Monday, April 14, 2014

Finished: Sew Sexy Sew Along Lace Dress!

What a gorgeous weekend in the northeast!  Even Phin didn't mind a bit of time outdoors to photograph my Sew Sexy Lace Dress. He suffers more in the Pollen Vortex than the Polar Vortex.


I'm very aware that I only know three poses and all of them involve my hand on my hip.
So, because this is a special photo shoot we tried some new things. Um, er... I tried to be a little more super model sexy. But all I ended up with was "duck face"...

"Duck face"

Anyway, on to the dress! So, this is my submission for the Sew Sexy Sew Along 2014. One of the things I wanted to do was take a non-sexy pattern that isn't revealing, and make it into something I think is sexy.

Front: Pidgeon toed "sexy model" pose.

I frankenpatterned together V8670, a Very Easy Vogue raglan tee pattern (made here and here) for the top half and the slip pattern from V1314, a Tracey Reese dress that I made last spring for the bottom.  This made fitting very easy.

I sewed this up primarily from a Vince Camuto stretch lace (Paron), lined with stretch lining from  Emma One Sock, and accented with illusion mesh.  I'm really happy with the first two. Both sewed up beautifully and easily. The stretch lining, as promised, did not fray or run, is completely opaque but very light, and it isn't clingy.

I'm a bit less happy with the illusion mesh. It tends to bunch and gather in a way that the mesh I used for my BCBG knock off top didn't. It looks less smooth and is not as soft on the skin. However, it did sew up pretty easily.  

On a hanger you can see my constuction techniques.  After basting, all the seams were serged. I then top stitched the serged seam allowances to the inside or down with a twin needle, which is also how I finished the hems.  I used my serger to do a rolled hem on the sleeves.

So, did I succeed? Phin seemed to think yes, and I definitely feel sexy in this dress. So, according to my own definition of sexy, yes! 

And just because I feel great in this dress, here are a few more shots, just for fun...

Hands not on hips

Whether you are participating in the sew along or not, I hope there is some sewing in your future that makes you feel beautiful and confident in your own skin.  


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sew Sexy: Just a Few Days Left

So, with the Sew Sexy Sew Along coming to a close on Monday, April 14, I thought it was worth giving a little update.

A few projects cropped up on line this week. First, one of my co-hosts, Wanett of Sown Brooklyn, has posted her final project. Isn't she divine in houndstooth?

Sew Sexy Sown Brooklyn 

I love that houndstooth isn't normally a fabric that one would consider sexy, but that her fitted skirt and cropped top are so fun and playful. Hot!

And here is Suzanne's sexy top:

Deets at Beau Baby

Suzanne actually wrote the original post in 2013 that inspired the sew along.  I love her polkadot and sheer fun!

Lee of the Slow Steady got in on the action with some fundies!

The Slow Steady
And Seamstress Erin made an awesome ceylon...


So, where do I stand.... Well, I had planned to wear my Sew Sexy Dress to the Craft Industry Happy Hour tonight. But alas, when I went to sew on the sleeves, I realized I had made a major blunder.  Illusion net looks the same on both sides and I mistakenly sewed (serged) together two right sleeves. And I didn't have enough fabric for a re-do. Doh!

So my dress is still not quite finished.

But - lucky me - I have all weekend to get this thing done! Like you do too!

If you are sewing something sexy, let us know when you are finished!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sewgonomics? Sewing and Back Health

One of the things that has been on my mind over the last year is sewing and ergonomics. There seems to be no good way to mash that into one word, but if you do the first, you ought to think about the second. True?

I tend to sew in sessions rather than every day. But since my 2012 back injury, I get stiff and uncomfy after a few hours of sewing. In fact, after a few long sessions, I inexplicably would have a back ache at night that I tried to attribute to other things. Not sewing!!  But when I took a good hard look and thought about things, I realized that sewing was probably to blame.  My chair - originally part of a breakfast set - was probably the chief culprit. It predates the idea of "lumbar support".

I'm thinking about a Craft Lounge overhaul in the next year and don't want to invest large sums right now. But it is important to have a comfortable work station. So, I decided that it was time to try sitting on a physio ball instead of a chair. I'm pleased to report that my back is much happier.  Seriously, the change was immediate and marked.

Eventually I'll replace the desk, too.

