A Delayed Christmas Present Part 1

For Christmas this year I got many wonderful gifts from my fantastic family. And they were all spot on for me. There was the iPod so I could run my store on the go, and pajamas, and funky hats, and LOTS of chocolate. But two gifts stood out and made me want to share them.

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This book is from my aunt. For any one out there who is interested in iconic clothing, or cinema, or just getting into seeing and are overwhelmed by available sewing patterns: this is the book for you.

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The book includes full scale patterns and directions for increasingly difficult patterns that range from the polka dot dress in Pretty Woman, one of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s dresses, and Baby’s pink dress from Dirty Dancing to more historically inspired (and much more complicated) pieces like Catherine Zeta Jones owning costume from Cabaret, Kate Winslet’s evening dress from Titanic and the stunning evening gown that Kiera Knightly wore in Atonement. There are plenty more projects I haven’t mentioned. And yes, Marilyn Monroe’s dress is in there, too!

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What’s even more fun is that each project gives some background on the actress who wore the dress, the film, and the costume designer!

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Once I get the through the sew along, I plan on breaking into the book and sewing my way through it- some of the dresses look like they’ll be intense!!!!

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Pin-up sew along project pt 1

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The holiday season is now drawing to a close, and with it my vacation. To fill in the gaps of free time I have, I have finally started working on the pin up sew along project!!!

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I have drafted out the pattern pieces for the bombshell bra to my size and am currently working on my second muslin sample/toile.

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I’m going to make both bra designs from left-over pink satin I found in my fabric hoard, with pretty antique lace overlay with lace from my huge barrel-o-lace!!

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So far there is much fun being had in my little workroom 🙂

Learn more about the sew along by Anna: A Few Threads Loose
And Sarah: OhhhLuLu blog

Pattern available at this link as a sew along package: The Pin Up Sew Along Kit on Etsy

Or separately: French Bra Pattern by MrsDepew on Etsy

The Fine Art of Frolicking

There is something magical about a full skirt with a flouncy petticoat underneath it. It evokes the fairy tale princess, dreams of Cinderella and Prince Charming, and the delicate femininity of the 1950’s fashions.

I have been working on a 1950’s style dress for this Sunday, and, as luck would have it, unearthed a black net petticoat from the maelstrom that is my costume shop. I pressed it, tried it on, and swirled through the shop in a tee-shirt, beat up jeans, my petticoat and sandals, like a little girl at the holidays.

Having finally finished my dress (by finished I mean that it’s not held together with pins, and has a functioning zipper, but still requires hemming and a few fitting alterations), I was determined to try it on with the petticoat underneath.

The result was fantastic. it added just the right amount of body to the skirt, and gave a wonderful twirly effect when I turned around to show my patient mother. I jumped up and down, and swirled the skirt.

“That’s not how you frolic!” my mother admonished.  “Stop looking down at the skirt! Stand up straight! Now you can frolic!”

I followed her directions, and frolic, I did, through the living room, and the dining room. And then, having entirely too much fun, I careened into a table in the kitchen and knocked over a bowl full of fruit.

The moral of this story is that as much fun as it is to prance and dance around in a full petticoat and skirt, it is important to keep one’s surroundings in mind. you must be graceful and princess-like… and princesses DO NOT slam into tables! 🙂 Also, remember that a full skirt can knock things off coffee tables… like your coffee mugs! BEWARE,  and, most importantly, have fun!! 🙂

Over the Top (But it’s OK) Pt. 1

You are going on a date. it’s a date with a new gent. Maybe you have butterflies, maybe you are nervous. Maybe it doesn’t even phase you. But there is one thing that I bet every woman does: they try to figure out the “perfect out fit”.

I never really had that problem. I always ended up dating people that I had know for a little while. I got to skip all of the nervousness of a “first date”, and I always considered that a blessing.

Until today.

I met a very nice man online (please hold the snickers, snarky comments, and eye rolling), and after two months of emailing and texting back and forth, we decided to go on a date (the exact day is still up in the air because of our schedules)

But now, I find myself in the exact place that I used to make fun of my friends for. Now, I’m nervous. Now, I’m trying to figure out the perfect outfit, the perfect jewelry, the perfect hair style, the perfect shoes, and the perfect make up.

I feel so freaking girly!!!

