Monday, July 21, 2014

How To: Use a Playsuit for a Simple Vacation Wardrobe

 More on the playsuit* theme today!  In which we talk about how practical they are.  Yes, a vintage-inspired playsuit.  Yes, practical.  I swear I haven't lost my mind.  See... last summer, when I made the trek across the country, I crammed most of my blue playsuit into a little train-case and was quite happily clothed for pretty much the whole trip.  As I'm planning more vacation this summer, I'm thinking that perhaps the watermelon set will be traveling with me.

*playsuit: one word, or two?  Neither looks quite right to me.  I like one.  Two is probably right.  Oh well.  Wardrobe is a funny word, too.  I feel like I'm using it wrong, but synonyms aren't coming to mind right now...

As it turns out, playsuits work great for a bit of mix-and match.  With a playsuit and a few other pieces, it's pretty easy to pack an efficient suitcase where everything matches and you have a few levels of formality available.  For example, if I take my watermelon set and add in a peasant blouse, I have a decent weekend wardrobe:

Accessorizing is also simpler if everything matches.  I tend not to like to travel with too many hats, just because they're large and cumbersome, but flowers work nicely to fancy up vintage-y hair.  To go with my watermelon ensemble, I might pack a few accessories all in the same colors, along with a pair of black flats. 

Bonus variation:  Any sort of two piece dress can be used as the basis for this sort of mix-and-match vacation attire.  For a weekend trip with a more southwestern theme, I could just as easily take a two piece patio dress along with my shorts and peasant blouse, and pack silver jewelry instead of black.

That's all very well, you say, but four items of clothing aren't going to last me very many days!

Well, worry not, because a playsuit can easily be adapted to work for a longer vacation.  When Doug and I made our cross country trip last summer (see a few photos here) I packed along my blue floral playsuit and a few pieces that picked up colors from the print.  A green petticoat, sheer lime blouse, and navy camisole helped expand the range of outfit options.  

I also packed a wider variety of accessories in my suitcase, including a big rainbow stack of bangles.

So there you have it!  A few ways that a vintage playsuit or two-piece dress can be expanded into a whole vacation's worth of outfits.  I'll be packing the watermelon set along on my vacation this summer, although I think I need to come up with a few more coordinates.  A sheer nylon blouse with some detailing in white or pink would be perfect, if I get lucky at the thrift shops, perhaps!

How do you vacation with vintage?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Franken-Pattern a Playsuit

It's time for another edition of the Watermelon Playsuit Chronicles!  Today we delve into the wonderful world of vintage sewing patterns.

Unfortunately, I don't exactly have a surplus of inspiring playsuit sewing patterns in my cabinet waiting to be made.  So I worked with what I had!

The Bodice

For the bodice, I combined Simplicity 4395 and Vogue 3282.  The patterns are very close in size, and the bodices are shaped very similarly, except the Simplicity pattern has a high neckline and two darts for bust shaping while the Vogue pattern has a lower neckline and one diagonal dart.  I've already made the Simplicity bodice a few times, so rather than muslining the Vogue bodice for fit, I just swiped the neckline:

Like so.  When I made my blue playsuit last summer, I kept the center front seam and notched neckline from the Vogue pattern and put the zipper on a side seam.  This time, I cut the front piece on the fold and put the at the center back, which I think worked better for the busy watermelon print.  I also extended the front and back pieces a few inches past the waist so there'd be something to tuck in!

The Shorts

For the shorts, I combined Simplicity 3688, a modern reprinted pattern, with Butterick 7761.  When I made my first playsuit (on the left) I just used the Simplicity pattern, although (obviously!) I shortened it dramatically.  I wasn't a huge fan of how the wide-legged shorts looked, though, so I decided to try something different this time.

I got a copy of the Butterick pattern from a friend, and loved the peg-legged pants with their extra-high waistband.  The pattern was the right size for my waist, but the hips were much too narrow for me.  I ended up matching up the waistline markings on the two patterns and tracing out a combined piece that used the length and dart placement from the Butterick pattern but the hip width from the Simplicity one.

The Skirt

The skirt was simplest of all— just two full widths of fabric of the appropriate width, plus a zipper and a simple waistband.  I was inexplicably worried about the skirt not being full enough and initially was considering three widths of fabric before I talked myself down and decided to reserve the last segment for another bodice.  The blue one clearly has the extra panel of fabric, which adds some impressive volume.  If the happen to have another yard of watermelon fabric at the store, I may yet expand the skirt for extra swish.

