Monday, May 30, 2011

Ten Years of Sewing Notes and Records

In May, 2001, I was inspired by a discussion by Robbie Fanning, editor and delightful writer of The Creative Machine Newsletter, to start keeping written records of my sewing projects.  Now this is the antithesis of my chosen personality style...often described as "ready, shoot, aim" or "I'd rather apologize than ask permission" or perhaps I'm just undisciplined and unfocused:-)  All those things still being true 10 years later, this was a great decision.  Here are my notebooks....yes, undisciplined, chaotic and disorganized but a heck of an improvement over trying to keep all these notes and ideas in my head.  

These notebooks are my own personal Patternreview (which in my mind was an outgrowth of those online Creative Machine forum discussions.)  Now that we can so easily take pictures, post reviews, keep a blog, these notebooks might seem a little outdated, perhaps like a picture of a rotary phone.  But like a rotary phone, they still work.  

I like seeing the progress I've made.  Sometimes it's in my choice of patterns....those first entries are full of Sewing Workshop patterns which were interesting to sew but which I seldom wore.   It also is a record of weight loss that I was undertaking at the same time...early in those years I worked slowly through a spiritual program to lose 25+ lbs and for the first time in my life  have stopped struggling and have maintained that loss for nine years.  And of course it is a terrific record of how my fitting skills and fabric choices have both improved.   Lots of early disappointments because I didn't want to sew with my "good fabric" which already meant that the garment outcome would be limited.   Getting fitted with a new bra about half way through those years led me to the recognition that I needed a FBA, not just more body circumference.  Even though I am blogging now, I still like to post small fabric samples and a few notes in these booklets as well as do some creative doodling.    

How do you keep track of your sewing projects?

design sketches before cutting or sewing

First projects, 2001
most recent entry last week
Hope all my USA friends are enjoying a wonderful memorial day holiday.  Our church service yesterday featured two members who spoke about deploying to and from Afghanistan in recent years and their spirtitual and emotional preparations for entering a combat zone.  Thank you to them and all who serve and who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

New York Knits, Snoop Shopping and a Book Club Selection

Still no finished pictures of me wearing one of the four Simplicity tops I made recently but here are pics of the fabrics I bought in NYC, all at Metro Textile.  I had only planned to buy maybe two prints, but Kashi was nice enough to open the store on a Saturday so I ended up with six of them.  The first five are ITY knits, $6 a yard and four of them will be tops and one a dress.  The last one is a rayon knit at $10 a yard and that on will be a top as well.   He has a wonderful selection so try not to miss Metro if you are in NY.

 future top

future top

my favorite....wish I had gotten more

future top

future dress

rayon knit

The bus trip from Virginia went smoothly (thank you, Debbie), the weather was so cooperative and NYC was full of people having a lovely day.  Sewing Guild members who experienced the fashion district for the first time were as overwhelmed as I was years ago.  It definitely helps to have specific projects and swatches with you since the selection of trims and buttons is just endless.  I get to visit NYC a few times a year so I went empty handed on this trip, having learned not to just collect those items for the future.  I only spent a few hours in the area before heading to see a play.  I had hopped off the bus not far from the Times Square TKTs half price ticket booth.  Stood in line for about 15 minutes and got tickets to see Dan Laurino and Judith Light (I love her!) in Lombardi which it turns out was closing this weekend.  It was an interesting story about the rise of Vince Lombardi as the powerhouse coach of the previously perennial loser Green Bay Packers team.  Since is set in the mid '60s there are themes that we see played out today in extreme:  players unions and salaries,  the media hype and spin, celebrity and its challenges.  Not being an avid football fan nor sports historian, I was unfamiliar with some of the players at the time and the controversies around them so it made me want to understand more about Vince Lombardi and how the business of football was changing.

