Tuesday, October 30, 2012

we survived Sandy!

And I learned how to make a GIF over the weekend in my PhotoShopDC class.

I sincerely hope all those affected by Sandy are coping and recovering from the massive damage.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Monday, October 29, 2012

burda dress 6-2008-129 and miscellany

You may recall a little Halloween project mentioned recently, and my plans to take a Photoshop class.  All wrapped in one tidy package is what you see above - the results of my labors.  The dress was very easy compared to the Photoshop class!

About the dress: 

This pattern is easy to sew with just a couple minor exceptions: godets & working with the bias.
  • The godets are set right into the field of fabric, so I sewed one side at a time, starting at the point and using a tiny stitch, very close to the edge. As I sewed away from the point, the seam allowance of the white fabric gradually widened to match the seam allowance of the gold fabric. Both fabrics cooperated nicely, because each had a tight weave. 
  • Sewing on the bias means pieces can slip and slide into weird shapes. Once the pieces were cut, I let them hang more than 24 hours. Careful pinning kept one side from stretching away from the other during stitching. Fusing a strip of interfacing on seam allowances stabilized the area  for easy zipper insertion.
The design of the dress is a little puzzling. The underbust gathering is lower than the wearer's bust, and with the lining, it becomes bulky enough to pouf out. For that reason, I would not sew this again for her - it is not flattering, unless one Cleopatra-izes the outfit. She had me lower the neckline a good 1-2 inches and add cording along the edge of the neckline (to look like piping, but hand-sewn). The long cord ends meet in the center where they are wrapped around the body to re-shape the silhouette to a closer fit. It might be a little difficult to see in the photos; take my word for it. I am her mom, after all, and I am not posting any close-ups of what Fells Point and Federal Hill saw last weekend.

About the Photoshop class:

Blogshop is a weekend class taught by two very smart, very beautiful, very talented, very successful women. The material is well organized and delivered clearly, focused on the needs of bloggers. I got hooked on reading shelter blogs a few years ago; here is a nice list of shelter blogs.  That's how I came across this class. The teachers of Blogshop are big league stars in design, photography and online beautifulness and it was truly an honor to learn from them. The final project was to create a mood board, like what The Vivienne Files does so well. 


I learned so much, but the photoshop class was hard for a number of reasons. Though I did not dwell on it beforehand, I knew I was throwing myself into a different pond of fish. These are women closer to my daughter's age than my own, and they are super stylish in every aspect of their lives. We were instructed to "wear something cute for your photo!" Now that class is over, I admit the "be cute!" factor scared the hell out of me. It's hard enough to learn something new without the pressure of looking cute, too! I put on my big-girl-panties and went to class.

I knew it would be hard.  I have been noticing this as I journey through the decades of my life. My memory is good enough, just barely haha that was self-deprecating humor, at age 55, to remember how I learned as a teenager.  

As a teenager, I listened in the classroom, without taking notes, and aced every exam. Now, there is this meandering path from the input (where my ears hear what is said) and the output (where my hands make it happen). Keeping up can be a challenge. I hear concepts, understand concepts, but there is a time lapse before the results appear. At one point, Angela gently-but-bluntly reassured me with a fantastic pep talk. It was just what I needed. May she go on to conquer the world in all her endeavors; she is just so very kind.

This is not the first time I have noticed this slowdown of learning speed. It was hard in 2003, when a large team of us learned new business process /accounting software.  The youngsters learned faster than the oldsters. Maybe it is because they grew up playing video games? I once swore I'd rather play with a rock and a stick than a video game, so you know where that puts me. Now, my knowledge of SAP is more than adequate, so I can still learn - it just happens differently now.

The main point is that now I need to make a conscious, more persistent effort to learn new things at this age.

