Monday, July 26, 2010

Road Trip to Wolf Forms

We drove up to New Jersey, just outside of New York City, to Wolf Forms.  I wore my stripey dress.
While I was measured, Howie wandered around the shop and charmed the ladies.
He always asked first if they were OK with being photographed.  As you can see, the people are friendly and seem to enjoy showing what they do.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with jokes.
Oh look below - there's my dress form on the top right! Ha ha, just kidding.
Oh wait, this is it!  No, just kidding (again).
This dress form (above) has a story.  The short version is that the form has become a permanent fixture in the shop.  It was paid-in-full years ago, but the customer never arranged to have it shipped to her.  The long version is a little more colorful :)

Now, I know the most interesting thing would be to see the measurements and information that Burt recorded.  But I was so busy standing with good posture that I was not able to collect information at the same time.  Plus, I felt shy and introverted today for some reason.  Sometimes that happens.  The good news is that I recognized all the numbers - today's measurements were consistent with the numbers I see on a regular basis as I sew my own clothing. (whew! I felt quite relieved about that!)

Measurements are recorded on a paper form that includes line drawings of a human body.  Burt sketched in bits of detail, and made notes to record information about the shape of the body.  Also, he takes Polaroid pictures of front, side and back with the person standing in front of a grid on the wall.  This shows body asymmetries easily.  People do buy dress forms without going to the shop.  It is possible to be measured by a local tailor or dressmaker and fax the order.  He also asked if I want to come back for another fitting, midway through the process, to fine tune posture.  It is not a requirement - even the muslin was not a requirement.  But if they think they can do a better job with more information, then, sure, I will provide whatever they want.  When it's finished, I'll go and pick it up - that will save a few hundred dollars in crating & shipping. 

All in all, quite a nice little trip. 
:)  Happy Sewing!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

a storebought muslin!

My exercise clothes come from Target and I generally wear baggy shorts or capri length pants with an elastic waist.  For a change of pace, I want more form-fitting exercise clothing.  At first I thought I'd get a pattern so I went to G Street Fabrics.  Although they had a Jalie pattern that looked OK, it occurred to me that I could skip the pattern and head to the Sports Authority (clothing store) and try on all the styles to help me decide on design details.  Then I could just buy the pants closest to my requirements and use them as my pattern.  How easy!
No surprise; none of them fit - they are all too low-rise and too short for my taste.  Here is a photo with some lines drawn where I altered the design.  After cutting the shorts, I just laid the pieces on paper, traced and trued the seams.  That was a fast pattern and I already know it will be what I want.  This is a store-bought muslin!
What I really like about this style is the crotch gusset.  It just seems to be a little more flattering and comfortable.  I used the spandex fabric I bought in Korea at Dongdaemun.  Howie & I went out for a long walk today and these shorts are wonderfully comfortable and it is HOT. (100 degrees F => ~ 37 Celsius)

So now I just need to sew up a bunch of them while I have all the stuff out.  Boring, but useful sewing.   I'll make a couple pairs in capri length, too.  Slowly, my entire wardrobe is made by me.  I would buy RTW, but they don't make what I want in a size to fit.  Oh well, guess I'll have to continue the little sewing factory thing.

In other news, I heard from my daughter in South Korea - her boyfriend broke his ankle at a theme park.  It was a long hard ambulance ride to the hospital where he'll stay until surgery on Tuesday.  After months of planning and anticipation, their vacation to the island of Jeju has been cancelled.  Well, from a mother's point of view, maybe I don't want them anywhere near the sea anyway (like I have any choice).  It is disconcerting when I read in the news that the US has joined with South Korea to carry out naval military exercises in the East Sea.  One wonders how much longer things can go on this way.  Anyway... there is much suffering in the world, isn't there?  Sorry this is a little bit of a bummer.  I usually stick to happy news because we all have enough bad news, don't we?  Yes, I know. We do. 

Taking a page from Myrna's blog, I will note that I am
Grateful:  That daughter and the boyfriend have each other.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

taking it up a notch

I want to take my sewing up a notch.  A few months ago, I started asking myself "Why am I still sewing at this level? Why haven't I sewn a tailored jacket for myself yet? Or a lined sheath dress for myself?".    I have sewn some nice things for other people, but still not sewing as well as I could for myself.
The answer: I need more instruction.  I need help with fitting.

