Monday, March 31, 2008

I love Paris in the Springtime!

Especially since I'm going in May! I've been meaning to post about this for a couple of days but I wanted to wait until the excitement had died down enough that I was able to write coherently.

Our original plan was to travel in November, when airfares would hopefully be cheaper, but airfares have done nothing lately but go upward. The last time I checked November fares, it was over $800 RT from Philadelphia to Paris. Ouch. I'd like a little money left to spend while I'm on vacation, would that be too much to ask?

Then I happened to find a flight on Air France from May 8 through May 14, for under $600. So whenever the government kicks out that little economic stimulus check it's promising me, it can go right on the credit card bill and pay for my airfare.

We'd already reserved a hotel room for our projected dates in November, and they were able to move our reservation up to May without a problem. This was apparently meant to be.

This will be my third trip: once with a girlfriend about 10 years ago, last March with Mario, and now this spring. (Actually, it might count as my fourth trip - I went to London in my early 20s and took a bus/ferry for a day trip and somehow crammed so much of the city into one day that it was a blur even at the time.) It's a special place, though, and I don't get tired of visiting.

We've agreed that next vacation we'll go somewhere different, but we'll see. We've never been to Paris in the springtime before.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One from the vault

Back when this suit still fit me, it was one of my favorite outfits to wear to work. My budget basically only allowed thrift store purchases, and vintage was cheap then. I wish I still had all the cool clothes I picked up then, but most of them just haven't made it - either I wore them to death, which isn't a bad way for a garment to go, or I gave it away. My bad.

I’m assuming that it’s 1940s by the lines of the suit and the economical use of fabric. The jacket and skirt are both unlined. The skirt is straight, with a small walking pleat in the back.

One of the things I like best about this suit is that it was hand made by someone who obviously cared about what she was making. It has some beautiful details – bound buttonholes, covered buttons, an interesting collar that’s actually part of the jacket – see the seam under the collar? The sleeve is also interesting. It looks like a standard two-piece sleeve, but the under-sleeve is actually part of the bodice that extends up into a gusset on the underarm. Very cool. And it makes what looks like a tight sleeve a lot more wearable.

Seeing that my mid-40s body has a slightly different shape than my mid-20s body, the jacket is about two inches from buttoning these days. It still fits in the shoulders and arms, but the back and the bust are way too narrow.

Years ago, when the fabric started shredding from age, I almost got rid of this suit, but thankfully I had the sense to stash it away, just in case I ever wanted to try to make a pattern from it.

A few years ago, I started to take it apart so that I could make a pattern, but I got distracted and back into the bag it went. The few seams I had picked out are pinned back together for purposes of pictures, but now I think I actually will complete the dismantling and make a pattern for a version of this jacket that actually fits me as I’m sized nowadays.

And just to make thingsdifficult for myself, I think when I do get around to making this, I'll hold myself to the same standards, bound buttonholes and all (bound buttonholes being up there with welt pockets for inducing hyperventilation).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New York, New York

I did something new and unusual yesterday. I went to New York with a fabric shopping list. I've done that before, but it never came out of my pocket. But this time, thanks to the fabric fast which has really made me look at the fabrics in my stash, I was prepared with a list of things that weren't in my stash.

Well, I I saw, I shopped, and amazingly enough, not only could I carry it all home, with the help of my trusty shopping sherpa (thanks to Trena for the name), most of it was actaally what I went looking for.

First stop, Mood. Normally I could live without going there - too pricy, too many fabrics that I'll never use - but I had a $50 gift certificate from Christmas, so off we went. I ended up with this gorgeous green, black and gold metallic stripe. It's a bit more crisp than shirt weight, and absolutely beautiful. It's probably going to be a blouse or a light jacket from BWOF, I have to go through my back issues. For some bizarre reason, it was already cut in 1 1/4 yard increments, so I bought two of them.

