Sunday, September 21, 2014


Wiki on Paisley

I'm gonna start this off by saying that I DO like paisley, especially when done up in vibrant bohemian colours. But there's something else that has always kept me from wearing it. It reminds me of something. 

Let me set this up for you first. Do you remember that show from the late 70's and early 80's called "Connections"? It ran on PBS forever and you can get them on DVD from Netflix.  I got the first few episodes back when Simon was 9ish with the hope he would love the history of science and technology that went with it. But I was a few years early. In any case, there was one episode that really stuck out in my mind.  It was about the print known as paisley and where it came from. 

Now, there is a somewhat decent wiki page about paisley you can find here. It matches up with what James Burke said, that the name comes from the town of Paisley in Scotland that was the first industrial manufacturer of the print. The print itself was actually a copy of the prints found in old Middle East and Western Asia, places now called Iran, Uzbekistan, and Northern India, many of which were tribes of nomads.  Now what the wiki article doesn't say and was actually covered in Connections was that Paisley rugs were often woven for newlywed couples as a fertility charm of sorts.
Which, for me, tells me that ancient cultures were a bit more in-tune than we give them credit for because I cannot look at paisley without thinking they look like sperm. 

You're welcome.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

TNT Files: The Quest for Pants That Fit

Or trousers, for the British persuasion.

Before getting into a somewhat photo heavy post I thought I'd share a life update, because a lot has happened. For one, the 3rd anniversary of Mom's passing was on the first and eight days later was her birthday. Right before all this my husband's job was unexpectedly and with no warning, terminated. Georgia is an at-will state so they didn't need a reason to do so.  Later we found out there was a management shift (rumors also of selling the company) and honestly he has so much stress lifted off his shoulders. With unemployment we are still above water but now I can't stress shop for fabric. I mean, I got plenty, TOTALLY stocked up but.. but...  Leh Sigh.  And not so much bad but funny, my Aunts have started reading my blog and I got several tips on how to improve my grammar. For all of you Grammar Enforcers, I will do my best to use it's instead of its,  I promise.  However, I'm still going to do two spaces at the end of a sentence BECAUSE THAT IS THE PROPER WAY.

Ok, on to the actual sewing portion of this program. Remember back in January when I said I had a goal of turning more patterns into TNT's (tried-and-true) that could be remade many times? Well, I've been trying to work on that but its been a snail's pace.  The biggest gap in my wardrobe and sewing repertoire is woven pants for work and Thurlows were at the top of the list. And I've been seriously dragging my feet on this project because fitting pants is something I am not yet good at and well, it is a tedious amount of work. I've become accustomed to the quick fix knits can bring me. But I finally kicked my metaphorical ass in gear and started.  First I did the largest size straight out of the package.

This is what they looked like. Poor cell phone photos but its good enough to relay informations.

So these look like they fit but the problem here is that they are skin tight. I CANNOT sit down in these.  And they are hugely long.  Sewaholic says they draft for the average 5'6" but I'm not so sure. Granted, proportionally speaking my torso is long and legs are short. And my waist is high by comparison.

From the side can you see how the seam is straining forward? That would be my full front thighs and ample booty. 

Ah, now the "smiles" under my butt saying I need more room there. Again I know this LOOKS like it fits by the back seam is 1/4 inch right now. I squatted down after these photos and it went RIIIPPPPP. Not a good thing. So here's the first changes I made.

Oh, man, I didn't annotate the lengthening of the posterior inner thigh. That is that v-shaped slice you see with the washer on top. That was for my second muslin.  The scooped out crotch is for the perky booty bits.  Sorry, I failed to get second muslin fitting photos.

I made this modification where instead of two different front pattern pieces I have one with the fly flap so I can do the flat fly insertion method found here. I highly recommend this method and this modification because it will make your life 10 time easier. Seriously!  I found the link through Erica B, and of course it's from Threads Magazine.

