There's a First Time for Everything (literally everything, and all in one dress)

First time with lace?

First time with stretch?

First time with Burda's online patterns?

Finally made that Gatsby challenge dress pick from approx. 10000 years ago?
Check it out!

Happy Belated Christmas, everyone.

Sometimes I think it can be good to take on what would be strictly considered "more than you can chew" in a low-stress way, like a costume. That at way you can just dive in without worrying too, too much about whether you mess it up/it's not perfect/etc.

My bff Martha turned 26 this week and threw a 1926-themed party, so obviously I needed a dress. We listened to christmas music and the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby, drank gin fizzes in beautiful vintage glassware, and pouted attractively in front of the camera. We also listened as the birthday girl herself did a dramatic reading of this instant classic (from last year) about Norwegians' deep concern for wood and wood fires.

I curled, teased, and pinned up my hair into a faux bob for that flapper thing, which is not what I typically go for. I watched some youtube videos on 1920s makeup, too (by the way, did you see the 100 years of hair & makeup video? it's swell) and I was quite pleased with my final look!

I wore a mish-mash version of this burda dress. It is vintage... wrong era, but I think I pulled it off as convincingly 20s-y, right?

Okay, that's the last instagram photo for this post!

RE: Dress construction, I threw the instructions out the window (not really, they were on my iphone!) and constructed it however the heck I felt like (spoiler: poorly). Plus, this dress isn't built for lace, so it doesn't have an interlining layer, just the fashion layer and the lining. I do what I want!

...but don't look too closely.

This gives you an idea of the construction: there's a normal, dress shaped lining (in a knit) and then a really wildly shaped outer layer. I opted to just ignore all the instructions because they were literally nonsense. I know burda is known for that but wow! They were really confusing! Plus with my using a lace outside meant you can see the raw edges if you look extremely closely. But no one was going to do that, and I couldn't be bothered to draft facings. (Ha! yeah right.)

Ahhhhhhhhhh! What is that?!

That's where the zipper is supposed to go. Zippers--who needs them? 
The instructions for this dress call for a knit lining and a bias cut velvet, in which case you may have needed a zipper, but I opted for NOT a zipper. The instructions don't have you inserting elastic at the waist, but otherwise my dress was very droopy. 

In conclusion: terrible instagram photos of a girl in a pretty dress, and pretty (or at least focused, you take what you get here) photos of quite possibly the ugliest dress guts ever posted to the internet. phew!  

Needlepoint Excursion

I have a LONG way to go.
Y'all know I don't knit. So what is a non-knitting girl to do between projects/when all her zippers are temporarily installed in wedding dress muslins? NEEDLEPOINT OBVI.

I sort of know how to cross stitch poorly, and (now) I sort of know how to needlepoint. I totally assumed these were the same thing, but they are not. FYI.

Because I live in The South (of America, for international readers) I am making a needlepoint belt for my lovely fiance. It's a thing. Because I am also sewing my wedding dress, this gift for him is not a secret--I already have one task that requires me to be locked up in the sewing room! Therefore, he helped me pick out the design. I got it from the Needlepoint by Laura Etsy shop. She was great to work with and helped me create this custom design.    

It has the main buildings of our university, the Colonnade, in the middle. Its fitting to post this today since it's Homecoming Weekend at the moment. Wish I were there!

I think it is pretty accurate! They will do any college campus just based off internet images. It also has the Washington and Lee Trident (our school symbol), and one side  says "W&L" and the other has his monogram (again, because its the south and everything gets monogrammed. you should see my wedding registry, ha). You can buy belts (and coasters and keychains etc etc) with just the trident on it at the school store but not with your initials on it!

Since I have never needlepointed before, I don't reeeeeally know what I'm doing. This photo of the backside shows my technique, If you can call it that. I used the Needlepoint for Fun (haha) website to learn some basic stitches and then I've just mashed them together however seems right. I've been doing the detail pieces in a tent stitch, and then doing a basketweave stitch to fill in the background. The basketweave stitch is worked diagonally, which is why you can see all those bits criss crossing diagonally across the parts I already did. Is this right? I don't know! I'm figuring it out as I go!

