Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slight Change in Plans

I was going to do a frankenpattern version of this wonderful Simplicity 3678 but really disliked the initial result.  Wrapping extra folds of fabric around the narrowest part of my body by adding the waist tie from the McCalls pattern...why did I think that would be a good look for me?  Rather than accenting a womanly curve it merely added bulk to my mid-section.  I only basted in the wrap piece so quickly removed it and sewed up there two additional versions of Simplicity 3678 to wear here in Florida.  I fell in love with it last summer while making several versions to wear in Maryland version 2, my favorite  version 3   and now I have two grab and go flattering dresses in the condo closet.   

No photos of me in the dress (Mr. Lucky is out of town until Monday) but I merely look 6 months older than in the previous pictures.  The only slight variation is that the polka dot version has a straight 3/4 inch sleeve and the print version is more boho in flavor so I kept the bell shaped sleeves on that one.  I wish the wrap idea had panned out but the theme here is know your body, know what looks good and don't try to be someone else.  Since this dress style is flattering on me I do think my next version of this dress will be to do a FBA on the alternate scoop neck style from this pattern and give that one a try.  

Now it's time to get projects ready for nest week's 3 day sewing retreat.  I usually overpack projects but I like knowing that I have alternatives for any part of the sewing day and night.  This year, hmmmm, I think I might give a try for the Tabula Rasa jacket with some pieced sheer fabrics and serger seams, work on embellishing another pencil skirt with some silk dupioni flowers, do a muslin for another sheath dress, this time with shoulder princess seams and also try the Pamela's Pattern's cardigan in a sweater knit.  Cutting and packing ahead of me but I'm so looking forward to another great visit.  Hope you have something you are looking forward to with anticipation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Sewing Goals and Dreams

Today is a good day to put my sewing goals for the new year out into the universe.  My personal new year seems to feel more real around the US Labor Day weekend when summer vacations end, school starts and the weather has an early, cool autumn tinge.  But I do love the ancient earth-centered celebrations of the return of the light and longer days, even when I live closer to the equator nowadays.  And today, of course, is the day to honor and remember a most courageous and visionary person, Martin Luther King, who lived his dreams and goals each day.  So here are my humble sewing ambitions for the upcoming year.  As I write them down for the worldwide public, I'm more inclined to be realistic and honest about what I'm willing to take on in 2012.

1.  I'm going to make the time to learn how to use my two mechanical machines.  I have a beautiful Singer Rocketeer in Maryland and a Necchi Supernova here in Florda but I let both of them sit while I sew on my Vikings regularly.  My Quilt Designer One is due to go in to get the bobbin winder repaired and I'd be more willing to drop it off if I knew that I could sit down and start sewing on my mechanical alternative.  But first I have to re-oil and become more familiar with these machines.  This is the year I'm going to do that.

2.  I'm going to focus on sewing extensively from my "resource center" while also re-evaluating fabrics that are there.  Last week I gave  away a collection of lovely, drape-y fabrics that I had intended to sew up as Louise Cutting One Seam pants.  But guess what?  I've made about 8 pairs of those lovely pants, nicely fitting and can count on one hand how often I've worn them.  Since I have a pair of brown, black and navy ones in my closet, I've given away the others and have no need to make more.  Better to sew up fabric as mock ups, sell it or give it away than keep it around for someday.

3.  I'm going to get caught up on my Patternreview reviews.  It's not like the world is breathlessly waiting for me to write down my opinions about a particular pattern....probably a  year or two after it's OOP anyway.  But I do feel a commitment to keep Patternreview stocked with opinions from all levels and ages of experience.  I'm slow at the process and get frustrated sometimes by my picture posting but it's a good discipline for me.

4.  Re-design my blog.  Another computer-related goal and again one that will take me more time than I want to give but I'll be satisfied with the outcome.  After all, Lucky the rescue dog has lived with us for more than year now and he's not even mentioned or pictured in my profile....and that's the world's loss:-)  I've started taking notes about what I like about the design elements of others' blogs.  Some of these things I can probably figure out on my own but other parts may mean I have to hire a blog designer to make my desired changes.  Anyone ever use a blog designer?  Any advice?

By now you're wondering what about sewing goals, Jane?  Ok, here are the few commitments I'm willing to make.

5.  Pants.  Yup, I'm going to work on some pants patterns this year.  I don't need trousers but casual jeans like pants and exercise pants.  I can usually buy RTW that's good enough but I'm willing to give pants a go this year and see what I can come up with.  

Lafayette 148
6.  A dressy blouse project.  I don't wear woven shirts very frequently, mostly knits or jackets and sleeveless shells.  But I do own a few upscale blouses that I enjoy wearing and I'd like to get a pattern tweaked for a similar look.  

7.  Home Dec.  I have a large project to work on here in Florida....a comforter with piping, pillow shams and bedskirt.  I'm finally agreeing to get this off my mental to do list.  It's a lot of fabric to manage, lots of measuring and committing to the final design picture ....but it needs to be done so I can cross it off that list. 

I'm working on different projects for the next two weeks but I'm glad that I've put these down on paper today.  Thanks to you, my dear readers, I'm more likely to tackle these goals and share my experiences. Here's to a good year ahead for all of us.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sew or Read?

