Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pattern Review: Snuggie Baby Wrap Blanket

My former supervisor and friend had her baby shower today. Not too long ago, I used one of my 20% off coupons at Border's to purchase Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones. This book has been reviewed by others and I have to say, believe the hype! The patterns are adorable and witty, smart and sophisticated yet incredibly charming. For my first Amy Butler pattern and first baby shower (yes, it's true! I'd never been to a baby shower before!) I decided Shawnna would be the lucky recipient of a new swaddling blanket. She had two on her registry, but they were sad imitations of the Snuggie Wrap Blanket indeed. Read on for more info...

Pattern Description: A swaddling blanket that wraps around your baby, with a nifty hood and tie to keep him/her nice and warm.

Pattern Sizing: 0-3 months (approx 28" square) and 3-6 months (approx 33" square). I made the larger of the two since babies grow so fast!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? One thing about this particular patterns is that the book didn't include clear visuals of the wrap blanket. All you could really see were the upper half of the infant in the photos - very cute, yes I relied on the line drawing mostly. It did resemble the line drawing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they spelled out every step very clearly, with a single exception. There was only one snafoo - I had issues with the hood. The instructions tell you fleece sides together, but it wasn't 100% clear how the layers went together so the hood ended up on the exterior. For future reference - you make the blanket sandwich as follows: cotton right side to fleece right side with the hood between, hood fleece to blanket fleece, hood cotton to blanket cotton. It could be that I was tired during this phase of construction or perhaps spatially challenged. Or, that particular direction sucked like Burda World of Fashion usually does. Either way, the fix inv0lved getting nice and personal with my BFF, the seam ripper. It took me a few tries, but I finally got it right and it looked wonderful - just like the pictures!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the hood on this blanket. The inclusion of the hood takes the design to a whole other level, in my opinion. Sure a blanket is functional, but the hood makes it truly snuggle worthy.

Fabric Used: After searching the local Joann's for suitable fleece, I decided what they offered was just too scratchy to use against the tender skin of a newborn. I left the store disappointed but decided to shop the stash instead! Lo and behold, but didn't I have just the perfect fleece already? Last year, I had purchased a few yards of Malden Mills Polartec Classic 100 microvelour in chocolate brown. Perfect! This fleece feels like silk velvet against the skin and was the perfect weight for winter here in the Phoenix desert. The exterior is a Moda quilting cotton picked up a local quilt shop that matched my fleece perfectly.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: No changes - how can you mess with blanket perfection?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I plan on making this again, most likely for myself when the time comes. Also, there are many other babies on the way and this one received quite the reception at the baby shower, so I'll probably make it again. It's going to be hard to find something equivalent to the Polartec Fleece, but flannel would probably make a good substitute.

Conclusion: A great baby blanket all around. I highly recommend. Plus, I can imagine the possibilities as the baby grows into childhood and decides his favorite blanket must also double as a cape, which handily has a hood! Hopefully, it will last that long!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Analysis of the "Swayback," the making of V8532

In spite of my blog silence the past month, it does not mean my sewing machine has been in hibernation. In fact, it's been quite busy, sewing up a few projects. None have been completed though because of the issue of my dreaded swayback. The latest project to fall victim to the swayback, is Vogue 8532, a lovely alternative to the classic sheath. Empire waist, fitted design, and my favorite and most flattering neck line. Observe...

I've sewn up a muslin because the sheath would present serious fitting challenges that would have to be worked out before cutting into fashion fabric. In that effort, I've consulted at least a dozen sewing resources trying to establish the best and most effective (read: easiest) way to alter the pattern so that 1) I'll have this awesome dress to strut my stuff in and 2) basic alteration I can use for most similar patterns.

