Friday, December 20, 2019

Winter coat 2019 and a new dress!

Living in Chicago  means I am never without a reason to make a new coat! This years coat is navy speckled wool underlined in silk organza and lined with kasha winter lining. This makes it a good winter coat but not one for a deep freeze. This quote was originally intended to come to Paris with me to wear on the colder days but I did not finish it in time and I did not want to rush the finishings. I finished it over Thanksgiving weekend.
Front and Back views of me in the coat

This is my own self drafted coat pattern and is a variation of the coat that I made last year. I slimmed the silhouette slightly and redrafted the collar and narrowed the lower sleeves. Overall the sleeves are big enough to accommodate layers of a sweater or even a French style jacket or a blazer.  
The inside pockets are a scrumptious splurge! They are made from a remnant of vicuña that I received a couple years ago. I had a small piece about 9 inches wide and just enough to cut for the inside pockets. They are positioned between the lining and facing and big enough to easily hold my cell phone and CTA card. I positioned them so that I could get my hand into the pocket while the coat is buttoned closed. In order to keep the breast pockets  from bunching up I attached a length of grosgrain ribbon from the bottom outside edge of the pocket to the side seam to hold them in place.
Oh dear.. a reverse Napoleon pose! LOL! Inner pockets on both sides and grosgrain ribbon to hold pocket bag in place.

The hem’s are interfaced with a strip of light weight bias faced canvas to hold its shape. There are 4 buttons and they are all that I had! So even thought I could have used 5, I had to make do with 4. The buttonholes were a different matter. Three of them are bound buttonholes made with faux leather lips and the 4th buttonhole, the second from the top, is an inseam buttonhole.  The corresponding buttonholes on the facing pieces were done as ‘Spanish snap’ buttonholes with 2x3 bias pieces of silk organza. These are then stitched on the top of the facing in the shape of a long flattened football or like a loaf of French bread. The hole is then cut open and the organza pushed through and snapped into place. The organza then forms the lips and this is then hand stitched to the back of the buttonholes with small invisible fell stitches. 
Bias horse hair canvas in hem. It sits in the hem and then I catch stitch the hem to it. Holds everything in place and gives the hem a nice shape on this winter coat.

Top are the Spanish snap button holes on the facing and the bottom shows the bound buttonhole plus the buttoned look with both inseam buttonhole and bound buttonhole.

I had a lot of fun creating this collar! It was a shape that I have been wanting to play with. A little bit retro. I knew that I really wanted the collar to hold the shape so instead of messing with a bunch of different interfacings I used a piece of men’s under collar that was already stitched to hair canvas and ready to be used. Thank you NYC tailoring shops! I figured the worst that could happen would be that I hated it and then would have to re-do it. I actually love it! The collar holds it’s shape quite smartly and when the coat is unbuttoned it still looks very good to me. Perfect for this quite simple rolled collar with a fantastic shape to it.
Collar views with the undercollar being cut out for men's pad stitched under collar navy felt.
I put my label on the lower facing across a seamed area that I had to piece together. I also added a strip of the faux leather that I used for the bound buttonholes as a hanging loop.

The outer pockets almost didn't happen! That was until I put the coat on and after looking in the mirror decided a winter coat with no external pockets whatsoever was just wrong. LOL! The problem was that I wanted a bigger pocket and a fun flap and I just did not have the fabric left to make that happen. So going to the extremely small pile of scraps left over I was able to eek out these 2 patch pockets. Basically I found the largest dimensions that I could with the fabric on grain and that was my pocket. I lined them with scraps of the fabric left over from the dress. So while I would have preferred slightly bigger patch pockets, these will have to do! Of course in hindsight I could have made a wonderful set of single welt pockets...
No pockets versus pockets! Pockets win every time!!

This was the incredibly small pile of scraps that I had to cut the pockets out of!

All in all I am quite happy with this new coat. It is warm enough for cold Chicago and for going from car or Uber into a building or for walking around as long as it is not too cold. Once it gets down into the 20’s and below walking around changes over to the down parka!!
Baby, it's cold outside!!

The dress that I am wearing in these pictures is from one of my own TNT patterns that I developed with the help of Sarah Veblen. I have made this pattern several times now over the past 4 years and I love the shape and design of it. This time I made it with 2  rayon/polyester woven plisse fabrics that are the same design in 2 different scales. I ordered these a while back from EmmaOneSock. It took me a while to decide exactly how to use them and I am very happy with the outcome! I must say that this was almost a giant fail!!! I have 2 copies of the pattern... One for wovens  and one for stretch wovens. I clearly did not label them very clearly and I made this with the one for stretch. Imagine my surprise when I went to try it on and could barely get the back zip up, let alone breath!!! Luckily enough I use 5/8 inch seam allowances and had not trimmed them down. So I was able to let the seam allowances out along the upper back portion of the zipper. Once I did this it fit perfect! Whew!! That was a close call! And a good reminder for me to always clearly label all of my patterns.
New 'corner' dress! I love this silhouette!!

