Category Archives: Sewing

Fashion Inspiration: Olivia Pope’s Coats on ‘Scandal’

Olivia Pope's Salvatore Ferragamo coat from Season 2 (photo credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder)

Olivia Pope’s Salvatore Ferragamo coat from Season 2 (photo credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder)

A sure sign of a show hitting the country’s pop culture zeitgeist is when you check your Twitter feed and all you see are tweets related to #Scandal. Especially when it’s between 10-11:00 pm EST on Thursday nights. For me, ABC’s Scandal is appointment television and I’ve got my iPhone ready to go to live tweet my astonishment at every oh-no-they-didn’t-just-do-that plot point. And while I’m glued to the TV, I’m also ogling the awesome, ultra-feminine wardrobe that Kerry Washington gets to wear as her D.C. fixer character, Olivia Pope.

I mean, come on! I feel like the Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman–“Where does she get those wonderful clothes?!”

Lately, Olivia Pope’s wardrobe has been all about the coats. They are so luxe and gorgeous! So while we must wait until February 27th for new episodes (why!), below are some sewing patterns you can use to create your own Olivia Pope-worthy coats.

Wrap Coat

Like the costumes on Suits, Olivia Pope’s clothes are all about the necklines. In season 2, Olivia Pope wore this light pink, oversized wrap coat by Salvatore Ferragamo. The wool and cashmere coat retailed at over $1,700.

Vogue 1321, Donna Karan Collection

However, Vogue Patterns has this Donna Karan pattern above (Vogue 1321), that could easily look like the Ferragamo coat, but at a price tag with less zeros.

Short-Sleeve Coat

From Season 2, Episode 14, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (credit: abc.go.com)

Oh this Max Mara coat! And with the long gloves! So iconic…And get this–Vogue has a similar pattern to this coat as well:

Very Easy, Very Vogue–V8861

 

Military Jacket

Season 2, episode 10 “One for the Dog”

I had a tougher time finding a pattern for this Ann Demeulemeester double-breasted military jacket. However, if you alter the Simplicity 2508 below, it makes a nice alternative. And with the right fabric, you can make any of those patterns worthy of a Olivia Pope coat.

Simplicity 2508

 

People, we have 39 days until Scandal is back. Who’s makin’ a coat?

 

P.S. While I was researching this post, I found this video gem from online retailer, Bluefly, made with Kerry Washington in 2012 about Olivia Pope’s wardrobe:

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DIY Missoni Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarf Tutorial title

Fall is my favorite time of year. To me, it means pumpkin lattes, boots….and scarves! Over the years I’ve amassed a small scarf collection and I look forward to bringing them out of hibernation as soon as there is a slight chill in the air. Here’s the weird thing—I’ve never sewn a scarf. I’ve only knit them.

So, remember how I had a major craft-fail with my first Jalie scarf-collar top? I was crushed since the fabric I had used was this luscious, faux-Missoni knit that I bought at Fabric Place Basement outside Boston.  Well, I was able to salvage some of the fabric to make this infinity scarf. Score!

Infinity scarves are so easy to make too.  And, it’s the perfect sewing project to use up any of the fabric scraps you have in your stash. Be sure to use a fabric that is thin, but has decent body to it.  If you want more of a cowl look, just make the panel wider.

Instructions

  1. Cut out a long length of fabric. For my scarf, I cut out a panel 14” wide x 64” long.
  2. Fold the panel in half length-wise, with right sides together. Pin and then sew the seam.
  3. Turn the scarf so it’s right side out. Hand-stitch the ends together.

That’s it!

So, you could spend over $200 on this real Missoni infinity scarf.

Or you could pick up a chevron print—there are a bunch at Fabric.com for $8/yard—and sew your own custom-made scarf.

No brainer!

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Completed Sewing Project: The Tiramisu Dress

I love that this dress has pockets!

