Friday, October 28, 2011

Reruns are Good

Bonus fat quarter
First of all, thank you for your kind comments on my new ironing board cover.  Texan, you wanted to know the source of that fabric and trust me, I tried to remember, too.  I could recall that it was an online purchase and checked my Ebay account but no luck whatsoever.  Thought I was losing my memory for good.  Then I did my afternoon walk yesterday, in the rain, and eureka!  I had the first letter right...E...tsy.  Yes, it was my first and only Etsy purchase, from Grandmasfabrics  grandmasfabrics  Gorgeous selection and they even threw in this adorable fat quarter which I'm going to use for a quilted camera case in the future. 

I've done some small sewing projects in the last week or two, in between the yet-to-be finally installed curtain project, repeats of previous garments.  I loved my black and fuchsia lace skirt  Lace Skirt and Missoni sweater  so much that it will go to Florida with me in November but I wanted one to stay here in Baltimore.  

lightened so you can see the charmeuse lining
This one is lined with a stretch silk charmeuse from Fabric Mart which perfectly coordinates with this RTW cotton lycra blouse by Finley Finley Shirts  which I bought at a clearance sale at Dillards two years ago.  This is a brand which I am not familiar with, not surprising since I shop retail so much more infrequently now that I am retired.  But I'm not even sure they are still in business.  Too bad if they are not.  Another American made apparel company that can't make it against those cheap imports.   These more subdued colors fit Baltimore a bit more as well where light is subdued by trees and rolling hills while Florida has the stark bright sunshine that can definitely handle brighter colors.  

Second re-run was a pair of silk chiffon ruched scarves, one for me, one for a gift.  OK, I've used up this technique for a while and am ready to move onto something new.  But there are plenty more of those pencil skirts in my future.  
 I'll really show my age and say that I used to hate rerun season on television back when there were only three networks to watch.  Now we joke that we have a DVR to record shows we'd like to see...but if we don't have the time this eek, what makes think next week will be any different?  Pattern reruns however work just fine for me.

Lastly, a book recommendation.  I mentioned earlier the retail apparel business.  My only direct retail experience was spent the summer after I graduated working at a local dress shop in my hometown.  Very congenial, very local older customer vibe.  Boring but it was a paycheck until I got my teaching job and moved out of state at the end of the summer.  Caitlin Kelly's experience is absolutely nothing like mine.  She lost her reporting job at the New York Daily News, when reporters around the country were being let go in droves.  (Don't get me started on the awful decline in the once proud Baltimore Sun or the terrible state of journalism in America.)   She needs an income and starts, at age 50, working for The North Face at  a new store in a chic NYC suburb.  I definitely enjoyed reading this book since I have several friends who have had similar recent life experiences.  According to her statistics, 90% of our purchases at still ones in person and yet we basically only get to interact with the lowest paid, most disposable (100% employee turnover each year) employees while corporations, even in this recession, bring in billions in sales.  This is definitely not an expose nor did Caitlin Kelly have to survive on her wages, which makes reading Nickled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenrich a stronger, richer more disturbing alternative.  But one of the less obvious themes here, one that I have personally experienced, is the loss of identity and financial anxiety when you do lose a lucrative and personally challenging job.  I lost my favorite job when my employer of 11 1/2 years was purchased and the headquarters transferred to Texas in 1990.  I wasn't willing to move to San Antonio and so I ended up on unemployment for 8 months.  I  did, however, work part time for about 6 or 8 hours each week which gave me a reason to get up, get dressed and kept my job search in high gear.  Those part time wages were applied against my unemployment which was fine with me since it ended up extending my benefits to 8 months, just exactly how long it took me to find my next full time job.  Whether it's part time work or even a volunteer position, I think there's a lot to be said for showing up and getting a job done for keeping your mind active and involved.  I think that's much of what those 2 1/2 retail years did for Caitlin Kelly.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Taking The Measure of Things

I love this pink plastic measuring tape.  Not because I necessarily like my measurements with it  Unlike some mirrors which have flattering, distorted "lean" reflections, this measuring tape doesn't lie to me.   What I do love about it is that I can't pick up a wrong end.  Both ends of this measuring tape have a 1" start point so no matter which end you grab, you're at 1".  Yes, it's the simple things in life that make me happy:-) 

When I saw this beautiful Japanese cotton fabric I just had to have it for my sewing room.  I wanted a new ironing board cover and this pink black graphic design appealed to me.  The pattern is an old Butterick pattern,  OOP 5506, on top of an old Ikea wool blanket.  The Japanese cottons have such a lovely smooth texture, perfect for ironing.  Now I'm hoarding the remaining fabric from my two yard piece to decide what other fabric accessories I need in my sewing space.  

It feels good to be in my sewing room today.  I've had an active social life this past week which is a delight....but I also love my alone and creative time.  

