Monday, November 20, 2017

FO: The 60s Dress

I know I've mentioned before on the blog about the singing groups I'm a part of, but every now and then these two hobbies of mine intersect because I need a costume for a singing event. Earlier this year we sang at a Madrigal Feast, and our fall show just took place on November 4th as a 60s music show. Well I could not let a sewing opportunity like the 1960s pass me by without making something up. I surely could've just used some things I already had, but this was an opportunity to make something that doesn't exactly translate into modern fashion if you know what I mean, lol. I dug through my vintage pattern stash as well as my fabric stash to pull out some actual from-the-era options. The resulting dress is so 60s I just can't even. So let's start with the dress itself:
How 60s is this baby? Our director kept saying to focus on things people would've worn in day to day life during the 60s, not something super costumey, and I really feel I nailed that prompt. The pattern came first, so we'll start there.
I went with vintage Simplicity 8660, a classic a-line shift dress with a bow neckline from 1969. Not only is this style quintessentially 60s, this pattern was also already in my exact size (I know!) which absolutely never happens with vintage patterns if you are over 36" bust. As an avid thrifted, and as someone who has dabbled in selling patterns online, I have an extensive collection of vintage patterns, and I can count the ones that are over a 36 or 38" bust on my hands. People were just smaller on average, and while I've always had good intentions and planned to grade some of them up I've just never taken the time to actually do the prep and make that happen. So the fact that this dress was already made for a 43" bust was a huge win. I had a handful of patterns to chose from and I showed them to a few people who are into these types of things and they both chose this dress, so I guess it was just meant to be.
The fabric is another fortuitous find. I snagged this piece of cotton poplin at a thrift store over a year ago for the sheer novelty of the print, plus it was a sizeable piece, for just $3. When I got it home (and washed it) I noticed that the selvage was printed "Fashion Set M.L.S. 1963", which I interpret as this fabric being printed in 1963. Perfect! Interestingly when I pulled out the fabric to sew with, it read more blue from the background, and I even used royal blue thread to stitch this up, but every photo reads so much more orangey gold. 

