Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Belated Happy Valentine's Day

Note:  I was writing this post last night when my smoke detector started squealing intermittantly in 2 second ear-piercing bursts at random times...10 minures, 8 minutes, 13 minutes, 2 minutes.  After frantic phone calls to Mr. Lucky (retired firefighter but 1200 miles away!) and the help of two neighbors and then three firefighters to examine the whole condo, we removed the first one turned off the breaker switcher for the hard wired system.  Turns out that mine are 19 years old and don't even have battery back up and must need replacing.  One of the fellows, a contractor, says that he routinely replaces his smoke detectors here in Florida every five years just because he worries about dust and humiity damaging them.  We've always regularly replaced our battery powered detectors (smoke and CO)in Maryland but this was something new to consider here.  After calming very nervous dogs, it was well after midnight before I even thought about sleep...or this blog.  But who knew I would spend Valentine's evening with five helpful guys, none of them my husband:-)

Hope love has warmed your heart today.  My morning did not begin very auspiciously but the day has improved remarkably.  Ah well, I'll make this quick and short....which is exactly what this Kwik Sew 3231 skirt is.  
Normally I abhor themed clothes....although I will confess that in the 80s I was wearing those over-sized sweater with glittery ornaments and decorations.  And this bargain Joann's poly is not really drape-y enough for this 8 gore skirt.  But I like the colors and decided to play up the cliche theme with narrow hem serged vertical seams in fushia thread.  The fabric and thread actually made this version have a more angular bottom edge, slightly architectural. Fun skirt to wear while running errands today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Change of Plans

Cone of pain and shame
This past weekend I was wishing that I could speak "dog" and explain that this too shall pass. On Friday morning I took Sam, the 13 year old basenji, to the emergency vet to have his right front paw checked out.  An hour and a half later he came out after having cleaning and soaking and trimming of a torn footpad.  Mr. Lucky had taken him for a long walk, although nothing unusual, on Wednesday evening. Sam came home with a slight limp and I watched him on Thursday in between taking Mr. Lucky to the airport and having a lovely day with a friend sewing up a Kwik Sew skirt that afternoon.  But he was still bothering it with excessive licking and a limp on Friday so off to the vet we went.  Sam's a very aloof, loner, stoic dog, not at all the cuddly type to anyone but me.  None of my friends would miss Sam....and that's probably vice versa on his part.  But my heart just ached for him when I could hear him crying in the vet room.  He cried and whimpered for about 8 hours back home, despite the pain meds they gave him.  Finally around 11pm that night he was willing to put his head down and sleep.  I knew that it would eventually be just fine but it was a tough day for all of us.  Missed coffee with a friend and my monthly movie discussion group but now he's feeling frisky again, as expected.  Yes, there is a sewing point to the story.  Since that partially lost footpad is an open, tender spot, I have to keep it clean and protected.  He gets a salt water soak a few times a day but it can't be bandaged, has to keep air drying.  They suggested that I tie a plastic bag on his paw and leg in order to walk him outside....that worked for about 8 seconds.  So while he cried, I tried to think of a way to protect it and keep him mobile.  Here's my jury rigged version, just a narrow fabric tube tied onto his body with elastic with the plastic bag inside.  I'll have to make a few since it's already getting threadworn in three days but it's as good an idea as I could come up with under the circumstances.  Still don't know what caused the injury and he's not real eager to have me examine it but no more limp or licking so it's back to our regular programming schedule. 

Temps dropped precipitously here in SW Florida so I wore my new Pamela's Pattern Perfect cardigan todaysnapped a promised photo on me  Light and cozy, perfect for this morning's windy weather.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Partial Review of The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting

Definition of PARTIAL
: of or relating to a part rather than the whole : not general or total <a partial solution>
: inclined to favor one party more than the other : biased
: markedly fond of someone or something —used with to <partial to pizza>

I just can't do it.  No, I just can't say a critical word about Sarah Veblen's new fitting book because I cannot be impartial about almost anything Sarah does.  You see, Sarah's fitting class six years ago turned on the lightbulb beacon in my dim sewing brain.  I previously blamed my lack of sewing and fitting success on a not thin enough body or the wrong pattern.  What Sarah taught me was to take a slow, meticulous, detailed process to make a fitted garment specifically for my body.  She didn't start with the traditional sloper with no ease.  Instead she encouraged us to bring a fitted pattern, shirt, dress or jacket, and make our pattern adjustments carefully to end up with a TNT pattern whose style lines we can then adjust as we please for years to come.  
This book is exactly like taking Sarah's class.  It has the same practical but careful process to marking fitting adjustments on your sample garment, transferring those adjustments to the pattern and then making your next sample.  Tedious for an ADD person like me?  Absolutely!  Happy results?  Positively.  So when you're really ready to take the time to pursue good fit, I think this book is a wonderful addition to a sewing library.  No magic fixes, no miraculous three measurements to a perfect garment, just the custom way of putting together a garment which highlights your assets and minimizes your problem zones.  

