Friday, December 30, 2011

get ready to rumble!

It is not often that I lack the will to finish a project, but this is where I am.  I still haven't put the lining into the blue sparkly jacket (even though it will not take long at all).   I shifted gears to a quick skirt that I'll wear with the blue sparkly jacket, and I traced off this pattern from 12-2008 Burda magazine.
There are some very cute versions on
I tissue-fitted on my dress form.  The alterations are shown in blue pencil:
I traced a size 46, changed the placement & depth of the darts, and re-drew the side seam to fit me.
When I sat back and looked at it on the dress form, I had to accept the facts:  it flared out at the widest point of my hips; it was going to look dumpy on me because I am tall and long in the torso.  The design would work by changing the proportions; by lengthening the upper part and shortening the flared bottom piece.

As I contemplated, my head started to reject any form of logical thinking.  It was like a computer getting hung-up. I knew the truth:  I lack the experience to perform the adjustment.  I read through Adele P. Margolis' book Make Your Own Dress Patterns (I cannot recommend this book highly enough) but I could not see a clear path to success.

So!  I pulled out my TNT gored skirt pattern.  It needs just a little tweaking to get that mermaid-esque shape I am going for.  I should have a new tan-colored skirt very soon.

This is my TNT gored skirt from Bernina My Label software

Enough already with the dozing mojo.  Being sick earlier this month, and then celebrating the holidays has completely disrupted my normal sewing routine.  Right now I need to Just Do It, as the Nike advertisements suggest.  This blog post is my commitment to Just Do It and get back into sewing already!

Happy Holidays everyone and tell me how inspired you are and ready to sew up a storm, OK?
I am participating in the Sewing With A Plan SWAP 2012, so these garments count.
Are we ready to rumble?!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Draping - Made Easy & Fun

You can read about the Great Drapo in this LIFE magazine article, and watch him here:

Isn't he amazing?  Watching him drape fabric into dresses within minutes was refreshing after fiddling with flat pattern adjustments this afternoon.  I traced off a very cute skirt from a Burda magazine and tissue-fitted it on my dress form.  I wasn't happy with it, so I didn't proceed any further.
I don't think an A-line silhouette suits me, so maybe I will just sew another version of my self-drafted versatile skirt.  It is, after all, pretty versatile. 
Then again, why don't I just wrap the fabric around me and secure with rubber bands?  I am tempted!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It's a Gratuitous-Post-Of-Yourself-Sunday, of me saying Merry Christmas to You!
Wish I could hand over a cookie to you!
I appreciate what Santa brought me this year: recovery from the flu.  Howie and I both came down with the flu on December 3rd, and we are just now feeling well again.
easiest Christmas tree ever
Do you think it has anything to do with sewing, that I enjoy wrapping presents?  I feel like I am draping each package for the best fit.  Or do I simply have sewing on the brain, all the time!  Ha - that is possible!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
(Just to be ornery, I have decided NOT to say "Happy Holidays" this year.)

I love you all and thanks for reading my blog.
Hugs & Kisses

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Color Story

I feel like a cat with nine lives.  Now well into my sixth decade, I remember vintage styles when they weren't vintage.  I wore hip-hugger bell-bottoms and peasant blouses in the 70's, power suits in the 80's-90's, leggings (first time around) and color-blocking (first time around) and I did the all-black thing for a while.  I've watched us go extremely casual, wearing pajamas yoga pants in public and I happily embrace a move towards the structure of vintage-inspired clothing.  Oh my, I am happy to be sewing with wovens more than knits, but I digress.

It seems that every decade or so, I find myself puzzled with new trends and I need to figure it out.  Do I like it?  Will my eyes come to see this as fresh and new and interesting?  Maybe! It is good to keep an open mind.

Have you read the Colette Sewing Handbook?  It is a lovely book - I bought it, as I always do, to support the work of contemporary stitching authors.  [I've also bought Amy Butler, Heather Ross, etc over the years].  It is my habit to buy books throughout the year, read them gently and then give them as gifts to my nieces at Christmas.  But this book is so good I am keeping it for myself.  Again, I digress.

Here is that color story again!  

salmon, mint & yellow

So here is the thing.  This is very deliberate.  These designers are choosing these colors on purpose, so I want to understand why, and see how this plays out for me.  It was only in my teens and twenties that current styles felt completely organic to me.  Since then, I confess that it's always a learning experience when unfamiliar aesthetics introduce themselves.
Here the colors are more saturated:
Source: via Marie on Pinterest

and this:

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Of course, now I start to ask myself "what the ...?  Seriously, Robin, are you going to walk into work; to your cubicle wearing that?!"  Answer:  Perhaps not!  But I kinda like it.

