Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pockets: Yea or Nay?

It's been a while since we've talked about trends or styles. So, I thought it was about time we tackled another trend I've been noticing which is much more main stream than my previous topics (see: bandeau, mullet top, peek-a-boob):


They seem to be everywhere. Of course, there are certain garments that almost always have pockets, like jeans, trousers and coats.  But I'm thinking of the trend of pockets in women's dresses and skirts. They are cropping up in the sewing blogosphere and in sewing patterns. Both indy:

"sewable, wearable basics for busy women - always with pockets!"

Sewaholic's Cambie Dress

And Big 4:

McCalls M6699 Fashion Star Dress

Pockets are even cropping up on the red carpet.

Marion Cotillard at the SAG Awards 2013

Some pockets are clearly design/style decisions, but I'm more interested in the practical, functional element that seems to be a trend. Somehow, I seem to be immune to the allure of pockets.

I find that pockets often add bulk at the hips, which is exactly where I don't want it. So, for me, the norm tends to be eliminating pockets, especially in/on seam pockets. I also tend to favor styles that have clean lines, and pockets tend to break up a garment's sleekness. Even my leather jacket doesn't have pockets.

Perhaps this is a quirk of my own, but I never really put anything in my pockets aside from gloves in my winter coat when I am not wearing it. Again, this is in part because having things in my pockets breaks up the line of a garment and causes bulges where I don't want them. Besides, I always carry a purse. I really love how the right bag can make an outfit by adding a pop of color or texture, in addition to holding my keys, wallet, phone, etc, etc. (Phin is rolling his eyes at me right now because I have a fairly sizable bag collection and yet can always find another that I absolutely "need".) I use several different bags every week based on what I'm wearing, where I'm going and how much I'm carrying, from a small wristlet to a large tote. Is this odd?

I have also found that pockets can become droopy with wear and time, especially in knits where they can stretch out. So, sometimes I'll even stitch RTW pockets closed to prevent any drooping - this is especially true of back welt pockets on pants.  

Then again, perhaps my conservative upbringing is to blame for my non-love-affair with pockets. Hands in pockets was corrected the same way slouching was.

So, I have to ask: Pockets yeah or nay? As you can tell, I am biased. But I realize that this is clearly a quirk of my own. I'm wondering if I'm alone in my non-pocket-ness or what I'm possibly missing out on. If you are a pocket "yea" person, what do you put in your pockets?  Do you not like purses? Do tell!

Anyway, have a great weekend, especially if you are celebrating Easter or Passover. Oh and don't forget there's still another day to get in on the Frosting Shots give away. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Couture Cami and "Frosting Shots" Give Away

One of the too many sewing projects that I'm working on at the moment is a couture style cami, with a little guidance from Marina of Frabjous Couture and this very excellent Threads article.

I spent part of last weekend making muslins of a few different patterns that I was considering using. I've decided on the new Vogue lingerie pattern, which includes a cami option.

V8888 - Robe, slip, camisole and panties

I have to say, the pattern fit beautifully with just a little adjustment at the bust and my usual lengthening. I cut the size indicated by my measurements, thinking all the while that I was being incredibly foolish since big 4 patterns typically have an overabundance of ease. But - shockingly - the cami fit.

Anyway, I've been amassing lingerie patterns for a while and now I have both a vintage and a modern favorite slip/cami pattern. This leaves me with an abundance of untouched patterns. So, it's giveaway time!

KwikSew 3726 slip/teddy, McCall's 5989 robe/pj's and McCall's 5651 OOP lingerie
This month's Frosting Diet giveaway is actually frosting and not cake: two lingerie and one pj patterns plus some embellishments - a little lace trim and some fold over elastic. One of my favorite cupcake bakeries in NYC offers "frosting shots", which are exactly what they sound like: a $1 shot of frosting, hold the cake. So, that's what this give away is - a shot of frosting for your wardrobe.

When I leave the house with a beautiful cami, slip or bra and panty set under my clothes, I cannot help but feel like I'm fortified for whatever the day holds. It's my little glamorous, under cover secret. So, why not make it fabulous frosting? No one will know that you are wearing a leopard print cami trimmed with hot pink lace under your very sensible Renfrew, will they? They also won't know about the glamorous pj's and robe you wear while lounging in your boudoir sipping a dirty martini and reading Threads. Or is it just me that does that?

