Sunday, 29 September 2013

Vintage: My Grad Boat Cruise Outfit

I usually try to avoid social interaction with large groups of people at all costs, and the last time I went on a boat was definitely not a fun experience, so I was a little surprised to find myself buying a ticket to the first grad event of the season: the grad boat cruise. 

This is a pretty standard grad (or grade 12, if you will) event for schools in the Vancouver area. The cruises start in Coal Harbour and then go around to False Creek and back again, lasting about three hours. There's dinner, beverages, and a dance floor (which, after standing awkwardly on the sidelines for about a half hour, I actually participated in, heels and all). 

Ours was on Thursday, September 26. I honestly thought I would regret it for a few reasons (missing dance and being prone to seasickness being a couple), but I actually had a really good time (partly thanks to Gravol...). The weather couldn't have been nicer, especially since it started pouring rain early the next morning and has barely stopped since!

The event is semi-formal, and I unfortunately didn't have time to make a dress. I could have over the summer, but only decided that I was going to go a week beforehand. However, I had a couple dresses lurking in my closet that would have worked just fine, so I didn't want to buy one (especially not with such a tight deadline). To my knowledge (although my knowledge is pretty limited because I pretty much only talked to my close friends the whole evening), I was the only girl who didn't buy a new dress for the occasion, or at least wear one they'd never worn before. But honestly, I really don't see the point of buying something new for every occasion! I would way rather have a few nice dresses, and wear them lots, than buy a new $10 dress for every single event. I actually heard quite a few girls bragging about how cheap their dresses were, which makes me very sad. Most of them will probably never wear them again.

It was a close call between two dresses, but after seeing all the brand new dresses girls posted to the Facebook group for grad dresses (yes, every grad class has their own group to post pictures of their grad dress so no one buys the same one, *sigh*), I decided to be a rebel and wear vintage.

That's not a stain on the front of the skirt, the nap is just a little crushed. Keeping velveteen nice is really tricky!

This dress was given to me by my aunt, who made it in the 60's. She didn't say exactly when, but my guess is early to mid-sixties. It's velveteen, and saying that it's turquoise doesn't really describe the colour very well... it's like no turquoise I've ever seen in modern clothing! That's part of what I love about it - it's so unique. It's quite difficult to capture in photos, though! It's a little greener than it looks here.

The style is simple but very flattering, and I'm amazed at how well it fits. My mom took in the shoulders a little bit, but other than that it didn't need any alterations. I didn't take a picture of the back (and I'm not about to put it on and take pictures outside, it's been nonstop pouring since the cruise), but it's a low v. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "low" because nowadays a low v seems to mean down to your butt. No, this "low v" is pretty much down to my bra band in the back. I really love how it's high in the front, and low in the back. It shows a little skin, but in a very elegant way. 

I wanted to go for a "simple elegance" look with this dress. I paired it with simple black heels, a tiny black purse (yes, that's tiny for me. I like big bags), and a black bolero for when it cooled off later on. The heels unfortunately aren't vintage or even a vintage style. I have a pair of black heels that I think might be vintage, although I don't know much about dating shoes so I don't really know. They can be seen (sort of) here and here. I found them at a thrift store for $5.99 and LOVE them, but they need the heel strap shortened a bit and there wasn't time. The heels I wore were just fine though. My best friend wears heels quite a bit, and I think she and I were the only girls who managed to keep them on the whole night. Honestly, I don't understand why girls wear heels if they plan on taking them off. Sure, they look great for half an hour, but then walking around barefoot for the rest of the night doesn't look so great. Wouldn't it look better to wear flats or low heels and keep them on the whole night? I don't get it. 

The purse I borrowed from my mom, and I believe she bought it at a consignment store. 

The bolero (or blazer - I call it both) my mom made for me to go with this dress when I wore it to a wedding last year. I wore it in a couple of the photos in this post, and I wear it quite a bit.  I normally don't go for boxier styles but this one really suits the dress and, because it's cropped, I find it pretty flattering. I wanted something pretty specific and couldn't find an appropriate pattern, but I found Vogue V8673 (which isn't actually out of print - I made a mistake in my previous post) in a clearance bin for $5 and thought we could use it for the basic shape, and then modify it to what I wanted. I modeled it after a bolero I found in a knitting magazine dated 1965 that I found in my grandparents' house. Someday I will actually knit it, maybe once I finish what I'm working on now. It was shown with a similar style of dress, and I really liked the two shapes together.

