Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Freak Blizzard in Hell: Clio to Blame! (Finished Tee)

Residents of the Sixth Circle of Hell awoke this morning to freak blizzard-like conditions as unusual weather patterns were recorded throughout many of the circles of Hell. Frost and flurries were reported as far away as the Meadow of Asphodel.

Demons and denizens alike were mystified by the storms until meteorologists unearthed the cause. Apparently, after firmly vowing that she would never ever (not ever, people!) sew a tee shirt, Clio has done just that.

"The Guilty Party"

Outrage from residents is palpable. Sisyphus, a longtime Asphodel resident commented: "How am I supposed to push my boulder up this hill again and again with frost on the ground?!?! The nerve of her! And just look how smug and happy she looks. It's not right."   

In defense of her sewing, Clio issued a statement:
How was I to know that hell would literally freeze over if I sewed a tee shirt?

I'm sure there's a lesson in all this about the road to hell and paving, but I really did start out innocently and with the best of intentions. This was supposed to be a muslin for this BCBG top that I plan to knock off for the holidays.

BCBG MaxAzria

But then I found this Alexander McQueen pima cotton jersey with an awesome tattoo motif  at Elliott Berman and I had left over silk jersey from my V1342 dress to use for the sleeves. So, it just sort of happened that a muslin morphed into a wearable muslin and then a finished designer-esque tee shirt.
Besides, this isn't really your average tee shirt, is it? I mean, it's pretty high end given the materials. So, can you really classify it as a tee? I think not.
Anyway, the pattern (V8670) worked out pretty well. Aside from my usual lengthening above the waist and grading out at the hips, I didn't make many changes. I made the neckline a little wider by sewing a smaller seam allowance at the armscyes, which I won't do in the next version. I also hemmed it shorter than drafted. It's a little too close fitting for the BCBG top, so I'll have to add some ease. But other than that, I'm pretty happy with it and plan to get going on the BCBG version.
Love the motif!

I think that extra ease will make the swayback a non-issue

Sleeve fit out of envelope is pretty great!

Anyway, given the frost in hell, let's agree to call this frosting, shall we? That's my story and I'm sticking to it! And again, I too am shocked by my weather controlling abilities. Who knew? I wonder what would happen if I sewed a Shanel jacket? Hmmm.... interesting...
Outrage remains high among residents as the big dig out begins, calling Clio's explanation "flimsy at best." However, approval for the skull, hearts and knives motifs on the fabric seems to have softened the opinions among demon-kind.


Pattern Review here:  V8670

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments on Saturday's post. Please keep them coming if you have more to say. I love being part of a community that has strong opinions, but embraces differences of opinion. Also, it does us credit that we sing the praises of the businesses that support the thing that we are passionate about. Where would we be without the teachers, pattern makers, fabric stores, notions sellers and everyone else that provides us with the paint and canvas to make our masterpieces? I think that it's an exciting moment to be a sewist - we have so many options and an enthusiastic and supportive community to cheer us on.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dear Self, Don't Tick Off the Indie-fanatics...

Dear Clio,

I thought we should have another little chat. I'm worried. You seem rather irritated lately about indie patterns. And, as your better judgement, I feel like I should talk a little sense into you for our own good, yours and mine.

Look, I know you like to speak your mind, but when it comes to indie patterns that is simply not done. The owners of these companies are sewists who we all feel like we know and want to succeed. They have some kind of blogosphere-sanctioned halos that deflect criticism. Breaking this taboo will not win us any friends and may actually generate hostility.

What? No! We don't want a fight! Why would we want a fight? We're not fighters. Besides, we've barely sewn any indy patterns. What would we even write about? 

My Lady Grey: One of our few Indy makes (Colette Patterns)

Speaking of which, I think it's about time we did the sewing-community-approved thing and try some. After all, in most areas of our life we support small businesses. We should give it a try.

What do you mean unproven? All patterns are a bit of a risk.

Well, yes, this is a more expensive risk, but...

See, that's what I meant about a halo. Reviewers tend to hint at problems or blame themselves rather than being up front the way they would be in critiquing Big 4 patterns. And some who have been honest have received push back in their comments. But we're experienced enough to read between the lines and take a calculated risk, unlike new sewists who don't know better and may think the problem is them.

