Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mentioning the Unmentionables: Cami Muslin

One of the sewing tasks I did this week was to work on the muslin for my Kwik Sew Cami. And boy-oh-boy am I glad I'm into muslin at the moment!! I would have been so sad if I had used my pretty silks for this!

OK, I admit it: it doesn't look too bad in the above photo - it just looks like it needs some tapering from beneath the bust to the waist. However, a closer look at the armpit is revealing:

There is a lot of gaping - the fabric stands several inches away from my body. However, when I tried to take it in at the side seam, somehow it seemed to pull and not fit right across the bust. I also tried creating some darts with the extra fabric, but this also didn't really work at all. This has led me to a conclusion that I have been avoiding for some time: I need an FBA. (Non-sewing friends, this is a "Full Bust Alteration". Sounds rather drastic, doesn't it?) It fills me with dread.

Why dread?  Well, first, it seems somewhat complicated, involving cutting up, shifting and re-assembling the pattern. Second, I have a feeling that once I do it to one pattern, there will be no going back. I will have to make a series of alterations to every pattern I sew. Yes, before you say it, this is something I should have been doing all along. However, I seem to have been wily enough to choose patterns that have a forgiving fit across the bust. And I was acting under the assumption that my bust would be smaller post-weight loss and I wouldn't need to learn how to do an FBA at all. Alas, no.

But my craving for lingerie must be satisfied. So, FBA  here I come. Stay tuned. And if anyone has any thoughts on doing an FBA for a bias cut cami that has no darts, without messing up the grain, please do share!

PS - My panties, post-alteration, have been worn and are perfect! More of these to come! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lady Grey Fabric!


What you are looking at is a red-orange boucles for the outer shell (it's a bit more orange in person) and a black, white and turquoise print silk charmeuse for the lining. Being a New Yorker, I definitely get stuck in a rut of always opting for black. It's practical, slimming and goes with everything. But I really want this coat to be a statement piece, and what color could be more perfect for autumn in the Northeast than orange? And the turquoise in the lining really makes the colors pop. Both are from Mood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lady Grey Muslin 1.0

I always think I'm going to get so much more done on the weekend than I actually do. However, I did finish cutting my Lady Grey muslin pieces and I basted most of them together for a preliminary idea of the fit. You'll notice that I didn't bother attaching the second sleeve or the collar before donning a sweater and trying on... or pressing very well... or doing a particularly good job setting in the sleeve (the one inch allowance made it such a problem)... You get the point, this is a very rough draft.


I think adding 2 inches of length above the waist was probably too much, even with shoulder pads. I am going to edit out 1/2-3/4 inch.   


Even with an enormous cowl neck sweater, the front lapels gape.There is just too much fabric above the waist.


Just too big across the back, even with a chunky sweater. There is plenty of room in the bottom half, too, although I think it currently doesn't look so bad.   

Obviously, I want the muslin to have enough ease that the jacket will fit once a lining is added and I am wearing winter clothing. However, I am pretty convinced that the size 10 is too big. And since it is big everywhere, I think it makes sense to try the size 8 rather than trying to take in each and every seam. Seriously, sewing 4 princess seams with a one inch seam allowance was near impossible. I am NOT taking these seams in. 

Next steps: So, the plan is to make muslin 2.0 in a size 8, and last night I cut the pattern pieces.  I'm not much of a week night sewista, but I hope that tonight I will get to making the length alterations on the pattern pieces and start to cut a new muslin. I am not planning on re-doing the tedious method of drawing in the seam lines and enlarging the seam allowances. I just don't think I will need the extra room. OH! And I will be buying my fabric in the next day I hope.

Stay tuned...

Monday, September 27, 2010

High Octane Ice Cream


Friday and Saturday were warm enough that I was inspired to try my hand at another flavor of ice cream. Coffee is Phineas' favorite, so that was next on my list. Also, it would serve my other goal of perfecting a recipe for an ice cream base that I could use for a variety of flavors.