Back to browsing and mulling this over.  It's not new, strictly speaking:

Does the skin tone make a difference?  I think this Marc Jacobs dress looks beautiful on the darker compexion:

Nothing would persuade me to wear colors that feel unflattering, but I would bring these into my life in a more subtle way, like this:
Source: via Robin on Pinterest

or this:

I don't want to know the price of that purse.  It would only put me in a mood.

How about you?  Although I figured out "my colors", in 1987, there is no harm in re-visiting the topic, right?   Yes, I am being just a little facetious.  Just in case you couldn't tell.  Even if don't wear any of the colors in this palette, I still enjoy the challenges presented by ever younger designers.

Hey, wanna win a free dress?  ENTER HERE.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I wish I had a rack like that

If I had my druthers, I'd like to be a real clothes rack; an amazon with broad shoulders.  You knew that's what I meant, right?  If I had broad shoulders, I'd wear designs that take advantage of them.  While I am fantasizing, I am believing I'd have events requiring a silk organza dress from Dolce and Gabbana.

If I had a rack like that, I'd carry wear shoulder bags.  This would leave my hands free and it would be convenient.
Source: via Edgar on Pinterest

I'd show off those shoulders in peek-a-boo outfits, as opposed to wearing falsies (i.e. shoulder pads).

I'd wear more belts because my wide shoulders would make my waist look smaller.
Source: via Brannon on Pinterest

No?  Not going to happen?  No.  No matter how much time I spend with barbells, it will never happen.
That's OK!  Really.  I embrace my odd little shoulders.  I do, I really do.

And it's not like I am entering the Miss Universe Contest.  No one is judging me, at least not in the I-am-in-a-beauty-pageant kind of way.

via Vintagraph blog
Wishful thinking!!

I am not complaining, just goofing off.  My mom & dad were generous in passing on their genes, so I'd be a jerk to complain.  And - I didn't even know I had small shoulders until I got into hard-core sewing over the last few years.  It took a lot of trial and error to realize that we are not all built the same above the armpits.  I truly assumed that a shoulder-is-a-shoulder-is-a-shoulder.

What would you wish for?  I remember hearing a very beautiful woman tell me she had always thought her feet were too big.  I was shocked!  I could not see a single thing wrong with her feet and how they affected her overall appearance.  Do you have any little pet peeves about what God gave you? 
Do tell!

And if you want a free dress, enter to win here!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How about a dress giveaway? Yes, a dress for you!

***************** GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!  The winner is Kelli ************************


Here’s how this is going to work:  I am going to sew a dress for myself and you (well, one of you) will win a free dress from Shabby Apple
I’ve wanted a dress that looks like a blouse on top and a skirt on the bottom, but every time I start down that path, I wonder how it will launder.  I found an idea that will totally work:
The Traveler: I love the length of the slim sleeves and the empire waist.
 I will use a shirting on the top and, like the inspiration dress, I’ll use something with a little lycra on the skirt and I will use colors that can be laundered together.

Now, a black and white dress like this is still on my wishlist, like this:
Frida K. - just a little dressier than The Traveler and I think I'd need those shoes, too!
And notice the lack of a collar- I suppose that is what has always hung me up.  If I used a shirt pattern for the top, I expected to have a collar, too.  But it  looks really nice with the tie and then you can have a zipper in the back:

I am not sure if I’d do the exposed zipper – I may just insert an invisible zipper.  Then again, I like it, so we'll see.
Whether or not this dress will fit you, I say enter to win!  Personally, I would order the size that fits my shoulders because I think that is the hardest part to fit.
Use the dress as your "storebought muslin", like I did when I sewed these exercise shorts. 
Put the dress on, figure out where it doesn’t fit and make it work.  Have you seen Connie Crawford’s fitting DVD?  It looks super useful.

Slash & spread to your heart’s content to adjust the fit, then use it as a pattern to sew a perfectly fitted dress for yourself.  What do you think?  I have used worn-out shirts and pants to create new patterns.  I have also bought something brand new, just to use it as a pattern. It felt a little weird, but I do get a lot of use from those shorts.
Would you do it?  Would you actually cut into a perfectly healthy dress, in order to make a pattern for yourself?  I'd want to make plenty of dresses to justify the sacrifice.  I guess I am really just talking to those of you who are like me, who have a really hard time with fitting, so, you know, you will do almost anything to dress well. 
Go to Facebook and like ShabbyApple here.
Leave me a comment (tell me what you think!) and be sure to include your email address if it's not in your profile.  
The drawing closes Wednesday night, December 21 at 7pm EST.  I'll randomly select the winner & send you an email to get your address.  If you have questions about what size to get, the fitting process or sewing, let's chat! 
The good folks at Shabby Apple will send you The Traveler dress.  This is available for mailing addresses in the US only.
If you need this dress right this minute, get 10% off - use coupon code ALS10OFF when you check out.  
Thank you to Shabby Apple for spreading the love!

