Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Feeling . . . Vintage

So I've looked at most of the fall fashion magazines, and I'm not that impressed. I know there's some good stuff out there (I saw Carolyn's post on Michael Kors), but why didn't most of it make it into Vogue, or Elle, or Lucky?

I just finished going through the September issue of Vogue, and my favorite part (the only one that got multiple pink post-its) was the retro-1940s feature. They keep threatening to bring back the 1980s, and the only thing about 1980s fashion I liked in the 1980s was the 40s flashback part.

Pleated pants . . . nope. Never. Try again later.

But for some reason these patterns are calling me. Most of these have been aging in stash for longer than I care to admit. Most are 60s vintage, which is not my usual taste, but there are some nice details here. Surprisingly, rather than being the usual too-tiny-to-use, these patterns are actually sized for a mere mortal, a mortal with boobs bigger than mine (most are for a 39" bust). I'd rather grade down than up, and most of these aren't tremendously complicated shapes, so fingers crossed for a decent result.

Now I need to figure out where to start. Any opinions out there?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black is the New Black

The only thing I didn't enjoy about making the black-and-white pinstriped dress last weekend was the fact that it was black. Black fabric obviously needs to be sewn with black thread, which cannot be seen by the naked eye when you're trying to pick out stitches that have gone wrong.

At least it can't be seen by these naked eyes, nor can they be seen with my corrected vision, and most of the time I have a hard time with black-on-black stitching even with my reading glasses.

So that would explain why I turned around and made a jacket to match the dress, right? Of course. And a pattern which fought me so hard I ended up doing some of the stitching by hand. I like hand sewing, but only on my terms - not as the beginning or end of seams that were started by machine but can only be wrangled into submission with hand stitches.

The jacket is from Vogue 2267 (patternreview here), a reproduction vintage pattern from 1954. I thought it was cute, and it seemed simple enough. But no. The dress looks simple, but I didn't want to make the dress. I wanted the cute little collarless bolero - collarless so it didn't squash the floral trim on the dress. Which wasn't simple at all.

There are side panels (no side seam) and the way they're inserted is wonky, and then you take the underside of the cut-on sleeves and you sew it to the top of the side panel, somehow or other getting the points of those joined seams to lie freaking flat.

I lengthened the sleeves to 3/4 length so I could add a little more of the floral trim. When I was in NY last time, I bought an extra half yard because I was afraid there wouldn't be enough for the dress. Of course there was enough, with one flower left over, but I didn't know that then, so I had to make a jacket to justify the existence of the leftover trim. I also put some on the left lapel, more or less as a corsage. I interfaced a piece of the stripe and hand-sewed it to the back of the flower where it overlapped the collar. That's the good kind of hand sewing.

For my next project, I wanted to get away from black. Which if course is why I cut out and started working on the black jeans from Ottobre.

It seemed easier than changing the thread on the machine, which is pretty pitiful, but there you are.

Tomorrow is Monday, I have to go back to work, and I'm lucky I can see the computer in front of my face because all I've done for 2 days is stare at black fabric.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Toys and Good Customer Service

So I bought myself a new toy off Ebay last week. I've been reading blog posts and the thread on Patternreview about the old Singer professional buttonholers, and I wanted one. I read that you can get them to work with newer machines, but when I started looking at them on Ebay, I realized that most of the time the machines that they were made for weren't that expensive, and it would be good to just get a new (old) machine with the buttonholer and set it up on its own.

I found a Singer 640 Touch & Sew that cost the same as round trip train fare to New York to have buttonholes done at Jonathan's. It arrived yesterday. I took it out of the box at work, and I wanted to start playing with it right then - it looked like it had hardly ever been taken out for a drive. The buttonholer was still in its original box, all 20 buttonhole templates were with it, all the fashion discs for the embroidery stitches were present and accounted for, and it had 13 different presser feet and a dozen oddly-shaped plastic bobbins. It had the original instruction book for the machine and for the buttonholer. It had everything. Except one teeny-tiny missing piece - the buttonholer screw that attaches the buttonholer to the sewing machine.