The starting point for this recipe is the vanilla ice cream I made over Labor Day. If you recall, I thought it wasn't creamy enough. So this time I increased the amount of cream and reduced the amount of milk. Then it was on to the coffee. After surveying a bunch of recipes, there seems to be 3 different ways to add coffee flavor: using instant coffee or espresso, using strong brewed coffee, or steeping whole coffee beans in the ice cream base. I decided to go for the bean approach since steeping seemed to work very well for the vanilla ice cream.

Coffee Ice Cream
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Cognac
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
So, I basically brought my milk, cream, sugar and salt to barely a simmer, added in the coffee beans, vanilla and cognac, popped on the lid, turned off the heat and let the whole thing steep for 90 minutes. I strained out the beans and vanilla before refrigerating overnight and then churning for 15 minutes.

On Saturday evening, Phin and I tested the ice cream. The bean method made for a very richly coffee flavored ice cream. Yum! And the creaminess was much improved from the vanilla version. It didn't occur to me until late on Saturday night, as I tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep, that this was also a very highly caffeinated ice cream. Doh! Next time, I'll use decaf beans!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

As I mentioned last week, Faye of Faye's Sewing Adventures nominated me for two lovely awards.

I love champagne! This award is right up my alley.

Aww, shucks.

Both awards come with some "rules and responsibilities". The rules for the first award are: 1. Tell us what you like about YOUR blog, 2. Then send the award to 10 other blogs that you read. And, the rules for the second award are: 1. Tell us 10 thing about yourself, 2. Then Send the award to 5 other blogs that you read.

Like Faye, I am going to do a mash-up of the rules for both. So, here are 5 things about me, related to my blog.
  1. Why Clio? Once, my pop decided to assign everyone in the family a code name for when we travel abroad. My major in college was history. Hence, Clio, muse of history. It stuck.
  2. Why Five Muses when there are actually nine? My blog's url is because I am one of five sisters (yes, all biologically related. nope, no brothers.). My sisters (Calliope, Polyhymnia, Terpischore and Erato) have done more to shape who I am than anyone else or any other experience in my life.
  3. Why blog? My very excellent friend Magenta encouraged me to track my sewing projects when I first picked up needle and thread. Over time, I started adding posts about travel, cooking and my other pursuits and, well, I'm hooked!
  4. What is my favorite vegetable? Broccoli a la Phineas. This has nothing to do with my blog, and I am now guilty of breaking my own rules, which is something else you should probably know about me by this point anyway. heh heh heh
  5. What is my favorite sewing project to date? It's almost always the most recent one I've completed. Right now it's a tie between my pants and my sarong pants (mostly because I am proud of posting the photo of them). But the most meaningful project was my nephew's Christening ensemble.
OK, enough about me! Now on to you... There are so many great blogs and bloggers who write about sewing and other crafty pursuits. But, I've decided to pass these great awards on to 5 ladies - Muses each and every one. And the nominees are:

Weekend Crafting -  Reethi sews up a storm, does all kind of crafts and cooks amazing vegetarian food. Also, she is a fun fabric shopping companion.

A Sewn Wardrobe - Rachel has a great eye for fashion and spent a year sewing all her own clothes rather than buying.

Sheilaz - CTK - Sheila is another renaissance woman who sews, crafts, crochets and knits at a pace that leaves others in the dust.

Making the Seam - One look at her Burda rock star jacket  should convince you Karin is the real deal when it comes to sewing. (Seriously, is this jacket hot or what!?!?!)

Li'l Miss Muffet - Li'l Miss Muffet (Heather) sat on her tuffet, sewing up all sorts of fun and fabulous lingerie, the likes of which I am dreaming of sewing for myself.

Now, you may have noticed that Sheila and Miss Muffet have already received the Beautiful Blogger award, which you may think would put them out of contention. However, does Meryl Streep have more than one Oscar? Absolutely! So, there.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Epic Muslin: Will I Ever be Done?

On Saturday I got down to work on my Lady Grey Coat. And I worked on it more on Tuesday. And again last night.

My first big decision was choosing what size to make. If, like me, your bust, waist and hip measurements direct you to three different pattern sizes, you understand that this is not ever an easy choice. Should I go by my largest size (ie: hips)? That would definitely make the coat too large through the shoulders, which I find difficult to alter. Waist size? No, the waist is easy to fix if it is off. So, I decided to go with my full bust measurement over clothing, since this is a coat and will be worn over clothing - so a size 10 is what I am making.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Am I an 8, a 10 or a 12?

