Saturday, March 22, 2014

Swinging into Spring

Thank you, kind readers, for welcoming me back to the blogging world.  Most of my time away had been nice break from the winter photo shoot challenges for these new sewing projects (my house is old and dark, particularly in low angled winter sunlight.)  I decided in mid-February to start sewing something for our upcoming Florida trip and this new cardigan pattern is the result.  
Vogue 8819
The fabric is a soft rayon knit from Fabric Mart.  I almost included it in my recent fabric giveaway since I have found that these rayon knits stretch too much over time for my liking.  But I loved the tropical colors so much that even if I only get one season's wear from this lightweight jacket, it makes me smile whenever I put it on. The back seams are hard to see but they have a great triangle piece that provides a little swing in the back:

I think I might make the entire band twice as wide on my next version.  One very nice pattern detail is a curved back collar piece that hugs the neck nicely.  
Size for me is a small at the neck and shoulders and a medium for the body with no FBA since the front is on the bias.  I also raised the front waist seam 1 inch since I am very short waisted and it was previously hitting at an unflattering puffy tummy location.
All in all, a very RTW like pattern.  I have some striped knit waiting to strut its stuff in this design.

Now that I am just about caught up on my meager winter sewing projects I can also share another reason for recent blogging silence.  President's weekend in February was our last visit to Western Maryland, just after a huge snowfall, brief melting day or two followed by some more snow.  But I bundled up my warm clothes for a fun weekend with our hosts and had another wonderful visit, even enjoying the local Winterfest festivities on Saturday.  
In front of the lovely local bookstore

Ice Maidens

The day before the concussion

Sunday was grey skies with snow showers so my girlfriend and I took Lucky the rescue dog out for a walk.  Streets were plowed and cindered so silly me left the house talking and forgot my winter weather hiking pole.  After about 1 mile of walking we turned back down a side street that hadn't been plowed and there was ice under the new snow.  Both feet flew out and I cracked the back of my head on the ground.  I didn't black out and got up and could walk the short distance back but we did go to the hospital where I had a CT scan and yes, a concussion.  No bleeding, no loss of consciousness, just a big lump.  All this wouldn't have been a problem except that two days later I was lounging back home, feeling just fine but I took it easy by writing emails, reading blogs and my latest library download for hours and watching some TV, even sewing a little.  Yikes, that evening, headache!!!!  No one said don't do that with a concussion.  Now I know.  It was about four days of a dim room and no reading to get that headache to stop.  But at the very end of the month we were able to still pack up and drive here to southwest Florida where the sunshine, warmth and vitamin D has made me feel like myself again.  It's been a pure delight to catch up with friends, enjoy biking, kayaking, swimming and reading on the lanai while palm trees sway and birds sing.  So here's the Vogue 8819 cardigan in our rental house backyard:

Vogue 8819

The swinging back
Vogue 8885 from my previous post
Sunshine, warm waters and good people, the cure for just about anything that ails me.
Here's hoping that you can bask in the warmth of friends and family and also revive your spirits with a sewing project when needed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Vogue 8885, A Hidden Gem

Where was I?  Oh, yes, telling you that I was cold as heck this winter so I wanted some new warmer but stylish layers.  Mr. Lucky is a weekend volunteer ski patroller out in Western Maryland and in the evenings there's usually a gathering at a local restaurant.  Now, "apres ski Western Maryland" is not apres ski Aspen or Gstaad.  No chichi designer duds there on the
border with Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Yet I am at the age where going too casual just makes me look older and unkempt.  I took up a sewing challenge this winter to find some cardigan patterns to add to my sewing repertoire for just such evenings.  I already love Pamela's Patterns Draped Front Cardigan and McCalls 6444 and now here's the first of two.
Vogue 8885 in red merino wool from Fabric Mart
Vogue 8885, mid-February
The pattern version I made is hidden in the lower left corner and seems to be featured as perhaps a bed jacket.  Experience has shown me to look at the line drawings and I liked what I saw, especially that cute back peplum detail

The lapels on the merino wool tended to roll and look narrower than the pattern picture but that seemed like a relatively insignificant issue to me.

