Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Corticelli Silk Thread

I became interested in Corticelli silk thread when I acquired a box of it in an old sewing basket. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a scavenger for everything sewing when I go to garage sales, estate sales and other purveyors of old things.  Despite the vintage nature of the thread, as evidenced by the neat wooden spools, I could not believe the luster and the depth of the colors.

Since that first acquisition, I’ve amassed quite a little collection of these spools.  Once you start collecting something, it seems as though the universe arranges for you to have more of it, or make you more aware of it, or something.  Another of my interests is in advertising ephemera, particularly of the Victorian era.  I started to notice ephemera related to Corticelli threads popping up on Pinterest, on boards related to sewing, crafting, and advertising history.

The company began in the 1830s in Florence, Massachusetts.  Today, we certainly never think of Massachusetts, or any other state in the Union, as being producers of silk.  At one time, this area was very much the center of sericulture in the US.  At the time it was the Nonotuck Company.  Some time later the name Corticelli was adopted.  Corticelli was not the name of any of the principals in the company but is thought to have been adopted to create an association in the mind of the consumer with Italy, then a powerhouse in the silk industry, renowned for quality.

A lot of the advertising for the company centered around adorable kittens.  They had me at silk, but now kittens?  What could be better than silk thread and kittens?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tunic from Upcycled Tablecloth

I would love to spend more time sewing.  I have so many plans rattling around in my head for projects, and have collected so many patterns I want to use.  I had a few spare hours the other day, so I put them to good use in the sewing studio.
Another of my loves beyond straight sewing is the upcycling of the vintage linens I collect during my thrift shopping adventures.  I came across this beautiful jacquard tablecloth, with an intricately woven floral pattern, some time back.  I loved the ivory color and the drape of the fabric.  My plan had been to turn it into a tunic top. 

I used a pin from my Pinterest board, Sew Inspired, as my inspiration.  It’s a picture of a cutting layout for a tunic top.  The only measurement I used was my bust measurement, to which I added 2 inches for ease.  I used a bateau neckline and self drafted a facing from a linen table scarf (or altar cloth?).  I elected not to embellish the resulting top because I felt that the pattern woven into the fabric was such a beautiful and subtle statement that I did not want to overwhelm it with trim.
Here is the resulting top.  I am really looking forward to wearing it soon.  I think it could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and the accessories.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Oldie but Goodie - Burda 8630

I was feeling rather guilty about my lack of sewing.  So I got out a pattern I'd done before.  I had some black linen laying about and I thought it would look nice as a jacket.  I used Burda 8630, which is at least 14 or 15 years old.  The first time I made is was in 2002 and I think it had been hanging around for a while before I actually made it.  I eventually get around to making things, but often not right away!  Here's the envelope picture:

This is a very loose and roomy jacket, best made with a fabric with a little bit of drape, but some structure, too.  The linen worked out quite well.

It looks nice on Betsy, my trusty dress form, but you can see how loose it really is.  I may move the button over so it doesn't hang off like on a little girl playing dress up.

I like the asymmetry.  Very Lagenlook, which is something that appeals to me right now.  Being black, it will complement many other items in my wardrobe.

I've been saving this button for some time, so now it has a home!  Thanks very much for stopping by to look!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lisette Dress BP277

Finished the Lisette dress, BP277.  The pic shows how easily the fabric crumples, and it also shows as quite a bit shinier than it actually looks "in real life".  It's very comfortable to wear and is a perfect work dress,  Now I just need to get some time to work on the pants project!

I'm also back at work on the seat cushion and pillows that I started for a friend ages ago.  We had quite a delay over a pattern for the window seat cushion, then I had a few sleepless nights over how I was going to accurately cut 3 inch thick upholstery foam.  You Tube to the rescue!  Who knew that an electric carving knife would cut it like butter?  Woohoo!  Now juat have to sew the cover and a few more pillows!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Now Appearing in my Sewing Room

I have not been sewing much lately.  I've been arriving home from work too tired to do anything precise.  My commute is about 50 minutes each way most days (I work from a local office 1 day a week) so whatever vim and vigor I have left at the end of the day is usually drained away by the time I get home.  Not a complaint - just the way it is.

