Wednesday, April 30, 2014

each peach, pear, plum...

"Sewaholic Patterns is the first company to offer pretty, versatile sewing patterns for pear-shaped women! Our patterns are easy to use and designed to fit and flatter a pear-shaped figure."

Hello, I love you!?!

My heart literally skipped a beat when I read that there is a whole pattern company for ladies with my shape. So exciting!

As I mentioned in my last post, I usually have to grade patterns between different bust/waist and hip sizes.  Usually my hips are two sizes larger than my other measurements... but in the Christine Haynes Chelsea pattern, it was 3.5 sizes different... clearly designed for someone with a completely different figure.  I have been thinking about buying the Emery and I had read that some pear-shaped seamstresses made smaller bodices and gathered in the largest size of skirt to get enough ease through the hips.  Doable... but if there is a pattern designed to naturally accommodate my shape without a lot of fussing to adapt... that is definitely going to win out.

Enter: Sewaholic's Cambie dress.  I bought this today for my next series of wearable muslins after I make the linen Chelsea.  I love the two styles of skirt and I think it has a lot of versatile options for different fabrics.

Indie patterns are not cheap... but they seem to be designed in such away that they usually have a lot of options for being remade in various ways, so you can get your money's worth from a single pattern.  And to find an entire pattern company where I can basically match my measurements to the size chart without modification... that is an absolute first in all my years & well-worth shelling out a bit more to support.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Anchors in action!

Today wore my anchors away dress to work with a navy and white striped Gap cardigan, pinned with a vintage broach. It was so comfortable and I got two compliments on the fabric. It passed a big test for me - I was able to layer with it.  In the morning it was chilly, so I wore a wool plaid scarf with it to start off.
Mostly I just wore it with the cardigan.  I love the mix of print, plaid, and stripes.  Lots of fun and very cozy and easy to wear.

It's also cute on it's own.  For my second muslin, I cut the bodice down another size so it fades across 3 1/2 sizes from bodice to hips.  Yes, I have ridiculous measurements. But I think I am getting closer to a cute and flattering fit. 

Please forgive the rumples, I was sitting at work all day before my husband picked me up and took these photographs. I also think the crispness of the cotton makes the dress a bit boxy and I am excited to make the next iteration with the soft flowy linen.  I think it will drape and flatter a bit better. I like this one better than the last one for wearing sans belt, so I think I am getting somewhere with all the muslins. It also can be dressed up with a belt too. Last night I wore it around the house with a little grey vintage cashmere cardigan and a dark denim sash that is from an Ann Tayor Loft skirt.  It was another version of work casual... but once I got home from work, I had my sweetie take one more picture just for fun with some heels and a red & gold vintage belt that belonged to my mother-in-law.  

It has a lot of versatility. This is something I like very much in my clothes.  I don't like specific outfits that are the same all the time.  I like combining things in different ways. And I like being comfortable & temperature-appropriate.  So this is a good easy pattern to make. I think after I make the linen version, though, I will be quite ready to make something else.  Not that I wouldn't ever come back and make another Chelsea... but for now, I think one more will do it.  

I've been working through the Wardrobe Architect worksheets and I've come up with my 4 style words. That was a really interesting process.  There were lots of different exercises that generated describing words as part of the responses to the questions.  From there, you make a list of all the different words - at least 15.  Then you cull 3-5 of the most resonate out to make your style words.  Mine were: graceful, effortless, timeless, and unique. One can aspire!

sneak peak.

Sneak peak of the anchors away muslin, with more pictures tomorrow. This picture is terrible, but I've been wearing my dress all evening, and I rather like it - though we had sort of a tiff there for a bit.  As you can see, I thought better of the little red hearts... they were just too precious. Happily I got in the mail an order of two lots of vintage buttons - one in yellows and one in reds. What a bounty!  From this treasure trove, I selected these very simple pale yellow buttons that fit my buttonholes perfectly & I sewed them on with the same bright red thread for a teensy little hint of whimsy, which is about the right amount, I have decided.

