a fancy dress and go out and have fun on my own. Or, you know, with a date. :-)

I decided to go with a vintage dress because I have always loved vintage things, and dressing up in general, but until recently I typically didn't have the courage to wear them. 

It's not that people or kids are mean or rude, it's that I just didn't have the courage that I do now to not care what other people think. I have no problem walking down the street in something different. Of course, it helps that I live in New York City now. :-) Back to the dress...

It came together beautifully!

Grayson was my worst problem. Not only did he enjoy laying on my  fabric, but he also liked eating the instructions.

I used Butterick pattern 5708 that I got on sale for dirt cheap, and I found this amazing satin fabric for only $4/yard at my local fabric store. I was originally going to go with this beautiful blue/purple color, but my boyfriend had just yelled at me 3 hours earlier for always wearing the same colors (i.e. blue, purple, and black). So I went with a nice bold red.

Part of the problem I had with the pattern was actually the end and the tying of the straps. There was an option where it could fold over my shoulder and tie closer to the bust, giving the appearance of a wrap, but I couldn't get it to lay correctly. Nor could I get it to match on both sides. I ended up asking my boyfriend to tie it since he's good with knots, but he tied it at the shoulders.

They looked so nice, I didn't have the heart to ask him to re-tie them.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but most of the bodice is actually an upside down triangle. I was afraid that would look terrible on me or somehow look awkward with my chest, but actually it doesn't look bad as thought. Well, as long as I maintain proper posture. I suppose that's a plus for most people, but I'm typically a sloucher.

One of the things I was nervous about was the full skirt. I had so much fabric for the skirt. You have no idea. Unless, you know, you've made a 1950s dress before. 

I never have and the amount of fabric scared me. I gathered it, per the instructions, and it shrunk down a little, but it was still pretty massive. Because the top was so fitted, I was nervous. (Looking back, I have no idea why.)

Regardless, you guys, my point is this: because it's a 1950s pattern and because it's a full skirt, the instructions say to wear a petticoat. I was like, "Psh, yeah right. Who would wear a petticoat for real?!"

Well, turns out that I would. I remembered yesterday that I bought one for a Halloween costume last year. I wasn't sure if it was long enough, but I dug it out of my closet and it ended up being the perfect size and the way my dress puffed out was amazing. It was a little itchy, but I didn't care.

Look at the fullness of the skirt! It's so amazing!

Ha, I'm including those pics above to show you more of the full skirt, but mostly I feel like they look like I'm in a horror movie. Like I just woke up and was all, "I'm supposed to go to a party today, but where did all the people go?!"

Of course, the downside to a full skirt is that when the wind blows, it blows your skirt. Which is bad in general, but when you're wearing a white petticoat, you especially don't want people to know.

Stupid wind. 
Another great reason for wearing vintage? The amount of guys who stopped to check me out and hit on me went through the roof. Ahem. Not that I'm looking. My boyfriend actually got very angry at a few of them. But it wasn't the typical gross cat calls that I sometimes get. Or the smirk and a "Hey baby. How you doing?" Guys were so much more polite.

 Women also stopped to give me compliments, which I enjoyed far more than the men stopping to hit on me. I'm surprised children didn't ask for a picture with me. (Just kidding. I'm really not that full of myself.)

Okay. Now on to the biggest downside of this dress. It was very easy to make. I made very few modifications. I think it looks pretty good on me. The fabric is beautiful...

But the fabric is so freaking hot. I mean, it was in the high 80s at least with the highest humidity possible. The dress was just sticking to me. And not in an hot, sweaty tshirt kind of way. I'm from the south, and I'm used to wearing lots of cotton and jersey in the summer for obvious reasons.

But this felt like a deathtrap. I'm not exaggerating. I had it unzipped the second I got in the building. Luckily I encountered no neighbors while going up 4 flights of stairs.

 So yes. I think this post is long enough. The pattern was a breeze, I just love the dress, and total for everything (including the pattern!) was $21. I'll just have to only wear it during the fall, winter, and spring.

I kind of want to make it again, but this time in a cotton. I might adjust the neck line to not be so droopy so I can lean over without having to worry about showing off the goods.

Happy Birthday, Oona! If there's ever a bash on the east coast, I'm definitely there to celebrate!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Finished: Tailoring a Jersey Dress

Don't forget to check out and enter my pattern giveaway!

Remember when I made the yellow jersey dress for the 1920s festival? Remember how I copied the skirt from an existing dress that was old and beginning to fall apart and was too big? Then my old sewing machine threw a hissy fit and I didn't get the jersey dress done in time? Well, this is the original dress, and incidentally the dress I ended up wearing to the festival. 

After finally figuring out the proper settings on my old machine, I wanted to continue sewing jersey and the frugalness in me came out so I decided to hem up my old dress to fit as well.

But first, let's check out the before:
Yes, that's my bra. No, you're not supposed to see it. I even have it pinned so as not to show off the goods even more!
Sorry for the mushy shot, but this is the only picture I could find where you could see how I would compensate by pulling the dress up. A lot. See the folds under my arms? Not supposed to be there.
 And now I interrupt the post for kittens. See my new kittens! The black one (who is actually a combination of gray, white, and brown) is named Grayson and the other one is named Franklin. I've only had them for a few weeks and they grown so much in just that short time! (And yes, they're practically perfect in every way - except when trying to get them to look at the camera.)

Okay, back to the dress. 

I decided to take about 2 inches off from the waist to the arm holes and 4 inches off the straps to make it fit.

Apologies in advance for the weird face and poses. I decided to do a bunch of photoshoots all in one day. This was my last one, it was starting to rain, and I was getting tired. (Also, I really wanted to go inside and play with my new kittens.)

See how nicely it lays now? Honestly, I never realized how much of a difference that would make - I just thought it was fine to constantly pull and tug a dress.

This is the face I make when saying: Make sure my hair isn't covering the straps. See the line where I sewed? It's super tiny and hardly noticeable at all, unless you're looking.

Actually, I think I was also jealous over the amazing gardens my neighbors have.
I was going to and hide the stitching, but I would have had to undo a lot of the border around the entire dress, and I knew it was going to be a pain to shorten the straps, stuff it back in and stitch it up so no one could tell. Plus, it was 2am and I was ready to go to bed. 

I'm actually really proud of these stitches because I somehow lined them up perfectly. If you've noticed at all, I'm terrible at making sure lines match.

I know the top is a little higher and I could have probably taken out some of fabric covering the top, but I don't mind being a little modest. I think it looks nice! And seriously, in case I haven't said it enough, it's so much better than constantly pulling it up, which is what I was doing before.

 So now I have two yellow jersey dresses! Originally I was like, "Ugh, that's so silly. Why did I do that?" But I'm really happy with both of them. Now I just need to wear them more often...