Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Craft Lounge/Guest Room

Pronunciation: \hī-ˈā-təs\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn
Date: 1563

1 a : interruption in time or continuity : break; especially : a period when something (as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted


For the next two weeks, the Craft Lounge will be serving it's original function - guest room - while Phineas' brother and SIL visit with the youngest member of the family, their 6-month old daughter. I packed up my Sewing Machine to make room for them and the baby.

Needless to say, I am feeling a bit on edge at not being able to get any sewing done. Don't get me wrong, I will be doing a lot of pattern prep, cutting and other sewing-related tasks. My intent is to hit the ground running, with lots of projects ready to go, once I can get back into the Lounge. But it will be a very very quiet two weeks without the hum of my sewing machine.

On the up side, I will be able to focus on my other interests. I haven't been spending much time on new projects in the kitchen lately. But with company in the house, there will be ample opportunity to flex my cooking skills. Plus, there will be extra people to help eat up all the things that I want to make.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And Here's the Haul

I bought three gorgeous pieces of silk during my hookie day on Wednesday. I really love natural fibers and silk is probably my favorite fabric (period). It's warm in the winter, breathes in the summer and feels lovely on. What could be better than silk?

Left: turquoise silk chiffon from Mood; Center: silver/grey silk from Mood (the color photographed poorly); Right: blue and white silk chiffon from Elliott Berman

At least one of these is destined to become New Look 6915, which I bought about a week ago. I think this will make a great top for work.

Depending on how the New Look pattern sews up, I will either make multiple copies OR the remaining silk will eventually become lingerie, once I get that project underway.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Muses take Manhattan (Brooklyn, too)

Erato and I had a great day on Wednesday! Here is the round up of our adventure...

Muse on the loose!

9am - Coffee in Prospect Heights - We started the day in Prospect Heights Brooklyn, sitting on a patio drinking iced coffee and watching people rush by on their way to work. Is there really a better way to start off a hookie day than that? I think not.

10am - American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection
If you love beautiful clothing or want some vintage inspiration for your own sewing endeavors, this exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum is excellent. Here are a few highlights:

Do you ever get the impression that your body was designed for the silhouette of another era? This gorgeous dress, with its exaggerated hips, called to me.

Apparently, Paris Hilton was not the first affluent woman to spoil her pooch.

Erato loved the back of this Charles James number.

Given my recent interest in lingerie, I was immensely drawn to the lace treatment on Charles James iconic clover dress. Stunning.

Erato is the original Carrie Bradshaw when it comes to shoes. She just confessed to me that she has run out of places to store her ever-growing collection. She loved the heel of these.

The most stunning works in the exhibit, IMHO, were the architectural masterpieces by Charles James. One thing I noticed, however, is that there is very little new in fashion - or maybe it is more like "everything old is new again". Particularly, I was struck by the exposed zippers on some of the circa 1935 Elsa Schiaparelli dresses (popular in the last 12-18 months), animal prints from the 1950's, and overall, how sexually provocative some of the dresses were (here and here) during eras that I think of as more staid and buttoned-up (1930's and 1950's). I know that every generation thinks that they are the first to discover sex, but I am still having a hard time picturing my grandma wearing something like these.

1pm - Lunch at Perry Street
After our museum trip, we headed to Manhattan for lunch at Perry Street. If you love to eat great food, but hate the prices at NY's top restaurants, I cannot recommend Jean Georges' empire highly enough. JG is a premiere NYC chef, with some of the best restaurants in the city. So what does he do? He offers a $26 pre-fixe lunch menu at most of his places (Perry Street, Spice Market, Nougatine at Jean George,...). Is that a lot for lunch? Yes. Is it a lot for one of NY's best? Not by a long shot. We were served a strawberry gazpacho as an amuse bouche. I followed it with sweet chili crab dumplings (delicate and divine) and then the best fried chicken (with spicy pea puree and pickled onion) that I have ever eaten, finishing with a molten chocolate cake. Erato had crispy poached eggs with vodka creme and caviar, followed by a tuna burger and ending with strawberry rhubarb cheese cake. Not bad for $26 each, ehh?

3pm - A stroll along The High Line
We left the restaurant feeling fat and happy, and so decided to walk uptown to the Garment District. If you have not yet gone for a stroll on the High Line Park, I also highly recommend it.

And, here is a fashion-y fact for you: Diane von Furstenberg was one of the driving forces and funders of the project. The park passes right by her office, which you can see with it's "DVF" printed on the side of the building.

