Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fun Sewing Related Birthday/Christmas gifts

Yes, it's true, recently I had a birthday.  It was in fact a big decade number.  Yay!  Blank age is the new _______!  Never mind.  Anyway, I got a few very nice gifts that are sewing related.
Ceramic spools of yarn and herringbone tape, lift off the lids and they are candles!

Here's the top of the herringbone spool. 
My best friend gave me the green one for my birthday and then I got the blue one from my sister for Christmas.  Do these ladies know me or what?  The candles can be purchased at Anthropologie.  I'm sure there are many colors and sizes, I haven't check but I think I might need one more to make a little trio arrangement.  I LOVE them!

Another gift I got was this adorable book- Sew Retro! It's a history of home sewing in the US.  Who knew that Ebenezer Butterick was the first one to put out a sized pattern?  Well, some of you might have but I didn't.
Cover of Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution by Judi Keiteler

Time line of history of home sewing and the sewing industry along the bottom of all pages

History by decade or era
This book is full of projects that home sewists can do today!  So popular right now: aprons!
This is a really cool book with little projects throughout.  The projects are a little more on the crafting side than the fashion side, but they definitely take me back in time- that's for sure!  Great gifts from my great friends and family. Thanks y'all- no, I'm not from Texas but really, sometimes ya gotta y'all.
Ok kids, I'm off to bequeath my old sewing machine to some cute little nieces and give them their first sewing lesson- a patchwork pillow- on this snowy/rainy day before new years eve.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Found and free fabric....

Many years ago there were little stitched items at craft fairs and the like that said "She who dies with the most fabric, wins!"   My mom and I joked about that since we never let fabric sit around long- I was
conditioned to buy fabric for the project, make it and move on.  It wasn't until this year when I dove back into the obsessive pit of sewing that I got frenzied and bought fabric that I was sure wouldn't be there the next time I went to the store.  Funny that I keep seeing the same piece of boarder stripe linen still in the store that I bought for one of my first projects last year.  Apparently there are still crafters and peeps out there that use this saying.

Anyway, I did go to NYC and visit some of the cool fabric stores (read: Thank you MOOD!) and that is a good reason to stash fabric.  I bought several beautiful pieces that I will show you eventually.  

However, this post is regarding what I found in the fabric library at my old office..................................

Let's review: until October 15, 2010 I worked for a start up outerwear company.  We made, they still make, snowboarding jackets out of waterproof breathable fabrics. The cool part is that they make garments that look like street wear that have all the bells and whistles for keeping you warm and dry in the snow and cold.  Above you can see this is a lovely herringbone fabric.  It was, of course made of not wool but polyester and nylon.  Normally they would coat it with a dwr (durable water resistant) and then laminate the back with some kind of breathable membrane.

Poly/Nylon Herringbone, untreated with flocking
I was busily categorizing and filing fabric- it had never been done before- and I came across this piece of a familiar fabric that was transferred with this interesting flocking.  I asked the owner about it and he said that one of our mills was wanting to show us their ability to flock large pieces/repeats.  Interesting.  How do I categorize? Do we need to file this?  Nope.  Ummmm can I have it?  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!  It came home with me.

It's interesting in that to me it looks like evil crows or something non-objective that you would see in Anthropologie.  We'll see, I'm going to make it into a pencil skirt.  I do also have some pieces of wool that are now in possession from when my mom did pass away.   She didn't win however, she was really good about not stock piling huge amounts of fabric because she sewed all/most of her projects.  I also have a beautiful sari that my aunt and uncle sent me from India.  I still cannot bring myself to cut into it.  It feels wrong.  Once I get them all cleaned, having been in storage in my shed, GASP, for so long, we'll see if they are salvageable.  What free and found fabric do you have?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Searching for Naughty & Nice

Recently I discovered the Stats of my blog. I was astonished to find that one of the biggest keyword search sources is from people searching "naughty librarian" or variations there of. Holy cow people, who knew that there were so many people searching for naughty librarians? Crazy town.  You know they are not seamsters.  They must be so confused when they get pulled into my blog.

My chiropractor used to call me Librarian by Day, which I guess implied that I was something more fun and edgy by night.  I wore thick rimmed glasses but was not conservative at all, dress wise.  On a side note by chiropractor looked exactly like young skinny Alec Baldwin and I sometimes just wandered into his office for a hug.  His office was in the base of the building I worked in.  Ahh, the good old days.

