Monday, April 30, 2012

So Cool

What's so cool?  I'm certainly not very cool but KC, of The Sewcratic Method you are.  Thank you for bestowing The Liebster   award on me a few weeks ago.  In the midst of packing and driving north I hadn't yet acknowledged this honor nor responded appropriately.  
Terms:  thank the Liebster Blog presenter....the very kind KC!
Post the Liebster Blog award.  There it is.  
Pass the award along to five other blogger with fewer than 200 followers.
Well, here's where I'm going to fail.  It pains me to pick only five when there are so many creative bloggers who write and post just for the joy of sharing in this wonderful community.  So I'd like to challenge anyone reading this post to check out unfamiliar names on my blog roll and on the blog rolls of others.  Read some unknown bloggers' posts this week and then send them a comment on it.  We all love encouragement and a friendly face across the internet.  I'm committing to finding five new-to-me blogs and sharing my appreciation.  What about you?

Draped Front Cardigan
What else is cooL?  Well, the weather up north is decidedly cooler than we had been experiencing all winter in Florida.  No complaints on my part since I find chilly weather more energizing when I have projects on my to do list....and boy oh boy do I have a project list.  Right now our major focus is cleaning out flower beds and giving the garden a good start.  
On the sewing front I am grateful to the cool weather for inspiring me to pull out some wool jersey in a luscious turquise teal color and make another Draped Front Cardigan from Pamela's Patterns.  This delightful "third layer" fits my casual, sportswear style and is the right length to wear with the straighter leg jeans that are currently fashionable.  Now I'm going to add some tone on tone embellishing to give it some more style than just a simple cardigan.  Of course, there's a warm front moving in this week which will probably coincide with my finishing that embellishing.  C'est la vie.
Auditioning some embellishing ideas
Cool nights meant that I cozied up with my Kindle Fire and finished a wonderful book that I so enjoyed...Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs.  I kept highlighting beautifully written paragraphs that captured the questions of what shapes us as individuals, the struggles of a small upstate New York town economy over the decades and the wonderfully contradictory but very real emotions of the three main characters.  Is it a perfect book?  No, I quibbled with the ending which seemed a little overblown and too tidy but no matter, I loved reading this one and highly recommend it.

Looking remarkably good after almost 500 miles! 
It's spring here in Maryland, a beautiful time of year and before we even arrived at our front door we stopped to visit Baltimore's beautiful Sherwood Gardens.  There are 80,000 new tulips planted each year in this lovely park located in a Baltimore neighborhood of grand old homes.  We missed the major tulip display since the mild winter meant they bloomed much earlier than normal but the remaining ones and the gorgeous azalaes were still impressive.  
Baltimore is a city with plenty of problems and challenges but just like the small town in Bridge of Sighs it is full of people trying to figure out their own place in the world while caring for their families, friends and neighbors.  It's nice to be here and part of that for the next five months.

Mostly unpacked and put away for the next five months

Monday, April 23, 2012

Packing Up My Cares and.... Sewing Supplies

It's our last day here in SWFL until mid-autumn and we're scurrying around like the proverbial headless chickens.  My sewing and blogging mojo has disappeared in the last two weeks as we've been enjoying the lovely weather and charming friends.  As always, it's hard to say goodbye but we're also eager to get on the road for our next six months of adventure.  So the freezer and refrigerator are empty, laundry is finishing up and we're seeing what we can squeeze into the car and roof top carrier.  (I can't resist the political comment....unlike the Romneys, our dogs will travel inside the car, not on top of it:-)
It's never easy to decide what patterns go back and forth.  Considering how much I love my dozen or so tried and true patterns, it's funny that I have to have so many untried ones ready just in case the urge strikes me.  
Several unfinished projects also make the trip north:

Pencil skirt that needs silk flower embellishing
A generous sewing friend taught bead weaving this month at our monthly sewing get together.  I have lost the pics of her gorgeous bracelet but here's the initial collection of beads that I started to gather for two bracelets of my a crystal based bracelet and one with green/gold tones.  Packed.
And of course I couldn't resist the pattern sale at Joann's last weekend so these three patterns are heading up north....wonder if I'll even touch them in the next six months?  I wouldn't put any big money on the bet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Just Couldn't Stop....

There are several intriguing projects in my sewing room but I just couldn't stop sewing this Vogue 7717 pattern. Here's the latest one, my Doris Day version. I added rick rack from my stash along the shoulder seam and around the neckline....rick rack seems to '60s in my memories.  I must have been influenced by last week's Turner Classic Movie nightly tribute to Doris Day films. I've always loved her singing, most likely because one of my very early childhood memories is being at a drive-in with my parents and brother. He and I were in our PJs and I'm sure I dozed off during the big screen showing of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" but I recall waking to hear Doris singing Que Sera, Sera. Loved it then and still love it today. A fun more innocent time in my life but I have no desire to turn the US or the world back to the '60s and their own unique problems.

I wore it last night to my delightful book group meeting which was filled with wine, good food and engaging conversations.

Here are the directions for the fabric flower on my shoulder:

cut five 4" squares of fabric
fold wrong sides together and baste along two of the edges
pull the basting stitches tightly together to form five curved petals

Stitch the five petals onto a firm backing fabric scrap.

Add embellishment and sew to garment or add a pin back.

Index card and painter's tape
And my sewing machine is back in full working order.  Last month I packed it up for the local neighborhood sewing group meeting and proceeded to lose the bobbin cover in transit.  I had to figure a way to Tim Gunn it (Make it work, people...) so here's my solution.  