Also from Mood, this striped denim. I made a pair of jeans last year, and I was happy with them at the time. However, my skills have evolved since then and I am less than happy now with the jeans. This is more what I had in mind.

Mood is a strange store. Someone had swatched off the end of the roll of denim, and before they cut my yardage, they completely evened out the fabric so that -- sewing gods forbid! -- I didn't get any extra fabric for my money. Still, it came in at $58 total, only $8 over the gift certificate. Now that's how I like to shop at Mood.

After that, we went to Paron's. Or rather, I went to Paron's, and my sherpa went to Mid City Comics down the block. Perfect. They always have stuff I want. And they did. First, this tan/brown/white stripe that will be just perfect for a summer dress. It has a nice drape, and it was in the Annex, so only $6 per yard. I was looking for a chocolate brown RPL to make pants, but chocolate isn't a spring color and no one had anything I liked, so I settled for this tan instead. It's a little less yellow than the photo, and will do very nicely for spring pants.

I also picked up a few yards of white cotton poplin with a little stretch -- how do I not have any white cotton shirting? -- and 5 yards of brown lining fabric, which was in the $2 bin. Lining doesn't count as fabric buying, and they always have decent colors in the discount bin. Buying it in bulk saves me having to run out when I need lining, and risk finding something else I have to have (but not really).

But my best purchase of the day was 2 1/2 yards of Liberty paisley printed cotton for only $12 per yard! The bolt was lying on the cutting table at Paron's, and I picked it up and was talking to it and the man who was writing up my order said, "It's the end of the roll. You can have it for half price." At that point I hadn't even realized it was Liberty, and when I realized how much it was, and how little it was going to cost, I couldn't resist. He measured it out, and even though it went a little past the 2 1/2 yard mark, he said it was 2 yards. So I have a Liberty print summer dress in the making for only $24! I'm happy about that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm It

I got tagged by Dawn. I got the same tag from Connie about a month ago, and answered on Patternreview, where someone tagged the entire site, so I don't think there's anyone I know out there who hasn't been tagged. Here goes:

1. I can't do things that most people do without thinking: I can't drive, I can't swim, I can't ride a bike. Being blind as a bat makes my depth perception wonky and the idea of driving (or riding a bike in traffic) scares me silly.

2. I flunked home ec (both sewing and cooking) in school. And I live to sew, and I love to cook. Go figure.

3. I'm allergic to cats. And I have 11 of them.

4. Working in my garden is one of my favorite activities after sewing, mainly because I have a 3-year-old's joy in getting absolutely filthy. In fact, the only down side to sewing is that I don't get dirty or (generally) work up a sweat.

5. People who don't understand think I sew because I'm a clotheshorse, or because I'm so totally focused on clothing and fashion - both what I wear and what is worn by others. Actually for me it's always been more about the process, the challenge to make something, rather than the actual wearing. I sewed for years without wearing most of what I produced, though I ended up thinking that was kind of silly and started making the kind of clothes I would wear. (It's kind of dumb to have a closet full of stuff you wouldn't consider wearing, even if you did enjoy the heck out of making it).
6. My own personal road to hell is paved with good intentions. I sit at the computer, thinking I should exercise. I sit at the sewing machine, thinking I should exercise. I rest up from both sitting on the couch, thinking I should exercise. Or worse yet, watching an exercise video while having a snack, and thinking I should exercise.

7. My mother always said I had the patience of a snake - when I wanted something, I'd bide my time indefinitely until I got it. I haven't changed much. It helps with sewing, and other things.

There. I've been wanting to sew all day and now that I'm home, I have this invisible wall between me and the workroom door. Don't know why I can't get up the energy to go work on things, especially when I'm working on the last two wearable items from the wardrobe, but there you have it. Inertia.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Food Coma

I think I'm over the worst of it. Not much sewing this weekend because of panic-fueled Easter shopping and cooking and the hand still being sore from last week's "incident." This was my first time preparing a holiday dinner for the family, and I got myself way too worked up over the whole thing. Of course, it all turned out fine and if it hadn't, they're too polite to tell me anyway.

