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!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Weekly WTF: It Was the Thought That Counts?

You know how when someone gets you a present and are all proud of themselves. They wait with baited breath, glowing with anticipation at your reception. Then you open it and you're all like "WTF!" but you know that you can't show your disappointment so you put on your best face and say "Thank you so much! Its wonderful!". Because, you know, it was the thought that counts, right?

That's how I feel about this travesty. NYC fashion week made this huge deal out of having an ALL PLUS SIZE FASHION SHOW! And by plus size they mean gorgeous women in the size 12-18 range. But then they did something awful with the hair and makeup. Reading through the captions Jezebel put on the pictures, they point out that they've had a devil of a time finding good photos or videos of the event. I have yet to see it show up

Now, I'm going to add that I believe one of the reasons that designers use such thin models is laziness. The less curves a body has, the less they have to actually FIT the model. They become ambulatory clothes hangers. As someone that is trying to hone their skills as a seamstress I can appreciate the amount of work to make an article of clothing look good on someone. But this isn't about making someone look good, its about making art out of clothing. Or at least it seems that's all some of the designers are trying to do. But if they don't want real people wearing their clothes, then why are they trying to put a square peg in a round hole?

What I saw was very loose fitting, sometimes poorly fitting clothes that were not flattering. There were a couple of good pieces. A few videos that I found had some more that might have been nice. But I didn't really see anything NEW or anything that I thought "OMG, I must find a way to make that myself!" Did I mention I think their hair and makeup people were asleep at the
wheel? I think I did.

Though in all honesty, we have come leaps and bounds in what is available both in ready to wear and in patterns for the lovely plus size ladies. After all, your choices used to be something like this:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Obsession with a Skirt

Oscar de la Renta is probably one of my favorite designers. I've heard him called "old" in that he designs classic silhouettes. But on the other hand many of his designs would actually LOOK good on a non-model-thin body. That is if you can afford the price tag. Can you? Cause I sure as heck can't.

But from his Fall 2010 RTW (Ready to Wear) collection I have totally fallen in love with this one skirt. See it on the right? Isn't that the most lovely shade of green EVER (Its only a couple thousand dollars. totally a steal)? And the kicker was the fur trim around the bottom. And it was by accident that I found an equally lovely silk suiting in peacock blue. Its hard to tell if the complimentary color is black or chocolate brown. It really depends on the lighting. And while in Nashville checking out the local fabric store there I found THE PERFECT faux fur. (That's French for 'fake'. Does anyone else remember all the old commercials promising "REAL FAUX PEARS!" or what have you?) So now I need to perfect my straight skirt pattern JUST a bit more and draft a lining for it. As much as I would love to do the embroidered embellishments that's just not in my books. But I think I will have a lovely skirt anyway.

So the picture below is the fabric I've found to copy this skirt. What do you think? Will it be FAABulous? Weird side note, the fur feels just like my cat Bailong, who is one of the softest cats I've ever met.

Stay Beautiful!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Self Stitched September

(Or Why I Need More Shirts and Skirts)

So those of you already familiar with the online sewing community know exactly what the title is about. For everyone else I'll explain, or at least I'll explain my understanding of it. I could be totally missing the mark.

It actually started with 'Me-Made-May'. The goal being to wear something everyday that you made yourself. And then were encouraged to post pictures about it. There were a number of people, myself included, that wanted to participate but just didn't have the time or resources to do so. So enter Self-Stitched-September. I'm only sort of participating. I was going to try and do the whole shebang but life happened and I didn't get enough shirts done. I have enough skirts, well almost. I don't have a PLAIN BLACK pencil skirt. Which I suddenly realized I _need_. I have a closet full of black skirts, most of which are not made by me and either don't fit or are so threadbare its kind of embarrassing to wear them (one of my favorites being almost 15 years old). Considering just how much of a staple black is in my wardrobe I'm rather shocked I haven't done one yet. I shall remedy this! But now I'm having a dilemma of OMG!WHATPATTERNTOUSE!! Do I use my TNT self-drafted pattern (taken in for recent weight loss, woo!) or maybe this one that is in my stash or possibly this one from Vogue's new fall patterns. ARG! So many choices, so little time.