Apparently the buttonholer was used once. Grrr.

Now I had emailed Singer back when I was thinking about just getting a buttonholer and seeing if I could make it work with my newer Singer. It took them 8 days to answer my email (the customer service line never picked up) and then they said they didn't deal with vintage Singer machines or questions about vintage Singer machines. Okay. They gave me the numbers for various regional Singer service centers that might be able to help.

I called the one in Syracuse this morning and explained my dilema - completely immaculate machine, missing one screw. "Oh," says the woman on the other end of the phone, "is it the buttonholer screw or the buttonholer cover screw?" I say it's the buttonholer screw. "No problem," she says, "we have a bunch of them. Give me your address and I'll pop it in the mail this afternoon."

No charge. No stress - at least not once I contacted the correct branch of Singer. So if you ever need anything for your machine, call the Syracuse service center at 800-321-7397. They're good people.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where Dresses Come From

Ever wonder just how far your brain goes in search of inspiration? For my last dress, it was obvious - I looked at someone else's dress, said, "I want," and found a way to make it happen.

For my second version of Burdastyle's Fatina dress, it was a longer road. Much longer. Almost 40 years longer.

For this version, I used a plaid knit purchased about 6 months ago at Jomar. It's not a real stretch knit; it looks vaguely sweatery but it's not; it's some kind of poly-something-or-other, if that explains it. Feels a little odd, but I liked the look and when I bought it. Then I got it home, went, "what the hell was I thinking?" and up on the shelf it went. Sunday when I decided to make a second version of this pattern, it was the first fabric in my head. Go figure.

This dress sort of drove itself. I didn't even think about piecing the plaid, I just cut the front pattern piece apart at the lengthen/shorten line right beneath the bust dart and cut the front bodice piece on the bias and the skirt on the straight grain. The back was also cut on the straight grain.

I wanted this as a fall dress without a jacket - what jacket would match this? - so I drafted a short sleeve for the dress. Because the fabric had more stretch than the pinstripe I used last time, even with the side seams taken in a bit, there was still a little extra fullness in the front. Rather than make myself crazy, I took a pleat on each side (it's so easy to measure things evenly when you're dealing with a plaid) and tacked it down.

I decided I wanted a ribbon at the waist. I went digging through the trim stash, fully confident I had the perfect ribbon. Turns out I had several. There was a caramel brown grosgrain, which matched almost perfectly. There was a dark magenta pink satin that worked with the plaid. And then there was the green velvet. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the fabric, and which I was immediately attracted to.

I finished this dress Sunday night around 10:00. I sewed the ribbon on tonight at about 10:00. It took about 2 hours to make the dress, but it took 48 hours to decide on the ribbon, and therein lies the story of why this dress is almost 40 years in the making.

Flash back to Easter Sunday, 1971. I'm 7. My mom bought me a dress to wear. A frilly, fluffy meringue of a dress. A white dress with lavender, crystal-pleated butterfly sleeves. A dress that, looking back, I'm sure we couldn't afford, and a dress I loathed on sight. She gets me into the dress, and takes me outside for a few obligatory photos, before I can get away. Somehow I don't look as sullen in the photos as I know I was acting.

I go back inside. My aunt does my hair - mom jumped the gun on the pictures - and when she finally leaves me alone, I go back up to my room, ditch the white tights and the fluff-and-ruffles, and climb into my favorite dress - which is a brown plaid with a maroon and green plaid, a white collar, and a caramel-colored bow. Nothing Eastery about it; it's just my favorite dress.

I stay in my room until my dad calls that it's time to leave for my grandmom's. Then I run for the car - and run smack into my mom, who's sneaking a last smoke before she runs for the car. She takes one look at me and turns a lovely shade of Easter-egg purple, but at that point it's too late to send me back upstairs to change.