 Here is the haul from the red stash... the top ones all have some matches, as you can see and the crufty ones are over in the lower left, while the lower right has lots of one-offs that are all fine - with a few really lovely singles.
The yellow lot was much smaller, but still lots of good matches, as you can see here... and also some good one-offs. Here are a few of my favorite singles in the yellow lot.

Some of the single ones in the yellow lot were all the same size and might look cute in a sort of mix/match look at some point... I'm not sure when or where, but it's something to keep in mind. 
I've been working through the worksheets for Wardrobe Architect and thinking a lot about style and function lately.  I plan to write more about that within the next few days, as I let the ideas percolate and reflect on what I like already and what I would envision for myself in an ideal world. 

A few of the things that resonated with me in the first lesson that I would like to change are:

  • You tend to buy quantity over quality more than you’d like.
  • You buy things that are “close enough.”
  • When buying fabric, you go for the bright and shiny instead of the fabrics you really like to wear.
So, I was really happy today to get an email from about my fugly order.  The two jersey stretch prints that I ordered just because they were close enough were actually out of stock by the time my order got through... so they cancelled them, gave me my money back and still gave me free shipping on the other two cuts... the plaid is just a couple yards to play with plaid matching... but the four yards of voille, I am really excited about for making a muslin of that Vogue pattern I bought recently. 

I was relieved that now I have a do-over and can get some knits from Girl Charlee that I would actually like to wear.  That is the trick with wearable muslins... if you can wear them, you don't want them made out of fugly fabric... just that if they turn out unwearable you haven't spent a fortune or used something totally unique that you really loved. 

I am determined to rid myself of a lot of "fast-fashion" items that are not my favorites... well - my version of fast fashion, which is thrifted stuff... the cast-offs of the "fast-fashion" world, actually.  I don't want to end up with the home-sewing equivalent of "fash-fashion" with a bunch of annoying "wearable" muslins made out of things I don't really want to wear. 

This is a very good thing to work through these exercises before proceeding with a lot of fabric shopping or sewing projects.  I feel like I am getting a plan and getting some things that I am dying to make very clearly coming together in my head that I will be thrilled to see come to fruition in good time. I'm pretty excited about this process, thus far. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

muslin progress

My Anchors Away muslin is coming right along.

The dress and yoke are all ready to be joined together tomorrow evening.  The yoke was really fun to make and I learned a lot about the process for my next iteration with the cotton/linen fabric.  I feel confident and happy that I have taken the time to work with the muslin process to make something I really like in the end.

I decided to fully line the yoke, so I cut plain white muslin for the lining and cut the facing pattern from interfacing to fuse to the white lining. I also used interfacing on the navy blue linen collar and graded the seams. I read a tutorial on curves for scallops, which inspired me to cut the seam allowance very tight instead of notching.  I graded the seam with the interfacing so it wasn't too thick.
I was very pleased with this method for consistency in the curve of the collar when I was finished.  It produced better results than the collar on the yellow muslin I made using the trusty clipping and notching method I always have. To finish off the collar, I also decided to top stitch in contrasting white, for a little extra detail.
The lining worked well and I pinked the edges so they wouldn't fray.  I found these vintage pinking shears at a thrift store in Grants Pass on a trip to visit my father-in-law.  They are dreamy!  They cut through multiple layers of fabric like butter and make a cute and utilitarian finished edge that I much prefer to the look of serging. 

While we are on the subject of wonderful vintage sewing tools, I've wanted to take a moment to praise these hams, which make pressing hard-to-reach places much easier.  Once upon a time, I had a little sleeve board, but that was many moves ago... perhaps I will replace it - but in the meantime, these are great.  My mother-in-law gave them to me from her sewing things before she passed away. They are wool-covered and they have a little tag that says "Made in Portland, Ore."   It always makes me happy to use things that she gave me. I think it would make her happy too, to know that they are getting used.  
Here is the big ham in action to press the sleeve hem.  It also came in handy for pressing the underarm as it attached to the bodice/skirt pieces. 

