Monday, January 30, 2012

catch-up time: THREE knit tops!

OK, now I have six items sewn for my SWAP.  Since I need eleven, I am more than half way there.  Have you noticed I am not planning?  I think it still counts as a SWAP, though because I am thinking about making each piece work with the others.  Thinking counts, right?  I am keeping track on my SWAP page here.

My SWAP has emerged as a colorful one - and it will be entirely wearable as spring arrives.
I sewed three tops from the same pattern this weekend, the cowl neck top from My Image Magazine Winter 2011/2012.
This black top above started off as a long-sleeved top and careless serging turned it into a short-sleeved top.

The second version, above, which is cranberry with blue undertones, also started out as a long-sleeved top.
The sleeves were so tight (an absent-minded cutting error) I had to cut them really short and add a band to make the sleeve long enough to look OK.  yeah, I was on top of my game all right!
I waited until I had the pattern perfected and appropriate attention span in place before cutting into this amazing green silk jersey.  It is a great color with blue undertones, and brighter than what this photo suggests.  This has been in my stash since I scored several beautiful pieces from Jane of Lucky Sew-and Sew.  She has great taste in fabric- nothing but the best quality!  I have enjoyed sewing many of the pieces I acquired from her.

This gives a little better idea of the color.
I am really pleased to be sewing with colorful fabrics.
Won't I be the bees knees on St. Patrick's Day?
It was really fun to sew this easy pattern.  The alterations were not difficult and the tops are comfortable and flattering.  Boy, it sure is nice to have a few fast easy things come together, isn't it?  I may try a dress from the same issue of My Image Magazine.

Also, I have ordered a few patterns from the Australian pattern-maker Style Arc:

It will probably be another week before these arrive, but I am checking the mail every day!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vogue Patterns - Spring 2012

Here are my picks.  If the magic time machine is invented, I'd like 36 hours a day, please, so I can sew all these lovely patterns!

First up is this perfect-for-me jacket by Anne Klein.  Those princess shaping seams provide a beautiful cut to suit my narrow back torso and mature front side.  I love that collar, too.  That little angle at the bottom of the center front pleases me.
This pattern is rated difficult, and I am not surprised.  It would be worth the effort.
Next, here is an easy-going dress by Donna Karan New York.  The cap sleeves give visual width to the shoulder line and the shoulder seams look easy to alter.  The high and tight back neckline wards off chilled air conditioning. All that draping at the shoulder and skirt give a little Grecian flair, and the wrap-around pockets add interest to the back.

I especially like this next pattern because it includes three interesting pieces, or four, if you consider the dress can be shortened into a top.  [The pants are just garden variety pants].
  • The jacket's fit-friendly princess seams integrate with the collar in an interesting way.  I like the casual effect of the ruched sleeves contrasted with a bodice that might otherwise be formal.  The jacket looks cute styled with the narrow belt, too.  
  • The skirt is right up my alley with those vertical seams in the front (slimming) and back.  The little kick pleat in the back is sexy.  
  • And the dress!  That shaping would be great for my back, especially under the shoulder blades where I am narrow.  For me, this pattern is a winner.  

And what is this?
cute handbags!

This is the first time I can recall seeing handbag patterns that I like!  I just don't usually find them to look as good as what's available in the stores, but then I have not been liking handbag styles very much for the last few years.  They have gotten too big for my taste.  It's a weight thing.  I just don't want to carry around a duffle bag, because it will fill up with things that don't need to be dragged everywhere.
These bags are sized just right: not too big and not too small.  And both are styles I would carry.
 There's more!  I found a lot to like in the Spring 2012 Vogue patterns.  This is a perfect cool top for a hot day.  I'd sew this in seersucker, linen or cotton.  I always like the cap sleeve silhouette.

