8.03.2015

A Return to Pants

black pants | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I spent a lot of hours (and yards of fabric) sewing pants last year and at the end of all that work I had one semi-wearable pair of pants. I have to be honest though: since then, they have spent a lot of time in my closet, and not a lot of time on my body. They are not the pants I reach for. The vintage pattern I used was for non-stretch wovens, so the are stretch-free and not as comfortable as my ready to wear pants. Overall, I was proud to have made wearable pants, but knew I could do better.


black pants | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Enter: Gertie's pants pattern for Butterick. This isn't a new pattern; I bought it when it came out a few years ago. I'm definitely less precious with my new patterns--I cut them up and everything. Sorry, sewers a half-century from now! This pair was a trial but I think they look pretty good though! These might be a little tight for some people, but this is how I like to wear my pants--I usually wear them with boxier tops to balance it out.

I eliminated the pockets and moved the zip to the side to match my vintage patterns. I also did a lapped zipper, and lengthened them to be more of an ankle length. I would like them to be long enough to wear with boots, and we can wear "crop pants" but not "capris" at work. yayyy dress codessss

black pants | allie J. | alliemjackson.com


Things I really liked about this pattern:
  • The fit was really good for me. My only modification so far was to scoop out the front curve. I have never said the word "cameltoe" in my life until the past week when I said it about 50 times. (The things sewists talk about, y'all. Honestly!) The good fit is probably mostly due to negative ease, however, I can't give stretchy fabric all the credit since I know Colette's Clovers are stretch and people hate fitting them.
Problems with this pattern:
  • What kind of pants pattern tells you to use either stretch or non-stretch fabrics??? This seems crazy to me. They are totally different.
  • Do not go by body measurements! Especially since they say you can use stretch or non-stretch wovens, you should definitely go by completed garment measurements. I already complained about this on facebook and twitter but my measurements put me in a 14, and I made an 8. An eight. If I made it with non-stretch fabric, I would make a 12 maybe. 
xoxo,
allie

ps: i spent most of this photoshoot looking like this as the puppy ran all over the place. ALSO i discovered as i got in the car that there are two little holes in my pants where he jumped on me and his little claws got me! so, RIP new pants, i guess. 

black pants | allie J. | alliemjackson.com


allie J.

7.29.2015

A 60's Nightgown

1969 nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com


This super easy sleepwear comes to you straight from 1969!

McCall's 2137 Was one of my very first true vintage patterns. So sassy! I attempted at one point to make it into a dress, but this was way before my sewing skills were up to it. I still think it could make a nice dress, but here I'll focus on its intention as a nightgown. I've had this lovely floaty cotton in my stash for maybe a year. I had meant to make a blouse out of it, but never really liked the pattern for a blouse--the spacing of the flowers was a little bit off, I think. Anyway, I'm glad that I saved it since I think it works perfectly as a sweet little nightgown! And I do mean little--my copy of this pattern was cut off at view C length, and I had to do some modifying to get it even this long.


M2137
via
This a funny pattern--looking at it, I assumed (and I think most would), that there is a fabric tube inserted through the top and then tied on both shoulders. Nope! What you are supposed to do is insert elastic at the front and back panels, sew it down, then tack the front and back panels together at the shoulder and pop a bow on top. This feature is hidden on views A and C, but notice that the front & back panels on view B go all the way up to the shoulder.

1969 nightgown | allie J. | alliemjackson.com


Instead of doing all this, I made a long, self-fabric tie, which solved three issues: it gave me more space around my neck, eliminated fiddling with elastic, and created shoulder straps which in turn lengthened the dress a bit. After all my modifications, this was a crazy easy make; you can definitely make this without the pattern. I'll post a tutorial if there is interest, but it's really so easy.

Do you like wearing menswear-y pajamas sets or nightgowns? Either way, it's nice to feel put together at bed time, it's cute and Laura Petrie-ish (even though my hair isn't as cute as hers at night, let alone 7 in the morning). But pajamas are harder to make!

xoxo,
allie

ps: it is super awkward to take pictures of yourself in your nightgown or slip. you only get two because these were my only poses :)

allie J.

