Monday, August 31, 2015

Sewing Diary: Re-making a Skirt to My Taste

A few months ago, I began to lust for novelty border print skirts, due mostly to seeing them everywhere on blogs and Instagram. In that period of lust, I bought this skirt by Sourpuss Clothing. And it wasn't cheap, either!
The original skirt that I purchased.
As soon as I received it, though, I was disappointed. The waistband was pleated, but in a really sloppy way that made it bulky, wrinkled and twisted. The zipper was put in wrong, with the top of it exposed on the inside, instead of hidden in the waistband. The printing seemed like it would fade really quickly after a few washes, and the skirt was pretty short, as well. I almost returned it, but I really wanted a novelty print border skirt, and I did like the print on this one. So I decided to remake it a bit.
The skirt with the waistband removed, the loose trim and the fabric about to be cut.
I removed and threw away the waistband and the zipper. I bought one yard of good quality black Kona cotton fabric, and used that to make a new flat, correctly installed waistband. I also put in a new zipper, in the correct way. Then I added a ruffle to the bottom of the skirt so it had more swish, and was a comfortable length for me.
How I would style this skirt.
The final change was to add some emerald green vintage fringe that I had on hand, to really add to the playfulness of this skirt. I was going to add it to the hem, but then I realized that since the black ruffle I added was dyed black, and the black on the original skirt was printed black, they would fade differently with every wash. So I added the green fringe between the two blacks to distract from how they will fade.

I am very happy with the result and love how no one else with have this skirt exactly like I do.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sewing Diary: Vintage Sleepwear Pattern to Modern Sundress

I've had a lot of frustrating sewing experiences lately. A new apron pattern I tried turned out ugly, so I tossed the finished product. And then I tried to make a flounced skirt using some beautiful raw silk in grey and silk noil in blue that I had previously made into a shapelessly ugly skirt and a boxy and wrinkly tunic top. I just adore both of these fabrics but I can't seem to make anything nice out of them. This was my fourth try with these fabrics and it was another failure. The skirt got stretched out along the hem so there was unattractive puckering and in general, the new skirt was just as blah as the other items I had previously made with these fabrics. So they were again relegated to my remnant pile and I hope to make something really beautiful out of them some day. Does anyone else out there have fabric they just love, but have never successfully turned in to a wearable garment? Please share so I won't feel so lame.

But I did have one project turn out very nicely this week. I wanted to make a sundress that was loose and flowy and would work as both a swimsuit cover up and a nightgown, and possibly, a sundress for when I take my trip to the Greek isles in September. I am planning on taking only a carry-on bag, so am trying to minimize the clothes I need to carry.

When visiting Textile Discount Outlet last week to use up my Groupon certificate, I found this really pretty, lightweight fabric that I think is rayon (almost nothing is labeled in that store). It is white and various shades of blue, and has the loveliest drapey hand. So soft! I am trying to keep my wardrobe for my trip in blue and white, so I knew this would be perfect. I bought 3 yards and the whole thing only cost about $13.

I decided to try out this vintage pattern I had purchased on ebay for the dress. I liked that there was no waistline, which would work great both as a nightgown and as a swimsuit cover up. When I am in Mykonos, my hotel will be directly across the street from the beach, so I can wear this to walk to the beach and not feel so naked. The other thing I liked about this pattern were the ruffled sleeves, which is a style I adore. So cute!
Where the pins are, that is where I had to handsew to attach the lining at the armholes and to the skirt.
This pattern is a vintage size 16, which is about a 12 in modern sizing, and was too small for me, but it was a cinch to grade up. I just added a couple of inches to the width of the dress part, which are simple rectangle shapes. Then I made a muslin for the bodice, and saw that I only needed to add a couple of inches in width, because the styling of the dress features lots of ease and is supposed to be loose.
Adding width to the bust area without compromising the fit in the neck and armholes.
Above is a photo of the way I altered the bodice pattern. It seemed to work well, and, although there was a lot of handsewing involved in attaching the lining on the inside, I am very happy with the way this dress turned out. I know I will enjoy wearing it. Plus I love any kind of nautical prints, and I think this one is very sweet. Can't wait to try it out in Greece!
My finished sundress/nightgown/beach cover-up

Friday, August 7, 2015

An Afternoon in San Juan Capistrano

The Mission at San Juan Capistrano
During this spring's trip to the Southern California coast, one of the places I made sure to stop was the city of San Juan Capistrano. I like to experience things that are generally known to be part of our popular culture and I remember hearing when I was a little girl (on the oldies radio channel my mom liked to listen to), the song about the swallows returning to the mission at San Juan Capistrano. Therefore, I was delighted to find that it was pretty much on the way to San Diego when I drove down from Palm Springs.

The city is about at the intersection of highways 5 and 74, and very easy to get to. It is not quite on the coast, but also not very far from it. The area around the mission was picturesque and clearly catering to the tourists that came to visit the mission. Other parts of the city were kind of ordinary suburban style, with chain stores and restaurants, and of course, the ever-present freeway traffic.

I was lucky to be there on a weekday, so it was easy to get street parking within a block of the mission entrance. The mission is very large (the largest one I've ever been to), and on this day, it was filled with students on school field trips.

I love being surrounded by children, so that, combined with another perfect day of sunshine, low humidity and not-too-hot weather, made it a lovely visit.

There is one main gate entrance that visitors funnel through to pay the admission fee, which is $9 for general adult admission (less for children and seniors), and believe me, the fee is well worth it. If you go to their website (link above), they did a really nice job of making a virtual tour video, and there is a lot of information about the history, etc.

Because they did such a good job, I will not repeat all of that background information. I just wanted to say that (1) the mission is truly beautiful with a mix of very well-preserved areas and romantic "ruin" areas. (2) The gift shop is really great, with a good selection of inexpensive, touristy tchotchkes, postcards and the like, but also some really beautiful and unique handicrafts, objets d'arte, and higher end items. (3) This is a tourist attraction that is well worth your time and money to explore. I highly recommend it!

A small portion of the beautiful mural on the patio of Cafe Mozart
After visiting the mission, I drove a little ways down the road and had lunch at Cafe Mozart. This restaurant was recommended on TripAdvisor, I think, but it was just mediocre. The service was lackadaisical, the food selection was small and tired, the chairs (I sat on the patio outside) were uncomfortable, and the food was bland. But the patio was a really pretty Spanish style with a lovely fountain and a cool mosaic accent wall. There were a lot of senior citizens eating there on the afternoon I visited. I suspect it was because the prices were reasonable and the food was bland. Anyway, I'm sure there are much better places to eat in town, so I would skip Cafe Mozart.