End of the High Line. It sure was hot yesterday!

4pm - Fabric shopping
We spent so much time doing other things, and so only left ourselves 2 hours for fabric! But we hit paydirt at Mood and Elliott Berman. I will post about our haul on Monday.

6-9pm - Winding Down and Wrapping Up
We were feeling pretty wiped out by our day at this point, so we ducked into Stitch bar for a pick-me-up. After that we walked downtown to Schaffer City Oyster Bar, a NY institution, for some oysters (Erato) , clam chower (me), a bit of wine and to chat about our day. The one thing we absolutely agreed on was that we will definitely be doing this again in the fall!

11pm - Coma Sets In
After trekking home and showing Phineas my fabulous purchases, I collapsed into bed a very very happy and exhausted sewist. What a great day!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hump Day Hookie!

There is something really decadent about taking a day off in the middle of the week. Today, Erato and I are fabric shopping, museum-ing, and pretending that we are "ladies who lunch", like we did one day in the fall. So, if you happen to be rambling around NY's garment district, we will be the loud chatty ones with large shopping bags (we hope) looking like we are playing hookie.

Thanks to a work event on Friday, plans with friends on Saturday and Father's day family commitments on Sunday, I had little time to sew. All that I accomplished was finishing alterations on 2 additional pairs of pants (4 down, 2 to go - woo hoo!) and one cami.

Refurbished and ready to be back in rotation

This weekend, I will be less busy and am planning to transfer the last bit of changes from my pants muslin back to the pattern and then get to work on pants. Here's the fabric I've picked for my first pair.

It's black with a black pinstripe (purchased at MetroTextiles), which may be counter-intuitive for summer. BUT it is cotton and feels lovely. I prefer natural fabrics in the summer. And since my pants comfort zone happens to be black, that is what I am going with for this pair. Next up will be non-black pants, I swear.

More on my sewing outing tomorrow or Friday! Happy Hump Day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hiccoughs and Glytches

My second book on sewing lingerie arrived from, essentially Ebay's bookstore where you can buy new and used books, CD's and DVD's at lower prices. I've always had good luck with Half, but not this time. When the book arrived, it was in the used condition I was expecting. However, the master patterns were nowhere to be found!

I contacted the seller, who was happy to accept the return. But this leaves me feeling rather conflicted. First, is it worth the hassle to schlep to the post office and then pay to ship back a book that only cost me $10? But more important, I'm wondering if the bookseller will re-sell this book without the patterns to some other sewist? The description did not state that the patterns were missing when I purchased it, and all but the first 25 pages are specific to the master patterns.

While trying to decide what to do, I browsed through the book and have decided that I prefer the Singer book, anyway. Both have similar construction tips, but the Singer book has more info and better pictures/line drawings of the techniques, at least to my eye. So, I will not repurchase the Kwik Sew book. This leaves me with an additional issue, although I view it as a bonus: buying lingerie patterns. What sewist doesn't love shopping for patterns! Here are some of the front runners:

McCalls DIY style # 5651: This pattern is for knits. I like that there are darts on the cami and chemise cups, since I'm on the busty side.

Kwik Sew 3554: Also for knits. Like the above, I think
the gathers will help me with fitting the bust.

Kwik Sew 3726: This is for wovens, which is what I was initially thinking about. Again, I like the separate cup pieces.

Kwik Sew 2589: Also woven. I think this is likely to be cut on the bias and really is what I think of as a basic cami or slip pattern.

Finally, Jalie 2568: This pattern for panties gets rave reviews on, and I have to admit that the lace cheeky pants are very cute.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I will find a way to justify ordering all of these patterns in the end. I haven't looked at bra patterns just yet. I am going to see how it goes with camis and slips first and will go from there, I think.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pants Muslin: DONE!

Last weekend was all about pants. In addition to taking in 4 pairs of pants which had become too large at the waist, I finally got back to my muslin for Simplicity #2700 Amazing Fit Pants. As I suspected, they were a little bit big. However, within an hour I had them fitting the way I wanted. I am ready to call them DONE!

It's rather hard to judge from photos of a muslin how well these fit. I used a very lightweight and cheap cotton, and I think a lot of the small flaws are because of this and will not be a problem once I am working with more suitable fabric. (We shall see!)

What I am really pleased with is the fit of the crotch. I spent about 10 minutes walking around the house in my muslin, going up and down stairs, sitting, standing, walking and squatting. The pants were very comfy through it all, even when I took the stairs two at a time.

