I absolutely love the movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from 2015, and I especially love the costumes. The character Gaby, played by Alicia Vikander, has the best trendy 1960s outfits throughout the movie, along with fantastic hair and makeup. After seeing the movie a few times (like I said, I very much so enjoy this movie...), I decided that I needed to make myself a dress like hers. I ended up finding a fantastic vintage pattern by Simplicity, and decided to do a classic coloour block for this dress. I chose green and white because of this dress that she wore in the movie.
I also wanted to make this dress because of my growing interest in the Cold War. After going to Germany last year and seeing the Mauermuseum (at Checkpoint Charlie), I learnt so much more about the era after WW2, and it made me even more interested in not only the politics of the time, but also the fashion. I also recently found tons of olds family photos of my grandma in the 60's and 70's, and she wore so many beautiful dresses! My grandmother was very trendy, so she was always wearing the newest style! She has tons of photos in Go Go boots and mini skirts.
The Cold War is a very interesting (and scary) time, and I was especially interested in learning about the Berlin Wall. The Mauermuseum also has a fascinating history since it was actually set up very soon after the Wall was built. Founded by Dr Rainer Hildebrandt, he thought that it was important to talk about the non-violent fight for human rights. He chose to talk about that directly beside an affront to human rights. The museum grew as the Wall stayed up, and has been updated to include what happened after the Wall fell, as well as more recent genocides and affronts to human rights.
The museum has many artifacts such as cars, a hot air balloon, and a mini submarine, that show how hard people worked to get rid of the wall, and to get around (or through) it. Many people helped East Germans escape to the other side, and there are so many brilliant stories.
The building of the wall started on August 13th of 1961 by the GDR (German Democratic Republic, which is East Germany). The people living in the GDR had been revolting for a long time. At the end of the WW2, the US, Britain, and the Sovient Union split Germany. The country was split into 3 zones with Berlin in the Soviet section. Berlin was also split into zones, with the US, UK, and France taking the West side of the city and Soviet troops controlling the East. When the tensions arose between the countries, the Soviets decided to block off the roads, rails, and water access to West Berlin. Starting in 1948, they hoped that the other countries would be forced to give their section to the Soviets. The response by the UK and US was to airlift food, fuel, and water into Berlin from airbases in Western Germany. At the height of the airlift, planes were landing every 45 seconds at the Templehof Airport. By 1949, they had won this crisis and the blockade was lifted. In 1953 the people of East Berlin had a revolt that was stopped with Soviet tanks. The Soviets struggled to keep their side of Germany because of their cruelty and lack of supplies (East Germany was starving).
Checkpoint Charlie is the most widely known checkpoint between East and West Germany. Many demonstrations were held there, and there were many successful escape attempts there. While the wall was up (between 1961 and 1989) more than 5000 people escaped across the Berlin Wall. The longer the wall was up, the harder it was to cross. One woman was smuggled out in the seat of her boyfriends vehicle (the cut a hole for her to sit literally inside the seat, and she almost suffocated in the small space). People also got through in speakers, over on hang gliders with a Trabant motor, with hot air balloons, as well as under in tunnels. The most successful break through was in a tunnel when 57 people made it through in two nights in 1964.
There were also many unsuccessful attempts, and many people died trying to get to West Germany. In 1962, a man named Peter Fechter bled to death. He was shot by Soviet guards and after 45 minutes of agony with no help, passed away beside the wall. This started a huge protest when onlookers could see and hear him, but were unable to help because he fell onto the wrong side of the wall.
I think that this is a hugely important part of history to learn about, especially since it is so close to us (the wall was only taken down on Novemeber 9, 1989).
To learn more about the Wall and its history, the website for the Mauermuseum is here. You can also hear more about the Berlin Airlift through this website here. Some other movies and books about the era that I found very interesting are Bridge of Spies (with Tom Hanks), Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder, Wings of Desire (released in 1987), and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre. If you have any more to add to the list, let me know!
The photos are taken at the Wonderland Sculpture (which us locals call the Big Head... creative, I know) outside of the the Bow Building.
To see more photos of the finished collection, click here
The last two outfits of my Mexico Collection! The skirt is a light blue linen made using a 1930's pattern from simplicity. The shorts are a 1960's Vintage Vogue pattern made with the same linen as the skirt, and the corset cover that it is paired with is muslin and vintage lace (it has another post of it here).