As I was pressing the hems for the sleeves, I had an idea that I tested for the side seams... couldn't get enough pinking today, so I thought I would pink the seam allowance on the side seams.  I quite like the result.
I find this a very happy medium between french seams, serging, and just leaving raw edges.  I don't own a serger, but I used one often when I worked for the theatre department making costumes in college.  It definitely comes in handy and I have thought about getting one for sewing knits before.  I do not, however, like the look of serging as a finish in home sewing.  It is just a quirk for me, but I don't care for it.  The pinking, I really like, though.  It reminds me of many home-sewn vintage pieces I used to wear. I think I will be pinking more in the future.

Another change, besides fully lining the yoke, was that I decided to sew the button holes and buttons on before attaching it to the rest of the dress, as the pattern suggests.  It seemed easier to do when you didn't have a whole dress floating around you and I thought it would be good to have the buttons safely buttoned in place first, so I knew they were positioned just as I wanted them.  So, I set out to mark the button holes.
I was planning to use very simple blue shank buttons that would match and be rather understated. I picked these at Walmart when I got the fabric Friday night.  I like them because they have a vintage feel and they are quiet.  I am trying not to make every piece showy or too costumy, to follow my "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" mantra. All seemed to be going well.  I haven't made button holes in ages, so I practiced a couple on scrap fabric before attacking the yoke.  Once I took to the yoke, all seemed to go smoothly enough.
I used my favorite trick to cut the button holes safely, by putting a straight pin in to stop the seam ripper.  I learned that from my mother when I was a little girl and it's a clever little trick that is so simple and effective. It always makes me smile.

But I was overly-cautious about the size and there wasn't enough ease for the blue buttons to pass through.  Oops.  What to do?  I think I subconsiously made this mistake so I could eschew my pratical buttons for something more whimsical.  I alreay knew just the ones that would fit.
The bigger size of the heart button is what I ended up using.  I bought an assorted pack of these for the little ones - to put on dolly dresses.  I had a few of the larger size left and I wanted just a touch of red to set off my nautical theme.  These also remind me of some buttons on a flannel jumper that my mom made me when I was a very small child and I loved that dress to bits.  So, whimsy won out on this muslin and I decided to use the practical blue ones on my next project, instead of red Czech glass vintage buttons.
Tomorrow evening, I will put it all together. At the moment, I am off to bed to read up on this great series I discovered on coletterie called Wardrobe Architect, all about designing your own wardrobe.  This is something I have been thinking about a great deal lately & one reason that I have been inspired to practice sewing for myself again.  I look forward to learning and sharing more about this in future posts. Bon soir! <3

anchors away!

After I made my first Chelsea muslin, I decided that I wanted to make a second one to experiment with fully lining the yoke.  I was not a fan of the partial facing on the v-neck style of my first muslin.  You can't see it from the right side, but it's sort of rough to have a facing flapping around inside your dress and I hate it when partial facings get bunched up or stick out the back.  Apart from something indecent, like getting your skirt caught up in your tights, there is not much worse that thinking you look cute from the front, only to turn around and see that the facing of your garment is sticking out all bunchy in the back.

I contemplated the matter for a while and decided that I need to make yet another practice version before cutting into the linen/cotton fabric I like so well.  Trouble was, I didn't have anything left that I didn't care much about, but would still want to wear if it actually turned out, so I managed to find something on the spur of the moment at Walmart of all places.  My husband and I were tired on Friday evening and wanted to just pop out for something fast and easy, instead of cooking - he suggested Mongolian grill and our favorite one is in this strip mall complex with a Walmart, so after dinner I popped in and scoped out their fabric section.  I laid eyes on this cotton and knew right away that it was perfect for me.

As you can see from this folded picture, it's a teensy bit sheer, so I am lining the yoke with plain white.  Tomorrow, I will decide if I need to worry about lining the skirt too.  I could always wear a slip as an alternative, though.  I am making the whole dress, with the exception of the collar, out of the same print.  The collar will be the very corner of the blue linen I blogged about being in my stash for over a decade.