I made a muslin in a size 6, because although I am technically a size 8, I've always found commercial patterns to be big on me (the exception being a rather disastrous pair of Burda shorts from their magazine. I figured they were a lost cause and they never made it past the muslin stage). The pattern fit me pretty well so we didn't have to make any fitting adjustments, we just changed the shape. 

We bought some black double knit for the main fabric, and a remnant of white satin with black polka dots for the  lining. The two fabrics behave very differently and probably weren't the best fabrics to use together, but if I'm careful when I lay it out flat to dry it usually works out. I actually had every intention of making this myself, but ran out of time and my mom ended up making it. I'm really happy with it though - it seems to go with just about everything.

I'm really glad I had something to wear over top that actually went with my dress. Most girls brought something, but didn't want to wear them because they didn't look good over their dresses. Although with the wind it was definitely cool enough to wear it from the start, I kept it off for photos until it really was too cold. Do I look freezing in the photo above? It was taken after dinner, when it had already cooled off. I think I ran downstairs and got my bolero right afterwards!

Okay, I realise that this is a horrible photo, but it's sadly the best one of the bolero. I roll up the sleeves to show off the polka dot lining!

Anyways, back to this outfit! For jewelry, I went with my favourite dangly pearl earrings, a pearl bracelet, and a decorative headband (which you can't really see in any of the photos). This would have looked great with a pearl necklace, but I didn't have one, and that probably would have been a pearl overload anyways. In some of the photos you can also see a pin on my bolero, too. That was also borrowed from my mom, and is probably old enough to be considered vintage by now. 

I didn't do much more than everyday makeup, just a little eyeshadow and my favourite lipstick. For hair, I conditioned it in the morning (I usually don't bother), and put in some anti-frizz serum that I had left over from my long-haired days. It was really windy, though, so I'm not sure it did much good.

On the whole, it was a really fun night and I'm glad I went. It was a great way to start grade 12!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

My Sewing Wishlist for Fall

Today is the first day of fall! I've always loved the fall - coloured leaves, hot tea, baking, cozy sweaters, and rain. Yes, rain. I love it. Call me crazy.

I always have the problem of getting far too ahead of myself for sewing projects, and I'm sure everyone knows the feeling. I spend far too much time looking at what other people are making that I get all these brilliant ideas, and yet never spend enough time actually sewing to put my brilliant ideas into action. So, to organise my thoughts, I've created a list of everything I'd like to sew over the next couple months.

Just a heads up, this is actually quite a long post, considering it's not about anything I've actually done. I wasn't expecting to write that much, it just kind of happened. It's also very text-heavy. There were pictures, and then I realized that I don't know anything about copyright, and I thought that I might not actually be allowed to use them, even though I did put a link and state that they weren't mine. I was starting to get worried, but instead of losing sleep over it, I just took them off. So, no pictures. Sorry.

1. 1940's-style wool dress

I've wanted to try a 40's-style dress for a while now, as opposed to the 50's styles I usually gravitate towards. I love all the subtle details, which, in my opinion, are a lot more suited to fall (and school, for that matter) than 50's full-skirted dresses. I also thought that a 40's project would be great for challenging myself and learning some new things, because of all those little details.

I really wanted to sew a 40's dress for the Fall for Cotton sew along, but as I've mentioned before, cotton dresses are really not the most practical for fall in Vancouver.

I spent an excessive amount of time searching Etsy for the *perfect* pattern, but it seemed like anything that was around my size that I liked had pieces or the instructions missing. I suppose it's quite hit or miss, but I've decided that I'll save looking for vintage patterns on Etsy (or elsewhere) for when I just want to browse, rather than searching for something specific. I've had far better luck finding patterns when I haven't really been looking for them.

Something else I noticed about genuine 40's patterns is the sizing is quite different - not just that the sizes are much smaller like with all vintage patterns, but it seems that the body type that patterns were designed for was a lot more rectangular than nowadays. If I found one that fit my bust measurement, it was often at least 2 inches too big at the waist, and too small at the hips (although being too small at the hips is a problem that I have with most patterns). Not that it would be too difficult to fix, but I just thought it was interesting how different the sizing was back then.

Anyways, I've actually already started on this project. I decided to try the Colette Ceylon dress, since I've always wanted to try Colette patterns. The only problem is the sizing - I'm smaller than their size 0, *sigh*. So, I tried my hand at sizing it down and it so far seems to have worked.  

I think this pattern is a really good choice, because for a while I've been wanting to try Colette patterns, make a shirt dress, and make a 40's style dress. This one checks all three boxes!