The menu: bruschetta to start (that's what happens when you give a man the appetizer course); pork loin rolled and stuffed with spinach, garlic and roasted peppers; potatoes and shallots which were roasted with the pork; honey-glazed carrots; steamed asparagus; and for dessert, crepes filled with apples, drizzled with caramel and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.
After all that, I'll be lucky if I fit into the wardrobe I'm making. The only work I did get done this weekend was on the top that isn't/wasn't part of the wardrobe plan, but coordinates so well I think it may get added on. I started the top out of some leftover rust jersey. It's pretty much a frankenpattern - the body is the KS 3338 tee with a higher neckline, with sleeves that came from the original discarded project, and a different neckline treatment. I made neck band narrower, and ended it in the front because I knew I wanted some kind of tie treatment. The band was too narrow to use for the ties, though I left it like that for a day just so I could decide how I did want it to look. Eventually I made new ties that tapered out wider at the ends, cut the original narrow ties and attached the new ones at the neckline edge.

It didn't matter that the seam wasn't perfect because my intention was to wrap the join in another piece of fabric anyway, to make it look like the ties were knotted. This is still pinned because my fingers definitely weren't flexible enough for hand sewing at that point. I spent much time tweaking this on Evelyn - most of the time I'm fine working flat, but this top needed to come together on a body.

After I got the neckline to my liking, I sewed the side seams. Still have sleeve and bottom hems to go. I hate hemming knits. No matter whether I use a zigzag or stretch stitch, double or single needle, 9 out of 10 times the seam goes ripply on me. Which makes me want to throw the top across the room. Which is why I decided not to tempt fate on Easter weekend and hem when I was tired.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On the Injured List

I have many cats. One of them, Annie, seems to be the whipping boy (girl) for all the others. Last night I was sitting on my bed right after work reading an issue of Knip Mode that had just come in from Ebay when Lily and Annie started squabbling. I attempted to break up the fight. Not pictured is my hand, which got caught between them and ran into Lily's very sharp teeth. Thankfully, she was somewhat deflected by my ring (she chipped a tooth) but she still managed to puncture the knuckle on the ring finger, slice down the side of my little finger, and just for good measure, leave a nice hole in the back of my hand. Which is turning all the colors of the rainbow.

Needless to say, no sewing was done last night since I can't quite bend two fingers on my right hand. And I was on a roll.

Also, no shopping is getting done for Easter dinner (which I’m preparing this year) yet because I tend to carry things with my right hand and I picked up my purse this morning and it fell through my fingers. Would prefer that not to happen when I'm carrying groceries and a bottle of wine.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Very Good Night

Ever get one of those sewing moments where nothing goes wrong and you feel like Superwoman? Last night was one of those nights.

The original plan was to do the finish work on the men's pants and then maybe start on my KS 3338 t-shirt for the Wardrobe Contest, but when I got in the workroom, the pants stayed on the table and the Wardrobe took over.

I did the entire KS 3338 t-shirt in one sitting. Nothing went wrong: no hems got sucked down into the machine, the narrow zig-zag worked perfectly, the topstitching came out even. The sewing gods were either smiling or not paying attention. I was so happy with the result that I picked up the KS 2694 faux wrap top that I had put aside and decided to fix what was wrong with it. Turns out not much was actually wrong. I had put a modesty panel in the front and when I tried it on before it was had a ripple on one side of the neckline. It must have been one of those other nights because I put the top down almost a month ago and haven't touched it since, and I've been wondering what I can make as a replacement for it. It had a ripple. Big deal. I picked out about 2" worth of stitches, resewed them, and it was fine. For that I've been worrying?