And now, on to actually sewing some pants! I will have to transfer my most recent changes back to the pattern but then it is all systems go!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Home Improvements: My Inner Wrecking Ball

I noticed that there were new design options for Blogger last week and I decided to do a little home improvement. I really have no talent in the computer-web-photo department, so it is really a testament to how idiot-proof Blogger is that I can actually maintain a blog at all. Anyway, let me know how you like the new color scheme.

This past weekend, I learned something rather surprising about myself: apparently, I have a certain aptitude for destruction. My sister and her husband - Terpischore and Mr Fixit - closed on a house last week. They have numerous renovations planned and, in the interest of saving some money, decided to do the demolition work themselves. So Phin and I joined them and others on Saturday for a day-long Home Wrecking Party. This is where I discovered the joy of swinging a sledge hammer through (ugly) built in book shelves, a faux fireplace, and circa 1970 cabinetry. I also took a liking to the crow bar.

There was something undeniably empowering about the destruction. This surprized me because I am not really the kind of person who is pent up and needs to blow off steam. I am much more the yoga/meditation to relax sort. And I like creating things, not destroying them. But this was the kind of therapy that you just can't pay for.

Anyway, um, if you are planning any home demolition in the near future... um... you know where to find me.

PS- Terp just emailed me to see if I want to help them take out the back stoop and driveway - a job that will require a jackhammer...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vogue 2980 Reveal

I remembered to bring the finished Vogue 2980 Today's Fit top to my sister, Calliope, this weekend. Doesn't she look smashing in it? I think so.

Since I had actually gone ahead and cut the pattern in the wrong size AND since Vogue had a sale after I realized my mistake, I reordered the pattern for myself rather than deal with enlarging it. It arrived last week along with these two patterns:

Very Easy Vogue Custom Fit (V 8646): I thought this could be a great
summer dress in a light eyelet or linen.

Vogue Bellville Sassoon (V1162): This is WAY above my skill level at the
moment, but it won't always be and I just had to have it .

Anyway, neither of the dresses are slated for sewing at this point, but you can expect to see me in a version of the Vogue Today's Fit top in the near future.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Obsession: Unmentionables

Sometimes I have a one track mind. Within minutes of posting about bras and proper fit, I noticed that Colette Patterns put out their first line of "dainties" lingerie and lounge wear, the Selfish Seamstress gave away an Elan bra pattern on her wonderful sewing blog, and SewStylish magazine featured an article on trimming a cami with lace.

The writing was on the wall. Lingerie was on my mind. But what to do? I contemplated a shopping spree, but lingerie is so very expensive - well, at least the good stuff is. Then the light dawned: Why not make it myself! (duh) This "I can sew" revelation was akin to the day I realized that I could alter RTW clothing rather than paying someone else to do it (that is to say that it was a really obvious fact that I had somehow overlooked). Although I did not take up sewing to save money, I am convinced that I can make a cami, for example, from beautiful fabric and trim for much less than RTW would cost.

Sewing Lingerie (Singer Sewing Reference Library)

Anyway, I ordered two books from and the first arrived on Monday: Singer's Sewing Lingerie. I've read the first few sections and think it is great. What I've read is full of practical information on materials (fabrics, lace trims, elastic...) and techniques, like what seam treatments are best for various fabrics and garments. At this point, I get more out of books that prioritize technique over inspiration, so this approach is right up my alley.

I also ordered Kwik Sew's Beautiful Lingerie book, which has the added benefit of coming with patterns. After it arrives, I will decide on a first project and then begin to amass supplies.

In the interim I will be working on my pants and the two knit tops I've blogged about. Speaking of which, have you noticed how I am NOT have ANY luck with knit tops recently? Seriously, I am 1 for 4 at this point, with the 2 tops that currently are not working (although I have high hopes), one that is in the UFO pile and only one that I love. Anyway, stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kwik Sew 3338 Muslin

On Saturday morning, in addition to finishing up the Vogue top for my sister, I stitched up a quick and dirty muslin for KS 3338, the fitted tee pattern. In the process, I realized that black is NOT a good choice of colors for a muslin - it doesn't photograph well and it hides a multitude of sins. And, trust me, there are some issues with this top at the moment.

Here's the front - please ignore the absolutely shoddy job I did on the neckline. I was testing out a bunch of different stitches to see what worked best, and it now looks all wonky and a-symetrical.