Are you ever caught between two wonderful choices?  It's a cool, cloudy day here in SW Florida, the dogs are tired out from running at the dogpark, errands and some cleaning are done, hooray, I have sewing room time available.  But I've been quite busy for the last three days and have not been keeping up on my blog reading.  I so enjoy seeing what you are creating, what your thought process is for a project....or perhaps for the year ahead.  I could use up daylight time just reading and smiling at your wonderful entries.  But no, I will contain my excitement and get back to my current project.  
This dress is going to be a combination of Simplicity 3678 but with straight sleeves from my Simplicity 2364 top sleeves and the wrap from McCalls 5974, truly a frankenpattern in the works.  If I focus my attention on sewing it will be done before the snoring dogs awaken and have to go out for a walk.  Off the computer, onto my sewing machines....

Hope your day is filled with multiple good things as well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Small Minority

Better on the dress form than on me
I knew it when I bought the pattern last summer.  I knew it even as I was cutting out the fabric....this isn't going to work for your body...said the little voice in my head.  I knew it as I quickly stitched up a sample version.  Ughhh, this is so not me.  Sometimes I hate it when I'm right.  

I'm part of the small minority of lovely seamstresses who look awful in the Vogue 1250 dress.  As a matter of fact, in all the pictures I've seen, I think I'm a minority of one!  I am a remarkably short waisted gal for my height and my high hip starts an inch or so below my waist.  My first (and only version) of this dress is very long waisted on me so that the cowl seems to be sitting on my front tummy fluff and the back seam rests on my high hip puffiness....never a flattering look.  Combined with my dramatically sloping shoulders, just not going to work.  (Wish I could transplant the straight shoulders on my dressform.)  Ah well, every so often we have to enjoy crazy flights of fancy.  I wanted to join the Vogue 1250 club but it's not worth the pattern alteration effort to make this turn into something mediocre at best.  On the other hand, there's always a sewing lesson somewhere.  It is giving me a good impetus to work on a deep cowl knit dress pattern. Burda spring 2012 preview cowl top (and dress)  This one would be a much better starting point for me.  And I do love a KS cowl top that could easily become a dress in the future.  
Onward to the next project, one that doesn't have me hearing that little nagging voice in my head.  Have you ever heard that voice telling you to beware even as you kept on sewing?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Small Repurposing Project

Ah, the rush and excitement of the holiday season is over and I am getting back into my sewing room and next sewing projects.  Thank you, everyone, for stopping to read my end of the year review and especially your comments.  I'm not yet ready to publicly commit to my sewing goals for the year but I am mulling over some ideas, inspired by the many other goals and resolutions I read in blogland.  
In the meantime here's a small repurposing project that I did just before Christmas.  I have this collection of gossamer thin, beautifully embroidered hankies.  
Hankies drying

Many of them are probably my mother's and grandmother's but I can't tell you any more detailed provenance than that.  Years ago I thought I would be turning these into garment know, during the Laura Ashley flower-y period.  That really wasn't the most flattering look for me then and by now I'd look more like Miss Haversham covered in doilies.  

So what to do with them?  I did a long, cleaning soak for all of them and then decided to use them as cocktail napkins.  We do casual entertaining with wine and appetizers and these former handkerchiefs are sturdy and just the right size.  I kept the all white ones as napkins 

and will take the printed ones to my sewing retreat later this month as giveaways to my more creative friends.  
So excitied about this upcoming event.  But what to bring for projects?

I'm also cutting out some TNT knit tops and dresses to keep in my project drawer.  I read more than one book at a time and can sew more than one project at a time.      I don't advise this as an approach for everyone but it seems that my scattered brain likes to take a break from a challenging project and create something new and easy before tackling the next steps.  

I've also been reading and after-Christmas sale shopping.  Santa brought me a Kindle Fire and I'm in love with it.  I have two entirely different library books on it right now and enjoy the convenience of selecting which one I want to read any given evening. 
Speaking of books, I have two more that I enjoyed immensely during the last month.  Both were recommended to me and I'm glad I took the advice of friends since I found both of them entertaining and full of some thoughtful ideas as well.  They're not new books and even the Amazon reviews are divided but they worked for me.
Yes, I might be the last person on the planet to read this one but I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the first two sections.  However, the last "love" section is sort of like looking at someone's vacation slides.  Mildly interesting but not as exciting as it was for the actual trip takers.  So too with love affairs.  They are much better as stories for the lovers than for the observers.  

This last one I listened to while bike riding and walking and also thoroughly enjoyed.  I was a little anxious about it when I first heard the title several years ago.  As more and more of us are wont to say these days, "I'm not religious but I am spiritual."  But I have tremendous respect for my truly humble, religious friends (and contempt for those who use religion for control and power) so I didn't want to read some snarky take on religious believers, ala Bill Maher's "Religulous."  But this book was charming, a little educational and self-deprecating.  
I think the conclusion from both these choices is to listen to friends who have similar viewpoints and your book choices won't go too far wrong.  Hey, that's probably true for most other areas as well.