I finished that second top by 9:30 p.m. and was thinking about starting on the black pencil skirt I cut out last week, but I decided that I wasn't up for structure at that time of night. My next top is supposed to be BWOF 1/08 #116 (the wrap top), and I'm debating it only because the fabric doesn't completely go with my other selections. It goes with all the bottoms, but it jostles a little with the other tops. I went rummaging through the stash and came up with some rust-colored jersey that was left over from a wadder project last year. It was nice jersey from Spandex House from the first PR Weekend, but it wasn't the right weight for the knit dress I attempted and these were the leftovers and the skirt that I salvaged. Turned out there was enough fabric left over to cut out a short-sleeved KS 3338 t-shirt, which will go with alll my other pieces. There were still more scraps left and I'm considering how to use them to embellish the top so that it's not just a bland rust-colored t-shirt. It's brewing; I need to go home tonight and stare at it some more until things crystallize.

I was so energized by all that productivity that I decided to post my reviews and edit the master review for the Wardrobe before I went to bed. Then I tried to sleep but couldn't, so I sat up and read Kathleen Fasanella's book which came in the mail yesterday until it was way too late. Today I'm more than a little sleepy, but it's worth it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A little retail therapy

I had company on Thursday. Cennetta, came to Philadelphia on business and had some time at the end of the day to meet up with me and head on down to Fabric Row. The stores are only open till 5:00 or 5:30 on weekdays, so we had to do some power shopping, and I think we managed quite well.

There are about a dozen stores left on the Row, not a patch on what it used to be (and certainly not NYC) but still a lot of good stuff to be had at varying prices. One of the stores we hit was Kincus Fabrics, which is probably the closest we have to NY in outrageous fabrics, with accompanying outrageous prices. They did have some reality-priced fabrics, and they had Edgar, a very charming man who cut fabric for Cennetta and who was wearing one of his wife's handmade shirts. (The lady can make a shirt, let me tell you, and he was kind enough to let us turn him around and look at the detailing). Hearing a man say, "peau-de-soie" and knowing that he knows what it is, is a wonderful thing.

One of our last stops was the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, which I don't really remember having been in before. They had the least expensive fabrics of anything we saw, and though the quality was varied, there were some definite goodies. Besides an amazing selection of buttons and zippers, leather remnants sold by the pound, menswear woolens, they had a whole rack of that great old rayon seam binding that has gotten so hard to find.

I only bought 3 cuts of fabric. Considering that I'm supposed to be fabric fasting, I guess that's 3 cuts too many, but I considered it justifiable. How often do we find a fellow sewist to shop with? Not often enough, as far as I'm concerned, and I actually think talking over the fabrics as we shop restrained at least me from buying more than I needed. I ended up with 3 yards of striped lining fabric for the winter coat I'm going to make with Gorgeous Things' chocolate brown wool, 3 yards of rust/brown wide-wale corduroy and 3 yards of a bizarre blue poly print with faces on it. I couldn't decide if the blue fabric was fabulous or hideous, but I leaned toward fabulous. The rule for the day was that I couldn't buy a fabric without knowing what it was for, which saved me from 3 yards of olive green wool at Kincus that didn't know if it was a dress, a skirt or pants - and at $14.95 per yard, it had better well know what it wants to be when it grows up.

This blue fabric thought it might be a lining, and then I looked over and realized that if I bought the blue, I could then buy the corduroy I really liked but which until that point didn't have a purpose. The two of them together are going to be Vogue 8480, which is technically supposed to be an unlined jacket, but who says the pattern's always right? Not me.

Many thanks to Cennetta for coming my way. I had a great time with her, talking sewing, talking fabric, just talking, period. And it got me out of my shopping comfort zone and into different fabric stores, and even though I didn't buy very much (only 9 yards!) my creativity is all over the place from all the fabrics I got to see and handle.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On the Other Side of the Closet

I did it! My first welt(ish) pocket! Wahoo!