It even has a nice twirl factor!

I took this dress to Paris and wore it several times. It is really quite comfortable, looks nice and I always get lovely compliments when wearing it. It always make me feel good when I get an unsolicited compliment when wearing a garment that I made and even more so when it is by a complete stranger. 

Christmas is almost upon us and some of my family is coming in to spend Christmas week. I spent all day rearranging my apartment and moving much of my sewing room aside to make way for visitors! I am very excited for this! My mom and dad are coming and they are staying with me. They have not yet seen my home since I moved downtown Chicago in spring of 2017. And my sister is coming too!! Very excited. She is coming first so I will have a couple days with her and then my parents. I am very much looking forward to having them here to celebrate Christmas! 
Princess V and I had a sleepover and decorated gingerbread houses to get ready for the Holidays!!
I really love spending time with her- makes my heart so happy!!

Happy Sewing and Happy Christmas time and Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 16, 2019

What I made and wore for 2 weeks in Paris!

This past November I spent 2 full weeks in Paris. (Much of this was documented on my Instagram feed- @siouxzeegirl)


One of my favorite parts about travel is planning my wardrobe. Once my destination is selected, dates nailed down and flights purchased I immediately start to think of my wardrobe. Paris was such a fun trip to plan for and I am glad that I started early since I knew that I wanted to make as much of the wardrobe that I could.

I selected a color palette of blue, red and white. A slightly different palette from my normal clothes. This gives me an opportunity to play with other colors AND come out with a great capsule wardrobe in the end.

Wardrobe sewing planning

With the color palette selected I started pulling all the fabrics from my fabric collection that fit into this palette. I don’t really think about what I will make with them at this point, I just pull the fabric and put it all on my couch, table and floor, wherever it all fits so that I can see all of it. With all of the fabric spread out it is easy to ‘see’ and you can quickly start removing fabrics that just don’t go. This can be because the color is a little off. For instance, I ended up going with deeper and true reds versus orangey reds. I removed many of the very dark navy blues and went with a brighter blue and brighter navy’s. After doing this first culling, which usually removes about half of the pulled fabrics, I start to look at the fabrics left against my list of clothes that I want to make. This then helps me to put the fabrics into 4 groups. Tops, bottoms, dresses and outerwear. 


I have a couple rules that I follow when creating a travel wardrobe.

  1. All separates, bottoms (skirts and pants) and tops (knit and woven) need to go with multiple other items. For example, if I bring 3 bottoms then each top I made must go with at least 2 of the 3 bottoms. Ideally all 3! And vice versa. Each bottom needs to go with multiple tops.
  2. Each dress needs to worn at least twice. Unless traveling for a special occasion like a wedding, I NEVER bring an item that will only get worm once.
  3. I try to stick to 3 pairs of shoes. And NEVER bring new, untested shoes.
  4. I always have a travel outfit that gets worn on plane to and from and then usually one other day on the trip that I consider a down day. (Crucial for longer trips)
  5. Only bring undergarments that can be rinsed/hand washed and dry overnight. 
  6. I almost never travel with jeans. They are heavy and if they get wet take forever to dry. (Unless I am staying in a ABNB with a dryer)

These rules help me to make sure that my wardrobe creation and packing for a longer trip are very thoughtful and deliberate. These are the rules that work for me and they may certainly not be what works for someone else! I guess my biggest thing is that if I am deliberate beforehand with my creating and selecting my wardrobe then when I am on my trip I don’t really have to think about it too much and just really enjoy my travels!

Yes, your eyes are correct... I packed a suitcase inside a bigger suitcase on the way there, so that I would have plenty of room on the way home for the FABRIC purchases!! It worked out perfectly!

For my Paris trip, I knew that I wanted to bring 3 or 4 bottoms, 5 or 6 tops and 2 dresses. Plus, outerwear.

What I made and what I bought.

Things I made:

Dresses: 2 blue floral matelassé corner dress from 2 coordinating fabrics and Chanel tweed dress with tucked knit sleeves and tweed cuffs.

Bottoms:3 (1 skirt & 2 pants) one midi length red corduroy straight skirt, one blue tweed lined slim ankle pants and one full length wool crepe lined pants with pleated hem. 

Tops: (6) red wool knit top, blue wool knit top (only item from my existing wardrobe) rayon/spandex knit tunic, blue floral ruched knit top and a woven Japanese cotton top. Plus one French style jacket and shell. 


I Only 4 purchased items that came with me! Both my outer wear pieces and my travel tunic and leggings. I just ran out of time and thought why not! Everything else I made :) Such a great feeling to travel with wonderful me made wardrobe.

