Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
Monthly Archives: March 2012
March 30, 2012Posted by on
Right now, I’ve got so many projects going at the same time – it’s amazing how busy I can keep myself without even having a current TV/movie job!
I’m still working on inventory for my Etsy shop (I promise it’s almost open!), but I have to admit, I’m a little scared to push the “go button”. Building items, taking photos, and writing about them is the easy part! There seems to be so much general setup to do – especially stuff like writing a good shop policy so that customers don’t take advantage of me like some have in the past. And then there is learning to deal with actual shipping… I also find it a bit difficult to sew for an “unknown” person since I usually work directly with someone else (designer or client) on every project.
This week I’ve been trying to choose fabric for my version of the Ladies’ Wrap (#0291) for The 1912 Project. I received the pattern a few weeks back, but I have a new Little Distraction that has been demanding most my attention (more about that in a minute).
I requested the wrap pattern because it looked like it would be quick & undemanding, easily fit a variety of sizes without alterations, and I think the oriental influence of the design made me subconsciously liken it to a Jedi outfit – which speaks to the geek in me. Retro and slightly geeky. How could I not like it?
A page from one of my favorite books in my personal library (Dressing the Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars) shows the similarities between the wrap style and a Jedi:
I started by digging though my fabric stash looking for something interesting to use for the wrap. I had many great options I really loved but not enough yardage of any of them. Drat.
But then I remembered I had a roll of fabric that someone once gave me while cleaning out their closet. (I have no idea what it was originally purchased to make, but I always accept interesting fabrics when they are free!) The fabric is a continuous brocade with a black background and metallic threads woven into flowers & leaves in peacock shades of blue, turquoise, green, gold, and silver.
As always, I read the directions that were including with the pattern and then promptly decided to do it a different way – my typical take-a-simple-project-and-make-it-more-complicated-than-it-needs-to-be mode of operation. Curse my engineering brain!
I may have actually made a few construction details easier, but I have to carefully plan the order of steps. The end result is going to be super cool (if I do say so myself) and I will share the instructions once I have the wrap made. =)
I had the perfect turquoise fabric to coordinate with the metallic brocade fabric, but alas, I didn’t have quite enough.
So I went hunting for something else in the same shade of bright turquoise with a decent weight (almost everything I found was paper thin!), and ended up with some matte satin from Walmart (of all places!). It doesn’t have the same interesting texture, but it’s almost the same shade of bright turquoise as the fabric I wanted to use! And it was a suitable weight and only about $14 for the amount I needed. Not bad.
So here’s a photo of all the fabrics I plan to use for this project:
And that “little distraction” I mentioned? Well, I’ll let this picture speak for itself:
We got a puppy! (Isn’t he adorable??) He’s a Jack Russell Terrier (or Jack Russell Terror, as my husband likes to say) and he is nearly 5 months old & almost full size. It’s such a huge change going from an elderly, well-trained JRT to a teething puppy, but Wensley is going to be a wonderful dog once he matures a little more and I can trust him to stay out of trouble.
I still miss my old dog but it’s so nice to have a companion during the day again. =)
March 13, 2012Posted by on
I know I’ve stated that I do not do alterations or repairs, however, every once in a while I am given the opportunity to restore something vintage – the type of project that usually offers me a fun challenge.
Julie, a friend of a friend, enjoys collecting and wearing hats (I really wish everyone still wore hats!) and she found an old olive-green velvet ring hat at an estate sale. It was in surprisingly good condition, but it had a sad feather placed oddly across the front. The feather needed to be replaced – the shaft was broken and the end was bent.
When the hat arrived for repairs, I was a little confused by the Robin Hood-like feather – it just didn’t match the hat!
I had a feeling the feather was not original, so I did a little research and confirmed my suspicions. I discovered that ring hats were popular in the 1950s and into the 1960s. They came in a variety of colors but all the trimmings (including face veil) invariably matched the color of the hat itself. I found a couple of good examples in my friend Ken’s vintage shop at VintageMartini.com:
I suspected that Julie’s hat once had a veil of matching olive-green millinery net that had probably torn, and whoever removed it had decided to add the feather instead of replacing the veil. I started the restoration by taking off the feather, and sure enough, there were pieces of matching net underneath!
Sadly, the feather enthusiast had just slapped it on with hot-glue. No matter how carefully I tried to steam and re-melt the glue off, I couldn’t remove it all from the hat without damaging the velvet. So I picked off what I could and planned my design in order to cover up what I could not remove of the awful glue-job.
I decided that flowers of a matching olive-green would be the most authentic. I already happened to have some wool felt in the perfect shade of green, which led me to experiment with making felt roses like I talked about in this previous post.
After a failed attempt to dye some store-bought net the correct color, I ordered some out-of-production millinery veiling in the right shade of olive-green and made a classic birdcage veil. Then I discreetly tacked the veil to the hat with a few tiny stitches and placed my handmade felt roses where they covered the old glue spots. Once everything was hand-sewn onto the hat (no more icky glue added to this vintage hat!), I had a drastically different hat:
Each felt rose was made using individually shaped petals that were then stitched together by hand. The rolled felt stem that I made for one of the rosebuds was perfect for hiding the old line of glue across the top.
The back of the hat had a little circle of velvet that was probably part of original trim decoration and might have been the point of origin for the face veil. The little circle was a slightly frayed, so I hand-stitched around it to make its presence look intentional.
And here I am modeling the hat so that you can see the effect of the veil on a real person. The veil ends just below the nose.
I think my favorite thing about this project was how much my husband wrinkled his nose at the hat when he first saw it with the feather, and then once I was finished, he wanted me to keep it he loved it so much! I may have to be on the lookout for another vintage olive-green ring hat – or at least make myself a hat with millinery veiling someday.