As background, I started a new project last night. I'm far enough along on the wardrobe contest entry (2 tops, 2 pants, 1 skirt and the leather jacket) that I can take a break and try something new and different. Last summer we went to NYC to see the Poiret exhibit at the Met - and to do a little fabric shopping. While we were at Metro Textiles, I bought some beautiful brown pinstriped bottom weight fabric and rashly promised the man I'd make him a pair of pants. Actually, I think my vanity was appealed to thus: "You make such great shirts; I'll bet you'd do really well with a pair of pants." Ummm, okay. Flattery will probably get you anywhere. It will at least get you a new pair of pants.

I like making men's shirts. I have the pattern down well enough that except for the care I have to pay to the topstitching and the collar and cuffs, it's a fairly uncomplicated process. Compared to our clothes, menswear can seem really limited in style and color, but the details matter tremendously. Topstitching is an important part of the shirt. Getting the stripes lined up perfectly for the pocket is a big deal. Immaculate buttonholes aren't optional. Whenever I start feeling lazy, I make him a shirt. It makes me pay attention.

Since I haven't made men's pants before, I'm actually not going to cut into the 'good' fabric yet – more for reasons of fit than of technical ability. I can follow a pattern almost anywhere, but I can't get him to strip down to his BVDs every time I want to work on his pants. Most of my best sewing happens when he's either not there, already asleep or firmly lodged in front of the TV, so that wouldn't work. I had a few yards of navy pinstriped wool-blend gabardine aging on the shelf, so I'm using that for the test garment. I made pants for myself from this fabric a few years ago and wasn't thrilled with the result (the fabric or the pants). He's less finicky than I am, so he won't notice that the quality of the fabric isn't fabulous, and it's more than good enough for a trial run of this pattern. If I can get the fit right, they'll be more than wearable.

Menswear is different. I just never noticed how different before. One thing with men's pants that I don't get: they almost always have metal zippers. Not just jeans and khakis, but even most dress pants. Are they that much harder on their clothes, or do manufacturers just assume they don't care? I took a survey at the office (mostly from my boss's dry cleaning hanging in the closet, and out of 8 pairs of pants, only one zipper wasn't metal). Of course he caught me looking and wondered why, and after I explained he checked his own pants and asked the lawyer in the next office and came back and said, "Both metal." His reasoning is that men are clumsy and after catching themselves once in a metal zipper they'll be careful for the rest of their lives.

Of course, my local fabric store doesn't sell metal zippers, except for jeans zippers, so at least this pair is going to get a matching navy zipper. I'll just tell him that high end clothes (the kind he can't afford) have real zippers and he's just been upgraded. That should work.

The pattern is Burda 8272, an older pattern that I picked up for $1.99 at a sale. It's a nice basic dress/casual pant pattern. I already altered the pattern to eliminate the small pleat in the front (pleated pants aren't good on anyone, male or female). No more pleated pants! I'm like Joan Crawford with the wire hangers when it comes to pleated pants. He still thinks he likes them, but this is one area where I definitely know better. So sayeth the seamstress.

I cut out the fabric over the weekend but didn't have anything around to use for the pockets. I couldn't see buying plain cotton specifically for that purpose, and my patterned cotton scraps didn't pass muster (what's so wrong with paisley?), so I dug deep into the scrap bag and came up with a chunk of white batiste left over from underlining a summer dress. Good enough!

No wonder men carry so much junk around with them - their pockets are HUGE! I do like the way they're put together, though - a separate pocket facing piece stitched to the yoke side of the pocket (which is cotton), then the inside pocket done in good fabric. The yoke piece is sufficiently wide that it catches in the front seam by the zipper, securing the huge pocket.

The pattern instructions said to sew the inside pocket right sides together with the front, turn, trim the seam, press and baste. I was with them until they said baste. There was no mention of topstitching, but I decided to topstitch the pocket opening and add a bar tack at either end to secure it. That's how the RTW pants I've looked at are done and to me it looks better and feels more secure. I sewed the pocket bags with a straight stitch and then did a combo straight/zigzag stitch around the raw edges to reinforce the seam.