I purchased both items of outerwear that I brought with me. A tunic length navy puffer vest and a burgundy London fog hooded rain/trench coat.

Shoes: I broke my rule and actually brought 5 pairs of shoes. 2 red shoes and 2 blue shoes and a pair of pool flip flops. All shoes were flats and every pair got worn. PLUS…. I purchased 2 more pairs of shoes while in Paris. I mean really, how could I not buy shoes in Paris!!

Day 1 (travel day)

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10 (with a very bad selfie!)

Day 11

Day 12 (forgot to take a selfie on the trip!)

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15
 The last day, DAY 16, was our travel day home and I wore the exact same outfit as I wore traveling to Paris.
The page in the travel journal where I recorded how many times I wore each item.

For this trip, I knew I wanted to do a detailed trip journal. (On past trips I have done small journaling but I really wanted to do more and a bigger journal with everything that can be in one place once the trip is over) So, in this journal I made a list of each item of clothing that I brought plus the shoes and I marked them each time I wore them. Plus, I preplanned a daily 2-page spread in the journal that included one page for notes and another page for a sketch of my daily outfit. I loved doing this!! I also left open pages in the journal for sketching and note taking and for pasting in tickets and other memorabilia once I got home.
The croquis that I used were from My Body Model and I really enjoyed having them!


How do you plan your travel wardrobes?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Haute Couture Club of Chicago Fashion Show review.

... better late than never!!
Back in May of this year I had the pleasure, honor and sometimes the headache of co-chairing the 2019 Haute Couture Club of Chicago ‘Color Your World’ Fashion Show. My co-chair was Melissa, my amazing daughter.

From the beginning we divide up the work and then just touched base with each other to make sure we were both on track or to see if each other needed help. Basically, I was the creative side- coming up with the Fashion show segments, the supporting images or graphics, writing and designing the show program and figuring out the order of go with 104 garments to walk the runway!

Melissa was mostly the logistics side, finding the venue, coordinating photographer and DJ as well as taking care of soliciting and organizing the raffle prizes and table decorations.  The venue this year was the Crystal Ballroom in the Historic Knickerbocker hotel, downtown Chicago. It was so beautiful!

Luckily we had the help of 2 other club members to help with taking care of the seating assignments and sending out of tickets.
This Fashion Show hosted the clubs first High School Senior Scholarship program. We had three graduating seniors that are headed to fashion design school each show a collection of their creations and they were each given a cash scholarship prize. This was so much fun! The young designers each attended some of the club meetings and also helped with modeling of other club members garments. It was a special thing pairing a young high school senior with club members who joined in the 1960’s. Each of these young designers had a one page bio in the show program.

I am glad that I had the opportunity to work on bringing the fashion to reality this year. Will I do it again? Nope! I enjoyed it and it was a new experience but I don’t need to do it again! It was an incredible amount of work and I was so glad to have done it and to have done it with my daughter, we have pretty high standards and I think we were able to uphold them with in the limits of what we had to work with. 

To go with the theme of "Color Your World" I made a new dress for Melissa to wear to the fashion show. Here she is showing off all the colors and twirl-ability of the dress :)

In addition to being co-chair of the show, I also participated in the show. I walked the runway in three garments that I designed and created over the past club year.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the day a wonderful success!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Dior- From Paris to The World at the Dallas Museum of Art

Wendy of Couture Counsellor and I headed to Dallas for a weekend to go and see the Dior exhibit. It was well worth the time of getting on a plane and heading to Texas for the first weekend of August. It was so hot and humid but like I said, so worth it! This is the same exhibit that was held in Denver earlier this year and was a joint exhibition between the 2 museums.

The tickets are timed tickets and I purchased them the morning that they went on sale. Each month goes on sale the 15th of the prior month.  The exhibit was sold out for the weekend we were there, it is very popular!

The exhibit itself was done very thoughtfully and I really liked the use of mirrors in some areas that allowed you to have a birds eye view of garments and then some that allowed you to see 'up the skirts'! The most dramatic room of all also happened to be my least favorite, only because it gave me a sense of vertigo with all of the looking up, which in turn made me a bit nauseas. The idea was a superb one but the aisle that ran down the middle with the stadium effect on either side needed to be a bit wider to work better. Of course this is all just my opinion!! I'm sure they had space restraints to work with.

It was very interesting to see how the Dior line has changed as the creative directors/fashion designers have changed. 
This is a picture heavy post... I took almost 400 pictures! Don’t worry, they are not all in here. LOL!
I tired to include only my favorites or ones that I thought were very interesting. 
Wall of Toiles

Embroidery Samples done for Dior in the late 40's/ early 50's

Hand painted and beaded

The PINK room was my favorite!

I hope you enjoyed some of these amazing garments from the Dior line!
Lots of wonderful, interesting and inspiring garments.

Happy Sewing!