After the show I had time to snoop shop for about an hour in Bergdorf Goodman.  It was a busy, busy day in the shoe salon but I was free to wander the designer collections looking at construction details and drooling over fabrics without too many salespeople hovering.  Since I am on a summer sheath dress kick I was immediately drawn to this  Michael Kors dress.  It was a wonderful, heavy lace with only silk organza as an underling and bound neckline and simple is that! I have several pieces of lace and eyelet that I would like to sew this summer so I was on the lookout for ideas like this.  Here's another for combining ribbon and yarns woven into  fabric to create texture and a whole new look.  Marc Jacobs did it with crocheted yardage but it would work just as nicely with that eyelet I have.  Marc Jacobs jacket  (thanks for pointing this one out, Michele)

On 5th Avenue I saw lots of women, young and not so young, wearing long dresses as casual day wear.  Now I will readily admit that I had an outfit back in the '70s exactly like this one in Bergdorf's window:

But once again, for me to try this look again would not be a good thing....definitely a taste of "mutton dressed as lamb."  I can see the long dress at home for entertaining, or lovely at the beach or resort, but as daily wear it looks cumbersome and not particularly flattering, IMNSHO.   As a matter of fact, if you look strictly at the clothed silhouette of this look, it bears a remarkable resemblance to a burka-like garment whose purpose is to fully clothe a woman's body, after all, not reveal its outline or form.   I did see terrific designer details and embellishment ideas that I hope to incorporate on projects this summer.  Once more, so many ideas, just have to make the time to work them out.

For something entirely different I'm trying out a new book club tonight.  Our county library system is absolutely fantastic.  They were early pioneers decades ago of popularizing libraries by focusing not on the breadth of their collection but on the volume of transactions.  It was very controversial at the time but the library's leadership wanted to stock dozens of copies of the latest Danielle Steele or Tom Clancy novels because that's what the vast majority of people were buying and reading.  That's a different approach from the standard library concept of collecting one of everything that is published in case someone somewhere wants to borrow a copy.  Since we do have a county system, not a township municipality, the former system can work and also accommodate more specialized needs through inter branch borrowing.  Long story to say that we have large, vibrant well supported libraries throughout our county.  Tonight I'm heading to one of those branches to meet and discuss Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  I've never read any of her previous novels and might try some others based on this experience. However I would agree with one Amazon reviewer who said I liked it more than I didn't like it but I would hesitate to strongly recommend it.  But just like with sewing projects i love hearing what others think about a book so will enjoy the evening no matter what.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New York and the Rapturous Sewing Guild Trip

A busload of sewing guild girlfriends,  an afternoon matinee, fabric shopping, eating drinking and that's the rapture I have planned for tomorrow.  Yes, I'm eagerly anticipating a terrific visit with my northern creative friends.  But I'm going to seriously restrict my purchases and stay on my current fabric diet.  Besides, I grew up outside on NYC and there's nothing prettier than a spring or early summer day in NYC.  I worked two summers,  1970 and 1971, as a tour guide at the World Trade Center construction site.  "Building Stewardesses" Sonic Memorial link   (See if you can pick me out in the picture.)  The New York economy was awful during the '70s but I was young, optimistic and thrilled to have this fantastic job.  On my off hours of I spent time exploring Manhattan and all the free, fun things to do.   I still love it the same way today.  People watching, a wonderful Broadway show, great ethnic food and the buzz of a metropolis.  Yup, I'm definitely a suburban girl and love these city trips.  So I may not come home on Saturday night with bags or boxes of fabric, but I'll still be walking on air....and walking on tired feet.

Daily deluges and thunderstorms have kept me indoors most of this week.   I've sewn up three Simplicity 2364 tops while trying to decide what to make for my next two jacket projects.  That means I've been looking closely at my humongous northern fabric collection and while I can find plenty of fabric in NYC that I WANT I certainly won't find any that I NEED.  The only "need" I have was just fulfilled with a Fabric Mart email this morning.   Now that I have a summer sheath dress pattern pretty well tweaked, I would like some more stretch linings and what do you know, Fabric Mart has a collection of stretch poly charmeuses for $1.99 a yard.  I normally would never use poly for a lining since I hate the heat and "sweatiness" of it.  But I think for a sleeveless sheath it will be just fine.  And I love how a lined sheath feels.  Of course, I might break my fabric diet when I see some of the knits at Metro.  Kashi always gets me with those.  And in the interest of supporting the economy and small business.....oh, you know the rest of that story.
Simplicity 2364 in rayon silk knit
In Vera Lang brown knit from Fabric Mart

The rainy days have come with frequent night and daytime thunder and lightening storms.  Personally, I love being inside on a rainy day.  Makes me appreciate my home, shelter and the eventual sunshine.  Sam the basenji has never been bothered by storms or fireworks, always a very stoic dog.  Lucky the rescue dog is definitely different.  He's huddled next to me or under furniture each  time the storms started, not really trembling but not happy about the conditions.   Guess we're fortunate that he's not like some dogs who truly go beserk with those weather patterns.