I think this will be a fun version that could be casually put together for work, or dressed up with some red accessories and cute heels to be date-worthy.  I cut the pattern out this evening and will start sewing tomorrow.  I also organized my whole closet (including my craft stuff, in which I found a few more stash items that could be used for garments) and I got rid of some clothes I don't wear.  I also identified some things I would like to replace with handmade items.  I'm definitely excited about upgrading some jersey knit dresses and skirts in the future.  I have been studying knit sewing a lot lately and have found some good patterns and tutorials, as well as a good supplier for knit fabric. Girl Charlee has lots of very sweet and affordable knits & a blog with good advice and patterns to sew with their fabric.

Tomorrow, more on the latest iteration of Chelsea, plus dreaming about future projects.  For now. Good night.

Friday, April 25, 2014

ugly-pretty or just fugly?

Well, I didn't buy a bunch of random vintage fabrics... but I did end up doing a little stash shopping online for making (possibly) wearable muslins. I discovered when I was looking at different types of knit fabric & I found their clearance section with an additional twenty percent off sale - plus they have free shipping on all orders over $35.  I bought 12 yards of fabric for $36.34 for my practice stash.  I bought them more for the types of fabrics they are and just tried to find my most preferred print that was the right weight and quality to practice for specific projects.  Brace yourselves.  Here's what I found.
The plaid is a lightweight brushed rayon/poly that I got because I want to practice plaid matching. The white/grey/mustard yellow print is a very light and somewhat sheer cotton voille that I would like to make a muslin of the Vogue pattern I recently bought. At $2.79 a yard, I thought this would be good for pratice and I think it might look pretty as a slightly sheer dress to wear over a vintage slip.

The floral and the ikat-inspired prints are both low-stretch knits that described as suited for making dresses.  I have two patterns that I would like to try making with knit fabric and I have never really sewn with knits.  I think the black cotton/lycra that I have in my stash will be good for a circle skirt, but not for a knit dress. I've been reading that you want a lower percentage of stretch, so that it keeps some body and doesn't just show all ones curves and  imperfections. I purposfully looked for the stretchiest 4-way stretch fabric when I was searching for yoga clothes fabric a few months ago, so I decided that repurposing it for a skirt and searching out some other less stretchy fabric with which to practice knit dresses would be best.

I really like how has lengthy descriptions of their fabrics and you can filter by so many criteria - including percentage of stretch.  This is so helpful for online shopping.  I also like how you can also filter by print themes, like floral and ikat, etc.  and build up a custom search from all different criteria.  If you are into a certain trend or idea, this robust search is really a helpful feature. The librarian in me approves.

I'm into both ikat and bold florals right now, conceptually... but I am not sure about wearing loud florals and big patterns.  I thought these prints were a good test of the general idea at about $3 each per yard.

I also bought two lots of vintage buttons from ebay - a large red lot and a large yellow lot. I am excited about this investment in having a lot of project options available for pratice... but I know that Rome wasn't built in a day, and that the best stashes are collected over time. I can't recreate what I lost with one marathon online shopping session.  I am willing to be patient. I am also now at peace with how much I have shopped for fabric for the moment and am going to skip my trip to Joann's and just sew this weekend.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

action shots and stash envy.

My sweet husband loved my new "wearable muslin" when I showed it to him this morning.  He had gone to sleep before me, so it was a surprise when I was getting ready for work.  When he picked me up, he was waiting with his camera for an action shot! Google was so clever, that it make the pictures into a little gif.
It was cold and rainy today, but he also took a couple of pictures in the lot too.
 I like this dress for its practicality. The sleeves are not too puffy to layer a sweater over & it is very comfortable.
 Here it is without the sweater and with a little vintage belt at the waist. I also took a selfie just now of my waist.  That's a first.

I wore it with this belt to work today and I was felt cute and comfy all day... but it wasn't designed to be worn with a belt.  It's one of those smock things I am currently fascinated with, though dubious that they are really suited to my shape.
Here is a funny picture of me without the belt just for reference.  It makes me look even more oddly proportioned than I am because my husband is about a foot taller than I am and he is taking the photo from a strange angle... but you can see how the Chelsea pattern is meant to hang free.

I was surprised how fun it was to wear something I made for myself.  I felt a little jazzy sparkle throughout my day, even though it was a gloomy rainy day at the office, like just so many others.  No one asked me if I made my dress, which I took as a good sign.  If it looked like just some of my other clothes... then it must fit in with my regular wardrobe without looking glaringly "home-sewn." (...the ultimate insult on Project Runway!)

