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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BWOF 5-2010-105: Vegas Dress, Retro Style (and a Vegas recap)

Soooo, this is my very first pattern from Burda Magazine!

[jumps around]

[throws confetti]

This dress has been made by several bloggers recently, to great results. We planned a mini-trip to Vegas for July 4th weekend and were originally only going to be there for two nights. I had dresses to wear for both, but when we added a third night at the last minute, I scrambled to find a quick dress that I could whip up that was comfortable, cool and still Vegas-y. After seeing Trena's version, it felt like a perfect fit.

I pretty much completely copied her dress, right down to eliminating the facing around the neckline (using a twin needle to finish it off), cutting the skirt to mid-thigh and adding a lining. Thank you Trena for doing all of the hard work first and summing it up so I could just follow your instructions. ;) Since the other two dresses I was planning to wear were black, I did opt for an emerald/teal green rayon jersey, since my travel wardrobe was feeling very dark and a bit boring.

This dress pretty much sewed itself. It's only 3 pattern pieces and a bit of elastic. Super simple, even with the added lining. Yet, for such a simple design, it yields a very cute result. I cut the smallest size for the bodice (36) and instead of grading down, I just didn't add seam allowances and went from there. While not technically correct, the end result was fine. I did add an inch to the bottom of the bodice to allow a bit of extra room for making the elastic casing, but wish that I had added another inch or so because it didn't blouse over as much as I would have liked. Ah well. I was pleased to have a great experience working with a twin needle this time around, too. I tried to work with one on a knit dress just a couple of months after starting to sew and it was a hot mess. I've obviously increased my skills since then, as it was so easy to use this time and I was very pleased with the finished result.

I wore this dress our first night - it was very comfortable and I felt cute and hip in it. I knew that I'd be killing my feet in heels the next two nights, so I opted for a small wedge sandal and lots of gold jewelry for accessories. Total win!

I think this was a great first foray into the world of Burda patterns. I already have another skirt cut out (just needs to be sewn up) and a few other things that I have my eye on. I've found that tracing out the patterns and adding seam allowances doesn't really bother me. In fact, it's something I can do while I watch TV with Jim and accomplishes two tasks at once - hanging out with the husband and working on sewing stuff. :)


I didn't take enough pictures for a full Vegas recap, but here are a few tidbits and pictures that sum up the trip:

* This was our first time at Bartolotta and the food was really fabulous. Any time you have that much fish in one dinner and don't taste like fish at the end is huge. We both thought the main fish dish was the best we have ever had. However, it was the dessert course that was so freaking amazing to me - 9, count them 9 individual scoops of ice creams were brought to the table. Three granitas, three gelatos and three sorbets. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! There were two other dishes served, too, but those 9 scoops of frozen deliciousness were so freaking delicious!

* However, there was a huge downside to Bartolotta - the poor service. We were met with a chilly reception upon checking in for our meal and things didn't get any better. We had a small, like amuse-bouche size, pasta dish brought to our table shortly after ordering. We thought it was, indeed, an amuse-bouche and started to eat it. Not two minutes later, our waiter ran up to us, exclaiming "Did you touch that?!" Um, yes, and if we'd said no, were you really going to take it from our table and deliver to the table where it belonged?! EW! We said yes, he gave us a disgusted look and went away. We felt horrible and didn't know whether to continue eating or what. The waitstaff stood behind us whispering and pointing before finally coming back and saying "Well, since you're eating it, here is what you're having." Seriously?! We were at an incredibly expensive restaurant, ordering the tasting menu (+ alcohol) and that is how you treat your patrons? I mean, it's not even acceptable service if we were at a Denny's but damn! This was just ridiculous. The rest of the dinner was awkward and I don't think either one of us really settled into the meal. The guy that brought dessert was incredibly sweet and gracious and was the only bright spot in a dinner otherwise marked by a waitstaff that was both pretentious and quite rude. I'd love to highly recommend the place, but frankly, there are plenty of other restaurants in Vegas that do fabulous food AND have servers and staff that are kind and generous to their patrons.

