Monday, December 27, 2010

Theoretical Clothing - The Blue and Gold Edition

So I still need some cold- weather clothing. Despite the fact that I live in The South and it didn't actually start acting like winter until the beginning of November the weather has decided to make up for lost time. So what to do? Well I am going to make another knit dress, but this time it will be out of this lovely blue wool knit pictured below. And that gold knit? That happens to be an Italian silk knit that I got at a pretty sweet deal and it feels dreamy. I have enough of it to make a long sleeve cowl neck, like this one, and a camisole. These items are from my TNT patterns and I can knock out both in one afternoon. Even after modifying the dress sleeves to be elbow length (Of course now that I've said that I've jinxed myself... I just know it).

And the final bit to this theme of blue and gold is this fabric I picked up in Nashville, TN while there to see the "Golden Age of Couture" exhibit at the Frist Museum*. I have enough to make about two items out of this fabric. The first will be a high-waist strait skirt, but the second? Not a clue. Any suggestions?

*I highly recommend going to see at least one exhibit at The Frist. The building alone is worth the trip. Its a beautiful example of Depression era Art Deco. Here's a picture of me and my daughter outside after the tour. And in keeping with this being a sewing blog, I made both dresses!

(Looking at pictures from earlier in the year I am definitely seeing the progression of weight loss. Not to toot my own horn or anything.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Revisting Old Inspiration

I admit it, I'm writing this at work. I know, I know. I'm a bad employee and setting a poor example. But honestly there's a network black out (I'm a Junior Sys Admin/Fourth Level Escalations for a LARGE communications company) company wide. Most everyone is on vacation and anything that is 24/7/365 is on skeleton crew so no changes outside of emergencies are being done. No upgrade, nothing... emergency fixes only. S0 I um... I'm testing to make sure customers can get to! Yeah THAT'S IT! You believe me,


So back in Spring of 2010, which in the Fashion World (please note ironic use of capital letters) that's like eons ago, Ralph Lauren came out with this dress in his RTW collection. I just fell in love with it. He was taking inspiration from The Great Depression (these capitals are not ironic). I loved the blue with the red buttons, and the matching belt. I went in search of a pattern that would be a close match. And almost nine months later I found it. I bought the pattern on the left from Midvalle Cottage on Etsy. She has wonderful taste, especially for the 40's and 60's. And if you are in the market for vintage patterns for children, she has a lot of those too.

But in any case, I am quite pleased with this find and I am going to add it to my list of spring "To Make" dresses. This is going to be a spring and summer full of dresses for me. The pattern itself has three different sleeve variations, the short sleeved version will be the one I use. I think I might have to try the cap sleeves as well. I have the red buttons but now to find a blue print that I actually like. One that is small enough to work. And maybe I'll even be able to use some of vintage cotton thread. Not sure how wooden spools are going to work in my machine, though. I'm sure it will be OK. In any case, looking at these two pictures really brings home that there is such thing as "classic style". Taking a piece of advise from Tim Gunn (paraphrased, of course), if you want to do a vintage look but keep it modern, pair it with modern accessories and hairstyles. There's no substitute for class, that's something you feel inside.

Speaking of those vintage spools of thread, I did some stress tests on it to see if they were any more brittle than my modern poly thread. Nope, it took about the same amount of tension to snap either, so that's good.

That's all for today. Stay Fabulous!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Or Happy Yule, A Late Solstice, or whatever winter holiday you might hold near and dear to your heart. I did very little in the realm of sewing other than to trace a pattern for my knit dress. And then another for the shirt version of the Vogue 8679.

But what I did want to share was a picture of all the nifty vintage sewing loot I got for Christmas. Cotton thread on wooden spools, lace, a tailor's tack marker, and then some tailor's chalk, spare needles, and a bracelet pin cushion my daughter made for me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Theoretical Clothing - Part 1 of Wardrobe Planning for Fall and Spring

So like many people that love to sew we also love to shop for, and collect fabrics. Because ONE DAY we're going to make them into fabulous clothing. Every single piece we buy, honest. "You believe me honey, right?" I say to my husband. "I dunno, what's in it for me?" he asks. The rest of that conversation is not meant for this blog, thankyouverymuch.