And here is the back - again, note how wonky the neck band is:

There are a few easy-to-fix problems, like easing out the hips and making the top longer (my usuals). But there are a few things that may be a little more complicated.

First, I need more room thru the armpit; it is too high. Next, notice the wrinkles running from the bust to the armskye in the front and then the slumping fabric at the shoulder in the back. The shoulder into the sleeve cap is just not sitting right. When I put my hand on my hip there is more pulling from bust to sleeve and the sleeve cap seems to pop up. I'm not sure if this means I need more room in the shoulder, in the sleeve or some kind of combination. And I am not quite sure where to begin in the back. Finally, I didn't think so at the time, but from the photo of the front of the top, it looks like I may need a to do an FBA (Full Bust Alteration).

After trying on the top, I immediately headed to my copy of Fit for Real People. However, I'm still not entirely sure how to proceed or in what order I should make the alterations. I need to do some further research in sleeve fitting. It is not my forte, apparently.

Oh, and coincidentally, I forgot to bring the now-finished Vogue top to my sister, so the final reveal will have to wait until this weekend. But I think it is going to be great!

Update at 4:59pm: OK, I just read over ALL of the reviews of this pattern on and, apparently, I am the only freak in all of the sewing blogosphere who this pattern did not fit out of the envelope. Beautiful. LOL. Typical.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fits and Starts and Mishaps, too

Nearly finished top. (Awful lighting, sorry.)
All that needs doing is hemming and some seam finishing.

Well, my "sew all weekend" intentions went up in smoke... aromatic, ribs-on-the-grill smoke, but smoke nonetheless. The goal of the weekend was to get back into the swing of my hobbies, and things began well enough. I started with a fantastic yoga class on Friday, followed by my first foray back in the kitchen to make brownies.

I used my gold standard brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion cookbook. I'd been fretting about the use of corn syrup in the recipe - I go to pretty great lengths to avoid the stuff. My usual substitution for corn syrup is Lyle's Golden Syrup; it works very well in pecan pie and basically everything else that I've used it in. And my brownies looked spectacular when they came out of the oven. But I decided to leave them in the pan to cool and just cut them for our bbq on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday morning, I hopped out of bed and got down to sewing. I started with the Vogue Today's Fit pattern. It started coming together very quickly. And a strange thing happened while I was sewing it: I started liking the fabric a whole lot more than when I decided to use it as muslin. I couldn't believe how well my weekend was going.

Naturally, this is where my troubles began. First, when I got to the point of trying on the top for fit, I was met with a rude surprise - it was too small. As I chronically - pathologically, even! - make things too large, I was shocked by this. I quickly referred back to the pattern and package. And, well, I don't really know how this happened, but despite the fact that I wrote down my measurements, made a note to "Cut size D" and circled size D on the pattern envelope, when it came down to it, I cut a size C. DOH!!!

Miffed about my mistake, I decided to cheer myself up with a brownie and celebrate the fact that at least one of my hobbies was on track. I cut the tray of chocolaty gooiness into the petite size that I like and went to scoop one out of the pan. It put up some resistance, but the first is always the hardest to get out, right? Wrong. Within moments I realized that sinister forces were at work in my pyrex pan. My beloved Lyle's Syrup proved to be a bad, bad idea. For some unknown reason and despite being beaten into the batter at high speed for several minutes, it seems to have settled on the bottom of my baking dish, gluing the brownies to the pan. I tried everything - warming my spatula, dipping it in boiling water - but to no avail.

The most intact brownies from the batch. None of them have bottoms.

So there I was with a pile of brownie crumbs and a top that didn't fit. Aaack! How do you even begin to salvage a situation like that? I decided to go for a run and ended up tweaking a muscle in my back as a result (Seriously, could this get any worse?).

But you should know by now that I am pretty much an optimist, and a silver lining was already presenting itself. On Friday, when I asked what other sewists do with their unwanted fabric, Sheila gamely replied "I use them to make garments for family members." And I have a big family! So, I thought that the top might work for Calliope, my sister.

Hooray! The basted top needs only minor adjustments
and the color is terrific with her auburn hair.

So, I spend part of yesterday finishing it up. All it needs is hemming at this point. And as for the brownies, I came up with a solution that works for me: I decided not to share them. Since I would have felt bad about them not being perfect, the only thing to do was to keep them for myself... all of those delicious brownie crumbs... all for me...

So at the end of the weekend I managed to make my sister and my stomach very happy. Hope you also had a great weekend!