Sunday, February 28, 2010

I didn't tell you about the other suitcase, did I?

So my logic went like this:  dang that laptop was HEAVY to carry on the flight! And you should see all the luggage for sale in Itaewon.  
OK, rolling carry-on suitcase purchased for myself & new backpack purchased for daughter: CHECK.

Oh- yes and did I mention I kept up on work email while I was Korea?  (just throwing on a teaspoon of martyrdom here)

Now, what would make the best padding for the laptop, you know, to keep it safe and everything?  I mean, in addition to sequined fur and leopard knit?
How about some mesh knit for coverups to wear over yoga clothes (tank dress?  kimono dress? hoodie? sounds good to me!)
And maybe a few yards of this high-end technical performance fabric (with wicking!) for some unitards.  What is the point of sewing if you can't have yourself a unitard if you want one??
And how can you resist 100% cotton at ~$1/yard?  Pajamas!
Engrish is adorable.
On this particular print, notice that the reverse image is, well, reversed- the lettering is reversed.
I dunno, that struck my funny bone.  Pajamas? sure.
Now, when you have jet lag, it is weird.  Basically, I am functioning just fine, however I choose not to operate heavy machinery or sharp objects.  In fact, I have spent numerous hours lounging on this favorite vintage Laz-Y-Boy with this gorgeous cat.  Note tall stack of Burda World of Fashion Pattern line drawings.  These line drawings have been enjoyed.
From my chair, I can see the spool of gray thread that my husband bought for me.  This man, has learned, over 5 years of rigourous training, how to select thread. I am serious.
He was running errands and he actually agreed to pop into G Street Fabrics for me and grab a spool of thread for the shirt I cut before the trip to Korea.  The interfacing is fused and I could have sewn it in 90 minutes.  But, like I said, I am not up to arduous activities this weekend.
Isn't he cute?
He makes me laugh and he also keeps me company when I am restless and irritable. 
We discussed gussets today (engineers have them, too). I really think gussets will be a key comfort factor in yoga sewing.  I have a comfortable jacket with black gussets that I never even noticed until today.  
This link to pictures might work.
OK, all righty then.  That's my babbling blog post for the day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The haul

I am back from my whirlwind trip to Seoul, South Korea.  As you know, I spent a disproportinate amount of time at a certain textile market.  I even took an entire afternoon there by myself (I was so proud to be promoted to independent shopper!!  Well, OK, Laura took me there, then I shopped solo and caught a cab back to Itaewon all by myself ;)
I like these buttons:

Now about this sequinned furry fabric... LOL!
I already know this is one of those "WHAT WAS I THINKING??" purchases.
I mean, really, can you see this on me?  But I do love it.
Maybe it would work as a cute little shrug to go with Maggie's tasteful understated prom dress.  
Or maybe best in a small dose; perhaps a collar on a black knit cardi?
My daughter caught lots of video and photos, so if you are interested in our Korean fun, you check out her BLOG. (my trip was Feb 15 - 24, 2010)
I sure would love to travel more. The flight was 14 hours each way, and I made it through just fine.  You know that that means ... if I can ever save enough pennies, I will visit Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong... the list is endless.
For now, happy to be home and looking forward to sewing Maggie's chic prom dress.
*hello big world*

Monday, February 22, 2010

Prom Dress for my niece Maggie

Maggie's prom isn't until April so I have been a little proactive about extracting a plan from her.  I want to sew the dress without any marathon sessions.  We older folk like our sleep :)
She has asked for the knee length version and I think she's going to look amazing in this dress.  Great choice, Maggie! 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dongdaemun- how to get there

This post is for you Gail.  (This information can be found in the Lonely Planet city guide for Seoul)

Dongdaemun is a VERY large market.
Take subway Lines 1 or 4 to Dongdaemun: Exit 6 or 7
-or- (depending upon your departure location)
Take subway Lines 2, 4 or 5 to Dongdaemun Stadium: Exit 1.

When in Seoul, it is easy to hail a cab.  The white cabs are very reasonably priced and that's all we used.  But, if you need more help, there are black cabs with large signs on them to let you know they are English- Speaking.  According to my daughter, they cost about double so she kept us out of those cabs.