Yeah, I feel bad for them, too. 

Anyway, back to patterns. Now, I recognize that we tend to have a point of view when it comes to what we sew and wear. I'm not suggesting that we change our style, but there must be some patterns out there that do appeal and that are actually challenging to sew, which we also like. Right?

Oh. That's not nice. There are indie patterns that aren't boxy basics and use darts and seaming to create shape. And not all of them are for girly party dresses.

Now you're just being mean. I think you're just secretly angry because indie pattern designers seem to be ignoring your style niche.

Are, too! Very mean. And scrappy.

Wow. You are such a prima donna! You know, it's really not all about you. There are people out there who like boxy shirts. And pockets. And being pretty pretty princesses. And that's awesome. Some people rock those looks; you've said so yourself!

Exactly! Diversity makes the community richer. 

OK, so how about if I just show you what I've found for us? I promise, they are all interesting patterns and some will challenge us, too. I know how you like that.

Here we go.

Ralph Pink Patterns - They're definitely edgy and not just for an indie pattern company. Seriously, check out their neck corset. In fact, they have an array of corsetry. But for our first pattern from them, I thought this cocoon coat would be the way to go:

What? Don't you wear your coat with lingerie?

It's dramatic and has interesting details. I also liked the bolero jacket and hareem pants and... and... Really, there are any number of patterns that could work in our wardrobe and would be interesting and challenging to sew. 

OK, now that I have your attention, how about the Shane Pleated Top from Named?

Named designs for a taller height, so maybe we won't have to lengthen for once. And just look at the sexy open sides on this top... 

Yeah, I knew you'd like that.  It opens up all kinds of possibilities for the use of fun or lacy under layers... or not. And it really looks luxe, doesn't it?

Anyway, lastly, I think we need the Bombshell Swimsuit.

Yeah, I'm also not really sure if Closet Case Files counts as an indie pattern company, but at the end of the day do we care?

Exactly! The style is awesome and seems to have flattered just about every single sewist who made it last summer, regardless of their skill level and body type. So, it seems like a real winner. We'll make it into a fabulous bikini a la Norma Kamali when this summer rolls around.

Anyway, that's what I found to get us started. Maybe other people will recommend additional patterns for us. But they'll have to keep in mind that I've promised you that you can be honest about what we do and don't like.

This will be fun. Trust me. I'll even do all the taping together of pattern pieces for us if you can find some scotch tape. Deal?? And yes, I agree. We will review any indie patterns we make the same as if they were Big Four or Burda. After all, they are businesses. Honest feedback from consumers will help them improve their products, practices and customer experience. And more good companies competing for our business is good for the whole sewing community.

Clio's Better Judgement

PS -  I'm really proud that you didn't make that snarky comment about Espresso not having any pockets. Maybe I'm having a good influence on you after all.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Finished: Make Way For Ducklings

Finally, I've finished one of my knitting projects!

Ducks in a row

 Aren't they ducky??

Naturally, this Mama Duck and Ducklings is from Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan Anderson. Slowly but surely, I'm knitting my way thru this book. So far, every toy I've made has been thoroughly cute; these are no exception.

This little flock was pretty quick to knit up. I procrastinated sewing them together, but really there was nothing hard about it. I decided that the wings should look like these birdies are flapping, which I think is cute and spunky, particularly on the ducklings. So, I held the wings up when I stitched them on.

Serious cuteness!

I used Knit Picks Swish yarns in Cornmeal and Orange. Since Orange was only used for the beaks, feet and underside of the wings, I had plenty left over to make an odd duck with the colors inverted.

Naturally, the odd duckling is my favorite.

I LOVE this duckling!

Anyway, I'm trying not to get attached to these cuties since they will be gifted just as soon as I finish the baby blanket that I'm knitting to go with this present. It's almost done. I'm hoping to be finished with it before Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Finished: High Waisted Couture Style Skirt! Yaaaayyy!

Here's my couture style high waisted skirt! With the holidays coming, and lots of occasions for dress up, I decided to style it as a day-to-evening outfit for these photos. And I even used props and accessories for the photo shoot. So, you know I'm super excited (!!!!) about how it came out.

