Quilting Leather and Construction Details/Changes (McCall's 7549)

Since I'm taking on a big project with two new-to-me skills--quilting and sewing leather--I thought I'd share a bit of my learning process with y'all. I rarely publish whole posts about works-in-progress--it's not as pretty or glamorous as completed outfits--but it's nice to do so every once in a while, especially when it's something a bit tricky! I also changed a lot when it comes to the construction of this pattern--so much that it would totally take over another post.

Below the cut, there is a very long, very wordy post with lots of in-progress pictures, so if you're just here for the outfits, you've been forewarned! I'll post my finished jacket next Monday, or subscribe to my newsletter for a sneak peek Friday!!

Inspiration: Quilted Leather Jacket (McCall's 7549)

Have y'all seen the latest McCall's release? It is so spot-on--as soon as I saw it I bought myself thisthis, and for some reason I totally had to have these, I don't know why. (Will I make that last one? We'll see.) But my heart practically stopped when I saw their little quilted jacket, 7549. I have always like the aesthetics of Grainline's Tamarack jacket, but although an oversized cotton jacket looks great on my mom, it's just not quite "me". This little shrunken one has the same silhouette that I love from my Mimi G blazer, and a bunch of gorgeous quilting really makes view A stand out.

My mind (and my heart) immediately went "leather!" I've been so inspired by all the quilted jackets I've seen on pinterest ever since laying eyes on Cara Delevigne's icon-status model off-duty leather biker jacket with amazing quilting on the sleeves. I'm totally in love with my Olga Road (r.i.p.) recycled leather jacket with all the classic motorcycle styling (seen here) but sometimes those 84 zippers are a bit much.

Remember when I said last month that I wasn't going to be putting out a new project every week? Yeah, this is the type of thing I was talking about. If you notice a slight lack of sewing here on the blog for the next little while, know that it is because I'm working on this. First things first, though: I'm breaking out all the stops and... making a muslin. Actually, I already made a muslin of just the pattern pieces basted together, but I wanted to go back and work on my quilting--I am not a quilter so I need the practice!--so I've decided to make myself a silky, snuggly bed jacket (possibly the most 60s of nightwear). You'll see this soon too!

Next week, I'll show you how I'm adapting this pattern to work with my leather (I've been memorizing this post), and the week after that I'll show you the finished item! Meanwhile... McCall Pattern Company has agreed to give three lucky American allie J. readers a copy of this pattern--just enter the rafflecopter below and I'll be in touch!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!


ps: i also picked up a copy of vogue 9100--i rarely buy or make vogue patterns but everyone looks amazing in this dress.

allie J.

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Inspiration: The Date Night Social Sew

I'm always so impressed by y'all's fancy dress looks, so I've been looking forward to this theme! As I mentioned in the link-up post, you don't haaaaave to make a Valentine's dress--I just had a very nice board-games-in-jeans-and-a-hoodie date myself! Then again, I always feel like I need a reason to make a nice dress, so if you're looking for an excuse to splurge on some nice fabric or use that too-fancy-for-everyday pattern that's been gathering dust in your stash... here it is!

Remember, my main goal is designing the Social Sew link-up was to make the theme narrow enough that someone unsure of what to make next could find some guidance, but broad enough that someone with sewing plans could find a way to make their pieces fit. If you're a bit stumped on what to make for this month's theme let me suggest...

A silky (or snuggly) robe: Whether you're slipping into something more comfortable or cuddling up on the couch with a box of chocolates, there's nothing better than a cozy robe!
Patterns: Seamwork's Almada and Named's Asaka are lovely kimono-style robes (which you can also make with a simple tutorial). Purl Soho has a more traditional style robe as well!

An ultra-feminine dress: Maybe you, like me, feel your best in a slightly-frou-frou cupcake of a vintage dress, or maybe you feel amazing in a body-con sheath. You do you, but do it up one hundred percent on v-day, okay?
Patterns: Whatever makes you feel like a knockout: I suggest Georgia or Flora for some cleavage (and I will live vicariously through you) or Nettie for a body-con option.

Something lacy: No explanation needed! (And if it feels like I've recommended lingerie in a few of these inspiration posts recently, It's because I'm working up the courage to dive into some bra sewing of my own!)
Patterns: Oh my gosh, y'all, have you seeeeeen the new Harriet bra pattern by Cloth Habit? It is gorgeous and I need it (despite my utter lack of bra-sewing experience). Her Watson set is a blogger favorite as well. Ohh Lulu has alll the bralette patterns you could ever need.

I hope you have some pretty sewing in your queue! There's a time and place for basics, and Valentine's Day is decidedly not. it. in my opinion. Do you agree?


ps: ...or maybe you want to sew something for your valentine? this is official permission to do some unselfish sewing for the link-up:)

allie J.

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Social Sew #11: Date Night

February is possibly my least favorite month of the year. Last year, I combated February's dreariness with an aggressively pink coat and a pink dress, and this year, I encourage you all to do the same and sew up something cheerful and lovely, because... 

