Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kittens at AWA

Hello, if you have come to this site because you received one of my business cards about adopting a kitten, please email me for setting up a time/date.  Email is ladykatza (at) gmail (dot) com.  

My apologies to my regular followers for the double post.  Lets just say that having seven kittens is why I've not done much sewing. Back to regular schedule soon! 

The Gunny Sax Dress

I recently had a revelation about some of the horrible patterns from late 70's into the early 80's. It was after a young lady came into my friend's booth during Dragon*Con.  She had on this BEAUTIFUL, obviously vintage dress that was maxi, form fitting, with lace and lovely details.  The sleeves were just a bit poofy, but not overly so. I asked her where she got it and she said, with a bit of exasperation  "Its just a vintage Gunne Sax dress, you can find them online".

Well, I went looking, but I was typing "Gunny Sacks" or.. some variation there-of... Finally, after some more sleuthing I realized she meant the dresses by Jessica McClintock, The Gunne Sax dress, or "prairie dress" that some of the hippie movement made popular. Examples:

Buy here

For Sale Here

OMG... aren't those the most drool worth dresses ever?  They are beautiful and well made, and I  definitely can see why people would want one after seeing it in person.  However, it looks like if you are over a modern size 6, you're probably SOL on getting one that fits unless you want to look matronly. But it did explain these patterns:

Those pattern covers look pretty hideous, right? No where near what the originals look like, and if you can't do the translating in your head you go "ICK!!".   Then it dawned on me that my blue gingham dress is much in the same vain as these dresses.  The wrong material and execution and you go from Romantic to Boner Kill (yes, I went there).  Oui.  I get compliments every time I wear my gingham maxi, so I'm going to assume I managed Romantic.

After seeing the orginal vs. the patterns, do you think you might be willing to try a hand at making a dress from these obvious knock-off patterns?

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Name is LadyKatza and I'm a Fabricoholic

If you haven't seen Marina's post about "10 Signs that you are a Fabricoholic", go read that then come back.

Ok, ok, this is probably a running joke among anyone with a passion for sewing.  Its probably a running joke among our children on "What are we going to with all this fabric when Mom's gone?".   After my Mother-in-Law retired she realized that her sewing budget was pretty much non-existent, so gave up fabric for Lint. No, I'm not kidding. She hasn't bought new fabric in two years, has an entire room full of fabric and managed to make 50 (YES 50) vests for the church play with her stash.  I think she gets the award for "best stash busting project ever".  Somewhere in the bowels of my computer is a photo of my three year old daughter sitting in a huge box full of buttons in her sewing room. She has STACKS of boxes filled with vintage lace, zippers, buttons, and so on (Much of it comes from her mother, who was a seamstress for the RTW industry up until she retired, back before all that went overseas).  Honestly, I try to raid her stash for those things before buying anything new.

I thought I was doing pretty well in controlling the urge to buy fabric, but I was wrong. I just added up all my expenditures from the last year on fabric alone. I almost had a heart attack. I'm not sure I've spent that much on CLOTHING in a year. Shoes, maybe. Not clothing. In fact, I took stock of what is in my closet and most of my clothing is between 2-10 years old and still wearable. I kind of take a long-term outlook on my purchases. But not fabric buying. In fact, here's a photo I pulled off my phone of this summer's fabric haul alone:

So much!
Uh. Yeah. *sighs*

So this brings me to the point I ended up making to myself with crunching numbers. I haven't exactly been editorial with my sewing. As Mrs. Sewaholic put it, "too much icing".  I'm probably a bit better than many on this, as I have pieces that are versatile and go through heavy rotation. I need to think more about why those are in rotation and plan in that direction. Hoping on  Sunni's bandwagon of making companion pieces for the NWG (never worn garments, or orphans, as I like to call them) in her closet.