Anyway, on to the fine print: To enter the giveaway just holler "Frosting shots!" in the comments by Midnight EDT Sunday. Also include a way that I can reach you, s'il vous plait! I will mail to wherever you are.

More on my cami project as it evolves!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Awesome (Fledgling) Sewistas!

So, you may remember my first Frosting Diet give away back in January. 

Pattern, Fabric and Book

This week I heard from Jodie K, who won that giveaway, and thought I would share this slice of sewing awesomeness with you.

Jodie is a Food Studies and Fashion Studies teacher at a high school, and the students in her Fashion Studies class are entering a fashion show that is part contest and part fundraiser.  Here she is - wearing a top she made from a portion of the fabric she won! - talking about her students and the contest.

Courtesy of the School's Film Studies Students

First off, kudos to Jodie on the excellent top! I'm so glad the fabric found a more deserving home than mine.

Next, why weren't class projects this awesome when I was in high school?? Seriously!

Here are Jodie's students talking about muslins and fitting and all the things we sewists like to gab about - Cheyanne, Gabby and Bobbie-Joe.  I want to call them Project Runway: The Next Generation. Can you believe they just started learning to sew in February? Their fashion show contest will take place on April 25 - lots of luck Cheyanne, Gabby and Bobbie-Joe!

Anyway, I've decided that I'm having so much fun with giveaways that I'm going to try to make it a monthly event while I continue to sew frosting. Tune in next week for your next chance to win something.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How Do I Make This Top?

I've been a bit obsessed with this top since I saw it.

It's part of BCBG Max Azria's pre-fall 2013 collection. I love how it's delicate, yet aggressive.

Love the plunging sheer neckline!

And now I can't stop thinking about how I would go about making it. This is exactly the way my leather jacket went from a vague notion to an actuality: an idea took root in my brain and grew until I could no longer ignore it.

So, let's talk about sewing this top. I haven't actually seen it in person, which could complicate things. Here are my questions/thoughts:

  • I could easily modify a raglan shirt pattern for it. If you have thoughts on a good one, please holler, since I don't have one in my stash unless it is in a Burda magazine. 
  • More important, what kind of fabrics do you think this top is made of? Is the sheer part chiffon or a light weight netting? Is the solid part a silk charmeuse or china silk? Someone suggested to me that it might be velvet. Edited to add: Check out this BCBG dress. Do you think the top could also be knit?
  • Also, how is it sewn? I'm wondering how the seams where the sheer and opaque meet are sewn and finished so that they don't have any additional bulk or visible stitching or show through at all. Maybe it's a french seam pressed toward the opaque side?  
  •  To me, the neckline looks like it is bound with the same fabric as the opaque parts of the top. But maybe not?
  • What do you think the back looks like? 
Please chime in if you have any thoughts on this one. I feel like it is only a matter of time before I launch headlong into making this top.

In other news, my SM is back from being serviced and is stitching like a dream. Why did I wait so long?  And now that I am home for a few weeks, I'm busy with a number of muslins, which has left me without any interesting show and tell for the moment. But there are a bunch of interesting things in the works. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sewists, Latest Knit Socks and Airports

Anyone who thinks traveling for work is glamorous needs to consider: at this moment I am sitting in the airport in Toronto. I've been here for 5 hours, the first spent standing in line. Flights back to Newark are being cancelled right and left which puts my plans to take the afternoon off to spend with Phin and then take my sister out for a birthday dinner in jeopardy. Airport restrooms are the opposite of glamorous and drinking mediocre airport coffee only increases the need to use them. Beer and wine, too. Plus, flight is very dehydrating (read: increased hangover risk.) I'm not even going to talk about the culinary wasteland of airport food; I am starting to get hungry. At least there is wi-fi.

Travel for work is a trade off.

BUT on the immensely positive side, I had an awesome dinner last night with Kristin of K-line, who is every bit as fun and fierce in person as on her blog. And she was wearing this sweater, which was so pretty in person. I was so excited to meet her that I forgot to take pictures.

So instead, and since Kristin is a recent convert to the joys of hand knit socks, here is my latest pair. I finished them in flight to London.


The lace pattern is Welt from Socks a la Carte. It was very easy and knit up quickly. It actually made me realize that maybe I'm not as slow a knitter as I've always thought.  I just seem to have a talent for picking more and more complicated patterns as my skills have improved. Naturally they take longer to knit up.