The painful part of learning is a small price to pay for new creative avenues.
What do you say, shall I step away from the computer and head into the sewing room? 
Hurricane Sandy has given me a free day off and I think we are in a safe spot to ride out the storm.
Everyone else- stay safe!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Hey, it's Gratuitous Pic of Yourself Wednesday!

awesome image manipulation, yes? (ha ha, no)

If I had photoshop skills I would have put makeup on myself, which is a little sad because I was convinced I was wearing makeup. The exciting news in my world is that I signed up for a Photoshop Bootcamp class this weekend and I will be learning how to use CS6. That makes me feel very fancy, AND, I am migrating my blog to my own domain soon! I am moving to Wordpress and my new location will be www alittlesewing dot com, but the launch isn't ready quite yet.
OK - gotta run - a super busy day today, but HI!

and happy sewing

Monday, October 22, 2012

McCall's 5974 Dress - Spot the Difference

October 21, 2012 

Sewn in December 2010

Alteration! I removed about an inch all across the lower edge of the bodice
and replaced the wide wrap ties with a short narrow tie in the back.
It is so much more comfortable now.

 Outdoor lighting for photography varies greatly, doesn't it?
Those very strong shadows are a result of a bright autumn sun at noon.
Halloween costume sewing and alterations - that's what's going on in my sewing room. And my beautiful coat fabric beckons, oh so patiently. Yes, my lovely coat, you will get your turn. Patience is a virtue.

I am participating in Visible Mondays at Not Dead Yet Style - check out more of us middle-aged all ages bloggers there!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

hula hoop!

I have wanted to find a hula hooping class for a long time, and it was very exciting to give it a try.  The nice person from Chic Physique provided tips to get me going. They have a lot of other exciting classes, too!

Happy Autumn!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

GPOYW: gratuitous-picture-of-yourself-Wednesday

one of four knit dresses styled for autumn
It feels good to be back at work, and my best cube-mate-ever is happy to resume her duties as office photographer.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

burda 06-2008-129 pretty dress

It's that time of year, when I happily set aside my own sewing to collaborate on a costume for m'dear daughter. This year the look is Cleopatra and the pattern is burda style 06-2008-129. If anyone wonders who these patterns are sized for, my daughter seems to be their target market, because I can sew a size 46 straight out of the envelope with no alterations for her. Here is what we chose:

from the June 2008 issue
A few notes of interest: this dress is cut entirely on the bias, so single layer cutting is necessary. It calls for well over 4 yards of fabric. Momma bought ~2 yards before knowing how it would be used, so know that you can add a center back seam and piece one of the back pieces, skip the godets and squeak by. Dear daughter intends to style it with lots of gold and suggested the sheer gold godets.  What's Halloween without a little tacky?
half sewn - half pinned so that the bias pieces can hang before sewing.
I splurged on Home Dec cording just because I loved it, and never have enough time to shop around for better prices.
However, it must be said that Michael always charges a little less than another fabric store might.  And I know it's not just special treatment for me, I think he is like the bartender who slips a free drink to steady customers, kwim?
Who knows how DD will style it, I just threw it on. 
love the cording for the gathered shoulder seams!
and here is the sheer gold fabric for the godets - got a great price on the end of bolt at G Street Fabrics.
You know, that place is a mystery to me.  I go in there so often that the long time employees always great me with a smile.  But then there are others who are just downright arrogant, and/or mean. What is up with that?
By now, G Street is like a second home to me and when I encounter that attitude, I just give it right back.
But seriously, why?  The selection for apparel sewing seems to decline a little more every year and it is sad.
as always, burda seems to be ahead of trends. I am sure I flipped right past this spread in 2008, but is looks pretty current now, doesn't it? I'd wear that yellow necklace towards the center of the page! Love it!

And here are two version of #129 sewn up - with cap sleeve on the version on the right. The godets aren't even noticeable, are they? And I predict the underbust gathering (looks a little low to me, but whatever) will look just like that on DD, too, but she can style it up with lots of jewels and whatnot if she desires a closer fit.

I hope my coat mojo comes back when I finish this dress.  That mess with unsuccessful muslin mockups really dampened my spirits. But, if am nothing if not determined! I ordered a batch of heavy-weight muslin (CL-MH Muslin, Heavy Weight, #315, 40-50" wide) from Steinlauf and Stoller last week. It arrived the very next day. When I call them, they are brisk, so I am, too. I give them the product number, yardage, credit card number and address and we are done. I admit I don't even ask the price or shipping costs, because they just seem too busy for any dithering. That is fine, I have always been happy with their prices and the insanely speedy service. I had my muslin within 24 hours.

