November 9, 2014

"Breathless" Dress

Breathless Dress

A film by Jean-Luc Godard. A dress by Dixie DIY.

Let me begin this post with a bit of history. "Breathless" or "A Bout de Souffle" is a 1959 movie by French director Jean-Luc Godard and is arguably one of the most important films of all time. If that sounds a little pretentious, don't worry, it's also just a plain good movie.

If you haven't seen it here's the basic run down: Michel(Jean-Paul Belmondo), a car thief, who, frankly, doesn't seem very bright 'cause he shoots a cop for a dumb reason, is on the lamb and runs up to Paris to hide out with his aloof American journalist girlfriend, Patricia (Jean Seberg). He then tries to convince her to run away with him to Italy and she's kinda like, "meh" about the whole thing.

It's a love story and it isn't. The characters are modern and likeable but also self indulgent. The movie is sweet but at the same time it doesn't romanticize love. Unlike Hollywood movies of the time (and many still being produced now) Breathless doesn't treat its couple like they're "meant to be" with dramatic kisses set to a string overture. It's much more ambivalent and the characters often struggle to emotionally connect to each other.

But the plot isn't the main reason Breathless is so appreciated as a great film. Godard, himself a huge cinephile, used his directorial debut to turn filmmaking convention on its head. Everything was shot on location, no lighting, guerrilla style with no real "script." It is self referential with plenty of references to Hollywood movie making styles without adhering to any of its rules. If you watch Breathless today it might just seem like a kind of quirky "indie" flick but at the time it was ground breaking.

Watch a handful of popular Hollywood movies from the late 50s, then watch Breathless, then watch some of the best movies of 1967: Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke and notice the differences. It's all because of Breathless and movies like it.

So what about this dress?

The Goal: Regardless about how you feel about the movie or its message, politics, conventions, whatever, that Patricia had style! And this dress, worn toward the end of the film, was lovely so I decided to re-create it... like two years ago. Yes, this dress has been in the making for a long, long time.

Breathless Dress

The Pattern: Self drafted based on a bodice block. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle (the original dress has a series of tiny knife pleats). I tried half a dozen versions of the collar in an attempt to get it right.

However I began this dress so long ago that I think I must be smaller now than my original block because it's a little loose in the bodice.

Breathless Dress

The Fabric: A pima cotton from, I believe, Mood. But since I bought it more than a year and a half ago I know they won't still have it in stock.

The movie is in black and white so I just assumed that the stripe was blue.

Breathless Dress

The stripes in Seberg's dress are wider than mine but I think the weight of the fabric I bought is pretty spot on.

I bought the belt-buckle kit off Etsy. Sadly, they don't make those anymore. You'd have to track down a vintage one if you really want a matching belt.

Breathless Dress

The belting came from The Common Thread. The belt eyelets are regular old Dritz. And thanks to Susan and Miss Lulu for helping me cover those buttons. They look great but I can never get them to work for me.

Breathless Dress

I also bought a vintage zip with that buckle kit. Might as well keep the vintage theme going. I did a lapped zip in the side seam.

Breathless Dress

The Results: If only I had some white heels and gloves, a sweet pair of cat eye glasses, and the ovaries to cut my hair that short and I'd complete the look.

Breathless Dress

Mostly, I'm just glad this project is finally finished!

If you'd like to learn move about Breathless here are a few articles:

Breathless on New Wave Film - lots of info on the making of the movie
"Why Breathless?" on Thought Catalog - Why Breathless is still important 50 years later
Breathless on Cinemalogue
You can rent the movie on iTunes or Amazon or on disc from Netflix. There are plenty of clips on YouTube but I can't find the whole movie with English subtitles.

November 5, 2014

Blog Hopping!

Normally I don't do these sorts of things but my good friend Nicole nominated me. And I feel like I owe her an apology because it took me so long to get around to doing this. :( I had plans on taking fun pics to go with my questions but, as you can probably guess, that didn't happen.

But Nicole's other nominee, my friend Susan, already did her post so now I feel like I gotta get off my bum and do this thing. Motivation!

Thanks so much for the nomination, Nicole! You're awesome and I'm glad I've gotten to hang out with you so much lately with the meet ups and sewing parties.

So, questions...

How does my blog differ from others of its genre? 
Hmm, I guess I have a few themes on my blog like sewing clothes that will actually be worn rather than pure frosting.

But on the other end I've been going through a phase where I want to be challenged by my sewing whether that means learning new techniques, trying my hand at costuming or just making and wearing clothes that are out of my comfort zone.

Why do I create, and why do I write?
Creating is in my nature and I blog to document what I make. You never know if in the future you or your grandkids will want to look back on what you made years ago. I would love it if I had a 5 year log of everything my grandmother made way back when. This blog is a historical document.

Having a blog is also a good reference if I want to re-make a pattern and cant remember the changes I made to my original version.