I wear what I want for Easter, and am smug and happy.

My plaid dress disappeared shortly after Easter. I never saw it go, but things tended to disentegrate in our house - that was my mom's word for it. It was the first big word I ever learned, and I thought it meant what happened to the old stuff when she wanted to go out and buy new stuff.

So there you have it, the long and twisted evolution of my dress, and why it absolutely had to have that contrasting green velvet ribbon to make it tie into the dress in my head.

Never forget a dress that you loved. It'll find its way back to you sooner or later. It just may take a few decades.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sewing Saturday, Part 2

Several months ago, I went snoop shopping at my favorite almost-unaffordable boutique in Philadelphia. They had a ton of stuff I liked, and a lot of interesting details I tried to sketch out when I left for later addition to garments. But the one piece that really stuck in my mind was the dress worn by the sales girl. It was a simple sheath, gray blue, beautifully fitted, and the neckline was trimmed with an assortment of roses made from bias tubing - gray, navy, black.

It was gorgeous. And she hadn't purchased it there. She said it came from Anthropologie the year before. And I never remember to go in that store, which is almost directly across from the boutique.

The dress stuck in my head, but I didn't see any chance of making it any time soon. And I hate making bias tubing, so the idea of making enough of it to adequately trim a dress (aside from being embellishment-challenged) was enough to send me out of the sewing room completely.

And then about 5 weeks ago, I was in NY shopping with Elizabeth, and I ran across some navy blue Italian cotton suiting in Metro Textiles. It struck me that this fabric would work beautifully for a knockoff of that dress, so I bought some. Then we went to Pacific Trims, and I fell in love with this floral trim they had, but none of the colors worked with my new fabric. So it was going to be back to the drawing board for the trim. Except I liked the stuff from Pacific. I didn't buy any, but a few days later I emailed Elizabeth and asked if she could pick up a yard of it for me.

When I got it, I knew that it had to be on the dress, and I just needed to find a different fabric. Which very quickly led me to this black and white pinstriped stretch woven I picked up with Kisha about 2-3 months ago on 4th Street at PA Fabric Outlet. It had originally wanted to be pants and a jacket, but it got over that idea.

Then the hunt was on for the perfect sheath dress pattern. I looked at about 5 patterns on BWOF, and one on Ottobre, and all of them (but none of them) would do. I didn't want seaming that interrupted the pinstripes, and almost all of them had something that didn't work for me. Then last week I read a review on PR for Burdastyle's Fatina dress. The dress as made up didn't work for what I wanted, but when I went online and looked at the pattern, I realized it had the bones of exactly what I needed.

Doesn't take much to make me buy a pattern.

I printed it out, took it home, taped it together, cut it out and cut out the fabric on Friday night. Saturday, I sewed up the dress. It was ridiculously easy - just a front, a back with a centered invisible zipper, and lots of bias strips for the neck and armholes. Substantial bust darts provide shaping, and I did bring the dress in a bit at the waist so it was more sheath, less shift. But overall, no fitting issues. Full patternreview is here.

The floral trim came sewn to black net. I cut the trim apart in sets of 3, and pinned it around the neck of the dress until I got an arrangement that I liked, then I sat on the couch watching reruns of Project Runway and hand-sewed it on.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the result. It's exactly what I had in mind, but better. The severity of the pinstripes works really well with the trim, and I think that maybe . . . just maybe . . . my fear of embellishment is subsiding a bit. At least when I can find embellishments like this, that announce loud and clear what they want done with them.

Sewing Saturday flowed into Sewing Sunday, and I actually knocked out a second version of this pattern in a plaid knit that I've had on hand for about 6 months. Once I bought it, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but when I was trying to think of another variation on Fatina, it called out rather loudly from the stash shelf, "Me, me! Pick me!"

I drafted a sleeve for this version, and other than hemming the sleeves, pressing the hems and adding one tiny embellishment, it's done.