This past weekend was my hometown visit.  Five of us got together for a cheeseburger on Friday night then seven of us met for lunch followed by a trip to the local candy/ ice cream store in town for the last five diehards.  Lots of time talking about our common past years together and also where we are today.  Retirement, moves, grown children, new grandchildren, jobs or loss of jobs, health, and much care for one another.  I even had the unexpected pleasure of running into a former neighbor who still lives two houses away from my childhood home.  She's been in the same house for 52 years and filled me in on decades of history in about 20 minutes.  What a hoot and what a memory!  Hope you have some long time friends in your life to remind you of your past antics.  New friends are wonderful but old friends are special and fewer each year.  Thank goodness I get to see some of mine annually.

Ending the day at the counter for ice cream

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halfway There

Gwen, you said it well: Hanging drapes is no picnic either.  Yesterday Mr. Lucky got the rods installed and I clipped the swags up so I could get a first look at these new window toppers.  So far, ok....although I will fuss with those folds a bit.   But the jabots require a separate installation involving L brackets, several 4" square pieces of wood and four drapery pins.   I went out for the drapery pins last night and had to wait behind 15(!) people in line at Joann's.  Forgot, this is the crazy Halloween season.  That and a coupon sale meant retail madness.  
Half of the Pate-Meadows Catherine Valance
Too late to do the installation work last night and it's not going to happen today either.  I'm packing to head up to my hometown in northern NJ for another annual overnight with about a dozen or more of my 8th grade classmates.   I like to wear something I've sewn recently but there's a sudden deep chill in the air.  I think the best I can do is wear one of the Pamela's Patterns draped cardigans tonight and my Simplicity 2364 top tomorrow.  My recent much loved lace skirt is a little to much for a burger at the high school hangout or lunch at a local pizza place tomorrow.  Ah well, that's exactly why I'm usually sewing sportier, more casual clothes for these type of social events.
Hope your weekend is as sweet and enjoyable as mine promises to be. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crafting Something New

I need to get my blogging and sewing mojo back up and running but I've been having too much fun visiting with friends, enjoying the autumn weather and visiting our fabulous new local dog park.  The living room curtains are fully sewn but I still have to tie up the pleats and then get Mr. Lucky to install the rod and the curtains.  I hope it's just an afternoon's project.  In the meantime, here's my first Pinterest completed project....but not even a sewing one.  So move on to your next blog if crafting bores you, you won't hurt my feelings.  
It's an easy peasy Dollar Store project which could be embellished for any season of the year.  My original "pin" with the directions: original blogger's idea

Now my version: 

 The only changes I made was to use sticky floral "stick-um" to hold the glass candles steady inside the vase (so I could rplace them when they burn out) and glass glue to hold the vase on the candlestick.   I don't have night pictures but they looked lovely on our dining room table when we were entertaining on Saturday.
Materials and steps:

Now for a big giggle for those of you that stayed through this post.  This past summer we purchased a new car....ughh, awful process but love the new Subaru Outback and expect to drive it for at least the next 10 or 12 years.  One of the dealer's selling points was free oil changes for the life of the car....hey, great that's an ongoing savings.  Another selling point, free manicures for the life of the car...huh?  yup, you read that correctly.  Stop by anytime for a free manicure...for the girl or guy driving that Subaru.  Do they figure it's an unused offer because they figure most Subaru owners are too busy off-roading through mountain passes to stop by for a manicure....or perhaps we're such rough and ready outdoor types that we are more likely to need a manicure than say a BMW driver?  Anyway, yesterday I stopped by on my way home from afternoon tea with a long time girlfriend and got my first Subaru manicure.

Lovely young lady has a small station set up in the service waiting area and did a very nice job.  I was especially tickled because just this year I had decided to stop getting my acrylic nails filled after 20 years.  My nails have finally grown out after that weak awful stage so the free manicure thing is kinda cool.  But it's definitely the first time I ever heard of this sort of car sales benefit.  Do they do this in your neck of the woods?

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Final Curtain

Oh, I can only hope that these might be my final curtains but that's probably not likely.   Home dec sewing is certainly easier without the fitting challenges on a female body but also tiring because of cutting and handling large pieces of fabric.
I'm using this pattern from   Pate-Meadows Showhouse Designs  to make living room swags from the same fabric as last year's dining room panels.  Yes, it takes me that long to take on another big home dec sewing project.   I say "big" because these are definitely "couture" sways and jabots.  These patterns are not inexpensive but they have detailed directions for achieving the end end decorator look.  
I'm only making them for two windows but have to cut out "face fabric" then lining  then underlining (flannel) then jabot lining.  All on my living room floor since the rolls of fabric are too big to manage on my cutting table.  Here are the cutting directions for one window's worth:

No trim on my swags since I'm going for a cleaner more contemporary look although my house is a 60 year old rather traditional one.  Next post I'll include fabric and pics of each section.  After water aerobics this morning it's off to the dungeon workroom....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank You

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for envisioning a way for the least geeky person the planet, me, to share a passionate hobby with others around the world.  Thanks for envisioning a device so simple and intuitive that even I could figure out how to use it....without really having to understand how all the technology works.  I'm typing this on my MacBook, the laptop that my truly geeky brother recommended I buy because my real interests are rather simple,  researching and reading online and connecting with others through email, I-chat and blogging.  I'm a middle-aged woman whose life has been enriched by the drive and passion of this man.  What an amazing life.  I wish for a world where more people have the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams and visions, great and small.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lace Skirt and Missoni Madness

Pamela's Patterns Pencil Skirt
Yes, I am totally hooked on this new pencil skirt look that I discovered this summer.  I can't stop making them.  I've had this lace version of Pamela's Patterns Pencil Skirt in my mind since I took the class in May.  This is a beautiful stretch lace with two shaped borders.  The lining is a stretch silk charmeuse, both fabrics I believe came from Fabric Mart.  So why make it now?  Well, the sweater was the final kick in the you know what to get me to sew this project.
Target missoni sweater
Two weeks ago Target released their Missoni limited edition clothing and home furnishings line.  I had seen the ads and knew it would be popular but wow, I'm out of the loop on just how outrageously popular.  Turns out people were online waiting to order in the early morning hours, only to see items sell out in minutes.  I have a local store nearby and did saunter over about 1pm that first afternoon.  The store was stripped.  Now mind you, I don't live in the most fashion forward part of the world, either.  While I was there I heard a young gal speaking to the stock clerk who described the mayhem at 8am that morning, with people grabbing items from his cart before he could get to the right dept. and others taking the entire rack of an item and piling it into their carts.  Yes, many of these ended up on Ebay within minutes, at three times the price.  I was stunned and disappointed.  I had come in hoping to buy this one sweater or maybe a throw to make my own sweater jacket but all I could see were some poly overblouses on the racks.  But really, what's the fuss?  Even if you sell an item on ebay, it's not an original Missoni fabric....and the design is still specific to Target, after all.  I mean, nothing against Target, I love Target, but it's not a unique boutique.  So I went home, empty handed, a little disappointed and certainly surprised by the uproar.  
How did I get hold of this one?  Last week, on the way to the gym,  I went into Target for some innocuous puchase in housewares.  I walked in the front door and first saw a COPs table set up right in front of the Women's fashion section.  In my part of town there are several neighborhood COPs groups....Citizens on Patrol....and Mr. Lucky and I have even been part of ours.  It's community patrolling of the neighborhood for about an hour a month, noting anything suspicious and calling the local police to investigate.  No vigilante justice, just extra alert eyes.  Our neighbors were robbed in midday last year and someone noticed a car parked about block away with someone just sitting there and called the police.  Police investigated and while the perps in the house got away, the items they had collected to take away were left behind.  Anyway, long story to say here in Target was an older woman staffing this local community table.....and right behind her was this lone sweater in my size, the exact sweater I had been hoping for 10 days earlier.  I laughed out loud since it looked like she was proecting it from more Missoni marauders.  I scooped it up immediately.   No idea if it was returned or found somewhere else hidden in other racks but it was my lucky day.
Wish you could see how nicely the lace and lining look
Since I loved the hot fuschia, purple and chartreuse green with black color scheme I knew I had to pull out this lace and make one of the two skirts I had planned.  I folded up the hem on the pattern pieces and cut the skirt with the botom of the scallop at hem length.  I cut the lining with the hem folded up as well and then hemmed it another inch.  I trimmed the seams and the darts down to 1/4 inch but did not serge the seams since the stretch lace will not ravel.  Quite happy with how it turned out and Mr. Lucky's eyes lit up when he saw the outfit, always a good sign.  He snapped this pic last week before we went away overnight to celebrate our anniversary.  When we went to the theater Saturday night I ended up wearing it with a black cami and dark hose since it was a chilly, rainy weekend, much like our wedding day 24 years ago.  But it was a fun weekend of dim sum Chinese brunch, a little museum-ing, a new funny play, "The Heir Apparent," and a 10k Volksmarch at Fort Belvoir's Octoberfest.   24 years married, 29 years together and I'm happy to admit that I'm a much better wife today than when he married me.  I've learned a lot about myself, the difficulties I cause myself sometimes and the power of healing through friends, family, prayer, service and nature.  

Jalie Winner!

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Congrats, Gwen, and thank you to everyone who entered the blogaversary drawing and reads my little postings here.   Who knew I could have so much fun with people I've never met;-)