And finally, the most gorgeous dress I've seen in a while.  It is modest enough for me, because I could work out that armpit area for the right coverage.  The beautiful wide straps even provide space for subtle shoulder pads (every little bit helps when it comes to enlarging the shoulder line).  The V neckline in the back is a nice surprise and the asymmetrical draping into the center back seam is so pretty.  I like gentle folds of fabric in the front to skim the body.  Maybe I *will* sew this one up.  My sister is getting married in June and that will give me a nice occasion to dress up.  I love it, can you tell?

OK, back to planning my sewing. I am a little behind in my production of garments for the SWAP 2012, but if I bang out some knit tops or other easy patterns, I can stay in the game.

OK- Friday is here!
That is a good thing here,
Happy Sewing!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Black Flippy Skirt

I struck while the iron was hot and sewed another 8-gored skirt right away.  This time I used a wool crepe knit and it is very Eileen Fisher-esque.  This version only took a couple hours from start to finish.

I tinkered with the photos, but it is hard to see the design in this stretchy black knit wool crepe.  There is enough fabric left over to make a cardigan - wouldn't a matching cardigan add up to a nice low-key suit for the rare occasion I need one?  Yes, I think so, too!

The skirt is lined with black tricot.

Each panel of the skirt was hemmed before stitching the panels together.  This way the flare is a little more subtle than the tan skirt.  I loved the way the flares draped on the tan skirt before hemming.  That was a learning experience!  Once hemmed, the flares became very pronounced, and less graceful, so I made a mental note to try hemming before seaming on my next version.   As you know, black is so hard to photograph, so please take my word for it- the draping of the panels is very subtle & feminine.

And so- here we have a little home-made line drawing!
I added it to my new page for the 2012 SWAP, where I plan to keep track of my sewing as I go along, with little notes and tips in one handy place for later reference.   The purpose of this year's SWAP is to develop a wardrobe of patterns and I am excited to make it happen and cover all my bases.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Gratuitous Post of Yourself Wednesday:
thanks, Holly, for your mastery of iphone fashion photography :)
Is it just me, or did it seem like this jacket would never be finished and worn?  I started in November!
The skirt took longer than I expected, too, but lots of other non-sewing things were accomplished in my household, so it was worth it. 

Next up?  the excitement builds as I ponder....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Leisurely Sewing

There are times for speed-sewing and that's not what I am doing right now.  Lately, my sewing time is a more like spa time.   I linger, I fuss and I fondle.  I try on the garment after every little alteration.
The sparkly jacket is probably finished by the time you read this.
I used four-ply silk for the lining and it is oh-so-deluxe.
 I accidentally cut the jacket too short, forcing use wide bias tape for the hem.  Oops!  That's why the lining is attached so close to the edge of the hem.  

At this rate, who knows if I can complete 11 garments for the SWAP, but I will try.  The tan skirt is finished, so only 9 more to go.

This has been on my inspiration board for a while:

And this is what I am thinking:

I'll be back later to post shots of the finished skirt and jacket.  Whether I sew this dress next or not, I sure am glad I have so many fabrics that work well with this jacket.  I look forward to sewing them up as the ideas roll in.

So!  Today is my 7th wedding anniversary!  Yay to me and Howie.  We are giving ourselves a good report card.   No seven-year-itch for us, if anything, we will renew our vows over a nice steak dinner tonight.  

And there is more...

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States of America.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

More later!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GPOYW (Gratuitous Picture of Yourself Wednesday)

I just got back from the dentist where a big fuss was made over my skirt.  How pleasing, because I made it!
self portrait with an iphone
I sewed this in December 2007 and I re-constructed it with better underlining techniques in February 2010The top was also sewn in February 2010 during a snowstorm.

This skirt has become a real wardrobe staple for me.  Isn't it funny how unpredictable it is?  Which garment will become that special favorite?  And I was quite bashful about the attention in the dentist's office.  They specifically complimented my fashion sense.  I guess that is what might happen if make an effort to develop personal style. 
You might get noticed. 

I felt a little funny about it.