The swayback is my greatest fitting issue and has been the source of pretty much every single UFO in my closet. Most patterns (and RTW clothing) are made from slopers that conform to more universal measurements, meaning they fit to the least curvy denominator. So, it then falls to the sewer - or tailor if you are not sewing inclined - to alter patterns to fit your various curves and hollows. After consulting various sewing resources, the most common fix mentioned is to remove the excess fabric at the back waist by taking a "horizontal tuck" until smooth. Also, this is typically accompanied by letting out the side seams or center back seam to achieve the perfect fit.

In V8532, I tried the "tuck" method. First, I sewed up the unaltered pattern and tried to pin out the excess fabric from the back and sides. Emphasis is on "tried" because it's exceedingly difficult to pin fabric while you are wearing it as every move, twist, bend, contortion attempted pulls and creates yet another wrinkle. Anyway, I was able to guestimate well enough to determine I needed to remove a full 1" from the back waist. I did this by cutting the pattern along the waist line from center back seam to side seam. At the CB, I removed an inch and then drew a line to taper this to the side gradually to nothing. I also had to increase the dart. Here is the result; the original pattern is underneath and my alteration is on top:

Here it is sewn up, from the front and the side. I wasn't able to successfully photograph myself from behind but you can get a good idea of the issues that remain, even with my fairly significant alteration. The wrinkles on the front are because of the way I cut the front piece after the first sewing. Let's just say I can cut a straight line but curves are another matter entirely...Anyway, once I smooth out the actual patter, I expect the fronto lay smooth(er). I have a much bigger issue with this image of the side. It's just as bad on the right as the left. That wrinkle starts from the left waist and extends to the bottom of the dart. I'm not really sure how to fix it, either. Any suggestions???

What is a sway back you ask? Good question, because it is the subject of some discussion lately and people really wonder exactly what is the swayback. From an anatomical perspective, it is a condition called "Lordosis," where the spine curves inward between the ribcage and the pelvis causing stress and discomfort. It can be from general bad posture or be physiologically based. Here is a good image of what it looks like in silouhette:

The sway back affects the way clothing fits and is typically diagnosed by the resulting "wrinkles" or "pooching" at the back waist, above the hips. The wrinkles can also be caused by proportionately large hips (waist:hip ratio), otherwise known as having, well, a big butt.

In my next post, I'll be highlighting how different authors deal with the swayback. Stay tuned and please, feel free to chime in with your particular fix! I need all the help I can get!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Designing a DO they do that?

Often - especially after award shows, movie premiers, and the like - I wonder what it's like to be a celebrity and have clothes designed by masters *just* for me. Well, courtesy of the Oxygen network we can live vicariously and see how Isaac Mizrahi designed a dress for one very, very lucky starlet, Selma Blair. First the concept and conversation, then the fitting where we see the dress in muslin first, later the reveal and grand finale of the dress in action. It's an illuminating look into how a dress is designed for a personality and Isaac really seemed to hit spot on for Selma. She looked amazing, especially next to her latest co-stars, whom she definitely out-shined (photo courtesy of wire image). Not that I don't love Cameron and Christina, but judge for yourself who makes the most of the red carpet...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dreaming of Fall 2008...The Shirt Dress

One of the things I love most about being able to sew is getting ahead of the curve. Well, given my recent spout (er, habitual) of unfinishedness, I like the idea of being ahead. So, let us venture into one of Fall 2008's hottest trends...

The Two Piece Shirt Dress

Burda model 106, from September 2007.

We have one two piece dress which features a high waisted pencil skirt and a chiffon bodice with ruffles and pleats.

Now, let's take a quickie peak at Nordstrom's and see how many retail dresses we can find to match!

In order from left to right we have ABS by Allen Schwartz, Diane VonFurstenburg, Tahari, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren

Two pieces? Check! Pencil Skirt? Check! High waist? Check! Chiffon? Check! Pleats? Check! Ruffle? Check! Need I say more? Cidell made up the Burda is just about an afternoon! And people ask me why I sew. Of the bunch, the DVF is definitely my fave... You?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What a crock! Or, how bad things happen to favorite white shirts...

