Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blue Beatrice: Another Vogue 8876 Dress by Marcy Tilton



You may remember my rhapsodic post about my first take on this excellent and deservedly popular Marcy Tilton design.  I'm still wearing and loving my first make of this dress, and have been on the lookout for fabric to make into more 'Beatrice' dresses since i finished it.

In early spring, i spotted this gorgeous denim-blue printed linen at Marcy's store and did not hesitate to snap it up. The dress went together quickly, as second go-rounds generally do and as far as i'm concerned linen is just about the easiest fabric to sew. I finished it for my birthday in May, hooray!








That date also gives you an idea of how far behind i am on my blogging - (abashed face emoticon).

I got compliments right off the bat with this dress - one lady at the local grocery store was especially nice and thought it looked so perfect in our first heat wave of the summer.



Obviously this dress is just the best for hot days - sleeveless or with a little cap to protect your shoulders from the sun, the abundant, bell-shaped skirts of the dress catch every breeze and baffle it around a bit before letting it go on it's way, squeezing out every bit of cooling action possible. Who doesn't love practicality along with their edgy femininity!



It's a great piece for fall and winter around here too. Plenty of room for layering tees and leggings underneath, and any waist length or cropped jacket, shrug or sweater works wonderfully. The pattern even has sleeves!  Here in the SF Bay Area this will be a year-round dress.

In case you haven't noticed, i've been adding blue to my well-loved neutrals. It started a couple of years ago when i realized how much i liked denim against black, ivory, and lighter khakis and stones. It's been a smooth process, which really shouldn't be surprising considering how the whole point of neutrals is that they go with everything!



I combined two different buttons on this dress. Tony bought the flat, blue-black ones at Stone Mountain and Daughter a couple of years ago for a shirt fabric he decided not to purchase, and i liberated the grey shell ones from a hand me down Eileen Fisher blouse. I used them first fora  little black jersey blouse in an OOP Butterick design a couple of years ago, but when that blouse died i cut them off and saved them again.  They work beautifully with this fabric.



I love the look of lots of smaller buttons close together, it's one of my favorite trademark closures for blouses and dresses. Using two types of buttons gives a bit of movement to the front of the dress which i like, especially combined with the swirls and motion of the print. I've said it before and i'll say it again - never let a nice button leave your stash!



I usually anchor neck drawstrings with a stitch at center back so they don't fall out or move around during washing or wearing. In this case i thought i'd put a button there in order to disguise the stitching - i picked this one as it's a sleeveless dress.



I hope you all are enjoying your clothing-related activities as much as i am! It's really nice for me, having started this whole 'wardrobe improvement' project back in 2009, all those days later i actually have a closet with a decent amount of new to newish clothing that i enjoy, speaks to my style, and is completely physically comfortable. I even have enough stock to avoid emergency laundry and panic dressing, which happened fairly frequently through most of my life. Trying to avoid these type of events was one of my main motivations in my wardrobe project.

On Father's Day i had an incident which showed me how far i'd come. I'd picked out a nice look for the day (BBQ in the backyard, yum!). It had enough dressy elements so i'd feel stylistically comfortable, good shoes for the look as well as for being outdoors and up and down stairs, just a little skirt and top and coordinating chapeau. At literally three minutes until we would be out the door, as i got ready to wash my hands the liquid soap dispenser went rogue and squirted a line of goo right down the front of my top.

In past years, my wardrobe was so disorganized and skimpy that this would have required a total rethink of my outfit. Panic dressing, as i said.  But thanks to all my clothing obsessed plotting and scheming i simply walked upstairs, chose another top, set the soiled one to soak, and left to enjoy the day in another perfect look.

If you've started your wardrobe journey, but you know you've still got a ways to go and you're getting discouraged, take heart! You can do it! Take a break if you need to, but be sure to get back up and put that nose back to the grindstone because the effort is worth it and you will get where you want to be. And it will be even more fun than you thought it would be!

Have any of you had any 'closet breakthroughs' recently? Let us know if you have!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stormy Riding Peplum Dress



I bought this fantastic rayon from Marcy Tilton over a year and a half ago. I finally found the right pattern to make it up in about a month ago and finished it on Monday.

When i participated in the You Look Fab forum frequently a couple of years ago, Angie identified a minimalist aspect to my style which was not all that apparent at the time. But as the years have rolled on, i've found her observation to be more and more accurate.



Finding the right garment for this fabric is a case in point. This fabric would be a natural as part of a collage in one of the Tilton sisters' tunic, dress or tee patterns. But the color, line, shifting values, paisleys and flowers come right up against the edge of 'way too much' on my personal style meter, and i craved simple lines to let the fabric shine.



I chose April Rhodes' Party Dress from her Riding Peplum and Party Dress pattern. This pattern is a treat to make and to wear. It's as easy as a tank dress, but the full hi-low peplum and shaped waist seam add a bit of drama while also gliding over the stomach and hips.



It's also just as wearable as a tank dress for day to day, and easy to pair with leggings, jackets, shrugs, jeans. It looks so pretty with a denim jean jacket!