So this is what I have been doing in the textiles area. Have you ever done needlepoint (needlepointed)? Do think needlepoint belts are for old people?


P.S. More shots of that particular brand of prep that Americans call "Ivy League style" (I think Brits have a different name for it?) and our beautiful campus here, including lots of needlepoint belts.

A Coral Dirndl Skirt

So, this is technically one component of my Weekend Wardrobe pattern... but guess what?

The pattern pieces are all rectangles!

That's right, it's just a dirndl skirt. Easiest part of the Weekend Wardrobe? check.

it's all rectangles! *wink* (ft. unintentional awkward winking)
There's not much to say about this. It's a bright coral cotton sateen from G Street Fabrics. It's all rectangles. I basically ignored the instructions, so I'm not even sure if my lapped zipper is what it's supposed to have or not. It has a waistband button. I hemmed it using the blind hem function on my machine. It's is a LOT of gathering! Ignore the wrinkles!

Making a dirndl skirt is soooo easy (as long as you know how to gather). I could make 100. Do you love the dirndl skirt? Do you love saying dirndl? dirndl dirndl dirndl dirndl


ps: I've been making some blog design updates. I used Rachel's post on photography to figure out how to size my pictures properly, and then decided to update the whole thing. I feel a lot more motivated to post and to share my blog when I feel like it looks good, and I think it looks a lot better/more profesh. What do you think? Any suggestions?

pps: I also added a pin it button! It took me like an hour, and then my computer scientist fiance had to help fix it for like another hour, so you'd better pin a lot of stuff. ahhhhhh html!!!

April Showers dress and Giveaway Winner!

April showers bring May flowers... in this case, the flowers are springing up on my newly-finished dress! This is one of those dresses that lingered for ages half-finished on my dress form. I used Simplicity 2444, which was last seen during Me Made May '13 as a wearable muslin which I wear a lot. I had done a lot of hand finishing before realizing that when I put the zipper in, there was a possibility it wouldn't fit (eep!).  I lined this version, and I was rather worried that the bulk of the lining combined with the total lack of stretch (not that the last one stretched, but it wasn't quite so thick) would make it too small, but I powered through because I really wanted to wear it to an event: my friend's bridal shower!

I don't have a lot of detail shots. You all know what Simplicity 2444 looks like, though! Evvvvveryone has made one. (Because it is awesome. I love it.)

Wondering where I am? I am at...

Which is where all my favorite fabrics come from. I was dressed for the shower and my mom and I decided to stop in at G Street. Of course, this fabric happens to be from G Street, and alllll the ladies there were like I recognize that fabric!! Um, I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed?

And now for some thrilling professional photography:

Here I am, wearing my dress at the event that gave this dress the name "April Showers," my friend's absolutely gorgeous bridal shower. (We were playing a game where you had to guess the celebrity couple. I correctly identified Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy, but petered out around 1969. I did get Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass though! Young Adult Lit for life.)


Fabric: A cotton blend(?) stash jacquard c/o my mom from G Street Fabric.
Pattern: Simplicity 2444
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: seam binding, 22" zip.
Time to complete: foreverrrrrrr
Wear again? yes
Make again? yes
Details/changes: lined bodice, handpicked zipper, hand-finished seams and sleeves.

And the (randomly selected) winner of last week's giveaway is...

Amanda from The Year 2050 who said "The ladies in 5527 look like they're getting ready for a jet set adventure - the one on the far right is definitely the stewardess. The two next to her are arguing about where they're flying and the two on the far left are totally ready to go on their wacky European vacation. They are also all a bit miffed that everyone else chose the exact same shade of blue as them. Jeez.

I'll be sending you an email, Amanda! I can definitely see the stewardess look--perhaps you can make your own Pan Am uniform :) 

Thank you for all the hilarious comments. Every time I got an email about comments, I was so excited to see what you all had to say!

miss allie

Vintage Sewing Pledge & MMM'14

My Weekend Wardrobe project has expanded into participation in the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge.

I, Allie Massey, pledge to sew five vintage patterns from my stash in 2014.

The first is my whole Weekender Wardrobe pattern, of course.