You can look at it in more detail on Amazon  Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting but here are some of my book shots as well.  Sarah does a wonderful job of continuing where some books leave off....for example, look at the careful way she encourages you to pin changes.  
Do I always do this with the same attention to detail?  No, but I would be this careful if I were creating a fine, special occasion garment now that I see the difference small details make on the finished garment.

I'm also impressed with her instructions on making pattern changes on the actual pattern pieces.  

Finally, she asks that we be kind to ourselves and realistic about fitting results.  As Sarah points out, not only are we not models who represent 1% of the female body type but we also have grown used to photo shopped garments in catalogs and ads.  Our garments won't look like that....because the real ones don't either:-)  Thanks to Sarah's fitting and design help I have a number of tried and true patterns in my repertoire, I know the five or so standard alterations that I'm likely to need with a new pattern and I am willing to tackle new patterns with more confidence and toss those that don't work for me.  So yes, it's a partial review because I'm "markedly fond" of Sarah and her work to help women find the joy in sewing garments again.  I'll let others make a critique.  I just know that after years of classes with various instructors around the US, Sarah's the one of a small minority whose methods worked for me.  I hope you have someone as challenging and inspiring in your sewing life.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Joyous Retreat

I'm still smiling, giggling and basking in the good feelings from last weekend's winter sewing retreat in Winchester, VA.  The Northern Virginia American Sewing Guild chapter sponsors two retreats a year and the hard-working volunteers organized another marvelous gathering.  Same lovely hotel and ballroom,    2011 retreat pics  The George Washington Wyndham, with the most friendly, accommodating staff.   More than 40 creative women in one large, sunny room just sewing, laughing, measuring, giggling, advising, sharing and supporting one another.  I am so fortunate to have found the such a wonderful organization and amazing friends.  
Ok, as for projects, this was also one of my most successful retreats.  I'll be sharing more finished results over the next week or two but I was thrilled to try some new patterns and have them work out wonderfully.  
Versatile Twin Set cardigan from Pamela's Patterns
Here's a quick photo of the latest tried and true pattern.  It's the #108 Versatile Twin Set cardigan, again from Pamela's Patterns.  No picture on me yet but it's another winner from this line of patterns.  Versatile Twin Set  

Speaking of Pamela's Pattern's, here's one of the funniest things that happened as the long retreat weekend started.  I drove from Baltimore to my friend Michele's house in Northern VA so we could drive out to Winchester together.  When she greeted me at the door, we both burst out in hysterical laughter.  I had made the Draped Front Cardigan from Pamela's Patterns last fall and then gifted her with the remaining navy tweed wool knit.  There we stood, two sewers who pride themselves on our unique twist on fashion, wearing the exact same fabric in the exact same pattern.  Totally unintentional but worth the huge laughs and fun start to the weekend.  We considered doing one of the Instyle Magazine Who Wears It Best polls but darn it, I think we both look great:-) 

Since there's so much girlfriend fun happening at a sewing retreat, I've learned to a)  pre-cut my projects before I go  b) make sure to have a surefire, no fail project ready in case I'm disappointed by a new pattern or project.  My reliable sewing project this time was the Jalie Sweetheart Neckline top  sweetheart-top-pattern  Takes about an hour to sew one up although this one is not yet hemmed.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Another TNT jacket is Simplicity 2858.  I'm using a lovely cotton rayon silk tweed blend from Fabric Mart and am doing a fringe at center front and along the sleeve slit.  I block fused the fabric and cut out the pattern pieces single layer so that added extra time to the retreat prep.  I like the results so far but still have about 1/2 of the jacket to fully assemble and also add the lining.  Not a quick project but one that has me excited about the final result.

The retreat good times are not just shared by the participants.  Chef Petey enjoys getting accolades for his food and on the final day puts out a delicious Sunday brunch this time decorated with a vintage sewing machine carved from a block of cheese (he said that last year's butter carving was too difficult since the butter kept softening.)  That's real tomato pincushion with green onion lines and a real strawberry as the traditional emery filled one.  

Last note is mostly a reminder to myself.  This year's retreat was especially enjoyable for me mostly because I attended in a spirit of contentment and healing in my life.  Last year I truly needed to be with friends at a time when I had felt some painful losses and was feeling oddly fearful about the future.  I say oddly because most of those losses or fears did not touch me directly but I was absorbing them nonetheless.  This year I've worked on building some greater inner resilience and made some changes that have brought more positive people into my life.  The 2012 retreat was a celebration of little steps forward and an acknowledgment that every day is precious.  I hope you too have such joys in your life.