Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Able to Breathe and Blog Again

Yesterday the sun was sunnier and the trees and skies were brighter, all because my friend Cathy's son and his friend were rescued from Glacier National Park on Monday.  It was am emotionally frightening four days and I'm not even a parent, just a friend who hates to see a dear friend suffer. The terror of a missing child must be the hardest pain there is.  I am humbled by the amount of anguish present at any moment in the world.  But this story had a happy outcome and I feel lighter and freer just to know that one potentially tragic story ended so well.  
As I get older I'm so much more aware of the pain and suffering in life, with no rhyme or reason, and all that I do know is that we are in this together.  You too probably have pain and suffering in your life but I hope you too have joys and celebrations along the way.  And their experience is certainly a reminder to be prepared in life for bumps in the road as well as in your sewing projects.  Glacier National Park Missing Hikers Were Well Prepared
That tension and anxiety kept me from writing a word on this blog but now I will catch you up on what sewing I did get done last week.  I was so inspired by Sandra Betzina earlier in the week that I packed my sewing machine when we had a short trip, just to make sure I could fit in sewing time.
I finished a lace skirt (yes, another Pamela's Pattern's Magic Pencil Skirt) with Fabric Mart fabric 
and also two more pairs of Style Arc Elle pants.  
Stretch lace and stretch silk charmeuse lining

The navy ones had the least amount of stretch so I added 1/4" to the side seams and replaced the waistband with some stretchier poly lycra lining and they go on much more smoothly.  Navy fabric is another Fabric Mart find and the stretch poly charmeuse is from
The second pair is a very thin, stretchy corduroy in a raisin color, also from Fabric Mart.  Plenty of stretch in this one so no need for any adjustments.  
(Aside:Don't pants look awful hanging on a hanger?)

While I was waiting to hear more news about Neal and Jason I spent a lot of time cutting out a supply of easy to sew projects....more pencil skirts, pants, a new Vogue knit pattern and a jacket.  I don't trust myself to sew or try a complicated pattern when I'm that distracted.  It's nice to have a supply of easy projects to grab and enjoy in an hour or two.  Next I'm working on a few jackets and tops to go with the new skinny pants.  It's a new silhouette for me so I have to reconsider the length and proportion of tops and jackets.  But that's a lot easier to do now that my mind is more at ease.  
Here's hoping that you have a good outcome for anything that is troubling you these days....or at least know that you have friends and family who will be there for you, no matter what happens.

A happier, sunnier day, inside and out

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sweater Save

Cool, crisp autumn days are here once more and it's time for my closet change and closet update.  Put away the sleeveless summer items and pull out the cozy winter woolens and Polarfleece garments.  The cooler weather is energizing although I miss the extra sunshine already.  One of the benefits of this annual change is that I do get to re-examine clothing items and can easily discard something that I was hanging onto last year only to discover that I never or seldom wore it.  I'm not even sentimental about garments I've sewn since I have TNT patterns and some fitting skills that can give me new clothes at a fraction of what RTW would cost me.  
Refashioned RTW sweater

These two sweaters are my attempts to save what are otherwise non-wearables in my closet from last year.
I tried to "fancy up" this Ann Taylor RTW sweater one time already but never wore the finished product.  The bottom ribbing was simply too tight across my widest body part.  Here's how I proceeded:
  • gently cut the ribbing off the bottom, keeping it stable on my cutting table until I moved it to the serger.  I serged the bottom with 1.3 differential feed so it wouldn't stretch and then made a 3/4 hem.  Already I like the new length.
  • auditioned some tweedy fabrics in my resource center to become fringed edging on the front opening and the little pockets.  The first one was too flat and shiny and didn't bloom nicely on the bias.  The second fabric was a thin, pebbly texture with blues, greys and blacks, perfect against the black sweater and for wearing with jeans.  
  • cut 1 1/2" strips in enough length for a doubled fringe.  I pinned it in place, hand basted and then used a narrow zig zag, 3.5 stitch length and sewed it in two narrow rows down the center.   Used a toothbrush to rough up the bias edges and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.
Bottom ribbing removed
Hem basted in place
Grosgrain button strip removed
First fabric idea....too flat
Second fabric choice, much better "tweediness" and softer edges
Bias strips on garment front and inside edges

The second"save" is one about the garment color, not the style or shape.  I love these Draped Front Cardigans from Pamela's Patterns but I seldom wear this one.  That beige peach color makes me resemble a large cadaver when I wear it.  Again, some tweedy fabric in my stash.  First question was which weedy bias trim to use?  I was definitely drawn to the more tone on tone one but my ASG neighborhood sewing group seemed to favor the darker strips as did Mr. Lucky.  Ok, you folks win.  I did the same two layer process and now have a sweater to wear with a dark brown top and brown jeans.  And if it turns out I still seldom wear it, then it will go into the donation pile next year this time.