And that’s not even the worst part! The worst part is that I don’t have anything to wear!!! Sure, I have some gorgeous vintage gowns (waaaaaaaay to fancy for a first date). I have some frocks that I wear at work (waaaaaayyy to casual), and of course tons of sundresses, and frilly frocks. But nothing was what I wanted. Some dresses that I thought would work, I couldn’t even get zipped up! (It doesn’t help that my wardrobe and my body are going through this really awkward transitional phase…).

I was almost ready to just throw in the towel and say “FUX it. I’m not freaking going!!!” And then I had an epiphany! I’m a costume designer! I know how to sew! And I’ve got TONS of fabric laying around the house!

SO, being the genius that I am, I decided to make the dress.

The black yoke will be a bronze satin

So I settled on this dress, which I have a hoarded pattern for! Isn’t it GORGEOUS!!!? Of course, the pattern is only a size 10, and my big tush barely squeezes into a size 18… so there will be a sample made first. And I want to wear a girdle with it so I have a pretty little waist, which means some more pattern alterations. …

But it will look gorgeous when it’s done, and, more important, I will look FABULOUS in it!! 🙂

So the next question becomes, what accessories should I wear?

 

The Story of the Living Dolly

Yesterday I got all dressed up in my FINALLY finished and perfected “Lil Munster” dress, a pair of lime green-and-black striped stocking, and bright red lipstick, and tromped off to work.

Lil' Munster dress

On the bus I was immediately confronted by a little girl, maybe five or six years old, who was with her mother. The girl took in my outfit for a moment.

“What happened to YOU?” she asked, in that tone of incredulity that is usually only found in an adult.

I stopped, thrown. I looked at her mother for help. Her mother looked like she had surrender for today.

“Nothing HAPPENED to me,” I informed her, unloading a huge sewing/first aid/make-up/emergency kit, a large hat box stuffed full of unfinished hats and a laptop bag crammed full to bursting with laptop, paper work, daily planner, power cords for more electronics than NASA, a journal, and a reading book, all onto the luggage rack.

“But why do you dress like that?” insisted the girl. I thought about all of the smart ass remarks I would normally give an adult. But she was five.

“Because I can,” I said honestly. The girl thought about this. When she was all grown up, could SHE dress like this strange woman?

“You look like the other girl,” she decided.

“Other girl?” I asked. I looked at her mother. Her mother was just as confused as me.

“The other girl. The one under the house.” Her face informed me that I should know EXACTLY who this was. Now is a good time to admit that I adore children. I don’t have any, and because I dress bizarrely, most parents don’t let me near them. I’ve had parents with small children actually CROSS THE STREET. You get used to it.  Some people have small minds.

The fact that this precocious kid’s mother wasn’t running for the hills in fear encouraged me. True, for the first few minutes, she watched me like a hawk, but she didn’t see anything in me to be afraid of.

After a few seconds of contemplation (trying to think like I was twenty years younger) I put two and two together.

“The wicked witch of the West? from the Wizard of Oz?” I asked.

“Of course!” Her mother sucked in a breath. Was I offended? The girl grinned at the joke. I started laughing.

“You’re a sweet kid,” I chortled, well aware that sarcasm was lost on a little kid.

Encouraged by this, she began to interrogate me. Did I always dress like this? Only in October. But why? Because it’s Halloween Month. But it isn’t Halloween!!! It might as well be.

And then she said absolutely the cutest thing in the world.

“Do you turn into a dolly when people aren’t around? Because then I could take you home and keep you and play with you all day long!”

“She’s not a DOLL!! You can’t just take her home! Stop being ridiculous!” her mother admonished. I assured her that I wasn’t a doll. She didn’t believe me.

“What’s under your skirt?” she asked.

“What do you think is under my skirt. Legs! What’s under your pants? Legs!”

She tugged at my skirt. then she grabbed the hem and yanked it up to my thigh.

“Whoah! Kid! I’ve got a real body under there! And I’d like it to STAY under the dress!” I tugged the skirt away from her.

“I’m sorry,” her mother said helplessly. “She wanted to see if you were wearing stocking or knee socks. I’m really sorry.”

She still thought I was a doll. And she informed me that her mother was really a big puppet. Then she wanted me to show her everything in my kit. And then she wanted to see the hats. She was disappointed by the hats.

