Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mock Ups and Gratitudes

I'm heading to my sewing space for a few hours to watch the Macy's Day Parade and cut out another mock up for fitting in the next few weeks.  I had to reschedule my visit with Sarah Veblen for some personal reasons but am eager to sew up some new winter clothes.  Nothing new to post except a picture of three mock ups which I have prepared:

Margarita Top, Alabama Chanin Corset top and Burda 7798
I'm wanting a sort of boho top for holiday gatherings and might make this Burda patten in some silk velvet or shiny poly in my resource center.

This past Sunday my minister read a beautiful poem for this holiday and one that I've been sharing with friends and family on Facebook.  It sums up my sentiments today.  I hope you have a spirit of gratitude in your heart no matter where in the world you live.

“A Thanksgiving Poem” 
by Peter LaForge:

Perhaps I should have said it just between
The wine and grace, the wishing and the blessing.
That was a time for words, when the scene
Had just begun, before we passed the dressing.
Before the knife cut deep into the breast,
I might have paused, looked up and all around
Into the eyes of each of them. A jest
Came easier, wit tossed into the sound
And lost. Between the stuffing and the pie,
Was yet another quiet moment when
I could have told them all.
Instead I sighed And let it pass. Just once before the end
I should have cried, "Listen, before you go.
I love you. I just wanted you to know."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Normal Sewing

Sometimes you feel like sewing something new and this is that day and that week.  I'm starting out with two new to me patterns, the Alabama Chanin Corset T Shirt  just one example from the Alabama Chanin blog  
and a similarly designed Margarita Tank Top from L J Designs.  Great sale on Londa's Sewing website for Margarita Top

The weather in Baltimore is pleasant today but the cool weather is moving in quickly and I need some lightweight silk knit, merino knit and maybe polarfleece 100 knit tops for under my sweaters and tops.  I'm stitching these two patterns as mock ups to take up to Sarah Veblen for some fitting help next Tuesday.  I've booked two hours with Sarah and if I'm industrious I will take some woven tops and perhaps another dress for her fitting assistance.
Copying the pattern with carbon paper

It takes time to get mock ups ready.  I usually copy the pattern,particularly if it is OOP.  It means marking vertical lines, easy enough to just continue the grain line and use that for marking.  But it also means creating horizontal pattern lines and transferring those from the pattern to the fabric.
My mock up inexpensive cotton poly interlock from Fabric Mart

The Alabama Chanin pattern is a delight to look at in its finished form, but what a pain in the neck to prepare.  I heard Sarah bemoan its lack of trued seam lines when another friend brought it to the June sewing retreat and this morning I had the same experience.  I dislike the bother of "walking" seams but it does make the final sewing easier and so much more enjoyable.  So I "walked" all five seam lines and had to add about 1/2" in length on several of them to make them equal length.  Walking seams from The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting  This simple knit top doesn't have facings which does speed up the process.
The Alabama Chanin sizing chart.....
The Lyla Messenger pattern is a more conventional pattern but one of my pet peeves is not having finished garment measurements anywhere.  I think I'm going to start with small at the shoulder and neck area then move out to a medium size for side seams. 

Yes, it's good to be back in my sewing space and feeling ready to tackle something new.  All of October we were carrying around the weight of our decision about Sam, as well as being busy just taking care of him.  We miss his presence but yes, we know it was the right and loving thing to do.  Thank you, thank you, for your kind, thoughtful words that are helping us heal and enjoy our memories.  It does help to know that others have gone through this and felt this same loss and pain.  As the saying goes, friends and family are what multiply our joys and divide our grief.  
Sew grateful,

