Monday, April 23, 2012

Boho Skirts Craving

Making the second muslin for my Burda Couture Challenge, I am craving some instant-gratification project that is striking, versatile and easy to wear. So, here I am re-discovering Boho skirts, and I especially love the styling of these YSL SS2012 beauties:

I am thinking of using paisley Liberty cotton. It is semi-sheer, so I might underline it.

I do have a white shirt to go with it - it makes the whole look so fresh and city-appropriate. Without a shirt it is a beach outfit. The only thing missing is a striking belt - but I have an idea...

What about you, readers? Do you like long skirts? How do (would) you style them? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Couture Camp: Field Dispatch #3. Alençon Lace

Readers, this is another lace sample from Susan. What you can see here is how seams are finished on a Alençon lace blouse, and how the lace is appliqued to painstakingly match the motifs.

Here, you the armhole seam is bound with flesh-colored silk organza, which virtually disappears against the skin. This technique can be found in Valentino's Haute Couture pieces
Here, the motifs along the side seams are overlapped, trimmed and appliqued using tiny fell stitches... 

...The  same seam from the inside.
Lace scallops were appliqued to the front edge to follow the scallop edge of the hem.  
Thanks for following these little dispatches. Hope you can learn from these examples as well. Two more pieces to go!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Couture Challenge: the first project completed!

I keep on talking about my Couture Wardrobe Challenge with BurdaStyle, but have never posted any details about it here, on my blog. I have been guest blogging for BurdaStyle for a while now, mostly covering couture-related topics, and one day, while we were discussing upcoming posts, the idea of creating a small couture wardrobe based on BurdaStyle patterns was born. One style a month, from the most current issue! If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that I am a Burdastyle fan, and have been for looong time. So, it was time I start using all those pattern magazines piling on shelves.

AND, I was very happy that Susan Khalje agreed to be a couture mentor in this project, giving me a few tips on how to handle some challenging parts of each project. These tips are published in a preview post, including some details on planning, fitting and materials. The final garment, as well as an overview of techniques used to complete it, is featured three weeks later.

Image: Emmy Rengfors, Burdastyle
The April project was based on a skirt and a blouse from BurdaStyle Bella Donna feature. Couture techniques in this first post include faced waistband boning and working with Chantilly lace - here are some details (also featured in my Burdastyle blog):

It took me more time than anticipated and so, this time, I have already started working on my May project. Meanwhile the finished April project, including detail shots and techniques, has just been posted on Burdastyle Blog.

BUT before you head over to BurdaStyle to check out the post, I wanted to tell you that I got couple of tutorials and some extras from this first project lined up for you, readers! So, check in the next few days for a detailed how-to and couture tips!!! And thanks for all your support!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

BurdaStyle May 2012: My favorite picks

Can you imagine, a month has passed since I posted my April favorites - and here I go again blogging about my May picks. The new issue features quite a few interesting pieces construction-wise. And vintage-inspired pieces are very cute as well. 

A beautiful linen dress - reminds me of Victoria Beckham style.
The yellow curve is very flattering as it tricks the eye and slims and elongates the body - perfect for curvy or petite women. In addition, I think, the dress is very smart - all the shaping is achieved through the curved seams that function the same way as in the princess line dress!
Tunic is the same pattern as the dress above, and I love the shape of these linen pants
I love how easy this project is - it is a skirt and a blouse, which use mostly straight seams.  Even with the couture version you won't spend much time fiddling with it. 
I also like the silhouette of this dress from their Inspired-by-Tennis feature,  minus humongous pockets that would fit the rocket and tennis balls if you decide not to carry a bag. It is a great project for textured cotton - focus on fabric!
more high-waisted goodness! always a fan of high-waisted skirts! maybe some day... oh, and the coral color is gorgeous!!!
Cute blouse - interesting idea with the lace, but it looks a little crafty, readers, won't you agree? Check out the close-up to see what I mean. The blouse and the lace have separate lives. I mean, the lace look as if it was pasted on the blouse! Is it the shape of it, or the edges, or anything else? To me, the gathering at the neckline is a problem too - If I made this style, I would gather the shoulders only, and redraft the neckline to eliminate the excess fabric. 
This vintage-inspired blouse from their California Dreamin' feature can look so pretty in eyelet or guipure. It is buttoned up in the back - cute!
Another California Dreamin' piece. This is a dress, actually... It has something, but I cannot quite warm up to it. Maybe towards winter...
finally, this piece - love the simple style. It can look quite chic in many fabrics.  
One of these is the next project for my Couture Challenge on BurdaStyle. And since I cannot quite yet reveal it I wanted to ask you, which one would YOU pick? And why? - maybe you will change my mind...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Camp Couture: Field Dispatch #2