Two fall dresses in one weekend. I feel so much better.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sewing Saturday

It rained yesterday. Almost all day. I'm tired of rain: my tomatoes are hitting the dirt before they're ripe, my basement is damp around the edges, and I think I am, too.

But on the other hand, rain justified spending a day in the workroom with the AC on low, supervised of course by Lily the cat. And we had a productive day, the most sewing done in the entire month of August.

So glad I brought my mojo home from NY.

First up, a project I started when I was mojo-free. This blouse is from Simplicity 5204, one of those wardrobe patterns marked "easy-to-sew." This was a pattern I picked up when I first started garment sewing again in 2005, because I thought it would be simple and good practice until I picked up speed again. I've only ever made the blouse, but I've made it 5 times now, and each time I tweak the fit a little more.

This version was made in one of my recently-purchased Liberty cottons, a William Morris print called Strawberry Thief. This was the print I had the most yardage of, and I'd originally planned to make a dress, but I wasn't sure how that much of that fabric would look, so I opted to make a blouse instead. Now I think it wouldn't be so bad, so I'll knock out my TNT A-line skirt to match, and that way it can be a dress or not, depending on my mood and just how much busy fabric my eyes can stand to look down at.

This is really a nice little blouse pattern. There's a wide fitting dart at the bottom, so no bust dart, and it gives a nice fit. The facings are wide enough, for a change.

The collar is a treat as well. No collar band, so it makes for fast sewing. The collar fits right into the edge of the facing, so the trickiest part of the entire collar is to make sure you pin the point back out of the way so you don't sew it into the seam. Yes, that is the voice of experience talking. Not this time around, but the first and second versions I did that. You think I'd learn, wouldn't you?

But no, apparently not.

The sleeve as drafted was a little too big (or rather, they wanted me to ease it into next week and there's no reason for that - I took about 1.5" off the sleeve cap and it fits just fine; I can raise my arms and everything). Other than that, it's a basic shape that can be shortened, lengthened, widened, etc., with minimal fuss. This time around I did it their way, with buttonholes through all layers that button over to the side. It's a nice look, and it allowed me to use 4 more of the pink pearl buttons from the grandmom stash.

This didn't take much time to finish - I'd started it earlier in the week and put it aside when inspiration failed. After the combined inspiration of fabric shopping and 3 hours of Project Runway, I was full of ideas, but I forced myself to finish this first.

Even though I'm focused on fall sewing, I decided to keep going with this because I know what happens to projects that get put aside, and I like this fabric way too much to finish it next year as a UFO. Besides, even though it's very light weight, the colors are pretty much 4-season, and I have plenty of jackets and skirts that would coordinate with this. And who knows, the skirt may follow before fall officially gets here, anyway

Next up, the second part of my Sewing Saturday (but first, I'm off to see if I can get in some Sewing Sunday).

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Found My Mojo

Now will somebody tell me what the heck it was doing in New York?

I took a mental health day yesterday and went up for a little shopping and to meet up with Elizabeth from Sew a Beginner. I had a very specific list, and I actually stuck to it, with the exception of one piece of fabric.

My list:

black denim
black topstitching thread
black jeans zipper
5 square white buttons to restock the shirt stash
replacement wool for Mario's jacket
interfacing for Mario's jacket
a dress knit from Kashi
something for a fall jacket for me

and what I actually bought:

black denim
black topstitching thread
black jeans zipper
5 square white buttons to restock the shirt stash
replacement wool for Mario's jacket
interfacing for Mario's jacket
a dress knit from Kashi
something for a fall jacket for me
and a black/white wool suiting - my only unplanned purchase.

Here's the goods: Paron's is having a remnant sale in the annex, and I got this gorgeous mini houndstooth for the replacement jacket. It was only $5 per yard, and it's wool. It was also a 3 yard remnant, and they're selling all the short remnants for that price. The bittersweet orange is a textured rayon/viscose, also from Paron's, also from the annex. It's yummy. The pixillated floral is from Kashi. Not sure what it is with me and turquoise lately, but it works with my greens and browns, and it's alarming-in-a-good-way with orange. And the black/white suiting, which looks more interesting in person.

