Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bound for Artistry in Fashion

Mr. Lucky and I are boarding VirginAmerica tomorrow for a five day trip to CA to visit with his family.  The timing is also perfect to allow me to attend an event I've heard about:  Artistry in Fashion  http://artistryinfashion.com/ put on by Canada College's Fashion Department in Redwood City, CA.  
I eagerly read other blogger's reports in previous years and am thrilled that I'll get to attend.....and I hope meet some virtual sewing friends in the process.
JillyBe's 2011 report   Sham's 2011 report

The vendors look wonderful and I'm delighted to  hear Marsha McClintock, owner of Saf-T-Pockets patterns, speak again....particularly after I enjoyed making her Vest S-Cape in 2011 for our New Zealand trip  Vest S-Cape review

Mr. Lucky and I met 30 years ago in northern CA after my former company had transferred me from Baltimore to the west coast.  I still think it is one of the most beautiful places in the USA and am happy that we have family and friends there to give us opportunities to visit every so often.  This is not a long trip since we have many other things on our plate right now back on the east coast.  But we will make the most of it, seeing family, seeing the beautiful scenery, eating dim sum, and for me, enjoying being among creative, energizing designers and sewing enthusiasts.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hoorah for Style Arc Elle Pants

Professor Higgins: By Jove, I think she's got it!
Style Arc Elle Pants
Yes, I feel like Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady, ready to dance all night in my new Style Arc Elle pants.  I'm even happy enough with the fit to post front and back pictures.  Turn away now if that's too much for you.
Description:  ELLE PANT: This is the pant of the moment, slim line from ankle to waistline. Elastic waist 35mm or 1 ¼ inch wide. These pants sit so beautifully without any bulk, wear them with your high heels out for the night or with your sneakers for brunch.....a must have piece in your ward robe !

Sizes:  6-30  I made mine in a 14.  To give you a comparison, I wear a size 12 in US RTW.

Did it look like the pattern picture on the envelope?  Yes, it's great pull on slim line pant even on the parts of me that aren't so slim line.

Were the directions easy to follow?  They are not very detailed but sewing pants is rather simple, especially pull on ones.  

What did you particularly like or dislike about this pattern?  I've been reading the raves about Style Arc for a year or two now and gave two of their pants patterns a try.  The Linda pant just didn't work for me but this Elle pant was a wonderfully pleasant surprise.  I like that it is a pull on but with a remarkably flat elastic waist, almost a one to one ration with your finished waist measurement.  That means no bulk, just an easy pant to sew and wear.  I like the slim line look which is in fashion right now and can see doing this with short zippers at the ankle.  It's not an inexpensive proposition to order these patterns and a little frustrating that they only come in one size but I think I've found a long term TNT pattern.  I intend to work with my original and make several versions this year.

Fabric used?  I used a stretch woven, almost a micro corduroy for this version.  it's from Fabric Mart and probably has less stretch than recommended so it's snug to pull on but comfy so far to wear.  It's my third muslin and perfectly wearable although future versions will be in darker colors.  I think the light color gives you the best picture of how they fit on me.

Pattern Alterations:  I used a size 14, added four inches to the length, scooped out the back crotch about 3/8" and raised the back 1/2".  Those are pretty standard pants alterations that I make on a Burda pattern as well so although others can make these out of the envelope, I still had to do a few muslins.  In this pair I used 1 1/2" elastic, not the 1 1/4" and found it even more comfortable.

Would you sew it again?  Oh yes, many more versions will be showing up in my wardrobe.  I'm lucky that I have a good collection of stretch wovens in my resource center so you might get tired of seeing these in future posts.

Ok, here are the pictures.

Slim fit even on the not so slim parts of me

Can't believe I'm posting this picture on the internet....but what are sewing friends for...

And now let's make sure you know how I intend to wear these pants.  My usual pants look is a gentle boot cut which I like to think gives me a slight hourglass effect on my rectangular body.  These pants are an entirely different proportion and I think need the larger over smaller look.  I will not wear them with a short jacket or top....too much of the "lollipop look".....big and round on top, narrow stick below.   