Last night when I had the idea to use this floral cotton that I'd had for about a decade, I was lamenting the fact that I have such a measly stash of fabric that I barely had enough to make an intermediary muslin.  I definitely want to collect some more fabric in a hurry, so that each new project doesn't send me out to the fabric store.

To this end, I spent my lunch break browsing around etsy and ebay for lots of vintage fabric.  I found myself wanting to *buy all the fabrics*  but I realized that this frenzy to get a whole bunch of flashy and quirky fabrics impulsively all at once was exactly why I got sort of adrift with sewing for myself over a decade ago & why I eventually stopped.

I came to a realization about thrift store shopping a few years ago that has made me much wiser about my wardrobe.  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. There are so many pieces of clothing that are interesting as objects.  Especially vintage pieces.  When I was a size 2 18 yearold with blue hair, I wore clothes like they were performance pieces of art... I collected strange and wonderful individual pieces.

But over time, this doesn't work out so well for building a balanced wardrobe.

I learned this same "just because you can doesn't mean you should" lesson with knitting & I basically stopped knitting because I realized that the things I wanted to knit were not things I wanted to wear and the things that I wanted to wear were dreadfully boring to knit.

I am obsessed with colors.  I think I am mildly synesthetic because I get a huge range of emotional feelings from different colors that I am fond of... regardless of whether they look good on me or not.  Maybe that isn't especially synesthetic, it's just human.

At any rate, I know I cannot always be trusted to choose things on a whim because I get emotionally attached to fibers and garments that have absolutely no business anywhere near my person.  So I have counselled myself over the years to be harsh and calculating when I shop for myself.  Even so, I always have things in my clothes that I bought on a whim and wore once and are now waiting for the semi-annual purge to find a new home. That's why I am also a bit of a penny-pincher on what I will pay for clothes I wear around.  For yoga clothes, I will invest $40 in a tiny little bra top that I just wear to sweat profusely and throw in the wash more times than is good for any garment... but that's because I know that I will get every dime of wear and worth out of the garment.  I will wear it until it's completely worn out. But for a dress to wear on a special occassion?  I am so fickle... I wear it a couple of times and then I want a new one.  A new cheap thrill... it doesn't make sense to invest, if that is what you like.  The thrill of the new.

I am clever and I find nice things at thrift stores, vintage stores, and consignment boutiques... but I always find these few pieces among the madness of my ever-evolving wardrobe, that are mainstays.  They become anchors... till the disintegrate.  Then I spend years remembering them fondly and searching for replacements that never quite measure up.  I had 3 interations of a vintage black riding jacket with velvet collar & cuffs... and also maroon velveteen fitted blazers from the 70's - seems like you could always find one of those in Goodwill in the early 90s... but no more. Also, how many identical navy cashmere cardigans from the 50s an 60s did I have... and vintage slips.  But I do digress...

What I mean to say is that there are certain essentials that I have come to identify over the years. They are the things I always want to wear.  The silouhettes that fit my shape well.  The garments that are comfortable and comforting.  The types of clothes that make me feel beautiful, cute, safe, cozy, powerful, effective, festive, etc.. I want to get rid of the dross and focus on making every piece of clothing that I put on one of my favorite things.

Isn't this the beauty and glory of aging?  Getting to know ourselves? Becoming aware of my own life and habits is like figuring out an intricate mechanical contraption that does something sort of alchemical and fantastic... my teens were a time to play.  My twenties were a time to experiment.  My early 30s were a time of getting serious about cutting things away and clearing a path for myself.  As I prepare to enter the second half of my 30s, I feel like it's all about self-care and self-knowledge. This is a peak time.  My mom always says - "the 40s are glorious!"  I am getting ready.  I am getting ready for my goal of being the best me I've ever been when I turn 40. I have 5 years to get ready.  For my year of turning 40... right before I do that, I would like to do the Me-Made May challenge (if it is still even a thing!) and have 5 years worth of garments that I love in my closet along with accessories and basics that pair well with my hand-sewn pieces.  Who knows, I may even knit something plain in an impossibly small guage that I like to wear.