In an effort to keep myself motivated and actually have, ya know, something to post I intend to do a series of wardrobe planning posts. The fabric I have and what I plan to make with it. Its good to have goals. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. In any case, I have some sapphire blue wool jersey that I am going to make another dress like the polkadot one. I plan on lengthening the sleeves and leaving it at "just below the knee" length. I have found it to be one of my favorite dresses patterns as it provides a lovely backdrop for so many accessories.

But I also really need some blouses and camisoles. I have two patterns in the stash for that. Both of them are out of print McCall's patterns and both will require a good bit of adjustment for the bust. The good news about the actual blouse is that it has multiple sleeve options. Hooray for multi-season workhorse patterns! I might also take another crack at the Sencha Blouse. And last but no least for winter I want a black cotton velvet cropped jacket. I have this New Look 6564 and I want to make view E. Though I haven't decided if I want to add trim or not. I don't think I do.

But before I do ANY of that I am going to sew together my daughter's robe and make a pair of PJ's for my son.

There will be pictures later, PROMISE!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Polka Dot? Why not! (More Pictures Too)

Hi Again! Remember I said I had made several other garments including a polka-dot dress. Since I was all dolled up and we still had some light left I had my husband take pictures of all the other garments as well. You will see there's a theme here. Namely, polka-dots. I sent off to have a bow belt professionally made to match the dress. And really the blouse is one of my current favorites. I need to make a couple more long sleeve cowl necks because they go so well with the high-waist skirts. But first, I need to think about Christmas for the kids. Christmas. Bah. Humbug. ( I'm trying not to keep my lack of enthusiasm from spilling over to the children but its hard.)


Dress + Belt + Hat = I should be at the Kentucky Derby

This Skirt I have dubbed "Charisma Bonus Skirt"

Booty, I has it.

Here's the dress paired with the Karen Cardigan from Its too big, I'm going to do the non-plus size next time.

What I do like about the Karen Cardigan is that you can belt it with things other than the tie the instructions have you make. I think it makes the dress much more playful, and also gives me the ability to wear it in colder weather.

For those of you that grew up with Animaniacs, you probably can't hear about PolkaDots without thinking of this episode. Oh you don't? Well now you will! Stay fabulous!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dragon Scale Skirt Success!

I am so happy its finally done! I ran into some difficulty when putting in the lining. Things did not line up the way I wanted them to which leads to a bit of weirdness in the back but honestly I'm the only one that's going to notice. So you know what, I'm not even going to point them out! Also I'm wearing it with my polka-dot blouse made from Silhouette #550, the cowl neck blouse. Its been modified for a full bust and I can make it in either a woven or a knit. I also have self-drafted a butterfly sleeve to use with it that I love. In fact I have some more fabric in the wings waiting to be cut out of that pattern. Its possible I'll end up with a closet full of cowl neck blouses (Which is why its a TNT pattern). Variations on a theme... But anywho, SKIRT! Here it is!

I also have decided all my future pencil skirts will have a lining. The difference in the way it lays and moves is quite significant. and it feels scrumptious. And while this looks only vaguely like the original inspiration, it makes me very happy. And I have just enough of the fabric left to make a little matching clutch using one of my Thread Magazine tutorials.

Honestly, I can't wait to wear out!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Elusive Creatures

Meet Bai Long, our elusive half Siamese. Her name means 'white dragon', and yes I realize she's all black. Except a small white patch where she was shaved when they fixed her. My roommate at the time said we should shave zebra stripes in her, cause wouldn't it be cool if it all came in white? My response "Go right ahead and try, that's all you. Let me know how it works out." Needless to say, this never transpired.