I also made a controversial decision about alterations. I did lengthen each piece by 2" above the waist, which is "the usual" given my height (5'9"). BUT, Given the cut of the coat - flared from waist to hem - I decided NOT to grade the pattern out to a size 12 in the hips. I may regret this decision.

Do you think this style will hide flatter my hips?
I'm gambling on the fact that the style lines of the coat (namely, the flare) will have enough ease to fit my hips. But just in case, I've decided that I ought to do the super extended version of muslin making that Gertie posted about last week, enlarging the seam allowances to 1 inch in order to have extra room for any alterations. This is a tedious process. Very very tedious, and involving drawing seam lines onto the pattern pieces, using huge swaths of transfer paper (I *heart* the FIT bookstore!), drawing new cutting lines onto the muslin, then cutting, and finally sewing along the seam lines! TEDIOUS!!!!

My muslin pieces
Anyway, the whole point of this post is to say that by last night I was ready to commit hari-kari; I am only half way done cutting out my muslin pieces. Luckily for me, the only weapon in my home is a hot glue gun. And it wasn't even plugged in. Or loaded with glue. So, the worst case scenario, should I reach the breaking point, is that I glue my fingers together or give myself a burn on my thimble finger, so that I can't sew.

Tonight, as a mental health fun social b
reak, I'm meeting up with Erato, Terp and Poly, for a bit of fabric shopping and chat. I may even relent and buy fabric for this project before I finish the muslin. That might encourage me. Either way, I think a trip to Mood will do wonders for my own mood. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lingerie Update

Well, my panties have been altered and will soon be worn again. I will report back with (fingers crossed) better news.

In addition, one of the things I did on Saturday was cut a muslin for the KwikSew 2589 camisole. Since I am in a muslin-ish mood, I figured that it's better to work out any fit issues in a cheap cotton (less than $2yd) than in my pretty silk charmeuse. The KS instructions seem incredibly straightforward and easy. So, I should be able to report back soon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Zombie Pie

Before anything else, let me say that "Zombie Pie" is, without a doubt, the ugliest thing that has ever oozed out of my kitchen.

Let me begin at the beginning. On Saturday, I had a very full day planned: sewing, running and baking a dessert that I would serve after going out to dinner with Dr. Kiang and Turg.

I decided that I would try a new-to-me recipe: Clafoutis. My good friend MarMar, who is a wonderful baker, mentioned that it is one of her favorite recipes from the King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion, our mutual favorite book on baking. Clafoutis is a French dessert which IMHO is the fritatta of the dessert world, as far as cooking method goes. Basically, you pile up a bunch of fruit in a pan, pour a sweet egg, flour and milk batter on top, and then bake until it is set. Kind of like a pie without the hassle of a crust. Very homespun. Although traditionally made with cherries, I decided on a blueberry-peach version of clafoutis, since I had both in the freezer - leftovers from a binge at the farmer's market.

Here's where things started going awry. Given how much I had planned to do on Saturday, I was somewhat pressed for time: the fruit was thawed, but still pretty cold when it went into the pan. Also, I didn't have the 10" dish that was called for, so I settled on using a 9.5" inch pie plate. When I poured the batter over the fruit, not all would fit in the pan. I figured that my clafoutis would just be a bit extra fruity and probably would take a bit longer to set, which was fine with me. However, it turned out that it was so juicy that there was no way to tell whether the batter was set, so after an extra half hour (nearly double the baking time), I decided that I would just have to call it done. At this point it looked like a bubbly mass of fruit - not too different from a crisp or cobbler. Homey.

Dr K was a near-permanent fixture at my folks house during our high school and college years. So, the plan was to head there for dessert with my parents and two of my sisters. Anyway, when my mom unwrapped my clafoutis, it was a shock. As it had cooled and settled, it went from homey to homely. It looked like the zombie version of a blueberry peach pie (human: zombie::blueberry pie: Clio's clafoutis). No amount of powdered sugar could pretty this monstrosity up. Fortunately for me, my close friends and family have no problem eating zombie for me, and everyone agreed that, despite it's homely appearance, it was rather tasty. How can you go wrong with baked farmstand fruit draped in a sweet custard-like cake?