So stay tuned, I'm gonna come up with a game plan here shortly and share it with you.  Also, I've done a lot of re-organizing and plan to do some more.  I'm hoping I get new shelves for my cutting table sometime around Christmas.  I've got a few Before and After photos. And I haven't forgotten about Halloween!  I still have to write-up and send out my interviews, then pester people nicely to get them back to me.

So what are you doing to try and curb the fabric buying impulse?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Horde Shirt

I sewed something!!  The buttons go the wrong way for a men's shirt (The precedence for why this is even an issue in the first place is strange, and religious in nature), but doing it the 'correct' way would have messed up the pattern placement.  I didn't bother with a top button, as Simon probably wouldn't bother with it anyway.  This is McCall's 6226, which is out of print now, and really a shame too. Its a very versatile pattern if you have growing boys.

This is World of Warcraft "Horde" print that I got from Spoonflower some time ago.  I had promised to get it done for school, but failed, so this has sort of been a blockage in my creative output because I felt guilty for not finishing it.  I feel better now, and hopefully I'll be able to get the juices flowing.

In any case, I have a happy young man right now.  I'll do more construction details later.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shopping List or To Do List?

atom slicer
I can't help but think this strange bit of paper has something to do with my kids' current Minecraft obsession. I caught my daughter in the ipconfig file of my husband's computer and was like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!?!".

She huffs and says "Building a multiplayer server, of course."

Oh yes, of course, what was I thinking, silly Mom.  Sheesh.  Don't I know anything? But all that came out of my mouth was "Do you know the difference between IPv4 and IPv6?"  The discussion got weirder from there. My nine year old now knows more about internet protocol than the average person on the street. Not that she really cares, she just wants me to play with her.  I told her only if there are zombie squirrels. (That mask still has sunglasses on.  Maybe I'll decorate him for Christmas, it will go well with my Portal Tree.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Favor For a Friend

Native American Turquoise and Silver Squash Blossom Necklace

I have a friend that has  fallen on some hard times.  She recently lost medical insurance and had to have a major surgery, so is selling off some of her jewelry to pay for bills.  We're the kind of friends that share jewelry and borrow each other's clothes, and so I know that this piece is the real deal. Its been appraised for a lot more than she's asking.

If you know anyone that would like to buy this necklace, or you can't just live without it (I'd buy it, but I don't have the money right now, that whole HVAC issue and all).  You can buy it here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Life Imitating Art

Avengers as Gowns by Kelsey Michele

You know why sewing geeks are awesome? Because they take the above photo, and do this:

Avengers Evening Gowns at Dragon*Con Assemble

So, I'm thinking of doing Black Widow (third in from the left in top photo) next year. Hell, I want to make that even if I don't go. 

As a side note, these lovely ladies were part of the Costuming Track, and did a fashion show in which I modeled for my friends at Wolfhome Adventuring. There's a pic of me in a kimono on my facebook page during the con, but I wore a steampunk outfit of their's in the show.  Photos of me in the fashion show have yet to surface.

This also leads me into another thing.  I was thinking of doing a whole month dedicated to costuming, as I have some awesome peeps I can interview on the subject.  However, Peter of Male Pattern Boldness beat me to it, and now he'll probably think I'm copying him or something.

But I'm game to do that if ya'll are interested. You know how much I love costumes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ralph Lauren Spring 2013

Oh, how I love thee, let me count the ways! Seriously, one day I shall have enough money to buy one of these beauties, but until then I will lust from afar and gain inspiration.

For my day look, how about a flirty skirt in Ultrasuede, red and blue. YES PLEASE!

This drop waist makes me think of Mrs. Isis

You have to see this move to appreciate it!
I would wear this outfit. The whole thing. In fact, I've been looking desperately for a crochet skirt.

He even gave us some maxi stripes, just for miss Oona. I'll take the jacket, she can have the dress.

SO MUCH DRAMA! In this look... again, I'll take the whole thing, and I don't even like white on me.
Speaking of drama, how about this? Red and Black together, my two favorite things!

I don't know about you, but I'm in love.