To see more photos from this collection, click here. Thank you for reading, and stick around for new projects coming soon! Plus, I am also almost done editing a video for this collection as well, so that will be up in the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading!
The bees skirt is made from quilting cotton and hand stamped with bees (more photos here), made using a Butterick pattern. The shorts and halter are made using a Simplicity pattern and quilting cotton.
One more post will be up soon of the last few pieces in my Mexico Collection!
The Crooked Saints dress is a self printed muslin (printed with succulents, skulls, bees, and owls), and made using a 1950's pattern from Vintage Vogue. The Spanish styled dirndl is made using quilting cotton and a Patterns by Gertie pattern.
Come back soon to see more photos of the other outfits in me Mexico Collection!
Since I made a Berlin collection after visiting Berlin this spring, I decided that I needed a Mexico one as well. This was a bit different however, since it wasn't as much inspired by the area I had been in as it was by the desert part of the country and New Mexico. The area where we live is very dry, and we are close to Drumheller, which is a desert type area. I was inspired also by Paraguay, which is where my grandparents are from. We recently visited my grandma and went through some of the old photos they had from Paraguay and when the first moved to Canada. I was inspired by my grandmas very trendy outfits from the 60s and 70s, so I based much of my collection off of that. I also based it off of All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater, The Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar, as well as Frida Kahlo and her clothing exhibit that was recently at the V and A.
Although my grandparents grew up in the same place (Loma Plata), they had very different childhoods. My grandpa grew up quite poor and started working at a very young age. Although he never finished his education, he was a brilliant man. He knew multiple languages and could take apart and put back together an engine as a kid. He drove around South America as part of his job. My grandma grew up in a wealthy family. I look quite a bit like her when she was my age.
This collection was inspired mostly by 50s and 60s fashion, and was made entirely out of linen and cotton to keep cool. I used a few Vintage Vogue and Simplicity patterns for the collection, which is made up of 7 pieces - a Mexico styled dirndl, a 1950's tiered dress made out of self-printed muslin, a linen skirt (that I made a few summers ago, but adjusted it to fit me better this summer), linen 1960's shorts with my corset cover, and a three piece bee set, which included my bee skirt, and a matching pair of shorts and halter top. I decided to make a dirndl for this collection because of our Mennonite heritage. Loma Plata is a Mennonite village, and my family has that background on both my mother and fathers sides. The two sides of the family are quite different because my dads side is more traditional with German and Ukrainian culture (since the Mennonites moved around, mostly through Eastern Europe), while the other side of my family has more Spanish culture mixed in. The two cultures don't seem to mix, but they often do since so many German families moved to South America during and after World War Two.
This post is just a bit of an introduction, stay tuned to see more pictures of each outfit over the next few weeks!
The hardest part about sewing is that I can get lots of things done, but it doesn't look like it until I have photos of them! In the past few weeks I have been working on tons of different projects, but I don't have any of them finished yet (although two are almost done!). I have also had a few very neat opportunities to do something a little different, so my sewing room has been pretty crazy.
I do have a few very exciting things that I have been working on behind the scenes: the first is that I have been making prototypes for a Calgary activewear company called Intuitive. It has been an absolute joy so far working with the company, and I am more than excited about this collaboration.
The second thing that I have been working on is my second time working with MakeFashion! Last year I was a part of the runway show in Calgary as a seamstress. This year I am lucky enough to be a team lead. My dress is called Breathe, and has to do with helping with anxiety and mental illnesses. MakeFashion will be at Beakerhead this year in September. I can't wait to tell and show you more!
On the side, I have also been working on dirndls (I made one from a Gertie pattern, liked it so much that I immediately started a second one!), a tiered 1950's summer dress, wool cigarette pants with a matching sheath dress and blazer, a 1960's colour blocked dress, and lots of repairs. My mending pile has gotten out of hand!
If you follow me on instagram (here), then you will know that I have also been working on setting up an Etsy account. So far I have hit pretty much every obstacle possible (why are computers so confusing??), so it still isn't up....
But I have made progress, so it should be here soon! I will be selling some of my costumes, as well as embroidery to start.
Thank you so much for your patience with everything, I can't wait to show you all of the things that I have been working on!
When it comes to the books in my collection, I have been extremely lucky. I have been given so many books by family friends and other people who have already gone through a costuming or fashion program.
Out of all of my books (I have quite a few...), these are some of my favourites. There are so many more that I would like to eventually collect (Norah Waugh and Janet Arnold being some of the authors that I have seen are necessary in a costuming library), but I am so pleased with what I have so far.