I wore it yesterday to pick up Mr. E from the transit station, and i felt so elegant and cool in the muggy monsoonal moisture. I have a length of very light banana linen which i'll make up in the shorter version, i want to try a bit of fabric painting on it and/or add some dimensional treatments to the hem and facings (applied slight ruffle, stacked bias strips, ruching, ?). As always, we'll see how i like the various sample i make up.

picture courtesy of April Rhodes - the Riding Peplum

I've been drooling over this version of the Riding Peplum since i saw it! It's got me in the mood to try out some graded dots or other graded graphic treatment. Plus, may i simply say ohmygoodness who can resist a garment called a "Riding Peplum"?!?!?!?!?  Not me!





Here's a couple of close ups of the fabric, it's so lovely and drapes like a dream.  If i haven't said so before, if you're at all interested in sewing be sure to check out Marcy Tilton's fabric shop. Her photos and descriptions tantalize, and everything i've received from her has been of the utmost quality -  even better in person. Marcy has excellent taste and all she sells is up to her standards. If price is a concern, as it is for me, keep an eye on the Buy of the Week, Sale, and End Cut sections for very good prices. Marcy also sells scarves and bags - just sayin'.

Okay, back to the ironing board and sewing machine! Happy Day!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lavender Moto Kwik Sew 3764



One of the reasons for my lack of blogging is increased sewing.



Due to my years of thinking, pondering, and experimenting (much of it documented on this very webpage) it's been very successful and enjoyable. Nothing is worse than sewing an ugly garment which you hate to wear and for which you have no use. Conversely, nothing beats making a garment of which you love the look and style and details, which fits and is comfortable and massively useful in your current life.



Again, i have to point to other sewing bloggers as a wonderful resource. I constantly complain of my underabundance of casual jackets.

About six months ago i decided to wrassle this wardrobe hole to the ground. Through much research on available patterns, their review by various bloggers, and experimental outfit creation, i decided to purchase this pattern - Kwik Sew 3764.



I stuck to my guns and waited two months until i could get my hands on a paper pattern (i didn't want to download as this had a good possibility of becoming a TNT pattern, i didn't want to pay the postage, and i wanted to give my money to a local sewing shop).

This pattern is very easy to put together, as well as easy to alter. The directions are straightforward and easy to follow. Plans are in motion for version the second.





In the meantime, i've already worn it a couple dozen times. And the little cami top i'm wearing with it has definitively bit the dust. The fabric has become alarmingly thin of late, in the last wash (in the lingerie bag on delicate) it developed a hole.

Fortuitous timing! I just now finished another little linen sleeveless top, a near-dupe of this one.



So it looks like i'll avoid running nude in the heat for the next little while!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Eight Gore Skirt with Jacket, Hat and Boots



Another signature look.



I made up this skirt after Shams of Communing with Fabric pointed out the pattern on one of her Vogue pattern release round ups. I didn't care for the look of the jacket at all, so i ignored the skirt. It's easy to make and fit, and fits nicely into my wardrobe.



I saw Shams at a recent sewing blogger event at Britex in San Francisco. This notorious hermit had a fantastic time!



I even heard another attendee or two refer to how odd it is to be in a group of like minded people when we're all drawn together by such a solitary activity.

yes, it's linen - why do you ask?


I sure hope Britex continues with these events! I had a blast, and my eyes were opened to some products they have of which i am in dire need. I had no idea prior to this occasion, frankly i never had much luck shopping at Britex in the past. But now i am planning a trip before the next month or so.  Hopefully this testimony will encourage the powers that be at Britex to forge ahead!

Happy Day!!  steph

Friday, July 4, 2014

Parakeet Shirt and Lavender Lace Socks



Hi you guys! I have some projects i'm working on which squeeze out my blogging time, but i miss it and i like having pictures of my outfits readily available. So i'll be doing some OOTD posts for a while.









Hope you all are doing well. Have a great day! steph

Friday, May 23, 2014

Normcore Seduction

I started writing this as an e-mail to my mom, brother and good friend Shawn. But i realized that with the amount of links and images i wanted to include it'd work out better as a blog post, and be easier for the intended audience to read. I hope the rest of you will enjoy this as well, if not please skip it and go on to more fun for the weekend.


So, on the anniversary of my birth, my mom has very generously offered to get me a couple of credit-card-points-related-giftcards to the vendor of my choice. As a result, I've been shopping around the various stores, mostly looking for a little jacket to replace this one from Royal Robbins which is a wee bit worse for wear. 
The yoke separating from the collar at center back. Requires major recon surgery
 But this jacket is around ten years old, so from that point of view i think it's in great shape, especially considering i wear it on average three or four times a week. It's wonderful for grocery shopping as well as my walks.

fraying edges all over the place, bleaching along the weave of the cotton fabric

Browsing through middle American consumeriana, nothing really caught my eye until - the one. The Women's Regular Lightweight Spring Club Jacket in Desert Khaki.

image courtesy Land's End
Love the color - natch, it's from Land's End which makes nice sturdy pieces (a big consideration for me, obviously), the fabric is lightweight so good for warm/hot days in providing sun protection as well as pockets.....



i think it would be so fun - minimal and utiliatarian at once, which is a scarcer combo than one might expect. I want to wear it with these boots and jeans and a Gibson Girl blouse.