Anyway, as usually happens with my kitchen endeavors, when faced with a setback, I have to try-try again. So, expect to see a (hopefully less homely) clafoutis from me soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Mishmosh And Progress

I had a lot to post about this week, but Blogger has been very non-cooperative. I keep getting error messages. So, I hope you won't mind too much if I mosh it all into one progress report post before the weekend.

Lingerie: Welcome to Wedgieville
First, I wore my newly sewn panties this week. It did not all go according to plan. Midway thru the morning, the panties began to creep up. Um, in the front. Um, a lot. And it was all downhill from there (or uphill, to be totally frank). Sorry, this is definitely TMI! Anyway, I think the problem is that they are too long in the crotch and the front is riding up, so I am going to take them in a bit and will report back. I sometimes have this problem in RTW panties too.

High hopes for my low riders
A note on the style of these panties: by "Brazilian," what Jalie means is that they are a tanga - basically the love child of a boy short and a thong -i.e. lots of cheek-peek. If you don't like panties that fit like this in the back, then these are probably not for you. Resistance is futile: wedgies are inevitable.

Pants: Fabric Love
I've still got some work ahead, but these are really coming together nicely. Details are done (darts, pockets, fly/zipper...) and I am ready to do seams and then drop in the linging. May I just say that it is so nice to sew with such a beautiful fabric? It is. I need to give myself a promotion. Whenever I've sewn with really good quality (read: more expensive than I normally allow myself) fabric, I have been thoroughly happy with the results. So, I think I am just going to have to allow myself a larger budget when it comes to fabric.

Here is a peek inside the pocket. The pocketing really is just right for these.

Lady Grey Coat: Muslin Time!
I am mostly done amassing the notions and a few tools for this project. It is time to work on the muslin. Actually, first I have to trace, alter and cut the pattern.
I still haven't bought fabric, and I may actually wait until I decide that I like how the muslin comes out. You see, since I'm only planning on making this jacket once, I am not going to use a cheap fabric or lining (see above pants comments). I've narrowed it down to 4 different wool or wool/cashmere blends, the least expensive of which is $25/yd. The silk charmeuse I am contemplating for the lining is $12/yd. So, given the yardages that I will need and depending on my final choice, this is going to cost roughly $150-$250 for the fabric. So, I think waiting until the muslin is sewn before buying is probably wise.

Other News: I'd like to thank the Academy...This week I was nominated for two lovely blog awards by Faye of Faye's Sewing Adventures. I am touched and tickled. Thank you, Faye. I'll post these awards next week!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Momofuku you!: An evening with Chang and Bourdain

On Monday night, Erato and I went to see two of the most notorious bad boys of the culinary world - Anthony Bourdain of Kitchen Confidential, A Cook's Tour and No Reservations fame, and David Chang, maestro of the ever-growing Momofuku restaurant empire - on a double billing at the 92nd Street Y. Their chat was an irreverent and insider look at working in the industry, the NY restaurant scene and their culinary experiences around the world.

To me, the most interesting comments that they made dealt with the intersection of food and culture - and America's lack of a real food culture, except perhaps in the South. Tony Bourdain's best point was that the quickest way to learn about a culture is to eat their food. If you've read any of my posts about travel, you know that Phineas and I embrace this ethos. And David Chang, or at least the way he cooks - mixing east and west, modern and traditional, high end and down home - absolutely reminds me of how Phineas (with his Chinese-Jamaican-American background) cooks. In other words, I tend to share both of these interesting chefs world views when it comes to food.

Since some professionals have already summed up the evening, I thought I would give you a taste of this duo from their first on-air appearance together. I should add that Erato and I started the night with dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar, and you will get to see some of the things we ate in this clip (pork buns, spicy sausage with rice cakes...)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creating and Destroying

"Creating and Destroying" sounds far more philosophical than this post will live up to, but it accurately sums up the last few days. This weekend, I sewed myself some panties and demolished a tool shed. (An aside: how many times do you get to use the words "panties" and "tool shed" in the same sentence?)