Bai Long was born three weeks before I met my husband and she's been with us ever since. That makes her 14 years now. Why am I bringing this up? Well the fur that I chose to use for my Dragon Scale Skirt looks and feels just like her. In fact, Felicity asked me what I had done to Bai Long that made her hair go all over the place. My very helpful roommate told her we had a disagreement. Really it was cause I had trimmed the seam allowance on the piece of fur and it got EVERYWHERE. But walking in from work to be accosted by a seven year old going "What did you and Bai Long argue about?" was not what I was expecting. But to the right you might be able to see what I mean.

So I managed to sew on the fur trim (my husband does the Beavis laugh every time I say that, no idea why...) and I also got the darts sewn in the back. I tried it on and my roommate said "Hey, it makes your butt look smaller". Cool? Maybe? I kinda like my butt but I guess that's OK. I took some pictures of it in the sun. (The skirt, not my butt. Get yer minds of the gutter, sheesh)

See what I mean? When the light hits it just right it does not look like anything I've ever seen. I wish I could have been able to get more of this fabric cause its just so cool.

I do wish I could offer up a better picture of Bai Long but she does not photograph well. I've never met a cat that has quite such a talent for being invisible. So many times we've walked through the room searching for her and can't find her until we sit down and realize she's there on the white pillow and languidly opens one eye at us. Some part of me thinks she really was a dragon in a past life.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Acquire More Sewing Machines

Well the first thing you need is a family full of pack rats that also happen to sew. My first sewing machine acquired was my Grandma's portable quilting machine that my Aunt Kristi sent me after she passed away. I cut my teeth on it but found myself very frustrated cause I wanted to work with knits and other fidgety fabrics and quilting machines really only like cotton.

The next machine was a Brother SE-270D that Mom got for me as a Christmas present. That doesn't really count toward the pack-rat tendency, but that put me at two sewing machines. Ok, cool. I packed up the portable for emergency backup sewing machine purposes. But this only made me lament for a serger. I really wanted one badly, but they are expensive so I made due. But then my husband's grandmother passed away and my mother-in-law now found herself with THREE sergers. So I inherited one of them. I have been very happily honing my skills with knits thanks to Gertie's guest poster.

And this past weekend my Mother-in-law brought me this (just the machine, Manga* was already there. In fact he's still there. I'm not sure he's moved in two days):

Its an old Sears Kenmore made out of solid metal and I think it might weigh 40 pounds. Thankfully no one had to die for this one to come to me. HAHAHA *ahem* Right, tasteless jokes. Anyway.... All it does is a straight stitch and SUPPOSEDLY its heavy duty enough to sew leather and denim. This is good cause I have some projects coming up that need to do just that. One day... maybe, in my dreams.

So add this to my daughter's sewing machine (One of the last of the Singer Featherweights) and That makes five sewing machines. FIVE AH AH AAAH!

Speaking of tasteless jokes:

*If you are wondering about Manga's one eye looking all weird its because he survived a coyote attack earlier this year. We thought he had lost the eye all together but it turns out he's still able to use it. It get weepy from time to time and I try to put medicine in it but then he gets mad and won't come home for a day or two.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Check Out This Zipper!

As promised I took some pictures of the Skirt-In-Progress. I have decided that I am going to call it the "Dragon Scale Skirt" because the way that it reflects light gives it an ethereal sheen and makes me think of the Blue Dragons from the Pern Series.

I found this fabric at Gail K's. There was only one bolt of it and it was a whopping $30 a yard. The plus side is that at 60 inches wide I figured I could squeeze the fashion fabric out of just one yard. The down side? After washing and laying it out I discovered that it was very badly off grain on the cut so I had more like 7/8ths of a yard. I knew that it would be four inches shorter than usual, since the bottom will be trimmed with fur. It took some serious fabric origami but I got it cut out. And after my last skirt I learned that one should put the zipper in the back pieces FIRST before sewing the rest of the skirt together. I decided to machine stitch in a metal zipper because I'm rather hard on my clothing and hopefully I will be able to wear this skirt a lot. I'm really proud of how the zipper turned out.