For day, I'd wear it with a cropped jacket and boots...

On my commute (prop coffee mug and tote)

I'm just as happy with the fit of this skirt as the original version. Really, for a pencil skirt for me, self drafted is the way to go. As a reminder, I took my original draft, and converted two front darts into princess seams and extended the waist by 4 inches (details here).

Hmm, maybe a final pressing would have been advisable. Oh well.

My original skirt had an extra pair of front darts which, for the pear shaped/those who have a significant difference between their waist and hips, helps prevent distortion over the hips. You couldn't really see the darts in my original wax cloth skirt due to the busy print. However, here you can see that my skirt actually has that extra set of darts next to the princess seams.

Someone needs a haircut. Yikes!

Given that it was an afterthought, I'm really pleased with how the front slit came out.  It didn't occur to me until after I was half done sewing that it would be more fun to move it to the front, but I'm glad I did. It's really rather functional and I love the style.

Front slit

OK, so now you've seen one way I could wear it to the office (really, I have loads of options!). But here's where I decided to change for an evening affair.  A quick change of shoes and accessories plus an up-do transform the outfit for a holiday outing or date... (Pretend it's night time and I'm off to somewhere elegant, like a holiday concert or party.)

I can sit in it!

Here you can see how high the boned waist comes:

I may take some additional photos with a different color top so that you can see the waist a bit better. The corselette is definitely doing it's job. I'm not sure that slouching in this skirt is really an option. 

So, here is my hand-picked zipper. I think I like it. I'm not 100% sure, but that's more because of my imperfect execution rather than anything inherently wrong with hand picked zippers. It's supposed to create a little dome/spine where the fabric meets at the zipper, which it does. This is supposed to relax after a few wearings so that it lays flat. We shall see! 

Hand picked zipper

 I think that's all there is to tell about the outside of the skirt....

Date night!

So now, for those of you who like to see all the inner workings, here are some of the inside details...

Waist stay
I added a grosgrain waist stay to anchor the skirt and bones to my waist. The only thing I didn't think of was that I would be tucking a top into the skirt most likely. But there is enough wiggle room for it to go under the stay, anyway.

Waist stay and hanging loop

Above you can see that I tacked the stay in to all the seams and darts, making sure to go thru to the corselette, but not to the outside. Also, I added silk ribbon as hanging loops. When I'm wearing the skirt, they lay flat along the inside of the waist. But when I hang it: 

Hung up inside out.

Here's the lining, which I finished with narrow hem lace. 

Lining at the hem

And underneath, here is the hem and seams. I finished the hem with hem lace and I left the seams raw and catch stitched down with red thread for fun. 

Finished details

Lastly, here is the slit from the inside. At first, I just attached the lining with it's beautiful lace edge with a thread chain at the hem. But during the photo shoot it kept peeking out. So, I'm going to slip or fell stitch it in place before I wear it out.

I don't really think that there is much else that I would have done differently. I had several hold-ups making this skirt because of my travels and schedule, but it came together very quickly in terms of hours spent on it. Working with my custom skirt pattern definitely helped. Also, for the amount of work that I wanted to do, I think I picked the right blend of couture and regular sewing techniques. The beautiful fabrics that I was working with - textured wool suiting from Beckenstein and leopard organza from Paron - kept me motivated and behaved beautifully at every step.

Ready for the holidays!

So that's it! I think my skirt is classic, but sexy and I feel like I've made it my own with all the beautiful details. And now I plan to wear it non-stop for all of the holiday functions that I have coming up. Woot! And I have a few tops in the works, so expect to see it in a supporting role in future projects.

All posts about my skirts can be found under the label Pimp My Skirt

Monday, November 11, 2013

My First Treadle (Thanks, Claudine!)

If you didn't know that I was in the market for a treadle sewing machine, you're in good company. It wasn't until Saturday morning - when I received an email from the ever amazing Claudine saying there was a beautiful one at a charity shop in my neck of the woods for just $50 - that I knew it myself.

Lucky for me, opportunity favors those who have a father-in-law with a station wagon. Two hours later, I was the giddy owner of this beauty...

Queen!!!! How perfect is that?

The Queen's Cabinet

Look at all the attachments! Plus a bobbin of a later era.

