When in Rain . . .


A-ha!  A bonus dress for February!  I was completely inspired by the Academy Awards challenge over at The Sew Weekly.  You KNOW I love old movies.  And almost more than that I love a good theme.  

This particular dress is copied from one that Catherine Deneuve wears in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, as designed by Jacqueline Moreau.   I think it will be a summer favorite.  Picnic anyone?


I have to admit that the Academy Awards challenge is my favorite so far this year.  I happen to be a big fan of ye olde classic movies.  Initially I had some rather lofty ambitions – like that stripey number that Nora wears in the Thin Man or a sultry slip of Maggie the Cat.  I thought about channelling Clara Bow inWings or sporting over-sized men’s PJ’s like Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night.

I wanted something iconic, but in more subtle kind of way.  I narrowed down my list of favorite films to those with my favorite costume design.    One image sort of stuck.  Think color.  Think rain.  Think music.  Now think it all in french.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is the sadly romantic tale of young love.  Set in a coastal town of Cherbourg, teen-aged Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) falls in love with Guy just before he is shipped off to the war in Algeria.  Not even working in an umbrella boutique or wearing the most amazing technicolor dresses can brighten life for pauvre Genevieve.  The film is beautifully moving even without dialogue, because (surprise!) it’s a musical. A heart wrenching musical.  Oh, you’ll cry. 
Although slightly obsessive, my love for gingham dresses is not at all unrequited and not nearly as sad, thankfully.  Now I have two – this one for breezy summer days and another for fancier occasions.  So really, this particular challenge has fed multiple obsessions for me.  No complaints on my end. 
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was not a big winner in 1965, but was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Song, Best Original Score, Best Scoring, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for Screen.  If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do.  If for nothing else, do it for the dresses. 

The Facts:
  • Fabric:  Blue and white cotton gingham.
  • Pattern: Simplicity 2444.  I am kind of loving the bodice.  I might revisit this pattern later with a stiffer fabric.
  • Year:  2010
  • Notions: Zipper and thread.  I might have used some lace as hem tape for a fun surprise.
  • Time to complete:  Maybe 4 hours.  Although techinically, the dress is still not done.  I only remembered that I had not quite finished hand sewing the lining to the back zipper and that the dress had a few pins in it when I was mid-photo taking.  Silly me.  That’s what happens when you put a project aside for a little while.
  • First worn:  Photos. I am waiting for summer.
  • Wear again?  Yes please.  I love gingham.  (sigh)
  • Total price:  Gingham – $9.  Everything else was in my stash.
I had some fun putting a guest post together for Portland blog Sweet Athena.  If you aren't yet familiar, Sweet Athena is a fun craft and foodie blog run by two friends, Jess and Lindz. They specialize in fun projects and delicious recipes.  (Really is there more to life than that?)

I put together a tutorial for a cloth belt.  You can read about it here or there.   Enjoy!


As much as I would love to be sharing a tutorial on making the most awesome dress of all time, I realize that: 1) "awesome" is open to interpretation; and 2) such an amazing feat may not be accomplished in a handful of simple steps.  

Instead I vote that we split the diff, so to speak, and make ourselves an adorable little fabric belt.  You don't really need much to get started. 
  • Fabric.  Choose something sturdy, like cotton, and without stretch.  Go nuts.  Any print you like.  How much?  See Step 1.
  • Thread.  Should match the fabric or choose something contrasting.  
  • Fusible Interfacing. It adds some stiffness and structure.  It glues itself to the fabric with you iron it on.
  • Two D rings.  You know?  Metal loops kind of shaped like the letter "D".
  • Iron.  For ironing.
  • Sewing Machine.  For sewing.
  • Scissors.  You get the gist.
  • Measuring Tape.  Obvs.
Use the measuring tape to measure around your waist, through the belt loops of your favorite jeans, or the circumference of wherever you will be sporting your new belt.  Take that number (in inches) and add ten more inches.  

The extra ten inches takes into consideration the finished edges, the part that encloses the D Rings, and extra tail so you can adjust your belt.  Example:  If I measure through the belt loops of my low-rise trousers the number I get is 36 inches.  Add 10 and I get 46 inches.  I need length of 46 inches of fabric.
I bought 1-inch D Rings, so the finished belt will have a width of 1 inch.  To add seams I need to include 5/8 of an inch.  We will be working on a fold, so there will only be one seam.  

Check this math:  (1" x 2) + (5/8" x 2) = 3 1/4".  Get it?  1 inch for each side plus 1 1/4" for the seams along one edge.

In my case I will need one piece of fabric that measures 46" by 3 1/4".  I'm going to use scraps I have of some really springy seersucker.  I think we all need a reminder that winter will be over.  Someday.  
Once you have your long strip of carefully chosen fabric, cut some interfacing of the same size.  Then iron the fusible (gluey) side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.