The books that I use for inspiration and help fall into a few categories. First are the books that are specifically for sewing. Of those, my favourites have to be the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking, Corsets, as well as The Art of Needle Craft. The Art of Needle Craft was published in the 1930s, and a beautiful little textbook! It shows different stitch types, and has helped me with my embroidery products. The American Duchess book has been so popular among historical costumers, and it has so much invaluable information! I wish it would have been out when I made my first costume, since it was an 18th century era dress. Corsets is a book about historical corsets, and how they were made. I haven't so far used any of the patterns, but I am definitely planning to use them, and I love looking through the book for inspiration.
The second category would be the books about history. I have tons and tons of history books, since that is something that I am fascinated by and love to learn about. I narrowed down my favourites to the ones that are more about clothing through the eras. One of my first books about this, and still one of my favourites is The Survey of Historic Costume. This books is massive, and has at least a few pages for pretty much every era. It also shows modern designs that are inspired by history. Another favourite of mine, which is much newer, is my Charles James book. I have many, many favourite designers (Coco Chanel, Dior, Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, and so many more), but right at the top of the list is Charles James. He had very sculptural designs, and the best thing about the book is that it gives a glimpse into what goes underneath the dress. I also have a great little book about the Regency era. Unfortunately it only has a few pages about the clothing, but the book does talk a little about everything. The next few books could belong in a few categories, but I decided to put it into this one because they do have great bits of information in them. I love the books by Megan Hess, especially Coco Chanel. Along with the information, it has beautiful pictures throughout.
Another category is all of the inspiration books that are just pretty coffee table books. Some of these do have costume photos in (I have tons of movie books because I love movies so much), and others have nothing to do with clothing. Out of all of them pictured, I have a few that I look through a little more often than others. One favourite is the Grand Budapest Hotel coffee table book.It has costume sketches from Milena Canonero, one of my favourite costume designers. I also love Amber Butchart's book on how movie costumes have influenced the fashion world. It includes Marie Antoinette, In the Mood for Love, Moonrise Kingdom, and many other favourite movies of mine. I also am often inspired by interior design books, such as Sibella Court books (Nomad is my personal favourite to look through). Her books are fantastic to look through since her designs are inspired by different countries. I have always been fascinated with places like India and Mexico City, and I love seeing little objects from these places. The last movie book that I look through constantly is the one for Crimson Peak.
The last category is magazines. I love sewing magazines (the ones that come with free patterns are the best), but I also read Porter and Vogue obsessively.
Where you do you get your inspiration?
I made a second dress inspired by In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai quite a while ago. The first dress that I made (more photos here) was made using a pattern from Patterns by Gertie out of a quilting cotton for more of an everyday look, and I decided that I wanted another, fancier version. I love how this pattern fits me, and I think it looks so similar to the beautiful dresses that the main character, Su Li-zhen, wears in the movie.
The first In the Mood for Love styled dress that I made I just realized recently that I had only posted a video of the making of the dress, as well as a few posts on my instagram (here). I later realized that I didn't even get any photos of this dress once I finished it! Which is funny because I wear both of these in my everyday life quite regularly.
This dress is shaped with 12 darts with a slit in the side, and I used a silk dupioni for this version.
Thanks for reading!
I was so inspired by Germany while I was there, by what people wore, the beautiful countryside, and by the stunning architecture and history everywhere. Out of the whole trip, Berlin inspired me the most. Maybe it's because of the difficult near history that the city has gone through (if you know my blog well, you will know that difficult histories are something I try to teach about often), and maybe it's the gritty mixed with elegant that you see so often- Belle Epoque architecture layered with graffiti, a delicate skirt paired with a grunge-styled wool jacket.
Something that I immediately think of when it comes to Berlin is the military. I think of tough, strong women (it is a fact that Germany was pretty much rebuilt by women and immigrants after WW2, since they were all that was left), and resilience. I started to come up with the collection on the U-Bahn, and it grew in my head every time I had empty time to think (mostly on trains). I decided to make a military inspired collection, with feminine touches. After taking into account what I could reasonable pattern on my own or what I already had patterns for, as well as what materials would be easy to find or that I already had, I came up with a pretty solid collection. It includes: a pair of jodphurs, a 1930's styled skirt, a peplum blouse, my 1940's dress (that I blogged about here), and a matching suit jacket.
