Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Daily outfit: black and brown and a pop of red

So I was all set this morning to try out a semi-mori-inspired outfit with my newly altered Midsummer Night's Dream skirt. And then I actually got out of bed, and it was raining and HOWLING GALE SOUTHERLIES (which, for Northern Hemisphere readers, gust up pretty much straight from Antarctica and are made of cold and wrong and bad). Metservice said it was 4 degrees with windchill, which Google tells me is around 39 degrees in Fahrenheit. It was COLD. Lacy pretty things were out. Merino dress and fur and tights were definitely the order of the day (plus a coat and scarf and hat as soon as I stepped outside). The blouse/sweater combo I'm wearing is actually a sweater-dress, which I adore but which shrank in the wash the first time I washed it (I swear, I was doing everything right) and is now a bit too short to wear as a dress. GUTTING. But at least it'll get a load of use this winter tucked into other things, and bonus: it'll keep my bum warm. Oh, fashion, you are such serious business.

Details (click picture for larger version): Black merino sweater-dress, Fred Perry. Red riding hood embroidered skirt, Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Brown belt, Glassons. Black tights, supermarket. Brown slouchy boots, Overland Shoes. Pearl earrings, gifted. Brown fur stole, vintage, via my alteration. Red lipstick, MAC Russian Red.

Tuesday Tutorial: waistband alteration, plus a bow!

Oh gosh, I swear this was a Tuesday tutorial when I started writing it, even if the post-date does say Wednesday... I adore a lot of lolita print skirts, and this Alice and the Pirates Midsummer Night's Dream skirt is totally charming. However, it also came in only one size, like many lolita brand skirts. That one size is not my size. While my waist is only a couple of inches off, that couple of inches isn't going to disappear (unless I stop eating delicious things, and that's Not Going To Happen). So this alteration is one that I've now done to a couple of different brand skirts, and it's really very easy, especially if the skirt comes with matching waist ties. It's optional to add a new partially-shirred panel - you can do it as a flat panel instead - but including the elastic gathered channel hides the added panel extremely well and also adds ease for wear. 

As a bonus, I've also added a mini tutorial for making a bow out of the leftover waist tie fabric, since matching accessories are always fun. Sadly, in doing my wee bit of hand-sewing I was getting horrible nerve twinges in my wrist and fingers, so I think it's a sign that I need to avoid hand-sewing as much as possible. Let's hope that I can keep on with machine-sewing!

The main waistband alteration tutorial is aimed at those who have around an intermediate sewing level. You should be pretty confident with making gathered-waist skirts on flat waistbands, using a seam ripper, and optionally, with putting in a partial panel of elastic shirring.

The mini bow tutorial is aimed at those who have around a beginner to intermediate sewing level. You don't need to be hugely confident, and could probably even make this by hand if you don't have a sewing machine, but tools like sharp sewing scissors, an iron, deft fingers and some skill at hand sewing are probably useful.

Let's start with the alterations! The first step is to unpick the waistband from the skirt. The fabric on the left is the waist tie I'll be using to add a panel - if your skirt doesn't have waist ties, then you'll need to find some matching (or matching-ish) fabric for the extra panel insert. If it's going to be impossible to match, you can do what I did for the ETC skirt I'm wearing in this post and simply make an entirely new waistband, but in that case, this tutorial isn't necessary :D

I haven't shown the entire process in pictures, but once your waistband is unpicked, press it all flat to remove any creases from an old shirring panel. Decide how long you'll need your new waistband, and divide that measurement in half - this will be the front of the waistband. Mark the side-seam point on the band using a pin or tailor's chalk. For example, if you want to make a new waistband to fit 30", measure 15" from the end of the waistband which has the buttonhole, and make a mark at that point.

Measure from your marked point to about an inch from the other end of the waistband. We're leaving an inch because you'll need overlap for the button or hook-and-slide fastening. Find the centre of that length, and cut the waistband vertically at that centre point. For example, if the remaining length (less one inch) of the band is 12", cut it vertically at the 6" point.

