Monday, August 31, 2009

Home from New York City

I don't even know where to start.
New friends. New skills. New experiences. New York City.
I didn't even scratch the surface on the completion of my Chanel jacket (which is to be expected with a couture project and just 4 days), nor with seeing all there is to see in NYC. I will be posting pictures very soon, and had so much fun learning from Kenneth and Susan, and from all the other projects happening in the room. Jackets, skirts, corsets, dresses, pants... there was something different at each work station. You'll see what I mean very, very soon.
"Hello!?" to Lindsay T, Ann, Joanne, Laura, Mariella, Mary, Joan.... too many to name. Please, please, keep in touch new found friends and share your completed projects!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pinstripe Party

Okay, I love the McCalls (Palmer/Pletsch) pants pattern (5941). I'm addicted...
This version is done using a pinstripe I found on the clearance shelf at Joann's. I know, I know... I swore off that aisle and promised I'd never set foot there again, but this is from the stash! I love pants with a little stretch and the pinstripes are so slimming (right? RIGHT?!?)! I've got these pants down to a science and can knock a pair out in a day. It would be nice if they had pockets, but they're not necessary, and sometimes more of a pain (ironing)! Here's my review of the pants pattern.

The top is Simplicity 2614, and I got it for a buck this weekend during Joann's 5 for $5 sale. The fabric also came from Joann's, but back in November '08 when I was looking for a woven to pleat for my copper dress. The color wasn't right, so it went into the stash, and I was able to squeeze view E (without the necktie) out of the 1 yard (60" wide) I had. The color is great with the pinstripe pants, but the fabric is a little too stiff, and next time I'll use a drapier blousing fabric. Here's my review of the top pattern. The back is one piece, cut on the bias, and there is a front facing and a back facing (not shown). I'm planning on adding 3 or 4 buttons to the center front seam, as it seems bare to me... Question: What other color top can I wear with these pants (other than white)? My brain wants to "match" things, and isn't so good at being open to what "goes with" them (anyone catch my "What Not to Wear" lingo, there?).

My Chanel jacket muslin is done and ready for NYC, but I'd also like to perfect a different pants pattern. This McCall's is great for stretchy cottons, but I'd like another pattern for drapey wools, with a more classic waist style. I'm thinking of this one from the August BWOF.

If you ever find yourself at Joann's with a 40% coupon and nothing to spend it on, I highly recommend this Fiskars Mini-Rotary cutter (Reg. price $8.99). You just lay your finger inside, aim, and move. No gripping required, so I've seen a lot less carpal-tunnel pain since using this to cut my paper patterns. I wouldn't try it on fabric, but it's awesome on paper!

Non-Sewing Comment of the Day: Well, it's slightly sewing related... Project Runway is back! I watched the first episode and totally enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks to Michelle for keeping me company (I love the internet!), and I completely agree with the judge's decisions! I DVR'ed the 2-hour "All Star Challenge", but haven't had a chance to watch it yet! I saw who won, but missed the entire middle. Hope the hotel in NY had Lifetime, otherwise where will I watch it???

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to School Outfit (for me!)

The shirt is Vogue 8558 and the pants are McCalls 5941.
I first thought that the lines around the neck of the top were pleats, but it's actually just topstitching, so it went together much faster than I expected. I'll be making more of this pattern, since it will work all year round (the pattern includes sleeveless, short and 3/4 length sleeves) and the wide neck border can be embellished in different ways (embroidery, beads, etc.). The fabric is a light knit from Joann's that was on sale a while back. My only two issues with this top are:
1. I'd really, really like a coverstitch machine for hemming. I absolutely hate the look of my regular machine stitches (short, bumpy, crooked) and am not crazy about hand-stitching. I should probably use the blind stitch, huh? I should've topstitched twice, you can't see the lines at all... sorry.2. These sleeves are much longer than I anticipated (practically full length), but it might be I have short arms. I can't remember the last time I made something with long sleeves...
The pants are a Palmer/Pletsch "Perfect Pantsuit" pattern, and are the first pair that fit really well without alterations. I've already got another pair cut out and ready to go. The pants pattern includes 1" seam allowances and has many markings and instructions for alterations. There are two pant widths included (wide and fitted), along with a loosely fitted short-sleeve jacket in three lengths. I'll be making view A of the jackets to go with these pants.
The fabric is a stretch twill with a tonal stripe that I got from Dawn. Last winter, I had an extra yard of wool that I didn't need, so we swapped and I got this awesome twill. I love it, so thanks Dawn!!! If anyone ever finds themself in the same situation and wants to trade, let me know!