On Friday evening, I sewed up my first Jalie 2568 Brazillian Hipsters. It took about 35 minutes start to finish, and they came out totally cute! I immediately wanted to make 2 more with the other stretch lace trim that I had ready to go, but I am holding off until I wear these at least once. I have very low tolerance for uncomfy panties.

Cutest. Panties. Ever.
I didn't do the best job matching up the lace pattern when I cut these out. In truth, I actually didn't even try. I was too excited to sew panties to even think about it. And these totally live up to my expectations for the cuteness factor. One small disclaimer - and I do mean small!: these panties are definitely low rise. They sit about 4-5" below my navel. On someone shorter (I'm 5'9") they may come higher. But not much.

Then on Saturday, I indulged my destructive side. Terpischore and Mr. Fixit had a second open call for help on demolition work on their new home. Based on how well I did with demolition last time, I was assigned the job of demolishing an ugly and decaying tool shed in the yard.

Before: You can't see if from this angle, but it actually wraps around the house another 5-6 feet.

In progress: wielding a friend I like to call Persuasion

Nearly done:That's the back wall of the shed I'm standing on in this photo

After: this is where the shed once stood

Honestly, it's a shame I didn't get a photo with a crow bar, since really this job required much more dismantling of beams with a crow bar than smashing with a sledge hammer. But I guess that would have been a bit less theatrical. We did, at one point, use the reciprocating saw (that is what I'm holding in the above photo) to saw the roof of the shed in half.

Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying weekend. I got to sew a quick and lovely little project on Friday, use my powers of destruction for the benefit of my sister on Saturday, and I even got to spend most of Sunday working on my next pair of pants. But more on that later in the week.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Back to School" Shopping

As parents and kids were shopping for back-to-school supplies this past week, I was shopping for supplies for my Autumn projects. It definitely put me in the back-to-school frame of mind.

First, I bought $76 worth of silk charmeuse and wide stretch lace trim at Mood for my lingerie project. That may sound like a lot, but it all fit in my purse. Easily. Then again, this is enough fabric for 3 pairs of lace panties and 2 silk camis, which would certainly cost more than $76 retail.

This is a beige/nude (shown against a red background so you can see it) 6" wide stretch lace trim that will be made into Jalie #2568 Brazilian hipster panties, which will be my first project. I traced off the pattern last night. More cheeky panties will follow, along with coordinating camis.

Black with red lace for panties and red silk charm for the cami

Black and gold lace for panties and black silk charm for the cami

Next, my Lady Grey Coat pattern arrived by mail. I have to say, I am pretty impressed so far. The whole thing came as a neat little booklet/folder, with the pattern tucked into a pocket. I have not really had a good experience with small independent pattern companies. But after a read-thru of the instructions, I felt my anxieties about this being an "Advanced" pattern melt away. The instruction booklet seemed very clearly written and illustrated. Maybe I will have better luck with Colette patterns? Jalie, too, seems to have clear instructions and good illustrations.

Back to school shopping would not be complete without a text book. So, to get ready for the coat sew along, I bought Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket, as a reference.

Finally, I picked up some heavy weight muslin (no picture) at Greenberg and Hammer in the NY Garment District. I still need to purchase my actual fabric and lining for the Lady Grey Coat. So, more on that next week! In the interim, I have pants to sew, panties and lingerie to work on, and I need to trace the Lady Grey pattern. So, I will be quite busy!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Scream, I Scream: A Swan Song for Summer

File this under the "Duh" category...

In addition to not doing very much sewing this summer, I also didn't do very much cooking or baking. It was just too darned hot. Then, about a month ago, the NY Times published several articles in the dining section about ice cream and making it at home. Like I said: duh. Why not make cold food! Double duh. Anyway, Phineas procured an ice cream machine, and my first two test runs took place this weekend. In honor of my trip to Tulum, I decided to make vanilla and chocolate (without the Mayans we would have neither flavor), using the vanilla beans that I bought in Mexico.

