Friday, September 28, 2012

COLORS for sewing

me in black with brights and the Prada 2012 Cruise Collection pastels (blogged here)

COLORS!  I'm for 'em. Aren't we all?! 

Seeking to mistake-proof my sewing, I have studied the subject on the internet. (If you have more knowledge, please share /set me straight in the comments). Here is a nifty little color test if you are curious about your own color sensitivity.

Color theory is worthy of several semesters of college-level classes, but here are some basics.  There is hue, which is the red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet description.  Then there is chroma, or how saturated and rich the color is, as opposed to muted.  And finally, value describes how close the color is to black or to white. There are infinite shades of gray between black and white and all of these grays travel through colors.  That is how you can buy gray paint that looks green on your walls, or purple or blue or beige on your walls.  There are a lot of grays.

Back in the 1980's,  seasonal color analysis became very popular as a way of choosing flattering makeup and clothing colors. Here is a quick synopsis of the 4 seasons: Winter and Summer are cool, Spring and Autumn are warm. Winter is higher contrast with more saturated colors whereas Summer colors are cool, muted and lower contrast.  Autumn colors are warm, darker and muted, compared to Spring's warm, lighter and richer colors.

In more recent years, Kathryn Kalisz and others expanded the theory to 12 categories.  In this way of thinking, each primary season has two siblings that are a little closer to neutral than the "true" season.  Having 8 additional palettes has made this useful to all the people who did not fit neatly into the original 4 seasons.

The main issue I have with color analysis is applying the knowledge. It is still up to me to find fabrics that fit my requirements.  Unless I want to wear nothing but solid colors, I need to evaluate prints somehow.  So often, prints have some of "my colors" but also include a few colors that I hate.  My last fabric shopping trip was my most successful ever. I actually walked through fabric stores, waving around a color fan (procured here).  I let the color fan draw me to prints, sometimes surprising prints.  Almost every fabric I bought was purchased with some trepidation, but I really like all of the garments sewn from this last batch of fabrics.  The main colors new to me are yellow and green. It is so nice to expand my palette!

What about you?  Do you buy into the whole color analysis thing?  Ever had it done?  Think it helps or overly confuses? Do you have a good gut instinct about color? 

OR- do you think it is better to wear a broad variety of colors and, maybe tweak your makeup to enhance the combination and rock on! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

coat pattern and miscellany

Thank you for your helpful comments as I went through the pattern selection process!  You helped me let go of a couple great ideas (and I can revisit those ideas in the future, right?).  For this project, I am trying to duplicate a favorite coat that wore out and left my closet several years ago. I found #120 in the December issue of the 2006 Burda magazine. 

the photos remind me of how I felt wearing my herringbone coat

This might be 6 years old, but it looks current to me!

there is a hidden button placket, with 3 large decorative buttons on the outside
The pattern pieces are similar to 11-2006-107 and I muslined that pattern in 2009 for fitting by Kenneth King.  I never finished the 11-2006-107 coat I started, because the interfacing was all wrong and when I basted it together, it bothered me how stiff it was.  I set it aside and finally tossed it out last weekend, having decided I did not love the fabric enough to save the project.  I didn't even post about throwing it out because it bothered me so much.  For this coat, I will use my press to fuse interfacing.  And isn't it GREAT to redeem the loss by re-using the pattern.  It won't be too hard to change the front closure and collar to become 12-2006-120.

it just came pouring out
I wrote a real navel-gazer of a post last night, called "it just came pouring out" and then chickened out and took it down.  It still exists, though, as my new "about me" page. A long time ago, I had crazy high expectations for myself and aspired to artistic greatness.  When the magazine editor job popped into my life, it triggered a false impression that, hey life is fair!  I was finally getting what I had wanted all my life; I would earn my living in a creative job. We all know how that went!

on jealousy
Over the last couple months, I saw other bloggers sewing with fabric from Mood and I suspected they were getting the fabric for free. I was so busy with my own drama, it was not high on my radar.  Then recently, I saw 9 of my favorite bloggers write posts about the Mood Sewing Network and the question was answered. And I was jealous! It took me a few days to admit it to myself - and what a relief to get honest.  I was not jealous of the 9 bloggers, I was still carrying that torch for "the creative job" for crying out loud, and I was jealous at what Meg had accomplished.  Just understanding my emotions allowed the jealousy to transform into admiration for Meg. Meg's talent is on full display and I love it!

on empathy
When I got the editor job, there was a difficult side to the success.  Some people, people I had thought of as friends, were critical. Crossing over into the industry side meant going silent as a civilian sewer.  It would take time to make new friends and allies on the industry side.  I could not come to my blog and post about things anymore. That is why I feel empathy towards anyone caught off guard by the dark side of success.