In other news...
A new season of Project Runway starts tonight on Lifetime. I'm very excited to see Heidi and Tim again, after the sad substitute of "The Fashion Show" that Bravo came up with. I'm not concerned with Lifetime hosting it, and think it will be fabulous, as usual!

DH is also the most fantastic husband in the world! He surprised me with this handy little Sony video camera for my upcoming NYC trip, which also takes still photos. I'm very, very lucky to have such a thoughtful husband!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work on making muslins for NY. I can't decide what to work on, so I'm preparing a little bit of everything. The Chanel Jacket muslin is ready to be basted together, and I have some pants that I need to trace off. There are so many little things that I also want to learn while I'm there: cuff plackets for DH shirts, narrow hemming silky fabrics, welted pockets, FBA's...
Non-Sewing Comment of the Day: Spyware Sucks! We got a screen prompt that we had been infected by a malicious worm, only to end up with "Personal Antivirus" software that is actually a huge scam and the initial warning is the bait! We spent all day today trying to get rid of it, and luckily it was a free fix, but what a pain!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Baby, it's HOT outside!

Butterick 5348 - "Babydoll Blues"

Here's my review at PR.

Please forgive the lopsided pics, Little Miss Princess was playing Little Miss Photographer tonite! She getting good at knowing how much of the outfit I need in the frame. "Just the dress, right Mom???" And, yes... it is HOT here. 90 today, tomorrow, and Sunday. A/C and swimming, that how we roll.


I could've place the back skirt piece on the fold, since the closure is not a full back zipper (as I assumed before reading the instructions more closely), but matched the embroidery pattern at both sides and the center back to it would be continuous.

It's much dressier than I anticipated, maybe it's the sheen of the cotton, so I need a fancy place to wear this to. Maybe a nice dinner out with the sewing girls while I'm in New York?

I'm not a huge fan of gathers in the front ("Oh! How far along are you???" are the words I fear being asked), but I really wanted a sundress that would work with a border print, and I thought it had a closer fit in the waist, but it's actually pretty comfortable. The fabric is an Anna Sui cotton from Ressy's co-op. 2 yards, and I used every inch of it! Even the 3 little squares I had left, which became the belt!

Speaking of the belt... I cut around the 3 linked squares, leaving about 1/4", which I folded over and hand-stitched down. I then cut a similar sized piece from the scrap leftovers, and found some fusible Timtex in the craft closet (I have a few "fabric bowls" in my past). I sandwiched the timtex between the embroidery and the backing, using lots of heat and pressure. When it cooled, I just (very closely) trimmed away the excess, then stitched two embroidered "circles" from the scraps on the ends for the grosgrain ribbon to pass through. Voila! A matching belt, which also help bring some definition to the waist area. I'm thinking that a navy shrug/bolero/cardigan will help stretch the usefulness of this piece, but I don't want to hide the cute little belt!

Now, I really, really have to get to work on the muslins for NYC!!! No more distractions! Yeah, right...

Non-sewing comment of the day: Tooth fairy is visiting my house AGAIN tonite, and Little Miss Princess has a big gaping hole in the front of her mouth to prove it! All 4 front teeth have disappeared, with 1 peeking out from the gum on the bottom. Time to go dig out the "Tooth Fairy Pillow" that once upon a time, was mine. So glad that I saved it for my daughter...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School (Say it Ain't So!!!)

Little Miss Princess will be starting the 1st grade in a few weeks, and she's not excited about it. Actually, she loves school and cries on days when she's too sick to go, but when I asked her about school starting soon, she said, "Mom, 1st grade is going to be more work than Kindergarten because it's all day, every day!" I'm sure she'll change her tune when the big yellow bus rolls up in September!