Friday, December 16, 2011

about collars and collar stands

This is a random post about collars and collar stands, as participation in cyber-conversation about shirt construction.  This is also why I sew - so I can get the fit and function that is important to me.

My pattern is a TNT originally copied from an Eddie Bauer store-bought shirt, but now altered almost beyond recognition.  The collar has two pieces:

1. the stand- the front of the stand is curved, for a better fit at my neck.  
2. the collar- the edge that attaches to the stand is also curved.  [Also, the edge that touches the shoulders is curved, but I am not discussing that aspect of the shaping in this post.]

The collar stand is curved, the collar is curved, and furthermore, the curves go in opposite directions.  Yes, it is tricky to sew, but that's how flat fabric is shaped into 3 dimensional clothing.  I learned about these collars by reading Pam Erny's blog, but the same information is presented in books like David Page Coffin's shirtmaking book, Threads magazine articles and other online tutorials.

 In contrast, it is possible to sew a collar and a collar stand that are attached already, which makes for very speedy construction.

Click here to watch Peggy Sagers show how to sew a shirt in an hour.  She uses a pattern piece that combines the stand and the collar.  The edge attached to the shirt neckline is straight, which makes it a breeze to sew.

For my body shape, and for the sensual pleasure wearing well-fitted clothing, I will take the extra time to sew the curved collar stand and curved collar.

Peggy is fun, entertaining and knowledgeable.   I have taken classes from her at Sewing Expos.  Some shortcuts are brilliant, but some will result in that RTW fit needing improvement, depending on one's particular body.

Personally, I get a better fit with the separate curved pieces.

Here is how I attach the collar band and the collar to a shirt:

Clip seams, iron well, use good quality interfacings and fabrics and the reward is a long lasting shirt.  My shirts last longer than any other item I sew, so a little extra time is time well spent.

How about you?  Preferences?

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GPOYW - December 14, 2011

Gratuitous Post of Yourself Wednesday

I am wearing nothing sewn by me except my gray coat.

turtleneck - purchased from a small shop going out of business
cardigan - "perfect cardigan" in ruby by J.Jill
skirt - Royal Robbins Discovery Skirt from REI  
heather gray leggings - with wool socks (nice and warm)
boots - Jane Tall Cuff by Frye in Taupe soft pebbled grain

Amusingly, the skirt fits me very well but that is because I am not wearing it as the designer intended:
The Royal Robbin Discovery Skirt is designed to ride low on the waist and hit below the knee.   
Between my age-appropriate waistline and extra height, it sits at my waist and hits me at knee length. The fabric has a little lycra, resists wrinkles and features lots of pockets.  REI had an end-of-season sale I was killing time while DH shopped.  What a happy surprise - this is a great skirt!

Everyone feeling OK?  I've been knocked back with a nasty cold and operating only at bare minimum levels.  You know - it freaked me out at first because "I have so much to prepare for Christmas!"  But when the cold lingered, so I started coming up with work-around plans.  My goodness, I love this! 

I am not sewing any Christmas presents; all gifts have been purchased online directly from the online wishlists of the recipients; a 2-foot tree is on top of a table, and a wreath is on the front door.  That's it! I am even looking into having a cleaning crew come in to clean the house.  We usually do all of our own cleaning, but DH is a little under the weather, too.  And Christmas day celebrations have been scaled back to simple get-togethers with immediate family.

I daresay this could become a tradition.  I know it is harder when your children are small, but simplifying is my gift to myself this year.
Hope you are well, and hope I am back in the sewing room soon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

are we almost there yet?

*{Sorry kids, mom has been driving around in circles}

In sewing news, I have been stitching away on my hoodie jacket.  The sleeves are on and the lining is sewn.  I just need to install the lining and it's finished, yay!  This will be the 7th jacket of 2011, and I hereby proclaim that to be a sufficient number of jackets within a twelve month span.

Here is the latest progress.  First, this doctored-up photo illustrates what I did not like about the sleeves:

 And the fix:

*{back to blogger}

In non-sewing news,  I recently set up a whole new website using Squarespace.  There is a lot to love about that platform - they provide hosting and website design resources in an extremely secure and reliable environment.   I was drawn by robust content management features (you get get fancy there!) but there are drawbacks.

The main problem for me was the user interface for posting to the blog.  You could only load one picture at a time and there is no way to preview the post before clicking "submit".
There are ways to prepare posts offline, and then upload them, but it was not easy enough to justify the extra effort.  I kept my blogger account alive just in case I wanted to return and I am glad I did.  Now I know, the grass isn't greener.  It's just different grass.

Thanks for your patience while I've bounced around, and please let me know if things don't seem to be working - I do still need to wrap up a few loose ends.

Happy Sewing!

December tidbits