on prosperity
When good things happen to our fellow sewists - it is good for all of us. For the nine bloggers currently participating in the Mood Sewing Network , surely there are 99 more who would like to be involved. Maybe there are 999 more? [and if you read the fine print, there will be opportunities for more]
But here is the important thing: this is exciting. Meg brought to life a fantastic idea. 
Maybe this will inspire more industry insiders (maybe a big 4 pattern company?) to get their products out into the blogosphere and let us share more information. The home sewing industry is on the upswing and we all want more fabric, more patterns, more instruction in our neighborhoods, more, more more and we want the good stuff. 
To the industrywe bloggers are your dream come true. We provide oodles of free advertising for you and we stir up interest in sewing.  We bolster prosperity in the home sewing industry.

in summary
thank you for reading this far!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

coat planning

Everything is here and I can get started.  Look at the beautiful fabric that came:
I've been looking for the right herringbone for years, to replace a much loved coat that wore out.
This pattern wants to become a coat for
The pattern alterations have been done since January 2011
I'd say this pattern has waited long enough.
My concern is the length. Is it just too much?  I love the fabric so much I don't want to sew something that is impractical and seldom worn.  I mean, look at this ... or am I over-thinking?
That's a lot of herringbone.  Too much?
I could cut B4727 to be shorter - say, above the knee?

Or should I go with something fitted, like this double breasted V7979:

I am so ready to kick this cold and recover some energy.  It's very unusual for me to lack energy for sewing, but right now, that is the situation.  Soon.  I'll feel better soon.

Do you have opinions?  Suggestions?  I am open ....

update: here is my choice (thanks for all the suggestions!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Franken-Pattern Dress

The bottom half of this dress  for my stepdaughter looks viable now that I have removed almost 3 inches of ease throughout.

For the bodice, I started fresh by tracing off an unaltered copy of with the Robin Top.   Because I had just sewn it for myself, I knew the cap sleeve was perfect.  It was fast for me to change the neckline, rotate darts and add design ease for the crossover front - only because my head was in that solution and it made sense to me at the time.  I may look back at this post one day and wonder what the heck?  But if it works, I'll take it.

Before I took this dress apart for alterations, I snapped a few pics of the zipper insertion.  This filmy cotton voile is not necessarily easy to work with.  Seams can stretch out of shape easily.  So I mistake-proofed the alignment of the empire seam by sewing just that portion first.

The zipper is sewn in just a few inches above and below the empire seam.
the print hides the seams, but I still wanted it to be perfect
Once that intersection was matched to my satisfaction, I sewed on the rest of the zipper.  An invisible zipper can be inserted any number of ways - do what works for you and don't be afraid to break the rules.  It's only some fabric, right?  (I know! just kidding!  this is SERIOUS BUSINESS.)

in this photo, one side of the zipper has been sewn, and I am using pins to place the intersecting seams together before sewing the other side of the zipper.

I predict this dress will work out just fine in the end but whether I have achieved a tried and true /TNT pattern remains to be seen.  It takes discipline to go back and update the paper pattern with the final fitting tweaks and sometimes, it's almost impossible to figure out how I made it work.  I think part of that mystery is the fabric.  Each fabric behaves a little differently and won't fit exactly the same.

So, in further Kelly news, I gave her this silk chiffon top:
(dear Kelly, use delicate cycle to wash and hang to dry)
I played fashion photographer and caught a paparazzi style photo, hehe.  So, the reason I gave her this top is because a. she liked it and b. I rarely wore it.

Thanks to my own blog, I had a fitting epiphany a while back (this is such a great way to keep notes on my projects) and finally realized that I have a narrow chest.  Kelly does not.  That's why this top is comfortable for her to wear.

her width across the chest is just right for this top.
The difference is subtle to the eye, but I am narrower.
I could ramble on.  It has been quite an interesting journey in sewing thus far!  As soon as I shake this cold, I will be starting a coat.  It was cool this morning, so autumn is approaching.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

cool and breezy floral wovens for summer's end

Thank you one and all for your comments and your messages over the last several weeks.  Your support and kindness means more than you'll ever know.

Check out my Robin Top ...  when I sewed the muslin, I learned the zipper wasn't necessary. Perhaps a person with slim hips and broad shoulders would need a zipper, but it was fine for me without one.  The fit has just the right amount of ease without being loose or sloppy. It's as fast and easy as it looks, too.
Fabric: cotton-silk blend and pattern: Robin Top by Style Arc
We snapped these photos during a brief break in a storm - there were tornado warnings in the DC area today.

Have you seen these Fall Fashions with separates sewn from matching prints?  I have plenty of fabric left over. I am tempted to sew pants or a skirt from this fabric and if I lived in NYC, I would.  That is something I really like about NYC.  You can wear whatever you want and there will be a zillion people dressed weirder than you.  