(All photos from

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Seventies Dress: The Making Of


I think I might have promised some constructions notes on this some time back, right?  Well, here goes.  I went ahead and measured all the pattern pieces and determined that, for the most part, it would fit. I just needed to make a FBA.  Even though the cowl neck portion is cut on the bias, I didn't think it would stretch enough, or that it would but look bad.  Here's how to do an FBA on this type of princess seam.

1) First, go ahead and trace 1/2 of the bodice piece.  Trying to do both halves will make you to stab yourself in the leg, so don't do it. Trust me.

2) Go ahead and hold the traced piece up to yourself, wear a cami or something that you can pin it to, mark your bust apex.

3) Tape it over some other piece of paper.

4) This is very similar to the Roobios FBA (seriously, go read it), but I didn't want a side dart, so I put all the fullness into the underbust gathers.  You will want to redraw the stitching line using a French Curve.  And also, due to paranoia, I added about .5 inches of length. Which turned out to be a very bad idea. More on that in a minute.

Ok, so moving on to construction.  This thing is a FABRIC HOG! Seriously,  Ooona sent me over four yards of this fabric and in the end I had enough left over to make my daughter a top.  The thing about these sort of slippery slinky knits is to be very careful that you don't stretch it when laying it out in any way.  I was using the ironing board to pool the excess fabric on because I could only cut one large skirt panel out at once. I didn't take photos of this part, I was busy swearing and stressing out my husband. He got over it, eventually.

In any case, I had this clever plan of using bias cut fusible interfacing, also a lesson in things Not TO DO.  You can't get the iron hot enough for it to stay put.  I did manage to use the velvet pressing board my Mother left to me (those things are expensive! If you ever find one under 100 dollars GET IT RIGHT THEN).

needle boards also like to collect thread
In any case, I managed to get the whole thing cut out and sewn up in one night, to the point where I could try it on. Then tragedy struck!

saggy boob
The dreaded Saggy Boob (said in Heidi Klum's voice)! NOOOOOOoooOOoooo!!!  I had a complete meltdown that resulted in my husband handing me a xanax and chamomile tea and telling me to go to bed.

I tackled it again after my short work week. If the left side looks better, that's because I have it pinned up here.  I ended up taking a good inch and a half in pinning it, went over it with a triple zigzag stitch and clear elastic for stability (and added it to the shoulders), then trimmed excess fabric. Carefully.  Hooray! It Worked!

To be honest, all I did for finishing the edges was turn it under twice and use a tiny zigzag.  Facings on this stuff? NOT HAPPENING. Also, finding matching thread was almost impossible, but I ended up going with dark red on the serger and a dark purple in my Mom's Viking. I really wish my Brother had been operational at this point, its a lot happier to work on knits.

Oh right, the after on dealing with Saggy Boob.

One day, I'll get new floors. *sighs*
I didn't bother to hem it, it really didn't need it in this case.  And of course, I still haven't gotten more photos of me in it.  Here's a slightly different phone photo than the one I posted before.

This are serious face, I are serious Time Lord. I have evil eyebrows, too.  

Alright then. I hope that was in some way enlightening. Also, this did show me that, other than the rounded shoulders, my doppleganger is pretty close to my proportions and reliable for early fitting.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tim Gunn's New Book

‎"I love the word "fashion."That's why I'm using it in the title of this book. Fashion is about change and about creating clothes within a historical context. To me, dissmissing fashion as silly or unimportant seems like a denial of history and frequently a show of sexism - as if something that's traditionally a concern of women isn't valid as a field of academic inquiry." - Tim Gunn in "Fashion Bible"
I just bought this in the kindle version and I'm still in the introduction. And I'm in love with it. If you haven't yet, GET THIS BOOK!  I can already tell it will be amazing. Also, he touches on a subject which I recently read an essay on about 19th century feminism and fashion and how they are linked.  Expect this to be a blog post soon. In the mean time, read a book!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Heads Up Fashion

You know, I've read a few things about Diane von Furstenberg lately that make me like her as a person. And I usually like at least one or two of her pieces, but the spring line pushed my nerd button because she featured none other than Google Glass, the heads up display glasses right out of science fiction.