PatternTiramisu by Cake Patterns
Fabric: Jersey from Metro Textiles in NYC
Size: 35C

So this summer, I’ve sewn not just one, but TWO dresses! I love this print too. I picked it up at Metro Textile earlier this year when my sister was in town. Originally, I was planning to use this knit fabric to make a top to wear with blazers, but I realized I had just enough for Cake’s Tiramisu dress.

I had read that the sizing for the bodice was purposely designed so that there would be no gaping—fantastic! So, using the bodice formula, I was a size 35.  However, after I constructed the bodice and tried it on, it was ginormous—almost comically so. I panicked and Facetimed my sister (love technology!), who had made two dresses from this pattern already, to get her advice. Interestingly, even though we have completely different body types, we both had the same problem with the bodice. I ended up using the solution that she used by cutting off some of the bodice length and taking in the side seams.

Curtseying outside Gramercy Park.

In the end, I wound up shortening the bodice by an inch and taking in an inch on both side seams. The bodice still doesn’t fit as well as I’d like, but I’m hoping that after I wash it, the fabric will bounce back. Otherwise, I guess I‘ll have to take in the shoulders a little and add snaps where the bodice crosses over.

Aside from altering the bodice, it was an easy dress to sew and the instructions were very clear. Plus, it was nice that the instructions fit on one sheet. And this dress is soooo comfortable! I know that I’ll be getting a lot of wear out of this dress before it gets cool.  I would only recommend that if you have an average bust for your size, that you may want to go down a bodice size.

Onto the next project!

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Fashion Inspiration: The Women of “Suits”

Donna Rachel Jessica Suits USA

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of the TV series, Suits, now in its third season. I started watching it during season one, after reading a great review of the show in Entertainment Weekly. I usually don’t watch shows on USA network, they’re not my style, but I loved the banter between the two main characters, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) and the ‘80s pop culture references.

But what I really love is the wardrobe for the actresses. Their costumes rival Kerry Washington’s on Scandal (another fave). For the Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and Donna Paulson (Sarah Rafferty) characters, the wardrobe is very aspirational, body conscious, and elegant.

Recently, EW interviewed the show’s costume designer, Jolie Andreatta, about her selections. She typically dresses the women in designer labels like Dior, Victoria Beckham, Prada and Burberry, mixed with vintage pieces. In the article, Andreatta says that the men have “classic [attire], but when you’re trying to portray that 1%, it comes from the fashion forward look [of the women].”

While checking out Vogue Patterns for sewing inspiration, I noticed that a number of patterns could easily be worn by any of the leading ladies of Suits. So, if you want to dress like you work at Pearson Darby, check these out.

Jessica Pearson: The Partner

Jessica Pearson Suits outfits

I want to own every piece of Jessica’s wardrobe. And her outfits should be the most sophisticated—her name is over the door.  Her clothes are meticulously tailored and architectural, with interesting necklines.

And look here! This Donna Karan pattern is the exact replica of the red dress pictured above.

Donna Karan Collection V1341

I could easily see these dresses in Jessica’s walk-in closet.

Lorcan Mullany for Bellville Sassoon, V1362

V8630

Rachel Zane: The Paralegal

Rachel Zane Suits outfits

Rachel’s outfits are probably the most body-conscious of the three, and let’s face it, Meghan Markle is fit! Her character tends to favor separates– mostly slim-fitting sweaters or button-down blouses paired with pencil skirts.

Tom and Linda Platt, V1283

V8781

Donna Paulsen: The Executive Assistant

Donna Paulsen Suits outfits

Donna is my favorite character, but her wardrobe may not always be the most office-appropriate. She has the most varied clothing, but she has been outfitted in a lot of knit dresses with plunging necklines. Maybe these should be saved for going out!

Donna Karan Collection, V1280

Donna Karan Collection, V1259

Do you watch any shows where you want to own all of the costumes (um, Scandal)?

Suits airs Thursday nights at 10/9 Central on USA network.

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Completed Project: Vogue 8766 Spring Fever Dress

Ooh – I’m a little squinty! Now I know why all those fashion bloggers wear sunglasses!