7.27.2015

A Little White Dress

little white dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I posted a sneak peek of this dress--the waistband and cut-out--for a "work in progress" post last week, and clever Melissa thought she spied a white Bonnell dress. In fact, all the parts of the dress that were captured in the picture are from the Bonnell--but only those parts!

When I first saw Dixie DIY's Bonnell dress, I knew I had to have those adorable cut-outs. Unfortunately, my "wearable" muslin was much too large and I decided I didn't totally love the lines of the dress--the high jewel neckline felt awkward combined with the V in back. Vintage patterns almost always pair a V back with a wide bateau neckline, which means that the angle of the back V is wider. Overall, I didn't think it would be worth it to modify that pattern when I have other perfectly good bodices that I could just add side cut outs to using the Bonnell lines and instructions.

little white dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

But did I do the sensible thing and go with a tried-and-true bodice? Of course not... instead of messing around with the Bonnell, I messed around with a random stash pattern I've had since high school--or rather, my mom has had since I was in high school, since I didn't really sew then! It was horrible, so horrible that I'm actually not quite sure what was wrong with the design. The bodice, sewn as written, was much too long, which could be attributable to Big-4 modesty, except that the bust darts went all the way over my bust?? Either the bust darts were terrible or the length was wrong, but I chopped two inches off the bottom to end up with a neckline that may or may not be lower than intended, and bust dart that are passable if not great. Then, the whole thing ended up being about one size too big anyway. I finished it, but I think I will rip out the zip and take in this dress by 1 to 1 1/2 inches. I should take it out at the sides too, but... cut outs.

little white dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

This was totally a stash-busting project! I didn't buy anything, not even a zipper. I had just enough of some white sort-of mid-weight something for the bodice, then I used some of my never-ending supply of white eyelet for the skirt and underlined it with some random white stash fabric. I just used the width of the fabric and pleated it at the bodice darts and the edges of the cut outs.

My husband took these pictures in the Walker Art Center's sculpture garden during our whirlwind trip to Minneapolis last weekend. The Walker is one of my favorite museums, so we had to go visit it. Alex took these photos by this cool mirror/glass/two-way glass sort of labyrinth (I just looked it up and it's official name is "Two Way Mirror Punched Steel Hedge Labyrinth" so I wasn't too far off in my description! It's by Dan Graham). It's very neat to see "in motion" as people stroll by: it is difficult to tell which side of the sculpture they are on and then they pop out in unexpected places! The sculpture garden is also the home of Spoonbridge and Cherry, a Minneapolis icon. If you know one thing about Minneapolis, its probably the Mall of America, but Spoonbridge and Cherry is probably #2.

little white dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

Do you like my earrings? They're little pineapples! I really stuck with the tropical theme I guess :) I really like them but I almost always wear studs, so I always feel very "dressed up" when I wear drop earrings, even simple ones. Does anyone have tips for styling dangly earrings? Help help!

I really like cut-outs, but I know they aren't for everyone--would y'all be interested in an "adding cut-outs" tutorial? Let me know!

dress bodice: wouldn't recommend it but it's Simplicity 4531 | earrings: juicy couture (sold out but they have another pineapple style here!) | shoes: jack rogers | bag: bosom buddy bags

xoxo,
allie

ps: people hate on juicy couture because of their tracksuits (think paris hilton ca. 2005) but i love them--their accessories especially are really cute (i mean just look at those pineapple earrings) and they often have 40% sales which makes everything really reasonable. 

allie J.

7.22.2015

Tiki Paradise Dress

tiki paradise dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

This is the dress that the sewing blog community made happen--thanks, y'all.

I posted a couple weeks ago that I was frustrated with this dress. If you remember, I was asking whether I should put a bow at center front waist or whether I should put them on the shoulder straps. I was at a loss since my original plan of making a tiki dress just was. not. working. and I was at a loss for how to style the dress mid-project.