Happy weekend, everyone!
How Sam repsonds to thunderstorms
How Lucky responds to thunderstorms

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sewing Weather Arrives and Brings Simplicity 2364

Simplicity 2364
Hooray for rain today in Maryland.  I speak as a gardener and as someone eager to have an excuse to be sewing.  I got back from my wonderful Texas whirlwind visit on Sunday evening.  No fabric shopping (I left that to the wonderful Chicago PR weekend participants) but lots of great sights, lovely people and delicious food.   And, yes, Audrey, I too have been upgraded on flights just because I was polite and nicely dressed....but not this hectic flying weekend!  Packed planes, long lines....what were they giving away at airports this weekend?
The Oasis overlooking Lake Traverse
My brother and I saw the sights of Austin over a two day visit.  Spectacular views from Mount Bonnell and The Oasis, a riot of fun on 6th Street at Esther's Follies and great canoing weather at Zilker Park and Gardens.  Couldn't ask for a better time.

Zilker Gardens

Great food and history...where Janis Joplin debuted

Now that I'm home,  Mr. Lucky has left on his golf excursion to South Carolina with a bunch of fellow fire dept. retirees and I'm holding down the fort with the two dogs.  I should be weeding and planting but the nice rainy weather means that I get to do some sewing instead.  Yesterday  I did a muslin of Simplicity #2365 and today just sewed up the "real" one and have another on the cutting table.  I tried a similar Sandra Betzina Vogue version a few years ago but never  was happy with the result, way too big in the shoulders and chest area.  This one I really like.

Sorry for the hanger pic.  I have yet to find a place to take timer pics of myself so this will have to do until Mr. Lucky returns.   Everyone wil be happy to see him back here since one of the dogs must have eaten someone else's food while at the kennel.  Yup, upset tummy and a two time workout for the terrific Royal carpet cleaner that we bought years ago, thanks to a PR recommendation.   So I have a few more interruptions each day and evening just making sure that we all get outside before any more inside accidents.  Later this week, the garden.  Until then, another top!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Simplicity 3678, Great Comfortable Knit Dress

I have not been a dress person for a few decades but watching terrific sewists around the globe sew up wonderfully flattering dresses is convincing me to reconsider my fashion plan.   This one was easy to sew and I'm pleased with the result.  
Simplicity 3678 has several neckline variations and I liked the crossover View B the most.  I'm not a fan of jumpers since I try to avoid another layer on my body if at all possible.  When I first purchased the pattern I made it up as a knit top and decided then to remove the gathers from the back lower section.  I got several compliments when wearing it but hadn't taken the time to try the dress version.  I sewed a size 14 through the neck and bodice area, with a FBA...mildly tedious to do on those three pleats.  After the bodice area I tapered out to a 16 for the bottom skirt.

I used lightweight knit interfacing on the bodice band since it seemed too flimsy on my short top.  I folded out the gathered section on the bottom back.  I do need extra high hip space but the gathers front and back were too round.  This dress is from a nice medium weight poly rayon lycra from Fabric Mart.  It's super comfy although there is some clingy to my body fluff in the back.  The short top version doesn't do this since it's a nice heavyweight slinky knit.

Speaking of slinky knit, this would be a wonderful slinky knit travel dress that is casual yet can be accessorized.   I've seen versions of this dress in those Travelsmith and other travel clothing catalogs.  I did not do the sleeve gathering in the upper arm area on this version but will definitely add that detail with another one.  Ok, off to catch my flight.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend wherever you are in the world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last Minute Travel Sewing

Guess where I'm going tomorrow?  Yes, I'm flying to Houston to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Texas.   Haven't been there in forever although Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio were a big part of my traveling career days.  It's a quick four day visit so most likely no fabric shopping....which is fine with Mr. Lucky and my storage space.   I decided to make myself extra nuts and try to sew a new dress to wear for traveling.   I'm the generation that still remembers when taking a plane flight meant you dressed up in your Sunday it looks like late Sunday morning PJs is the attire du jour.   It's Simplicity 3678 and I'm really liking the look and feel of this one.