The pins you see in the skirt to the left are marking the darts I need to take. I have... well I have what my husband affectionately calls "ethnic booty" and a sway back that curves into a waist that's almost 10 inches smaller than my hips (and my bust and hips are almost the same circumference, especially now that I've been putting effort into working out and weight loss). This is one of the reasons I learned to sew. RTW doesn't make garments for the true hour glass shape. So four darts in the back of the waist to take in four inches. Hopefully without puckering.

So now I have to finish the darts and sew on the fur trim at the bottom and then start on constructing the lining and the waist band. And since I don't have enough fabric to do ONE solid piece of fabric I am going to use a men's tailoring trick in which you have the seam go through the waistband as well. This will make it three separate pieces sewn together but also allow me to take it in if necessary (or out, but who wants to think about that?).

Monday, December 6, 2010


(Princess and Pirate at the Renaissance Festival two years ago. Have I mentioned I love my kids?)

And here I realize that my last post before the Dec. 5th one was about going to take a nap and then finishing my daughter's costume. That was over a month ago! Man, I've been in a serious funk. Aside from the lack of sunshine in the winter, the back to back big family holidays stress me out. Why? Its hard to explain, they just do.

So I had to work the day of Halloween. This was the first time I hadn't managed to get the day off at my job. Since I have had most of the other holidays off I just decided it wasn't worth arguing. I did get pictures of the costume I pulled out of my ass at the last minute for Felicity. For reference, she wanted to be Aang, from "The Last Airbender". The cartoon on Nickelodeon, not the movie. This was a very very important distinction for her. Simon wanted to be a ninja warrior and since I was pressed for time and couldn't imagine improving on it, I just bought one. I felt a little dirty doing so as I have NEVER EVERY actually bought a costume before. That's totally cheating. He wore it for three days straight until I forced him to take it off and put it in the wash for fear it might become sentient on its own and walk away whilst he slept. But I digress.

(Reference Photo)

So you see Aang above? He's the Avatar, or the only one that can control all four elements, Earth, Air, Fire, Water. His job is to keep balance in the world and there's one born every generation. Except that he went missing for 100 years and everything went bad. Now he's back and ready to make things right! He's the hero of the story, and that's who my little girl wants to be for Halloween. My daughter is a sword wielding princess or a bad ass martial artist who controls all the elements. Me thinks I must be doing SOMETHING right. So... costume. Right.

I wasn't allowed to shave her head so I improvised with a bald wig cap. The cape I made out of a large circle and I used brown leggings for the basis of the pants. I had this idea of making the body suit out of yellow broadcloth but threw that out the window and hacked up a couple of yellow t-shirts and made it work. The end result was not perfect, but it was better than this piece of overpriced crap. She wore it to church and several of the kids recognized her right off even though the parents were clueless. But the end goal was realized, which is to say both children were very happy and got lots of loots!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm not dead yet!

But I just might be by Christmas. Well no, not really. The seasons really do effect my mood and after almost a month of the entire household having one illness after another I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide under the covers. Except a couple Friday's ago I managed to go out dancing with some girlfriends and ended up with a new friend. And a commission. Probably the ONLY kind of commission I'll take cause its a SCARF. Seriously, scarves are a strip of fabric, how bloody hard can that be?

How did I agree to doing this? Don't ask, that's classified information. But let's just say that this friend really likes Burberry Scarves, which are "HOLY CRAP $200+ FOR A STRIP OF FABRIC REALLY?????" expensive. I can get you two yards of nice cashmere for half that. But since he wanted it to be the same colors in a plaid this involved going to my favorite fabric store in downtown Atlanta. And since my niece and sister were in town for Thanksgiving I got to drag them along. (My niece looking through the shiny section. All together now, OOO SHINY!)

That's my family for you. They come into town and we go to the fabric store, or the music store (like, the kind that sells SHEET MUSIC, remember that stuff?). Or comics... Geekiness is inherited, of this I'm certain.