First off, thanks to everyone for their warm support and condolences. I'm feeling much more positive lately and it's largely due to much mindless surfing of the internet.

In other news, I have been sewing! Lately, the sewing machine has been humming away on McCall's 5624. This is an interesting pattern, featuring a dress in two lengths - mid-knee & maxi - and a jumpsuit. That's right folks: a jumpsuit. I have noticed lately that certain starlets in Hollywood have been seen sporting the jumpsuit in various incarnations. Certainly there are those that argue a jumpsuit really only looks good on WW2 airmen, mechanics in calendars smeared sexily with grease, and Elvis. I would tend to agree and say the modern woman should avoid the jumpsuit at all costs, as demonstrated by the model on the pattern photo... Even ignoring the unfortunate placement of the starburst motifs on the bodice, the jumpsuit does this lovely model no favors by lengthening her crotch, shortening her legs, let along having to get naked to use the loo. Seriously, who wears these?

The interesting details of this particular pattern feature twisted straps, an empire waist and midriff inset. These aren't that noticeable, but if you look closely at the line drawing, you can see the twists. Also, I cut the pattern for the shorter dress out of approximately 1.5 yards of fabric - definitely a nice feature for the odd piece in the stash.

The fabric I chose is a red printed rayon challis that I picked up for about $0.80/yd when the local Hancock's closed it's doors. Score, right? Wrong! Which brings me to the title of this particular post. Now, one of the reasons we should all prewash fabric is because sometimes cheap fabric reveals itself and its evil ways before it enters circulation in your wardrobe. So, I'm sure you're saying, "Rosanne just get to the point already." There was considerable excess dye in the yardage and it has transferred color to everything that has touched it, a problem referred to as "crocking". My fingers, the sewing machine, my ironing board cover, my iron! True, the fabric is rayon and dyes for rayons are notorious non-colorfast. But still...

So Friday morning, while I'm getting ready for work I decided I wanted to wear my favorite white shirt. It fits just so and hits me in all the right places, you know? I pull it from the hanger and realize it could use a good press so I readied the iron and board. From the first touch of hot plate to cloth, I knew I was done for! The impression of my iron in red on my favorite shirt! And this is after two washes and soaks with oxygen bleach and stain remover! Just look!
I'm about 65% completed with the dress. I just have to attach the skirt and midriff lining then it'll be ready for zipper installation. So far, the bodice is "okay," neither bad nor good. The only shaping comes from slight gathers under each bodice half and and I don't believe it's bra friendly on my body. I might end up taking out the straps and resewing the pleats on the bodice and re-twisting the straps. Looking at the photo now, the right side looks slightly off. That color is really red, though, isn't it? I should have known...
So, I'm going to try to do as the infomercials do and soak the shirt in oxyclean for a while and see what happens. I'm really hoping the dye isn't colorfast on my shirt, either...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Out of the blue comes sadness...

I want to thank everyone for the well wishes. Unfortunately, I suffered a miscarriage over the weekend. Needless to say, I'm feeling indescribably sad. I didn't realize how good it felt - both physically and emotionally - to actually be pregnant until I wasn't anymore... Now, as my body returns to its regular self, I'm trying to look forward, stay positive, and realize that it's not the end of the world. We'll try again once the professionals give us the ok.

And the fabulous jacket and dress in August's BWoF are going to have to wait just a little while longer...sigh...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Updates, updates, and more updates...