I also want to master this nice little blouse pattern, Butterick 3324:

I think all three of these are very wearable. 

So I have made a little white wearable muslin version of View C, which is not quite acceptable for out-of-house-wear, and therefore has been worn out of the house like 5 times already. But that is good, because it shows I will get good use out of tops made from this pattern! If you were curious, the ties on A and B are actually different! The tie on A is cut to go in the same direction when loosely tied like that, and the one on B is cut to be symmetrical when tied in a bow. 

The next two are two cute pajama sets (one for me and one for my man):

Doesn't she just look so darn cute?

And these fine gentlemen have a lot of things to get done, clearly. I like their loafers. 
Also, why are men's patterns just short, average, tall, while we ladies have to deal with misses, miss, petite, junior, teen...? I'm sure I'm forgetting other "sizes" that are so hard to decipher! Boo.

Finally, I'll be sewing up a little something special that you will have to pop over here to see (no boys allowed, this means you, Alex).

And that makes five! Thanks to Marie for inspiration!

With all these lovely separates I will (presumably) have made, it will be perfect for Me Made May, which I cannot believe is here again already! So:

I, Allie of missalliemass, pledge to wear one or more me-made item of clothing 5 days a week.

Oh! but didn't I say every day last year? I did! But I also realize that some days  I never get "dressed" and wear workout clothes all day because I am lazy/a 24 year old sorority girl/whatever I don't need an excuse. This year I'm only saying 5 days a week, and hopefully I will manage to take some decent pictures to make up for those missing two days. Y'all know my pictures last year were not great :) hopefully this year they will be better.


Secretary Laurel

I tooooold you I made two Laurels! I needed a break from pants fitting, and I love my Colette Laurel pattern--it fits very nicely out of the envelope and it is really versatile.

While the first one was fairly straightforward, my second dress obviously diverges from the pattern a little! I've been hoarding this fabric, purchased for me by my mom (thanks Mom!) for exactly this dress, but I wanted to wait until I had my shift perfectly fitted, and take my time making it. It is some sort of geometric jacquard, I think a poly-cotton blend. I sort of feel like a cross between a glamourous secretary and the most beautiful couch ever. I love it.

I wore a vintage pin (my great grandmother's costume jewelry) with it for these photos, 
it has little pearls and tiny pink rhinestones!

In addition to the modifications mentioned for my Floral Laurel, I added a little roll collar with a split back, which is easy: just cut out and attach a rectangle as long as your neckline and twice as wide as your desired collar depth (like this).

Here you can see the collar points in the back. They don't lay down very nicely in this fabric, so I think I'll have to tack them down. Oh and did you notice my seamed stockings? They are nude with pink dots and seams, and I got them for free from What Katie Did for filling out their yearly customer survey! Score!

I also switched out the sleeves. Laurel comes with a sleeve option, actually two: an elbow-length sleeve and the same sleeve with a ruffle that brings it almost to three quarters. I wanted real three quarter sleeves, and I really wanted sleeve darts--I think they are such a nice vintage touch--so... I sniped one off a vintage pattern!

I used the sleeve pattern from McCall's 6969, also seen in other various incarnations here, from 1963.

The pattern illustrations on this one kill me.

Here's what I did: I lined up the grain line, because that is a thing that you are supposed to do. Then, I lined up the underarm points. I basically ignored everything above the underarm from the vintage pattern, tracing the laurel.

First, press your pattern pieces. (I skipped this for my little recreation.)

So, trace the left side of the laurel sleeve.

Then, I ignored everything below the underarm from the laurel, tracing the vintage pattern. I just fudged the seam from the underarm point of the laurel to the sleeve hem.

I ended up (luckily, through no skill of my own) with a beautiful, vintage sleeve tacked on my modern Laurel. I'm really kind of shocked how well it worked, and the resulting sleeve has lovely elbow darts.

Lovely, lovely sleeve darts, bonus french side seam.

I'm really pleased by the interiors of these dresses. The Laurel is so simple that it is easy to finish all the seams nicely, and it really is worth it. I know that taking my time with French seams (and French whipped seams for the armscye seams on the pink one) will not only extend the life of my garment, but make me happy! I am so proud of the insides.