“You lied! There are no KITTIES in there!” (your guess is as good as mine on that one).

The entire ride, she bombarded me with millions of questions, trying to prove to every one that I REALLY WAS A DOLL. And she planned on keeping me. Apparently she hadn’t heard about human trafficking laws, but I’m sure she will when she is older.

A few minutes before they got off the bus, I handed her mom my business card.

“I usually make adult clothing. But if she really wants a rag doll that has this outfit, I could make one.”

‘Will it talk?” demanded the girl.

“No, ” I informed her. “Dolls can’t talk.”

I doubt that I actually will ever hear about the doll. But the little girl and her mother gave me a really wonderful present – one of acceptance. The little girl wasn’t afraid of me because of how I looked, and her mother wasn’t worried about the affect speaking with me would have. By now they will have forgotten about the woman in the funny dress. But for years to come, I will remember the young girl who swore with all her heart and soul that I would turn into a dolly after work.

 

The Death of a Sewing Machine

I have a sewing machine. My sewing machine is named Neffi. She is a Bernina, and she has seen me through many theater shows, and many sewing projects. My heart is broke.

Let me try this again. Up until 30 minutes ago i HAD a sewing machine. her name WAS Neffi, and she WAS a Bernina.

Now she’s just a stupid chunk of metal that only runs backwards. No. REALLY. She sews back wards.

At first i thought is was a jammed reverse button. No problem. Couldn’t I just jimmy it a little with a screw driver? HA! NO! not even with a CROWBAR. The button is fine. The button is NOT jammed. Neffi is just possessed by the devil.
And this brings up a disturbing question. if my sewing machine is possessed by the devil, then will the effects of the possession stop at just sewing backwards, and only doing a basting stitch length? What if my sewing skitters across the floor while I sleep and starts chanting voodoo curses in my ears, and then i wake up and I’m a 95 year old crone?

Do priest’s even DO exorcisms on machines? And if they do, then doesn’t that mean that my sewing machine has an eternal soul?

Perplexing. I leave you to ponder this.

The moral of the story is that my sewing machine broke and needs a doctor. In the mean time, I’m going to padlock it in a steamer trunk and bury it in the back yard. I don’t want it to put the voodoo-hoodoo on me!

A Stitch in Time Keeps the Doctor Away

Ah, my sporadic blog. How I love it.

I recently relocated funds (very paltry funds, used in conjunction with an army of coupons), to buy most of the materials to begin work on the constantly mentioned, but never seen (okay, well, now you can see it- isn’t it gorgeous?)

Antoinette Dress (Acheron Violet)

Original design for Antoinette dress set, by Mack McKamey August 29, 2012. For KSSD’s Vices&Virtues.

And while I was working on the actual sample, I decided to do something incredible stupid. I decided to make TWO dresses to go together as a set.  So I got the materials for the under-dress, and drafted out the pattern for that.

Antoinette Underdress

Original design for Antoinette under dress, by Mack McKamey, August 29 2012. For KSSD’s Vices&Virtues

 

So 5 yards of muslin later, I figure out the pattern. I redrafted the pattern on to paper and painstakingly marked every single seam allowance, every single notch, ever reinforced stitching line. I marked EVERYTHING.

With a slightly pounding hear, I traced out the pattern on the fabric, a dusty rose shantung that is currently worth more than my life, as far as I’m concerned. I got it cut out with out any incident. I transferred all of the pattern markings to the fabric with meticulous care. And then I sewed the stupid thing together wrong.

It’s true. The upper bodice, where I was supposed to gather it? I didn’t make the basting stitches go far enough, so when I gathered it, the bust would only really have fit a boy who had glued two apples to his chest. And to add insult to injury, I’d clipped the seam allowances BEFORE checking it on the mannequin. Stupid me. So now I have to re-cut the upper bodice (THANK GOBLINS that I thought to buy a little more fabric than I needed!!!!).

The moral of this story is that regardless of how carefully you plan, it is the actual execution that matters. t doesn’t matter if you spend a month perfecting a pattern and marking it. If you don’t put the same amount of attention and care into the garment you are sewing, you ill end up feeling the same way I did- stupid. Don’t be stupid. Take your time. Because it’s not how you get there, that counts. It’s what you have when you are done!