February's Social Sew theme is Date Night!

Whether you are married, dating, or just plan on eating chocolate with your girlfriends, having a special date night is so important, especially in gloomy February. I suggest something pink (of course) but a little black dress would also be appropriate, son't you think?

Some rules: 
1. This is for adult apparel sewing, so no kids clothes or home decorating (unless specified otherwise in the theme).
2. Newly blogged garments, please: the things you add to the link up should be made or blogged in the month the link up is for. Remember, the theme and the link up are there to inspire you to create something new!
3.  Please click on the logo above to download it, and put it either in the post you are linking up, or in your sidebar. I'd also appreciate you linking to the Social Sew--the more people who discover it, the more participation we'll have, the more inspiration! Thanks, y'all.

Upcoming themes:
January (this month): New Year, New Wardrobe
February: Date Night
March: Anything Goes!

And an important Social Sew update: March will be the last Social Sew--for now! There are so many themed sewing opportunities available, I don't feel too too guilty about bringing my own little contribution to the genre to an end. I might bring it back at some point in the future, but I think now is a good time to bring it to a close: I started this project last April, and I'd like to round out the year. March's theme is Anything Goes, so if you've been wanting to link up but haven't gotten around to the themes, you have a last chance!


ps: if your date night is more netflix and chill than dinner and drinks, i love that, and pajamas are of course valid submissions.

allie J.

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New Year, New Wardrobe Social Sew Round Up!

January has come to an end... as has the New Year, New Wardrobe Social Sew! Let's see what y'all came up with this month...

I love Lara Liz's concept of "Me Made Monday" in which she wears/blogs an all-handmade outfit every Monday. If you do this for a year, it would give you a much better idea of your handmade wardrobe than Me Made May, I think, since you hit all the seasons. I love her addition of a huge cape over staple Ginger jeans and Scout tee!

Tenille lives in Australia and it's the middle of summer for her, so she made a lovely black kimono dress as well as a vintage raglan sleeve top from the 80s (that reminds me of my 60s swing dress) and some dress pants. A whole wardrobe!

Carmen has a very cute short haircut (so cute, really) and a verrrrry cozy tried and true cardigan sweater.

Sewing by Ti has another cozy sweater to show off as well as another link up; did you participate in Watcha Wearing January?

Lassemista (which I can never spell correctly the first time!) has made a lovely Liberty version of the ever-popular Archer shirt. Staple is right!

Seam Racer has a three-piece layered outfit spanning four decades and three pattern companies and totally pulls it off.

Fellow librarian (hey girl heyyyy) Maddie made an Orla dress from the most gorgeous Rifle Paper Co floral ever. Also she loves tried and true repeat patterns. We have so much in common, y'all.

Kirsten from the Dress Bakery made an amazing pink skirt suit--very Elle Woods (so I am obviously a fan).

Thanks so much to this month's participants... I'm so pleased to see everyone's first makes of the year!


ps: i have one more (bonus) new year, new wardrobe post as far as my wardrobe planning/styling goes, so you're not quite done with me yet! :)

allie J.

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Simplicity Sewing Book 1958

Last time I was home, my parents gave me this Simplicity Sewing book a friend of theirs had picked up for me at an estate sale. I had seen these sewing books--really more like what we would call a "bookazine"--online before, but I was so excited to have one of my own! This one is from 1958, and I thought I'd give you all a peek inside... it is stuffed with all the information you could have wanted in those pre-blog days.

Since this book is a Simplicity imprint, it first details alllllll the different pattern sizes that were available in 1958--although the vast majority of patterns I see on etsy are the standard miss-woman I do occasionally stumble across the odd junior or teen sized pattern, and have several in my stash. The alternate silhouettes available seem so arbitrary to me--like, half sizes are for petite (5'3") pears, but there isn't a corresponding pear-shape line for 5'6" women (oh, how I wish there were!). And bless you if you were ever forced into a "chubbie" pattern as a child. 

I also appreciated the unfamiliar substrates in their long list of fabrics. There is cotton, wool, and silk, of course, then nylon, then... Dacron! Orlon! We don't see those often.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to walking the reader through construction of a few generic patterns in detail, including a button-front blouse, a gored skirt, a man's shirt, and a girl's dress. The idea is that you could use the instructions to help you sew any number of similar Simplicity patterns. I think it's a bit like the sew-along of its day, with a bit more detail than the notoriously sparse vintage pattern instruction booklet, and photos instead of sketches. I can see that if you were a beginner, this would be very helpful! I'm hoping to make one more coat before spring really sets in (we'll see) and I might use this and see how it goes.

It also has a tailoring section. I still haven't started in on my navy blazer because I've been so overwhelmed by tailoring, and I'm thinking that if I stick to the details included in this book and ignore the ten million other techniques I've seen online, I might be able to manage it without having a breakdown. Call it a vintage project, using vintage techniques only, or something.  