Re-space your waistband and measure how much of a panel you will need to insert. Remember that you'll need to give at least 0.25" on each edge for seam allowance, probably a little more (your mileage will vary depending on how comfortable you are with small seams). If you're doing a flat panel here, then you'll just need to measure the extra width needed plus seam allowance. If you want to add elastic, then add another two inches or so for shirring.

Here's my panel all cut out - for the height measurement, open out the existing waistband and measure the width.

Pin your new panel in place, then sew it and press the seams open. I haven't interfaced this panel because the elastic I'm adding will give enough stiffness, but if you want it as a flat panel, interfacing is a good idea. This panel has now been inserted into the centre back of your waistband strip.

Re-gather the skirt to the new waistband length. It won't be quite as gathered, depending on how much extra width you've added, but most brand skirts have enough fullness to easily accommodate an alteration of a few inches.

Measure in and then sew your elastic strip into the new shirring channel, if you want a shirred panel. Everyone seems to have different ways of doing this, but my method is to fold it into the channel, sew it secure down one of the new panel seams, sew the channel closed, and then pull the elastic down to the other seam so that it can be sewn securely down that seam. I also like to add a centre line of stitching through all waistband layers, running down the elastic parallel to the gathered skirt, as this keeps the elastic even and stops it from bunching.

Once the elastic panel is secure, top-stitch the rest of the waistband again. You can either stitch in the ditch, or top-stitch very close to the gathered edge.

Here you can see that the front waistband looks basically as if it's never been touched, while the new panel in the back is also quite natural-looking and doesn't look like a home alteration. Using shirring for the added panel means that the seams for the added piece aren't that noticeable, and if your added-panel fabric doesn't quite match, shirring will help hide that too.

Once you've tied off all the loose threads, your skirt will be ready to wear :D I'm totally looking forward to wearing it tomorrow, perhaps in a slightly mori-inspired coordinate.

Using waist ties for a waistband alteration will leave you with ties that can no longer be used for a waist bow, but can easily be turned into pretty accessories. The cream grosgrain ribbon bow above is one I detached from a BtSSB dress and often wear bobby-pinned into my hair, and I wanted to make one a similar size. 

To make a similar bow, cut two rectangles of fabric - one 4" x 3.5", and one 4.5" x 3.5".

Fold your rectangles in half, right sides inside, and pin down the long edge. Sew this edge, leaving a gap in the middle (if you look at the larger rectangle, I left a gap in sewing between the two pins). You will now have two tubes of fabric, which have a hole in the long seam. Roll the tubes so that this seam runs down the centre of the rectangle, then press flat. Pin and sew the side seams closed. Turn your rectangles inside out through the hole you left in the first seam, and press flat. You can slipstitch the holes in the long seam closed if you like, but they basically get hidden once it's turned into a bow, so I didn't bother (because I am Lazy Like A Lazy Thing).

Cut another strip of fabric 3.5" long and 2" wide. Fold the long edges in about 0.5" on each side and press. Pinch your rectangles in the centre, and wrap your strip of fabric around it until you have a pretty bow. Fold in the raw edge of the centre strip, then fold again and pin it into the back of the bow. Hand-sew your bow secure. 

You can just bobby-pin this into your hair, attach a hairclip, or even sew on a brooch pin and wear this little bow as a cute brooch or bowtie, but I had a spare headband so I decided to make it into a cute, subtle side-bow.

I don't tend to wear matching hair accessories anymore, but I think this is subtle enough that I'll have fun coordinating it. Making a headbow is very easy - you simply have to cut and sew a tube of fabric long enough to cover your headband, then slide in the plastic band, fold and sew up the raw edges at the bottom, and sew the bow on in place. 

Good luck with the tutorial! If you have any questions, please do ask and I'll do my best to explain. :)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Double daily outfit: IW, ETC and a new winter coat

Oh gosh, I've been horrifically lax with posting. This is what happens when I'm hit with two weeks of flu followed by ultra-business both in and out of work. But I have plots up my sleeve for posts, oh yes! Watch out post-Easter, there'll be giveaway goodness and hopefully some new tutorials too. In the meantime, here's a double daily outfit - one from last week, and one from today.