Oh well, I feel a little funny about a lot of things.  I will add this to the pile.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sewing With A Plan 2012- I need a catchy name

What should I call my SWAP?  It has been four years since I sewed Downtown Date and I am ready to SWAP again.  In 2008, I was a new convert to Bernina My Label pattern-making software, which had produced many well-fitting patterns for me, including a gored skirt.  I sewed a long version and a short version that year.

Because the 2012 SWAP focuses on tried-and-true patterns,  I am off to a good start by using that gored skirt pattern for my first garment:  

I deliberately cut this with a close fit, because this lightweight wool suiting fabric contains lycra and it will stretch.
(It is not pressed yet, so please imagine it looking much smoother, thank you!)

I modified the pattern by narrowing the gores almost to the point of being a narrow pencil skirt, but with a slight flare at the hem.   I also drafted a yoke to minimize any bulk around the waist area.  

The back wasn't quite smooth enough, so I made a 2-piece yoke to deal with a slight sway-back alteration:

It's time to install the zipper in the center back seam.
Life has kept me hopping busy for more than a month now.  It's becoming obvious that I must adapt to sewing in thirty-minute-chunks.  

Sewing in thirty-minute-chunks is better than nothing, right?   
I'm just putting it out there: Universe, feel free to lighten up, OK?  
I miss my sewing machine.  I would love more quality time in the sewing room!!
I do like how the skirt is shaping up, so patience, m'dear, patience!
The color is very warm in the photos above.  In real life, I think it's a cooler shade of tan.
Below is a photo taken a few weeks back, in different lighting:
 * boot love *
As far as a name for my 2012 SWAP goes, it seems like "Downtown Date" is still the theme.  My lifestyle hasn't changed since then.  The goal is a variety of garments designed for leisurely museum visits, concerts, restaurants and all those good things.  Of course, I wear the same clothes to work, but you have seen my cubicle.  That is not the most glamorous place, is it?  ha!  
Let's just stick with a more romantic version of my wardrobe requirements.  

Hey, have I thanked you lately?  Well, I should.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.
I really enjoy your comments, opinions and feedback!! 

By the way, if you sew with vintage patterns,  head over to The Blue Gardenia and check out the sale:

Buy 3 or more patterns, get 35% off your total sale!

Sale prices good now through

11:59 p.m. PST Sunday, January 15, 2012

Payment must be received by Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shop Early for Best Selection!

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 2, 2012

couture vs. Ready-To-Wear and other brain teasers

I don't know about you, but I read lots of things online about industry methods versus couture methods (or vice versa) and I have gone through phases of enchantment with many approaches.  Nowadays, I feel reconciled to all of the options available.

I could wear this if I wanted to, because I can sew it for myself:

You might enjoy this article on tailoring vs. dressmaking.  It gives a nice definition of those terms, as well as explanation of made-to-measure garments and where they fall in the spectrum between bespoke and RTW.  The information is presented objectively and provides background and context for how these terms are most often used.  [I am not including the recent phenomenon of the gross overuse of the word "couture".  Here is one of many examples: CoutureCandy]

We DIY clothiers are creating a whole new way to enjoy high quality, unique style and the creative satisfaction of designing our own clothing.
Remarkable, isn't it?

While some moan of all that has been lost, we are at the cutting edge of what is new.  We are part of a movement.  Not only can we enjoy wearing clothes we like, we are dressing ourselves in an ethical way, given the state of global economic turmoil.  Don't get me wrong, I am SORRY that so manufacturing jobs are gone from the US.  I am SORRY that the art of tailoring seems to be declining, and I am SORRY that the great couture houses are slowly declining.  In the face of that, what can one person do?  I can take matters into my own hands and enjoy learning and doing for myself.

I am excited to be a part of something new.  This whole DIY thing is exciting.  No one has to follow any one approach, rather we can quietly lead the way.
Are you noticing some of these conversations around the blogosphere and in the newspapers?
What do you think?