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Granite State of Mind

July 11, 2012

Summer. New Hampshire. Blue skies. Big rocks. Choppy fresh water. I put in a lot of hours on this lake/reservoir growing up. And jumped off this rock a lot, too! In fact, it was really strange scooting back down the makeshift gangway instead of jumping into the water. By the way, the picnic table is new on me – we always used driftwood or fallen trees.

I’m wearing this exact outfit as I type, which goes to show I’ve come round to blousy, loosey-goosey tops. How did that ever happen?! I consider them belonging in the realm of the lithe and thin-framed. Love the look of flowing fabric, dramatic drapes, but it would ultimately weigh me down and end in frump-fest. My body hasn’t changed all that much, so it must be the attitude. Or delusions. Or thrifted spotted silk. Maybe the warm temps and soothing breezes coming in off the lake. Whatever it is, I really like this top. More so because it was so ridiculously easy to sew, a total win in a sweltering sewing room. Especially after all the work on the shorts – more on them later.

This gem of a pattern is from the glorious yard sale booty two summers ago. Whoever Loraine Irish is, she was styling in ’82.

The silk was a major Goodwill score, in the form of an ugly gathered skirt (thanks for landing it in my hands, Ashley!) for $4.50. I have enough left for piecing or trims, though not another garment. I sewed up view 2, with a few minor adjustments. The pattern is a size 12 (bust 34″), and I’m a 10 according to the envelope (using high bust of 32″). Flat pattern measurements came in at 41.5″ 44.5″ (I initially blogged the waist measurement), a crazy amount of ease even for this look. So, I pinched out an inch on both the front & back, meaning a total of 4″, then followed suit with the yoke. Good enough for me. Not digging the facings, especially given the drape of the silk, I made some super-tiny bias binding for the slit neck, and simply turned the armscyes twice. The super-tiny bias binding has a super-tiny oopsy! I got a little feisty while cutting down the fold, and opened up all the way down to where the facing would end on the inside of the garment. Hello, cleavage! Once the binding was on, a 1.5″ slipstitch took care of that problem. Design feature. Yoke and side seams are French, and I utilized the existing hem of the skirt while laying out. Of course, I had to unpick a bit for the side seams, but it’s so much faster than measuring and sewing up a new blind hem.

I love how simply and breezy this blouse is. I was afraid it might turn out lunch lady at best, sloppy at worst. I think I’ve avoided that, but I’ll leave it for you to decide. And even if it doesn’t work for ya, that’s fine… it works for me. Maddie had a recent experience with an uninvited opinion on a slouchy, loose fit. Sheesh. I’ve toyed with belting this using a black leather obi belt Ryan gave me. It’s from Gordana (PR fame), and I’ve only worn it a few times. Aside from earrings and necklaces, I’m not all that fab at accessorizing. Maybe I’ll snap a photo and take a poll so you can weigh in.

In looking at the lines a bit more, I was totally struck by how similar it is to a shirt I’d recently seen and wanted to sew. Ry and I were having an awesome meal on our Texas trip, and I was so smitten with the blouse of our neighbor’s waitress, that I sketched it out with some notes. Not the first time, either! Ry just handed me a receipt-cum-bookmark that I’d drawn a pricey coat onto, in the store, passing over offers of assistance from sales staff. This was two years ago. Now I sometimes take a couple mobile shots of cool design details I’d like to incorporate. I’m sure I look like a counterfeiter, but often don’t even use the inspiration. And if I do, it’s for my own use, and never a total knock-off – just a detail or RTW construction technique. I’ve outed myself, and am fully prepared for the needles and shears headed my way :) But back to the blouse – with a few mods, I think I can get a similar look with a fabric in my stash.

Now onto the shorts. The color and length is fresh from the JC Penney catalog. I feel like I should get some crazy fabric and call them Jams. In reality, the length is due to these being a working muslin from the Jean-ius class. Although I haven’t been posting my progress, I’ve made three muslins from it so far, all studies in different fabric weights and stretch. The pair I’ve copied have elastane in them, and it was eye-opening to see the difference it makes. The first non-stretch draft I made was impossible to get on! Here’s the thing, though – I am so sick of stretch denim. I really want to get a solid jeans pattern down for a slim fit, non-stretch jean. I’ve never seen, let alone owned, selvage denim, but that’s what I’m going for. I remember a pair of 80s Jordache jeans that I bought new in college. They were straight, stiff and tight. And one of three pairs of pants I packed for my year-long stint in Russia after graduation. Like selvage denim, they eventually formed to my body. Until all the vodka and bliniy caught up with me.