I've had a few concerned inquiries regarding my month long silence in the blog-o-sphere. There have been many, many changes going on in my life that account for this, I assure you. The biggest of which is that I found out a few weeks ago I am going to have a baby!! I am over joyed, to say the least, and my husband still seems a little shell-shocked. It was planned, but it's still pretty amazing to know there is a little person growing inside right this very minute! My little boy or girl is scheduled to make an appearance March 16th, so we are still pretty early on.

pregnancy cartoon

What this has meant is no more biking to work! I can't seem to regulate my body heat effectively anymore, so the 45 minute ride to work is out. Sadly, I still haven't finished the vintage skirt pattern. I has both feet firmly settled in Frump-town and I don't think even shortening it is worth the effort. Plus, the skirt is both too big and too small the same time! How is this possible? The waistband is just too tight and I had to ease the skirt to fit so it pooches in bad places. I suppose it is possible to actually remove the waistband, alter the darts in the front & back and then cut a new waistband to fit but that's an awful lot of work for a skirt I'm probably not going to even think about wearing until more than a year from now.

Other things being pregnant has meant is a new silhouette; the girls have grown, my friends. The girls have grown. The novelty wore off officially yesterday when the back of my bra kept riding up and I had to adjust 15 times throughout the day. I have no idea when the madness will stop, so I'm almost afraid to buy any new undergarments just yet. While the concept of making my own stuff is appealing, the reality is less so given that I hardly finish stuff people will actually see.

Also, being pregnant has opened up a whole new set of garments to me: baby clothes! Burda World of Fashion has quite the assortment and I willbe trying some of these in the future. Burda does do maternity wear occasionally, I think maybe twice a year, so I'll have some patterns to play with eventually.

Projects currently on hold:
Vogue 1042...I started to make a muslin of the top View A, which has separate bra insets. Wonderful in theory, bullet/cone bra in practice. I posted a query on the boards at Pattern Review and it seems I am not the only one who ran afoul with this pattern. And, referencing my rapidly changing figure, it hardly seems worth the effort given that I am only going to outgrow it to the point of indecency in short order.

Vogue 8178...I actually made this dress and it's about 75% complete. However, it has darts that have to be matched on both the front and back for the bodice and skirt section and it requires further tweaking before being readied for outside wear. It is a work in progress, more or less.

Projects completed:
Vogue 8502...The pants for this pattern are now hanging in my closet. Yes, people it is possible for me to finish something! Hold the applause however as I goofed the zipper and used one that is really too short so I'll have to insert a new one at some point in the future. These are super high-waisted, as in just below the underwire high-waisted. The way I want to style them is with a scoop neck or halter top tucked it with a wide belt cinched around the waist. However, when I saw myself, i thought it a little too much Brenda Walsh circa 1992 and a little less Lucky Magazine's Season's Best Look style page 2008. I plan on making the safari type top as well, but I haven't gotten around to it just yet as I am going through a serious dress phase right now.

Project on the table right now:
McCall's 5466... View C, with the bias A-line skirt. How cute is that?! And the a-line skirt means no real sway back adjustment is needed! Given I have yet to master said alteration, this is a very good thing. My increasing figure has forced me cut a size 14 bodice, morphing to a 16 at the waist because I'd like to wear this dress at least through the fall. The (hopefully) wearable muslin has been cut from a stretch cotton shirting from Joann's Modern Neutrals collection. It's a bit busy, but I think it will work since I'm fairly tall and can carry bold looks.
If the dress works out, I plan on styling this with brown heels and a woven 3" brown leather belt.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finger lickin' good, or why sewing makes a bad day better...

Today was a pretty rotten day at work, I have to say. Probably one of the top five in the past two years. A real doozy, so much so I had to shop, sew, and have a good cry to start feeling better. I went shopping for some new skirts, actually. I picked up a four more to add to the collection and a skort, too! I love those, BTW. It's a girly skirt but you don't have to be all modest and such when moving about since there is no risk of flashing the general public.

Lately, I've been biking the 10 miles to work each way and it's hot here. Imagine biking in a convection oven and you can probably understand (although, I ask no sympathy here; it's true what they say about the humidity being the true villain). I actually find it most comfortable to bike in a skirt. Now, most people are surprised - shocked, even! - when I reveal this, but really, it's great to have freedom of movement and be able to take full advantage of the breeze. Seriously. It does however have it's limitations: I pretty much have to stick to either jersey or a-line, preferably a combo of the two. Straight skirts are doable, they simply require a smidgen of elastane in the fabric and at least a 4" vent plus a relatively uncaring attitude towards being a wrinkled mess. I spend much of my day seated behind a desk so i don't care too much. Mostly. Anyway.