Looking back at this makes me wistful - in only a week, winter seems well and truly to have set in, and outfits involving a cute little cardigan and heels aren't exactly practical in pouring rain and southerly winds straight from Antarctica. Yes, this is the third iteration of my IW Shoppes skirt - I really do adore it, as it's a more muted print and seems extremely versatile with what I already own.

Details (click picture for larger version): Pink/black silk knit shirt, Fred Perry. Cream high-waisted shoppes-print skirt, Innocent World, via my alteration. Black tights, possibly the supermarket? Cream lace cardigan, Portmans. Black/cream peep-toe heels, Magnini, via Ultra Shoes.

I've always adored Alice in Wonderland prints, and this ETC version is perfect for me - it's a lovely rich but muted blue, with a whimsical but not too little-girly print. However! It was also made to fit a 26" waist, which I am ... not. ETC skirts don't come with waist ties, and it would have been a little difficult to match the blue of the waistband to add an extra panel into the back (something that I'm planning a photo tutorial on for another skirt). So instead I took the skirt off the waistband and re-pleated it onto a new black velveteen band - I think the effect is quite lovely since the print has black in it and the hem has a band of black sequins. These ankle boots aren't my usual style, but I'm totally in love with them and quite like the contrast of studded boots with a sweet skirt and blouse.

Details (click picture for larger version): Blue Alice-print skirt, Emily Temple Cute, via my alteration. Cream silk chiffon pussy-bow blouse, Max via Trademe. Black tights, supermarket. Black faux-leather studded platform ankle boots with wood heels, Number One Shoe Warehouse. Yellow rose brooch pin, vintage gifted. Camel peacoat, Witchery.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Some links for your Sunday!

Or, you know, your Saturday. Whichever. I'm living in the future here, and also woke up at seven this morning because our clocks went back. OFFICIALLY AUTUMN, people. Winter is nigh. That said, I also ate pancakes in bed, so my morning was definitely not all bad.

  • Watch this if you adore beautiful shoes. Oh, Christian Louboutin, you so wacky and adorable. Someday I will be rich enough to buy your pretty things. 
  • Unknowledgeable Fashionista has been making me giggle all weekend - for serious, my flatmate heard me cackling all the way down the hall and immediately demanded what was so funny, because something that hilarious ought to be shared. I think this is my favourite thus far, because you can never go past a good Mean Girls reference (you go, Glenn Coco!). 
  • I find the concept of Slow Fashion really intriguing - it definitely intersects where I've been going/thinking with my style. I popped into a few high-street stores last week and found them overwhelming with the sheer variety - having gotten used to shopping in stores where there are maybe six racks, five print options and a clear theme, going to a giant cavern of a shop with ten different sections of style alone, a hundred racks to browse through and signs yelling SALE SALE SALE everywhere you look is a bit weird. I'm hardly the poster-girl for anti-consumption, but active thinking about how and why and where you buy is something I'd definitely encourage.
  • Madame Fancy Pants is having a sale! Speaking of consumption, ha. But they're an adorable local jewelllery-and-pretty-things store, they ship worldwide and their prices are in NZD so you might just pick up a bargain. My best friend and I visited yesterday, and she just got the feather bracelet which is SUPER-lovely and was handmade while we waited to be sure it fit her wrist just right. Ain't that sweet?
  • Also on the topic of pretty jewellery, I love the idea behind Smash Palace - they turn lovely but broken china into beautiful pendants, rings and brooches. I don't think I'll be smashing up my china collection any time soon, but a pretty china brooch might be just up my alley.
  • I utterly adore this illustration, done for Maximillia boutique. It's my favourite Karen Walker look of the season, and predictably everything was sold out before I could get to it. Sigh. Also, that boutique is LOVELY and I should stop looking at everything because ARGH IT IS TOO PRETTY. I think I might have to try my luck at making a similar bow-tie to Twenty Seven Names' silk tie because bows on blouses are always awesome.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Chanel: those rat bastards

Strong words! But I've finally gotten around to looking at the new collections from Fashion Week (being behind the times, it's super cool) and Chanel has left me a bit confused. On first watch, the menswear post-apocalyptic aesthetic combined with nods to the classic Chanel jacket was kind of awesome, but on browsing through the slideshow, I probably hate about 70% of what's going on. Jumpsuits! Pegged trousers! Horrendous low kitten heels! The occasional awesome knit and goth-as-fuck floaty dress cannot really make up for these things.