To tell you the truth, the Lonely Planet guide is not specific enough to tell you exactly where the fabric district is within Dongdaemun.  I can tell you that it's located with the bed linens.
Clearly, I am no expert!  If you would like more information, please feel free to contact my daughter through her blog.  She knows the ins and outs of Seoul and I know she'll be happy to give you tips.

I highly recommend staying in Itaewon.  There are so many restaurants and shops.  You can get by with English and have a great time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Seoul Fabric shopping - video

Fabric shopping - Korean garment district

We made it to Dongdaemun today and I bought just a little bit :) of fabric and some buttons.

There is NOTHING like this in the US.  Both inside and outside the very large building you find many floors filled with stalls occupied by fabric vendors.  There are quite a few bolts of fabric and you can buy it by the yard, but most business seems to be done from swatches.  I saw several swatches I loved, but there were no bolts of it for sale.

The swatches are stapled together with multiple colorways for each print and labelled with pertinent info.  I get the sense you could go in and obtain all the samples that interest you, go back to your hotel to mull, then return to Dongdaemun and place an order.  Maybe a large order.

I saw so many different kinds of fabrics, from the tackiest poly glitter to the finest milled wools and specialty technical fabrics.  In addition- tons of super trendy stuff.  I saw mesh knits, up-to-the-minute prints (reminded me of garments you'd buy at H&M or Forever 21) and lots of novelty fabrics.  This is hard to descrie, but I saw fabrics with rows of ruffles, fabrics with random holes and some with multiple fabrics constructed to represent that deconstructed look.  Making sense?  Well, it looked like rock star /hipster trendy stuff.  And of course, there were tons of classic cottons, silks, linens, etc.

It doesn't take too long to figure out that, while overwhelming, it is quite organized. 
So, what did I buy?
I bought an ITY knit in a cute navy, pink and white print to make myself a dress.  I think I paid about $5.50 for this.
And we really had fun looking at sequin evening-wear fabric!  I am going to make a party dress for Laura out of this leopard sequin stuff:
I could not resist this black furry stuff with sequins on it.  It epitomizes the Korean aesthetic to me - it is glittery and feminine and busy.  I just love it!!  Laura is such an enabler.  She knew I loved it so she persuaded me to buy it.  I plan to sew a jacket.  She seems to think Howie would be happy to take me out to dinner someplace fancy so I can wear my glittery fur coat.  I love it!!

For both of these pieces I paid $87.  Insane!  This stuff is great quality.   And it will be fun to make a dress for Laura while she is home in March.  It will be pretty simple.

Maggie, if you are reading my blog, we NEED to figure out your prom dress!!! Think about it and email me.  I need to make room for all of my sewing muses!
OK, I am just on a short rest break at the hotel.  Laura has more places for me to see and I am ready to get back out there.

How about 'what I wore today'?  Every day I wear boots, leggings /tights, short skirts and a 3/4 length coat.  I fit right in with everyone else on the street.  And here's my take on leggings; they are the BEST THING EVER.  You can wear them with boots and good socks (like hiking socks from REI or LLBean).  Throw an extra pair of socks in your bag to switch mid-day, and I find I can walk comfortably til my tour guide gives out.  And layers- my knit hoodie coat with the hook 7 eye tape is getting lots of wear, too.

Like any big cosmopolitan city, people make an effort to look pulled together when they go out in public. 
Fun!!  I am loving Seoul.  I have learned to say thank you: Kahm-Sah-Hahm-Nee-Dah.
The language barrier is really not much of a problem.  Smile and say thank you a lot, and it's fine.
Are we having fun yet?  YES!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

looking at Seoul through the eye of a seamstress

This city reminds me a little bit of NYC - there is a lot of hustle and bustle.  High-end shops (like Chanel) aren't hard to find - but if your taste leans towards a stretch sequin, you can pop into "Party Dress World".  There are many, many things here that you will not see in the US, though.  Laura had to drag me a way from a window of a shirtmaker's storefront.  On display were hundreds of neatly arranged shirtings in every possible color or stripe /pattern and oh.they.looked.EXQUISITE !  I just wanted to pet the fabrics!

Since I have internet in my hotel room, it will be easy for me to blog when we visit Dongdaemun, or any other places that interest sewists.