In the time since I have started biking to work, I have gone through the few skirts I willing to subject to the abuse of 20 miles on a bike rather quickly. What else to do but sew up a few more? In that vein, I cracked my very first vintage pattern: Simplicity 5454, copy write 1972, Misses and Women's Jacket, Skirt & Pants.
It does have a bit of a vintage feel in that the pants and skirt are seated just at the waist. Otherwise, it's pretty classic. The jacket is a princess seamed, slightly wider (though in the line drawing not so much it is dated). Plus, it's the only pattern I own with a box pleat in the front. Cute, right? And, look! The directions are printed in two colors for my viewing ease!
How great is that?! Also, as much as I understand multi-sized patterns revolutionized the home sewing experience in terms of fit, really, it's pretty awesome to have the seam lines printed on the pattern.

Since I'm on a (sort of) fabric diet until the end of the year, the stash was shopped for choice of fabric. The winner ended up being a seasonless poly-blend olive with variegated pin stripes woven without any stretch. It has decent drape and I thought the stripes would add good visual interest in the box pleat. Perhaps non-traditional, but if it doesn't work, I'll consider it a muslin. I have 5 yards of the stuff and I haven't touched it since it came home from SAS Fabrics Tempe, where I found it for $1.99/yd.
I started it yesterday and expected to finish it tonight, but I had a little sewing accident that I would imagine every sewer will experience eventually: yes, I basically sewed through my fingertip. It didn't hurt that bad, actually. The needle just sort of sliced the tip of my index finger as I was easing the waistband on to the skirt. You can see my bandaged finger in the photo of the pattern piece. It did make me cry a little bit, though, which I rather needed.

Tomorrow, I'll be finishing the waistband and hemming the skirt. The line drawing shows mid-knee, but right now it's a pretty dreadful and stumpifying mid-calf. Normally, this is not a bad length on me, but the cut of the skirt with the pleat serves to make me look somewhat squat :( I think I'll have to chop at least an inch off and then turn the hem the given 2.5" on the pattern.

The moral of my story is this: it's good to have a task that I can forget myself totally in. I hope you have one, too!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fit Happens, or Reason #3148 Why I love the Internet

Thanks to Pattern Review, I've finally connected with fellow sewers here in the Phoenix area! It took long enough, but better late than never, right?

Anyway, we had our first meeting yesterday and it was very enlightening. Out little group is called "Fit Happens" (cheeky, no?) and in line with this, we measured, outlined, talked about darts, finishes, each other, etc. I now have a full set of measurements thank to the fortitude and patience of Linda. Kathy actually traced out my body graph on the wall (on newsprint taped up) a la Fit For Real People. This alone was incredible! I learned so much about my body that I never knew. For example, the asymmetry I've always suspected was there is now clearly defined. It's subtle, but my sloping shoulders and high hip are now documented so that I can compensate to my heart's content.

Unfortunately, in my rush to get out of the house, I forgot my camera so I wasn't able to get any fun photos :( Next month, I'm hosting, so there will be pics aplenty. Since our theme is "fit" we have decided to sew up muslins of a pants pattern for the next meeting. Our plan is to evaluate fit, help with alterations, construction, techniques, etc, for each other.

Also, Jessie was kind enough to loan me her August 07 edition of Patrones. There is a trench coat pattern that I absolutely covet and have the perfect fabric to create it.

Next post will be patterns & fabric choices for your viewing pleasure and input.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You like me! You really like me!