This was done for the second muslin, then elongated a bit for the third one. It certainly helped but I still had false smiles.  I finally stumbled upon a fix for that, which I outline below.

The High Hip Curve Adjustment:

This is actually a new adjustment for me, I kept looking at the fitting photos and thinking that this can't be more inner thigh/crotch curve room because at this point I can basically squat in these without much worry (my litmus test for wearing in public safely). Pants Fit for Real People did not cover this anywhere and I finally found the closest match in Fitting and Pattern Alterations textbook. The high hip curve. I tried to annotate as best I could on how I did this change.  Hence the horribly embarrassing fitting photos. Seriously, the things I do for my hobby!

This photo also points out that my right hip is a bit higher than my left. I think I may have to do a left and right side for my pants some time in the future to adjust for the unevenness. For now, I'm ok with it. Also noticeable here from my first muslin is that I've shortened the legs, looking at this I need to shorten it some more.

Now, this is done below the slashed pocket line. Had I been thinking I would have tried to diagram how that part worked. This is how it works if you have not slash pockets in the front.  It took me a few moments of mental gymnastics to work it out to make front and back even with each other. You may end up taking the waist in just a smidgen because it should sit just above the hip curve now.

So, I'm hoping to cut out a wearable pair today, possibly get it sewn up but we will see!  I cut out a couple things destined for gifts. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Are You Going to Dragon*Con?

*edited*  It totally didn't occur to me to link to the Dragon*Con website.

Hey there!  Normally I'm all revved up and ready to go for Dragon*Con but this year we're not really attending outside of helping some friends to setup and breakdown. I am, however, totally available Thursday or Friday night to meet any blog readers and sewcialists that will be in town. There's a tavern and a 24 hour restaurant within walking distance, and also the food court*. You can comment here, or send me a message via Twitter. Its best to setup a time/place before hand because 30,000 people in the two square miles all trying to talk and text at once makes cell phones not work reliably.

Anyway, all that said, I would LOVE to meet up.

*Newbie Tip: They run out of the good stuff the second day and if you are REALLY broke there's the Con Suite one floor up from the main lobby in the Hyatt (it will be mapped in your handbook), they have free drinks and chips, they do breakfast/lunch/dinner/midnight meal but it might look like something that would crawl off Calvin's plate.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Attack of the Twee


Well, I finally did it. I succumbed to my inner twee urges. To be fair, I live in The South, so this really isn't all that out of place. Still, I'm not in love with this on me. I LOVE this dress, I'm just... it needs something else. Maybe red boots.

If I stand here too long I'll be covered in kudzu.

Ya know, I should probably back up a bit here. If you've followed for any amount of time you will know our very good friends (of the Wedding Cruise fame) live in THE COUNTRY. We went up to visit this weekend and the kids helped break in their new pool, and of course this is the best place to take photos of this dress. It had been hanging in my sewing room for weeks just needed a hem, and so I did a rolled hem about an hour before we left. I didn't iron it so this denim looking knit tends to roll up a bit.

I borrowed the boots from Dreama's father. He was working on the hay barn when I asked, "Hey (uh, no pun intended), so I am taking some photos for my sewing blog and I was wondering if you have any cowboy boots I could borrow?"

Completely nonplussed by this he said "SURE!". In fact he may have been a bit tickled I even asked. They are too big for my feet so merely a prop for this shoot. I now want to own some cowboy boots though.

Fun Fact: Kudzu flowers smell like grape koolaid.

Back view. If you haven't already noticed this is the Camino Cap with the Lady Skater skirt. Are y'all sick of Kitschy Coo yet? I hope not because at this rate my closet won't have anything else. I've been stuck on knits for a while because my weight is still in flux but I THINK I'm back on the downward swing. I've been working out on a regular schedule keeping what I learned in physical therapy in mind.

wiggle dance

The skirt has swish. I think a nice red petticoat might help me like this more. The blue denim is a cotton interlock knit that I picked up for some ridiculously cheap price at Fabric Mart (all gone). The gingham knit you can get here. I did have to stretch the LS skirt out to get it to attach to the bodice. I managed to keep the resulting gathers to the sides to keep it balanced out, though once I put it on you can barely notice.