So there you have it!  The why and how of combining patterns for a playsuit.  Do you tend to rework patterns to suit your needs, or do you buy patterns for exactly the projects you want to take on?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Watermelon Playsuit, part 2

 Good morning!  I'm all awake and caffienated and ready to show you the second part of my watermelon playsuit.  After asking about yardage for dirndl skirts on instagram, I ended up opting for the slightly less full skirt so that I'd have some fabric left for another bodice design.  I'll need to do a little experimenting to figure out how I want that piece to come together, so stay posted for more playsuit adventures...

The watermelon I was posing with last time had already been sliced up when I went to take these pictures, so I decided to have a piece in honor of my new creation.  Turns out I still don't like watermelons.


Black sunhat: Antiques shop
Black necklace: Grandma
Watermelon blouse: Hybrid of Simplicity 4395 & Vogue 3282
Dirndl skirt: Self-drafted
Watermelon belt: Made up of an old belt (and still needs some reworking...)
Bakelite & assorted plastic bangles: Thrifted
Black flats: Someplace in the mall
Green petticoat (not visible): Malco Modes

Oh!  And... I had a few questions about the construction on this set, so expect to see a few more posts this week on the theme of playsuits!  Anything in particular you'd like to know?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Introducing the Watermelon Playsuit, part 1

 A few days ago, I made the mistake of "just looking" at the novelty print section of the fabric store, where I immediately found a bolt of watermelon print fabric... and with just about three and a half yards left, it clearly had to come home with me.

I've been wanting to make another playsuit, since the one I made last summer has gotten so much use.  I had already purchased the red fabric to make a pair of shorts, so it was a happy coincidence that it went so well with the watermelons.  I've already completed the matching skirt, too (which you might have seen if you follow me on Instagram!) and I'm contemplating another (fancier) top... more melon-y goodness to come on Monday.

The process took a little trial-and-error, and the zippers aren't completely perfect (zippers and I aren't good friends...) but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I did a bit of a pattern mashup to get the shorts to fit and the bodice to look how I wanted it to... and I'm pretty happy with the results!  I'm particularly fond of the shorts, even though I think with a little more exercise I'll like them better (ha) as at the moment I'm a wee bit self conscious of my thighs.  The super high-waist paired with the short inseam and bright red color makes me feel like I need a cape and boots to complete the superhero look!


Black sunhat: Antiques shop
Silver leaf earrings: Grandma
Watermelon blouse: Hybrid of Simplicity 4395 & Vogue 3282
Red shorts: Hybrid of Butterick 7761 & Simplicity  3688
Black suede belt: Modern Millie Salem
Silver and coral bracelet (actually a necklace?): Wakefield Uncommon Antiques
Wedge sandals: Crocs

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Basic Black

Hi folks!  I've been a bit busyish of late and Doug has been a bit at loose ends, so he decided to take a stab at writing a post for my blog last week while I was at work & he was avoiding our swelteringly hot house.  I gave him some pictures from a while ago, he picked a few, edited them, and put together the post!

These are actually from the end of April, when it was still possible to wear black outdoors without combusting.  Frances was coming to Longy to see my chorus debut in the spring opera, and needed an outfit appropriate to the occasion.

One of the biggest differences between the Bay Area and our new Boston home is the sheer number of vintage clothing outlets here.  Back in the fall, while wandering through Cambridge after class, we happened upon Oona's Experienced Clothing, a cozy shop with a surprisingly wide selection.  I found a wool blazer that actually fits (not pictured here), and Frances was pleased to discover this black dress.

For a while after she switched over to wearing primarily vintage, Frances did not have a good working relationship with the color black.  It was very nice as an accessory to more exciting colors, of course, but proper outfits proved difficult to find.  Inevitably, dresses that looked just fine on the rack turned out to have an awkward fit, odd sleeve length, inappropriate use of sparkles, inexplicable holes in the back (or front), or were just plain boring.  The black-and-gold dress (featured in a previous post) was a remarkable exception to this pattern but was not, of course, solid black.  So when Frances went to try on this dress, she was prepared to be disappointed. 

This dress, however, just works. 
 The curved seam on the front and back is an elegant, unique touch that really adds to the whole outfit.

Colored accessories seemed like a good idea, so Frances decided to add green and gold to the ensemble.
The necklace and earrings are another Boston thrift find.  The necklace is at least as shiny as it looks here--it almost glows a little.  I think it is lovely.

 The ever-popular gold watch made another stunning appearance.

Frances went to the opera looking glamorous, and was possibly the classiest person in attendance.  The black dress was debuted quite successfully.   

Black bow: Icing
Black 40s dress: Oona's Experienced Clothing
Gloves: 57th Street Antiques
Rhinestone necklace and earrings: An antiques shop in Newton
Gold watch: Grandma's
Black pumps: Savers

Well, what do you think?  Shall we have Doug write a few more posts around here?