And now, a sequence of events has begun that will take me where I want to go.  I had my first lesson with Susan Khalje last month and we covered a LOT of ground in the afternoon we spent together.  I used the muslin from that lesson to sew a dress already and this weekend I sewed another muslin that will go to Englewood, New Jersey for my dress form. 

This time, I took darts out of the sleeve cap to get a smooth fit. 

This makes me a little breathless: I am getting a custom-made dress form from Wolf Forms.  You can see a video here about how these dress forms are made.  I considered getting a My Twin dress form, geography played a big role in the decision.  New Jersey is close and California is far.

I want to discuss this just a little bit - a custom made dress form is certainly not necessary for most people.  In fact, Susan showed me an example of a Roxy dress form that she recommends to her students.  It is a much less expensive option. In the draping class taught by Susan and Julien Cristofoli, they spend the first day padding out the forms to match the students' measurements.

But I have a little experience with this.  I already own a Fabulous Fit Dress Form and it works about the same way as the Roxy.  I had a really great experience when I bought this dress form back in 2003.  I called and spoke with someone about my measurements and she helped me decide on a rather small form in order to accomodate my shoulders.  When I got it, I padded it out with the foam pads and some quilt batting and it has served me pretty well.  Not great, just pretty well.  The problem I have with a standard size dress form is that ... well ... you can see it here:

I could not resist including the cute guy who hangs out in my sewing room with me :)
OK, where was I ... the dress form.  The dress form's bosom starts higher than the bosom on yours truly.  Unless I get out the electric turkey carving knife, there is not much I can do.  And of course, the back and shoulders are not at all like my back and shoulders.

So, this is just a short version of how I came to this decision.  It is a big decision.  I went up to Wolf in June and got measured.  I came home and fretted quite a bit that I my measurements seemed too big.  (Had I gained weight?  Was it a fluctuation?  Somehow my waist was up by 4 inches- yikes!)
It wasn't purely a vanity issue - it was a practical issue.  This dress form will be my fitting buddy for a long time.  It is OK if I go up in size because I can always pad it out.  But if my size goes down - well that's not as good.  So I called them back and said, "Don't start my dress form yet!"  The company was closing for a few weeks in July for vacation, so we agreed I would come back after then to be re-measured.   Tomorrow is the day I call to re-schedule.  (yippeeee!!) 
[And I did drop those extra inches very quickly by keeping an eye on food portions and increasing the exercise.  I feel better, too!]

I discussed this with Susan during my lesson.  It was really helpful to get her opinion and she agreed that the Roxy wasn't going to work well for me; if I'm willing to spring for the Wolf- then that is really the best option.

Now, I feel I have only written a summary, so feel free to ask if you are curious about anything.  When I go back, I intend to take my camera and take pictures.  When we were there last, it was a very enjoyable visit.  We got a tour of the work areas and met the people who craft the dress forms.  They are a very friendly company and they take pride in their product.
OH, and YES, I did try to make a duct tape dummy.  LOL.  That did not work.  
OK, it is time to eat.  One more thing- look at the new front garden! A camelliia bush, daphnes and lariapes.
woo hooo

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is it too soon to think about wool?

Is it too soon to think about winter sewing? I think not. I am caught up. I have enough things to wear right now and I am planning ahead. I WILL sew a winter coat this year and I WILL sew a jacket this Fall.

Here is the thing - I don't have exactly the right fabric in my stash because some of it was bought before I learned what I like.  I bought stuff willy-nilly when I was just getting back into sewing.  It's great fabric, just not the right style, the right color, or whatever. Perhaps I will sell these pieces on eBay. Or maybe I could give them away on my blog. Would you be interested?   Cuz, I don't need to hang onto anything less that perfect for me.

This is the Wool Room at A Fabric Place in Baltimore (aka Michael's Fabrics).  I whipped out my cell phone to capture this image - yeah I know it's grainy but I kinda got high off the fabric sale I encountered.

I am a little excited (you know the feeling when you snag just the right thing at an amazing price).  Today I bought 3 gorgeous wools pieces of fabric that I love.  One is charcoal gray, one is a very dark teal-ish blue  and one is a very cool looking retro print in just the right shades of black & white.  They are very ME.
And people, I got them for $8/yard!  These are top-of-the-line wools.