French whipped seams, also known as double row of stitches plus zigzag.

To attach the collar, I sewed it right sides together, 
then pressed and stitched in the ditch.

Bias bound center back seams, lapped zip.

And the outside on the mannequin.

Fabric: A mystery stash jacquard c/o my mom from G Street Fabric.
Pattern: modified Laurel, size zero.
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: double fold bias binding, 22" zip.
Time to complete: even with the seam finishes and additions, this took me less than a day.
Wear again? yes!
Make again? yes.
Cost: free to me!

UPDATE: I have entered this as my Mad Men make in Julia Bobbin's third annual Mad Men Challenge! Although I am terribly far behind, I do love the show and the fashion. I'm going with Megan as my inspiration once again--she is always wearing this color--and that makes two years in a row that I've made a Laurel inspired by Megan (here's the other one). What will I do next year?!


My Floral Laurel! (not pants!)

I've felt like I'm fighting through my sewing recently. Pants fitting! arghhhhhh!!!

After all these close-up pants fitting posts, how about some nice loose fitting dresses?

I was really feeling in need of some "instant gratification," and I turned to Colette's Laurel. I have made the Laurel several times (my Megan Draper dress and my Lilly Laurel)--it is super easy and fits well. 
So I made two! Here is the first one, a lovely spring/summery shift with a bright floral.

Don't you love this fabric? It's amy butler, and I think it looks just like the fabric from Betty Draper's floral dress.

My original plan was to make a similar fitted sheath, but... ugh. I don't want to bother with that. I don't know, I can always pin out some more and make it more fitted, but this relaxed shape is more practical since my life has more crawling on the ground than lunch dates meetings with politicians.

I only made slight modifications:

1. I lowered the bust dart points by about half an inch.

2. I straightened out the side seams. I consider myself a slender pear which sometimes makes vintage shift patterns annoying to fit, since they seem to be built for someone with a real hourglass figure (the shift from my Weekend Wardrobe pattern, Simplicity 5299, falls in this category). The Laurel has a dramatic curve at the side, such that it gives you, like, hip wings? Anyway, I just used my french curve to straighten it out a little. The hem circumference ends up the same, I just straighten out some of the S-curve. You can see my "enhanced" seam on the left hand side of the dress in the left hand photo down below.

3. This pattern is short. I loooooooove short dresses, the shorter the better in my opinion, but I am also practical (at least, sort of) and I want to be able to wear these dresses to work.

4. I made myself some facing patterns and used those. I know they are supposed to all be bias finished, but whatever. I like facings. I sew and I can make whatever I want, SO THERE.

After all the tedious pants muslins, it is so refreshing to whip up an easy shift, and even more satisfying to see all the nicely finished insides. Plus, now I have a Laurel for both the Draper wives, Betty AND Megan! 

Fabric: Amy Butler's Tumble Roses (from my stash)
Pattern: Laurel, size zero.
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: 22" zip
Time to complete: not long.
Wear again? yes!
Make again? yes.
Cost: $20ish

p.s. I will not be wearing this outside since there are INCHES of snow on the ground--in North Carolina! It is in the process of melting, but that means all the places are not covered in snow are covered in slush.


PANTS y'all!

Okay, so my top favorite thing to do inside is read. I am a librarian.

A close second would be sewing, of course (especially if I have a nice audiobook to listen to).

My third favorite thing would be watching old tv shows. Thank goodness for netflix! I am working my way through all 1,225 episodes of Dark Shadows, and my latest obsession is The Dick van Dyke Show. After watching about half of one episode, a decision had been reached: I MUST have Laura Petrie's pants.

The Dick van Dyke Show stars Dick van Dyke (who else?) and Mary Tyler Moore as the young married couple Rob and Laura Petrie, a tv writer and she a homemaker and stay at home mother. Apparently, Mary, who was 24 at the time, caused some scandal by wearing pants on television! While she does appear in some amazing dresses, especially when entertaining at home or going out, she most usually appears in skinny cigarette pants which were quite a sensation!

I have had Colette's Clover pattern for ages, but I have always been terrified to make pants. They are such a challenge item in the sewing community! Plus, if shopping for pants is so dang hard, making them yourself has got to be harder, right?