Still very tone on tone 

Greater contrast
 Here's hoping you have some friends whose opinions you trust and who can positively influence you.  Thanks dear sewing pals.  Even when we don't agree, it's always a fun discussion.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sandra Betzina Trunk Show

Who taught you to sew?  My mother gave it her best shot with me many decades ago but as a rebellious teenager I wasn't a very good student.  My home ec teacher tried a year or two later and had about the same low success rate.  I learned to operate a sewing machine and could make basic items of clothes which looked just fine on me because I was young and looked just fine at that age anyway.  But this woman, Sandra Betzina, taught me to sew and love sewing.  
Sandra Betzina with Cathy and Jane
For almost twenty years now I've watched her former TV show on HGTV, bought each of her books, been to numerous sewing expos and local stores to hear her speak and do her trunk show. Last night was just another enjoyable and energizing time with Sandra.  My friend Cathy and I signed up for her Baltimore trunk show, held at the local sewing lounge, The Sassy Sewer, close to my home. Sassy Sewer Baltimore, Maryland  Sandra had been in the area for the Chantilly, VA sewing expo but since I didn't attend that event, I was thrilled to see her three hour presentation locally.  
What did I learn at the trunk show?  Well, for one I learned that there were several patterns of hers that I have totally ignored based upon the pattern pic and line drawings.  I am not attracted to dropped shoulders, for instance but when I tried on her versions of these three patterns, even though I had initial hesitations, I really liked how they looked.
Vogue 1262

Vogue 1319
Vogue 1243
I put them immediately on my must buy list.  The slightly pegged hemline of #1319 and that horizontal upper chest seam take this coat from boring "bog coat" to snappy sort of retro.  #1262 was wonderfully flattering with that sleeve armscye treatment doing a wonderful job or removing excess fabric that usually occurs in my front upper arm joint on jackets and coats.  #1243 looked baggy and oversized in the line drawings but lively sewn up in multi-ply silks.  
Vogue 1036
I already own many other patterns but haven't done anything with most of them....yet.  Trying this denim jacket on in person convinced me to pull it out and move it up on my queue.
Vogue 1036
Here's Dan putting away many of the garments after the presentation.  As you can tell, a lot of work and a lot of wonderfully creative garments made up in luscious fabrics that got me excited about fall and winter sewing.  

As a bonus for attending, Sandra made a special offer to all her attendees....and to anyone reading this blog post.  Here's a subscription offer for acess to all of the past web tv shows (more than one hundred) and this year's new 26 web tv episodes from Power Sewing Webtv archive show list and descriptions, all for the reduced price of $60 per year.  You'll have to call, not email, to get this offer : 415-876-2434

Can't wait to pull out some Vogue Today's fit patterns and get to work.  Hope you have something in t=your sewing space that has you happy with anticipation.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Artistry in Fashion 2012 Report

Sunshine, smiles, creativity, inspiration, and a new purse and scarf, those are just some of the things that I found at Cañada College at last Saturday's Artistry in Fashion day.  My sister-in-law, who's a wonderful seamstress herself, and I met up there and enjoyed the vendors, the designer fashion and styling show as well as Marsha McClintock's delightful trunk show.  Here are some of the pics and a quick review of the long day we spent there.  
The college itself is on the top of a hill and overlooks the beautiful green hills across the valley....whose name I have forgotten but whose beauty always soothes me.
The open courtyard provides space for the clothing, accessory and jewelry designers and also a showcase amphitheatre.
My first purchase came from the talented Lenore Española from Lenore Collection Lenore Collection who designs these terrific bags with recycled paper.  
My "green" bag back home in Baltimore
woven recycled paper 

Here's hoping this enthusiastic designer continues her green and practical designs.
Mary Lou Rankin and lovely Park Bench Design garments
I've been attending sewing expos for almost twenty years now and it was a surprise and treat to see a familiar face from that circuit, which has diminished over time.  Mary Lou Rankin owns Park Bench Patterns which have a relaxed fit and allow for tremendous creativity in fabric choices and combinations.  Since the fashion trends seem to be swinging that way for tops and jackets, I think there will be new interest in these patterns again. Her fabric choices and color selections were simply beautiful.  I probably like them so much because she and I have similar fair skinned coloring and I was awash in an inkwell of black in other fashion booths.

Since I sew for myself I'm always forgetting that people actually buy clothes, not patterns or fabric at these affairs.  Thank goodness for these designers and design students that most of Americans don't sew, right?

I did see plenty of people buying buttons and beads for any number of craft project ideas.  Me, I've stopped buying buttons "on spec" although they are tempting, just like little jewels of their own.
After a few hours of shopping we got to sit and watch the designers showcase.  Rhonda Chaney, who heads the design program at the college, has been someone I've admired for years.  I watched her do a fantastic trunk show presentation at the American Sewing Guild national convention in Birmingham more than 10 years ago.  She was remarkably creative in her clothing, fabric and pattern choices but also the most organized, thorough and helpful of any sewing instructor in her presentation.  I'm sure her students and colleagues benefit from all those skills.  
Rhonda Chaney introducing the designers' fashion show
After a quick nibble we went indoors for the highlight of the day, a Saf-T-Pockets Saf-T-Pockets Patterns fashion show narrated by owner Marsha McClintock.  I took many pictures but most of them are too blurry to post so check out her site gallery for more details (Note to student models...stop and let us see the details.)  Here's about the best I could do:

Marsha herself
Marla Kazell wearing the Circle Jacket at the Saf-T-pockets booth
After the fashion show, Marsha gave a bonus demo in the fashion design classrooms where students had their garments and projects on display.  Such talent and enthusiasm!  
Student works on display
I finished the day by making another purchase, inspired by Jill's post about Harlequin Feltworks .  Jenne's scarves caught my eye and the hard part was deciding which one to buy.  

The one I chose had the green's and blues of the CA sky and coast line and lovely golds which remind me of the aspens I spied blanketing the west's mountains as we flew back to Baltimore the next morning.  So glad we could have time with family and I could enjoy these artisans.  Here's hoping you have people in your creative life who inspire and motivate you.

Oh, if you're every in the SFO airport area, here's a terrific little place that we found in Millbrae:
Our last delicious CA meal