Pattern: Vogue 8766  /  Fabric: 100% cotton from Mood Fabrics  /  Lining: 100% cotton shirting (lime green!) also from Mood

Shoes: Aerosoles; Belt: Target; Earrings: Icing; Necklace: Me&Ro; Bag: Kate Spade

So, let’s go back a couple months…Remember how I was learning about fit with the Sew the Perfect Fit on Craftsy? Well I finally “completed” this Vogue 8766 dress at the end of June. But something about the dress was bugging me. For one thing, it looked really dumpy on me. The center front of the skirt had excess fabric and it didn’t look flattering. So I put it away for a little while.

After the July 4th holiday, I decided to revisit the dress. I pinned up the sides of the skirt and realized that I had had too much ease in the skirt! So after all of the fabric I had added to my muslin to accommodate the hips, I ended up taking in 3/4″ on each side. Go figure! (ha ha)

Now, the excess fabric is gone from the front of the skirt and it fits much  better. I can wear it in public now! Funny thing–when I finally really completed this dress, we were in the middle of a heat wave. So Spring Fever dress is now the Heat Wave dress!

I definitely recommend Craftsy’s Sew the Perfect Fit class. With this class I got my sewing mojo back– woo hoo!

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Sewing Project: Spring Fever Dress (Vogue 8766)

So, it’s been a while! I have some updates on the dress I’m making for the Sew the Perfect Fit class on Craftsy. I put this sewing project to the side for a couple of weeks to work on some other things. Part of it was because it was a little daunting to make all of the changes to the pattern and then sew another muslin. But it must be done!

Ooh…pasty! Someone needs some color.

 

This weekend I went back to it and realized that I had raised the waistline waaaay too much in the bodice with the last revision. So, I’m now on my 3rd bodice muslin, but I’m pretty happy with it.  The shoulders fit well, there’s enough room in the bust and I can move around in it comfortably. Third time’s a charm!

 

 

Since Betty, my dress form, is close to my shape, but not 100%, I felt it best to sew the zipper in to see how the dress fit me for real. The skirt definitely needs more work. In the front, there are draglines in the hip area, but excess fabric in the center towards the bottom. I think when I first added fabric to the skirt front, I added it towards the center, instead of closer to the side seams.

 

In the back, the bodice is mostly fine—I just may slightly raise the darts, but other than that, it looks good. The skirt though…I need to add a little more to the rear/hip area. It’s a little tight and uncomfortable to sit.

So back to altering the pattern! After I make these changes, I’ll review again. If the skirt isn’t hanging right, I was thinking about making it slightly A-line in order to make it a little more flattering.

Getting there!

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Sewing, Body Issues and Finding the Perfect Fit

Edith Head illustration, via Flickr

About 3 weeks ago, I found myself having a mini-meltdown in a Banana Republic fitting room. Yet again, I could not find a pair of pants that fit. You see, over the last 6 months or so, I’ve gained about 10 lbs., which ordinarily on my fairly tall frame, wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But, this particular set of 10 lbs. have put me past the point of comfortable in most of my clothes. Some call it “happy” weight, but I’m not happy about it.

So I faced a dilemma: lose weight (duh), buy new/bigger clothes or sew some new ones. I’m working on the first, but it takes time and I can’t really afford the second. The third option, sewing, didn’t really appeal to me though. Mainly because in the past, I’ve stupidly restricted myself from sewing clothes until I felt I was the “right” size. It was my reward for losing weight. Issues, right? I’m working on that!

The other problem I’ve had with sewing garments is that I’ve never been able to get the fit right. My top and bottom are two different sizes and even then, for whatever reason, the clothes looked like they are swimming on me (remember the Audrey dress?). Not flattering at all!

Enter Craftsy. During one of their online class sales, I signed up for Sew the Perfect Fit, by Lynda Maynard. I swear, this class is changing my life. I never knew how to alter a muslin correctly and transfer the changes to the pattern. This class will show you how to do it.

