Fashion Barometer Friday: Misty watercolour memoriiiiiies

The way we were

“Your girl is lovely, Hubbell” – I am ashamed to say that I am one of a generation who heard those words for the first time in an episode of Sex and the City, despite my well-documented love of all things Barbra. In fact, my mum went into labour with me while watching The Owl and the Pussycat, so it’s possible I imprinted on Barbra in-utero.

Babs the way we were

The Way We Were, just as the SATC girls said, is terrific and terrifically sad; but Babs’ wardrobe does a fine job of keeping the viewers’ spirits up – who can be distressed around such perky lapels, such beguiling prints! She wears almost exclusively shirtdresses for the first part of the film (set during the 40s), providing sharp characterisation for the earnest Marxist activist Katie Morosky, and a contrast to the mimsy, buttoned-up peter-pan collars worn by Hubbell’s WASP girls.

Katie: I don’t have the right style for you, do I?
Hubbell: No, you don’t have the right style.
Katie: I’ll change.
Hubbell: No, don’t change. You’re your own girl, you have your own style.

Barbra polkadot

Babs’ polka dot version in this scene is close to my ideal dress. In fact I have a very similar dress, an 80s St Michael number which I thought was indestructible but is now starting to disintegrate – so of course I’ve been trying to recreate it. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have already seen a few versions. I might never wear anything else. What’s good enough for Barbra is good enough for me!

Shirtdresscollage

Next I’m planning on a checked wool version of the red polka dot above, which is made with some Liberty fabric Isabel bought me for Christmas 2011! Got there in the end.

Shirtdress patterns

Make your own:  Grainline’s Alder shirtdress has a simple silhouette, great for showing off fancy fabrics. Jen has posted a tutorial for adding sleeves now, so you can make a winter-appropriate version! If you prefer more of a vintage vibe to your shirtdress, Vogue V9051  has some beautiful details and raglan sleeves, which I’m so into right now. I also love Vogue V9000, which would look great in a light wool. Kathryn at Yes I Like That made a gorgeous pink version of New Look 6180, and there’s the popular Simplicity 2246 Lisette, too. Spoilt for choice!

shirtdresses polyvore

[Click through for details on Polyvore]

Buy your own: I love this Preen green checked shirtdress so much. They have a crazy metallic one too, which… wow. The Saint Laurent one on the left is lovely, too. Just as well I can sew really, because Katie Morosky would never condone spending £2,317 on a shirtdress – and that is just one of the myriad reasons why she is a far, far better role model than Carrie Bradshaw.

Fashion Barometer Friday: Kimono? KimoYES!

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A gorgeous vintage kimono on Etsy

Cardigans thought life was cool, the world of chilly breezes and overcast summers was their oyster. But, even for cardigans, pride comes before a fall. Cardigans might have laughed at kimonos in the past, thinking the Western world would forever keep them hidden behind bedroom doors. Now cardigans know better. Kimonos are taking over the world one crisp evening at a time, and unlike cardigans, they are really easy to make.

Kimonos actually have several advantages over cardigans, one of them being that they can transport us back to a time before Helena Bonham Carter professed her affection for the Camerons.

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In The Wings of the Dove, the antiheroine Kate Croy (played by HBC) is bankrolled by her Aunt Maude (Charlotte Rampling), who apparently decides that what Kate needs to catch a rich husband is some fancy kimonos. Works for me.

Helena-in-The-Wings-of-the-Dove

Kate makes friends with the sweet-but-dull heiress, Milly (Alison Elliott), who revels in Kate’s bitchy quips without realising that her new BFF’s venomous little mind will soon be used against her, too.

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They run off to Venice together, making sure to pack even more glam kimonos and Kate’s impoverished lover, Merton (Linus Roache), who Kate has set as a trap for Milly’s fortune. The holiday coverup power of kimonos is made quite evident in this shot of the doomed threesome lounging in a gondola.

The Oscar-nominated costumes for The Wings of the Dove, made by Patricia Lester (with Sandy Powell as costume designer), are said to have been inspired by the designs of Mariano Fortuny. He worked in Venice at the beginning of the 20th century, when the West had a fancy for all things Oriental. Kimonos seem like a peculiarly Jamesian thing to wear, as the author is forever exoticizing everyone who is not a WASP in his novels. A contemporary reviewer is even quoted as saying “Isabel Archer is only Mr. James in kimono.”

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Originating in Japan, kimonos have a wealth of history and significance way beyond the Western fashion world’s adoption of them, which you can read a bit about on the V&A’s website.

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Make your own: Attract your own rich husband, or penniless journo, with this tutorial at Elle Apparel, of which Julia Bobbin has made a gorgeous version. DIY couture has a new pattern coming soon (free download!) which is also very like a kimono.

kimonospoly

Buy your own: You can hardly avoid them these days, they’ve even been given their own tab on most online shopping sites. Victory over the stuffy cardigan is theirs! Laura at Roots & Feathers is rarely seen without one and looks amazing in them, even though her style is so different to mine. That’s the thing about kimonos: you can be a scheming socialite in 19th century Venice, or a nature-loving Texan. They are just so versatile.

Blog Birthday and Drafting a Drape

Three years ago yesterday I wrote my first blog post on Dressmaker’s Curve, can you believe it? I always remember the date because of the My Ruin song, June 10th. If you weren’t a teenage goth you should probably look away now…

 

“Digging the hell out of you, digging the hell in you”, ahhhhh memories.

ANYWAY, because it is my blog birthday week, I am going to share a tutorial on how to draft a drape! I mentioned in this post about wanting to change the way I design clothes, to resist the temptation to design only what I know I can easily draft a pattern for. My final collection definitely lived up to that challenge!