In the meantime, for my friends and family curious about my non-sewing fun in Korea, check out my daughter's blog.
(disclaimer:  I am not really a very mature or cultured person like I pretend.  And my daughter... well, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree...  OK, you were warned.)

one more thing...

I love Korean Air flight attendants uniforms (designed by Italian designer GianFranco Ferre).  They have a complete mix & match wardrobe and every possible combination is a winner.  (A real SWAP, I tell you!)  They had more variety than you see in these pics.  There were several different styles of blouses, knit cardigans, an unlined 'military' style jacket, (and more!) mixed freely by the different women.  They removed the scarves and hair ribbons as soon as we got in the air and they got busy with work.

When the captain announces "Flight attendants, prepare for landing", I think that means "put the scarves and ribbons back on".  At first, I thought the scarves and ribbons were a little odd, but I was won over.  They rocked 'em. 

...ummm, if I start wearing a scarf or a ribbon like that, please let me know it only works on Korean Flight Attendants.  Thanks.
*more later!*

we interrupt regular programming for this important announcement

I am in Seoul, South Korea!  woo hoo, it is soo very interesting.  My daughter picked me up at the airport, whisked me onto the right bus and checked us into our hotel, all while I just followed and chatted (and hugged her and kissed her a lot).
How did she get so independent and capable?  (go ahead, you can compliment me- I raised her well, eh?)
Anyhoooo, it's good to be out of my comfort zone, good to be with the other half of the teeny family I raised and it's great to just be in Asia.  OK, off for sight seeing... more to come!
*happy adventures!*

Saturday, February 13, 2010

what I sewed, while it snowed

February did not appear to have much sewing time, but that all changed when the blizzard hit (and we lost Comcast for several days).  I just lost myself in sewing, reading, yoga and quality time with hubby (and now he's doing yoga, too!!)
I drafted a knit top inspired by Hot Patterns HP 1021 Riviera Annisette Dress & Top.  When I draft a new pattern, I trace a copy of my TNT t-shirt pattern.  I use lightweight craft paper that is practically transparent, so it's quick and easy.  Then I chop, rotate dart, tape paper together, true lines & sew.  I don't sew muslins when I work this way.  I figure using the TNT is good enough and I will wear whatever I make. 

The design features were chosen to complement my particular shape.  I tried to make the neckline and the vertical seam at the points where my "best necklines" go, according to Imogen.  I added lots of volume to the sleeve heads since I have slight shoulders.  The hem at high hip helps balance the height between upper body and lower body.  Periwinkle RPL fabric from Christine Jonson.

The pants are inspired by Christine Jonson Travel Trio One - 1204.  Fabric from JaneM who doesn't need winter fabrics anymore :-) and it's a doubleknit of some sort. 

I liked this so much I cut out 2 more versions of it using fabric from A Fabric Place.  Here is the back view my dark teal knit. In this version I reduced volume in the sleeve head, but I like it both ways:
The gray jersey version is nearly complete, too.  Must move on to a new style!  I think I may pull SWAP out of these pieces yet.  But first, I need to pick up a few things.  And I think I'll go to Dongdaemun for that ;0
*happy sewing!*

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Body Proportions - It's Complicated

Gretchen wrote a great post about body types  in her blog "Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing."  My response is way too long  fit into a comment on her blog, so here goes:

Being taller than average and having size 10 shoulders on a size 14 ~ 18 body (depends where you are measuring)  makes it pretty much impossible to wear many styles.   If you can't go into a store and try on different styles- just to see how they look - you don't have much information.  My dimensions are outside the norm for fitted jackets or dresses, so I had no experience wearing them.

How did I learn what proportions work for my body?
It took persistence to unravel the mysteries of my own body proportions.  Getting a good fit is hard enough, but it's only half of the puzzle.  The garments also need flattering silhouettes.

I've been to fitting workshops, taken some lessons and read online, but the breakthrough came when I discovered Bernina My Label pattern-making software.  Finally I had basic styles that FIT me.  I proceeded to sew all kinds of things that I had never bought in stores.
I had some hits and some misses.  I realized that I had no clue as to what really looked good on me until I sewed it up and wore it for a while.  And I was tired of putting forth all that effort to learn that half of my ideas were not flattering at all.  I needed to understand which silhouettes would work and which ones to skip.  I am talking about where to hem the skirt - where to add the ruffles - that sort of thing.