Back in the spring, she picked out 6 coordinating fabrics (3 solids and and 3 prints) for easy outfits, but I only made 1 (oops!). So this week, I got busy and stitched up 2 pair of elastic waist pants and another shirt! I have 1 shirt left to go, but here's what we have so far...

Do you think she likes them??? The plaid shirt is Simplicity 3511 (view E), and all the rest came from Simplicity 2677.

Can you say "Diva"??? Here is a close-up of the plaid shirting (it's got a metallic red thread wove through that gives it a touch of sparkle, which she loves) and the fabric for the final shirt in the group, which I'll knock out this weekend.
I'm supposed to be preparing muslins for NYC, but I got this fabric from the co-op with my bamboo, and it was an itch I just had to scratch! During both pregnancies, I had a serious ice cream craving, namely DQ Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards. There were nights when I couldn't sleep without a small serving of ice cream, and having this fabric in the house is like those prego cravings! It's a divine Anna Sui embroidered cotton, and it's becoming a sundress. The weave is tight and fine, like a silk, so I had to get creative to prevent show-through. Come back in a day or two, the bodice is nearly finished, and the skirt part just needs to be gathered and attached. And finally, thank you, thank you, thank you for all the compliments and well wishes on my Summertime Dress contest entry. I will keep you posted if I make it to Round 2!
Non-Sewing Comment of the Day: I love Wii Active! I've never known the best way to combine cardio and strength training, and this takes all the guess work out of it! No more "3 sets of 12 reps", this is always changing things up, mixing cardio and resistance band moves, and you can't cheat! It knows when you aren't moving properly, and will correct you (it also cheers you on when you're doing it right)! The other day I had to rollerblade (balance) and today I did some tennis swings, and my absolute favorite is the boxing. I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I was sore after the first session, and continue to break a good sweat every session. The best part is that I picked it up on sale, used some coupons, and after all the discounts, paid about $20 (regularly $60). Two thumbs up so far, let's see if I have to start cutting smaller patterns soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Summertime Dress", Final Chapter

I started with this:and finished with this: Now that it's all done (well nearly, I did find 2 things to fix during the photo shoot), I have to say that I love the dress and am very proud of myself for altering the pattern and doing all that beadwork. I really challenged myself on this one, and I'm so glad that I cleared both hurdles without landing flat on my face! I'd also like to add that if you've never worked with Bamboo knit before, you really need to try!

Special-Ultra-Fantastic Thank You to DH for taking these wonderful pictures! He's really been supportive of this contest entry, and I'm so grateful for having such an amazing husband. He took the time to think about a better photo location (than our yard), and planned it for the right time of day, rather than the most convenient (although we did disagree over the right shoes to wear!). We had a lot of fun during this "photo shoot" so here are some of the best shots...
The Front

The Back

The Side

The Best of the Beads Shot
The Cheesecake Shot

The BWOF (Useless, but Fun) Shot

The Head Shot

And, a very special thanks to all of you that commented and offered advice and opinions. You all gave me food for thought, and I appreciate that so much!

If you're joining the story late, here are chapters 1, 2, 3, and the pictures start here.

Little Miss Princess keeps getting confused, and says, "Mom, I like your dress, and think you'll win a million dollars!" Oh baby, if it was a million, this dress would be a whole 'nother story! Win or lose, I love my new dress and look forward to altering other patterns for a fresh look and improving my beading skills.
Here's my review.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Summertime", Part 3

Look! I gave it a name! I never name my projects, so it was a little tricky for me to come up with this...

The beads (from Joann's "Beader's Paradise" brand, 6/0 Czech Glass E-Beads, 3 tubes!) are labeled with the color, "Miami Surf". The different tones of blues and greens sparkling completely remind me of swimming, although I've never been to Miami! The structure of the dress (racerback/wrap dress) is something that can only be worn in warm weather (here in Michigan), so...

Swimming + Warm Weather = Summertime!
This post will be brief, just some detail of the beading. Thanks to those of you who shared your input, I really appreciate it. The good news is, I can wear the dress both ways! It occured to me that the beads may not be washable or dryclean-able, so the trim needs to be easy to remove. Since I have enough supplies left over, I can make another band without the beads, and baste it when the beads are a little too much. My husband prefers the non-bead version, while I prefer the color addition... so, a compromise is always good! For the contest entry, I will use the beaded band, though.