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Remember this dress? It took me a fair while to figure out how to draft the drapey bit, or swag if you will. It really isn’t that hard but I couldn’t find many helpful resources online when I was doing it, so here goes.

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This could be quite a fun pattern hack for any relatively unfussy dress, blouse, or skirt pattern. The same principle could be applied to adding a drape within the fabric of your dress too, rather than as a separate piece.

draped skirts

When I began to think about how to draft the dress, I found these diagrams, which have been doing the rounds on Pinterest. The most useful in this instance is the third diagram down, because the drapes have roughly the same shape as that on my dress. It’s not amazingly detailed though, so a made a little step-by-step of how I extrapolated from the diagram…

drape_Página_1

1. Sketch out where your drape will fall on the technical drawing. I designed my dress so that the drape begins and ends in the yoke seam, but if you’re hacking a pattern you may have to work out where you are going to conceal the ends of the drape.

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2. Draw the shape onto the relevant pattern pieces (probably best to trace them first, and get rid of any seam allowances), here the dress front is pictured. My drape is 20cm wide at the yoke front and yoke back, and about 30cm at the side seam.

drape_Página_3

 

3. Now onto the back, making sure the drape coincides at the side seam. Cut out your drape pieces and label them.

drape_Página_44. Decide how many pleats you want your drape to have, and divide your pattern pieces up. I decided on 5 equal pleats, which translated to 5cm each at Z and 6cm at Y, then I just drew the divisions on freehand.

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5. Now you can cut out the drape sections but do remember to label them first, otherwise you’re going to be very confused in a minute.

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6. Get another piece of pattern paper and start laying the sections out on top. I decided I wanted the pleats to be as deep as the sections themselves, so that meant adding 10cm between the sections at the yoke W and 12cm at the side seam X.

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7. Now you need to do the same for the other side, with the sections laid out as shown, so that they meet at the side seam. Draw around the outline made by the sections, and you’re nearly finished!

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8. The final step is to mark the pleats onto your pattern paper and to add seam allowance. I added 1cm at the yoke seams (to be enclosed in the yokes) and 2.5cm at V and U. The 2.5cm allowance is to be finished with a serger/overlocker or a rolled hem (I used this as it was most appropriate for the chiffon) and then folded under when you sew the drape to the dress, so that none of the edges can be seen.

drape

After I cut and hemmed the drape, I pinned it to an old dress to see whether it had worked. And I’m happy to say that after all that drafting fun, it came out first time.

So, I hope that’s helpful to the next person who desperately searches the internet for information on drafting a drape. Because it’s my blog birthday week and I’m feeling extra generous, here’s a photo of me in my goth getup:

reading

 

A Black Shift

Shift dress

I’ve been making some clothes for myself at last! A black broderie anglaise shift dress, similar to Colette’s Laurel, but not the same – I drafted it myself and didn’t add fisheye darts to the back, because I don’t mind it not being fitted. It is very, very short, after all.

shift close up

Here you can see the texture of the fabric a bit better. It is quite fitting that I made a kind-of Colette pattern from this fabric, because I actually bought it when Sarai came to Buenos Aires and we went to the fabric district, Once, together. She bought a cream version of the same fabric and made a lovely Hazel out of it. That was over two years ago!

The fabric was an absolute bugger to cut because the border had been embroidered off-grain. I decided to cut with the embroidery rather than with the grain, but it was a challenge to work out.

Shift back

I put a zip in the back but it was totally unneccessary as it fits over my head, and I might take it out because, as you can see in this picture, it give me a weird protuberance just over the bum. Classy. I lowered the neckline after finishing the dress because too-high necklines make me feel like I’m being strangled. I maybe should have left the back neckline alone, though.

Shift 4

Yes you have seen this scarf before! There was a picture of me knitting it in my last post. I love knitting the continental way. This scarf fluffs all over the place, though.

Simon took these pictures for me on a walk through Palermo. How gorgeous is Buenos Aires in autumn? I adore it more every day.

Change of Season

Autumn from the bike lane, Chacarita

Autumn from the bike lane, Chacarita

Happy May! It is strange seeing the Northern hemisphere getting so excited about summer, while in Buenos Aires, I am starting to knit again and enjoying the beautiful autumn leaves. Autumn is my favourite time of year, perhaps in part thanks to my previously mentioned burning hatred of summer fashion. Wherever you are, a new season is always a good time to reflect – and that means making a new list.

Seasonal lists

I am an avid list-maker, though I rarely manage to tick off everything. In fact, the things that you don’t tick off can be even more interesting than those that you do. Yoga is at the top of the list again this season and there are a few sewing aims on there too, of course. The main one is to sew, or give away, all of my stash and absolutely NOT buy any more fabric. The impending continent move means that I am feeling those seasonal emotions of reflection, hope, and confusion especially strongly. I can’t say I don’t have some conflicting emotions about leaving this wonderful city that I love, and the friends I have made in the past five and a half years. Gulp.

May in the sewing community means one thing – Me Made May. I won’t be taking part this year (mainly because I totally forgot about it until yesterday!), though I will be cheering from the sidelines. In fact, most of my clothes are now me-made. I’ve just finished sewing the one last summer dress that was left in the to-sew pile, so it’s time for me to crack on with some winter sewing.

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Continental knitting

And some winter knitting! My lovely friend Helina taught me the continental method of knitting, and it’s been a revelation! The other way felt quite uncomfortable to me. Oooops, and in that photo you can see that I’m STILL wearing that grey cardigan that I swore I’d get rid of last MMM. Sometimes change just means learning to love yourself and your penchant for hideous grey cardigans.

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