Really, it was pure ingeniousness on her part.  Forbes has a great article on the collaboration that you can read in full here. But the most exciting part is this:

Apparently she and Brin met at a conference this summer and figured they should push fashion and tech further into the future. Indeed, DVF clothing is strongly feminine, always refined, and the models who wore the glasses in pink and white versions pulled it off with aplomb. (Some wore glasses that recorded the whole show, and the footage will be made into a short film available at on Thursday.)

You can watch the show from the model's perspective. HOW FREAKIN' COOL IS THAT??

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Accidental Dior Dart

I don't know how many of you follow Patter~Scissors~Cloth, but you totally should. There is a wealth of information on her blog, including the Ready To Wear Tailoring series, which is when the project I am working on now started. Like... eons ago. So lets do a memory refresh shall we?

Remember this cropped jacket/bolero thing I was going to do for the RTW tailoring? Well, while searching through my, now rearranged, boxes I came across the muslin I had started way back when. And since I'd been thinking about how badly my wardrobe was lacking in jackets I also thought "hey... I should finish this!". And suddenly all the things I've been practicing and reading are starting to come together, like such:

Uh,wait, how did that get in there? That's not my jacket!  It is, however, the kittens up for adoption right now.  You know you want to! LOOK AT TEH CUTE! Anyway, moving along.

Here we go!  This is after I did a FBA on an armhole princess seam. Its better than not fitting (no photo of original), but uh... messy. So I undid the right side and started repinning to get the right lines.  And that's when I discovered I really needed a dart. So I pinned and marked and this is what it looks like from the front now. At first I though the princess seam dart would be a dead dart, but nope, its staying. Sorry its a bit blurry...

Also... I needed a dead dart to prevent gaping. Look how much better that is!

Oh, yeah, the back gape in the armhole. That goes away when I put it on with shoulder pads because I have rounded shoulders.  A feature that was hard for me to translate when padding out the dress form. My 70's dress, however, confirmed that in everything else its a pretty darn good replica.  Wrinkles are from the thing being in a box for over a year.

Overall, I'm pleased as punch, though I do need a bit more width in the back, which I think I can do just by adding 1/4 inch to the center back seam, though I'm trying to determine how to do that without expanding the neckline. Suggestions?

Also, I've decided on the Simplicity trousers for my first TNT pattern in that respect. I have enough of the fabric to do a matching bolero/trouser set which would be awesomely obnoxious, IMHO.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One Year Later

I still miss her.  Every day I have some moment that I think about her, want to share something with her, and realize that I can't anymore. I remembered a few photos I had found of her when she was young and scanned them here.  One is a Christmas photo in a green dress she made. That raised eyebrow? Yeah, that eyebrow would send me scampering when I knew I was in trouble. You did not mess with "The Look". The other photo, I'm not sure what it was for, possibly for a theater production, but it is so ethereal it needed sharing. Even this young her eyes held so much.

Dragon*con ended up being too hard for me emotionally. I tried, I did, but I couldn't really hold it together, even on the day the kids were with me.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the future now because every year these two events will coincide.

That said, the kids had a blast the one day they were with us. So many people loved Simon's costume, he definitely stole the show.  For that, at least, I felt appreciated because so many said "You are lucky to have such a talented Mom".

As for my River Song dress, well I didn't get any more photos.  And there is quite a few other things I've been working on that I haven't talked about at all here. There is so much I want to do, and share, in order to spread my love of sewing and creating with others. Things that I know would have made Mom proud. So all that said, I will do my hair and makeup and attempt to get more photos of the dress and other projects, since I'm off the rest of the week. One of the things that should help photos in the future is getting my backdrop/curtains setup.

I hope everyone will stick around for the fun to come. Much love to you all!