But I digress. I still haven't talked about shirts. I have a pile of wonderful knit fabric and a couple patterns to choose from. I was thinking I might do one more shirt out of the cowl neck pattern I recently modified for my own tastes. But then I went and signed up for the Lady Grey Sew-A-Long. Something that seems a little daunting all the sudden but I'm going to do it because I'm stubborn like that. Plus finally making something out of that silk tweed that has passed from my Mom's stash into mine would feel like an ultimate accomplishment. I mean, the whole reason I started really learning how to sew was because of THAT PIECE OF FABRIC. The idea was to make something from it that Mom would be proud of. I guess we all still have that little bit of girl in us. The one that holds up her creation and says "SEE WHAT I MADE MOMMY!" and beaming with pride when she tells us its the loveliest thing ever.

Anyway. I'm still managing two or three outfits a week that has at least one piece I made myself. I'm just not participating in posting photos.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekly Wednesday WTF

Here's something I'm going to try and bring you once a week. All the things I found that made me go WTF?! Hopefully you will find them as entertaining as I do. I encourage light-hearted snark.

First lets start out with the world of patterns. OF all the big four (McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity, Vogue) I think McCall's is my least favorite for quality of drafting. But that's an aside. Their showcase in email this week was a new sheath dress M6201. Its big selling point? Embellished shoulders!

(Image Courtesy of McCall's website)

Uh... Is it just me or does that look more like someone added enough hardware to merit this at least +2 to armor bonus? She's trying out for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! (Well, maybe if it was green...)

Moving right along. Runway Fashion! Really this is just a category of WTF all on its own. You have to know what to take and what to leave. And in the Spring RTW ('ready to wear' for those of you not up on the acronyms) Marc Jacobs we have this wonderful gem. Are you as mesmerized as I am? Cause it took me a minute to realize she forgot her pants. I have to say the shoes are pretty awesome though. I guess wearing pants might detract from the shoes? Then why the glorified pasties over the shirt? I'm probably just not fashionable enough to "get it".

(Image Courtesy of

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lady Grey Sew-a-Long

So you may have noticed a little graphic over on the right hand side of my blog. That is because I'm participating in Gertie's Lady Grey Sew-a-Long. The name comes from the coat pattern designed by Colette Patterns. Colette is an independent pattern designer whose work I just love to pieces. I've made up two of her other patterns, including the blue dress I'll post below.

To the left is the fabric I've picked out to make the coat. The black and white is a silk tweed that is somewhere around 16 years old and I snagged from Mom's stash. The black and red is a silk charmeuse that will be the lining. First, however, will be the test garment made out of muslin. This is done to check the size and fit of the garment before cutting into the nice expensive fabric. Since everyone has a unique body it is HIGHLY recommended this is done when starting out with a new-to-you pattern. I will do a lengthy post on how companies draft patterns and why its almost impossible to get a good fit sewing them up as is.

In the mean time, stay tuned for progress reports and picture on how my first foray into tailoring goes! Stay beautiful!

For Love of A Hobby

This blog is about sewing. Mostly. I'm sure there will be tangential discussions about other things, like the insanity of the fashion industry, history of technology behind sewing, body image and feminism, and the occasional rants about life in general. The hardest thing about starting a blog about a specific subject is deciding what to do for a first post. So on the suggestion of a friend I'll talk about what I love about sewing.

First thing that comes to mind is satisfaction. Satisfaction that I made something from beginning to end. I started with fabric, thread, sewing machine, and a pattern (or not) and ended up with a completed garment that fits me better than what I could buy in a store. I can wear it proudly knowing I DID IT MYSELF.

Well, mostly. Getting to the point where I wasn't embarrassed to actually be seen in public in my own handiwork wasn't a walk in the park. Despite my vague attention to things Mom taught me as a little girl I had no concept of how to properly adjust fit, keep fabric from puckering, or not throwing the sewing machine out the window when it wasn't doing what it was suppose to. And I absolutely hate putting on finishing details. Why? Oh, lack of patience mostly. By the time you get to that point you want it to be done NOW. NOW, I SAY, NOW! Screw this zipper, it doesn't need to have the lining attached, I can wear it as it is!

But really, it can't. After 15 minutes of trying to get it to zip up and then waiting for your husband to UNstick the fabric you just got stuck while desperately having to pee will cure you of that notion. Next time take the extra 20 minutes and hand sew the damn lining in place.

I've also learned that sewing for other people isn't my cup of tea. I work, I have a husband and two kids, I have chores that need doing. All this takes up lots of time and when I do have time to sew (usually at the expense of housework), I want to make things for ME. I have The Selfish Seamstress to thank for that piece of wisdom. And Mom.

And after months and months of blathering on to my friends enthusiastically about one project or another I have decided to join the ranks of all the other sewing bloggers out there. In the grand scheme of the internet, its not a huge population, but it is a close knit and supportive community. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I like talking and writing about it.

Sew On and Sew Forth!