I'd been saving the fabric forever (literally years) planning on making a 50s/60s tiki dress with it. I finally thought I had figured out how to make a little sarong-style drape (thanks, pinterest) and hacked up a pattern piece and pinned on my fabric and it was not what I was looking for and looked really boring! I had given up on my tiki dreams and was debating sheath vs. full skirt when all you lovely people chimed in with "tiki! tiki!"

tiki paradise dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

All I needed was a little extra motivation to figure out that draping, and y'all provided it. I'm so glad you did--I persevered and I think the final product looks great.

tiki paradise dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

I wore it to my friend's wedding in Minnesota (usually not a tiki paradise) but the weather all weekend was amazing: 80F (which is about 27C for international readers), sunny, and breezy. I lived in Minnesota ages 10-18 and I didn't love it but now, every time I visit I want to move back immediately. It's soooo nice there... in the summer. (For people who aren't familiar with the American Midwest, Minneapolis is pretty darn cold in the winter.)

My husband Alex was thrilled because the guy working at the car rental place agreed to give us a convertible for the weekend for only $10 extra a day and we cruised around in a red Camaro for the weekend. It was so great.


tiki paradise dress | allie J. | alliemjackson.com

After all that, I didn't end up putting the bows on the shoulder or center front waist; it is at the top of my sarong where I wanted it in the first place. I do agree that it blends into the waist, and I really liked the shoulder bows, but I really thought it needed to go at the gathering!

However, I have taken all your opinions into account (which were I think unanimously in favor of shoulder bows!) so you can expect to see some other project with a shoulder bow detail in the future.

dress bodice: Simplicity 5343, 1963 (see also here, yes! it's the bodice of my wedding dress!) | dress skirt: McCall's 7704, 1965 (see also here) | shoes: jack rogers (just like I mentioned in monday's post!) | bag: bosom buddies

xoxo,
allie

ps: my friend looked gorgeous (seriously gorgeous) and it was a SUPER fun wedding--we did all kinds of line dancing! alex and i also just had a great weekend... you'll see another outfit post from minnesota next week, too. 

allie J.

7.20.2015

Easy Shoe Choices for a Modern Mid-century Wardrobe

vintage shoes

Do you notice my blog's little tagline? Modern Mid-century Sewing and Style. I always wondered where people came up with those catchy slogan since all I could ever think of was "My sewing blog." Then the concept of "Modern Mid-century" just came to me! I thought it was perfect: I love sewing and wearing vintage patterns from the early 60s--that era we've collectively come to call "Mad Men"--but I really can't compare to some of the super dedicated vintage bloggers out there who do an incredible job of recreating past styles, some of them on a daily basis. I think of myself as having a modern style informed by fashion of the 50s and 60s: not Mid-century Modern, but Modern Mid-century.

Although I mostly talk about clothes here (sewing them, specifically), you can't go around barefoot! I've made a little round-up of vintage-inspired shoes for those of us who love our full skirts and shift dresses of the 50s and 60s but don't dress full vintage every day. All of these shoes can be found easily and are adaptable to everyday wear and more authentic vintage looks.

mary-tyler-moore-feature-2
Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie in ballet flats via
1. Ballet Flats: The simplest choice. Ballet flats are so popular now that they don't scream "retro" by themselves, but paired with a vintage or vintage-inspired dress they look lovely, or channel Laura Petrie and wear them with cigarette pants! I currently have pairs in brown, pink, and red, and I like to have two pairs of black flats in my closet: a nicer pair (this year's purchase) and a beater back-up (last year's "nice" flats) that I wear to go out to the bar or a concert.

2. Block Heels: Even though Salvatore Ferragamo didn't design the "Vara" until 1978, this block heeled pump epitomizes the mid to late 60s to me--you want to keep them pretty low for a more vintage look. This is a silhouette that is hard to do really well and a lot of block heels just look clunky to me, but I love my one pair of Varas (my wedding shoes). I also just like block heels because you get some height and a little more comfort than a kitten heel or something similar.

jacks
Jackie Kennedy in Navajo Sandals via
3. Jack Rogers Sandals: The iconic Jack Rogers sandals are a good choice for a casual 60s vibe. At least in my part of the world, these sandals are everywhere, and commonly spotted with another classic item also popularized by Jackie Kennedy, the Lilly Pulitzer shift. "Lilly and Jacks" is a go-to combination for Southern girls, so unless you want to look like a sorority girl (which is fine, I am one #chioforlife) I would amp up the retro hair and makeup. A bouffant and winged eyeliner would not be out of place here; that's how Lilly Pulitzer wore hers!