Most of these pieces are 1930s and 1940s styled, with a touch of 50's flair. These are the eras that interest me the most for the country- in the beginning of the 1930's, Berlin was far ahead of many other countries in terms of acceptance. But I will start before that, after the first world war, to explain the country a little bit better.
After Germany's loss of World War One, their economy and pride was crippled. Because of the Versailles Treaty, which entailed that Germany's borders would be reassigned (losing certain towns to Belgium, France, Poland, etc), they would practically lose their military, completely lose their colonies, and were prohibited access from certain weapons. What crippled Germany the worst was their responsibility to pay for the war, as well as other financial obligations. The country was struggling enough with their debt from the war, so when the Depression hit the US (who was helping them pay off their debts), the ripple was incapacitating. This is how Hitler managed to get in to power- the weak country was desperate to have jobs and pride. However, before Hitler wormed his way in, Berlin was a very open place. This is the city that held the first successful sex reassignment surgery (if you have seen The Danish Girl, that is who I am talking about). This was a very liberal place before the Nazi's- if you are interested in this era, Robert Beachy has a book called Gay Berlin that I have heard very good reviews about.
With my collection, I wanted to talk about all of the strong women in this time. I wanted it to be about the women who rebuilt the country, and the ones who made their way across the Wall even though it was incredibly dangerous, and the ones who rebelled against the Nazi's during the second world war (you may be surprised at how many female spies and resistance members there were).
Because the Nazi's wanted women to be at home having kids and cooking, they didn't quite expect women to be fighting in the resistance. This gave them lots of opportunities that some of the men didn't have. They could smuggle things around the country (such as letters and funds- often hidden in skirt hems and heels), as well as go undercover to find out information. Because it wasn't expected, they weren't caught as easily for a long time.
There is a story of a French resistance member that I always think of when I think of the women during the war (this is from A Train in Winter, just in case you want to hear more about this woman). She had a letter that she needed to carry from one resistance member to another, and she had to go out into the country to bring it to the next member. On the train, she was sitting beside a Nazi officer, and he took a bit of a shine to her. When other officers boarded the train to search the people on board, he told them that they did not need to search her, probably saving her and the letter in the process, without even realizing it.
There are so many amazing stories like this of peoples bravery during the war. Stories of women walking for miles in high heels and nice dresses to smuggle things around Nazi Occupied territory, and people who helped so many Jewish, Roma, and other people who were being persecuted to get out. Many designers and seamstresses were found to have been housing people to help them on their way out, or sewing in money, photos, and other valuables into hems for them.
If you want to read about some of these incredible stories, or if you are just interested in this time in history, here are some of my favourites: The Librarian of Auschwitz ( a true story that I actually read in Germany), A Train in Winter by Caronline Moorehead (a collection of stories of women resistance members- these stories are amazing), The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne, every single one of Elizabeth Wein, but especially Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire (and also Black Dove, White Raven), Violins of Autumn by Amy Mcauley, Salt to Sea and Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, and of course The Book Thief. When it comes to movies, I would recommend Generation War (a German mini series, which is beautifully done), X Company (this is Canadian, which I am very proud of!), and The Danish Girl (the movie that is about the first successful sex reassignment surgery). I have spent most of my life reading about Germany, and specifically this era, so if you would like to hear about more books and movies, just ask! I would love to share, and also hear about any of your favourites!
The pictures were taken by a 1948 plane. A family friend owns it and was so kind to let us use it for photos, and we even got to fly in it! Thank you so much Travis and Brenda!
And the shoes are from DSign Step, as always:)
Stay tuned for my making of video!
The more that I have been working on my sewing, and the more opportunities that I have had meant that I needed a little more help in the studio. After lots of research (mostly done by my mom), we decided on a Janome. My sewing machine is also a Janome, and I love it- I find it very easy to thread and work, and it can sew through almost anything. The sewing machine I have has also last for years- it was my moms before I started sewing. When we went into the shop, I was looking for a smaller machine (I don't want all of the extra details, or a computer panel, just the basics). There was another machine that was a little smaller, and cheaper, but it was a manual threader which is much more difficult and takes more time. This machine (which is the Pro 4DX), is a model that they have been making for years, is very easy to thread, and has fantastic reviews. I am so excited to have this extra piece in my sewing room, I know that it will help me so much!