In short, this long musing was just another way to say, I didn't buy any impulsive fabric on the internet today.  I am carefully planning, researching, and deliberating for a trip to the fabric store on Sunday.  While I do want to collect a working stash, I want to be very thoughtful and judicious about the process of doing so.

In the meantime, I am just going to cut into my blue/white floral gauzy cotton and ink blue linen/cotton to make another iteration of the Chelsea.


I finished the muslin of the Chelsea dress.  I didn't like the way the bow looked. Especially with this floral, it looked kind of fussy.  But it looked sort of like hospital scrubs without any detail.. so I added a big mother of pearl button. I also tried it with a belt, since the stiff cotton doesn't float and drape very well for this smock style. I thought it was going to be a total loss for a moment... but it's weirdly growing on me.

I think it's still a bit too large in the top, but better than the first pattern I tried. It doesn't have any zipper, though, so it has to have enough ease to slip on.  Still, I am thinking of going another size down in the yoke and sleeves area, but keeping the fullness at the hips and below.

Maybe I will wear it to work tomorrow... if I am feeling adventurous in the morning.  For now: g'night.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ready. set. gather!

I decided to make a (hopefully) wearable muslin of the Chelsea dress out of the ink blue and floral fabrics I posted last night, but when I went to lay the pattern out and realized that my hips were not one, or even two... but a whole 2.5 sizes bigger than my bust/waist according to the pattern sizing, I started to feel a bit sick about cutting into those fabrics straight-away.  I've become fond of them and would actually like to be sure I can wear them outside the house.

So, I decided to make an intermediary muslin... is it a muslin of a muslin?  Or a meta-muslin?  Who knows how many times I will do this before I make what I define as a real dress... but more on that later.

I scrounged around in my sorry little stash and found 2 yards of this Asian-inspired cotton print.
It's a bit stiff and crisp, as cotton often is... but it will do the trick.  I only had enough to cut the dress front and back with it... so I found about a yard of black muslin too to make the yoke and sleeves. I decided to make the v-neck yoke to keep things easier & I skipped the pockets.  It dawned on me that the only make of this dress with v-neck that I've seen is the official one from the pattern.  Everyone wants that darling collar.  As do I.  But not yet. 

I made the whole v-neck yoke out of black, with black short sleeves. I got the yoke and the dress completed last night and separate pieces.  Tonight, after dinner, I will gather the dress and attach to the yoke.  Fuss around with fit if necessary.  And add the hem.  I may or may not make the little bow. I wish now that I had made the v part with the floral... I think I could have eked that piece out of the leftover bits from cutting the dress front and back and it would have looked cool.  I think this dress pattern is super-fun because there are a lot of different options for mixing and matching pieces to create your own style garment that is a riff on the designer's original vision...  It seem like she planned it that way.  You can recognize a Chelsea as a Chelsea... but the variations are endless.  Just do a Google image search of "Christine Haynes Chelsea Dress" and you can see what I mean!  That is... if you haven't already made your own variation!

So here's what I will be gathering together this evening... I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out and getting the courage up to make a proper dress with the blue linen/cotton and the floral cotton.

What is a proper dress, by my definition?  Well - it's something that I would either wear to work or wear on a date. That's pretty straight forward, right?

My goal for the month ahead is what I have dubbed the Mini-Me-Made-May challenge.  I want to make one dress that I like well enough to wear to work. And one dress that I like well enough to wear on a dinner date with my husband.   Maybe this time next year, I'll be ready for the full-on me-made May... but for now, a mini-version suits me fine.

Monday, April 21, 2014

something old, something new...

I'm not sure I have anything borrowed.
But there is also something blue.

Got two patterns in the mail - my Chelsea dress and a vintage pattern.
I really like the vintage one because it has a little bit more fitted shape to it, while still picking up on the high-waisted babydoll style.  I'm also really excited to try the Chelsea.  I like the yellow muslin I made for a weekend summer dress, but it is impractical to wear at the moment for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the quilters cotton from which it is made does not cooperate with tights. (Can you say static cling?!) It's too cold and the dress is too short to be work-appropriate with bare legs.  When it's a million degrees out on a Saturday in July, though... I will be wearing this little dress for sure.