* In fact, Le Cirque and Carnevino would both fall into that category! It was our 2nd time at Le Cirque and our *mumble mumble* time at Carnevino. We had many of the same servers at Le Cirque and they were again excellent. The food was fantastic and the vibe of the restaurant was formal, but not at all pretentious. We had a French couple sitting next to us and it was really cool that our waiter went back and forth between our tables, speaking english one moment and french, the next. I told Jim that I want all of our dinners to be like that - the accents and european language gave the whole dinner a very sophisticated air. While all of the food was delicious, the indiviual 'fruits de la mer' platter and the dessert wine tasting flight were the highlights. We let the sommelier know we would be splitting the dessert wines and he specifically mentioned that he poured us a bit extra so we'd have enough to share. See what I'm saying? Now that is service done right!

* The one, um, bright spot? to our dinner at Le Cirque was the gal sitting in front of us who proceeded to get completely plastered as the night wore on. At one point, I look over and she is sitting back in her seat and proceeds to lift her leg all the way up to her head. Did I mention her chair was turned to face the restaurant and she was wearing a very VERY short dress? Yes folks, that's right, the gal flashed her lady bits to the entire restaurant! Only in Vegas. You could feel the entire restaurant sort of gasp and then not know what to do. Jim told me to stop staring. I informed him that they were way past the point of having any idea of what was going on. It was like dinner and show folks, I kid you not. It was just so ridiculous that all I could do was crack up. Ha!

* Our last night was at Carnevino and it was a great way to end the trip. Another dinner full of ridiculously yummy food, great staff and a fun atmosphere. If the dinner prices make you want to run for the hills, might I suggest their lunch special burger and house-made potato chips. Literally, the best gourmet burger we've ever had. Ever. Well worth the price of admission.

* We've sorta christened one of the tables at Lavo in the Palazzo as "our table." I swear, we've sat there and had drinks more times than I can count - at least twice a trip. One night we decided that it really needed a plaque proclaiming it as such. Since we couldn't make that happen, we took pictures there instead. :)

* Vino and Spurs were able to meet us for drinks one night and it was great to see them. They had a crazy busy weekend and I'm really glad they were able to come and hang out for a couple of hours.

* Our days were spent poolside - reading, lounging, taking a dip and drinking. We both needed the break, Jim even moreso than me. It was a very nice getaway. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy (very) early Birthday to me

I made the mistake of doing a quick run through of my favorite online fabric haunts this morning and stumbled upon this:

Black, grey and green stylized houndstooth print. 100% wool sweaterknit. From Diane Von Furstenberg.

Somebody hold me.

I've professed my love for her before and this print is so up my alley. I love the colors and the vaguely retro vibe. I immediately started envisioning a simple sweater dress with bracelet length sleeves and an exposed back zipper. Paired with black tights and booties. To die for, right? This print is from her Fall 2008 RTW collection and I think the scale is probably somewhere between this coat and the skirt.

But it's expensive. Like, really expensive.

I showed my co-worker, who was no help whatsoever, as she suggested buying it and calling it an early birthday present to myself. I've gone back and forth all day, even sending an email to Linda from Emma One Sock and asking whether it would even be an appropriate fabric for a dress. If not, I was willing to pass. After getting the affirmative from her, it pretty much sealed the deal. I just pulled the trigger on the most expensive fabric order I've ever made.

Again, somebody hold me.

My wallet may be screaming bloody murder, but I'm smiling like the cheshire cat. I cannot wait to get my hands on that fabric! Happy early birthday to me! :D

Thursday, July 15, 2010

McCalls 3830 Revisited - Third time's the charm

I first tried this skirt pattern earlier this year to rip-roaring success. However, in the meantime, I started the Peak 10 program, got my butt in shape and went down 2 dress sizes. In the middle of the program, I finally got around to sewing what I thought would be another successful version of this skirt. Unfortunately, I didn't really take into account my shrinking body and my grey denim version fell flat. Too big and I wasn't excited enough about the fabric choice to take the time to make it smaller. It's now been packed away with the other boxes of clothing that are too big for me.

After that mess, I figured I'd drop down one size and things would perfect. Out came the lovely black stretch denim from Emma One Sock - a bit of a splurge - and I whipped up another skirt. While it was wearable, it still felt too big and stretched out around the booty after wearing it. It also didn't feel nearly as versatile as I was hoping it would be. For cripes sake! I've worn it a few times, but it's at the back of my closet now, waiting for fall and winter to make another appearance. And if I'm being honest, it probably even need a few alterations if I'm going to really love it. Le sigh.

This photo was taken about halfway through my weightloss, so while it looks okay here, it's quite a bit looser now.

