Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I got an email today from Deepika - I won first prize in Patternreview's UFO contest! The contest ran from 8/1 through 9/30, and by this point I'd completely forgotten about the contest and was just being smug about how many projects I'd managed to clear off the sewing room floor.

The prize is a $25 gift certificate to I'm going to go browse and see what calls out to me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Christmas Came Early!

After my recent post about suffering from BWOF withdrawal, I was lucky enough to pick up April and May 2006 BWOF from a classified on Patternreview, and they arrived today! Already the magazines are covered in post-it notes, and I'm feeling happier.

What kills me, of course, is that I had May 2006 at one point, and got rid of it because there wasn't anything I wanted to make in that issue. (What can I say; it was early on for me and BWOF, and I was looking for special clothes, not realizing that even the "basics" were special.)
I still want September 2007 like I can't believe - yet another rendition of the sheath dress today, taunting me - but I'll get it eventually, when the rush is over.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lust / Stashing (Patterns)

What I'd like to find is a blouse pattern that looks like this Roland Mouret jacket, though I'm not sure how it would look on me, considering that my ribcage and my waist are much closer together than the tall young thin thing wearing the original. That's a project for a long, cold winter, drafting something of that magnitude.

I've tried to be good lately about the pattern thing. There are so many that I haven't tried, so many issues of BWOF that are calling out to be pillaged. So how is it that I ended up on Patternreview, ordering KS 3533 (a Duro-type dress out of knit fabric), Burda 7898, an almost exact replica of a dress they did in a BWOF issue last year, and New Look 6732, because I have almost no blouse patterns and I realize that my anti-blouse bias has always been because they don't fit properly. When I made my first Simplicity 7086, it was a revelation - the buttons didn't gap, it didn't ride up, it fit close to my body without being tight. I wanted more. I made another one, and refined the length and sleeves, and played with the buttons a little. More.

Thus NL 6732, which seems like a well-shaped basic - it has 4 collar options, 4 sleeve options (many more once I play with it a little), and it looks like it's a good length. At most it takes 1 3/4 yards, so I can probably scare up that much fabric. Easily.

Then, just when I thought it was safe, I got an email from Vogue. Bastards. Another $6.99 sale. And since their patterns are $25 - how did that happen? It's obscene - I had to buy a few. Two more Vintage Vogues, both dresses, and a Sandra Betzina blouse pattern, 7903, which to me has great faux-vintage potential with its series of 3 small darts in the front and two long, shaping darts in the back. I could actually do without the goofy cuffs on all variations of the shirt, but isn't that the joy of sewing? Looking at what the pattern company gives you and saying, "Nah, I don't think so."
As an example of that, the two dress patterns I mentioned above, are being done backward. The Burda bias cut dress, which is meant to be done in a woven (velvet in their photo and in my mind), is being made, albeit very carefully, in a copper brown stretch velvet. With an invisible zipper, hallelujah, now that I can put them in. And the KS Duro dress just doesn't do it for me in a knit when I have so many wovens that need taking care of. And because I truly hate hemming knits. It only requires a 25% stretch, so I'm thinking that if I cut one size larger than my usual, I should be able to make it work.

We'll see, won't we?

The Things People Throw Away

The local thrift store had half price day a few weekendss ago. I was a good girl and didn't go cruising the plus size section for more leather pants to cut up; actually, I stayed out of the store altogether in an attempt stash control. My roommate, however, did not stay inside. She came home with this jacket, which looks pretty nice, until you look closer, when it's pretty fabulous.

Someone made this gorgeous thing, and then got rid of it. All I can think of is she either gained or lost a lot of weight, and couldn't bear to look at it in the closet, or it was a gift for someone who didn't appreciate all that work. Which, I have to admit, is one of the reasons I don't do a lot of gifts. Look at these details:

It's fully lined, with stretch lace at the hem of the lining. There are two faux welt pockets on the front, one with a tiny bias ruffle of blue-and-white ticking stripe, to match the ruffling on the cuffs (which in turn match the lining fabric). And best of all, IT HAS TAILS.<

Well, sort of tails. What would you call this? Ruffles? Pleats, I guess. What I like best is that the pleated section is made up of a combination of all the fabrics - the medallion lining, the ticking-stripe ruffle and a navy blue satin. The stripe, by the way, is actually pin-tucked to make it look even more pleated.

And again, I say, someone got rid of this! What were they thinking?

I made a tailcoat for the holidays last year, and while it's not something I can wear everyday (or, face it, more than a few times a year), I'd never let it leave my clutches. I spent over an hour in Mood trying to locate this fabric, which had been stapled to the wall as a swatch, so after a successful hunter/gatherer moment like that, there's no way I'd let this baby get away.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Do not need a Pressing Ham, I do not need one, Sam-I-Am

You do not want one,
So you say.
Try it! Try it!
And you may.
Try it and you may, I say.