Gotta run.  I'm out to visit with a friend for a long walk and late lunch in the gorgeous fall weather that came through with a front last night.  Hope your weekend has been shaping up to be enjoyable and full of pleasant surprises like these pants were for me.


Friday, September 21, 2012

A New-to-Me Fabric....Leather

Leather trim was on so many garments when I was snoop shopping a few weeks ago.  What I noticed the most were the jackets and sweaters which had just a touch of leather, at the shoulders, as seam piping or as an insert or panel.  See:

Jil SanderLeather-Trim Wool Cardigan

Akris PuntoFaux Leather-Trimmed Two-Button Blazer

Yves Saint LaurentLeather-Collar Blazer

Elizabeth and JamesRex Leather-Trimmed Blazer

VinceLeather-Trimmed Coat

But the leather scraps that I have in my stash pile resource center are not supple enough to do fine details like those above.  Thank heavens for the wonderful New York City Fashion District and its enticing emporiums.
Michele and I set out on the second Megabus trip of the year on Wednesday morning.  We had combed the on-line listings to find leather specialists and came up with three:  Global Leathers,   Global Leathers  Leather Impact  Leather Impact  and Leather Suede Skins, Inc. Leather, Suede, Skins, Inc.  How did we decide which one to visit?  We got Yelp.  Yes, we did a Yelp search and the raves about Global Leathers led us to the 9th floor and a veritable treasure trove of colorful leathers.  We were welcomed by the charming Leo Gonzalez who made us feel appreciated and important even though we are just beginning to use leather in our fashion creations. He gave us a quick tour, explained the differences in garment leather versus home dec or purse making leather, showed us the huge selection of colors and then pointed out the scrap bins to get us started.  Since my initial plans are to add leather as accent pieces to future creations, I stayed with the scrap bins and found plenty to kickstart my initial efforts.  But Michele is more ambitious and adventurous than I am so she plunged right in and bought a full skin in a gorgeous purple.  
Scraps of dark burgundy, tan and black
About 3 square feet of the most lusciously soft olive green

I know that Global Leathers will be a new favorite.  I'll keep you up to date on how I use these initial pieces and what I have planned for in the future.  If you are in NYC, it's worth the effort to stop on by.  

Happy to have found Global Leathers
The weather was amazingly beautiful on Wednesday and we walked, walked everywhere.  Our theater excursion for the day was up to Lincoln Center to see:
which won the Tony for Best Play in 2011.  Wonderfully done and treat to see.  Now I'll rent the movie and read the book but think of the puppeteers who made me see real live horses on that stage.  

Last, but not least at all, the quilt top is pieced and ready to give to a friend with a long arm.  She won't get to it until after her quilt guild's show in late October so this is as close as Lucky is going to get to it for now.  
Here's hoping you have a new technique or fabric or idea that makes it exciting for you to be sewing.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Little More, Please

Needs one more row of blocks
Hmmmm, I just discovered another benefit of quilting.  When you decide that it's too short, just piece together another row.  Doesn't work like that when your dress is too short, does it?  Turns out I want 40 squares, not just the 35 in this picture.  So last night while watching Bones I stitched them up and fit them into the plan.

My sweetie sewing friend, Michele, is coming to visit today and we're going to work on some fitting projects here.  I've made up my first version of the famous Style Arc Elle  Style Arc pants pant and have to do some back crotch adjusting.  Not likely to take a lot of pictures of that whole process and I commend the others willing to document pants fitting in such detail.  I don't think I have much to add to the expertise out there but I am so grateful for others who show the way to nicely fitting pants.  If you want to tackle a pants project, then I'd strongly recommend the Palmer Pletsch book  Pants for Real People and the Peggy Sagers webcasts and videos. Silhouette Patterns webcasts

Tomorrow it's another Megabus trip to NYC for the day.  We're focusing on trim visits this time around as well as another Broadway show.  Will share our finds later in the week.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation....and My First Quilt Progress