Anyway, I also was there to get some cotton velvet for a cropped jacket, or bolero, whatever you want to call it. But after combing through the massive table full of wool suiting weight material I found what looks to be a perfect match. Its a Pendleton Wool, very VERY soft. I was hoping that I'd have enough left to make a skirt but I'm making it double thickness so no.. no dice. But there it is to the right. They had several bolts of the stuff so I might just go back for more. As it is I can probably make a plaid skirt for Felicity.

OH, you want to know if I've been sewing other things? Why actually I did manage to make a few garments but I can't post any pictures because I don't have a way to take them myself and good lighting + me + husband at home don't happen often at the same time. If anyone wants to donate a decent camera with timer and tripod to the cause it would make me REALLY happy!

The two days before I went dancing I had an overwhelming urge to make a black and white polka-dot knit dress. I finished the dress in time for Friday night thanks to a wonderful bout of insomnia. That would be View C from Vouge8679. The dress was apparently successful since I made a new friend the night I wore it out. I also made a black double knit skirt from View E on Vogue8672. I've decided that this skirt adds +10 to my charisma bonus and must be worn with caution. I'm still gonna make more.

All the kidding aside, though, I have found myself somewhat crippled by the skirt I want to make inspired by Oscar de la Renta. Knowing I have everything needed to make the skirt while at the same time feeling overwhelmed by the undertaking has led to a lot of delaying on other projects or avoidance of sewing altogether. Friday and Saturday this week I took a deep breath and dove in. Cutting out the fashion fabric proved to be a feat of geometric proportion. But I did it and I serged the edges, got the lining pattern drafted and cut out, and also cut out the fur (fake) trim for the bottom. I will say that this is probably the nicest faux fur I've ever worked with. Last thing I did last night is trim the seam allowances and it kind of felt like I was snipping fur off of my cat. So I'll try to take some construction pictures of that and I will feel so much better once I have that silly thing conquered.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kitty Says No

See that cute creature on my sewing table? Yes, he's guarding the material I was using for the blouse I cried over the other night. I've had my first good night's sleep in a couple weeks and I WAS going to post about salvaging it after working on it, kitty said "No, take another nap". So that's what I'm going to do, then I'm going to work on my daughter's costume.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I hemmed some pants, does that count?

Hi there. I bet you are wondering why I haven't been posting. Or where all the pictures are of what I've actually made in the last months. Or something? ANYTHING? Well the honest truth is I've been really busy with the things that make home, well, A HOME. I had been on nights at work for so long that the noisy outdoor chores, or indoor chores didn't get done. They didn't want to wake me up. This also led to nothing much at all being done, even the 'quiet' chores. So I'm making up for almost nine months of cleaning. And of course, now that I'm on days there's more socializing too. Apparently my friends missed me. And honestly I missed them too. Oh yeah, and then the parenting stuff. After school activities, parent teach conferences, play dates, birthday parties, homework and I don't know what else. But that is all made worth it for the hugs and kisses, the seeing them accomplish new things and all those things I would be missing out on otherwise.

But I hemmed my husband's jeans. Nice pair of jeans he found for a good price but they were TOO LONG. It only took a couple months but I got around to fixing that for him. And later the next day I tried to do some sewing while just absolutely exhausted. You know what they say about not operating heavy machinery while tired? Sergers count as heavy machinery! They have sharp moving parts, in case you didn't know that. I had decided to try making another cowl neck, but this time out of a charmeuse instead of knit. It was going great until I caught the sleeve in the moving knife.

I cried. I really really cried. I went in my bedroom, shut the door, and cried and sulked and realized that I'm just. so. tired. Its frustrating when you have all these wonderful ideas and great fabric to work with and when you do have a little time to yourself it gets chipped away a little at a time until you realize there's nothing left for yourself.

This also the reason I hate the holidays. So many expectations on your time and politics to deal with when you want to say no. This just might be the year I have a complete melt down.

This reminds me of a Heinlein quote, and so that is what I will leave you with today.

Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.
Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fashionista and Intelligence: Not Mutually Exclusive

One of the things that has often bothered me is the stereotype that people who are into such professions as science and math, or really anything collegiate in nature, are not into fashion. I say this is hogwash! Just because one is brainy and likes to crunch numbers, write scientific papers, or setup unix databases does not mean they have no sense of what looks good on them. Granted there are the famous stereo types such as Einstein. He had a suit for every day of the week, all put together so he didn't have to spend time thinking about day to day things. But on the other hand, he cared enough to put the effort into THAT much of a wardrobe. And honestly, his hair has become iconic.

I recently had a conversation with another lady at work who I always think "Wow, she looks really put together". Lovely dark skin and hair, awesome clothes (even though not my type, they look good on her, which is the point), and smart. I found out she used to model, then went to college on that money to get a degree in electronics.

Which made me think about a famous actress from the 40's. As some of you might have guessed, I'm enamored of the clothing from that era. I went searching for famous actresses and came across Hedy Lamarr. Not only is she credited with being the first actress to appear naked in a movie that was not a "Blue Movie" (what they called porn back in the day), but she co-invented a device that eventually led to our current wireless technology. The Frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention. It was originally thought to make torpedoes and other submarine communications harder to decode during the war, but wasn't put into use until the late 50's(or 60's, I'm being lazy on that fact check). How could a Hollywood actress do such a thing? Turns out she was a talented mathematician before she became and actress and the idea came up when trying to solve a special effects need for a movie.

And to continue the idea of fashion and electronics intersecting, former Project Runway contestant Diana Eng is working on her own line of clothing that incorporates advancements in technology. Things such as El-wire and sew-able electronics called the Lilypad Arduino. A fashion subset of the open source electronics for hobbyists created by Leah Buechley at MIT. I happen to own a spool of conductive embroidery thread and have a few project ideas of my own. In fact, I already did one simple one for my son last Christmas.

So it seems to me that one does not need to give up brains for beauty and fashion. They can, in fact, go hand in hand. And I think that if we take this a step further we can teach our daughters that while you don't HAVE to be one or the other, its OK to be both.

So keep sewing, keep learning, and most importantly, stay beautifully true to yourself.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sewing On Hold

Hi Everyone! I'm jonsing for some real sewing, but alas, I must do Adult Like Things. Things like fixing up the yard, house,work, and taking the kids around to all their extra-curricular things.

I have several sewing related but not actual sewing posts in mind. I'm gonna try and get those up soon. In the meantime everyone do some sewing for me and stay beautiful!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vintage Love with a Hint of Danger

(Image Courtesy of MyVintageVogue)

I went searching for fashion photos of the war-era 40's not so long ago and I came across this amazing dress. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it. One of my friends called it "dangerous" and my husband calls it.. well we won't tell you what he calls it. Lets just say he's all for my obsession on this one.

Now I want to copy it and make it my own. I am certainly not at that skill level where I could try doing a draped pattern. Especially since I don't currently have a dress-form. I really do want a good one though. So instead I went and started looking at The Big Four pattern companies. And wouldn't you know, it was Butterick that had a good starting base! B4343, to be exact. Lovely, isn't it? It would not be hard at all to add a strap to one side and a flowing sleeve to the other. The other beautiful thing about this modification? I can actually WEAR A BRA! I know, I know. But when you are a 38DDD, this is important.

What do you think? Can I pull this off? What color should I do? Maybe a black velvet?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Its Full of Stars!

This picture has the most accurate color.

Howdy folks! This post is up way later than I had hoped because of my kids' having their yellow belt test and then some snafu with the internet company. Kids did great, my ISP is gonna get buggered and then I'm gonna switch services. ANYWHO! On to sewing!

PAJAMAS! That's right, I made some pajamas for my little girl. I used McCall's 4646 view D for the pattern. This view is a top and bottoms and it calls for 2 1/4 yards of 60" wide fabric. I only had 1 3/4 yards of a flannel back satin I bought about two years ago. So I had to use what I call "creative fabric acrobatics" in which I try to get the most of for my money. What helps here is that the pattern is not one-way and wouldn't look weird unless I used a bias cut. But why would I do that for this project anyway? The other thing I did was make the top short sleeved and she had to have the pants shortened by almost 4 inches as well. So by golly, I managed to get the whole thing cut out!

