February 6, 2016

The lounge-dress

Just a little disclaimer: Despite the long wait, the pictures of this dress aren't great. Today was cloudy and actually a bit too dark to take pictures indoors, but indoors is this dress's natural habitat. And the orange fabric proved surprisingly difficult to photograph.

Anyway, this is the dress I decided to make about two weeks ago. Something very comfortable, in jersey. Something to put on after a long day when you don't plan to leave the house anymore but realize you may have to open the door... So, not a robe, not a nightgown but not a proper dress either.
That kind of meant it had to be long. For lounging around, I like warm legs without the need for stockings or pantyhose. And, as I mentioned before, I had some black jersey in my stash which really wasn't good for anything else.

I made the skirt, bodice and sleeves as sketched and decided to decide on a neckline at the last possible moment. I rotated the width for the bust darts to the neckline and ended up just hemming the neckline and making tucks for that shaping. 

Those sleeves are becoming a bit of a feature on my self-drafted home-wear. I made robe two years ago which also had full sleeves with fitted jersey cuffs. The reason, in both cases, is a practical one. Even in my lounge-wear, I want to be able to do things like sewing, eating and even cooking. The wide sleeves of so many robes are really unpractical for that and this type of sleeves is much better. Look-wise it has all the drama of full sleeves but none of the risk of dragging them through the pans...

I am quite pleased with the dress. It is very comfortable (in fact, I have already worn it on two evenings this past week) and although it is a very different look for me, it is actually quite elegant.  

February 3, 2016

Time travel?

Here's another gem from my grandmother's house. We keep being surprised by pictures and items which passed way down the generations of the family before they even ended up with my grandparents...

Just look at these pictures...

Doesn't that look like a real-life version of The Paradise?

And real-life, it definitely was! One of the gentlemen in these pictures is my great-great-great-grandfather, who was working at the department store Grand Bazar de la Paix as "Chef de Service". 
I'm not sure what that job description actually means but it sort of sound like "customer service manager" to me. It kind of suggests he was in charge of something which is likely considering the fact that he held that position when he was about 40 years old. 
And I don't even know which one he is...

What I do know is the where and when of these pictures. The first one was taken in 1906, on the occasion of the opening of the Grand Bazar, which was the largest department store in the Netherlands at that time. 
The most recent of the pictures is from 1909.

And where was this impressive store? Well, it was literally just around the corner from where I live today! On one of the main shopping streets in the center of The Hague. Just across the road from "de Passage" a shopping passage which is still there now. 
The old building isn't there anymore. There are several buildings along that street (along with the passage) which probably date from around 1900 but on the spot suggested in the information my father found there are much newer buildings. 
I really should try to find out more about it...  

January 30, 2016

Another climbing top!

Ok, I really hope I am not boring you with these. This top was actually made from the very same pattern as this one (which you can see in action here) and the only reason why I am posting this is the simple fact that the combination of fabrics in this one makes the arrow design on the back more visible. 
One day, I should go climbing with a third person so I can get some pictures of me climbing high walls wearing this (and a climbing harness)... Then we'll see if the arrow starts making sense ;)

I made this top because I really like wearing the first one. Initially I thought I didn't really need a top with a built-in sports bra but is very nice to wear, nicer than the one without. Which means that, to serve my current climbing schedule, I'll probably make another one. Although a new sporty cardigan and maybe warmer trousers will be up first.

You may notice that I am using handholds and steps in a variety of colours in these pictures... Yes, that is right. I am not climbing an actual route here. The part of the climbing hall dedicated to bouldering was very busy with lots of children so I improvised in a quiet corner. 

I think I did manage to show some moves which are belong to the repertoire of a slightly more experienced climber though...

January 27, 2016

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2016

It's here! Earlier this week, Marie and Kerry announced this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. I'm usually no good at joining sew-along-like activities but this is a challenge I have really enjoyed for the past two years. So of course, I joined again.

For this year, I, Lauriana, pledge to make at least six items from vintage patterns in my stash (which may include knitting machine projects). I want to focus on exploring new-to-me styles and making things I will really wear (I know those two might contradict each other, but they don't both have to apply to each project). 
Besides that, I think it would be nice to do my bit to spread the love of vintage sewing...
So, I will also try and share six original vintage sewing (or crafting) projects with all of you. Mostly, these will be in the form of translations of those "draft according to these instructions" sewing projects which were so popular in so many of my vintage magazines. However, I have every intention to also turn one pattern from one of those labyrintine tracing sheets into a PDF pattern... in July, when Marie and Kerry present their month of blog posts about the pledge.  