My new learning experience for these socks was an eye-of-partridge stitch on the heel. It is supposed to be sturdy and these socks are meant to be worn.

Ooh, they just announced that the plane will arrive here at 1:30 and will turn around quickly.  No further delays expected. Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend and please cross your fingers for my journey home!

*Edited 3/16 - I did make it home yesterday afternoon and out to Bday dinner with my sis.  It's good to be home!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sewing while Not Sewing

March through May always seems to be my busy time of year at work.  I'm back from London and on to Toronto. I love travel, but it's always hard to be away from home and the regular ebb and flow of my creative output. Plus jet lag is detrimental to sewing mojo.

So my question is: What do you do when you have a forced separation from your sewing machine?

The three things I am doing during this travel spell are:

Meeting other sewing bloggers for fabric browsing and sewing chat, which is more fun than I could begin to express.

Image courtesy of Rachel of House of Pinheiro

Taking my sewing machine in for maintenance. Honestly, this is so much easier to do while I'm gone and not at home to pine for it.

Knitting.  The whole reason I took up knitting was because it is transportable.

The beginnings of a knit hippo for Phin

Naturally, I'm also doing a lot of fantasy sewing - planning future projects and stalking patterns and notions on line. 

Anyway, what do you do when you've got sewing on the brain but can't actually sew?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Date Night: Would Cathy Lane Approve??

Or What to Do with Fabric that has Pedigree...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I received a very wonderful gift of fabric from the incomparable Peter of Male Pattern Boldness. And this fabric came with definite pedigree, if a bit uncertain provenance. 

Cathy Lane in her MPB sewn LBD

Apparently, a few years ago Peter found four rolls of black fabric on the street in NY and kept three of them. Some became his very first project for his jet setting twin cousin, Cathy Lane - a little black dress which cemented her place as MPB muse and international woman of fashion. So, when Peter gave me two lengths of silk knit in two different weights from this very same fabric find, I knew I had to make them into something chic. After all, Cathy set the bar high with her LBD.

Cathy shines in retro styles, while my sensibility is more modern. But I knew that this dress had to live up to Cathy's high standards of taste. So, I picked Vogue 1342, a Donna Karan dress with crazy looking pattern pieces. I used the tissue weight silk for the drapey outer layer and the light weight for the lining.

There are no alteration lines on the pattern. So, I had to make an educated guess at where to alter so that I had a little extra room at the hips. There were a few moments that I feared the worst. Would the dress fit? Would it flatter? Or would it be a flop, like my Donna Karan thighs of doom skirt?

Not a flop, I think.

When I modeled the finished dress for Phin, he made the absolute perfect comment: Let's go on a date this week. Just so you understand the magnitude of that compliment, we've been married for 8 years.

Hello, date night!

Unfortunately, the only pictures that Phin snapped while on said date were of me shopping for gourmet treats in Eataly.

A certain amount of chocolate helps fill out this dress...

Anyway, I love how the dress came out and feel tres chic in it. There is just something about silk that feels so very nice on. 

There are some real plusses to this pattern and it's design. One of the problems I had with my thighs of doom DK skirt was that with only one seam and no lining, the drapes collapsed and got droopy if you moved. Also, it was clingy.  But, very cleverly, this pattern has you sew all of the seams invisibly to the lining, so that all the gathers and draping stay where they are supposed to and you've got the smoothing powers of a lining to deal with any clingy problems.

Front gathers

Back gathers/only vertical seam

The fabric was great to work with and I would suggest that anyone making this dress stick to a light weight knit for the outer pieces with something more substantial as lining. There's a lot of gathering involved in this pattern and really bulky seams are a risk if you use a heavier fabric. Because I didn't want to add any bulk whatsoever, I simply serged all the seams.

As I mentioned when I posted about this crazy Donna Karan dress, there is a certain satisfaction in turning a bonkers looking pattern into a dress. I really enjoyed sewing this up, even if there were moments when I wasn't sure that it was going to work or fit. But it did. 

Chic? I think so. I hope Cathy approves! 

Speaking of jet-setting, I'm currently in London for work. I'm meeting up with Rachel of House of Pinheiro on Saturday. Holler if you want in! 

I love date night!

Edited to add: Pattern Review here!