But I digress.....Oddly, at the same time I discovered this fact, I made another of  this dress: Vogue 2019 in a deep green color to be worn with my camel cashmere cardigan, nude pumps and pearls. Kind of a work outfit, demure in a Mad Men kinda way. Call me Joan.  Just a little different from my own librarian days.

This is such a fast dress to make, I cut and sewed it in an evening and then finished the sleeves and hems the next night.  I could have done it all in one night but I think I didn't start till 8pm and I didn't want to push it.
Dress form just doesn't have the hips and chest I do to make this more Joanish.

Here it is with the whole outfit.
PS; My sister has absconded with my iron to do a Christmas project.  I need that back, clearly.
Alas I have a terrible head cold and with all the cheese that's found it's way to my face in the last two weeks, even Spanx can't help me be hot in this dress.  Back to the gym next week kids.  Enjoy your last minute shopping, baking, wrapping  and merriment.  I will be drug seeking in Washington this morning since Oregon doesn't sell anything good over the counter.   Advil Cold and Sinus anyone?  Yes, Please!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cut and Sew Sweater Vogue 8597

Earlier this fall I stormed the fabric store and purchased a bunch of cozy wintery fabrics for the season. 
I'm not a fan of cut and sew sweaters, but this fabric begged me to take it home.  What makes a knit a sweater anyway?  It's the stitches per inch.  And there are diverging theories on what number that is but in general it's about anything less than 9 per inch makes it a sweater.  I might be blasted for that?  Anybody have the true answer?

This fabric is 100% wool and it was purchased at The Mill End Store in Milwaukee, Or for 15.99 per yard.  Yikes! I splurged on this one and it was worth it.

I wanted to make a cowl neck so I bought patter 8597 from Vogue.  I read the pattern reviews that it wasn't as deep as the drawing on the envelope and by the way I always worry when there isn't a photo too.  I altered the neck so it would be a little deeper by slashing and spreading the front as below

Used this technique from Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong
Then I squared off the center front.
I realized with the finished product that I should have slashed again further down so that cowl would sag deeper into the front but anyway lesson learned for next time.

The sweater is super long but I also have not hemmed it yet- lazy

This fabric is a little shear so the pretty seam allowances show as a detail
I used a tiny zigzag stitch for the seams and did a double row.  Then I was able to trim very close to the outside row in order to create a finished seam look with out a serger.  When do I splurge for one of those folks?  Before or after the new computer and Vita Mix blender?
This is the back neck, it wraps around from the front which is an interesting detail

This is a better view of the front neck
 I also hand stitched the sleeve hems. This garment is pretty delicate and will certainly need to be dry cleaned.  I wore it tucked into dress pants at work and it was too long.  I just purchased a cute pair of slim pants from J Crew that I probably could make myself but, anyway, I didn't.  This would look better over those.  I guess I should hem the thing.

Ok kids, off to Christmas shop.  The mall opens in one hour.  Next I'll show you to cool sewing history book I got for my birthday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Work Dress Vogue 8489

This dress had some potential but I made it into a disaster.

First I cut a size 8 since I'd been sewing 14 or 16 and taking out huge amounts of fabric.  Clearly I went a little far the other way.  The waste band and neck bands are interfaced with a rigid interfacing and therefore have none of the stretch you would expect- which is why there is a center back zipper in the garment.