Oh, yeah.  Now it's starting to look professional, right?
Fold the strip in half the long way.  The wrong side, with the interfacing should be on the outside.  You are basically looking at an inside out belt at this point.
Get your machine ready.  Sew along the long edge.  Remember we measured for a 5/8" seam allowance.  

When you are finished, trim that raw edge.  Trust me, it'll make the next step easier.
Flip it!  Yup, you have to turn the whole thing right side out.  Everyone's got their own method.  I'm partial to using safety pins attached to one end and guiding it through.  I'll leave it up to your imagination.

Phew.  That was pretty rough, right?  Well, you'll be happy to hear that the worst is over.  Now you are going to want to give your belt (which is actually starting to look like a belt) a really good pressing.  Make sure the seam looks good and that everything is nice and flat.

OPTIONAL:  If you are feeling fancy, this is the part where you can do some top stitching.  You can use a contrasting thread and sew all around the long lengths or perhaps sew some zig zag stitches.  

Now you are going to finish one open end of the belt.  Simply fold the fabric under itself, press, and stitch.   
To finish up, simply slip the belt through the two D Rings. Place them about three inches from the remaining unfinished edge.  "Trap" the D Rings by folding the fabric, making a loop.  Tuck under that raw edge and sew it in place on the belt.  

You're done!
That's really all there is to it.  You should now have a fun little accessory to add to your wardrobe.  I'd love some sharing when you've finished yours!  
 . . . and so is the February Dress.  Once again, I contributed over at The Sew Weekly and was featured as front page news.  For today anyway.  What fun!  The theme for this week's challenge was Red!  You know for Valentine's Day.  Read all about it here or at the source.

The "I Wish I Were a Ballerina" Dress

When I was a kid my mom bought me a tutu and matching bodice when the local ballet theater had a costume sale.  The top was pink water-stained taffeta with a big fake rose right in the middle.  The skirt had layers and layers of pink tulle and another fake rose at the waist.  I think it goes without saying, that little-girl-me was enamored.  I wore the outfit for Halloween that year, but would (when I thought no one else was around) put on my taffeta and tulle and a record and dance around the living room of my parents’ house.  I have very distinct memories of jumping and twirling off the brick fireplace to the crackly 33 1/3 rotation of The Nutcracker Suite.
Alas, I never took dance, (My folks were more instrument type people.) which is a shame since I grew to be a six footer, and I really think the training in coordination and balance would have helped me out.  Nevertheless, I still do daydream about high kicks and pirouettes . . . and also shuffling off to Buffalo, but that’s another dress.

Granted this dress is red.  I am just not so much into pink anymore.  But, the combination of the sheer fabric and fullness of the skirt at the hem sort of took me back.  The cut of this dress and the way it draped made me feel like I used to when I would dress up.  I like the way the fabric lightly tickled my knees.  I don’t think grown-up dresses do a lot of knee-tickling.

So . . . I may, or may not, have had the house to myself this past weekend.  There may, or may not, have been an obliging fireplace.  And I may, or may not, have done some twirling.
The Facts
  • Fabric:  Red (cranberry?) chiffon, probably synthetic, which someone gave me.  Satin for the lining.
  • PatternVogue 8615. I was going to go real risque and make the whole dress sheer and wear it over a slip or something.  I got a little shy, so underlined and lined the bodice and added a loose-fitting straight skirt to line the chiffon full skirt.  I have been wanting to try this pattern for quite a while.  With a stiffer fabric, I think it would be a totally different dress.  I want to try it again.  Next time I will remember to add length to the waist.
  • Year:  2009
  • Notions: Zipper and thread.  The latter of which I ran out of, so some of my hand stitching is done in a non-matching true red.  Embarassing!
  • Time to complete:  About 10 hours.  Hemming the sheer skirt by hand took forever.  Felt like it anyway.
  • First worn:  Just for photos so far.  I need more fancy parties to go to.
  • Wear again?  I think I will.
  • Total price:  zipper – $2 + on sale satin – $9.73 = $11.73
I originally started working on this dress because I had the red fabric in my stash and wanted to try out a new pattern.  When it all came together, I thought it looked like a 1970s bridesmaid’s dress.  (I know it’s probably the bow, but I like bows!  OK?) It wasn’t until I put on the finished product that I thought it was actually cute.  Sure, maybe slightly juvenile and very modest, but still cute.
If you only had a heart . . .shaped Valentine woven thing.  

But you can!  Want to learn how?  Then you might want to check out my latest endeavor: Keats|Yeats.  

It's all new and still figuring itself out, but we'll get there.