Since I have never actually worked with a vintage pattern before, and since I tend to have to make a lot of adjustments anyway, I made a full muslin of this dress. I had to lower the bust dart by 1" and take it in a few inches around the bust and waist, plus I had to shorten the hem and the sleeves, but other than that this dress fit extremely well - much better than modern Simplicity patterns tend to fit me off the bat. I also wanted to make the muslin to test out the methods used to make everything. The instructions were really good, not too concise as they are reputed to be, and aside from a little (undertstandable)  hand sewing at the neckline, this was a breeze to sew together. I'm liking the whole vintage pattern idea more and more now...
Another interesting twist of fate is in the zipper. I have a crazy vintage zipper stash that are most all from the 60s and 70s. I really am set when it comes to standard dress zippers thanks to these, but I must admit there are quite a few that are in what I consider to be pretty unattractive colors that I would very unlikely wear, meaning I have a nice stack of zips that may never be used except on muslins, for which they are used regularly. When gathering my supplies, I laid out this fabric and set various zips next to it to see which would be the best match. Wouldn't you know that all 3 of the colors I dislike the most - the ones I use on muslins because I never thought I would need them for an actual garment - matched this fabric perfectly. I was chosing between bright orange, medium brown, and Aztec Gold. I put a picture up on instagram and everyone helped me chose the Aztec gold and I am very happy with the result. 
I did a lapped zipper to keep with the time period, so the zip isn't exactly on display, but it all feels very legit to have this historically accurate zipper in there, lol. See how much more blue the fabric looks in these pictures? These were taken in morning sunlight. So weird. 
The instructions have you start the project by sewing a small square of bias cut fabric at the center of the neckline and flipping it to the inside. You are then to catch stitch this piece of fabric in place by hand before moving on. This makes for an interesting detail - definitely more of a homemade feel then we go for nowadays with finishing the insides. I just pick stitched around the piece so it is invisible outside, but it's kind of fun inside this way too. 
The bow has interfacing only at the widest part of the bottom, and the instructions have you sew it with a machine to a certain point and then enclose everything by hand around the neck, which is what I did. I top stitched the hem and sleeves with the machine since a) this is a costume and b) this fabric is so busy that you can't see it anyway. I altered the sleeves quite a bit but in the easiest way possible. The pattern is designed to have a long sleeve gathered into a placket, but I would die of heat stroke in a long sleeved dress in a show, so I just cut the sleeve piece at the lengthen/shorten line, then eyeballed where I wanted the sleeves to hit on my muslin and transferred the length to the real dress. I'm really happy with how they turned out and the fit is great :) I raided our Etsy jewelry at work and I think I accessorized pretty well, lol. My long necklace and earrings are a set by Sarah Coventry and my bracelet is Trifari - all 60s originals. I was actually pretty amazed I didn't think my ears were going to fall off after wearing clip-ons all night, lol. I also wore some Clarks mustard colored flats I have - these are just regular shoes I bought for work, lol. I'm glad they worked and looked pretty accurate to the period as well. 
My hair and makeup is a bit of a sore subject. First I tried to do winged eyeliner for the first time ever thinking it couldn't be that hard - yeah, I don't recommend you do that. I was trying to do my makeup quickly between customers at work too, so it was a stressful makeup fix to be sure. For my hair I had planned on it looking like a big teased helmet, but thanks to thin, oily hair and Florida humidity it looked just like it does every other day, lol. You would think that with as much teasing as we did (see photo above) that it would've at least looked a bit poofy, but sadly it did not at all during the show. We took the photos of my dress after the show, and you can see that it looks just like my usual hair. This is why I never do anything to my hair - it refuses to do anything. I just got to feel dirty all night with my unwashed hair, lol. 
Here's a very unflattering photo of me singing that night, lol. It was the only tolerable one, so I'm trying to just let it go. Location photos are super hard, guys. The lighting was weird everywhere, so I'm sorry the pics aren't up to my usual standard. I believe I was singing Can't Buy Me Love in this picture. My solos were Can't Buy Me Love, I Only Want To Be With You, and You Can't Hurry Love, but I sang back up or group numbers on lots of others too. 
Here is all of Soliloquy :) The 7 of us are the complete womens group I sing with and we have a lot of fun. We were chosen to sing at Disney again this year and this time we have 6 performances! Woo hoo, lol.
And here is the whole gang - this is Soliloquy, Broadstreet (the coed singing group) and out band. Our drummer said he had the collar piece since the 60s, lol. Love it. We had a lot of fun, and hopefully we will be performing this show again in January. Any local people - let me know if you're interested and I'll make sure you know the next performance! I mean how can you resist the opportunity to come see my dress in person?

Fabric: 3.5 yards vintage cotton poplin (36" wide) - $3.00 (thrifted)
Pattern: Simplicity 8660 from 1969 - $0.25 (thrifted)
Notions: interfacing -$0.50, blue thread - $0.50, gold 22" zipper - $0.10 (thrifted)
Time: 10 hours
Total Cost: $4.35

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FO: Pascal

So every good Disney character needs an animal side kick, amiright? I knew when I decided to dress up as Rapunzel this Halloween that I would need to make a Pascal to complete the look :)
So this is Pascal :) I searched through the chameleon patterns on Ravelry, and I settled on the Karen the Chameleon pattern by Christel Krukkert since it seemed the most adaptable to my needs. I made a few changes to make him more Pascal-like:
  • only did 3 rows of eyelid pattern
  • left off final row of eyeball
  • made legs 9 stitches wide and improvised toes to be wider
  • did not add stripes or sequins to body
  • pulled the tail swirl tighter
  • added 1 row to outer edge of mouth
  • used 15 mm eyes
In the end I kind of wish I had left his mouth open, but I think he turned out cute :)
I love how his tail turned out! Golly was that long and cumbersome to crochet though, lol. You have to stuff the body as you go because the tail gets too narrow to add stuffing further down, so you have a totally stuffed animal you are hanging down and turning round and round as you make it longer. I made the tail in church and it got quite a bit of attention, lol. I really like the tighter spiral though and think it turned out really cute. I also could've done more changes with the legs (made them narrower and the toes bigger) but I couldn't be bothered and was trying to get him finished. Oh well.