Also, the sleeves are too poufy to wear a sweater over... so that is another strike against it as a pattern that I could wear to work.  Even if I made another iteration with a longer hem that I could wear sans tights in the summer... I always wear sweaters at work because they air-condition with a vengence in my workplace.

I was planning to cut out another version from that first pattern I adapted but this time try it without a collar, with a straight 3/4 sleeve & a little less fullness in the yoke. But now that I have the Chic & Simple book and my new patterns, I have the choice to make a mock-up of something else... so I am a little torn over whether to perfect the Franken-pattern or go with something new.

Here are the fabrics I had planned on using for the second muslin, but I'm thinking I may make the Chelsea with them instead, with the flowers as the main skirt/sleeve and the inky dark blue as the yoke/collar. I vastly prefer that way of dividing up the two fabrics to the way it was shown on the pattern.  Here is an example from Christine Haynes' blog of a version made by one of her students with this division of fabrics.

The ink blue is 55% linen 45% cotton and the floral is a lightweight 100% cotton with a lovely drapey flowy quality that will be a lot softer and less crispy that the yellow quilter's cotton.  I have a few pictures of me in the dress... but not the best.  This, I realized, is one reason why I enjoyed sewing for dolls.  It's much easier to photograph your creations that way.  When you are sewing for yourself, you are at the mercy of others to photograph you!  All the sewing bloggers out there that I have been enjoying so much lately must have some talented friends and lovers... because they have marvelous photographs.  Incidentally, it also seems that most everyone of them has great hair too.  I am lacking in both regards.  My hair is rather fine and lifeless and my husband is quite inexperienced with photography.  Not sure what I can do about the hair... but my sweetie makes up for what he lacks in natural photographic talent with a very good nature and willingness to learn.  He has promised to try to get better at photographs, if I continue to sew garments for myself.  Here are his first tries... with just a hint of pixlr-o-matic magic...

And... here is a weird selfie that I took to try to get the detail of the sleeves and yoke on my body. As you can see, there is a lot of volume in the sleeve that would get bunchy under a cardigan. There is something weird about the volume in this pattern... it's a little too big in the middle part, but I love the swing in the lower part of the skirt.  I think I will give it a rest and have a go at Chelsea.
Today I was contemplating future projects and realized that I had a bunch of really nice heavy black cotton 4-way stretch jersey that I had ordered from ebay when I had the idea of trying to sew yoga clothes. I am thinking of trying a variation of the Ice Cream Social skirt from icandy-handmade. The circle skirt calculating widget that she references is totally fantastic! I was really impressed with it and it will take a lot of guesswork out of making a nice basic black circle skirt.  I am thinking of trying a 3/4 circle so that it's not too full around my pear-shape, but still accomodating.

This realization of a piece of fabric I had totally forgotton that I own, got me thinking about de-stashing.  I parted with a huge stash of fabric when I moved to Asia 7 years ago.  Since my return, I have recollected a lot of fabric but it is mostly silks, satins, and brocades for ecclesiastical garments, felt for appliques, or small bits of kawaii fabric for dolly clothing... however, my mom let me keep a one trunk of sewing stuff in her garage when I was abroad and I found a few things that I've saved for years that could be made into clothes to practice getting fit and style that I like before I invest in new fabrics.

The trim on top is something I got relatively recently at a thrift store in the little town where my in-laws live.  The thrift stores there are still abundant with neat vintage fabrics and notions.  I got 3 yards of this 5" wide pin-tucked and embroidered cotton trim for less than $1.  I was thinking at the time that it would made a nice skirt on a dolly dress... but I think it might also make a nice decorative hem on a pattern I am wanting to try... the Miette skirt from Tilly and the Buttons.

I got this Ginger Lamb wrap skirt last summer when I was in Portland, nwt at Buffalo Exchange on Hawthorne. I love it and the Miette looks like it's in a similar vein... and would be cute in lots of fabrics, with or without pockets.  The Pinterest board of variations on this skirt is quite inspiring!

