Monday, December 1, 2014

Peter Pan Shift Dress

 As difficult as it is to believe, today is the first of December.

At last I can cover all things in glitter and eat cookies by the dozen without judgement. My heart longs for the festivities to begin, for the scent of eggnog and cinnamon to permeate the air, for snow to glisten in piles by the front door.

This is Kentucky.

Therefore, on the last day of November when the winter spirit should be burgeoning forth, the weather turns balmy. Seventy degrees balmy, in fact.
At first I was tempted to scoff at the temps and grind my teeth a bit. But that is like looking a gift horse in the mouth. Instead, I donned my latest creation and skipped out doors to enjoy it.

This latest creation has to be one of my favorite pieces. Classic and flirty, a simple black shift dress with a peter pan collar and key hole back. I used only a single yard of black ponte de roma knit with a quarter of a yard of the same in white. The fabric I bought at Joanns and cost me a whopping total of $15. I did not use a pattern but instead traced the lines of another dress from my closet. It was so easy and turned out perfect. 

My sewing machine has this lovely stitch available that looks like little scallops. I couldn't resist, I had to edge the sleeves and collar. It took a lot of trial and error to make it look uniform, but the effort was worth it. I also have to be choosey about what bra I wear with it, as the keyhole in the back is quite deep. 

Again, worth it. The dress makes me feel like a preppy pixie, chic but girlie. I love that I can toss on black tights and flats and wear it anywhere. All I need is some cold weather and I'll sweater this puppy up. With the weather as it is now, though, I am celebrating my last days of bare legs. 

Oh yeah. 

dress: self-made, shoes: ancient, beat-up Steve Maddens

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Not to do When Sewing a Coat

 Fall is officially in the air.
Actually, scratch that, winter is in the air. In typical Kentucky fashion, our weather gods elected to give us 2 weeks of gorgeous autumnal weather before unloading 40 degree days and snow flurries on trick-or-treaters. With these low temperatures I feel all the more motivated to crank out the winter coats on my sewing machine.

My latest creation is a dark green herringbone dress coat. It is lovely, a skirted dress coat with shiny brass buttons and a belted waist line. For this coat I used the McCalls M6800 pattern. I do not know if I will attempt to use this pattern again simply because I found it so tedious to assemble. The pattern said "easy," but apparently that wasn't the case for this chick. I was so excited when I bought this pattern, but have found the entire experience very challenging. 

I will admit that this is not the most shining example of my sewing prowess, but it was definitely a learning experience. For all those budding seamstresses out there, let me tell you that when you make a coat use WOOL. Use a nice heavy weighted fabric so that you do not have to be like me and add stiff interfacing to make up for the lack of body. I fell so in love the herringbone plaid fabric that I elected to work around it. Because of this my coat is very stiff, not very warm, has awkward bulky bits, and was immensely frustrating to sew.

Agh. The buttons pull funny and the bust makes me look like I am hiding a weapons harness underneath all that girth. Additionally, my lining material peaks out the bottom. So frustrating. 
In conclusion my final thought is this: wool for coats from here on out.

Coat: self-made, dress: ASOS

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Blue Ridge Pkwy

This past weekend was incredibly dreamy, involving all of my favorite things.
Open road.

Not to mention the howl of the flat six as Justin sped through winding roads festooned in a riot of colors.

The trip was spur-of-the-moment, planned in just a few days. Justin and I decided we needed to ride the Blue Ridge parkway and see what all the hype was about. He, of course, wanted to take the '83 911, a test of its mettle.We planned to spend a night with family, and one night in Asheville, NC.

We started from Louisville and headed east to my aunt and uncle's house in Mountain City, Tennessee. They live in the most glorious corner of the earth, against the south side of a mountain. On a clear day you can see all the way to North Carolina from their front porch, and a clear night makes the Milky Way visible to the naked eye.

The trees were just hitting their peak and seemed to change colors before our eyes as the weekend progressed. My aunt and uncle have the most glorious garden, growing everything from grapes to corn to mushrooms. They keep bees and harvest honey and take hikes to the top of the mountain behind their cabin. We were only able to stay one night, but it was so wonderful to catch up with family.

The next morning we hit the road with coffee in our bellies and a bag of candy corn in the glove compartment. We were going to take the Blue Ridge Parkway from Boone to Asheville, NC.

There was rain. There was fog. And there were incredibly stunning vistas.

 There is no greater felicity than this: to stand in swirling mountain air and look over the world. I don't think a king's ransom could buy such beauty. Every overlook that we stopped at was like a Christmas gift, each better than the last. The rain cleared up enough for us to take a hike to hidden waterfalls just off the parkway.

Yeah. We're cheesy. But it was the best.
We stopped off for coffee at an eclectic bookshop in Little Switzerland and dined in a restaurant on the edge of Mount Mitchell. Upon summiting Mount Mitchell, our whole world was enveloped in fog, making the day seem dark and late. It was like a page out of a Steven King novel. The temperature also dropped drastically, making it way to cold for me in my cut-offs.

Everything about Saturday was heavenly. From the panoramic views to the bustle of Asheville, every moment was golden. Justin and I drank navy grog and shared spaghetti and meatballs at Vinnie's and fell asleep with the rain dashing against our window and hum from the 911 still in our ears.