J167618102
Audrey in socks and loafers via
4. Penny Loafers and/or Saddle Shoes: Not everyone in 1965 was wearing Mondrian dresses and white patent go-go boots! Just about every fall I find myself inspired by the "Ivy League" look. Think plaid midi skirts and borrowed-from-the-boys preppy classics like button-down oxford shirts and cable-knit sweaters. For this, I love penny loafers (Bass's weejuns are classics) or saddle shoes. I wear my loafers sans socks all year round, which is not very "historically accurate" I don't think.  I find saddle shoes slightly harder to style than loafers or flats; they're a more distinct "look," but I always get compliments when I wear mine. (There's an interesting article about Vassar girls and the origin of this style here, and I'll have to write a blog post about this favorite of mine at some point this fall!) Bonus shoes that can also fit into this category: white keds sneakers.

5. Espadrilles, either flats or wedges: Popular since the 40s, nothing is quite so summery than an espadrille in either a wedge or a flat version. I prefer wedges, and navy blue fabric is more versatile than black if your summer clothes skew toward nautical like mine do. Who wants to wear black in the summer? Not me!

So there you are, my top five easy shoe choices for your "Modern Mid-century" closet. All of the shoes I picked are easy to find in stores (at least in the US) and can easily adapt to a full-on vintage day or a more casual look.

Lastly, I am totally of the mindset that you should buy the nicest version of a thing you can afford, and take care of it to make it last. I had a cheap pair of penny loafers a few years ago, but they didn't hold up very well, so when I bought new penny loafers, I got Cole Haan. They are so much nicer than my last pair, and I got them at a Nordstrom Rack (I think, it was years ago) so they weren't exorbitantly expensive. Same goes for boots: I have a pair of Frye boots I bought three years ago (the not particularly vintage-looking Melissa--as I said, I'm a sorority girl) and I'm about to get them resoled; they should last me for ages.

What do you wear with your vintage-style clothing? Have any shoe recommendations for me?

xoxo,
allie

p.s. i got a shopstyle account, so you can see my little shopping widget down below. i'm going to try to use it to link to accessories like shoes in my outfit posts. let me know what you think--annoying? convenient? 


Shop this look via ShopStyle in the widget above.  These contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no cost to you) if you click or purchase. 

allie J.

7.15.2015

Work(s) in Progress

I have a lot of things on my sewing table at the moment... none of them one hundred percent complete.

Untitled

Coming up here at allie J. from left to right: a nightgown, a cut-out sundress, a tiki paradise dress (thanks y'all for your help), and a gingham top, made with the some of the worst printed gingham I've ever seen.

What's on your sewing table--anything you love? anything you hate already (I hope not, but it happens!)?

xoxo,
allie

ps: i wasn't kidding about that gingham.

allie J.

7.13.2015

Girl in Dior

Every once in a while, the worlds of my sewing and librarianing combine in wonderful ways--see my previous book review of Sew Zoey. I went in to work a few weeks ago and my co-worker Patrick, our library's resident graphic novel expert, had pulled a book for me. He said he thought I would like and oooh, did I!

girl in dior

Girl in Dior is a graphic novel--a comic book. This format lends itself very well to a book about fashion: it is as if the fashion illustrations have been set in motion to tell the story. Set at the birth of Dior's "New Look," it tells the story of a fashion journalist picked to become one of the designer's models. Although this particular girl is fictional, the world she inhabits is very real, and the story feels authentic--I actually wasn't sure if it was fiction or biography until after reading it.

girl in dior

It's a quick read (lots of pictures, few words), but one you can return to multiple times for sewing inspiration or just to soak in the detail of the dresses! You can tell the author has experience in fashion (she's also a costume designer) because the details of the clothing really shine.

girl in dior

Read a bit of the book here, or buy a copy for yourself (or a fashion-y friend) here! This book would look great on top of that huge stack of coffee table books I know you have. Alternately, check it out from the library :)

Do you read fashion books? Graphic novels? Just blogs? What books have earned permanent places on your coffee table?

all images via

xoxo,
allie

ps: i'm a librarian, so i can't help but sneak in some reader's advisory... if you're interested in more graphic novels, you can subscribe to Patrick's newsletter! read the one with Girl in Dior here

allie J.