However being of superior brain and knowledge I had read the pattern reviews and some commented that they took out the center back zipper, so I did that too- tragic error.   Inexplicably, I added a strip down the center back hoping for some stretchiness to get the thing over my head.
        I was going to finish off the odd neck chunk with an added facing and hope it didn't look weird.  Although I can get it on, I have to wriggle and smash the girls to get into it.  Once it's on it's snug but not in a bad way.  The whole thing could be very nice but the neckline is low so you would need a cami underneath and then my fabric choice and the length kind of give it a funeral or sunday school attitude.  Or, lack there of.
       So I abandoned the project in favor of something else.  I might go back and unpick the pieces and make new bands w/out interfacing but at this point I'm piling up fabric from my trip to New York and patterns from the last pattern sale, so I'm on to the next thing.
      I went to the famous Mood Fabrics in New York and spent half a day sifting through all the fabrics.  I ended up with some beautiful pieces that I hope to work on soon.
      The best thing I got in New York was at Paron Fabrics.  First of fall they were hilarious.  I went there to buy the latest Burda Magazine and the guy behind the counter told me that it would be $50.00.  I said "That's quite a bit more than I pay in Oregon." and they were off talking about the UofO Ducks and I told them I was a Beaver and then the heckling began.  I found a beautiful herringbone 25% Cashmere 75% Wool for $45.00 a yard.  I decided to go for it- I think the bolt said Diane VonFurstenburg on it.  The woman that cut my fabric gave it to me for $35.00 a yard and gave me the rest of the fabric on the bolt.  So I got almost 3 yards for the price of much less.  It's really nice fabric however might be light for a coat.  I'm working on if i can line it and layer it with Thinsulate or something.

Hope everyone had a good Turkey Day.  I ate my weight in cheese..... didn't get a good dose of stuffing, think i'll make some for myself to have with the leftovers I brought home.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Little Black Dress- Guy Laroche V2899

I've been completely absorbed in my new job.  So much so that I cannot sleep at night and I'm exhausted when I get home.   But, I've just completed week three and am calming down and settling in.  I made it to the gym a few times and even the company gym (BONUS!!!).  Getting into a routine is so helpful.

After my last day of my old job I went nuts at the fabric store locally and bought fabric for dresses that I can wear to work.  I wanted to step it up for my new job. With 5 people reporting to me the ripped jeans and sloppy sweaters with UGGs just doesn't instill confidence in leadership.

But before I made work dresses I needed to bang out a dress for my brother-in-law's wedding.  I purchased this pattern at the last pattern sale and then wasn't sure it wouldn't be too over the top for a wedding.  Then Erica B's pattern review popped up and it was settled.  I can do this- no prob!

I purchased black matte jersey from the Mill End Store.  I looked through the matte jersey and the only non weird color is black.  I remembered a time in 90's when matte jersey was very prevalent but had forgotten the huge benefit- you can ball it up and throw it in the corner, then pick it up, put it on and it's like you just bought it- Perfect.

This pattern is beautifully drafted and not very challenging to sew.  Erica's pattern review is perfectly correct (and thorough)- it's easy but not fast.  There are many parts that need to be hand basted or finished and there's a bunch of gathering and it all takes a lot of time. But really for such a stunning dress it went together well.  My pattern review is here.

There is one thing about matte jersey and that is that the front and back look the same.  So, if you get the pieces turned around you might get in trouble.  I did this one time while sewing the little side gathered panels.  I attached the gathered part to the wrong side of one of the panels and so I ended up with two left sides.  So I had to take out the basting but it wasn't a tragic error or difficult to redo.  There are a lot of pieces and the whole thing is self lined and the cool thing about the matte jersey double layer stretchiness is that it acts like a total body girdle. yay- who doesn't love that?

I love the lines of the dress and the longer length.  There is something kind of demure but sexy about a slim skirt that goes over the knees.  Kinda keeping the imagination alive I guess.
Here's me in the dress at the reception with my two handsome escorts: Henry 4, Gray 6.
I did feel a bit like I needed to pull the whole thing down all night.  You can see it's riding up under my arms.  I think it's a tad snug and so slipped up.  My undergarments for a backless bra situation need to be revised as they contributed to the situation.  I have a too big merry-widow thing that is long and has a foamy layer that didn't do me favors in the stomach.  Made it look like I might be concealing a baby bulge.  I'd happily flaunt a baby bulge but, alas, do not have one.  Note to self- buy new undergarment situation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gumdrops for birthdays

I finally have time to blog about the gumdrop pillows.  More on the reason I've been absent later.....
Here's the unwrapping of the pillows.  Because of their size, I wrapped them in queen size bed sheets.
ONE for Lu Lu............

and ONE for Cece................

And they look great in their rooms

ta da!  So cute.  Now their little brother might need one that has baseballs and basketballs.