The other fun fabric on my table this week has been the dress for my stepdaughter, Kelly, modeled here on my dress form.  Because Kelly and I have somewhat similar measurements, I knew this dress had turned out way.too.big.

And not surprisingly, when she tried it on, it was a huge sack dropping off her shoulders.  At that point, I looked up V8632 on patternreview, and saw others with the same results.  Maybe next time I will check reviews first?!
lotsa volume 

The good news is that I can take in the skirt, and there is enough fabric to sew a new bodice.  I'll spend some quality time with the seam-ripper to deconstruct the dress and start over.  The tie turned out to be a little awkward, too.
Here is how I will change it for the next version:

OK, time to get that seam ripper and start unpicking ....

Should I sew pants to match my new top?  I feel a little wicked just thinking about it.  What happens when a person starts experimenting with fashion - do you have to keep it up every day?
Can you do just one day a week, say "Fashion Forward Fridays"?
You know I am kidding, right?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The September Issue

I'm enjoying the September issues of Vogue, Marie Claire, NYT Style Magazine and InStyle, but the most exciting September issue for me was the Style Arc newsletter. I ordered the Nina cardigan because I liked the Abby so much and this one is even better.  The waist shaping will make it easier to belt and it is so comfortable to wear a cardigan sewn from sumptuous rayon or viscose jersey.
Skinny belt shopping is on my To-Do List. It really makes the look.
I'll wear these with boots. That extra bit of detail elevates them from leggings.
I love this silhouette, and look, there is the Robin Top, my namesake!
Once I had placed my order for the patterns above, I sewed up a Robin Top and so far, it looks like a winner. Here it is before adding facings and needing an hem. The fabric is a stretch crepe from EmmaOneSock.  
First try-on and I love it! Needs to be finished.
This high-tech weave might be my favorite fabric for basics, because it doesn't wrinkle, has a heavy hand and a nice drape and the black is nice and rich.  So far, it seems to wear well and I like my sewn clothes to last.  I have been working with this kind of capsule in mind:

Lately, I have forced my daughter to accompany me on quests for amazing accessories.
She is an excellent shopping companion - very supportive of spending money.
Next, it makes sense to me to sew a capsule of basics in my colors.  I adore these looks and could see mixing and matching them with my black and white pieces to be sartorially satisfied.

This is now mine. It is my first excited-to-buy-it handbag in YEARS.
For those of us who lean towards a minimalist aesthetic, handbags have been horrible for a decade now.
 But this - in this shade of green - oh it makes me happy!
It is Kate Spade Cobble Hill Little Minka.
More looking, more shopping, more dreaming ....
Another item on my wish list - I sent off for a swatch of this coating at EmmaOneSock.
If it lives up to my fantasies, I will sew a winter coat.
 Perhaps a Stella?
This was the freebie pattern I got when I joined the Style Arc Members Club.
It looks like a pretty easy sew, for a coat.

My goodness, I have a lot of plans, don't I?  That's what happens on a holiday weekend - a person starts to feel like there is plenty of time to sew a whole wardrobe!  I did finish Kelly's dress, and I will post pics when she is available to model it.

Back to magazines, I have seen the October/November issue of Vogue Patterns magazine and it was  exciting to see Ann Rowley's work featured (V8804 - Claire Shaeffer Couture Collection cardigan jacket)  because I also got to edit Claire Shaeffer's article on trims. I enjoyed editing all of the articles.  I have a whole new appreciation for magazines, writers and editors.

Anyway, I wish I'd been able to look at all the articles one last time, to remove a few unnecessary exclamation points, but overall, I liked seeing my work.  While I was at the magazine, my main role was editing articles and other organizational tasks.  The fashion point of view comes from the team exactly as described in the letter from the Publisher.  It's her baby.

Now that I have been back in Maryland longer than I was in New York, it all feels OK.  I won't fib and say it was easy to walk out like I did. It was hard. I had invested 100% of myself - emotionally, mentally, creatively, and no small amount of dollars & time to make it work. In retrospect, I can see that it may have ultimately been very hard for me to be a brand ambassador for a magazine that isn't really my aesthetic. I liked the classic aesthetic under the previous editor and just assumed that's what would continue, but now I realize there is always more than meets the eye.  Situations can be complicated.

I certainly do wish everyone well there.  I am sure the magazine and the company will go on to flourish, even without my contribution!!  (oops, unnecessary exclamation points)
Suffice to say, it was worth it. I guarantee the good memories outweigh the bad.

On that note, my friends, I bid you a good evening.
May you surf the web and find more interesting little things to read.