I didn't photograph the black denim because it's black denim. Very black. Inky, totally black. With black topstitching. Obviously, I want a pair of black jeans, and I haven't been able to find any in the stores that aren't grayish-black, or black with colored topstitching, or so low rise that I'd start an incident. So I'll maketjem. The Ottobre jean pattern is good, and now I have all the supplies I need. The denim came from Mood - not my favorite store, but while everyone sells denim, they have a whole wall of it. This is black on both sides, really a nice heavy weight. Just what I wanted. Mood may be expensive, and definitely not for random shopping, but if you're on a mission for something specific, they have it.

Another reason I'm feeling the urge to sew: I'm assuming you were all sitting tight with me in front of the TV last night - Project Runway is back. Bravo's replacement show was all right, but I never felt compelled to watch reruns. Runway, on the other hand, always gets my creative juices flowing even when they don't show enough sewing to satisfy me. And, Tim Gunn . . . I missed you. A lot.

So my mojo has come home, a little worn out from its travels, but it's stuck in a drawer in the workroom like Peter Pan's shadow, and I'm not letting it get away again any time soon. I'll stitch it back on tonight, just as soon as I get off the computer.

Parting shots: random Friday. Neighborhood scarecrow and a summer storm coming in over City Hall. It was an odd day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm still here

The job's been busy, the sewing's been uninspired, and the sewing room has been unbearably hot. I'm trying not to run the AC too much, but dripping sweat from my bangs onto the fabric is just wrong.

I've also been asked to be guest blogger over at Elizabeth's Trench Sew Along, so that's one other place I've been that's not here.

Parting shot for the night - this is Evil Bear. Youngest cat in the house, last Vlad kitten I took in. Cutest little girl in the world when she was a baby, but at some point around 4 months, she apparently realized that I would continue to feed her whether or not she was nice to me. After having lived indoors for months, she reverted to mostly feral and now she stalks around the house ignoring me to the best of her ability. All of her daddy's attitude and none of his sweetness.

But I love a challenge. Bear's only 4. I'll break through yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm Back

And I feel so much better.

The white blouse pictured, BWOF 3/06 #104, was just the project to bring me back from the brink. I'd sewn it before; it had turned out.

It's not a difficult project, so even in my post-wadder state of mind, it was unlikely that I would screw it up, at least in any significant way (I admit, I did for some reason pin the back neck darts on the shoulders instead, but I noticed it as I was pinning and redirected).

Fabric used: white cotton/lycra shirting from Paron's, NY, bought at last fall's Patternreview shopping day. Great stuff. Square white buttons from Pacific Trims, filched from the Mario shirt stash (need to replace those before the next shirt happens).

I have to say that he's not my best photographer - I know I'm a little PMS-y right now and I was definitely wearing the wrong bga, but it always seems like I'm busting out all over when he takes a picture. Maybe I should simply consider the source?

I tried it on this morning with a different bra and the fit was much better, but of course he was long gone by that point.

I'm not sure what the next project is going to be. I think part of my sewing issues (in addition to obvious wadder frustration) is that I'm tired of summer clothes, but I'm not really ready to sew for fall yet. There are still so many great summer fabrics I didn't get to this year, but do I really want to start something now that I might wear once before it gets put away for the season?

I'm feeling a little more inspired than I was earlier - I went over to Borders at lunch with a gift card and carted home the first of the fall fashion magazines - Harper's Bazaar and Lucky. The European Vogues were all in, but the American Vogue was still the August issue, and I'm looking for my 5 lb. wish book.

That always starts making me think about fall and winter sewing, even if most of it is (a) not my style, (b) not anyone's style, or (c) styled to look cute only on a 6' tall stick figure model. There are details that can be scavenged off the most impossible garements, so the lack of reality-based fashion in the magazines doesn't really bother me.