I haven't bought any fabric yet for this, but I went by a local discount fabric store today and was surprised to find that they actually had a fair amount of wool crepe and wool gabardine, which I think would work for the dress. I was honestly quite surprised - I was expecting it to be one of those places where everything has mysterious fabric content. They had a turquoise wool crepe that I loved, but wasn't really a fall colour, nor the best colour on me. They also had some amazing royal blue wool gabardine, but again, I think the colour might be too overwhelming. I can't remember exactly, but I think they had a dark red and a dark purple, either of which would be great if the weight is okay.

I'm making a muslin right now in a medium weight cotton (I think, maybe poly-cotton) and I'll see how well the weight works, because it's quite similar to the weight of the wool I was looking at.

Wow, that was a lot to write about this one project considering all I've made so far is a partial muslin. Here's the rest of my list:

2. Bombshell swimsuit

I definitely missed jumping on the bandwagon for this pattern this summer, but I still absolutely love it. It's like Heather of Closet Case Files read my mind when she released it, because I was thinking about making a swimsuit at the time, but wanted a one-piece and didn't like any of the options out there. This one is so cute, though!

And yes, I realize that it's not really bathing suit season anymore, at least not in the northern hemisphere. But honestly, I don't really like swimming, and I burn like crazy, so I don't spend that much time in bathing suits in the summer. In the fall and winter, I go in our hot tub all the time, so now is when I really need one!

I know that I'll have to order fabric online, since I doubt any of the stores around here will have any bathing suit fabric left. I found this really cute watermelon print fabric a couple days ago, and I wish I'd bookmarked it because I can't remember which site it was on.

3. Another Sewaholic Alma blouse

I've made view B, the peter pan collar version, once before, and I literally lived in it all summer. It's very flattering and comfortable, although the mid-length sleeves and collar aren't that great for layering. I haven't decided whether or not I will make the view A and plan to wear it with a cardigan or view C with the view A notched neckline, but either would be great fall pieces.

First, though, I have to attempt my first ever full bust adjustment. I've looked at several tutorials on the internet, and I honestly don't see what all the fuss is about. It doesn't look to hard to me (famous last words...). Although it fits me well, I neglected to make a muslin on my first version and ended up having to fiddle with the darts quite a bit. I cut out a straight size 0 so that the shoulders would fit, when my bust measurement is actually between a 2 and a 4. The darts end about 1/2" away from each other now, which I'm sure wouldn't look very good in a solid colour. Luckily, I made this version in a very small floral print so you can't see the darts at all. Overall, I love the blouse and I'm definitely willing to give it another try.

4. Bluegingerdoll Mae blouse

I absolutely LOVE this blouse. There's actually a sew-along for it that finishes today, but I had too much going to to be able to participate. Still, this blouse is absolutely gorgeous! I think it could definitely work as a layering piece, too, because the neckline is narrow enough that it would be visible under a cardigan. I might change the sleeves a bit to make it a bit easier to get a cardigan over it, but I seriously want this pattern. 

Plus, there's free worldwide shipping, which is definitely incentive to buy it. Living in Canada (even though Vancouver is so close to the border), shipping charges are absurd. I paid almost $13 in shipping for an $18 pattern when I ordered my Ceylon dress, which kind of irritates me considering it would have been only $5 or $6 to ship to Bellingham, which is just over the border. I suppose I shouldn't complain, though, because I always get my money's worth on all my patterns. I trace all of them in case I change size, and I make them over and over. 

5. A self-covered belt

I was reading a blog post somewhere (can't remember now, oops) where a dress ended up too big at the waist, and to fix it, she made a self-covered belt instead of fixing it. I thought this was a great idea! I've always loved the look of self-covered belts, and I think one would look great with my duvet dress, which is a bit big at the waist. I just need to find a kit that would work. I'll keep an eye out on Etsy for one, and my mom and I are planning a trip to Dressew sometime soon, which might have the supplies. For all you non-Vancouverites, Dressew is this store in the *ahem* not-so-great part of Vancouver that has pretty much all the notions you could possible imagine, plus a bunch of bargain fabric. I've never been there, so I'm pretty excited to have a look.

6. Jeans?

This has a question mark because they would be a pretty big project, and I have no idea if I'll have enough time to make a pair. I've never made pants before, and I'm not looking forward to fitting them. I also haven't found a pattern that I really like. I like a straight (or a relaxed skinny) fit that sits right at the waist, with all the classic details, like five pockets and a yoke. I hate jeggings, or anything that's so tight you can barely walk in them. And I don't know why so many people insist on low-rise jeans. They're quite possibly the most unflattering and uncomfortable design possible. 

The closest I've found to a pattern I like is this one by Style Arc. They at least aren't super tight and sit at the waist, although they say they're not meant for stretch denim and i like my jeans stretchy for comfort.