At this point, I'd realized that my body had like, you know, really changed and all. I re-took my measurements and it was pretty clear that I needed to drop down one more size. I was sorely missing my original dark denim skirt - I had no idea how much of a wardrobe hole I had filled with that simple little skirt until it didn't fit any longer - so I opted to remake it in the same fabric. The only changes on this version was using an invisible zipper to give it an even cleaner look and dropping the hem by about a 1/2 inch.

Guess what folks - I hit the skirt jackpot again! :D (I'm even in love with the back view on this version.) I've worn this skirt at least once a week since I finished since it works equally well with tall boots, flat sandals or wedges. This is such a staple for me now, just as important in my weekly wardrobe as my favorite jeans and black work pants. I'm now quite sure how I lived without. Truly folks, I can't recommend this skirt enough! Especially in a nice dark stretch denim. Make one and just see how much you wear it - you can thank me later. ;)

Now that I have the sizing down, I have a few more versions I'd like to make. It's especially crucial this summer as I've decided to live in skirts and dresses since finding new pants to replace the 20+ pairs I've packed away is proving to be an impossible task. Thank goodness for living in Southern California, where pants just aren't necessary for summer and the vast majority of the fall.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The three best friends that anyone could have

I'm lucky enough that I don't just have one best friend, I have two - Blondie and Vino. I've blogged about them before, but we're way overdue for another mushy walk down memory lane. :)

I can't believe that it's been 10 years since we were all in college together, living in the sorority house and being the crazy senior girls in a house full of underclassmen. Crowding into the ginormous bathroom to get ready before Thursday nights out on the town - spending hours doing our hair and make up, choosing the perfect outfit, dancing around to the latest crappy country or pop songs. It seemed like half the fun of going out was the whole production of getting ready.

Since graduating, we've had many girls trips together, where we tried to relive those fun-filled college days. Weekends spent eating, drinking, gossiping and staying up until all hours of the night. For those few nights, it felt like we were back in college, except with more money and better booze. ;)

Starting in 2005, us single ladies slowly became old married hags. First me, then Blondie and then Vino. Man, we were we awesome bridemaids for each other! These two girls are the closest things I have to sisters and I think that was pretty evident through the numerous wedding events that we attended for one another for those 3 years. And how fun to have so many more excuses to get all dolled up and hang out for days at a time!

We've finished school, we have good jobs, we've gotten married, we've bought houses. So really, it was only a matter of time before my two closest friends made the next big step. Blondie and Vino are both pregnant, due in December only 4 days apart. I had a feeling before I heard the news from them separately that this was probably the case. Lots of little things that to anyone else probably wouldn't have alerted the radar, but it just seemed odd to me. Of course, that didn't stop me from crying buckets of happy tears with both announcements.

I am over the moon happy for them and am ready to jump into full shower planning mode as soon as they find out what they are having. And like any good budding seamstress, I might have already bought a grip of Oliver + S patterns, subscribed to Ottobre magazine and have a brand new stack of baby-friendly fabric sitting in my sewing room begging me to make cute baby things. Not that I'm overly excited for them or anything. Heh. ;)

Blondie and Vino - I love you girls so much and am so happy for you. Your little babies are going to be so, so lucky to have as their moms and I can't wait to see the ways you both change and grow with motherhood. I also can't wait to spoil the hell out of the little peanuts. :) Love you both!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Baby goodies

Yep, still on baby and kid sewing and will be for the forseeable future. No, I'm not pregnant, it just seems as though everyone I know is. :) After the ~20 babies I knew that were born last year, I think I'm up to ~8 or so for 2010 (most due for later this year). Let's just say that I'm stocking up on Oliver + S patterns, kid friendly prints and lots of minky fabric. Wheeee!

Here are the latest projects:

Contrasting pink and green baby blankets for twin girls that were wished and hoped for for a long time before entering their parent's lives. :)

A pink and orange retro floral minky blanket with complimentary O+S Bedtime Story Pajamas. The mom is another pinkaholic, with a special love for Vespas, so this fabric called out to me when I saw it. It seemed very appropriate for a baby gift for her little girl.