Things I liked: I found this coat grungily charming, and I quite like the styling too - it's a very wearable winter look, plus it could be dressed up easily. This dress made me go OH OH OH IT IS MY FAVOURITE because it's just so totally the Gothpocalypse Fairy Princess, although I would have liked to see it with different boots (possibly a little higher rather than this weird schlumpy socky ankle thing?) The preponderance of boots I do approve of - a solid flattish boot is imperative in winter, and these were pleasantly stompy without being overwrought army surplus-esque. There were a couple of long knit dresses which I think are totally beautiful - I really liked the knitwear in general, especially with the occasional pop of metallic. Jil Sander did metallic jumpers a little while back, and they always help to glam up an otherwise sombre, schlumpy and potentially dreary knit. 

I really like this dress - it has a silhouette I've been loving, with the giant puffed sleeves and the tunic-y dress, and I think it's adorably silly and someone should wear it to the VMAs or something of that nature. The surplus of trousers made me a bit sad because I am a skirts gal, so the few dresses I saw kind of jumped out at me. I also initially liked the vintage 50s-style boxy jackets in all their incarnations - houndstoothcropped, generally totally adorable (although not being particularly fond of trousers, I'd likely wear them over a pencil or circle skirt and thus totally ruin the edgy new menswear-meets-womenswear Karl Lagerfeld was undoubtedly going for).

BUT THEN. Apparently these cute little nod-to-the-past jackets are actually A SINGLE PIECE SEWN TOGETHER WITH THE OVERSIZED BLAZERS THEY ARE LAYERED OVER. Yes, that did need to be in all caps. Those rat bastards at Chanel, they couldn't just do a cute cropped vintage-style jacket and leave it alone, they had to sew it into an oversized boyfriend blazer. Ugh. And that leads me on, to...

The things I did not like: Jumpsuits. This flatters nothing. Absolutely nothing. The dropped waist jumpsuit needs to die in short order, please and thank you. For added oddity, here's a jumpsuit made out of quilted leather. Yes, I realise that it's a nod to the 2.55 quilted bag, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. If it was a pencil skirt, or just the quilted cropped jacket worn over something tweedy or knitwear, or ANYTHING other than a jumpsuit, I might have been more on board, but as it is, it is doing bad bad things to her crotch. And just because I'm a sucker for punishment, here is further proof that jumpsuits are never a good idea. Plus there's another appearance of those god-awful low kitten heels, which showed up throughout the whole show, and are unspeakably frumpy and awful. I'm utterly perplexed as to why you'd even use them in a runway show, when you can generally make models wear shoes as high as you'd like (unlike real life, where I would like to wear my hot-pink-and-cream suede five-inch platform heels every day but given that I have to do things like walk from the station to my office it's kind of impossible). 

I was also perplexed by this dress, because it just seems so utterly undesirable and foldy and weird, and this in its entirety left me screaming IT LOOKS LIKE STUDENT WORK. Overthought, overwrought, and her pants are SHEER FROM THE KNEE DOWN. WHAT. There were also a preponderance of pegged pants and oversized boyfriend blazers, of which this was the least awful, but STILL. The loose blazer and pegged trousers has been around for a while. Katie goddamn Holmes has been pegging her trousers and wearing them with an oversized blazer for nigh-on years. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE LIKE KATIE HOLMES, KARL?

So, in summation: jumpsuits, included quilted jumpsuits, pegged trousers, oversized blazers and awful low heels equals NO NO NO, but if I were to take inspiration from Chanel for this winter, I'd be all about the boots, the chunky-meets-glam-metallic knitwear, vintage tweedy jackets and perhaps a bit of Floaty Chiffon Goth just for fun. I shan't rescind my 'rat bastard' rating, because NOBODY should sew a perfectly decent cropped jacket onto an oversized blazer, but I think despite its oddities, there are some worthwhile looks hidden underneath the Menswear Grunge.