My excuse for not sewing jeans used to be that I didn't think my machine could handle denim. It's a good basic machine and I've made lots with it, but I don't think it's quite tough enough to sew through multiple layers of jeans-weight denim. But... I recently acquired a machine that can handle denim (more on that later), so my excuses are running out.

Anyways, as much as I would love to sew a pair of jeans, I don't think they're exactly a realistic project for me at the moment. Maybe in the spring... but then I'll probably have another project on the go. Read on.

7. And finally... a grad dress (or, a prom dress, for all you in the US)

Okay, I'm not planning on starting this right away. I just really need to decide on a pattern and start on a muslin, at the very least. I just really don't want to leave it to the last minute so that I'm rushing to get it finished while trying to study for finals (including provincial exams) and fit in a bunch of extra rehearsals for my year-end show for dance. I really need to make myself a schedule for it, which means I should probably find out when my grad actually is. Yes, that would be a good start.

Making a post like this seems to actually be a really good way to organise my thoughts, so I might do one with grad dress ideas too. That way, I can get some feedback, too, which would be great because I'm seriously terrible at making up my mind.

On a side note, does anyone have any idea why it's called grad in Canada, and prom in the US? And if anyone is reading this outside the US or Canada, what do they call it there?

That's it for now - thanks for reading, if you got this far. This actually turned out to be quite a bit longer than I was picturing. Now to get back to that homework I've been avoiding by writing this post...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Exciting News!

I won a prize!

A couple weeks ago, I saw a post on Sew Mama Sew reminding readers to submit their photos for the Super Online Sewing Match Community Match. I had been following the Super Online Sewing Match all summer, but hadn't really considered entering the community match because I'm terrible at sewing to a deadline, and thought that you had to sew your project at the same time as the contestants to enter. Well, turns out that anything sewn between July 8th and September 10th was eligible! 

So, I decided, just for fun, to enter my Duvet Cambie Dress, since I started and finished it in August. I can't remember the exact dates - I started a few days before finishing summer classes on August 9th, and finished about a week or so after that.

Anyways, it turns out I actually won something! I checked the website today and the winners are announced. I honestly wasn't expecting to win anything at all! I had seen all the entries in the flickr group, and there were so many beautiful creations I didn't really think I stood a chance. But hey, I won a $50 gift certificate to Pink Castle Fabrics! I was so surprised that I literally did a little happy dance around my room for a few minutes. I'm not joking.

I took a look through their fabrics, and although they look a little more focused on quilting, they have lots of fabrics that I can picture using for clothes, and lots of organic cotton, too! I have no aversion whatsoever to sewing with quilting cottons - in fact, I can't help but spent an entirely excessive amount of time looking through them at fabric stores! I love all the fun prints, and of course they're a dream to sew with.

They have lots of linen (and in really fun prints!), velveteen, flannel, and voile, too so there's definitely lots to choose from for garment sewing.

On a side note, I'm also thinking of buying a course from Craftsy while their sale is still on, but I'm torn between classes. I've it narrowed down to:
  • Custom Fitting: Back, Neck, and Shoulders (because I apparently have oddly shaped shoulders - nothing seems to fit them!)
  • Jean-ius (because I have a pair of jeans that are ALMOST perfect that I would love to replicate and tweak. I could buy another pair, but they're $170 new, plus shipping since I can't find anywhere to buy them here.)
  • Adjust the Bust (because, well, enough said.)
  • Sew Retro Perfect Bombshell Dress (because I think this would be a great way to learn techniques like boning that I could use for a grad dress, and I might even use the circle skirt version to make my grad dress.)
So, I'm really horrible at making decisions and can't make up my mind. Chances are, I will think about this too much and realize on Sunday that I missed my chance!

The Bombshell Dress course is the best deal, but it's less expensive than the other in the first place. The other three, at around $50 each before the sale, are a little pricey. But then again, maybe not, when you compare them to the Palmer/Pletsch fitting classes offered at my local fabric store that I'm considering taking, for $144 each, plus supplies. Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

Anyways, I just wanted to do a quick post to share the news and my random, sewing-related thoughts. Thanks for reading!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Completed: Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse, Knit Version

Confession time: I actually finished this two weeks ago. I've been meaning to take photos every day since then, but other stuff has just been popping up. You know, homework, rain, dance, procrastination. Actually, the rain just started yesterday. We had a little bit of a heat wave last week. It went up to 31 degrees the other day! (Everyone in the US reading this is probably thinking, what?!? 31 degrees? That's hot? I know how it is. I do a double take when someone says that the temperature dropped to 50, or that it was  90 the other day. I don't think in Fahrenheit. Water doesn't freeze at 32 degrees. It just doesn't.) Anyways, it was nice to get a little more wear out of my summer clothes.