Antiqued-up utilitarian and all that. I've also been obsessing on Bridge and Burn pieces the last few months, for example the glamorously quotidian Straat jacket....
But poor Tony! Friday nite i started talking about how this jacket i'm considering is so normcore, and he got all huffy and requested that i consider speaking in "actual English". feh! Of course, Saturday morning i opened a couple of articles on normcore and left them temptingly open on his computer monitor.....sure enough, a couple of hours later and he's avidly researching it; by afternoon he knows much more than i ever did and can quote from the prominent writers on the topic.

The upshot? Finally the spouse has a term he can use to describe me to the general public. Also, he wants to make a tee shirt saying "%$#@ Normcore!" Goodness, such strong language! But it is understandable, seeing as Mr. E is of Italian descent and takes his attire quite seriously.

I'm a little leery of jumping in and purchasing such a piece online, in-real-life-sight unseen. But Land's End is the queen of returns for any reason, no questions asked, as well as being known throughout the land for their high quality standards. I'm leaning strongly towards just taking the leap. (As an aside - what is it about gift funds which makes them so much easier to spend on out of the ordinary or risky purchases? Don't know, but i find it to be one of gift funds' major charms.) (And what does it say about me as a style entity that i view buying a khaki - okay, beige - ultra-mundane suburban wasp-y mom jacket as 'a risk'?)

Anyways, Shawn i know you actually read that all that literature i sent you on "the 'core" so i had to bring this development to your attention. Note for TDE readers: Shawn is the only reason i have any credibility whatever when it comes to current elements of the art and culture scene. His own style i'd describe as authentic normcore, his reaction to the trend: "That normcore was pretty funny. The girl in the first photo is wearing my hat! I think of my fashion as being more like 'ab-normlcore' from the Walmart After Dark series."

No way i can top that. With that image in mind, i bid you all a wonderful holiday weekend!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Announcing the Minimalist Wardrobe Resources Page


i made a slouchy, stripey tee

Hello Dear Readers!  I've been thinking about adding a new feature to my blog the last few months, and finally decided to take the leap today. As you have no doubt observed, my wardrobe has been consolidating and getting tinier, with more repeats of items and looks, so that OOTD posts can get a bit repetitive. At the same time, i've become more interested in clothing minimalism and capsule wardrobes - in style, in aesthetic, in exact number and type of items in the closet. I find the idea and reality of an aesthetically cohesive, well thought out practically, and beautifully curated wardrobe simply captivating. Over the last couple of years, i've been wearing more and more outfits whose look i love, pieces which fit and flatter and don't itch or bind or ride up in drool worthy colors and luxurious fibers and it is just as wonderful as it sounds. More, please!

It's a bit concerning to realize the amount of time i've spent searching for information on this topic. But it's because there's not a lot out there! Fortunately that is changing, especially in the last six months, but it occurred to me that if finding all this information is hard for me it could be hard for other people to find as well.

So i've added a new page to my blog, the Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Resources Page. (The title certainly clunks along the esophagus, but i wanted people to be able to find it easily with search engines. Prepare yourself for an infelicitous insertion of the word "French" in future.) Just click on the title up there at the top of the blog to go to the new page. I'm starting off with some example minimalist wardrobes. For me it's so much easier to envision something with examples! And they can be hard to find through internet searches, especially if it's a one-off type of post in a blog or website not typically concerned with style or wardrobe planning.

Edited to add:  Pam from over50feeling40 left a comment which has led me to realize i've not been clear - the resources page is live, just click on the title "Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Resources" at the top of the page, right under 'not all who wander are lost', to view the page at any time. So far i have six authors/blogs profiled, with nine+ example minimal wardrobes. Thank you Pam!


I also wanted to include notes on all these links so it's easier for people to hone in on what resonates with them and skip the (to them) chaff. These wardrobes vary considerably in size, budget, practical considerations, and aesthetic viewpoints. The Minimalist Mom gets down to basics with 14 jeans + tee + cardi pieces in dark blue, black and grey in order to get dressing accomplished with the least amount of fuss, and on to life. Dawn Michelle scours the thrift and consignment shops, brick and mortar and online, to find the perfect pieces for her artistic life in sunny California. Dawn does not balk at spending as much time and thought as she requires in order to craft a collections which is exquisitely 'her'.

In future i plan to include more resources on planning and theory as well as example wardrobes, and of course anything else which doesn't fit into a particular category but seems helpful. I hope you find this helpful as well, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any links you'd like to see included at pygmyowl (at) sbcglobal (dot) net or to leave a note in the comments.

I'm excited to have started this project! I truly hope it will be a help to other minimalist closet afficionados out there to have many disparate resources in one place. I'm linking up with Patti's Visible Monday, of course starting an idea makes a gal feel visible but also i want to get the word out if other people are interested in this topic. Go visit Patti's Not Dead Yet Style blog and check out the other bloggers. Then, come back here and let me know what you think of my new page!