This is my derp face

Obviously a country outfit in the country requires a pickup truck and tools, right? Now excuse me while go stick this dress in the magic closet.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Roses for Oonapalooza!

This is my Katie Kadiddlehopper pose.

Check out my make for this month's Sewcialists theme!  I know, I'm totally squeaking in just before the deadline. Obviously, this is the dress that sparked my last blog post thought train. If it was TL;DR the gist of it was "I'm too nerdy for this kind of dress and PINK". But then there are so many other brilliant women that do. It was a silly notion, and while Oona approves of silly, I don't think she goes for THAT kind of silly.

Speaking of silly, while taking these photos I was like "I feel ridiculous". Luckily our lush vegetation gives us a good bit of privacy from snoopy neighbors. Oh, and I took these the same day I took my kitschy coo hack pictures. Isn't amazing how much a wardrobe change can make you look different? I mean, I'm wearing the same makeup!

So this is the Camino Cap from Kitschy Coo just like my other one only I made the skirt down to the floor this time. Its pretty much a straight size 8 though I did curve in for the underbust. I didn't want contrasting bands on the sleeves but I did on the neckline just to break up the pink. Both fabrics are an ITY from Fabric Mart, which I got on sale. I did a rolled hem on the serger, easy peasy. Its gotten to the point I can whip up a knit dress in two hours. TWO HOURS. Its no wonder knits are so popular with this kind of production speed.

Unlike the other dress this one gets compliments everywhere I go. With such a vibrant print I'm keeping the accessories to a minimum. Its all about the dress you see.

This is me laughing at myself for ridiculous posing.

Obligatory mouth open Oona pose, except somehow she does it without looking like she's getting tested for Strep throat. This is one of the things that makes her so awesome and vibrant even on screen, she has that light and presence that makes it work. Love you Oona, you totally deserve the spotlight this month.

I can't wait for all the roundups at the end! What I've seen so far has been fantastic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

'Real' Geek Girls Don't Like Fashion

I'm sitting at work in a recently make Kitschy Coo Camino cap maxi dress (real photos later) in many shades of bright pink, digital print roses and wondering how I got here.  And by 'here' I don't mean work, I mean wearing pink.

Since venturing into sewing for myself things other than costumes, I have also ventured into unfamiliar waters of wearing bright colors (ya know, OTHER than red) and shapes that I haven't previously been able to explore and I'm having a great deal of fun doing so. BUT, and this is where the title becomes relevant, I always have this small voice in the back of my head saying that I'm betraying my inner geek girl. 

It might be the same small voice that is in the back of many other minds, or the debate of what entails a REAL geek girl would not be a thing. Though I don't mean fandom specifically, I'm approaching this from a general experience of what it was like to be a nerd or geek or whatever-the-frak its called now, in high school. We weren't the cool kids with the in crowd keeping up with the latest fashions. At least I wasn't until I jumped head first into grunge, largely thanks to Nirvana, before everyone else caught on. Mom had, for a long time, tried to make me things that I saw in the magazines but the early 90's were total crap for people that sewed. When we moved to Georgia she basically stopped trying at all because I was making my own money and spending it on clothes for myself. It was a lot of the boho chick that I still love today but then I detoured and dove head first into Goth. OMG, I loved me some Goth but maybe because it just extended my ability to wear Ren Fair garb outside of that venue. 