This is my third Pendrell blouse, and, like my culottes, was a bit of an experiment. I had some red polka dot bamboo jersey lying around that my mom bought a while back, and I wanted to make it into a top, but didn't really have a good pattern for knit tops.

I believe my mom was planning to make this into a second camisole for me, after self-drafting one last year. Even though I wear the cami a lot, I've decided that camis don't work so well for my body type. I need them to give enough coverage in the front, and yet sit below my shoulder blades in the back... which doesn't seem to work. Even though we fitted the cami to be like that, gravity does its thing and the neckline sinks lower and the back rides up. Sigh.

I was actually planning to make the Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top with this, since I have a black polka dot shirt that's quite similar to this pattern and gets quite a bit of wear. But... I kind of forgot about that until halfway through making this. Oops. I had a fair chunk of time to spend sewing, I was not in a mood to finish my culottes, I saw this fabric just sitting there, and this seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now, this top is designed for drapey wovens. It has no zipper and is therefore very blousey - which I love, but I find that it really needs to be tucked in to be the most flattering. Since I wanted this to be a casual piece for layering, I thought I would probably be wearing it untucked with cardigans, and therefore wanted it to fit nice and snugly. I couldn't exactly size down since I make a straight size 0 in Sewaholic patterns, so I just took generous seam allowances (1", to be exact). And yes, I realize that princess seams are unnecessary for knits, especially jersey knits with as much stretch as this one, but it was the best pattern I had and I wasn't feeling up to self-drafting something. 

I'm still kind of astounded that I managed to cut this out without sacrificing anything, and I'm still not entirely sure how I managed it. I somehow was able to squeeze it out of 0.6 metres of fabric instead of the recommended 1.8. A big part of it was not cutting the neck and armhole binding on the bias, being a knit. I also shortened it by 2", just like in my other versions. Still, I don't think I've ever had such an efficient layout - when I was all done, I barely had enough left over to try some sample seams. I was planning to make the sleeveless version as an alternative to a cami, but realised there was a little empty square that I might just be able to squeeze some sleeves out of. The Pendrell cap sleeves for view B didn't fit, but my pattern pieces for the Alma blouse just happened to be sitting on my cutting table waiting for a FBA. Looking through the pieces, I realized that the cap sleeves for view A would just fit into that little empty square. I had no idea if they would be compatible with the pattern, but figured it was worth a try.

They did end up working out nicely, although since I couldn't line up notches, they are a teensy bit uneven, but I don't think it's very noticeable. I only noticed this yesterday, when I took the photos of it flat. I also think I gathered them a little bit more than on the original pattern, again, because I didn't have notches to match them to. Overall, though, I really love them! They have a different look in a knit, but I think they really suit the polka dots. They are cute and very flattering, as opposed to the plain cap sleeves that are usually found on knit tops. I think that I'll get a little more wear out of this with sleeves, because it just feels a little more complete. Without, I think it would feel like I would need to wear a cardigan with it. I still can because the sleeves aren't bulky, which makes this a pretty versatile piece. 

I must say, even though I've made this twice already (past versions will probably be blogged about at some point), I struggled with this version. It should have been fast and easy, but it most definitely wasn't. Why? It's a knit. I really, really hate sewing with knits, and especially jersey knits with quite a bit of spandex (I don't know the exact fiber content, but this is suuuper stretchy. I would hazard a guess at 8-10% spandex. It's stretchier than a knit rayon top I have that is 8%, anyways). 

On a bit of a side note, when I was younger I sewed almost exclusively with knits, because I had some weird idea in my head that they were easier to sew with than nice, stable wovens. I have no idea why. All that time, I thought sewing was a lot more difficult than it actually is, because I only sewed with knits. Now, I sew pretty much exclusively with wovens.

The seams themselves weren't too bad, I just used a slight zig-zag and serged the edges, but the topstitching for the neck and armhole binding drove me crazy. I used a double needle because I think it looks nicer than a zig-zag, but it took me lots of tries (and quite a bit of unpicking) to finally get it perfect good enough. It still puckers a little bit in a few places, where the second needle didn't catch the binding underneath. This probably wasn't the best way to finish the neck, but I wanted this to be a quick project, so I just went for it. Isn't it funny how so often the things we do to make things "faster" end up taking so much time?

It's definitely not my best handiwork (the above picture it one of the better parts), but I'm still pretty happy with it. It fits, in comfortable, and it's very wearable. I have to admit that even though anything I sew that's knit is never particularly well-made, they still get quite a bit of wear. 