Finally, those of you who have been following my New Year, New Wardrobe exploration, or are working on a capsule wardrobe yourself, might find this section interesting! I took close ups of each one so you could see for yourself: what color does Simplicity think you should wear? (1958 edition.) 

I was pleasantly surprised to see how well my self-selected colors--white/cream/nude, blush, coral, camel, pale blue, lavender, navy, hunter--correspond to the "blonde hair - brown eyes" section. Blush and camel are definitely in the lineup, as well as a dark green and something that could be coral or could be bright, bright orange. (I'm going with coral.) The last color is a blue-purple, and while I've read before that you should wear purple eye makeup with brown eyes, and I like purple, I don't really know how to wear it. I think I'll stick to navy and keep my purple to the lavender end of the spectrum. Interesting how much overlap there is, don't you think?

That black hair - blue eyes is a winter color palette if I've ever seen one!

The woman on the left is so pretty, don't you think? And the lady in the middle either had a printing mishap or ingested a bit too much spice, her eyes are very blue. 

I really enjoyed the inclusion of these lovely grey and white haired ladies and the bold color palettes chosen for them. Gorgeous greens, especially.

Along with the suggested colors, there's a bit on "figure flattery" using optical illusions to make yourself appear taller and thinner. It has a lot of the advice that is still dished out in fashion magazines today, just featuring a different set of styles to help you achieve the desired illusions--no bootcut jeans in sight.

That's the 1958 Simplicity Sewing book! There seems to be no shortage of 50s and 60s Simplicity Sewing books floating around, and for reasonable prices. I think it's a pretty handy resource, even today. I'd love to get a copy from the mid-60s and see how much has changed--or not! 

What do you think of the colors suggested for you--would you wear them? Do you already? Would you take advice from a book that is 60 years old? Or would you rather stick to blogs and facebook sewing groups?


ps: thank you to my dad's gamer group who have caught on to the fact that i love anything vintage sewing :)

allie J.

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New Year, New Wardrobe: Week Four

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2016 and I been very diligent this year about posting every Monday, usually with a new project to share, and in total I made 42 things last year. That's about 10 pieces per 12-week season. I really enjoyed the structure of "a new item every Monday" but I think I'd rather cut back a little.

typical five piece french wardrobe basics--but not necessarily mine!!

The idea of the Five Piece French Wardrobe (FPFW) is a popular one in capsule dressing: you pare down your closet to basics (which can be anything but are generally the standard white blouse, black pants, dark denim, trench coat, etc.) and then limit yourself to 5 purchases each season. If you're limited to only five things, you're more likely to buy higher quality items that you really love, and not settle for something that's not exactly what you're looking for. I'd like to steal this idea and make 6 or 8, not 10+, items a season. That means two or three new items a month, instead of 4. This should give me time to work on fitting some repeatable patterns, and use up some of my stashed fabrics--there's a few absolutely gorgeous lengths I have, and I know what I want to do with them, but I just haven't had the time to devote weeks to those projects! Like, I've been talking about making a blazer and a tailored coat for ages and not gotten around to it yet. I'm sure there will always be fun, shiny distractions and simple projects to crank out in a weekend, but I'd also like to actually make that blazer, too, so I think aiming for a FPFW mentality will be a positive step.

My Five Piece French Wardrobe "wish list" for the first quarter of 2017 includes:
my cream boucle jacket,
perfect pajamas,
a white blouse,
a camel coat, and
a special surprise project (more on this soon).

I'd also like to make a first version of the Sewaholic Granville shirt. I mentioned in my shapes & silhouettes post that I wear my Ralph Lauren oxford cloth button downs frequently, and I'd love to have a hand-made alternative that I can make in any color I like. And speaking of colors... did you notice all those future makes fit nicely in my capsule color scheme? (Even the pajamas are cream with coral and pink flamingos!) Finally, I also said I'd like to make about 6-8 items, so I still have a little wiggle room if something pops up that I have to have, like pattern testing or a new release.

This would be way too much stuff to take on if I were still going to be trying for a new item every Monday, but I should be able to get a bit more done now that I'm not worried about making lots of new new new. Instead, I'm thinking of introducing a little bit of lifestyle content, and trying to revive my "what i wore" posts featuring older makes styled differently (like the one I posted this week). Let me know what you think of these as they get going, I always appreciate feedback.

Have you ever heard of Five Piece French Wardrobe or tried this method of capsuling? I'd love to hear what you think! What would be your basics? your first five pieces?


ps: continuing the FPFW thing, I'd also like to "invest" in a few high quality accessories once I have a few items of capsule clothing resting comfortably in my closet. a lovely French reader contacted me after my Louis Antoinette post and in chatting about French style, she mentioned two things the French do exceptionally well: classics, meaning lots of neutrals, and coordination, matching their accessories to their outfit for a cohesive look--so that's my goal for accessories!

allie J.

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