Yes, I am sewing a quilt.  That fact is a definite surprise to many of my dear sewing friends.  I have tremendous respect for quilters....all those small seams to sew precisely, all those small seams having to meet squarely at some point, all those choices to make regarding color, tone, scale of prints.  Years ago I thought that I would join the quilting world but (after buying more fabric first) I decided it really wasn't for me.  That has stayed true for the past decade.  But then the modern quilt movement began.  Just as I am cleaning out my home and working on a more streamlined, simpler style, the quilting world has a new branch doing the same.  I love the freshness of lots of white or solid color, more geometric designs and a relaxed, improvisational attitude.  This summer I decided to take the plunge and sew my first official quilt. (I don't count my charity rag quilts for the dog shelter...easy way to use up excess flannel and no judegment from grateful puppies)  
Here's the inspiration.  
Lucky the rescue dog needs a quilt if he's going to nap on the new couch.
We bought a new family room sofa last summer from JC Penney and decided no dogs on the couch, unlike the old rule for the 20 year old Ikea sofa.  But you know what?  We like having Lucky the rescue dog cuddle with us....Sam the basenji not being much of a long term cuddler in the evening.  So we amended the rule....you can snuggle on the couch on a towel...well, he doesn't always understand "towel" as you can see above.  For the last year there's been an old beach towel there and now I want a more stylish replacement.
Here's the plan: 

  • Roughly beach towel size quilt
  • Easy beginner design
  • Fun graphic colors
Here's the backing fabric....the wonderful New York City print I found in Amish country in June.  

Here are the 1 1/4" strips for the front.  

The pattern is Pick Up Stix from the June/July 2011 issue of Quilter's Home Magazine   magazine article and was designed and sewn by Ali Winston of asquaredw blog.com

Why is this a good design for new quilters like me?  Well, you start by cutting out 10" squares of a solid background fabric, white in my case.  

Then you randomly add 1 1/4" strips by cutting diagonally and horizontally and stitch them into the square.  The most matching that has to occur is making a strip continue at the correct angle when you add a piece crossing over it.  
Back side of one of my less than perfect squares

Then you take an 8 1/2" square ruler and trim the whole block down to size to sew into the final number of vertical and horizontal rows you want.  
The goal is to make it look "deliberately spontaneous" just like the children's game of pick up sticks all piled on top of one another randomly.   

Here's a better explanation from a much more experienced quilter than I am...he used larger block sizes but same idea Paul's Block Party

I've sewn 35 squares so far and now will trim them and decide if I want to make it any bigger.  Boring at times since I had nothing to try on and get excited about along the way but as one quilting friend assured me, "You know it will fit when you're done."

Now for those promised vacation pictures.  Normally Mr. Lucky and I do not travel during the summer.  We have so many fun things to do here in the Baltimore area that we don"t like to leave and miss any of them.  But this year we took up the invitations from several Florida dogpark friends to visit them in their midwest home towns.  We put 13 1/2 year old Sam the basenji in the kennel since he's not a people friendly visitor, packed up Lucky and set out to drive 1900 miles in nine days.  What a fantastic trip!!
 We set the GPS west for Ohio.  Warm sunny day and thanks to the internet we made our first stop for a late breakfast at the Summit Diner outside of Pittsburgh.  Honey, I did pack my cholesterol medicine, didn't I? 
Continued westward well-fueled and got to Sandusky Point, Ohio in time to take the 4:30 ferry to Put-In- Bay, Ohio, on Small Bass Island in Lake Erie.
 No, we had never heard of this place either (apologies to my midwest USA readers who may be familiar.)  Put-In-Bay info
Terrific family vacation place, low key and relaxing and with great historical importance.  The third tallest US National Monument is on the island and honors both Admiral Perry's victory in the Lake Erie battle with the British but more importantly, the peace treaty of 1815 which resulted in the long-standing peace between the US, England and Canada.  Perry's Monument
Photo by NPS-Jon Wright

Town view from the top of the monument
Our wonderful hostess, June, provided us with convenient island transportation.  Since many visitors take an alternative passenger only high speed ferry, golf carts are readily available and perfect for traveling around a 2 mile by 4 mile island.  Here are the two lucky men in my life and a few more local pictures.