One thing I noticed about this top after I finished was that it's actually really bright! I know what you're thinking. Of course it's bright. Duh. It just seems brighter now that it's a top, oddly enough. It didn't look quite that bright when it was just fabric. I still really like it, especially with a cardigan to tone done the brightness a little bit.

I, of course, styled it with a skirt for these photos, and then realised that I would be wearing it far more often with jeans and a cardigan, so I changed and took some photos like that too.

It can be dressed up or down pretty easily. When I added the bolero/blazer (it's kind of a combination of the two, so I call it both, depending on how I feel), it reminded me of the outfits I would wear for band concerts back when my band teacher said that girls had to wear all black, but guys could wear whatever colour dress shirt they liked. A bunch of the girls in band decided that this was completely unfair, and wore coloured shirts anyways. Shortly thereafter, he gave up telling the girls they had to wear all black.

I think I bumped the tripod, so I cut off my feet in this photo... but you get the idea.

I do really love this pattern, even though it's not really the same pattern after taking so much out of the seams and changing the sleeves. As I mentioned before, I've made two of these already and love them both. Also, the skirt I'm wearing in these photos is the Sewaholic Hollyburn. Can anyone tell I like Sewaholic patterns?

Shirt: Sewaholic Pendrell
Skirt: Sewaholic Hollyburn
Heels: Chelsea Crew
Tights: Hue
Bolero/blazer: Mom-made, a heavily modified Vogue V8673 (now out of print, I believe)

Jeans: Consignment, CJ by Cookie Johnson

Cardigan: Thrifted
Boots: Steve Maddden

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Completed: Simplicity 7148, the Experimental Culottes

I am not a shorts person.

I will admit that I am a short person, at 5'2"... but I am not a shorts person.

The last time I remember wearing shorts before this was in the ninth grade. Part of it is that I really don't like the shorts that you can buy... or at least the ones you can buy at the stores I used to shop at. They're too short, they're unflattering, and they're uncomfortable! I honestly don't see how most girls my age parade around in them all summer.

Speaking of summer (or... lack thereof), I started grade 12 today. I haven't had any classes yet - you just get your schedule, your locker, and your picture taken on the first day. Everyone seems so excited... but honestly? I just want to get high school over with.

So, why am I wearing shorts in these photos? Well, this was a bit of an experiment. I found this pattern, Simplicity 7148, at a thrift store for 99 cents. It's funny, because the newer patterns are $1.99, and anything older, including great vintage patterns, they price at 99 cents! I found an amazing Vogue Couturier Design for a skirt, vest, blazer, and shorts from the 70's, uncut and in my size, for 99 cents - more on that later.

Definitely not my favourite era - but I thought the shorts had potential.

Anyways, back to the shorts. I had recently been admiring all the Megan Nielson Tania Culottes when I found this pattern. Okay, Simplicity 7148 are definitely not culottes that you would mistake for a circle skirt like the Tania Culottes are, but I thought they were worth a try.

These sit slightly above the natural waist, but not quite at am empire waist. They have pleats in the front, and darts at the back.

The pattern is from 1990, which is definitely not my usual fashion era. I love 50's-style full skirted dresses, and 40's dresses with lovely gathered details and shoulder darts. 20's and 30's are great, but definitely aren't the most flattering on me. 60's and 70's have some nice designs too, but it really depends. 80's and 90's, however, I usually see as just plain tacky. Ugly sweaters? Neon colours? Big hair? No, thanks. I thought I should give these shorts a try, though. For 99 cents, how could I go wrong?

The pattern was cut out in a size 10, which is my size at the hips. I didn't try to grade down to an 8 at the waist like I usually would, and instead just took generous seam allowances. The facings were missing, but I drafted some easily enough. They were also cut out in view 2, the shorter version, and I *thought* that I wanted the longer version. They looked more like a skirt than the shorter version, and that's the length that I wear my skirts. Looking at the instructions, it was clear that both views came from the same piece, but view 1 was just 5 inches longer, so it wasn't a problem at all to re-create the view 1 piece. 

Looking at them in more detail, these photos aren't actually focused all that well. I was experimenting with timed shots because my photographer (aka my brother) is no longer home for the summer. I could have retaken them, but it was raining today - not the best weather for modelling shorts in.

However, this was a project of many mistakes - they spent a lot of time as a UFO (unfinished object) while I tried to figure out how to deal with them. My first mistake was not tracing and laying out the pattern before going to the store to buy fabric. I trace all my patterns, so I'm not sure why I didn't trace this one right away. I like to trace them before I buy fabric, so that I can lay them out and see how much fabric I will need - since I usually make the smallest size, I find the fabric allowances are often quite generous.