Because I got this extra piece, I needed a place to put it. My sewing machine sits on top of a beautiful old sewing machine given to me by a family friend. It is an old Singer machine that I am hoping to get it to work so I can sew some things on this machine (which is from the early 1900s). Unfortunately, I didn't have the table space on it to fit another machine. Luckily enough, we just happen to have another old Singer machine in the house. Ours is a slightly different make, but just as beautiful, and I am so excited to have it in my sewing room (I used to pretend to be sewing on it all the time when I was a little girl, so dreams are coming true here).
While we were in the city, I also picked up a few patterns. I am so excited about these, as I will be using all of them to build up my wardrobe (I have the hope that my whole wardrobe will be made by me except for sweaters, shoes, and such). I even have the fabric for pretty much all of the projects that I have planned, so hopefully they will be quick to finish!
I have been planning a Mexico dress for a long time, and I finally have a set plan for it! I originally was going to do a tiered skirt with a white blouse (similar to an outfit that my grandmother has a picture in when she lived in South America). When I found this pattern from Vintage Vogue, I thought it was perfect. It has the tiered skirt look that I wanted, but with a twist. I am planning on printing my own cotton to make this with, with the skull (like a sugar skull), and a rose in bright colours.
The next pattern that I got I have been admiring for years. I actually had planned to make this for graduation last year, but I ended up buying something and altering it instead. When I saw the Vogue sale at the fabric store (which is why all of these patterns pictured are Vogue), I thought that it was the perfect time to get this one. I haven't decided what fabric to use for it yet (silk to make it fancier? Or wool suiting for more of a winter style? Or perhaps muslin for a summer suit?), but I am very excited to make it, and I am hoping to make a few different versions of it.
This is another one that I have been planning for a long time, however I had not chosen out a specific pattern for it yet. When I saw this, I thought that it would be perfect! I have been wanting a nice pair of cigarette style trousers for years, and when I picked out this wool suiting from Bhatia, I thought it would make an adorable pair. I had originally planned to use the wool for a cocoon coat, but I decided that I would use these more often. I also would like to make a linen version of the shorts for this summer.
This pattern was a little bit of an impulse buy. 1940's patterns are a bit of a soft spot for me (I love the interested details, and how they managed to use as little fabric as possible while still using interested seam lines and such), plus the dress with the full sleeves reminded me of the Fendi ad that I think is stunning.
The last pattern that I got a few days ago came free with a sewing magazine. This one comes in a few lengths and sleeve lengths, and I thought that it would be perfect for a Wes Anderson styled dress. I chose a coral cotton to make it out of, and was inspired by Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom.
I also have a few patterns coming in the mail- the dirndl dress from Patterns by Gertie, as well as a few Vintage Simplicity patterns. Two of those are 1960's mod styled dresses, one is a 1940's skirt suit, and the last is a pattern for 1930's tap pants and bralette.
Other than shopping, I have been getting lots done. I won't share the majority of what I have been doing yet until I get photos, but I will give you a sneak peak. I also altered my 1930's wool skirt, since it was large at the waist. It was a quick fix, but I have been putting it off for months since alterations aren't my favourite. There are a few more things I need to alter, so I am hoping to do that soon.
This year was a really huge one for me, especially when it comes to my sewing. I started this blog just a little over a year ago with my Special Project in school, and it has grown very quickly with all of the projects that I have been working on. I also started a makeup and skincare part of the blog (and an instagram here) after I started working at a beauty counter to share about some of the things I have learned through training sessions. When it comes to my sewing, I have grown quite a bit in the past year! I started the year with finishing my Special Project, which took me a semester to make. Not long after that, I started working with MakeFashion. I started out just helping, and ended up making a dress with the help of an engineer! It was hectic and crazy and I loved every minute of it. I also got to go to Mexico with my family this year, celebrated a one year anniversary with my boyfriend, graduated from high school, got accepted into Olds College Fashion Program, got a job, made a dress for a televison pilot, and finished 16 projects (some of which I haven't blogged about yet). I would say that was a pretty successful year! Here is my year in photos:
And a quick sneak peak of a project that I haven't posted about yet:
Heres to another great and productive year! I can't wait to see whats in store for me
I finally finished editing my video on the In the Mood for Love Dress. I filmed pretty much the whole process of me making it, from cutting it out (using a pattern from Patterns by Gertie) to the fnished product. The music is La Valse d'Amelie by Yann Tiersen and Chris Snelling. If you want to see more of my youtube videos, my channel is here
Thanks for watching! I will put up more photos of the finished dress in a post next week