I used the NYT recipes for Bittersweet Chocolate and for Roasted Hazelnut Vanilla, but omitted the steps involving the nuts to make a plain vanilla. Both are "Philadelphia Style" ice creams, meaning that they do not contain egg yolks. This makes the recipe much easier to execute than if I were to make a custard-based ice cream (tempering egg yolks with hot cream is always a risky proposition).

The method is pretty easy. Cook the cream and other ingredients, chill in the fridge, churn in your machine until it looks like soft serve (15 min or so) and let the finished ice cream solidify in the freezer. Here's how it went:

- I think leaving out the hazelnuts left my ice cream lacking some richness and creaminess. It reminded me more of an "ice milk" - a flashback to the late 80's/early 90's. The recipe calls for a 2:1 ratio of milk to cream, but I think I will reverse that ratio next time in order to get a richer ice cream with a creamier texture. That said, for very vanilla-y flavor, this ice cream delivered in spades.

Bittersweet Chocolate
- This recipe is pretty perfect as is. I think the most important element is to use good chocolate: I used a bittersweet valrhona. I also used a cognac instead of rum and vanilla sugar (ordinary sugar stored with a few vanilla beans left over from another project) instead of plain. I am pretty pleased with the rich and creamy ice cream I ended up with.

Mmmmmmmm... ice cream

I'm sure there will be a few more weeks for me to experiment with my ice cream maker before the cool weather really sets in, and Phineas has already requested that I make coffee ice cream for him. I also want to try frozen yogurt. Then I will be able to get back to baking and my mac+cheese experimentation, which I never completed before the warm weather set in. Stay tuned for more goodies from the kitchen as I say goodbye to summer. Speaking of which, here are a few last picture
s from my vacation. I think the looming clouds paint an accurate swan song for the warmer months.

Orpheus and I spent lots of time snorkeling - he is a natural in the water

Calliope and Linus with a stingray

Orpheus with Stingray

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pants Reveal/Review: Simplicity 2700

Over Labor Day weekend, I finished my pants with hand sewn hems, and I am wearing them today! Woo hoo hoo! Here I am heading out the door this morning, all styled for work.

I was running a bit late, so Phin had to take "action shots"

Me, pre-java

Final Outcome: I LOVE these pants. They are comfy and (IMHO) look great on; I could not wait even one day to wear them. But how should I review the pattern? I started with the Simplicity 2700 Amazing Fit Pants pattern, but after 4.5 muslins and multiple rounds of changes, is it really fair to review this pattern? The pants look like what came out of the envelope style-wise, but they are only distantly related fit-wise. However, there is a lot to like about the Simplicity Amazing Fit line of patterns: separate pieces for slim, average, and curvy fit help you start from a better place, one inch seam allowances leave lots of room for making adjustments, and on this particular pattern the shape of the leg is flattering and the pocket styling is nice, too. That said, Simplicity's instructions are not always 100% clear, although I found these to be ok. That said, I didn't bother to use their zipper or waistband procedures. The end result is that I think (fingers crossed) that I may finally have a TNT pants pattern. We'll see how they sew up in my next two attempts...

Speaking of which, this weekend I also cut out all the pieces for my next two pants. Here are the details:

I am already sewing up a version in this light grey wool suiting bought at Metro Textiles last October. Kashi told me that the fabric is from the Loro Piana mill in Connecticut, and I believe him. The hand is beautiful and so far it is a dream to work with. I'm using a remnant of blue-grey pinstriped cotton for the pocketing and waistband facing. I'm lining these pants in a grey bemberger rayon.

And here is the darker grey Armani pinstripe fabric that my mom gave me for my last birthday, which is also cut and ready to go. I've decided to omit the hip pockets on this version of the pants, and instead am going to attempt to do back welt or bound pockets. Wish me luck, since this will be a new technique for me. I am also lining these pants. For the waistband facings and the pocketing, I'm using the pictured orange and brown cotton print. I've discovered that this is the perfect use for remnants of fabric from past projects. This fabric was left over from the clutch I made for Calliope, one of my very first projects.

It is also time to start amassing the materials for my Lady Grey Jacket. Muslin sewing will commence next week!