The draft is getting close, but not perfect. This denim is not the best quality, and midweight. It’s leftover from my first pair of jeans, which I never wear by the way. The back on those dips down, the front is too high, and the length too short – I had just needed to finish them! Anyway, when I first tweaked these to what I thought was a decent enough fit, I went ahead with all of the faux flat-felling & topstitching. They were pretty much dead on while standing up. After a day of moving around, sitting, crouching, living, issues came to light. After three days – because who washes jeans after one wearing – the issues were in the spotlight. Sitting stretches out the rear, of course. This has made the under-bum a bit baggy, and also caused the lovely upward scoop of the back waistband to fall lower. I like that upward scoop for bending modesty. I’m going to simply pinch out more of the center back up near the waist, and bring the height of the yoke down 1/2″ to fix this. As-is, I’d never be able to go sans-belt. I’d really love to not need a belt after a few wears. But the question remains – how tight can I make the final pair in selvage denim? Of course, one can’t expect painted-on jeans. Some amount of bum mobility is necessary. One can’t go around standing on a conveyor belt. So, I’m down with the fact that a smidge of under-butt sag will happen over time. Yet I wonder if higher-quality selvage denim will stretch less, yet still be able to be squeezed into at initial wear. I’m hesitant to make this particular fabric extra snug initially, as I don’t quite trust it. Lastly, I will probably have to shift all of my outseams, which are now curved, because the point of selvage denim is to utilize the selvage (a straight line).

That’s a lot of thinking out loud. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with these. I didn’t add front pockets for the draft. I didn’t correct the curve of the outseam. But I did have fun with the back pockets! I always wanted an “L” embroidered on my shirts like Laverne. My sister has an “L” brooch that she’d better keep an eye on. I’ve been digging Amy’s pockets, too.

Here’s some cuteness, because we all love cuteness.

And here is some more cuteness. My dad turned 84 yesterday, so we celebrated early over the weekend. His health is changing quickly now, but boy is he still a charming man.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2012 6:49 pm

    Oh, you look so cute in the top and the shorts! I love that you’re embracing a looser silhouette this summer! It really seems like the thing to do in this weather!

    I’m interested to hear about your experiences working with the selvage denim. I’ve never worn it, either, but I’m very curious.

    Happy birthday to your pop! Hope you guys had a great weekend celebrating!

    • July 15, 2012 12:30 pm

      I know, right! I’m totally following this trend, and it’s one I’m glad to in this heat! I think I should play with some thicker twill/denim first, as I don’t want to waste a ton of money on selvage denim. It’s a little bit more expensive, considering you need more yardage to compensate for the narrow width. Hmmmm….

      And yes, it was a great weekend :)

  2. twilltapetiffany permalink
    July 11, 2012 7:46 pm

    I agree. Teach us about selvage. I will live vicariously through you (as usual).

  3. July 11, 2012 8:06 pm

    Oh that last picture is so precious. I want to hug my father now.

  4. July 11, 2012 8:42 pm

    First of all, love the top. I need to try my hand at jeans…will see what you come up with next.

    Your dad is adorable rocking that hat!

    • July 15, 2012 12:23 pm

      Thanks! They aren’t difficult to sew at all. The time is in the fitting. He’s too cute, and never without a hat!

  5. July 12, 2012 1:38 am

    Love it. What a beautiful blouse. Sorry to hear of the usual excess ease thing- man I though McCalls were bad! The pants seem to fit pretty well, and I like what you’ve done with the pocket detail XD Also best wishes to your dad!

    • July 15, 2012 12:22 pm

      Thanks! And again for the comment on my Daddy. The ease was nutters, even for the size it was meant to fit. I totally did a lazy way of solving the issue instead of grading the pattern :)

  6. July 12, 2012 10:20 am

    Oh Happy Birthday to your Dad!!! What a dapper gentleman! And gah! adorable puppy! I love that sort of loose and flowy top. They work best in silk and then they’re like, the best thing ever!! So I’m a bit biased. I would sew the shit out of that 80’s pattern! The jeans really look like they’re coming along. I do love the idea of making a pair of selvedge denim jeans and letting them “form” to me – but the stretch is so instantly gratifying!!