It was a little late to start on the back pocket; I didn't think my first welt pocket should occur after 11:00 p.m. I've suffered from fear-of-welt-pocket for about as long as I realized it was technically possible for me to install one of them. Fear-of-welt-pocket even surpasses fear-of-invisible-zipper, which only took the addition of an invisible zipper foot to my life to make that go away. I've read instruction after tutorial after diagram and it still seemed impossible. The Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing came the closest for me – I actually got the welt part, but I was still in the dark about attaching the pocket. About a week ago I was trying to get to sleep when I started thinking about welt pockets and all of a sudden it came together in my head. I wanted to get up right then and try it, but I didn't. Late night sewing is almost never a good idea.

Tonight I tackled the pocket. Thankfully, it's only a half-welt with a button. I thought about doing a full welt instead but decided just to follow the pattern for this first pair. I can always rework the pocket for the next version. If a half welt took me almost 90 minutes to get right, I don't want to think what state I'd be in from a full one! I probably should have practiced this a few times first, rather than starting in on the pants, but sometimes if I do that, I get obsessed with getting it perfect, and never actually get it done. I'm not thrilled with the pocket - it's a little bit lumpy on one corner - but for a first try, it's not bad, and the button and buttonhole make it look better.

I still don't like the fabric very much, so I want to finish up this trial pair as quickly as possible and make the good pants.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

One from the vault

I spent most of yesterday cleaning out my closets. I should have been sewing - I spent the entire time thinking about sewing - but other than hemming a pair of pants and doing a little hand-finishing to a skirt, I just couldn't get inspired. Decided to give myself a weekend off to recharge my batteries.

Not sewing, of course, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it, reading about it, wasting time online thinking and reading about it, so I decided I should at least do something useful and share one of the goodies I found when dredging the storage closet in my workroom.

I bought this dress around the time I graduated high school in the early 1980s, back when the Salvation Army sold amazing vintage for amazing prices. I think I got this dress for under $5, which at the time was still more than I wanted to spend on a dress I knew had very little chance of ever wearing, but I had to have it.

I think I've only ever worn it once, and it's now way too small for me, but I'm not getting rid of it. No way, no how. There are a few beautiful vintage pieces I remember having but can no longer find (a boned emerald green taffeta cocktail dress and a black lace dress with a nude underdress and jet beading on the bodice both come to mind), and all I can think is that I gave them away in a fit of tidyness and/or disgust at not being able to zip them anymore. Not one of my brighter moments. I hope the recipient was at least deserving.

I've always called this my garden party dress. I guess it's actually more of a cocktail dress - who would wear that much beading and sequinning to a daytime event? - but I've always pictured it worn outside, with a pair of dyed-to-match pink satin shoes and short gloves.

The wearer, of course, has to be a blonde, with her hair done up, just a few wisps loose around her face, pearly-pink lipstick and a crowd of male admirers all vying for the privilege of fetching her mimosa. Sort of a 1960s Scarlett O'Hara at the barbecue. Can't you see it?

The dress itself, aside from being gorgeous, is really beautifully made. It's a shame about the metal zipper, but you have to work with what you have, even now. I love the fabrics - the underlayer is taffeta and the upper is a silk chiffon, both printed with flowers. The fabrics are sewn together at the hem, but the boned bodice is taffeta with the chiffon draped over it. It hooks at back of the neck and is open to the waist, where it joins the beaded waistband. There are teeny, tiny straps that keep it in place. The sleeves also drape open to the top of the waistband, showing the boned bodice.

The beading ! Oh, how I love the beading. I've always been a magpie - anything shiny gets me - and this definitely gets me. I designed made a bellydance costume for my best friend years ago, and my favorite part was the endless hand-beading of the belt and bra (photos if I can ever get her to unpack it). I love the dangling centers of the flowers that make it even more three-dimensional. I love how well they aligned the pattern on the two fabrics to give it more depth. I just love the whole dress, let's face it.