In other news, I got a new job!!!!!!!!  The interview process was really long and my nerves are/were fried.   But further to that, my assistant resigned while I was interviewing so I was doing her job and my job while waiting to hear about my new job.  Needless to say, I'm very tired.  Finally, my last day at the old company was Friday and I have two weeks of vacation till I start the new one.  Hurray!!  While I'm off I'm making some work outfits and visiting a friend in NYC!  Yep, that means, fabric shopping!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrop(s)

pillows....oh what a world it would be........

Yep, making the Amy Butler Gumdrop pillows.  24" madness.  First let me say these are totally easy to make and adorable.  But, holy cow they take a ton of poly fill.  Right now, the whole back of my bug is full of bags of poly fill.  And the reason is, that I don't really have room for it to be loose in my apartment.   AND, I had to make one and wait to make the other till I'm done with my sister's dress.

So during my adventure to Hollyhill, I chose these fabrics:
Eight fabrics for Lulu's Room match her pillow sham and comforter
4 fabrics for Cece's Room that has a surfer girl theme.

Two birthday girls, one month.  In classic me way, I left the inside pattern pieces at home and just took the outside specficications with me. They outline what to buy if you are doing 2 alternating fabrics or 1 fabric, but again I'm me and decided to do 8 fabrics and 4 fabrics and it would have been great to have the pieces to know how much of each fabric to buy.   Luckily there were only two one way prints, and for both of those I just pieced them together.   Otherwise I would have had about 100$ bucks worth of fabric and lots left over-which could make a cute baby quilt of some kind later on.

Lulu's is the 8 piece jobbie.  The fabrics were all 5 on one shelf and I just scooped them all up and said cut'em baby.  Then I had to find 3 more that coordinated.  I think it turned out well.  Here's how it came together so you can see how easy it is:
Inside view of four sections
Here is the first section of four sew together.

Outside view of the four sections
8 sections sewn into two sections of four.
This is so easy to sew if you just sew the seam allowance each time.  Now you sew half of the two main sections together across the top from side to side.   Then apply the top piece by top stitching it to the outside of the pillow.   Notice that for some reason the edges of the octogon don't all line up with the sections- darn.  Not sure why that didn't happen.  But no matter, it's still super cute and really doesn't bother me.

Not completely stuffed but almost.
The other is not cut yet, so I'm not sure what my issues will be but they are florals so hopefully they are not one way- of course I didn't  check.  der.  1 down, 1 to go.....stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe & Mercantile, New Addiction

I always wondered if making quilts would be as fun as garments and after making the cutie pie little baby blanket, my thoughts are that yes it would.  No fit issues or wearibility problems makes for a successful project w/out issues, right?

Well, I picked up a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens quilters special magazine (or some such mag) after buying the little quilted projects book just for kicks.  They had a whole section showing cool quilt shops all over the country.  Low and behold the most beautiful one, is right down the road from me in West Linn, OR:  Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe & Mercantile, 1914 Willamette Falls Drive, 97068.

So, on my last half day Friday last week, I took myself down there, fighting the Oregon State Fair traffic on I5 all the way but it was totally worth it.  Here's a link to their blog and a shop "tour" with pictures.  I think it really shows the amazing selection and displays of fabrics and quilts. I pasted in a few images so you can see.  You would have to be totally blind to have trouble coordinating fabrics for a project in here.  See....
And yet, as I wandered through with the inspiration for my project I wasn't finding the bright childlike colors with whimsical prints that I needed.  My hopes were dashed.  Even the website shows Amy Butler prints so there should be some to choose from right?  Finally, I asked someone.  Low and behold there is a whole other "store" down the hall in the same building that is ALL BRIGHT AND WHIMSICAL fabrics, including the Amy Butler prints.  Hurray!!!

I spent two hours in there pulling fabrics for my project.  What a delight.  I'm not making a quilt, but I think I might need to take a little class and get myself going on my first one very soon.  In addition they have little kits for smaller projects and cute decorations for things like Christmas (which is coming sooner than later) and other little gems.  And the best part dear readers that don't live in Oregon.......they have a website and  you can shop on line!!!!!!!!!!!!  Fabulous.  Here's the link.....
Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe & Mercantile online.   So see, you can shop here with out moving here, because as I've stated, we are full.  Cheerio!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vogue 8645: Failure of Figure Not Pattern

I like to see the things that don't work out that other people sew, it makes me feel like I'm not lame when my stuff doesn't turn out.  I think the projects that are the most successful have thoughtful fabric choices, creative well edited trims and carefully planned out patterns and construction.