So, not too long ago, I started receiving the random spam comments on the blog. Since I really, really, really love comments (did I mention I love your comments?) these annoy me to no end since my initial excitement deflates to major disappointment as they are not from real readers. I did my research and decided to turn on the moderator option in blogger. For those not familiar, as a moderator, you have the option to preview before the comments go public. Great, right? Well, for the past month I've been sort of silent on blogger. Also, I hadn't received the usual emails regarding comments posted to my blog during this time. Basically, I figured people were reading elsewhere...

Long story short: I completely forgot I had turned on the moderator feature and thought my public had abandoned me. Oh happy day today when I decided to post about the goings on in my life!!! There were comments aplenty waiting for me to approve and post them! Anyway, I'm grateful for all the birthday wishes :) I've now posted all your comments.

Updates on the sewing front...

In the past month, I sewed quite a bit. In just the past two weeks, i finished two skirts (really great and love them very much) and the top and skirt in Simplicity 4074 but it really didn't turn out well for me at all and purchased way more fabric than my closet can hold.

At some point I'll post a review for them all, but in the mean is a pic of my bursting at the seams fabric closet. I've been forced to promise that I'll be going on a fabric fast through the end of 2008...

the skirt from New Look 6813 that was supremely easy to make and wear...

Burda 06-2007-123, which wasn't as hard to make as I thought it was going to be but considerably less interesting than their plaid model...

Also, I must say that my dress form seems to be getting smaller and smaller compared to my waistline. I had to use the old GAP window dressing trick of pinching the clothes in back for fit to get the skirts to even stay on her hips! Good thing my husband bought me a bike so I can commute to work now and actually get some exercise!

Monday, May 19, 2008

They say it's your birthday!

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me!

In honor of my 31st year, I decided it was time to get my hair cut. So, I've gone from mid-back to, as my boss calls it, the "Suri Cruise" bob... Is it just me or do other people feel the need for change around that time of year?

Monday, May 12, 2008

I've been tagged! and other updates...

I've been tagged! Emily tagged me for a literary meme, which is good because I was beginning to feel left out (grin)...

Here are the basic rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Since I haven't read much beyond sewing texts for a while, I picked up an old favorite A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, arguably a classic of the 2oth century:

"What are you talking about Mr. Reilly?"
"I am talking about the sin against society of which you are guilty."
"What?" Mr. Gonzalez's lower lip quivered.
"Attack!" Ignatius cried to the battalion.

Tagging five people? Josh & Sarah, Chicago Sarah, Lori V, and Jenny

What have I been doing for the past month? I have a few finished items that have to be reviewed, namely BWoF 06-2007-139, Simplicity 4074, and McCall's 5599 view D that I made for my friend Trina.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The gift of love, cocktails, and eggs...

We celebrate two anniversaries: the date of our legal marriage and the date of our marriage before God and our families. The first date is April 12, just yesterday, and look what I got! A lovely mabe pearl cocktail ring!
It has the most rich luster that I just couldn't translate to a digital photo. I love to look at it...Isn't it gorgeous?!

We celebrated last night with a wonderful dinner out and this morning with breakfast. Since he really appreciates a good meal above all else (so easy to please that way!), I started with freshly baked croissants, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs Julia Child style (really, you must try these; they are started in a cold pan) covered with caramelized spring onions and drizzled with a sauce made of neufchatel cheese and lemon juice. Spring greens were on the side, since I have to have something green and fresh on every plate. I even squeezed fresh oranges for mimosas! Really, I outdid myself...

I personally love smoked nova salmon and since fishing has just been banned in the Pacific Northwest, I figured it's going to get really expensive very shortly. If you love it too, here's the recipe that my husband will choose every time over brunch out...

Scrambled eggs a la Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1
Serves 2...
4 eggs
2 tsp water
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp butter
2 tsp half & half or cream

Whisk your eggs together with the water in a bowl for about 20 seconds - it's important NOT to over beat your eggs. Butter your cold pan and then pour in your eggs. Then put your pan over medium - medium low heat. After a minute or so, depending, start to stir slowly with a wooden spoon until the eggs thicken and curds start to form. Keep stirring until it's pretty much all curds, but not totally dry, just until the eggs come together and aren't runny. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and serve immediately.