It's not something I would ever make for myself, even saying I had the patience to work with two such slippery fabrics. My life doesn't support cocktail or garden party dresses, but I love having it and looking at it. I think if Evelyn's taking the week off from wearing something I'm sewing, she might just keep this on for a while. It will make the workroom feel like spring.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Back to work

I got the March Burda magazine the other day, and there's really not a lot in it that gets me. It's not as bleak as the February issue (which I still managed to make something from, despite my complaints), but only one dress is really calling out to be made.

What's funny is that I completely disregarded this dress in the casual section but fell in love with the shape of it on the wedding gown pages - I think I looked at the floral fabric and puffed sleeves on the dress and couldn't see any further, something which doesn't happen that often. But I'm so not a puffed sleeve kind of girl.

I like the darts around the waist and the neckline, and I like the shape of the opening, though I'm going to raise it at least an inch. It's too low on the model and she has no real boobs to fill the gap. I don't want the entire keyhole neckline to be filled with cleavage. I also like the way they anchored it at the neck with a pin on the wedding dress, though I’ll put a button on anyway and add a pin when I want a change.

I love the more vintage look of the wedding dress (they're calling it a la Duchess of Windsor), and I think a good part of its appeal comes from those drapy sleeves. No reason they wouldn't look just as good on a regular dress.

There are several fabrics in stash that could be this dress, I just need to make up my mind which one will work best. I have a wonderful cotton voile from Metro Textiles that I would love to use for this. Since it's mostly white, with a wonderful brown floral, it's technically too sheer, but I do have an underdress pattern from a Vintage Vogue that I could make up in a plain white and wear with the voile, so it’s still a possibility. There's also a brown/turquoise vintage-look floral from Paron’s that would be great as this dress. I'd had this fabric earmarked for another dress, but a woman's allowed to change her mind, right?

Dilemmas like this are one of the reasons I love sewing so much. And while I make up my mind, I think I'll go finish the first skirt to the wardrobe, so I don't end up running behind when I've been ahead of myself up until now.

Of course, if anyone out there would offer an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

And now for something completely different

Once the leather project was finished, I intended to return to my other Wardrobe Contest entries, but I got distracted. Both versions of V7976 have made me confident enough in my lining abilities that I decided to finally re-line my favorite winter bad-weather coat – a 1960s fake fur (modeled here by a very unwilling gentleman).

I've had this coat for about 4 years. When I bought it at my local thrift store I thought it was real Persian lamb, at least until the lining began to shred and it turned out to be really good fake fur. Even better, because I've tried to reattach skins before when they start to age and split and it's a thankless job. I've been wearing this coat every winter, and the lining just keeps getting worse and worse. Basically what was left was a sort of a sewn-in shrug – almost nothing left below the armpits. Even the pockets have fallen apart.

I cut the lining out of the coat and made a newspaper pattern. The missing length was easy enough to calculate, but since this had a raglan sleeve with a shoulder dart I was glad there was enough of the original lining left to copy.

And what era do you choose from to reline a 1960s coat? Why, the 1980s, if you're lucky enough to find the ridiculous scarf print that I found recently, for only $2.95per yard. (Obviously it was in the cheapo bin for a reason - I'd never wear this fabric, but I think it will look fabulous as a lining in my curly fur coat. The store only had about 2.5 yards, but it turned out to be just enough, even leaving me scraps to remake the pockets. For the underlining I have a heavy cotton/linen blend that bled in the wash, leaving it unusable but wonderful for giving me an extra layer of protection from the cold.

What makes me happiest about this, even more than getting a new lining in my favorite furry coat, is that all of a sudden it didn't seem like a big deal anymore. I've been putting off tackling this for at least 2 seasons now, but yesterday I just looked at it and thought, "It's just a lining. I can do that."

It’s the best feeling.