But the one thing that trumps all that is when the style is not flattering on you.  Sometimes I look at the pattern envelope and think- "oh that's darling!"  Never mind that it is drawn on an elongated stylized fashion figure that doesn't exist in nature (sort of like Barbie).  And certainly it's not what my figure looks like.   Thus, we come to my very first project back in the saddle.  The one I've been hiding in a drawer and thinking about cutting apart for muslin usage. I didn't even press it for the photos. 
I made the garment out of a beautiful yarn dyed cotton lawn from The Mill End Store. I chose the pattern size based on my measurements: 16 (ACK!  All that working out and weight loss to go from a rtw 12 to a 6, shattered.) Not knowing or remembering that there is 75 miles of ease in all their patterns, and not having discovered the helpful Pattern Review website that could have helped me make a better choice in size, I proceeded with the 16.

I added a white batiste lining to this garment as the fabric was pretty sheer. I also carefully chevroned all the seams of the skirt and bodice, meticulously matching the stripes.   I even turned down a few dates with the then BF to finish my project and I was so excited to put it on and then when I did, it made me look like a puffy mess.  Perhaps gobs of fabric gathered at my waist and over my bosoms could be the problem.  I know for a fact I look terrible in things that gather over the chest- duh!  
Can you say perfect matching?  Gosh I'm good.  Maybe not on the sash- don't look at that.
Was this why I put the sewing machine away?  Well, besides that my friends all wanted me to peg their jeans for them (for free at a moment's notice on Friday night) in college, or was it that total disappointment that I chose the wrong style?   I used to struggle with the whole "how will the style look on me if I can't try it on till it's done?" problem.   But, don't I know myself by now?  Sheesh.

The garment looks exactly like what was on the envelope, and would have probably looked "darling" on me had it been the right size.  It was easy to construct and the instructions were great to follow.  I would recommend this to anyone, but would say make sure you know what your true size is.  Pattern review can be found here when I get to writing it.

I'll admit I have not been sewing lately but I started a new project for some cute kids birthdays.  More on that later.  I'm also drafting a dress for my sister for her birthday- based on a child's dress, should be interesting.  I flocked (by myself) to the JoAnne's Vogue pattern sale this weekend to pick up a few items to sew for fall.  And really, I think the def. of a few is three and I bought more than three + all the poly fill in the place. 

I need to start getting some things sewn for fall as it has hit just lst Tuesday in the form of a rainy day and instantly leaves are changing colors.  Guess the flip flops are finished.  My assistant says it's not cool to wear them with my down shell (that's what I wore to the office on Tuesday).  She's wrong, I'm sure of it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Things that Make me Happy- Hiking in the Gorge

You might get sick of me saying it, but I live in a beautiful place and am lucky to have the fitness and health to enjoy it.  Case in point: Angel's Rest in Bridal Veil, Oregon and the beautiful Columbia Gorge
This is a beautiful and slightly challenging 4.5 mile hike up to the pinnacle of a rock out crop that affords visitors and spectacular view of the gorge, the river and the mountains beyond (OK, we could see the tippy top of Adams in Washington).
View from almost the top looking west over the Columbia River
We left around 2pm and after getting lost by taking the wrong exit (thanks to XBF and his new Droid) I think we hit the trail about 3pm.  It took about an hour at an easy pace to get to the top where we hung out for awhile eating our trail mix and enjoying the view.  Good thing about hiking in the late afternoon, which I almost never do, is that you get that nice dusky light coming across the horizon that makes for a special effect on the water and the hills. 
Taken by random other hikers.   Thank you!!
Some people break up with each other and then never speak again.  XBF and I seem to have come to a place where we can hang out together and enjoy our same activities, which is great because ski season is coming!!!!  After a nice day enjoying the great outdoors we discussed resuming our training to hike Mt. St Helens this fall.  Next week Indian Point, 2800 feet elevation gain, 7.8 miles.  The week after will be Dog Mountain, 3000 feet elevation gain and I can't remember how many miles.

Again, if you've never been here there are many wonderful places to enjoy.  Just don't move here.  We're full and we don't want more people.  Keep Portland WEIRD!!!