New Years Resolution Winter Sewing Marathon

So since the start of January, I have been on a roll with finishing off old sewing projects and bringing festering ideas into fruition.  In the last four days I have completed the following and I attribute my immense drive and perserverence to the extreme cold we are having here in NYC. (8 degrees the other day!)

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I got this Vogue vintage 1950’s pattern about a year ago and I was excited to use it with some blue floral cotton. The blue made me think of Grace Kelly and a delicate tea party. Finding the pattern pieces were very oddly shaped and I might not have enough, I improvised by using a lovely lipstick red cotton I salvaged from an old dress I never wore. The dress’ skirt was full and cut on the bias, so I had a lot of fabric to work with. I actually like the combination of the two and the red brings a more modern look to the shape, in my eyes. I am five hours into the project and it’s looking nice. I have a long way to go, as there are eight gussets in all, a full lining, horsehair braid to put into the hem, a zipper and hemming!

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Another garment I made was this simple silk blouse from some flocked cheetah print fabric a client of mine had me make a custom dress from in like… 2008. I have been sitting on this small piece for about seven years so it was nice to make a little shirt with a built in scarf. The pattern is original and I sewed a scarf piece into the shoulder seam and then it wraps around the neckline. French seams throughout and simple hemming. I would like to do one or two more in a different fabric ;o)

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So I started this draped jacket from some awesome pink wool Kollabora generously donated to me last year and then I just stopped. The pattern is a plus size Burdastyle pattern that took me like six hours to grade down because of all of the angles of it and it was exhausting and I guess I therefore gave up. I bought that purple woven fabric at Paron six months ago with the intention of using it on the lapel of this jacket, yet the whole project sat in storage for months and months until this week. I hand-sewed the binding on the cuffs and tacked the collar facing throughout. I am pretty happy with how happy-looking the jacket is. It’s so damn bright, but who cares, it’s fun. I love pink.

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1399455_10102089440431476_3861571351132936964_oI also used this awesome Western shirt I got in Texas last year to make a much less masculine and heavy blouse with some shaping, waist cinching and a Peter Pan collar. I completely took apart the men’s shirt and used the flat fabric to cut out a vintage 1960’s pattern from it. I had just the right amount of fabric, and was even able to re-use the buttons and cut a smaller sleeve from the existing sleeves! The new shirt features a bowtie front, buttons down the back, and short sleeves. I loved the print of the old shirt, but that coupled with the back cape yoke and front cape and large bulbous sleeves was a bit…much. Hooray for re-imagining clothing!

Western Shirt Red-do

I also made this pillow from this awesome Indian shirt I have had for about six years and never wear because it’s skin-tight. I love the embroidery on it and the intense pink, but it was too darn small. I love Eastern textiles and have a lot of them in my home, so this made sense. I only used the sleeves to make the pillow, added some vintage purple pom pom trim and that was it.

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Now,I have to finish the 50’s dress and I want to alter an amazing French suit I picked up at a thrift shop recently. It’s a wild suit. I’m excited to share what else I make in the next few weeks! Be back soon!

xo Desira

Making Old Good // Decorating @ Home

About six weeks ago my boyfriend and I took up residence in a 122 year old Downtown Jersey City apartment, relocating from Brooklyn after ten years for him and seven for me. It was a big and well-needed shift and we love it. Despite the fact that our building has survived several wars, yes, It’s a trendy Pre-pre-pre-pre War… (It’s been around since before the Spanish -American War), it has needed some TLC, which I love doing.

After moving in, I couldn’t wait to do research on the building and found that it had been a saloon in 1900, owned by a German named Gustav; and our landlord told us that it went on to become a boardinghouse….. Not to start the idea train, but I am thinking saloon+boardinghouse = whorehouse!

Photo: IFC Films // House of Pleasures

Back to renovations….The hugest undertaking to date has been the re-modeling of a pantry closet off the kitchen. Flaking paint, rounded walls, poor workmanship to seal off what used to have been a shared bathroom complete with ancient flooring kept past tenants from using this large walk-in pantry off the kitchen, yet without much storage in the entire apartment, we found it necessary to bring the space to utilization, we had to fix it. I, being a Bob Vila/Norm Abram fan since I was around nine years old, with parents who fix everything, dove into this/these projects.

I bought paneling, paint, and with a lot of sweat c/o a handsaw, I managed to cover the possibly lead-inflicted surfaces with the white paneling and also painted the existing bead-board a lovely light blue. Lastly, I brought in inexpensive black and white tile laminate flooring, which transformed the space to a whole new look. It’s a lot better. We still are in disbelief that no other tenant had touched some of the antiqued space since the ’60s.