When I went to the store and realized I hadn't traced it, the salesperson let me lay it out to see how much fabric I needed. I looked like I could get away with one metre, so that's how much I bought. The only fabric that I liked that I thought would work for the pattern was this lovely lightweight linen. It looks brown in the pictures (or maybe more like grey?), but it's actually black and beige woven together. It has a lovely feel and drape, and is a very versatile colour without being too plain. It was a little more than I wanted to spend on fabric at $25 a metre, but I figured since the pattern was 99 cents, I could splurge. It was actually on sale, but I didn't realize that until I went to pay. It ended up being about $18 in total, I think.

Here comes my second mistake. After tracing the pattern and going to cut it, I realized that I had laid out the view 2 pieces, and hadn't accounted for the view 1 pieces being 5 inches longer.... oops. I was planning on making these before my second Cambie dress, since they were so summery, whereas the dress could transition to fall, but wasn't in a mood to make a decision on what to do next. So, these sat for a week while I started and finished my dress. After finishing my dress, I decided that if I shortened the shorts by about and inch and took out a half inch at the bottom of the sides, then I could fit them... ignoring the straight of grain. They fit nicely crosswise. Was it worth it? I figured it was. I couldn't feel any difference in the strength of the lengthwise and crosswise directions, and the fabric looked fine either way.

They BARELY fit, even after the alterations and ignoring the straight of grain.

So, I sewed the staystitching, the darts, and the pleats, and then... mistake #3. I'm not sure why, but I sewed the two back pieces together at their inner leg seams. Duh. I have no idea what I was thinking. I mean, this may be my first pair of shorts, but I know enough about how they go together that I know that the back pieces do not get sewn together at the inner seams. The saddest part is that it took me a really long time to notice. The next step was to sew the crotch seam, and I spent a good five minutes trying to figure out how on earth the four pieces went together. You have no idea how stupid I felt when I realised my mistake.

After unpicking and sewing the inner leg seams properly, I pinned the side seams and tried them on to see how they looked, but I can't say I really liked them. Something needed to change, but I wasn't sure what. These then spent a little more time as a UFO while I returned to my knitting. When I got back to them, I ended up tapering the shorts a little from the hips to make them less flared. They just seemed a little bit over-the-top! I'm okay with over-the-top when it comes to full skirts, crinolines, and heels, but I wasn't sure I wanted over-the-top 90's culottes. 

Since taking these pictures, I put a better hook and eye in. My first attempt wasn't so great - I tried to put them in between the facing and the main fabric after they had been slipstitched together... not the greatest idea.

I inserted my first ever lapped zipper, which turned out pretty nicely, I think. I used this Craftsy course as a guide, because the instructions with the pattern were clearly intended for someone who had experience with lapped zippers. I altered the method slightly, though, for a couple reasons. First, I didn't have a zipper foot that can sew on both sides (but I do now! More on that later...). Because of this, my zipper ended up a little closer to the opening than I would have liked because I had to sew it a little differently, but I'm still pretty happy with it. Second, I hand-picked it instead of topstitching, which I love the look of. Oh, and I didn't use interfacing, but that was a mistake on my part - it just slipped my mind. I really should have, especially since the place the zipper is is slightly on the bias and has stretched out a little. Overall, though, I really like this method and would definitely use it again.

My facings don't quite match up, and I'm not sure why! They are the exact same width, and I took the same seam allowances on both of them. It will be one of those mysteries of life. Oh, and I know the black zipper looks out of place, but believe me, brown looked much stranger! 

I drafted the facings and cut them out in this purple batik quilting cotton from my mom's stash. I didn't want to use the same linen since it stretches with body heat, and this went well with the linen. I interfaced them with pretty solid interfacing, since they're no waistband, then sewed them as per the instructions. (Although, mistake #4 was not accounting for the seam allowances being taken in at the centre front and back of the shorts when I drafted the facings. I ended up with facings that were 1 1/4" too long, but didn't feel like interfacing another piece and cutting them out again, so I just took it in at the sides.)

It was hard to get good flat shots of these - they don't like being laid flat - but these pictures show the facings.

These spent a little more time as a UFO before hemming. I decided they needed to be shorter. At the knee, they looked tacky and still very over-the-top 90's. I pinned them up 4", and liked the length. The only problem was that after pinning them up, they stuck out quite a bit. I tried a sample hem (a narrow hem with the raw edge folded inside, like the pattern suggests) and realised that it made it quite stiff and my shorts would definitely not have the drape I was imagining. Not wanting to come up with an alternative, I started a new project (to be blogged once I take pictures) and left the shorts to hang (which was actually a good idea, because the bias stretched during all their time abandoned). 