So in retrospect, I was certainly into clothing and fashion but it was to the beat of my own drummer. That drummer never won me any popularity points, the biggest relief was moving to Georgia where the school was large and I mostly stayed off the bully radar. I hung out with the band nerds and what some considered "the bad kids" (usually male), but largely because they didn't scare me and they weren't so much as bad as they were acting out on crappy home lives. At some point I became their sounding board and therapist because I never jumped to conclusions and I called them on their bullshit. Two boys in particular told me after we graduated that I had saved their lives just by being there for them. I'm not sure how this tangential thought happened, so I'll digress.

What was I talking about? Oh, right, betraying my inner geek girl.

So, fast forward two decades where I'm now working in the IT industry with a very old, large corporation. Its not been around as long as its parent organization (over a century) and the technology portion of it has relaxed the dress code to Business Casual, unless the suits are popping over for a visit. But its the casual portion that I am stressing here. The GenXer's have had a great deal of influence over the years inserting a sort of disdain for the stuffy dress of our elders. The women of this very technical industry were, by and large, the awkward geek girls from high school and thanks to our Riot Grrl 90's we were now beyond fashion. We are better than that! We are all about what is INSIDE and how that counts (i still believe this) so much more than what we wear! Those fashionable girls are the enemy.

It didn't occur to me until much later that that attitude is ultimately the same thing as high school exclusionary tactics from the other side of the isle. And it hadn't occurred to me how much of this attitude and seeped into my unconscious until I caught myself thinking, and even voicing, my own disdain for the girly. Like full skirted dresses with lace, gingham maxi dresses, bright colors, and florals in general should be verbotten. Or something. I would say things on Facebook like "I'm going to lose my Goth Card for this" and even the most stoic of my friends said that was a silly thing to worry about.

I mean really, I'm a grown woman and what others think of me is none of my business. I'll wear whatever I damn well please.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kitschy Coo Hacks: The Cowl Neck Maxi in Blue

Hello Sailor.
 y'all. Y'ALL. This is like, my favorite knit garment I've ever made, FOR SERIOUS. Its a combination of Kitschy Coo patterns that have been modified from the original. The bodice is from the Lady Skater but I used a Threads tutorial to create a cowl neck.

The skirt is the maxi version of the Camino Cap, but this time I had enough to go all the way to the floor.  The fabric is a navy blue bamboo rayon from, its one of their reorderable medium weights that aren't quite so clingy as other rayons. Still, if I'm going to wear it out and about it needs proper foundation garments for a smooth silhouette.  And I have, in fact, already worn this to work.  It was a bit bizarre because if ever staring was audible, it was that day. No one actually complimented the dress, but one lady on the elevator had her mouth open. When she realized I was looking at her she said 'Your hair is... amazing".

I was like "Um, thanks! Oh hey look this is my floor".  Cause I suck at taking compliments, its taken years to learn to just say thank you.

This fabric drapes beautifully,  I might add. LOVE IT. Let's see what else? Ah yes, I used clear elastic at the shoulders and the waist for stability. I did cut the bodice two inches shorter to have it hit at the right place with the weight of the full skirt. I just did a rolled hem on the serger because this is a knit and well, I was feeling lazy. Wanted to WEAR IT NOW!

This is the "Would you please do something about your dog barking all fucking day" face. Seriously people, if you are going to have a pet, don't neglect them!!

I want like, a closet full of these! I'm wearing it around the house right now and I can be active and do things in it without worrying. If I'm cooking there are aprons for a reason!  I also know that y'all are going to ask me about a tutorial, I've already mentioned to Amanda (Of Kitschy Coo) that I'm game. The kids are away with their Grandma this week going road tripping, so its been quiet and I've been concentrating on the six things already cut out. Yes, SIX. Crazy, I know. I have another hand full of things I've not yet blogged and need to share!  I've started working out again now that my pain management doctor has agreed that it will take more pain meds in the short term but be beneficial in the long term. I'm pretty determined to make that uphill journey for a second time (the first was before Mom went into hospice).

So tell me, have you ever hacked a pattern until is was barely recognizable from the original? Did you like it afterward?

Stay tuned, later this week I have photos for Oonapalooza!