I still can't believe that I live only 5 hours from the parkway and had never been. It was just endless miles of smokey blue ridges and chilly air whipping through my hair. I cannot wait to go back.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lady Lace

A few months back I found the most gorgeous white stretch lace fabric at JoAnns. I had no idea what I would make but I had to get it. Impulsively I bought 4 yards of it. Basically, I stocked up for life.

Stretch. Lace. With all that fabric the only thing that made sense was to craft a maxi dress. I was thinking bridal meets boho. I wanted something with tiers of lace-y goodness and a deep open back. Like all things white and stretchy this could easily turn trashy. My fingers were itching to get to work.

This dress ended up having two tiers of fabric and was lined in white jersey cotton. The back opening is unlined and has a lace trim detail. I will be honest, I did not use a pattern for this dress. I totally guesstimated with everything. It is a bear to get on. Not only are you not allowed to breathe while you pull it on, but you have to dislocate your shoulders in order to fit into it. So not my greatest achievement. And yet…it is so pretty. Feminine and whimsical, all floaty and goddess-like. I had a moment where I considered dip-dying the bottom edges of the two tiers in hot pink. It could still happen, but for the moment I am just living with it.

Lately I have been searching my mind for some special occasion on which I pull this baby out. Can't think of anything except a fancy dinner date. Obviously I need a larger social calendar. 

As a side note, I am so excited about my future projects. On the never-ending mental list of mine, I am planning for a shearling-lined bomber jacket, a peter-pan collared shift dress, and possibly a fur coat. Thoughts? Suggestions? Keep me posted.

dress: self made, necklace: vintage find

Thursday, October 2, 2014

All Squared Away

I have such a sewing obsession. It is crazy, actually, the amount of dough I will gladly shell out for fabric. Comparatively, I wouldn't dream of spending the same on actual clothing. I justify and rationalize my expenses as investments in a skill, in a hobby. Right?


Anyway, the other month I spotted the most lovely of lovely staple dresses on Urban Outfitters. This square-necked beauty gave me fashion heart ache in the best of ways. It had to be mine, but of course I could't just buy it. So I made something in exchange.

I incorporated the parts that I loved the most from the Urban dress and popped them into my own. This dress has the same clean and foxy square neckline, tufted sleeves, and a floaty circle skirt. The fabric is a sweater-soft jersey cotton with tiny black and gray stripes. You have got to love jersey cotton, this dress only took 2 hours to construct and its fabulous. 

Until I made this piece, I did not own a single dress with a square neckline. I feel like I should remedy that mistake by making a ton of these babies. I also love that I did not have to use a pattern to make it. The simplicity of the design, the effortless prettiness harkens coffee dates, pumpkin picking, and long walks through orchard farms. Despite the 85 degree October days, I hold tight to my dreams of foggy mornings and cool nights that mean fall has really arrived.

Dress: self-made, shoes: Steve Madden, hat: thrifted

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bluegrass Sunset

I love Sundays.

I know I am not alone in this. Most people look foreword to the weekend with delirious zeal. Free time on the weekends that is not taken up by chores, family obligations, and errands are usually full of adventure and fun. I totally agree with this.

But there is something extra special about Sundays.

Maybe its the fact that most Sundays involves pancakes. I rarely sit down for breakfast, it is usually on the go, but Sundays I make some effort. My husband, who values his life, wakes me up with coffee, and the scent of Columbian beans is shortly infused with bacon, buttermilk pancake mix, and sugary maple syrup.

After breakfast the rest of the day is filled with church and little jobs around the house. This past Sunday I was draped over the kitchen table working on my latest sewing project: a gorgeous dark green herringbone coat. Meanwhile, in the garage, Justin was wrenching on his old-school 911. He babied the gorgeous machine, washing it and painting the calipers the silver of a freshly minted dime.

Once his work (and mine) were complete, he took me for a long cruise through the winding Kentucky country roads. I love these memories: cool air rushing through my hair, the scent of fall, and the taste of sunshine.

The sunlight fading over the rolling hills and the sound of that howling flat six. Good night Sunday.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Utility Jacket

Nothing completes an outfit or makes a statement like the perfect jacket. Toss that puppy over your dress or jeans and you suddenly appear polished, chic, and edgy. The greatness of jackets lies in contrast, the ability to pair a masculine piece with a flirty feminine one. And no one thing rises to this occasion like the utility jacket.

Holy smokes, I am in love. The weather is deliciously cool for September in Louisville and as I sit here writing this I am thinking about what I am going to wear under my jacket today. The deep olive green is a lovely neutral, pairing perfectly with floral sundresses, gauzy white tops, and tanned ankle booties. This jacket is a winner. 

The clean lines, the myriad of pockets, the zips and fasteners, the hood: I love every part of this jacket. The fabric is a deep olive green sportswear cotton twill. It is dense but soft. I lined the jacket in the same material as the exterior, and took my high tech distressing tool (my ancient cheese grater) to make it look worn and weathered.

The pattern is a Simplicty pattern that I heavily modified. Lately whenever I buy a pattern it is because I see the potential for all the different mods I can make. This jacket called for a drawstring waistline but I couldn't find matching cording for the fabric and decided on a belt instead. 

This jacket was a long time coming for me. With each project I undertake I feel like my sewing skill grows a tad bit more, but I was't sure if I could make something like this. Finally, I decided I wouldn't know if I didn't try. Now I can't wait to make another one.

Jacket: self made, dress: self made, shoes: Keds

P.S. My current project is a dark green herringbone wool coat. Pics will follow as soon as I finish it!