I especially like the shoulder princess seams in this pattern, front and back and this cute back peplum.
I sewed the first version from this ugly peachy fleshy color but wonderfully comfortable bamboo knit from Fabric Mart.  You can see the lapel width better on this one since the raw edges don't roll like they do on the merino.  I discovered that it does make a warm and cozy but lightweight bed jacket, perfect for reading in bed on winter nights.  And here's what I was reading in early February:
If the cover doesn't get your attention then a story about a dead woman who either committed suicide or was murdered by her husband might interest you.  It made for a good discussion and was a page turner but I'm not sure I would have read it if it hadn't been our book group selection.  I also wanted to enjoy more than I did Wally Lamb's latest, 

We Are Water  His writing is still beautiful and poignant but the pace was slow and the changing perspectives, which I usually enjoy, seemed contrived.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5.  Might have been my dark winter mood but it didn't have the strength of his previous books.  

Next post, another new cardigan in the sewing queue.

Cleaning Out Winter Posts

Have you ever noticed that irony doesn't always work so well in blogs?  Nonetheless, I am going to note the irony that my last post two months ago was about "why I blog".....and then I stopped blogging.  Thank you to those of you who asked me what's up.  If you didn't even notice I've been gone, feel free to move along to the pictures.
Yup, I wrote that post two months ago then spent a lot of time the following week prepping projects for the wonderful end of January American Sewing Guild Northern Virginia chapter sewing retreat.  This might have been my twelfth sewing retreat and was the fourth at the historic and beautiful George Washington Winchester Wyndham Hotel.  This year was especially enjoyable for me, relaxing and easy going.  Last year I was in the midst of prepping to sell our Florida condo and under a great deal of personal stress.  Last year I needed the sewing retreat.....this year was a delight because could just bask in enjoying the moments.  
A ballroom of happy sewists at work

The breakfast buffet awaits.....and a dinner one will look even more splendid
Sewing bloggers meet and greet one another:  lucky me, Julie from From These Hands   Welmoed from There She Sews  Audrey from SewTawdry

I did not take any new patterns to sew, just filled in winter wardrobe gaps so I was a little reluctant to blog about them....but here they are in their retrospective:

More Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil skirts, these with dark brown and black in the prints so I could wear them with tights and black dancing shoes for the beginning Lindy class that Mr. Lucky and I took for four weeks in the winter.

Kwik Sew 3740 in a toasty warm sweater knit
McCalls 6444  in a glittery navy sweater knit, years old from Fabric Mart
Multiple versions of the Margarita tank top for layering all winter and spring, this one with a lingerie lace picot edge
I was remarkably cold this winter, my first winter back in Baltimore in ten years so I was working on sewing layers and cozy garments that still might be a little more fashionable than my beloved LL Bean polarfleece.  I have owned a luxurious pre-recession splurge light-as-air cashmere sweater but seldom worn it.  (The traditional cost per wear calculation would make me blush with shame.)  So I needed its warmth and use out of it and did some analysis in my sewing room mirrors.  One reason I didn't wear it was that it had wonderfully long sleeves (a gift on a sweater for a tall person like me) but they ended in this wide, frilly bell that slopped into everything.  I pinned the sleeves into a snug narrow version and immediately liked the sweater better.  Now I needed to make it stop falling off my shoulders when the front would slip and pull the sweater slides downward.  I had just watched my DVR'd last episode of "What Not to Wear" and was reminded how Stacey and Clinton encouraged women to fit in their slender places and let clothes skim over the "fluffier" parts.  I pulled out some brown grosgrain ribbon and pinned two pieces as an under the bust tie closure.  immediately the sweater looked brand new and flattering.  

Too wide a sleeve hem
Testing that front tie idea
Finished refashioning result

Final retreat project was a coordinated Margarita knit top and this burnout poly print from JoAnn's a half dozen years ago.  I made a top and lightweight jacket for our March Florida trip and the colors cheered me up in the midst of the brutal winter.  But even this jacket was a repeat pattern, Vogue 8088, a Marcy Tilton OOP pattern Vogue 8088 previous version  that I have fallen in love with this year.  
Marcy's wonderful directions include all these mitered corners and french seams
Since one of the other great parts of a sewing retreat is bringing your excess "stuff" for the giveaway table, I had also spent a great deal of time in late January filling boxes and bags with extra fabric, notions, patterns and books from our move north.  Hooray, they have moved on to better homes....but of course I did find a few treasures that came home from the giveaway table to my "resource center."  
Three pieces of fabric
Some tailoring supplies and a vintage tailoring book for next winter's coat project
So that takes me through the end of January. In my next posts I'll show you two new cardigan patterns that I sewed up last month and share more about my first icy winter in many years.  In the meantime, it's nice to be back in the blog world.  I've been busy with other parts of my life and haven't been reading my blog roll either so time to catch up with all of you virtual sewing friends.