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Faithful Companion

January 10, 1999 to November 11, 2013
Stoic, intensely curious, smart and quirky, that's what Sam was.  Cool, hip, unconcerned with anyone except his pack, sort of the Maynard G. Krebs of the dogworld.  Loyal and sensitive.  We had almost fourteen years together.  Mr. Lucky and I have had a tough few weeks making this decision and yes, we are sad, sad sad today, but we know it was the right thing to do.  Not tragic, by any means, in light of so much human suffering in places like the Phillippines but we've been touched and moved by this unconventional dog. 
Sam came into our lives right after I stopped working in the corporate world.  I scarcely knew a thing about dogs and thought every dog just needed the right training to become Lassie.  Now I've learned so much more.  Each dog comes with his own personality, some of it breed related and some of it individual traits.  This picture sums up the difference
Sam, one cool guy, Snowy, my friend's dog,  always eager to please.
Sam made me find out what he needed to make the two of us happy......and that was exercise.  Our first time in a dogpark I saw that all he wanted to do when he was young was run and hunt, just what basenjis are bred to do in their native Africa.  Two visits a day in cooler weather resulted in tired dog, happy owner.  Because of his love for dogparks we have met the most wonderful friends over the last dozen plus years and visited dogparks in many states.  Sam didn't have any need for strangers fawning over him but we loved the social life that came from those visits.
Florida dogpark gang, two legged and four
Sam was highly attuned to me in particular and followed me room to room throughout the day, but often at a distance.  He also followed the sunshine in each room which explains why he loved spending winters in Florida for more than ten years.

On the Florida sewing room carpet
He was never a cuddler but liked having me rub his belly after a meal....and climbing into our bed at 6am to snuggle.

Our friends and family let us bring Sam into their homes for years and we are so grateful to all of them for that kindness.  
We were uncertain when we very suddenly brought home a new dog who had been left at the dogpark almost three years ago.  But Sam was remarkably adaptable and by day three Sam and Lucky were playing hard.  In the years that followed, Lucky was the instigator but Sam was the one who got injured and never retaliated or held a grudge.  Our one dog home suddenly became a two dog house.  Despite their personality differences, we've all been happy together over these years.

In April, 2013
But we've seen Sam decline quickly this past year.  For the first time, he was confused and upset when we returned to our Florida condo last November.  He was virtually deaf and getting cataracts.  When we returned to Maryland this spring we noticed him drinking huge quantities of water and having other problems.  Things had continued to deteriorate all summer and fall and so we had to have that difficult conversation with our vet about two weeks ago. 

Lake Roland and Robert E. Lee Park, home of Sam's favorite runs and hunts

Mr. Lucky was leaving for a trip to CA to see his father so I had six days home alone with the two guys.  We took walks in the woods each day, had plenty of treats for Sam and kept the heating pad in his dogbed turned up.  Hard thing to do but so relieved that we have such a wonderful vet and kind friends who understand because they've suffered this same loss.  Plenty of tears here, laughs at funny memories and happiness knowing that Sam had an absolutely wonderful life.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Use It or Lose it

My sewing room and supplies merger is almost complete, hooray.  I did not realize how much time an outside project would take up last month and so my sewing time was minimal.  Mr.Lucky and I had two lovely long weekend trips and a few day hikes and bike rides as well.  When I did take the time to walk into my sewing space, I just couldn't concentrate on a new garment project so I enjoyed some autumn decorating instead.  For the last ten years we would have been closing up our home to make the move to Florida for six plus months.  This year I got to add some new seasonal home dec items and also use up some of my enormous stash of supplies.  
Here are the two wreaths I made with ribbons from the wonderful Offray ribbon outlet. 

Eighteen inches of ribbons cut and tied around a straw wreath.  Add some strips of tulle and pumpkin/gourd floral picks.
A large wire wreath base tied with six inch pieces of ribbon and fabric strips.
I'm happy with the results and enjoyed combining the colors and textures.  Next year I think I'll try some fabric pumpkins for the mantel.

Two wreaths, why not two new autumnal pillows.  I used more of those orange ribbons and did ribbon weaving for one of the pillows.  Simply cut a piece of interfacing, place it sticky side up on a pinnable surface (I used a piece of cardboard) then place strips down in a warp and weft pattern.  Iron the interfacing into place to hold the ribbons flat, creating the new "fabric."  Sew up as any ordinary pillow.  I only used two ribbons for mine so the whole project was very quick.