More to come. ;o)

Pants Re-do

I bought these Talbot’s pants at a thrift shop a few months ago because I liked their odd fabric and thought I could turn them into something better.  They sat in my drawer for a while until this morning,when I decided to give them new life.  They fit poorly, wide in the hips and crotch; and then tapered into a strange high-water.  The bottom hem was a solid 1.25″, so I dropped that and also took the pants in about 2″ on each side overall. I meticulously pinned and sewed and re-pinned and sewed again to achieve a skinny pants look. The original fit was again, odd, so it took a lot of tweaking before I got them right.  I am happy with the results and look forward to doing more of my pants. :o) They went from a size 10 to about a 6.

Talbot's Size 10 Pants Before + After

Talbot’s Size 10 Pants Before + After

A Year in Furs

Call it winter blues, call it writer’s block, I have been been working less in the last month after the holidays than usual.  These moments of less activity kind of bum me out, but I think I am winding down from a crazypants year of hyper-activity! I have to remind myself what I have done because whenever I am feeling “lazy”, I mull over my past projects in my mind and go, “Oh!, right, I did that.”

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That refers to my being cast as Ann Marie, Ashley Greene’s rival in the ABC pilot, Americana, using my own designs to portray a fashion designer. The pilot was sadly not picked up, but this was my first opportunity to be able to showcase my two loves, fashion and acting.

On Americana with my designs!

On Americana with my designs!

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That refers to my first theater production with my old theater company, Homebrewed, back in April-May, which I served as stage manager & actor in.

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That also refers to the completion of & performance of my first full length play, Crystal Atlas, at the end of May

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That also refers to the completion of a one-act play, Yess, Texas, which I also made 9 costumes for (my Spring 2013 Collection) and performed with my new theater company as part of Williamsburg Fashion Weekend.

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That also refers to the wood-nymph photoshoot I held with one of my best friends of said collection in the woods where I grew up.

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That would also refer to the fact that I got cast as a featured wife of a warlord in one of my favorite director’s, Darren Aronofsky’s, newest film, Noah. I got to be a part of the amazing experience of this biblical times feature complete with mud, rain, and amazing sets galore.

Me on Noah

Me on Noah

 To be continued…

Kollaborating With Kollabora

So I have been involved with the great company Burdastyle since 2007, working for them & with them and am so proud of how huge the site has become. Check it out, if you haven’t already. Nora Abousteit, (one of the co-founders of Burdastyle, a woman of all trades, author, founder….), just c0-launched her newest creation, Kollabora . Propelling the DIY movement to a whole other level along with those who have also fostered it (Etsy, Threadbanger, etc.), wooooooo

“Kollabora is a social platform for DIYers, consisting of a craft supply marketplace and multiple maker communities linking to projects, supplies, and how-tos. Kollabora soft-launched sewing, knitting, and jewelry making communities with fashion-forward projects, and plan to expand into many more DIY communities, including home decor.”

They graciously send me a beautifully packaged and wrapped “Sewing Kit”, which came complete with a paper pattern in a variety of sizes, some fabric yardage, and a booklet of instructions.

They sent me some beautiful black and white dot cotton/silk blend fabric from Mood Fabrics. There wasn’t enough fabric to do the front and back in the dotted print, so I brought out some red raw silk and made the back and bias tape with it, respectively. I also used some black woven silk for the little bitty pocket and decided to do a lined pocket verses the suggested simple layer hemmed pocket.

The pattern was super easy to use and the instructions were super easy to follow.  I went with the Large size because I am 5’10” and it fits pretty well!  There was also an option to do a dress or tunic version, which I will try next time.  I think this is a great pattern for a nightgown! I will make hundreds.

WHAT I LIKED:

**The inclusion of french seams, versus a regular seam.  French seams are very strong and I am happy that users can learn how to do them because they are rather easy. They are not only for more advanced garments either!

** Photos in the sewing guide, which are great for those who are visual learners

**nice thick pattern paper, great for re-use (tissue really falls apart after a while)

**It’s a fast project! If you’re an advanced seamstress, you can really whip this out fast and who doesn’t love that! If you are a beginner, you should have no trouble finishing this in a day.

** The wonderful thoughtful packaging

**How easy it was to upload photos to this site!

So, my top is a little 101 Dalmations or “What’s black and white and red all over?”, but I love b&w and red! Silk city, baby!

Thanks, Kollabora!