Finally, on September 1st, I decided it would be a good idea to finish my "summer" shorts. At this point, I won't get much more wear out of them this year, but I definitely didn't want these hanging, unfinished, in my sewing room until next summer. I got my mom to pin them so they were even all the way around and at the length I wanted, and then serged the edge 1 1/2" below the line, gathering it slightly with my serger because the legs are flared. After pinning up the hem, they draped nicely again, so I went ahead and sewed the hem like that. I guess they just didn't hang nicely with a 4" hem!

I decided to do a blind hem by machine, something I haven't done in a really long time. I usually prefer to do it by hand, but I couldn't be bothered for this project - I just wanted these finished. 

I looked up online how to do one because I hadn't in so long (I think the last time was on a skirt I made in grade 8). I honestly don't see what all the fuss is over blind hem feet! I didn't even know such a thing existed until I looked it up. I've always used a standard, all-purpose foot, and so has my mom. So, I ignored all the advice on the internet, did it my own way, and it worked just fine - I don't think it would have been any more invisible if I had done it by hand. I think I might be using this method more often.

So, the verdict? I love these! I honestly have no idea how much I'll wear them, but they're comfortable, fun, and great for hot weather (which is awesome, seeing as I finished them on September 1st...). Oh well! I'll actually have a pair of shorts I can break out on the first day of hot weather next spring. They're not my usual style, but I think they suit me much more than a pair of cutoffs would. I have a feeling they'll be really good when I'm going somewhere a little more laid-back during the summer, and would feel really out of place in one of my homemade dresses. 

Mind you, I feel pretty out of place in anything I wear these days. To school, I love wearing jeans with heels, blazers, and dangly earrings, when most girls wear leggings or sweats with Uggs and a hoodie. Oh well! If blending in means dressing like a slob, I'd way rather stand out.

They're not quite as flattering from the back, and they look less like a skirt. I like the pleats in the front better than the darts in the back. Oh well!

Incidentally, I also made the shirt I'm wearing in these photos. I believe I was entering grade 10 when I made it, and it was self-drafted after a shirt I already had. It's so old that I never will do a proper blog post about it, so I'll talk a little about it here. I bought the fabric for a dollar a metre as an end-of-summer clearance sale, and loved the print... but it sure didn't take long to find out why it was so cheap! For starters, the print is going the wrong way. I had to ignore the straight of grain and cut it crosswise (I think we have a theme going on with this outfit...) to get the pattern going the right way. You can't actually tell because the shorts cover most of the print, but it has burnout flowers on it. There are more at the bottom, and then less as you go up the shirt. It's kind of hard to describe! So, if I had cut it out properly, there would have been lots of burnout on one side of the shirt and not so much at the other.

The fabric was also horrible to work with. I'm not a huge fan of knits in the first place, and this was so flimsy and stretchy (although I don't think it has spandex - it just stretches and stays there) that it was impossible to get it to look nice. This was also before I sewed enough to actually get any good at it, so that might have been part of the problem. This shirt is horribly made, so I would never take close up pictures of it to show to the sewing community! Although, I must confess that I wear this quite a bit. Kind of like these shorts will be, it's a piece that's not my usual style but I wear it when I feel like blending in a little more. It's starting to pill quite badly and barely stretches over my hips now, so I have a feeling it's nearing the end of its life with me.

So, back to the shorts! I really do like them - I guess I'll just have to wait and see how much I actually wear them. If they do get worn, I'm thinking about making a nautical version, what with the high waist and pleats. I could make them up in navy, and use white piping and red buttons (not sure where I would put the buttons, but I would find a way). Not sure how much wear I would get out of those, but they sure would be cute!

I think the biggest challenge when I wear them will be wearing anything that short! They actually ended up only 1" longer than view 2. I know, compared to the shorts most girls my age wear, they're not bad at all, but they're definitely shorter than I like my skirts to be. If I'm perfectly honest, this isn't the most flattering length on me, but I didn't like how they looked when they were longer. And anyways, they're more fun and summery this length.

I'm really glad I went with the linen - it was definitely worth it. It was really nice to sew with, drapes beautifully, and feels wonderful in unlined shorts. My only complaint is that it wrinkles like crazy! But hey, linen will be linen.

More construction photos on my flickr.

Shorts: Simplicity 7148

Shirt: Self-drafted
Shoes: Orthaheel