You will find these eggs to be creamy, tender and delish, I promise! The trick is a cold pan, gentle stirring, and not over cooking.
Caramelized spring onions (leeks work really well, too)
1 larger spring onion, sliced into thin rings (I use it all, the green parts are tasty!)
1 tbs butter or olive oil

Heat your pan over low - medium low heat until your butter melts and then add the onions. Stir occasionally, keeping them moving just enough so they don't stick to the bottom. Make sure the heat is low enough that the onions sweat but don't burn, until softened and golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Neufchatel (or cream cheese, whatever you have in your fridge) sauce
2-3 big tsp of the cheese
1-2 tsp of fresh lemon juice

Whisk these two together until smooth. Taste. If necessary, add a little more lemon if necessary or cheese. I like neufchatel because it's a little sweeter and lighter than cream cheese...

Put your scrambled eggs on a plate, top with half the onions and then drizzle with the neufchatel sauce. You can put your salmon on top of this or serve it to the side. Serve with spring greens tossed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.

Eat slowly, savor every last bite, and try not to fight over the last croissant...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BWOF Dress begins, or what a difference a year makes

Let us flash back to my very first attempt at a notched collar, shall we? It was June of 2007, hot as blazes, and I fancied myself a beginner in need of professional assistance. Where to turn? Joann's lured me in with their Creative University classes. I signed up for Sewing a Suit and created a gray polyester thing that was at once wonderful and discouraging.

I was the only one who paid for the course, so it was one-on-one instruction. Mostly she just guided me through the instructions. Part of me felt that I could have just saved my $100 and bought some really great fabric, but I have to admit she helped me through some tough spots. One particular rough spot was the collar. Simplicity 4146 has a notched lapel that should have been straight forward. My choice of fabric made this very challenging, I realized much later while trying another jacket in a very reasonable and well behaved cotton.

Flash forward to the current class I am taking with a sewing professional, Prof. S-, part of an actual curriculum with design and fashion majors. He demonstrated a collar and stand construction that was just so simple and lovely! I have chosen Burda WoF 06-2007-139 for the next project.

I leave you to compare the results his method produced on my muslin's collar (pink) tonight to my first attempt (grey)... To truly appreciate what a difference a year makes, click on each photo to see the large scale version.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Midnight meanderings...

It's nearing the witching hour and the husband is sneezing and coughing away in bed so I just can't bring myself to enter the sick room to sleep. It seems like the entire valley is afflicted with allergies/colds right now - insanity, I say, for moving here! Insanity! But I digress...

I found two of the most wonderful blogs that I have to share with everyone (my five readers, you know who you are and I love you):

1st: Jenny at keen sense of irony and the absurd, which I love in the best of folks coupled with a newfound interest in sewing. She's going to make a swim suit next, which I'm really looking forward to as we are shaped rather similarly...

2nd: Geri at think I'm the only one in blog-land who hadn't seen this blog before now, but go now; do not pass go, do not collect $200. First off, she designed a coat and put the pattern on Burda Style open source. That in itself is cool enough, but get a load of the coat! Amazing!!! Just the line drawing is gorgeousness itself!
I'm going to have to try this coat in a lighter fabric than her wool since, you know, I live in the desert where average temps 75% of the year are upwards of 90 degrees. In other words: it's hot. All the time :( Except for today; it was only 70 degrees. Kinda cold if you ask me...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Updates, new fabric, patterns, etc...

One of the reasons I elected to take a clothing construction course is that I have to alter patterns to fit my sway back. This is common, but I believe it's better to have a method, in general, than to just wing it. So, with this in mind, I brought my latest creation to last week's class for an expert opinion. Prof S- agreed that it needed to be altered, but when I modeled it for him he said, take out those darts and then we'll see. Right-o. So, off I went to take out the darts I had basted in and then I presented again for a fitting session. His alteration was to take a tuck in at the back bodice seam and then pinch out the remaining fullness at the waist. The resulting modification didn't follow the curve of my back as precisely, but he had a VERY good point:

Alterations should disguise the unique characteristics, rather than emphasize.