(A dress I made in 2010 and a more recent make from this year)

Oh, and I think it's kind of cool that I have continuous catalog of pictures of myself (posed "photoshoot" style, as opposed to selfies) from at least once a week for the past several years. Sometimes it's interesting to go back and see how much (or how little) I've changed.

How does my creative process work? 
Lots of procrastinating in between naps - just kidding (mostly).

Usually I find a pattern design or inspirational photo online of a garment or style I love and start from there. I don't have much of a fabric stash but it's growing. After I find a good fabric then the fun begins.

The actual work is when I sit down for marathon sessions of sewing and whatever I'm watching on Netflix (right now I'm catching up on Doctor Who). I've found that I can sew for much longer if I'm being entertained (MUST. FINISH. EPISODE.).

Once I've finished I show off my new make to Justin who then proceeds to make unnecessary comments ("You look like a flight attendant/girl scout/50s housewife/librarian.") and I grumpliy trudge back into my sewing room.

After I get over that I then take pics and blog about it.

I can tell you one thing my creative process doesn't involve - cleaning.

What am I currently working on?

You mean what am I NOT working on? Hehehe, well, I made myself laugh...

I usually have several projects on the table at once. I know some people are adamant supporters of the "one project at a time" philosophy but that just slows me down. If I have several garments I'm working on then I can switch between them as I go.

Sure, juggling many makes does bring a UFO risk, but so does getting so frustrated with a persnikity project that you shove it into the black hole of shame a drawer. If I can take a break from a dress that's giving me trouble and work on a simple shirt then that success will fuel my desire to finish that other project.

A garment is most likely to become a UFO if it never makes it to the sewing machine. Most of my "UFO bags" are filled with cut out fabric pieces that probably aren't even pinned together.

But for real: I'm slowly working on a dress inspired by one of my favorite movies, a cosplay that I need to have finished by January, a 1840s romantic era dress, a Regency era bonnet, a Nettie Bodysuit, and a shirt dress are in the pipeline.

Ok, now for nomination(s)!

I'm nominating Lauren from Rosie Wednesday (I know I didn't ask ahead of time, but too bad, you gotta do it now). Not only is Lauren a great friend but her love of all things vintage is inspiring. She rocks the vintage look like no one's business from hair to glasses to her sassy and adorable handmade wardrobe. Seriously, this lady has a great blog (and she obviously loves candy as much as I do!) so you really ought to check it out.

November 3, 2014

True Bias Hudson Pants

True Bias Hudson Pants

The Goal: I'm going on a road trip this month! A trip that involves several hours in a car and a lot of hiking at my destination. It's also November and I notoriously own a grand total of two pairs of pants. Both jeans. Yeah, I need some more pants. Mission accomplished!

True Bias Hudson Pants
(I realize black fabric is difficult to photograph so I upped the exposure on these pics to make the details easier to see)

The Pattern: The Hudson Pant, True Bias' first pattern (her second, the Sutton Blouse is out now!). I figured this would be a good pattern to use, it's like a fancy knit track pant. Comfy enough for lounge wear (or extra long car rides), cool enough for everyday wear (like checking into a hotel after extra long car rides), and I figure it would be ok for outdoorsy activities (like a lot of trail walking).

Plus, pockets! Plus, ankle cuffs so no cold wind blows up your pant leg! Plus, stretchy waistband!

True Bias Hudson Pants
(ugh, the cat hair! so much cat hair!)

The Fabric: For my first pair I knew I wanted something solid and plain, something utilitarian. But that doesn't necessarily mean cheap. I found this French terry at Austin Fabric Co-op for $22/yd. Luckily this pattern doesn't require much yardage.

Still, $30 for what are essentially really nice sweat pants seems like a lot for me. No regrets, tho, this stuff is awesome. It's a rayon, cotton, spandex blend and it is won. der. ful.

True Bias Hudson Pants

The Changes: None, except for one mistake. I sewed the button holes for the drawstring but then accidentally sewed the waistband on backwards and I sure as heck wasn't going to seam rip out black serger thread on black fabric so, uh, no drawstring for me.

I made a straight size 6 based on my hip measurement. I figured these are supposed to be slim fitting knit pants, not skinny jeans so I didn't bother with any fitting. For a casual garment like this unless there are big major problems like too short crotch length or something it's really not worth messing with. But if I really wanted to I'd probably adjust the back legs. A common issue I face with having stick legs attached to wide hips is excess fabric in the thighs.

True Bias Hudson Pants

The Results: Well, I don't think I've taken these things off since I made them. They're great and super comfortable. I'll definitely be making more, maybe even woven versions.

True Bias Hudson Pants
(I ran out of pose ideas. I don't really know what I'm doing here. Or what I'm looking at with those *crazy eyes*)

As for the pattern itself it was great. I had no problems with printing or understanding instructions. Illustrations and directions were clear.

This is a pretty simple pattern and a great way to jump into pants sewing if you don't want to feel discouraged by crummy fit problems. Also, with so few pieces, I whipped these puppies up in a flash! Gotta love (relatively) instant sewing gratification.