Friday, September 3, 2010

End of the Summer: Sewing Goals and Projects

I did far less sewing this summer than I had hoped. In fairness, travel, visiting family and work kept me out of the Craft Lounge more than I anticipated. So, with Labor Day now upon us, I feel like Autumn is coming and it is time to pack up the summer fabrics and set some goals for my autumn and early winter sewing. My sewing time is pretty limited, so I've decided to focus on three key projects. Here they are:

Lady Grey Coat in winter white
The Must Sew List:
First, pants will remain a priority, and my nearly finished pants will get finished this weekend. All they need is a hook and bar on the waistband, plus hemming. Then I will proceed to make several copies, with style and fabric variations. Three cheers for pants that fit!

Next, my "Unmentionable" Project - Now that I've amassed lingerie patterns, a good guide, some trim from my mystery box and a healthy dose of inspiration, I am ready to buy fabric and get going. I plan on starting with camis, slips and panties before I try a more difficult undertaking, like a bra.

KwikSew cami's and slips - my first planned lingerie project

Finally - and this is what I am most excited about at the moment and haven't told you about yet - every time I look at the Lady Grey coat by Colette Patterns (and I do visit it regularly on line) I find myself wondering if I am up to the challenge. I just love this pattern and think that the style is perfect for me. But it is rated "Advanced", which I am certainly not. So, I was thrilled to visit Gertie's blog recently and learn that she is organizing a Lady Grey Coat Sew-Along! So, there will be plenty of other sewistas, not to mention the fabulous Gertie herself, to fall back on for guidance, help and moral support. I ordered the pattern yesterday, and Gertie says that sewing should commence in mid-September. This will be a big project, starting with a muslin and hopefully ending with a gorgeous coat.

The "Maybe" Sew List:
There are a few other side projects that I hope to work on in between or when I need a break from the "Must Sew" projects. I would still love to make the Simplicity Amazing Fit sheath dress which I had planned on doing last fall, and in fact would love to have it as a TNT dress pattern. So, again, muslin required.

Also, I plan to make this New Look top out of one or more of the gorgeous silk fabrics I bought during my last hookie day.

What I will NOT be Sewing:

Knit tops. I've decided to put all the knit tops I was planning to sew on hold, at least in the short term. I've had a number of less than good experiences, starting with the Hot Patterns hot mess top. So, I just really need a break. Plus RTW tops fit me pretty well and are inexpensive. So, it's just not the best use of my time.

Anyway, I hope that with a bit more focus to my sewing, I will end up with a few key pieces for my wardrobe and a few new skills.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Creamsicle Collection: Final Summer Stashing

Before I left for vacation, I ordered a few sale fabrics from Fabric Mart. I completely forgot about the order, and it was such a treat to arrive home to new fabric waiting for me.

L to R: Cream and tangerine pinstriped cotton w/lycra, Calvin Klein white
cotton waffle weave, and Liz Claiborn lightweight cotton in coral

All three are summery, so they will be stashed until next spring. The first two are destined to be made into pants and the last will become a top. I'm really pleased with all three fabrics - I just love the colors.

Speaking of color, I had a somewhat surprising revelation recently: orange, and not blue, is my favorite color. I love blue, I really do. Well, except for navy blue, that most serious and un-fun color. But every time I say that blue is my favorite, I get this very nagging and guilty feeling, like I'm somehow shortchanging or cheating on orange. And I can't think of orange without getting a big grin on my face. So, there it is. Orange is the new blue, at least for me.

The other very fun purchase I made from Fabric Mart was their "mystery box" of notions, trim and other goodies, which was just $5 with my order.

It was such a fun box to open and I definitely got my money's worth of belt buckles, an assortment of zippers, elastic, grosgain ribbon, several lace appliques, an "Ooh La La" iron on bit of embriodery, lots of lace trims, a book on pillows (destined for my niece, I think), and a box of bobbin-sized spools of thread. Unfortunately the thread is navy blue, which serves me right, I suppose.

Anyway, the lace appliques and trims definitely got me thinking about tackling my first lingerie project. It definitely got my creative juices flowing. So, expect more on this to come.