Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mad Men Dress: Challenge Accepted.

If you cruise the sewing blogs, as I tend to, there's no way you could have missed JuliaBobbin's recent post.  A fellow lover of vintage style, she's challenged sewists across the internet to whip up a dress inspired by the ladies of Mad Men.

I love a good challenge, and I've always had an affinity for period costumes.  The era portrayed by Mad Men is no exception.  The classic lines of this time period have come back into modern fashion in a big way (pencil skirts aren't just for pin ups anymore), making this a piece one could easily integrate into their regular wardrobe.  I've been trying to incorporate some vintage stylings into my everyday aesthetic, and  a dress that looks classy instead of costumey would be a great addition to my closet.

I sew best under a deadline, and Julia's provided one for me!  I have until March 30th.  But I'm in no rush, and i'm enjoying the inspiration part of the design process.

Should I go for a sexy, curve hugging Joan dress?  It is Christina Hendricks after all, and you all know how i feel about her.

Or what about an often demure and always polished Betty dress?  I do love a good floral print. 

She always looks so angry.

I imagine most of these would be pretty easy to style if you have a decent collection of vintage patterns at your disposal. I don't, so whatever I make will be cobbled together out of what patterns I have, and what i know about drafting.  I love a good experiment, don't you?

If you want to check out my ongoing seach for mad men inspiration, check out my Mad Men Pinterest board.

What Mad Man's character makes your heart flutter?  Is there a great inspiration dress I must see?  Am I not giving Peggy's style enough credit?  What Mad Men dress would you make?


Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Day in the City

My first trip to New York City was a one day bus trip with my 6th grade class.  We visited a few major sights: The World Trade Center, a boat trip past the Statue of Liberty, a car accident in Chinatown, and the UN just before they closed for the day.  Then we boarded the bus back to Virginia, and spent another 6 hours to get home.  It was very exciting for a bunch of 11 and 12 year old kids.  Most of our field trips were to DC, which was fine, but had become old hat.  I went again in high school on a weekend long theater trip, where many of us got our first taste for independent city life.

Shiny and colorful
One of the things I like about living in New Jersey is the quick and easy access to NYC.  Since I moved here for grad school, I've been there for concerts, tourist dates, even work-related functions.  It's fun to have reasonable access to a place that attracts so many big things.

Despite my frequent visits, there are so many places I haven't been.  As a lifelong sewist, I've done some minor visits to the garment district, but i've never fully explored it's wonders. As I am in the process of starting my own sewing business, I needed some specific supplies.  Now seemed to be the perfect time to expand my knowledge.

On Tuesday, I made the trek into Manhattan with a twofold plan:

1. Visit Spandex House and Spandex World
2. Take the subway to Brooklyn to visit my boyfriend.

I got into the city around 10:30, with a plan to head to Brooklyn around 1.  I spent 3 hours on ONE BLOCK in the garment district.  I had spandex on the brain, so my purchases had a specific focus, but I couldn't help but browse every store I passed. I was a little overwhelming, to say the least, but I managed to control myself. I made lots of mental notes on things to come back for (and what kind of game plan I should have on my next visit).   But don't worry, I did bring plenty home.

This was my haul, in bag form.  Note that i made purchases from both Spandex House and Spandex World. Can't leave anyone out!

 My shiny and printed yards from Spandex World.  They are all 4 way stretch.
Milliskin spandex from Spandex House. The purple, red and green are all shiny, while the pink is matte.  These are also 4 way stretch.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "what's with all the spandex?" The first part of my sewing business plan is making and selling roller derby shorts.  I've been playing for about a year and a half, and one of the coolest parts about this sport is incorporating your own style into your practice and game outfits (the latter is known as "boutfits"). I'm hoping to use my sewing skills and my knowledge of the sport to create comfortable and fun gear for skating.

My only non-spandex fabric purchase: 4 yards of thin yellow and white flowery cotton. I think this will make a fantastic summer dress.

 I felt like i really scored when it came to notions.  It had never occured to me how much cheaper they were when purchased from a bulk distributor.  The 8" invisible zippers were 50 cents a piece.  I bought 10 yards of elastic, and then found the same elastic on a large spool for even less.  I also bought a big box of tailors chalk in different colors(which i always lose), some wider elastic, and a zipper to fix a friend's coat.  Everything was so low in price.  I'm never buying notions from a chain craft store again!

The second part of my plan had a few flaws (construction causing the subway line i was on to reroute) but I made it to Brooklyn safely.  No pictures of that, this time, but you can expect there will be many more city adventures in my future. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Modern Style Icons

Last week, the ladies over at The Colleterie posted about their personal style icons.  It's great to see where such talented designers find their inspiration.  I wanted to follow up their post with a few of my own modern style icons.

First up, everyone's favorite girl next door: Zooey Deschanel.  It's hard not to love her spunky personality and big blue eyes, but I especially love her cute and retro girly style.  She effortlessly pulls off her signature bangs, and makes a cute dress look like an everyday affair.  It doesn't hurt that she also plays the ukulele, my instrument of choice.

Next, we have another indie sweetheart, Jenny Lewis.  Not only does she have fantastic red hair, she is able to rock high-waisted short shorts and rompers with ease.  And check out that great menswear layering in the center (singing with Elvis Costello, no less). 

Lastly, Christina Hendricks.  Like me, she's a redhead by choice (she started dying it because she loved Anne of Green Gables), and she has a huge amount of body pride in a very narrow minded business.  She's seen as a sex symbol for embracing her awesome curves.  I can get behind a girl like that. 

One thing all of these beautiful ladies have in common is the confidence they exude in their style.  While they all have makeup artists or stylists (if not all the time, then occasionally), they each rock their own look.  When I am choosing an outfit or designing something for myself, I try to choose things I feel confident wearing. 

Who are your style icons?