Plus, the message is that the problem is never with your body. It’s about making the pattern perfect for you. Should be obvious, but when you have body image hang-ups like I do, it’s nice to hear.  Also, you learn how to look at your body objectively to figure out how to alter a pattern.

Vogue 8766 – Option D

In this class, the pattern you use is Vogue 8766—a dress pattern with multiple options. I’m choosing to fit option D, a sleeveless fitted bodice with a fitted skirt. I figure if I can get this to fit right, I can get any pattern to fit.

To start, you make a muslin based on what size(s) you are. Based on my bust and waist measurements, I cut out a size 16 for the bodice and an 18 for the skirt, based on my hips. As usual, even though my measurements matched the sizes, the dress was hanging off my dress form, which I’ve now dubbed, Betty. Following the class instructions, I ended up first shortening the shoulders and then taking in the side bust darts. Then I had to shorten the waist. By the time I was done pinning it to size, I had changed nearly every detail of the bodice. There had to be a better way.

Muslin #1 – pinned in the bust, side darts, shoulders and waist

Then Lynda mentioned that if you’re trying to get the shoulders to fit, especially with a commercial pattern, and you’re over a B cup, you should use your high bust measurement instead of your bust. Light bulb moment! If the shoulders fit, but it’s too tight in the bust, you just need to make a FBA (full bust adjustment).  The hardest part, which I can attest to as well, is getting the shoulders to fit right.

Muslin #2 – using the smaller size, I only needed to shorten the waist

I went back to the pattern and made another bodice version, this time a size 14 based on my high bust measurement. I sewed the new bodice muslin together and lo and behold, I only had to shorten the waist! Woo-hoo!

I still have to attach the skirt to the bodice and transfer all my changes to the pattern, but it’s a good start!

Now, I am pumped to finish this sewing project!

For more information on Sew the Perfect Fit, please visit Craftsy.com.

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Completed Project: Stripey Cowl Knit Top

First, I have to say that this cowl knit top was the quickest and easiest pattern I’ve ever sewed. This is of course Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern. My sister had been singing Sewaholic’s praises for a while, and especially this pattern since it’s so versatile.  Of course I had to try it.

Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top pattern

It all started when my sister was visiting about two months ago and we took our obligatory trip to the Garment District to go fabric shopping. I planned on going purely as an observer and advisor—I was on a bit of a spending diet at the time. But once she started amassing a ton of fabric bolts at Metro Textile, I found my willpower going by the wayside. When she selected this multi-gray striped knit, I fell in love and had to get some for myself. In addition to loving anything in stripes, I knew stripes would be a big trend this spring. Funnily, we planned the fabric for the same pattern. Gotta love those crafty genes! You can see her completed Renfrew cowl top here on her blog, Sew Wrong.

Loving how the stripes on the side seams are matching!

I was a little nervous about sewing with striped fabric. But Sewaholic came to the rescue. Every question I had on the pattern, she answered in her corresponding blog tutorial–including how to match stripes! What a lifesaver! If only the big pattern companies offered tutorials.

Following Sewaholic’s sewalong on my iPad

While I was sewing, I had her blog posts on my iPad so I could sew along. Honestly though, if I had been a little more advanced, I wouldn’t have needed the blog posts since the pattern itself is so clearly written.

Any mistakes I made were all on me. For one, I didn’t rotate the sleeve pattern so that the stripes would appear horizontal instead of vertical. Oops! I decided to just go with it though. I did the same thing with the waistband, but I did go back and cut it out correctly later. That would have looked weird, I think. The stripes at the shoulder cap match for like, a second, but I’ll have to get over that.

So happy with the fit!

Did I mention I had to do ZERO altering? The sizing was 100% spot on—including the shoulder width. Score! I’ve never had this experience with the big pattern companies.  This pattern is my personal MVP. It’s so good that I will need to reinforce the pattern with interfacing. Guess where I read about that tip? Oh, on Sewaholic’s blog. Brilliant!

‘Nuff said.

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