I realize this is not for everyone. It takes practice to sit on a ball; I already use one for core training and so am very comfy with it. The gist is that the ball encourages you to sit straight, supported by your core muscles. But maintaining proper posture while sitting - whether in a chair that does have some lumbar support or on a ball - is the most important factor for back comfort and health.  For "beginners" 20 minutes at a stretch on the ball is what I've seen recommended, and standing at least every 40 min is suggested no matter what it is you sit on. This is pretty ideal for sewing; even if I do things in a very efficient order, frequent switching between sitting at the sewing machine and standing at the ironing board is the norm.

Sitting tall instead of slumping

An unintended consequence is that a physioball is fun. You can bounce when you get excited or a good song comes on the radio. And you can stop and do some stretches, like a supported bridge. 

Anyway, eventually, I'm going to buy sewing specific furniture so that I have a dedicated cutting area (not the dining room table), a better table for sewing and an ergonomic chair.  I'm actually thinking more and more about a sit-stand work station. But in the interim, whether I use it all the time or alternate between a ball and chair, my back is thanking me.

What about you? Are you aware of ergonomics in your sewing space? What are some of your solutions?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finished: Hypocrisy Socks

Thanks so much for all the great comments on my last post. It's always a little scary to write personal posts; it's harder to hit "publish" for some posts than others. Anyway, on to today's fun reveal. 

I think I've made it pretty clear over time that I'm not into things that are matchy or cutesy. Mother-daughter styles kinda creep me out.  So it is with a deep sense of hypocrisy that I present my latest socks...

... which match Sriracha, my new knit dragon. I love them! Dragon and socks.

In my defense, I picked out the Toshsock for this project before Phin picked out the very same yarn for Sriracha.  In the end, it made sense to buy 2 skeins since I'll be able to squeeze out a pair of socks from the remaining yarn.

Following my new sock philosophy of "more socks, more quickly," I wanted to make simple, but not plain, socks.  So I used Cookie A's Monkey pattern, which fit the bill and has been popular since it's release. I finished these in about three weeks of commuting to and from the office.

The pattern is written for top-down knitting, but was a cinch to flip and knit toe-up.  This allowed me to used the cast on, toe and heel that I like best (details here), and the Monkey lace pattern for the sock body.  

Overall, these were a quick and easy knit and make an attractive sock. Thanks to Carol S for suggesting the pattern. And Toshsock is very nice to wear. I think these will be sturdy and cosy for a long time.

Are you knitting anything? 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Sexy is to Me: Thoughts on Beauty and Body Image

It's almost the afternoon and I'm still in the same pj's that I've been wearing for the last 36 hours trying to get over this cold. A perfect time to write about sexiness, no? Anyway, I'm sipping tea and reflecting on a number of things that have been running through my mind related to body image. This is a personal post.

I recently re-tweeted this image. (oh, yeah, I'm tweeting now - @ClioPhineas).

Real vs Ideal??

This is an average size woman holding an average size RTW window mannequin. I have mixed feelings about it. I'm closer to the model than the mannequin in size and shape, but have women in my life that are closer to the mannequin. I'm kind of sick of the "real woman" debate.

I could say a lot about a beauty and fashion industry that promotes a very narrow beauty ideal and an entertainment industry that labels non-slim, non-white, non-young beauty as alternative or "real". Is it any wonder that only 4% of women would describe themselves as beautiful?

Body image is inextricably linked to my feelings about beauty, my style and sex appeal. I have always been curvy; I haven't always loved my curves. When I was in my teens and 20's I struggled with my weight. My hips and thighs are not the Hollywood approved standard and I was always self-conscious about them. Sheaths and pencil skirts were for other people; my strategy for dressing was to camouflage my lower half.

But around 30, my perspective changed thanks to my hobbies. The first time I snorkeled, I was utterly mesmerized.  And I realized that I had been denying myself the pleasure of swimming - an activity I loved up until adolescence - because of my self-consciousness about my weight and shape. It was a moment of reckoning for me.

Did you know that I'm part mermaid on my grandmother's side?

Now I am a certified scuba diver and have even done the unthinkable - posted a picture of myself wearing a bikini. My teen and 20's self would be mortified - MORTIFIED!- by how not Hollywood perfect I look. But I'm getting ahead...

Soon I began to practice yoga and then later to sew and run. Perhaps it had to do with being able to sew clothing that fit and flattered me or with the strong and healthy feeling yoga and running give me, but my relationship with my body fundamentally changed. I became less critical and more appreciative. The mirror became an ally in finding the things I like about myself instead of a critic.

I channeled my inner superhero - Elastigirl!

As I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin, I made a conscious decision to be part of the 4%. You can always spot a woman who feels like she looks beautiful. There is an ease and confidence that amplifies everything about her, and it has almost nothing to do with how she actually looks. For me, beauty has almost nothing to do with the reflection in the mirror and everything to do with the happiness I feel and project. Happiness is beautiful; smiles are beautiful; laughter is beautiful.