This past week the part came in and we're all tidy once again.....and I'll be super careful next time I transport my baby anywhere. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vogue 7717, A New Favorite

Thank goodness for stockpiling patterns.  Vogue 7717 has been in my collection for years and I'm finally giving it a try....and I love it.  It's a delight to have a lightweight woven top that is easy to sew, easy to wear but has some subtle style too it.  But here's a pattern with only two pieces and I still had to make 2 mock up versions before I was happy with the result.  
Vogue 7717

The original pattern calls for a bias cut front and back piece.  The bias front looked fine on me but the bias back just pooled and flopped on my narrow upper back and high hip.  I tried a center back seam on version two with the bias going down the middle of each piece.  Slight improvement but still not nice.  The third version worked out just fine.  I simply ignored the bias entirely and cut it on the regular straight of grain.  Skims my body with no pouching or ripples so I'm satisfied.  Once again, this just proves that sewing your own clothes lets you tweak the design and fit for your particular body...and the value of making a mock up.
I did lengthen both pieces two inches and from there it's just a matter of selecting fabric, the neck edge finish technique and desired sleeve length.   

I'll put sew some velcro on the shoulder seam because my scoliosis shoulder is very prominent from the back and needs a small shoulder pad to balance me visually.

This is a lightweight brown linen (Fabric Mart, of course) with self-fabric bias beck finish.  Some people are annoyed by linen's wrinkles but I don't mind them a bit.  I think this one has a simple Eileen Fisher look to it.  The front piece has that shaped front that the back does not.  I might make a matching back curve on one of the future versions....and then again, I might not.  

The second version is from a linen rayon blend with embroidery.  I think it is from Fabric Mart also but it could be a long ago Joann's purchase also.  The embroidery is not too open so I don't need underlining or a cami.  I wanted to echo some of that embroidery with some trim.  First I cut the front neck about 1 inch lower.  Then I used silk organza and did and narrow bias facing on the neckline.

Bias organza sewn to right side then pressed
I cut 1 1/2" bias silk organza, ironed and stretched them, sewed the strip with a 3/8" seam to the neck front.

inside narrow facing
I ironed that seam to the neckline wrong side and folded under the remained edge.  I hand hemmed this narrow facing but those of you who hate handsewing could just edge stitch the facing in place.  I like this very clean, lightweight facing technique.

clean front edge but too plain
I wanted a more Anthropologie look for this version.  I have a collection of old lace trims, some I believe came from my mother's stash.  I first did a gathered lace collar (2.5 to 1 ratio) but as Mr. Lucky noted, I looked like a Dutch Master wannabe with a ruff at my neck:
Way too much ruff
better neckline lace ratio
Final version with lace cuffs
Dolman sleeves are still not my most flattering look (those sloped shoulders and scoliosis can't be cured) but I do think this is a terrific hot weather t shirt alternative.  I've cut out a few more of these to get through the upcoming summer days in Maryland. 

Before I send this post off to the web, here are a few books I've been reading in the past month.  It's nice having this record so I don't have to get that blank deer in the headlight look when friends ask what I've been reading recently.  
We'll be discussing this one at our upcoming book group discussion on Monday evening.  Took me more than half way through the book to start caring about these characters but I did get interested in their choices and their fates by then.  I do think that having a comparison to a modern day Jane Austen brings a heavy burden of expectation and I wish the book jacket hadn't included that comment.  It does have the same themes of responsibility versus emotion and the corruption of greed and uber-wealth as in Sense and Sensibility.  I look forward to what the others think of it.

This was my lightweight reward for that book group selection.  I'm not particularly a Rob Lowe fan but saw a TV interview last year and was very taken with his thoughtfulness and self-deprecating humor.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Funny, interesting,  humble and grateful for his life and success. I take any celebrity's words with a boatload of salt but I was not disappointed in this read.

From quite light, one afternoon read to two books that were beautifully written but difficult emotionally to get through.  I heard an interview between Nancy Pearl (Booklust) and Stewart O'Nan and picked up these two.  My northen book group had previously read Last Night at the Lobster and these have similar themes of love, loss, disappointment and hurt among working class families.


In closing, to those of you friends, family and lovely readers, if you celebrate Passover or Easter, I hope you are enjoying a good holiday with those you love.  I'll be driving further up the Florida coast tomorrow to enjoy a lovely afternoon with my aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife.  Now I'm off to make the key lime pie that I'm bringing.  Cheers!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Enclothed Cognition

I'm just back from a wonderful visit with three out of my four girl cousins.  We met up along the beautiful South Carolina sea coast and I drove there with little Lucky the rescue dog as a companion.  He and I have been taking training classes in March in preparation for becoming a visiting dog this summer and the one on one time would be useful.  So I packed entertainment for the trip and thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book, The Social Animal, by David Brooks, the more conservative weekly commentator (the progressive side represented by Mark Shields) on the PBS News Hour and opinion writer for the New York Times.  Since the focus of the book is about how our unconscious values, instincts, and mental processes are often the drivers in our decisions, despite what our conscious minds think, I was taken with a related article in this morning's New York Times about the effect of wearing particular clothing on participants' behavior.  

If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement.
So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on cognitive processes.
Clothes and Self-Perception Article

I've been a believer in "dressing for the part" for most of my life but felt somewhat old-fashioned in that belief in light of more casual clothing in all areas of society.  Seems that there's some truth to that maxim after all.  

Well, just thought I'd share.  Now it's time to get back to my latest sewing project and get back to a blogging routine.  What's a good garment to wear to end procrastination?

Dogpark at the new rest area on I-75 near mile marker 278

Enjoyable book and apt title for the fun I had last week