I think maybe I will try it with the Prussian blue linen that's halfway down the stack.  For the very gauze grey voile, which is about 15 years old, I am thinking of the babydoll top from Chic and Simple, but with gathered sleeves instead of elastic. And the black is the jersey.  That leaves the linen/cotton brown fabric.  I bought it on the same day as the blue linen... about 10 years ago. Still waiting to make it into something.  I think I will make the Retro Shift Dress from Chic and Simple. This fabric is pretty neat.  It's a tan and indian red weave cotton & linen blend.
It has a neat slubby texture and the burgundy tint of the dark brown makes it a lovely rich color.  I think it would look cool with a variety of different belt options for an easy summer dress & I can test out that pattern.  Looking more carefully at the Chic and Simple book, I realized that the baby doll top and dress are of the same pattern and the Back to School and Retro Shift dresses are both from the same pattern, one make with sleeves & pockets, the other without.  I think that's sort of cool to have these interchangable options because once you perfect fit and technique with one, there are other things you can do with that knowledge.

Without further ado, I will say adieu and get to some actual cutting and sewing!  Bon soir. <3

Sunday, April 20, 2014

patterns arrive.

Yesterday was a mail day treat - my Chic & Simple pattern book arrived and also the Vogue pattern!

I'm really looking forward to sewing all the variations of the Vogue pattern, but first I want to brush up my chops with some simpler patterns. The Chic & Simple pattern book has a lot of super-easy patterns that will be fun to try.  I was excited about it because it has a lot of riffs on the Babydoll dresses I have been attracted to lately.  I think I would make all these:

One difference I would make to the first two patterns is that I don't really like elastic and I would gather the sleeve and add a little sleeve band or bias tape at the sleeve hem instead of elastic (though I get why it is made this way for beginners to easily get the gathered effect.)

On amazon, I read a lot of mixed reviews about this book. I get where some of the frustrated people were coming from - many of these garments are very simply designed to be easily successful.  No zippers, no button holes, a lot of basic shapes that are templates for you to get creative with or keep basic.

Two other basic summer dresses I really liked and plan to make are shift dresses that could be belted or not.

There is a bit of dross as well - some of the dresses with elastic and ruffles are not really my style & I'm not really into the unstructured trench and jacket... but I could see these would be appealing to people with different styles.  Two things that are a bit of a stretch for me style-wise, but I may make them eventually are a cape and a fancy wrap dress.

The cape is cute, but I probably won't entertain the notion of making it till Fall, so I'll see how I feel about it then.  The wrap dress looks really cute in the photos but I worry that neck line could get risque pretty easily and there is a long tie that wraps multiple times around the waist that might get bulky and overwhelming on my shape.  

Overall, I think this is a fun book for making wardrobe basics, if you are like me and love to wear comfy dresses as your everyday go-to choice of clothing. This book was published in 2009 before the author, Christine Haynes, released her line of more complicated individual patterns.  I read an interview with her and she said that she learned a lot from feedback from this book and took that onboard when she began designing her pattern line.  These patterns involve more detailed techniques and I am looking forward to trying the Chelsea dress I bought.  I am also thinking about getting the Emrey pattern, once I get this smock dress kick out of my system! I love the line of the Emrey dress and there is a really cool body of blogging on it from her sew-along.  

I have mixed feelings about this, since I do think it's important to support artists & you can still buy a signed copy of this book from the author's website, but I got mine for only $2.50 plus shipping a clearinghouse site called rakuten.  Even at $27.50, that is a great deal for 5-7 patterns I would like to sew... so follow your conscience or your pocket book, either way.  In this case, I had to go with my pocket book.  However, I did buy the Chelsea pattern at full price, so I hope karmically it will end up a wash. 

This weekend was pure madness in terms of being busy... but now I am finished with a bunch of obligations for the next few weeks and I am looking forward to putting my (sewing) pedal to the metal. 
My beloved vintage Viking machine.  We are besties.  I found her last November as an anniversary present to myself.  She is almost identical to my mother's machine on which I first learned to sew, except my mother's is brown and orange and this one is brick red and yellow.