I have plenty of other things on the agenda that must get done today (pack, dig and bring plants for neighborhood plant sale, attend theater performance tonight)  but I would love to squeeze in finishing this dress.  Maybe you'll see a finished picture soon!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jacket #4, JAM and M&S Schmalberg Flowers

Happy Mother's Day!  It's a gorgeous spring day in Maryland, perfect for wearing my new jacket and bringing flowers from the yard to our Flower Communion service at my Unitarian Universalist church this morning.   The stitch and flip jacket technique that I used on this jacket worked out quite nicely.  It's fully lined but since the lining is treated almost like an underlining, it makes for a comfortable, almost sweater-like jacket.  I've used this technique on other jackets in recent years and can't rave enough about how well it works.  There are some limitations but overall it's the best way for me to wear a lined jacket but live in a warm climate almost year round.  Yes, it's a repeat pattern, Simplicity 3884, now officially a TNT pattern since this is my second version.

As for the flower pin I'm wearing, that came from a fun NYC garment district visit to M&S Schmalberg who use old wooden "stencil" molds to create custom flowers for designers and individuals.   WSJ article on M&S Schmalberg  It's actually a rather reasonable expense to have them custom make flowers from your own fabric.  If I were planing a wedding or special anniversary outfit, I would definitely look into having them create custom coordinated flowers....imagine a small corsage of bridal lace as a sentimental way to keep your wedding dress lace as an everyday accessory.

For those of you super curious, here's the inside of the stitch and flip jacket...after a full day's wearing.  A little wrinkled but uber comfy:
Hope it's been a good day for you, wherever you live.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vintage Vogue Pattern Winners!

Thank you, ladies, for your entries and comments.  I'm thrilled to have these patterns find their way to new homes.   And I promise never to ask if you ever used them for anything other than reading material.

Our winners:

Heidi  I'll be sending you #2026

KID, MD I'll be mailing both #2984 and #1947 to you

and RiAnge I'll be sending you #1407 and #2785

Please email me   Janem1960 at gmail dot com  with your mailing addresses and I'll send them out on Monday.

It's wonderful to be in Maryland for sunny, spring days.  I have a lot of gardening and weeding to do in the next few weeks.   But today I'm committing to finishing my latest jacket before my head hits the pillow tonight.  Just needed to put that promise out into the universe.

Here's hoping your weekend is a great one also.  Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there in the sewing blog world.  My mother taught me to sew when I was in 7th grade and I learned very reluctantly.  She would be so surprised and I hope gratified to see that once again she was right about what was good for me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vintage Vogue Dress Pattern Giveaway and New McCalls Dress

vintage Vogue giveaway patterns  Please take a moment to look at these vintage Vogue patterns I'm giving away and add a comment explaining which one you would like.   Even if you don't want to sew the particular dress, there are some great designer details in these patterns.

McCall's 6201
Speaking of dresses, this is my latest version of McCalls 6201.  I lowered the front neckline curve 1 1/2" and like the open neck much more.   What a loud, fun print!  It's leftover cotton lycra which may have come from Walmart, from a project about 6 years ago. It is a very stretchy woven stretchy that I didn't even need to put a zipper in this dress.  I didn't have any stretch lining fabric on hand so it's unlined.  Probably will only last a season or two, but it's a versatile, easy summer look.  I'm starting to understand why so many sewers like summer dresses.   It was the perfect project to make in the last days before we cleaned, packed and said good bye to our FL condo for the summer season.    
Now we're spending several days on the road north, stopping to visit friends and family on the way.  Today we're at my cousin's condo on the SC beach, a wonderful day of clear, sunny skies and delightful breezes.   Pretty fantastic to have family in such a beautiful place.  But I'm already itching to get into my northern sewing space and finish my stitch and flip jacket.  It's all done except for the button, buttonhole and hemming.   12 hours on the road tomorrow and back in Maryland!