Because of the lack of energy, I've turned to some pretty simple patterns to fill in the spare moments, as well as the holes in my wardrobe.  Here is what I am working on:

First, Butterick BP277, a Lisette pattern.  I really like the simple lines of this dress.  Perfect for those warm summer days, without being at all revealing.  Great for work.

And here is the fabric I chose from the stash.  This particular fabric was obtained from a friend who was given the fabric from another friend who was downsizing!  Free is my favorite price point for fabric.  It's a rayon, which seems to crinkle easily.

Then there's McCall's MP393, an easy pull on cargo pant.  I am ALWAYS in need of pants.  I'm making this one out of a khaki blended fabric which also came out of the "friend of a friend" box.

I hope you are enjoying spring!  Weather here is getting nice, so I've also been spending spare time on the yard as well.  So many competing priorities!  I'm sure you feel that way, too!  I'll [pst pictures of the completed garments when they are done.  Thank you for checking in with me!

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Downton Gala presented by WMHT

What a wonderful time we had at the Downton Gala, held by WMHT at the beautifully appointed Desmond Hotel in Albany.  The evening began with champagne and picture opportunities along with an impressive silent auction.

Here is my dress – an actual photo of me, in my dress.  I must say, I felt perfectly garbed for the evening.  I also felt a little blind because I did not wear my rather contemporary glasses.  The pictures came out mostly ok anyway!

And, here is the dress I spent so much time on over the late summer and fall.  This is the dress that started it all.  So becoming on my friend, don’t you think?

And our “dates” (well, husbands) were looking dapper as well. 

The crowd came fully dressed for an evening of 20s frivolity.  Most of the gentlemen wore tuxedos and the ladies were beaded and styled to the nines.  There were some very nice displays, including some lovely frocks!

The tables were set in grand Downton style, with fresh floral arrangements and elegant candelabras.

We had a wonderful time at the Gala – and we even took home a case of wine from the silent auction!  Thanks, WMHT, for a wonderful evening prior to the stateside airing of the final episode of Downton Abbey!  Now what will I do with my Sunday evenings?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Gala Next Week

The Downton Gala is next weekend!  The dresses are pretty much complete.  Using the illustration I posted, along with the basic One-Hour Dress directions courtesy of our good historical friend, Mary Brooks Picken, here are some pictures of my dress along the way.

I trimmed the neckline with the fringe lace I showed you as one of the first trimmings I purchased for this dress.  It seemed a little too simple though, so I added some flatback black Swarovski crystals (leftovers from a tutu I made years ago for my daughter).

I added a lower lace skirt as in my illustration.

And lace sleeves which are open along the inner arm.

This buckle makes a lovely embellishment to the lace belt.

I will be styling this with a long silver and crystal necklace, a crystal headpiece, a small evening bag, opera gloves (to be worn until dinner) and 1920's style T-strap shoes.  I'll post pictures from the event of the dress in full glory.  For once, I think the dress looks better on a live person than on Betsy, my ever trusty dress form!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

More Downton Designing

Another new year for the blog!  I sometimes find it hard to believe I’ve been at this for so long.  I love producing this blog, even if it is only a sporadic thing due to my many other commitments.  Thanks for stopping in when you get a chance to see what I write, when I get a chance!

This year Downton Abbey comes to a close on Masterpiece.  Our local PBS affiliate is having a gala to celebrate the show and some friends are going to the gala with us.  I have been working on my friend’s gown for a very long time.  Chiffon fabric and hand beading make for quite a project, but I think she’ll look lovely.  Almost done with the beading and final touches. 
Now I have to figure out what to wear myself.  I love the illustration here:

I purchased the instructions, but find that the instructions are for the generic dress of the period, not specifically for this illustration.  Can I figure it out?  Yes.  Did I want to be futzing around? No.  I’m only out $7.50, but I guess I didn’t need to spend it, as I could have figured it out from the picture independently.

The body of the dress will be black slipper satin.  Here are pictures of the lace and trim. 

I also purchased opera gloves, an antique clutch and period-ish shoes… I will still need a headpiece and a coat or cloak.  This soiree is in March.  In the Northeast.  Outerwear required.  Unless we dress at the hotel, which I guess is a possibility.  I’m very excited about making this gown, and even more excited about wearing it!  Stay tuned for each step of the way, along with pictures from the gala.  Did I mention that I’m excited?