    • July 15, 2012 12:19 pm

      I’m surrounded by cuteness! I have to say, your flowy, loose style has inspired me :) Plan on sewing this thing again and again, and you’re right. Silk is the best for these styles, so dreamy. I can’t find any quality stretch denim in person. In no time at all, the instant gratification turns blech (for me, anyway). And then I have to pop them in the dryer to shrink, and eventually the stretch wears out. By that point I should probably toss the jeans, but I don’t!

  7. July 12, 2012 11:12 am

    I love that dog and his(her?) big ole stick. That’s “stick face”! It looks absolutely loveIy in that granite heaven and like you are having a nice summer. I forgot to mention when I saw you but there’s a guy that sells selvage denim made in one of the remaining North Carolina mills… I’m always curious about what it means to use the selvage at the edges. I remember Jordaches. I think my mom bought me a knock-off pair because we couldn’t afford them, but there was a whole ritual in grade school around squeezing them on.

    That blouse pattern is a winner! It’s a great summer piece. And you definitely have the figure for volume. I love trying to experiment and figure out proportions with exaggerated loose fits…

    • July 15, 2012 12:07 pm

      Stick face! She loves tearing all the bark off and spitting it aside :) I’ve had my eye on his shop for a while, and need to read his blog posts about jeans making. I assume the point is to have the selvage/red thread running up the outseam, which would mean totally shifting the pattern I have so far to account for curves. I can’t believe the luck in finding those jeans! They were deadstock in a vintage shop for $20! Good ol’ Rochester. Had to lay down to zip ’em up at first!

      Thanks for the sweet compliment :) I’m getting used to a little volume here and there, and photo documenting is such a great tool instead of playing the mirror game.

  8. July 12, 2012 1:11 pm

    Happy birthday to your papa. I love the silk blouse – what a steal to thrift it and not have to pay silk prices. As for your jeans – I would err on the side of making them a smidge small. It seems to be the only way to avoid saggy ass after a few days. Which would make fitting jeans really frustrating…. These look great though and I am excited to see your final product!

    • July 15, 2012 12:01 pm

      I know… I think I’m going to have to deal with discomfort at first while they break in. Tight and hot and minimal range of motion – maybe I should have tackled this project in the winter!

  9. July 12, 2012 3:17 pm

    Considering the fact that you are ROCKING the blousy blouse, you may have to come to terms with the fact that you are, indeed, lithe and slim ;)

    Beautiful pics – your dad is so cute! ^__^

    Oh and I TOTALLY take pics of garments that inspire me in public. I just use my iphone…. i’ve gotten dirty looks from shop workers but who cares :P

    • July 15, 2012 11:58 am

      Haha! Well, my frame will never be Twiggy, but I’m fine with that. I’m soo glad I’m not the only one sneaking iPhone shots :) I suppose dirty looks could be avoided in the dressing room, but that’s too much time :P With my old phone, it would have been futile to take any detail shots.

      He’s a sweetie, for sure :)

  10. July 12, 2012 7:16 pm

    Oh, my goodness! I made that top–the same view–in the late 70s and early 80s. Might have been a different pattern number/company, but it was the same style! Although I usually had to make an FBA in purchased patterns, I also had to eliminate some of the excess fabric throughout the body of the top. Also had to lengthen it–the pattern I had featured a fairly short (barely to hip bones) length, and I need tops a bit longer to minimize my short waist. It’s a great style solo, belted or with an unstructured jacket.

    Glad you’re enjoying the retro style!

    • July 15, 2012 11:52 am

      That’s too funny!!! Do you still have it? That would be awesome! The pattern was definitely a size too large, but even if it had been in my size, there was a crazy amount of ease, even for a loose style (in my opinion). I was actually thinking about shortening this an inch. As-is it starts to bunch right at the bottom (due to my hips), yet I wouldn’t want to make it wider at the hem.

  11. July 26, 2012 11:55 am

    Adorable Lavender!! Your dad is so cute. Love the blouse and the puppy. Denim is looking badass as well!!


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