The Neck Band
For the same reason (laundering), I had to make the belt embellishment removable also. Basting on a collar is one thing, but a belt... too much work! So, I figured out how to decorate the waistline without stitching anything onto the dress.

The Belt Band
I used the same black trim as the neckline, but stitched it into a long double wide band. By leaving the end loops open, I can slip the belt through the holes, tie the dress in the back, and the bead embellishment is secure on the front!
I think this is a pretty good idea on my part, and also allows me to leave both embellished parts off, and wear it as a simple black dress! Genius!!!
*Ignore the fit and seam lines, my dress form is a younger (slimmer) version of me!

This project is nearly finished, so the next post will be the final installment. You'll finally get to see all the pieces put together, and I hope you like it as much as I do...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Construction Zone, Part 2

If you missed "Part 1", here's the link to my start on the contest entry. Last night I sat and beaded more trim, filling some gaps in the middle and doing the other side border. Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet, but I'm afraid it's too much color.
What do you think? Feedback, please....
I think it's growing on me, and while it might look like a lot up close, it's not bad from the viewer's perspective, but I still want to hear your opinions!
And... I can hear ya, now!!!
Thanks so much, the alcohol did the trick, and you've saved me a doctor visit! Best of all, I can hear!!! I think DH was getting really tired of my saying, "Huh? What? Say again?", so he thanks you, too!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beware: Construction Zone!

I've been working on my contest entry this week, and I'm pretty happy with what I've come up with, so far...

I am supposed make my own version of any pattern from the Top Ten lists of the past few years, and since I already owned Vogue 8379 and it had the most wearability, it is the basis for my garment. I am making it up from Bamboo Interlock that I purchased from the co-op, and it is the absolute softest fabric I've ever touched. I want more of this stuff, I could wear it everyday!!!
I struggled with how to make a unique, "winning" version that I could still get use out of. In other words, I needed to think outside the box, but end up with something that I could wear often. I didn't want to put hours of work into something that I never get to wear! A friend's dress at a recent party gave me the inspiration for the embellishment color scheme, and I had to play with the "trims" awhile to find the right combination. I still felt like adding trim wouldn't be enough to garner a "win" (I'm just a tad bit competitive, if you didn't know...), so I decided to alter the sleeve lines of the pattern. I love my racerback tops in the summer, and I love the look of a halter from the front, (but hate the low, bra-showing, back), so here's what I've got so far...

The bodice front
The bodice back (I definitely could've came in more toward the center for a true racerback, and still might...)
The inside of the back, where you can see the neck facings and armhole binding.
The trims separate
I also considered a single color bead of turquoise (too flat) or aqua, but the multicolor combination makes it look more 3-dimensional, in my opinion.

The trims combined (I wove the silver trim through the holes, and ended up with a (surprise) chain-link look that I really, really love.
The beads will also run on the other side of the scallop, I just haven't got that far yet! The black trim was blending right into the fabric, so the border definition really helps it stand out. This trim will border the front armholes, up around the back neckline (like halter straps, but over the fabric). It will also appear on the tie belt, but maybe not in the same combination.

I'm still playing with modifying the tie belt, but not sure about that yet. I decided to do the bead work on the trim while that concept needs time to stew...

I'm open for ideas, if you have any!!! I certainly don't need $1000 gift certificate to, but am confident I could find a way to spend it! The other prizes aren't so shabby either, but best yet, I'm going to end up with a fabulous dress, regardless of the contest!


Me thinks a better picture of the new pleated blouse is in order! The one I posted, just doesn't do it justice. I'll wear it tonight to a family party, and have DH work his magic.


Say What??? I was swimming with the kids on Thursday, and my right ear got plugged. Still hasn't cleared up, and the ringing is starting to drive me nuts! I tried some Murine Ear Cleaning stuff, inserted drops, waited, flushed with warm water (twice), still no luck. If it's not better by Monday, I might have to go to the doctor (yuck). Any of you have any home remedies for this situation?