Oh - one more thing! You know, I get the loveliest emails from readers and I especially appreciate hearing from locals. I tend to reply with the best of intention, agreeing to drop you a line next time I am headed to G Street so we can meet up and hang out. Then, when the time comes, I find myself in a time crunch and off I go, hoping to dash in and out and get back home to the sewing room. I really do want to meet up! I need local friends! Between the job in Baltimore and the home in the DC area, it can be hard to build up a network of local friends. We will do it. One day I will manage my time better and make the contact and we will get together! Til then, thank you for your patience!

And to my buds in the blogosphere, xoxo!!
More to come...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

why I blog, the short version

muslin fail, pattern fail,
 bad boy goes to the garbage pail
Q: So Robin, why do you blog anyway?
A: One reason is to keep track of my sewing. By documenting my work as I go, I build a reference library for myself, which will save time for me in future projects.
Q: And how is that working for you?
A: Um, well, I just wasted spent lots of time preparing a pattern that I thought I had lost.
Q: And?
A: After blogging about this current failure, I realized I had used that lost misplaced pattern within the last year.  I looked harder and found the pattern mixed in with my Style Arc binders.
So much for blogging as a time-saving device.

Here is the found pattern:
I had shortened the coat pattern into a jacket pattern, but kept all the pieces.
I had even drawn little pictures across cut lines, to help me reassemble the pattern in the future. How thoughtful!
is it just me, or does this image look a little ... no I refuse to type the word I am thinking.
So! I am starting over.  I will increase the wearing ease using the same method I used on Kelly's coat, because that worked really well.  And I will sew another muslin (or more if necessary) and I will reign victorious over this pattern! It has nice lines and it's a good cut for me, so it is worth the effort.

I feel certain you will understand that light refreshment is in order, to distract me from recent frustrations. It is Halloween Costume time!  About the only time I sew for my daughter is for Halloween and she plans to be a Cleopatra Goddess Woman this year.  I love the fabric and trim I found.

This is her inspiration photo:
A little fantasy sewing is just the ticket. (Doesn't my fabric look ALOT like the inspiration photo? I found it at A Fabric Place in Baltimore)

New lesson: trying to work from a fabric muslin to create a paper pattern is risky business.  Fabric stretches out if shape.  I know it is a time-honored, effective technique in couture sewing, but I had not marked my muslin with grainlines, or any other necessary details.  I think I am just more of a paper-pattern-person anyway.  At least I will have a well-fitted, well drafted pattern by the time I finally cut my fabric.  I bet the sewing will go pretty fast at that point.


Friday, October 5, 2012

a room with a view

This is the view in my sewing room and I like what I see.  The fabric & interfacing have been spot-pressed, pattern alterations are complete and I can start cutting this weekend.

After much comparison and review of patterns on hand, I decided to use this one out of Bernina My Label pattern-making software:

I sewed this muslin mock-up back in July 2008, and used the bodice for the blue sparkly jacket and the cosy autumn jacket. Part of my work was to add more wearing ease suitable for a coat.

Just today, I spied a very similar coat in the LLBean catalog.  I'll be adding the same pockets and wrist bands.

Can you see the little bit of sparkle woven into the herringbone?  IT IS SO PRETTY! So, I really cannot mess this up.  I may stitch up one more mock-up of the pattern - just to be sure.

We shall see... So, what is new with me, you ask? I will have a normal weekend with the husband for the first time in a month (yippee).  He had to work every weekend in September, and took some Tuesdays and Wednesdays off to catch his breath.  You would think I sewed a lot during those weekends, but nope, I had a cold for a while and then caught up on  housework when I felt better. Now I wonder what is new with you? Anything fun planned for the weekend? Are you sewing a coat? I am seeing a lot of coats out there in blogland.

Hope to have more to share soon!

PS Learn more about spot-pressing fusible interfacing in Pam Erny's tutorial on her blog Off the Cuff Style. So much of my knowledge comes from Pam's blog - I am so grateful to the sewing virtuosos like Pam who share generously with us in the online sewing community.