This realization led me to have an image consulation with Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style.  (Search through her labels to find her many informative posts about body proportions)

I sent photos, measurements and answers to a thoughtful questionnaire.  Imogen provided me with a detailed, personalized style analysis.  To say that one is a pear or an apple is just too simplistic to help most people.  She gave me way more insights than just body proportions.   She talked about textures, colors, prints, and types of fabrics.

Here is some of what I learned from a personalized consultation with a pro:

My style consultation was in October 2009 and I have been very happy with Imogen's advice, new haircut included.  There are lots of styles that will never work for me, but who cares?  I won't be sewing any more hip-length tunics, for example.  They end at my widest point, creating an unbalanced effect.

Now I know what I should focus on.
I have a top and some pants sewn over the last few days, so I'll get posts up with examples of how I used her advice in my choices.
*happy seeking!  We all want to know what works, don't we?!*

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fabric Giveaway - Roberto Cavalli paisley print

*** The winner is Ann, of Ann's Fashion Studio****

I have less than a yard of this fabric left and you are welcome to it.  It is 56" wide.  There is enough for another slim skirt if you are about my size, or use it for handbag (wouldn't it look great combined with leather?) or pillow covers on the sofa  (I think this would look great on a black leather sofa).  Leave a comment to let me know if you are interested and I will make a random drawing  & mail it on Monday before I leave for Korea.  wooooo hoo~
I don't think I need a matching vest ;)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paisley Skirt Save

I sewed this skirt a few years ago out of unusual paisley tapestry fabric by designer Roberto Cavalli.  I used Bernina My Label for the pattern.  Yesterday I set out to hem it, and I wound up taking it completely apart to do it right.  Here it is on the work table, wrong side up.
I wish I had a clear "before" photo but honestly it was too embarassing to even consider documenting just how unflattering it was.  But I had a feeling this skirt could be saved if I put it back together using better construction choices.  It needed an underlining.  I had some cream colored silk organza in my stash, so I cut and basted it to the skirt.  I sewed long diagonal stitches to keep the organza attached in the field.
I originally sewed the waistband with a facing- and that was too bulky so I tossed it in the trash.  In its place, I applied a narrow twill tape to the waistband.  It is positioned to lie just below the seam line when the lining is attached.
I cut a new lining using the same skirt pattern and sewed it by machine at the waist.  Then just some hand sewing around the zipper and the vent and I was finished.  Not hard at all.
The result is so much nicer to wear and it no longer clings or sags or otherwise misbehaves.
What a wonderful treat to have a snow day and time to sew.  I have missed my sewing!  Also, it was an opportunity to see how much I have learned from you over the last few years.  I made such better choices this time and it's all because I read your blogs, comments and tuturials online.  Thank you.
*happy sewing*

a little snowing on the side

We never lost our power, so no complaints.  But we lost Comcast - meaning we did not see the SuperBowl (congratulations New Orleans!!) and no internet.  But it has been good for sewing!  I have lots to post, but first I need to get out of the house for dinner.  It has been nice actually.
*Blizzard 2010- WOW*

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

May I say Thank You? Yes I may!

I wrote a ridiculous long rant about the Post Office yesterday. Full of  f*bombs, too.
And then I got a little embaressed and deleted the post.  But check it out, one of my readers sent me this information:


I used to mail international packages for my business. It's easier if you create a Click and Ship account online with the post office and fill out all the forms online. I print the label with a laser printer on regular paper and use a glue stick to attach it to the package. You will need a scale to weigh the package. It also doesn't hurt to do a search on the PO site to read up on the restrictions and requirements for packages to Korea. Then, because it's international, you have to hand the package in at the counter. If they're used to seeing you there, you won't have to wait in line, just put it on the counter of the friendliest mail person make eye contact and go.

I hope this takes some of the frustration out of it. I feel your pain...



PS - love your blog!
THANK YOU Jane!  And thank you Al Gore for creating the interwebs.  So amusing!