Bring on fall!


I'm slowly getting over the death of Mario's jacket. I decided that I needed to get right back on the horse, but preferably a pattern that wouldn't cause me to fall off again. At least not right away.

When I made my red-white-and-navy outfit recently, I knew I wanted to make another version of that cutaway shoulder top in white, both to wear with the red-white-and-navy skirt and because I don't have a sleeveless white blouse. And because the original white one in the magazine was so pretty.

So that's what I'm working on. White cotton/lycra from Paron's at the Patternreview NY shopping day last November (yes, NancyK, it's that white shirting that I made you buy).

It's going well so far (basic structure, topstitching and shoulder and side seams; collar and facings tonight), and it's making me think about blouses. I'm wearing one today that I haven't worn in a while, and I like it much more than I remembered. It's definitely making me want to pull the pattern out again and experiment. But that's a post for another day.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Foul language ahead.

What happens when you sew full speed ahead on something you know how to sew? What happens when you don't bother to read the directions because hey, they're BWOF and mostly inexplicable anyway? And besides, you know what you're doing?

What happens?

****** PROFANITY ALERT **********

A clusterfuck of epic proportions, that's what happens

****** END PROFANITY ************

Mario's jacket is no longer with us. It met an undignified end this evening and ended up in the trash. I was too mad at myself to even take pictures before it was bundled away in black plastic.

So what did I do? Remember that nice collar I showed you, the one approved by Lily the cat? Well, if I'd bothered to read the directions and think beyond the last thing I made, I would have remembered to not to sew all the sides together because then I couldn't sew it into the facing properly.

Of course I didn't, so tonight I pinned the collar down, pinned the facing, sewed it all together, pressed the seam, clipped the seam, turned it right side out, pressed it again, and then actually looked at it.

It doesn't matter how long you've been sewing, how much experience you have, how many jackets you've made before. At least GLANCE AT THE FREAKING DIRECTIONS because otherwise your hubris will bite you in the ass.

I'm going to take my recently returned mojo out back and shoot it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


One of the things I love best about summer - it's porch sale season.

This weekend there were four advertised sales, after the farmer's market and the monthly flea market in the park, and we hit them all. Along with a few unadvertised sales. Most of them weren't selling anything I wanted or needed, but one block had sales at two neighboring houses, and I made out like a bandid at both.

Ik new the first house was a winner when I smelled musty old book smell from the sidewalk. She had tables set out in front and alongside, with boxes underneath. All books $1, with discounts for bulk purchases.

I bulk purchased.

I got a set of 4 palm-sized Jane Austens - Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. The only one missing that I would have liked (since they were a matched set) was Sense & Sensibility. But these are so cute, and my only Jane Austen is a Complete Works of which I can barely hold, much less take on the train.

I got an early 1900s edition of Black Beauty, with color plates, a few other children's books which were unfamiliar but which had fabulous illustrations, and then I hit the mother lode.

1922 editions, complete with color plates, of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Little Men and Jo's Boys. In beautiful condition. I did a little happy dance all over her sidewalk.

My total was $8.

The guy next door didn't have much that attracted me until I dug into a box and came up with these 4 vintage sewing books. For $2. For the lot.

The book called the Make Over Guide was worth the entire day's spending money. I love clothing recycling anyway, and the photos and suggestions in this book are great. Not to mention that it's from 1940 and most of the photos look like stills from old movies!

The last place we stopped was around the corner from where I live, and it turned out to be a house whose irises I admire every year when they bloom. They're an odd rust/gold combination that I've only ever seen in my great grandmom's garden. She called them flags.

I didn't find anything at the sale I wanted, but when I told the homeowner that I admired her irises every year, she said, "Come back later with a trowel and take a handful, I don't mind." I was back in less than a half hour, and the common purple irises and yellow daylilies that I dug out to make room for them were distributed at the homes of 3 starter gardeners on the block over from me. I wonder what they thought when they came home and found bags of plants on their porch?