But the combination of neeeeeding Laura Petrie's everything pants and having this crazy idea for a new year's wardrobe challenge finally pushed me over the edge and I did it! I made pants!

Instead of using the Clover pattern, I went vintage with the pants from Simplicity 7087, my original "weekender" pattern from 1967 (I'm now using Simplicity 5229, so I'll be fitting those pants next! NO CHEATING). I cut out a straight size 14, and was actually surprised by how easily they went together!

smug because I made PANTS
I used a navy blue zero-stretch twill from my stash for my pants as a potentially-wearable muslin. I don't know what the content is but it doesn't feel like 100% cotton. Actually it feels not great, its like uniform fabric.

do you like my new glasses? they are pink!

Overall, I'm fairly happy with the fit for a first try. I don't think I'll be wearing these out in public, though, because of THIS NONSENSE:

MOM JEANS BUTT ahhhhhaahaha. Between the fabric and the fit, they look like US Postal Service pants.

Although you can't see the top of the pants on the envelope drawing, they go up ABOVE my navel and they have one pair of darts on the front waistline and two pairs on the back.

pretty sure I should be a pin-up model

So clearly there are some fit issues--I already took in the legs a bit before these photos, and I would like for them to be a little skinnier.. But honestly, I thought these pants looked PRETTY GOOD except for the saggy butt before I saw these pictures. So its definitely not that bad in real life. The navy is also darker, though.

Here is the front crotch area. I think the wrinkles higher up are from my hands. I didn't but a button on the waistline, because I might take these apart and recut the back pieces. They also aren't hemmed shhhhh

And the back crotch/butt. My pants, I think, have many of the same issues as Lauren's clovers. I have some wrinkles on the side as she did. 



I really think these pants are okay! I have to remember that I used fabric with NO STRETCH whatsoever. The pattern doesn't call for a stretch fabric, so I went for it. The waist/hip ratio is perfect. And they are comfortable. And they fit okay out of the packet! And I MADE PANTS.

Bonus photo! Me and my roommate's dog:

And, p.s., version 2 is MUCH better. Stick around!

xoxo allie

Sewing in 2014, and my Weekender Wardrobe of Choice

There have been a LOT of sewing resolutions in the last few days! I have only one resolution, and it ties into my Weekender Wardrobe plans:

Take my time creating handmade items I am proud of and love to wear.

Simple, right?

One of the reasons I want to make this Weekend Wardrobe is that I want to start wearing more handmade every day, which will help me shift my "look" to more vintage-inspired. My challenge is balancing this with sewing more practical items that work with my lifestyle--I work in a library, so my workplace is casual and I spend some time every day walking around, bending, crawling, reaching, etc. I want to take my time and plan out my Weekend Wardrobe to maximize its usefulness. I think well all have one-off pieces in our closets that don't get worn because they don't match anything else or don't fit or whatever. I have been trying really hard to be conscientious and make things I think I'll get a lot of use out of, but I still sometimes mess up. For example:

I love my spring shift dress in theory, and I did wear it this summer--but the fit is just off. This was pre-Laurel, and I think the fit on the laurel is much better than even this modified version. I'll likely scavenge the trim from this dress and remake the same silhouette with a different fabric and pattern.

So, while prepping to make my wardrobe pattern, I'm keeping in mind wardrobe-building, wearability, and my vintage inspirations.

The first choice to make is my Weekend Wardrobe pattern of choice: I bought two, and I think both have their places in my closet eventually.

I got Simplicity 7087 in the mail first and I was so excited to start I have already stitched up the pants from that pattern. But I really think that the selection of items in Simplicity 5299 will get more wear:

While I like the a-line skirt and already sewed up the pants in the pink and yellow ensemble, I think the full skirt will get more wear. I like the three-quarter length sleeves and the binding detail on the jacket. Since I currently wear a ton of tee/cardi combinations, the sleeveless top should slide into daily rotation, but I also like that the top has the option of sleeves. Choosing this pattern means I'll be fitting a second pair of trousers, but I could certainly use the experience!

miss allie


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