Dear readers, here I am again with some goodies from the Camp Couture. The pictures below feature, in my opinion, one of most interesting and inspiring couture techniques by Susan Khalje. Interesting, because I have seen different treatments of the same stitch on her sample couture garments. I am talking about the prickstitch, a.k.a. pickstitch.

As you may know, p(r)ick stitch is often used for a hand-picked zipper, as well as for understitching. It is a tiny back stitch that secures several layers of fabric where they are most prone to shifting. (For those who are not familiar with this handstitch, check out this tutorial by Kenneth D. King on Threads Magazine website).

Now, have a look at Susan's treatment:

A lace yoke dress - bodice 

The lace yoke dress: the bodice is understitched with tiny beads
Here three beads are used for each stitch, forming a very pretty pattern.
I liked this dress very much, because of the yoke and this p(r)ickstitch treatment  and will try to apply it in one of my future couture projects. I think it will look lovely on the navy linen dress I am making for Susan's Couture Dress Class on Craftsy.com...

And, again, thanks to Susan for letting me share this images with you! I hope they will inspire you to try this technique in your projects!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Giveaway for my Facebook page friends!

Dear readers, I wanted to thank everyone who supported my Facebook page in the past couple of weeks. While the blog allows me to post longer pieces, upload tutorials or write reviews, Facebook helps me keep my finger on the pulse of the online style and sewing community!

So, having enjoyed interaction with you there, I am giving away the April 2012 issue of Burdastyle magazine! The giveaway runs on FB and is open to all my Facebook page friends. To participate, leave a comment on my page by Thursday, April 12.

Here are, again, my favorite styles from the issue:

Don't you say 'rustle'!

Readers, it's time for linguistics! Ok, couture-related linguistics, no worries, I am staying on track!

Here is the proof - a beautiful couture taffeta gown:

Here - "England's Italian football manager Fabio Capello claims he can manage his players with just 100 words," BBC's Peter Jackson writes. This is extreme, right? But, honestly, sometimes, when I hear some people talk on the street, or while commuting, I am surprised how they can manage to communicate complex situations with about 15 (?) words!!!!

We don't want to be so far down the food chain, readers, right? So, let's believe that we all actively use more than 1,500 words suggested for an intermediate level, shall we? And today I am plugging in a new word I discovered while at Camp Couture! Guess who enlightened us? - S.K. 

Ta-da... the word of the day is SCROOP! No, not the alien spider/crab-like creature from Disney's Treasure Planet! - What? You know the word?  - Well, I didn't - I am not a native speaker, you know. And I feel pretty smart, readers, for I could not find 'scroop' in my Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary! And, if you are smarter than me, read on anyway, I got some good tips on how to get rid of the scroop, or how to restore the scroop! 

So, what's a 'scroop'? Encyclopedia Britannica defined it as an 'occurrence in taffetta' (with misspelled 'taffetta'). Now, guess what an 'occurence' is!  If you ever held silk taffeta, or similar silks, you will remember its characteristic rustle. Well, this rustle is called 'scroop' and don't you ever say 'rustle'! It's scroop! 

The scroop is an indication of the quality for taffeta: scrunch the fabric in your hand and listen! Go to your favorite fabric store and scrunch taffetas and silks there, and don't get distracted by baffled shop assistants. I am serious - this is how I choose tomatoes at a farmers' market! I don't scrunch them, of course - I smell them! The smell of a ripe tomato is engraved in my brain - it's so wonderful. No wonder Austrians call it a 'Paradeiser', which literally means a 'paradise thing'.