My mojo seems to be taking the weekend off, so I spent most of yesterday afternoon mucking around in the back garden, trying to wrestle the out-of-control tomatoes into submission, and clearing a new portion of the yard to be planted next year. I dug in a load of compost and I'm thinking about seeding some lettuce or spinach there for fall. Even if I don't get much out of it, the soil will get a workout and the leftovers can decompose there over the winter and the soil will be all the happier for it.

Probably best that I'm not sewing right now because I've scrubbed my hands half a dozen times and they still look grubby.

It is really the only thing I have against sewing: it may make me sweat, it certainly can cause me to swear like a sailor, but I can't get dirty. And sometimes getting dirty is just fun.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Knockoffs Galore

This is an outfit - and a day - we're not likely to forget, right?

Well, apparently the pattern companies are worried that we might, because they're reproducing the Isabel Toledo/Michelle Obama inauguration day outfit as fast as they can.

First, they gave us Simplicity 2552, which at least tried to masquerade as a wardrobe pattern - Hey, look, I'm a skirt and a top and a cardigan, and oh, yeah, I'm a dress and a long princess-seamed cardigan with a tie in the front, but I'm not really a knockoff of the inaugural dress. Look, I'm hot pink!

For those of us not swayed by the purple prose - and fuchsia fabric - provided by Simplicity, it was followed up by Butterick 5396, which, to their credit, didn't beat around the bush and pretend to be more than it was.

Their envelope announces, loud and clear, Get yer inaugural knockoffs right here! Looky, looky, you got your dress, with and without sleeves, you got your flattering princess-seamed tie-front long cardigan. And hey, just in case you're really clueless what we're going for here, I'm yellow! (Please ignore the fake jewels they stuck on my neckline; the stylist couldn't find a cool necklace and this was their solution.) Buy me, I look more like the original.

Just to bring it home, did you notice that the model on the Butterick envelope is actually wearing green gloves? We get it, we get it!

Admission of guilt here. I did buy the Simplicity pattern, and it serves me right, because now that I look at them side by side, I like the Butterick pattern much better.

If you're going to knock something off, at least make a quality knockoff. Having had the privilege of fogging the glass case around the original outfit at FIT's Isabel Toledo exhibit, the Butterick pattern is a much better version.

I've been working on the jacket, honestly, but it's going slowly. Some of that is due to the heat, and the fact that I've been trying to organize the workroom again and there's a huge pile of fabric in front of the air conditioner, and some of it is because my organizing urge has spread to the rest of the house and I'm whizzing around getting in my own way and not really accomplishing much of anything.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Odds and Ends

The jacket is moving along. Not as quickly as I would like, but whatever. Sometimes you need to take your time.

And sometimes you need to remind yourself of that.

I'll try to remember as I get impatient with it.

I'm trying to get all the fiddly bits done first. All four pockets are now cut, interfaced, folded, pinned, pressed, and lined. And then pinned to the thread tracings on the jacket front, tried on Mario, pinned again, and then sewn.

BWOF's instructions actually said to pin the pockets and securely hand sew them. I don't get it. The August issue actually had an elastic-waist skirt in it for the new sewist (like they either know about BWOF or would pay $15 for an issue) and then they turn around and specify hand-sewn pocket application. Which I certainly can do, but decided not to. Someone is like a little kid in the amount of rubble he crams into his pockets, and I thought that machine-sewing would be more secure in the long run.

I also made the collar and attached the collar bands. This leather is a little thicker than I'm used to sewing, and I couldn't get the collar points as sharp as I wanted, so instead I rounded them slightly and I'll curve the pocket flaps (which are also leather) to match. I'm just a little worried at this point about getting buttonholes on those pocket flaps. It may not happen.

I sewed the facings together, added my label before sewing the facing to the jacket - so much easier - and added a hanging loop just because.