His point was that my darts drew attention to the sway back alteration, while his tuck and pinch at the zip method hid it. Very interesting indeed... When we called the class over for "Opinions," the verdict was unanimous: tuck beats dart and the yellow was awesome with my coloring. (blush)

The other thing he immediately pointed out as soon as I had put on the dress was that I had better staystitch the neckline and armscye of the next version because this dress had already stretch out. But I think I already covered how I really just needed to follow directions and be okay with this dress, so I won't tell you that Burda did recommend Vilene Bias Tape applied to those same places, for exactly the same reason. But, umm, yeah, I skipped that part.

My next step is to transfer the alterations to the pattern piece, which I will do today and then pick apart my back seams to make the changes.

As for my next project, I (like everyone else) love, love, love the new Rucci patterns from Vogue so I had to purchase the shirt dress. While I was at Joann's I picked up two others that were interesting. The bodice and neckline on the vintage 1043 is just lovely, don't you think? It also has gusseted underarms, which I am really looking forward to trying out. The third pattern is a wardrobe for crepe fabrics with wonderful drape. I love the pants and the neckline on the dress/top as well. The jacket has bias inset sides, which is just beautiful.

And last, but certainly not least: I placed my first order with Michael's Fabrics! Cidell had mentioned that she purchased the Burberry coating at their brick & mortar store and they offered her readers a great discount and that clinched it for me. 4 yards of the black arrived in my hot little hands on Friday and lived up to it's promise. Gorgeousness!!!!
When I called, I talked to Michael himself and he offered me a wonderful discount on the legendary Zegna fabrics. If the black silk/wool blend is good enough for Versace, well, then how could I not get 4 yds of this also? In deference to the heat here, I had to pick up some linen as well. 3yds of the deep plum silk/linen blend and 3 yds of cotton stretch w/ red pattern were added to the cart. I can't wait to use it! Please note the colors are much richer than my photos indicate... The cotton has the most amazingly soft, yet crisp hand ever. What else did I do yesterday? The latest trend here in Phoenix is to have a French pedicure... Cute, no?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Work in Progress: Burda 02-2008-112

Last weekend we went to a tennis tourney. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am now rocking what have come to call the "farmer's tan deluxe" from so many hours under the Palm Springs sun. However, since that took up the entire weekend, it left me feeling like I needed some major "me" time. What else could I do but devote as much of this weekend to sewing as I could? I sewed up a muslin of McCall's 5592, the latest answer to the high-waisted trend. Overall they were okay, but I think there are better pants out there for me. For now, skirts and dresses seem much more appealing, especially with summer upon us here in the Valley of the Sun.

On the docket is a modified a-line dress from February's Burda, #112.

What drew me to this pattern was the interesting details, not so visible in the fashion photo. From the technical drawing, you can see the topstitching and the lines of the dress. I felt it would be flattering, springy and fun. Plus, who doesn't want a new dress?

I chose a 2 yd stretch twill from the remnant bin (home dec for sure) at Joann's that I picked up a year ago for maybe $5. Awesome fabric to work with ladies...Much better than most of the fashion fabric to be had at Joann's, can I say?

It's not quite finished yet, as I need some second opinions on the fit. Since I have a sway back and, um, shall we say "junk" in the trunk, there were some alterations necessary to the back. The pattern does not include any shaping darts at all. All the shape comes from the seams, and I definitely needed something extra in the back. However, my basted fisheye darts have drag lines, which say my alteration was not that successful. Any words of wisdom? I took in a total of 3" in the back and it's now super comfy but knowing the drag lines are there stresses me out.

Any words of wisdom? Anyone? Anyone? Beuhler?