PLEASE NOTE- I get no benefit by posting this (except a "thank you" from Michael)
The selection is pretty impressive.  There are coatings, "chanel-type" boucle looking things, sweater knits, gabardines & flannels in a zillion colors, and more.  If you shop from Michael's Fabrics, you got an email about this sale, so you already know. 
Basically, you will have to pick up the phone, call Michael and describe what you are looking for.  They don't have photos of all this stuff on the website.  His cell phone is 410-493-8918. 

OK, hope that wasn't annoying (I think of it as enabling :).  It was just such a great opportunity and I love what I bought and I had to share.  Don't worry, I am not going to turn into a shill.  I just happen to work within a couple miles of the store.   I have bought *ahem* a bit of fabric there.....
*happy sewing!*

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stripey Dress

I bought this fabric at Mood when I went to NYC last November.  It seemed so cheerful.  I made another version of Jalie 2793 (my 3rd one this summer!)
For the modesty panel, I was completely out of fabric, so I stitched scraps together to make a checkerboard print.  I was thinking of Allison's Burda 123 dress (from June 2010) when I did it.  Isn't it amazing what she did with her fabric and that simple pattern?  I am going to sew more simple patterns and do my best to make them interesting.  We decided to spend a week at the beach this summer and I want cool beachy clothes. 
Wow, been so busy lately... I worked again this weekend which honestly does not bother me because a quick peek at the news reminds me how fortunate I am to have a job, not to mention grateful that I found a line of work that is enjoyable for me.  Here's some career advice, spend 20 years in accounting.  Then get a job doing something less routine and voila- you, too, will love your job!  It's pretty easy, all except for the 20 years part.  ha ha hahahh hha !!  Hey, well, nobody said life was easy, now, did they?

HAPPY MONDAY... come on, you can do it.  Friday will roll around soon enough.

Monday, July 5, 2010

darted sleeve caps - I likee

I did not finish this dress this weekend.  And as you can see, I sure didn't leave myself much for hems, did I?
Oh well!  I'll make it work.  I got far enough to see how the darted sleeves really look - and I must say, this is just as pretty as I saw it in my mind's eye during my lesson with Susan.  This looks OK in a sleeveless version, but much cuter with the sleeves.  It was a little scary before I pressed them (think puffy sleeves).

Obviously, if I knew how to use Photoshop, I'd remove the streetlight next to my head (and all the cars in the background, for that matter).  It was dusk when Howie snapped these shots.  It's soooo warm and perfectly summery right now.  I say that from the comfort of an air conditioned room.  Frankly, if A/C did not exist, I would just have to move north.  Summer is not my thing!  But I am hanging tough :)  Teal toenails this time. 
I hope you can see the little pleats in the sleeve caps.

I think we North Americans have it covered this week, right? Canada Day and 4th of July, check.  We watched some of this soccer thing that's happening.  Germany was very fun to watch!  I must say, I am rooting for Deutschland to keep winning at soccer.  
OK, if I am discussing sports, I obviously have really nothing much to say, so I will just wrap it up, now! :)
More sewing when the mojo returns!

Friday, July 2, 2010

little white dots marching in a row

My dress is about halfway sewn up and I need to think about a lining.  This is the underlining.  Rayon Bemberg?  What do you use for a summer dress to be worn on a hot day?
My dress fabric is this silk-linen blend that Archie found for a little nap.  The camera noise woke her up, but only briefly. We call her Chip-Monkey because she moves very quickly, like a chipmunk.
Very happy to be into day 2 of the new fiscal year 2011.  I worked a 21 hour day yesterday and, well, frankly I feel pretty macho about it.  LOL.  For what it's worth. I have worked out how to pull an all-nighter and work hard the next day and keep sane.  Now, for a Three Day Weekend, oh YAY.  And I ate some Ben & Jerry's ice cream tonight and it.was.good.
Next time I will write about the construction steps of this dress.  Working from a muslin is way different than what I am used to and I am making it up as I go along. 
As you can see, I pushed the machine out of the way and spread out to do all the hand-basting of the underlining to the fabric.  It is soooo relaxing!  I do love me some hand-sewing.  That was quite a few days ago and I look forward to diving back into this project now.
Lining.  Need to get some lining ...