are the ones you buy for yourself. I kid, I kid. My mother always comes through, but the rest of my relatives usually resort to checks. I do my own Christmas shopping. It’s probably for the best – I like the thrill of the hunt, and I get more bang for my buck by doing my own bargain hunting.
This year the primary theme seems to be sewing. Fashion Fabrics Club had 20% off everything on the site (!), so I made sure to put in a wallet busting order. Considering the current state of (cue dramatic music) the Stash, I’ve probably already purchased most of the fabric I’ll buy for 2011.
The secondary theme is definitely vintage. I snagged 8 yards of vintage rayon on eBay for less than $20 including shipping – it was a fantastic buy because it was in about ten pieces. I suppose it does decrease the retail value, but I don’t think it will be a problem considering the smallest pieces are at least half a yard long. Plenty of room for dressmaking.
Lately, I’ve rediscovered my original vintage love: the 1940s. For a few years I’ve been entertaining a passionate love affair with the New Look, but it’s been somewhat cooled by the recent realization I don’t have the necessary proportions – my waist will never be the same size as my head. However, the rationing of metal and rubber ensured that foundation garments were mercifully absent “for the duration.” Thus, 40s patterns are shaped to fit a woman’s natural proportions. It’s such a blessing to my ego to cut my bust size without a five inch gap at the waist. Not to mention that rationing also resulted in a silhouette that was feminine and flattering yet practical and wearable. If I’m going to spend money and time to make a dress, then damn it, I want to be able to wear it without needing a girdle and a cocktail party.
I’ve been analyzing the gaps in my wardrobe (more on that later) and I decided that I definitely need more blouses in my wardrobe. Blouse != shirt. A blouse, in my mind at least, is more delicate, and shaped to flatter a woman’s figure. It can be worn untucked over jeans, but it does not cause unsightly bunching when tucked into a pencil skirt. The only modern pattern that fit the bill is Colette Patterns’ Sencha – it’s gotten rave reviews from Gertie and Casey, among others. I bought a tattered original 40s pattern on eBay. I think it will be my first sewing project for 2011. I love this style of blouse because it’s so easy to alter, and there are countless ways to do it. Colette shows one of my favorites, the keyhole neckline. The one I bought has an option for a high, gathered neck and a set in sleeve as well as kimono (one of the reasons I chose it over the Sencha. You can improvise keyholes and bows, but I’d rather not eyeball a set-in sleeve and armscye.) I’m planning a bow-neck version, in a teal lawn from my FFC splurge:
I’ve also been wanting to make a dressing gown for a while. Dressing gown != bathrobe. I wanted something to wear around the house that was elegant, not schlumpy, and also full length. Nothing ruins the illusion of elegance like stubbly ankles.
It has those tucks at the shoulder that are so characteristic of dresses, particularly wrap dresses, in the 40s. The dropped armscye really caught my eye as well – it’s a rather unusual feature, but one that seems like it might actually be practical in a garment designed to fit over other clothing.
I’ve been searching unsuccessfully for a 40s slip and tap pants pattern for a while, but look at what I tracked down last night. Both of them for $12 something with shipping.
I can’t write about sewing related Christmas hauls without mentioning one of my mom’s gifts to me: The Party Dress Book. Gertie recommended this in one of her holiday dress posts, and after previewing it on Amazon I had to add it to my wish list. It’s very interesting – part coffee table book, part basic how to, part advance techniques. Considering that it also includes a DRESS PATTERN and its list price is $19.99, I’d say it’s a solid addition to any sewing library. Even if you don’t plan on incorporating whimsical cotton candy dresses into your wardrobe, the techniques are quite inspiring. Her cotton dresses are my favorites – check out the apron dress she made for Amy Sedaris. Thanks Mom!
Finally, here’s something that’s not sewing-related. Strictly speaking, it’s not vintage either.
Yep, it’s a safety razor. Yes, they still make them. This particular one is a long handled Merkur from Amazon. I decided I’d had enough of paying $5 a blade for the privilege of agonizing razor burn. I’m a little worried about the weight – I kind of wish I had gone with this swanky Bakelite one. It’s also about $8 lighter on price. But overall I’m quite excited. I just hope I won’t be re-enacting the shower scene from Psycho anytime soon.