And since I had to use such short sleeves, I couldn't put in elastic and really didn't have enough room to hem. So instead I used this very narrow cotton insert lace and zigzagged the edges together. I then turned it under, pressed, and sewed it in a narrow hem. Not really the neatest, but hey, these are pajamas for a little girl. On the inside seams I just did an overcast stitch to stop fraying, with the exception of the front bodice top, which I pinked. I'm not sure why I decided to do it this way. Probably just laziness.

I had made view B about a year ago, but I did it out of a polyester charmeuse which is exactly the WRONG fabric to do it with, very difficult. So this felt fairly simple. We currently have view A cut out for the robe. Its a very bright printed flannel and Felicity (that's my daughter) wants to help sew it herself. Since she has her own little Singer Featherweight and sewing table from last Christmas, this should be fun for her. I'm sure it will give me a grey hair or two trying not to have an anxiety attack over it. Isn't being a mom fun? The robe project will have its own posts, to be sure. And without any further ado, here is Felicity modeling for us. The one above is her showing off one of her many baby dolls. Below are the rest. Keep sewing and stay beautiful!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Inner Louis Lane: Comics and Sewing Linked in the Past

(Image Courtesy of My Vintage Vogue)

When I stumbled upon this picture the geek in me became rather excitable. There is nothing exceptional about the dress and if you read the advert you'll see its really trying to sell the fabric. This being from 1948, selling fabric through catalogs was still widely common.

What really made me like this is because it is featuring Superman and making a reference to the girl imagining herself as Louis Lane. It was rather fresh on my mind since I had recently learned my paternal grandmother would buy comics for "her kids" but not hand them over until after she got to read them. See, Superman debuted in the American popular culture in 1938 and became an iconic symbol for "True American Values". He was the handsome man to the rescue and the world's biggest boyscout (Of course, later in "Kingdom Come" Superman himself said that the world no longer needed a boyscout, but that's a different discussion).

See, in 1947 Christian Dior and the couture houses of Paris revealed "The New Look". It was a very successful attempt to bring back the glamour of couture houses and to try and erase the utilitarian styles left on us by The Great Depression and WWII. We want to remember the grand dresses and shiny stars that grace the silver screen. But in reality the majority of the population was still making their own clothes and still struggling to make things work. To me, this would have been an apealling advertisment to those like my Grandmother that were dreaming of being rescued by their handsome superhero and taken off into a better day.

My Grandmother

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekly WTF: Dr. Who?

So I get the alerts for new pattern releases. What sewing nerd doesn't? And when looking through the coats I saw V1213 (above) and thought, BUH?? So... you know when you are doing your best to use as little fabric as possible when cutting our your pattern and you are left with these very long maybe 12 inch wide strips of fabric and you think to yourself "What in the WORLD am I going to do with this?". When its too much to consider a real scrap, but not really enough to make anything else with... Well, I guess maybe some kids clothes. But how many 7-10 year old's do you know that think "Oh hey, wool trousers, THANKS MOM!". Not so many, I'd suspect.

Well, KOOS Couture for Vogue Patterns just gave us the perfect solution. That's right, here's a coat that will not only use up that pile of leftovers but it will WOW the competition. Or confuse them. Grandma might clean her glasses a couple times just to be sure she's seeing things right.

But you know what, I'm gonna get this pattern. I think it would be awesome with this scarf. At the very least I could walk around asking people if they've seen a blue phone box recently.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Pinning

So I thought I should point out one of those little things that most books tend to not point out. When pinning two pieces together and getting ready to sew, make sure your needle head is pointed TOWARD you, not AWAY from you. See above reference. The one on the right side not only makes it difficult to take the pins out as you go, but you are more likely to stab yourself with them. I know this, but sometimes I'm lazy and don't bother with it. Which is why I'm typing with a band-aid on my finger. Just sayin'.

And now for your pop culture reference:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ciao Bella and Polka Dots (so many links...)