Ribbons pinned onto the left and top edges then woven into a large piece.

Even easier, buy a remnant at the 50% off Red Dot fabrics at Joann's and sew it into another pillow for the other corner of the family room sofa.
I had planned on starting the Chanel jacket sew along that is taking place in the blogging world.  But too many life events have gotten in the way of that plan.  It was nice to have these small projects to at least give me some creative time.  And a winter jacket project will be just the thing to keep me warm for the next seasonal change.
In the meantime, here are some pics from that wonderful family wedding.
My aunt and uncle, cousins and their children
Mr. Lucky enjoying dinner with some more family members.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fabric Challenge for the Sewing Guild

Way back in May I picked up the pile of "challenge fabric" for the Northern Virginia chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  Now, months later the 80 plus people who accepted this challenge showed off their entries at the October  chapter annual meeting and what a bunch of creative people.  About a dozen people explained their stories.  We laughed and smiled in recognition.  Some people hated the fabric design and wanted to mask it, others like me loved it and wanted to enhance the images.  All of us had a blast and are so grateful to our outgoing president, Tina, and her wonderful board for bringing this fun project to us.  I think the special part was that there were no rules.....just a yard of fabric that showed up in the mail and let you have your way with it.  
Here are some of the pics.....and the back story on my version.

Just a sample of the many challenge items

Very cool fabric combining into a marvelous travel bag.
Textured pillow with curved tucks

The challenge fabric is the piping and the bag for these lovely pajamas
Some people needed what's inside this project.
Never thought I would want to re-cover an umbrella but I love this one.
Here's the way to hide a print you don't like.
One of the funniest stories was from a woman who did not notice that the mailing envelope had arrived at her house for several days.  Guess who "opened" it first?  The dog......  She held up a picture of the 1 yard piece with several two inches chunks torn out of the middle and she explained that there were chew marks everywhere else.  As we all gasped and wondered what she would do with that hot mess of fabric....this is what she pulled out of her carrying bag.....
Braided fabric dog chew toy
Sorry for the fuzzy picture but isn't it great....Shari colored over the print with colored markers and changed it entirely
Hmmmm, as for my entry.  You know how sometimes you envision the sewing project result when you start?  And then when you finish, it's not that's it's bad, it just doesn't look like what you imagined.  Well, that's exactly what happened to me.  I knew back in May when I saw the fabric that I would make a Magic Pencil skirt Magic Pencil SKirt  from it and do some kind of embellishment.  Then I saw Gail Yellin's tasteful bead embellishment in the April Threads issue and at the Baltimore Sewing expo and I knew that would be perfect.  My friend Cathy sent me a great beading site and I ordered a dozen Swarovski sew on beads to place in the water area along the lower hem area of the skirt.  I was going to use Gail's interfaced shaped fabric "hole" with the beads inside.  Of course, since I had months to do this, I waited until the last week of my very busy October.  
So in my hurry, I placed the seven selected crystals in place, used a small template and traced the shape onto the sticky side of interfacing.  I used a short stitch and cut out the center, turned and ironed the interfacing to the wrong side.  Then I went to stitch the bead.....and discovered that all seven holes were too big to support the sew-on bead nicely.  Ah ha, that was the missing part of the directions.  To keep the bead stable, either make sure the edges are close to the shaped fabric hole or use a three sided bead as many of Gail's were.  Me, I was in a quandary.  I ended up sewing multiple beaded guide wires to hold the beads in place....not what I had envisioned but it still gave a watery glitter to the bottom of my skirt. 

 And as one friend noted, it looked like they were crabs in the water.  No, I wasn't trying for that look but lessons learned and still a fun process.  I'll pack it up and wear it in Florida when we visit in May and then take off those beads and repurpose them somewhere.

Relieved to be done and glad to have a day with sewing friends.
It's good to be back blogging after a very busy month.  I've been too busy to even read my blog reader and feel disconnected from this great community.  I'm eager to catch up and see what you've been sewing.