Circling back to the beginning of the post, one of the reasons why I dislike the term "real woman" is the unspoken notion that real is in contrast to some ideal. I am ideal. Exactly as I am and without any changes. And so is each of us, whether we see ourselves in the model, the mannequin or whether we are not covered by either.
In my 20's, I never would have worn something close fitting or that showed my hips and thighs, which I thought made me look huge. In the last few years, I decided it's an asset - the 13-14 inch difference  between my waist and hips is sexy. Instead of dressing to camouflage my figure, I've let my figure lead the way with the styles I choose - unfussy, simple silhouettes that don't hide all that much.

Titian's Venus of Urbino - curly haired and curvy

So, what is sexy to me? It's not the difference between my waist and hips; it's that I like and celebrate that difference. It's not that I wear a neckline that others might not dare; it's that I dare it. It's that I smile a lot, think happy thoughts and take pleasure in life. In my very first post about the Sew Sexy Sew Along I said that confidence is the most sexy thing a woman can wear. I truly believe that.

Anyway, all of this is not to say that I have reached any destination or have all the answers. I don't, and there are still occasional days when my thighs seem huge. But I'm on the journey and committed to it. And now I'm about to take myself to the Craft Lounge to begin work on my Sew Sexy lace dress, which will most certainly not hide my hips. 

What about you? What do you think is sexy? Have you ever taken something that was once a source of self-consciousness and turned it into a source of self-confidence? Tell, tell!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sewing update: McQueen Jacket

A horrible cold seems to be hindering my mojo at the moment. Plus, I haven't really had a weekend in three weeks thanks to travel and an avalanche of work. But I am still thinking about and working on my Alexander McQueen Jacket, at least in my head.

Right now, my grey leopard print version - which is destined to be a wearable muslin because of my poor fabric choice - still needs sleeves and has tailors tacks all over. My detailed instructions are still only half written, but mapped out.  

If it sounds like I am losing enthusiasm about the project, don't be alarmed. That's my cold speaking. I just don't do UFO's. And to that end, I've already bought more appropriate fabric for my next version - one of the few sewing "tasks" I could get done while not actually at home.

It's a black and gold Nicole Miller brocade that is 67% Viscose, 20% Silk, 13% Lurex from Fabric Mart.  At times like these - when there is just no time to sew, but sewing is on my mind - I find that I am very susceptible to the lures of on-line fabric sales. And this fabric does have a much better hand - much more crisp - than the leopard print. Fingers crossed.

What about you? What do you do to stay connected with sewing when there is just no time or your mojo is taking a sick day?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sriracha! (Beware the Dragon!)

Oohh, there is much hippo happiness in the Craft Lounge.

Meet Sriracha, who shares Dragon's enthusiasm for photobombing

About a week ago, Dragon the Hippo was in the kitchen rummaging in the pantry for his favorite hot sauce when a cute little purple dragon flew in through an open window to escape the cold outside.

In surprise, Dragon exclaimed "Sriracha!" and the name seems to have stuck.

Isn't she a cutie?

Sriracha is a very young dragon and quite small - she's only about 6" tall, but with a cute pot belly and some fun features. I particularly like her flag-like ears and wings, as well as the bobble spines down her back and tail.

She was very easy to knit up from Susan B Anderson's Little Dragon pattern.  Like her hippo friend, Sriracha was knit on size 5 dpns using sock yarn held double. The only change I made to the rather clever pattern was that I left her arms free instead of connecting them at the fingers. I think it gives her happier body language, if you know what I mean. Dragons are actually rather playful and loyal creatures, like puppies.

Phin picked out the yarn for Sriracha solely based on color and ended up with Toshsock in the Vishnu colorway. Seriously, my man likes the good stuff. But truly it is a beautiful, rich, dragony color and knit up beautifully with nice dense stitches. Like socks, you kind of want your stuffies to be densely stitched so that the stuffing and polypellets can't escape or show through.

Anyway, excitement continues to run high as Dragon teaches Sriracha "all of the important things to know about dragons."

Like Game of Thrones...

Where is Daenerys and her dragons?

And dragon care and training and the great fires set by dragons throughout the ages. Sriracha says that fiddling attracts dragons. Even Milkshake the Cow has gotten in on it, reminding them that cows have been responsible for their fair share of fires, too.

Dragon the Hippo, Sriracha the Dragon and Milkshake the Cow

Anyway, it is all fun and games in the Craft Lounge.