I've got another blanket, blanket/clothing combo and first birthday outfit in the que so more baby goodie pictures later this month.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Comfy Sheath - V1057 and V8633

I know that I swore up and down this spring that I was going to get myself in gear and sew up a bunch of cute work appropriate pieces that would get me through this summer filled with dinners and parties associated with Jim's work. Ha! Yeah right! I've pretty much accepted the fact that unless the deadline is looming right in front of me, it doesn't get done because there are too many other projects that seem to need attention first (namely gifts recently). Which is what led me to last Friday, finishing up a workout and realizing that I really didn't have anything that I was keen to wear to the wine tasting party the following night. And with a dress code of "cocktail casual" (I can say this because Jim helped to come up with these bogus dress codes, what in the hell does that mean anyways?!), the first order of business was just to figure out what I should wear.

I remembered a dress that I had been planning to make for several months, even going so far as buying the patterns and fabric, but just never getting around to actually putting it together. After double-checking with Jim, we both thought the dress would work well for the event and give me an excuse to bust out my pretty Ferragamo heels that I pet on a weekly basis because they are so lovely. ;)

The dress itself is a combination of Vogue 1057, a DKNY designer pattern (now out of print) and Vogue 8633. I loved 8633 when it was released, but thought that I would like it even more with a tank-style bodice, hence "borrowing" the top of the dress from V1057. Since the cut of both dresses is similar, the melding the two seemed simple enough.

For the fabric, I've been loving the mock two-piece style dresses that are all over the stores currently and wanted to try my hand at something similar. I wanted the dress to be a "neutral", but something other than basic black. Navy and cream became my colors of choice - not only because I'm loving all things navy recently, but also because it would match a ton of accessories that I already own. (For some more navy and cream beauties, pop over to Carolyn's blog and check out her winning midnight blue collection at Stichery Guild.)

The navy is a Rayon-Poly-Lycra (RPL) doubleknit from Mood, while the cream is a RPL doubleknit from Fashion Fabrics Club. They felt pretty similar in weight when I purchased them, but the navy softened up considerably after a run through the washer. This actually wound up being a happy accident, as the skirt darts hung a bit more like small pleats when all was said and done. I don't think this was the idea behind the pattern, but it turned out looking really nice so I went with it.

I cut a straight 12 in the skirt and midriff band of V8633 and a 10 in the bodice of V1057, cutting it off at the shorten line noted on the pattern piece. I'm so happy to say that even though this project required tweaking along the way, it was probably my smoothest sewing project to date with one of the most polished results. :D I sewed up all the pieces individually and then basted them together to play with the fit. The skirt was perfect, but the midriff band and bodice needed to be nipped in several times and the bodice needed to be shortened by 2 inches or so. Once I got all of that straightened out, the invisible zipper went in like butter, the seams all matched up perfectly and the arm and neck binding, while a bit thicker than called for by the pattern, went together incredibly well. I even kept a good handle on my topstitching so it looked like RTW, not all wonky and home sewn.

I was pretty much a giddy mess by the time this dress was done. It didn't make me want to rip out my hair while sewing it, I had a great new outfit to wear to the event and it was something that I would have gladly shelled out money for had it been hanging in a store. Sure, it's not all that flashy and it definitely needs accessories to make it pop, but I'm so happy to have it hanging in my closet. So happy, in fact, that I'm actually planning to make another one, maybe in good 'ol boring black. ;) Oh, and have I mentioned how freaking comfortable it is? Doubleknit is a beautiful thing friends. Looks chic, but feels like you're wearing pajamas. Such a win!

Friday at noon it was a pile of fabric and two uncut patterns. By Saturday at noon, it looked like this:

Yeah, I pretty much adore it!

One last note about this dress. When I was finishing it up, I couldn't help but think that it reminded me so much of something Michelle Obama would wear. I couldn't find any pictures of her in a dress exactly like this, but it does seem that she often favors sheath dresses with high, round necklines and I think that is why this feels like something she would like. And really, if it's good enough for her, then it's definitely good enough for me!

On a completely separate note, I just wanted to mention how much I love the summer associates that Jim is managing this year. I don't know what kind of voodoo him and his co-coordinator did, but they seriously managed to get one of the best groups of "kids" I've ever seen. They're a bright, articulate, nice, funny, diverse, and outgoing bunch that are just a delight to chat with at parties and events. I didn't know how much I would love having to attend all these dinners and get togethers, but I can honestly say I'm having so much fun and that I'll be quite sad when the summer comes to a close.

I'd also be remiss not to mention how much I like Jim's co-coordinator and her husband. She is due with her first child in September and it's been great getting to know her and see how excited they are for the little one's arrival in a couple of months. I can only hope that we will continue to socialize with them even after the summer program is done.