If you will let me be,
I will try it.
You will see.

I really need a pressing ham!
I do! I need one, Sam-I-am!

Sometimes it really is the little things that make life better.

One of those sewing gadgets I never thought I needed was a pressing ham. Except I hate to do set-in sleeves, and I hate easing, and everything I've read has told me that I would have an easier time with set-in sleeves if I had a pressing ham. So finally I ventured out into the wilds of Ebay, and lo and behold, someone was selling a June Tailor pressing kit with a ham, a sleeve roll and a ham holder, for $16 including postage. Guess who's a happy girl? I love me a bargain, I do.

I used it a few times after I got it, and wasn't impressed one way or another, but last night I did a set-in sleeve on BWOF 8/2007 #112, otherwise known as the woolly mammoth coat (full review to follow) and suddenly I got it. First of all, this pattern had one of the best-drafted 2-piece sleeve I've met from them thus far. It took really minimal easing and would have turned out okay without pressing tools, but once I draped the sleeve head over the ham and steamed the heck out of it, it looked . . . like a coat. Smooth and rounded and shapely, not like something I'd just cursed a blue streak over setting a sleeve into.

My first - and best - cat was named Sam, and sometimes, when he was particularly superior, I recited Dr. Seuss to him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

BWOF Withdrawal

I wasn’t able to buy the September 2007 BWOF at my local Borders, but apparently neither was the rest of the world, so I didn't think anything of it. (Actually I got a BWOF in September, but it was the Plus magazine, purchased by Mario as a gift because he thought 'Plus' meant that there were extra features in the issue.) I still want the September issue, especially having looked at some of the work that's shown up on Patternreview in the last weeks. But now it's October.

This month, I start haunting the magazine section in Borders around the 5th. The magazine arrives anywhere from the 5th to the 8th, at least in a perfect world. By the 10th, it wasn’t there yet. I ask at the counter, and am told by a particularly annoying gum-snapping sales clerk that she thinks they’ve stopped carrying BWOF because they sell so few copies.

"How many copies do they sell per month?" I ask.

"Eight," she says. Pop, goes the gum.

"And how many copies do they get?"

Pop. "Eight."

"So they sell every copy they get."

"Yeah." Snap. "And people like you come in asking for it."

"And they’ve discontinued it because they don’t sell enough copies?"


Makes sense to me.

So I’ve been dealing with Burda withdrawal by pulling out all my old issues (back to July 2007) and marking patterns that I hadn’t considered before, or skirts that I didn’t want to make because I had fear-of-invisible-zipper. Which turns out to be about 15 patterns.

So I really don’t need the October issue to keep me busy. But I want it. So. Bad.

Ikea is Evil

What does this have to do with sewing, you ask? Read on. All will become clear.

Ikea appeals to the most craven instincts of the naturally untidy person and convinces us, by way of glossy catalogs and store displays of miraculously efficient use of space, that all we need to become organized is the right piece of furniture. "Look at me," says the bookshelf filled with baskets, doors and drawers, "if you took me home and filled me, you could be a different person."

It’s like a bad relationship, really: you see the self you could become with this piece of furniture, and you immediately try to be worthy of it. Furniture as a vehicle of change.

At the store, I look at the the perfect closets filled with pressed clothes on the right type of hangers, shoes on racks, scarves and belts in neat little drawers for that specific purpose, and I want to be that person. I want to be organized. I want to have a place for everything, and I want to be the kind of person who would put everything in its place.

But I am not.

And I know it.

I have, however, found the one exception to this rule. On Saturday, I brought home the Alex drawer unit. I put it together, with much swearing (apparently the unit is female, and quite intractable, if you consider the names I was calling it), but once it got into the workroom, it became perfect. It holds all my thread, bobbins, zippers, needles, presser feet, scissors, rotary cutters, seam rippers, tailors chalk – all the miscellaneous necessary stuff that finds its way all over the house because when I’m done a project I just put it down on the nearest flat surface and then the cats knock it off.

With this piece of furniture, I think, I can become a different person. Except I don’t want to be. Maybe all my years of bad relationships have made me ready for Ikea. I can be the same person I always was, but with better furniture. To make it even better, I velcroed my smallest cutting mat to the top of it so that I can roll the unit right up beside me while I’m sewing and trim seams without leaving my chair. And when I’m done, or need more floor space, the whole thing rolls right under the sewing table. With this piece of furniture, I think, I can become a different person. Except I don’t want to be. Maybe all my years of bad relationships have made me ready for Ikea. I can be the same person I always was, but with better furniture.