BTW, do you like mother's little helper there with the collar? That's Lily, who thinks she should be allowed to live in the workroom, and who has convinced me, after her expensive surgery earlier this year, that she needs to eat well and often, and who has a food container of her very own next to the sewing machine. She's not spoiled, is she?

I leave you with What Came Out of the Garden This Evening. And tonight was light. Yikes. If I don't post again soon, I may be buried in tomatoes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July: Month End Review

Considering work, heat, holidays, cat stuff, sewing room renovations and other random interruptions, July was pretty productive. I was sitting here thinking it wasn't, but then I looked at the list, and yesh, I did stuff.

7 projects in all, including one (mostly) wadder that hasn't been reviewed or photographed yet so you'll have to take my word on that one. It was the Patrones top, and I think the issue was a combination of fabric, oddly-fitting pattern and lack of attention on my part. I think that's what you call it when you sew things backward, right?

Three dresses (surest sign of summer), one skirt, two tops, and a shirt for Mario.

I think my favorite project of the month was the Cherry Bomb dress, which when you think about the fact that I couldn't look at it when I finished, is pretty funny. Obviously, I got over that.

Next favorite was the Space Shirt - being right is a wonderful thing. The latest - and I hope final - admission is that he really doesn't like it very much, but since I did, he wore it to make me happy. That's almost as good as liking it, right? I still think it'll grow on him.

I still haven't worn the red-white-and-navy two piece. I want to make some coordinating pieces so I don't have to wear them together (and somehow I don't own any white clothes), and I haven't gotten there yet. Which is no excuse not to wear the outfit as is, but I just haven't.

Maybe this week, if it's not too sticky hot. I want to make a white skirt out of the same Ottobre pattern, and I have the white pique jacket from the thrift store suit that just needs new buttons (which I have) and maybe the lining opened up and the shoulder pads reduced. Still need to think on that.

The piece I've gotten the most wear out of, as expected, is the April Cornell knockoff dress. Want to hear something interesting about that project? I got a comment on the blog here from April Cornell herself, who said, "My team and I really enjoyed your post about the April Cornell design you sewed in a new fabric. Did you know I have a colorful and wide variety of fabrics with Moda?"

No, I did not know that she had a line of fabrics with Moda, but thank you, I do now and I will look at them more closely when I'm off my fabric diet. Always nice to find a new source of fabric.

I think my most successful project of the month, in terms of form meeting function, and time expanding to allow me to get it finished in time, was the stretch knit halter dress that I made on a Friday night to wear to my office party on the following day. It held up all day, it looked like what I had in mind, and I liked it enough that I'm willing to disassemble part of it to put a sturdier bra in for the next wearing. Oh, yeah, and I still have to hem it.

I haven't accomplished too much on Mario's jacket (which will probably be the bulk of August's work, since I'm trying to do it right, and take my time). I got all the pieces cut, interfaced everything that needed interfacing, and took the major pieces to work on Thursday to thread trace all the markings at my desk at lunch. Finally, a way to make them realize that just because I'm at my desk doesn't mean I'm working. Eating and reading are apparently too subtle.

Today I ran downtown to 4th Street for some leather for the collar and pocket flaps. I really thought I had something suitable in the leather scrap stash, but alas, no. PA Fabric Outlet had what I wanted, though, a nice warm medium brown leather, not too heavy, and just enough of it for the pieces I needed. Leather scraps there are $7.95 per pound and my purchase came in at half a pound. Not bad.

While we were in PA Fabric Outlet, I suggested to Mario that he look at the shirting and novelty cottons to see anything struck his fancy to make up for the space shirt. It's not going to happen anytime soon, but I figure he should pick out his own fabric once in a while. Nothing got him there (other than the Spiderman fabric which he knew better than to pick up), but next door at Kincus, he found a black/gray/purple/lavender floral that for me is even more in-your-face than the space fabric. And he'd like it long-sleeved, thank you very much.

Whatever floats your boat, right?