I'm still plugging away at my Lady Grey coat. Finally have the bodice muslin put together. Tomorrow I will hopefully have on the sleeves and the collar and get some pictures for feedback at the flickr support group.

But I feeling like I'm gonna need a break to do some other sewing soon. I want a polka dot blouse! Its finally starting to cool off here in the Southeast, so longer sleeves are a good idea. I'm thinking a 3/4 sleeve version of my red cowl neck. That was made from a Silhouette Pattern I won at the Sewing Expo last year. I was sort of meh about it, but then decided it would look good with butterfly sleeves so I used this BurdaStyle member's tutorial. So yes, black rayon knit with white polka dots with a 3/4 sleeve will go perfectly with the other thing I've been mulling over. See the high waist trouser over on the right? That's called the Bella and its also from

I kept looking at this pattern and finally broke down and bought it. I am a relatively tall woman with a long waist and what my husband likes to refer to as "ethnic booty" (which I'm sure is not PC at all, but honest he's not being mean!), the fitted pointed back should accentuate that nicely. After browsing through other versions made by members I've decided to give it a whirl. I have a black cotton/lycra denim in my stash that should be enough to make it. I'm gonna turn the pleats into sewn pin tucks and of course I'll need more ease in the hips/waist cause this is a European 46. See all the seams in the waistband? Yeah, that makes it easy to modify, for sure.

Though I may try and tackle the Oscar de la Renta skirt before going for trousers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sewing with Cats

As those of you with have cats know, there is often surprises to be found. Small dead things left as presents, hairballs in odd places, and of course sewing notions batted around and knocked behind furniture to leave you scratching your head. Or in my case, tearing your sewing room apart and using lots of "grown up frustration words". See this adorable creature above? He will sleep just about anywhere, but one of his favorites is in the window behind my sewing machines when they are open.

As it so happens, I opened all the windows before taking my morning nap and then tackling the front princess seams on the Lady Grey coat. And I woke up to this puzzling sight. I felt the string tugging at my legs and so I looked down to find leading across the sun room. I tugged on it and was getting a lot of resistance.
So I followed it through the slider rocker legs, around the stool, and out the cat door. Once out on the back porch I follow it to the ledge where the empty planter boxes are hanging over the edge and who did I find sleeping in them with a string wrapped around his neck? That's right. Manga. Mr. I Ain't the Sharpest Pencil in the Box.

So finally managing to free himself of the Evil String, he has run away to live another day. And as I was cleaning up the strung string a leaf got caught and was bouncing up and down as I was tugging. This of course caught the attention of our elder and more elegant of two cats, BaiLong. Every time the leaf would be still she would put her paw on top of it, than I'd tug again causing her to jump a foot in the air. This went on for five minutes, which is like hours in cat time.

The Pile of String.

Boxes for Hats

Its no secret that I love hats. All you need to do is look at my profile picture. And then there's this photo and this photo. In fact, anytime I go on vacation I always have an outfit or two that benefits from a hat. Vacations for us always mean outside in the sunshine near the ocean. Sunshine means I must have a hat to keep my fair complexion. And in the winter its to keep my head warm. In fact my last winter hat was stolen. STOLEN! How rude can you get? I think my new one will be from this lovely Etsy seller.

But then there's the packing conundrum. How do I transport my hats?! My conclusion is that I need some hat boxes. Or hat suitcases as the case may be. Cause right now its tends to be a routine of putting the hats in last and then my fussing over "Don't let them get crushed!". And my very patient husband sighs and says "Yes Dear" and then I apologize for being overly fretful(I have a wonderful husband, he puts up with all my idiosyncrasies).

I don't know how many of you reading this have any sort of love for hats and fascinators. If you do, however, then you know that well made ones are far from inexpensive. After a couple of attempts to make them myself, or even take a blank and decorate I have decided its just not something I do. I will gladly pay others to do that sort of work because they love it. And to protect them while traveling I must procure the proper transportation equipment.

And since I have such an interest in this, stay tuned for a "Hat Etiquette" post in the near future!