January 25, 2016

Comfort sewing

This weekend, I started sewing a new dress. Not a vintage style dress and not a modern one. A comfortable dress, a garment to put on after a long day, to wear when snuggling on the couch with a good book. Or when sewing ;)
I know people wear things like yoga pants with t-shirts for such occasions but, let's face it, that is just not me.

My apologies for the sketch. I know it's hard to see those pencil lines.

Obviously, the right fabric for a project like this is jersey. Soft and stretchy. And I happened to have a piece of black cotton jersey of almost 3 meters. A nice fabric but not suitable for many things. There is no lycra in that fabric at all and, as a result, it has no recovery. I made a top from it once but it bagged out during wear and didn't really regain it shape in the laundry. Oh, and it had no vertical stretch at all
Odd properties which make it unsuitable for fitted garments but great for a skirt.
And the one fabric in my stash which I really liked with that black stuff was this burnt orange jersey. A nice colour, but the fabric is thin and soft. Viscose jersey. I thought it might stretch out badly with that big heavy skirt, so I decided to underline the bodice. I used grey striped lycra, the material I have used for slips before. 

I'm not sure about neckline yet, or about the sleeves really. But I did decide on a fitted bodice and a gored skirt, to be connected in a way which is interesting and yet not too difficult to sew.

And it is working.
So, now I am sewing skirt pieces to that double layered bodice and wondering whether or not I will really end up liking this dress style-wise. 

January 22, 2016

Bella 1951

It has been a while since I have shared any random vintage loveliness. So, today I have for you Bella magazine from January 1951:

Bella was a Dutch magazine which was (as far as I know) at least published from the late 1930's to the late 1950's. It is essentially a more glamorous cousin of Marion: It is larger in size, includes news about high fashion AND a tracing sheets with patterns for all the designs in each issue (although still in one size only).

This was the fashion news, with photographs! One design by Jacques Griffe, one by Jean Peton and two by Maison Alwyn (ehm, obviously you don't get patterns for designs in the fashion news...).

Griffe is the only one of those three design houses I am familiar with and this great evening gown is his creation. With pockets and a huge collar!

I also adore the Alwynn creations:

This gloriously draped jersey dress,

nd the special suit with fold-back details.

And then, there are the magazine's own designs and this month starts with the most eye-catching ones possible: Wedding gowns. And, on the far right of the page, some pretty great dresses for the mother of the bride.

After that, it is on to more every-day wear: 


Every issue includes a pattern which is shown in many variations. This time, it's a dress.

Boy's clothes

Coats and dresses.

January 17, 2016

Feelin' groovy

There is one New Year's resolution I came up with after all: Sewing from stash. And I do not mean that I will try and find a fabric in my stash for the items I have just dreamt up. I always try to do that. I mean I will try and make myself go through my stash (which is pretty big) regularly and come up with projects based on the fabrics which are there (the only item which is getting a fabric buying free pass at the moment is that 1920's dress...). 

These trousers are a first example of that new policy. I have three large pieces of corduroy in my stash, bought at about the same time as the material for my orange dress. The fabric was very cheap at the market, only 1 euro a meter if I remember correctly, and maybe a bit retro in style but made of cotton and nice. I think I had earmarked all af the corduroy for 1950's style dresses but I tend to do that, get carried away with a type of sewing project I like. 
When I had a look at those pieces last week, I realized that the very dark brown fine-wile corduroy actually had stretch. Stretch which made it a lot less suitable for the dress I had mind and very good a pair of 1970's inspired flared trousers. 

So, I made those. 

Nothing fancy really. I used the pattern I had made for these jeans but changed the back, from back yoke to darts. And I made the legs flare out a lot more. I also made them longer. When I made the jeans, I had only just enough fabric and I prefer trousers like these to be on the long side. In fact, I could have made them longer yet.
There's nothing that can make you look so long-legged as flares and heels...

I used to wear and sew flared trousers regularly but I seem to have veered away from them in recent years. It is still a a look I feel comfortable in though. And I wanted to experiment with 1970's looks in this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge anyway. 

Oh, and these trousers finally give me an excuse to wear my big floppy hat!