I've already looked at Treadle On, ISMACS and some other forums and websites to see if I could learn more about this machine. I'm learning all about treadles! At one point, I called Husqvarna Viking on the suspicion that the machine might have been produced by White for Sears Roebuck. No luck. They had a treadle with the same serial number dating to 1876, but since the throat plate clearly says Patented June 29, 1897 it can't be that machine.

It needs a new belt and, um, bobbins. But the moving parts seem to be working freely and pretty smoothly. Anyone know where to buy bobbins circa 1897? Oy. More on this new machine when I start to figure it out... 

PS - Despite many attempts at procrastination throughout the weekend (including but not limited to baking blondies, going on a run, baking chocolate chip cookies, catching up on the blogosphere, going on another run, making stuffed shells, buying a treadle, and researching it's origins and how to clean it) I did finish my skirt. The ducklings are starting to look more ducky, too. Now let's see how long it takes to photograph everything...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

PR Day Celebration: Little Black Awesomesauce!

Words to live by if you are a NY'er or Emmanuelle Alt

Pattern Review's Little Black Dress party at Elliott Berman Textiles was awesome! If you didn't attend, well, you missed out. Really.

The blogosphere glitterati were out in full force, looking immensely chic in their LBDs.

Carolyn, moi and Deepika

I even met the mythic Sharon. You know Sharon. TailorChick Sharon. Right! That Sharon. The one that taught Gertie. She's not a blogosphere myth, people! She's real and in about 8 seconds she analyzed my figure and fitting issues to a tee. Oh, and she asked if I had given any thought to corsets. I have. So, naturally, I woke up this morning thinking of corsets. Oy vay.  This is how an obsession begins.

Oh! And there were contests and prizes, courtesy of Elliott Berman!

Oh boy, oh boy! Silk for meeeee!!! 
(Edited to add that the far left and right are DKNY  97% silk 3% lycra Crepe de Chine)

Can you tell that a great time was had by all?  Happy Birthday, PR!!!

More pics on FB - Elliott Berman or Deepika or Pattern Review's pages

And now I am off to the Craft Lounge after a long morning of puttering, feeling much more inspired.  Happy sewing, peeps!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lots of Stitching; Nothing to Show for It

I'm just back from yet another business trip. I haven't been idle, but I feel like I have nothing to show for all my work since I have 4 nearly finished projects rather than any one completed thing. And I'm in a complete disarray as far as what to do next. Here's a quick tour of my frustrations.

First, I am nearly done with my skirt. Really, I'm just a shrinking number of fell stitches away from finished. Oh, and if you are not familiar with the fell stitch, here's a Threads tutorial on it. In the past, I've used a slip (or blind) stitch for hand sewing the lining to the zipper tape. But  I decided that it was time for me to up my game and use what the couture pros do. I think there's more fell stitching in my future. So, no time like the present to work on my technique.

Still. Not. Done. Grumble. Grumble.

The other three projects are all knit gifts.

1+1/2 Tardis socks. Garrrrr!

First, knee high TARDIS victory socks for my sister Erato who ran the New York City Marathon on Sunday - her first marathon! Definitely a sock-worthy event, if only my knitting was as fast as her running!

85% of CrissCross Applesauce Baby BlanketAaarg!

Next, I'm knitting a baby blanket for dear friends who just had their first child.  And to go with the blanket, I'm almost finished with a mama duck and some ducklings.

Duck parts. Bah!
Seriously, the ducks are all knit, I just have to sew the wings, feet and beaks on and give this little flock some faces.

Anyway, I'm irritated and distracted because I don't know which I want to work on first. So, I've been skipping back and forth without finishing any of them and annoying myself in the process.  I think part of my problem is that I don't really know what I want to sew or knit next, so I'm kind of stalling for time. I'm buried under an avalanche of ideas (really awesome good ones!) and my first free (non-working) weekend in three weeks is rapidly approaching and I'm finding myself sort of paralyzed. Also, I'm exhausted from travel and haven't really settled back into life at home yet.

Do you ever get in a rut like this?  How do you snap yourself out of it. I'm thinking that I should finish the ducklings and skirt this weekend and that my next sewing project after the skirt is done should be easy or quick, to get me back into my groove. What do you think?