After a few lovely days, we left the island and headed further west.  Lunch with my aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife in Adrian, Michigan then onward to stop for a day and night in South Bend, Indiana.  We toured the Notre Dame campus, (yes, saw "touchdown Jesus in person  view from Notre Dame stadium ) and enjoyed the very interesting Studebaker Museum.  I'm not a car person but I enjoyed the historic perspective and design process of this now defunct line of American cars and Mr. Lucky was totally enthralled.  Women and their sewing machines, guys and their cars, I guess.
After South Bend we headed to our western most destination and another Florida winter friend, this time from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan.  Lucky loved seeing his dogpark pal, Riley, and we fell in love with Milwaukee.  Our friend, Ginny, took us to the terrific Irish Festival downtown.  I was amazed at the size of their festival grounds and the huge number of music venues within....then I realized why their festivals are so popular.  Since Milwaukee is a town founded by brewers, their liquor laws are far more lenient than any we have in Maryland.  Once inside the festival grounds you could purchase wine or beer and drink it anywhere....definitely not how things work at our Baltimore ethnic festivals.  
I sat and watched the building's "wings" move from this....
On Saturday Ginny and Mr. Lucky played golf and I explored more of downtown Milwaukee.  I loved the public parks and beaches lining the lakeside for miles, the downtown riverwalk with its tour boats and rising bridges, the fresh food at Milwaukee Public Market and the stunningly beautiful and dramatic Milwaukee Art Museum. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava who has designed soaring bridges and railway stations around the world.

....to this, and back, in under 10 minutes.

But now the fabricholics reading this will understand what happened next.  It wasn't intentional, I promise. When I drove back to the house that afternoon, I took a little drive further into the small village main street where our friend lives, Elm Grove. I didn't get one block into town before I saw this sign....
Bigsby's Sewing Center, Elm Grove WI
Yes, a fabric store not a mile from her home.  And a lovely fabric store, with Japanese quilting fabrics, wool flet and wool rovings and a terrific independent pattern selection. Bigsby Tour on YouTube Did I tell you that I loved the Milwaukee area?  Since I always want to support a terrific independent fabric store like this one, I just had to buy a piece....and since this trip was dogpark inspired, I bought another piece for the new quilt.

Thanks for sticking through the vacation pics.  Who knew that sewing could crop up even on a trip like this.  Hope your summers were adventurous 
and your sewing is teaching you new tricks as well. 

Morning explorations
Four legged friends enjoying each other's company once again.

Two legged friends doing the same.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

LBD....Little Burgundy Dress

There's been sewing going on in my house and it's about time that I put it down into this record.  I've been avoiding blogging, heaven knows why, but I do like having this diary-like record of my days, weeks and life so it's time to catch up.
Simplicity 2364 as a dress
First up, my LBD....better known as my Little Burgundy Dress.  I've been in love with the Simplicity 2364 top for more than a year now and decided to try it out in a dress.  I love it!  I used burgundy stretch lace (maybe from Jomar) and burgundy slinky...really nice stuff with the rayon in it for great weight and drape.  I've adjusted my photo to better show the contrast.  I had enough fabric so I made a top in the same fabric which will head to Florida with me in November.  Basically I added 20 inches to the top hem area.  Now I have plans for another version in navy.
The rest of August's sewing was productive and  filled with a lot of repeats.  When it's hot and humid or I have other more challenging things on my mind, it's not wise to start a new complicated sewing project.  The pattern adjustments I make need a clear head and August wasn't the right month for that.  But sewing something fun and easy is a great distraction and break from other tasks.  So here' s look at what else got made up last month.
McCalls 6201 dress
Vogue 7823 in Fabric Mart linen
Five Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil Skirts...skirt pattern

One self-drafted silk chiffon poncho

I also enjoy a thoroughly distracting, fun book when I have other more distasteful tasks in my life and here's one that fit the bill.  Loved it, loved it.

USA Today's #1 Hot Fiction Pick for the summer, The Chaperone is a captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and the summer that would change them both.
Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.
For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond--from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers, and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women--Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.

I seem to be on a historic novel kick this summer but have been disappointed by the few others that I have read.  This one was well-written, interesting and rewarding to read.  I had not seen the good reviews on this one, found it at the library by accident and it was a delicious diversion for the last weeks of summer.

Next post, how I spent my summer vacation....and how my first quilt is progressing.  Until then, it's good to be back in the blog world and back to some more "serious" sewing now that fall is in the air.