Interestingly the mouth is sewn to the head - I tried to get him a bit more smiley by adding to the outer mouth row, but it doesn't seem to have done much. I used I Love This Yarn in Jelly Bean and Antique White for this project. And a lot of polyfil.
My little sidekick was tucked under my arm all night at the Halloween party I went too as well as on Halloween night while I gave out candy. He was a nice extra touch :)
And because I have to add these in again ...
Complete with a smooch!

I'm really happy with how my whole costume turned out, and this guy was a nice little addition :) The little kids loved it, which makes it all worth while.

Now to start planning for next Halloween!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thank You So Much!

I just realized today that I had not posted this yet on the blog! I put out the call for help to get this little guy his eye surgery last Monday, and you guys made it happen in just over 24 hours. How amazing it that?!
I am absolutely blown away and so so grateful for the extraordinary kindness shown by others in this wonderful community of makers (and cat lovers, obviously). As you can see from the widget above, we actually raised $520 for little Bert. Some donations were from friends and family (you know who you are guys, and you are amazing!) but about half of these donations came from people I don't personally know - some even from across the globe! We raised $520 in just 15 donations, and I still to this day get goosebumps thinking about your incredible kindness. I honestly thought that I might raise a few hundred dollars to offset the cost and that it would take a week or so, but it happened in a much bigger way and much faster then I could have hoped for. Bert now has an appointment and his surgery will be this Thursday :) Isn't that awesome?! I know I keep saying that, but I'm kind of speechless, so it's really all I can think of to say.

I will be sure to keep this blog updated with Bert from now on. He's our community kitty now :) I post pics of him frequently on Instagram (@showandtellmeg), so follow me there as well if you're interested in seeing him grow.

Thank you all so much for your donations and for your sharing my post and even just for your good vibes and kind thoughts. I am so grateful for your help and your trust in me that you would help make this possible.


You are all so kind and generous :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Cat Lovers! Could You Help Our Bert? (And Meet Bert!)

Hi blog friends! If you follow me on Instagram (@showandtellmeg), you'll have seen several posts over the last month about our newest family member - meet Bert!
Bert was sitting in the middle of the road early one Saturday morning when my husband stopped to help him (he didn't want anyone to hit him sitting there). He was obviously sick and had been abandoned, and his poor little eye had ruptured at some point and was infected. Justin took him to his mom's house (because he was on his way there at the time) where they fed him and tried to fix him up as best they could. They all fell in love with the little guy, and knowing that a shelter would put him down due to his eye injury, Justin and I decided to keep him. We named him Bert :)
Bert has turned out to be a very sweet little cat. At first he just wanted to sit and snuggle with me. We got him checked out at the vet where they had us take him home to treat him for a respiratory infection before we could talk about surgery for his eye. Over those few weeks he really settled in with us. He loves to help me knit, and he likes to hang out in my sewing room while I sew.
Just a few cute shots from the past few weeks :) He loved to cuddle around my neck, but now he's bigger and in better health so he's into everything.
Bert is particularly fascinated with yarn winding. When he can't chase a ball of yarn, he just sits beneath the swift and stares at it, lol. It's super cute. It's nice to have a craft room cat at last. I love my other cat, Daisy, but she could care less about anything I'm doing. This guy is always following me around and trying to figure things out.
Sadly, his eye is still in terrible shape. We keep putting drops in it to avoid infection, but we just found out that his eye surgery will cost $500. My husband and I are trying to sell our house, and until it does we just flat out can't afford the surgery. Bert is making the best of things, but it just breaks my heart every time I look at him knowing that he is living like this because we can't afford to fix him.
SO - I'm turning to the gracious and giving people of the internet and the sewing community. I know many of you are cat lovers too, and I figured we would try and see if anyone else would be willing to donate to help pay for this surgery. I've started a You Caring Page for donations, and absolutely any amount you can give would be greatly appreciated. Maybe if we all give a little bit, we can help this little guy have a much better quality of life :) (you can click the Widget above that says Donate Now)
I would never ask if I could at all pay for this surgery myself, but I hate making him wait that long (especially not having any idea when my house will sell). So if you love cats or just would like to help an adorable cause, please head here or click the widget above on this post or on the upper right of my home blog page and help us help Bert :)