But let's rewind back to the scroop. If your silk is too 'scroopy' (not sure about the use as an adjective, I admit), you can give it a warm soapy bath. And, a solution of 5% white vinegar and water will restore the 'scroopiness'. (The tip is, by the way, from my favorite fabric book 'All About Silk')

By the way, Mr. Frabjous told me the other day that my blog is becoming 'obscure' - bias-stay-tapes alikes, and, now, 'the scroop'...  I will give it a thought some day...

And if you thought it was over with the scroop - nope! There is another word for it - 'froufrou', which is en français, chères lectrices et chers lecteursWhich one do you like more? I will vote for 'froufrou' - Your turn now! And do share some rare or obscure words! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The French and the controversial bias stay tape

Dear readers, I promised you a post with a new couture technique I learned in Baltimore, where I attended  my Camp Couture.

So, here it is: the bias stay tape. I find it amazing since already the name is very contradictory. How can a bias tape be used as a stay, that is something that is used to prevent bias garment edges from sagging. Bias per se is prone to stretching, right?!

Well, here is the trick:

The silk organza strip on the top and below were both cut the same width (5/8" or 1.5 cm). However, the top one was steam-pressed and stretched, until all the bias (=stretch) was taken out. That is the strip was stretched to its maximum, and the steam helped it keep the shape. The final width is slightly wider than 1/4" (or 0.5 cm).

Once the strip was stretched and pressed, it is ready to be applied to the garment section that need to be stayed. Here I am applying it to the lace blouse neckline using tiny running stitches along both edges of the stay tape. Avoid pulling the tape across as it tends to stretch out in the width.

So, here some mechanics:

  • the bias is more flexible than a tape cut on grain
  • the stay doesn't fray (because it is cut on bias)
  • the tape has a very slight resistance and tries to return to its initial stage, just tiny little bit almost invisible to the eye, tightening any bias seam or edge.

This technique works best on light-weight garments, but I am going to try and experiment with wool strips, linen, or medium-weight silks. If I achieve any satisfactory results, I'll report back, readers! And, by the way, check out my facebook page for images of the finished blouse (and a skirt) and some detail shots made for my Burdastyle Couture Challenge.

P.S. I forgot to mention, readers, what the French have to do with it! Well, when Susan explained this technique to me, she exclaimed "This is how the French do it!" the way she said it... ta-da!.. the magic of couture :-) enjoy your week!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Camp Couture: Field dispatch #1

As you may have guessed, dear readers, I was sewing like crazy in the past week, which I spent in an isolated hotel in Baltimore together with several other couture aficionados. We worked day and night, and I was really happy to get some sleep once I was back home.

If you were wondering, packing for this Camp Couture was an exercise in restraint, and I managed to squeeze all my belongings, fabrics, tools and notions into two medium-size bags. I spent half a night carefully selecting every single item and managed to forget only my tracing chalk. And, once in Baltimore, I also skipped a shopping spree at Michael's fabrics, which saved couple of hours of precious sewing time...

Of course, I underestimated time needed to make a couture garment, so a bustier still remains a project-in-planning (PIP). But! I  managed to complete two garments I planned for my Couture Challenge: a skirt (#118B) and a blouse (#126) from the April 2012 issue of BurdaStyle magazine. More on this projects, plus tutorials will come later - this time, I will be treating you to something different! Are you ready?

Susan has kindly agreed to share with you some of her sample couture garments! So I diligently photographed several pieces, including some engineering, construction and finishing shots. I will be posting one garment at a time, with the first one being a dress bodice made of beautiful magenta lace and matching silk (the draping suffered from suitcase storage, but this is less important).

The lace is lined with flesh-colored silk organza. 
Bodice fragment: scallops were applied by hand on armholes and neckline
Inner support is provided by boning, and seam allowances are catch-stitched to the foundation
Bodice close up from the inside
I hope you enjoyed these detail shots, and many thanks to Susan, again, for letting me share these images with you. Stay tuned to more goodies from this class!

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