Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Like Me!? You Really, Really Like Me?!

Wow, an award! I'm so flattered!  I know it's just a "virtual" award, but still... how cool!  Kristine at Beangirl: The Blog is a sweetheart and one of the funniest people you'll ever chat with on the internet.  Apparently, all people named "Kristine" are creative, smart, talented, and funny... who knew? ;)

So, I am supposed to tell you 10 things about me that you would never guess, and nominate 5 more bloggers to do the same.  Since Kristine described me as "one of those seemingly ordinary people who secretly is wild and exciting. And if we get her to tell us about it, we’ll be entertained", I feel a little nervous about letting you down.  Here goes... I hope I don't disappoint you!

1.  I am the youngest of 9, and almost never came to be.  In 1973, my mom was told that she had a "fibroid tumor" and needed a hysterectomy.  Luckily, my parents believed in second opinions, and in January of 1974, I was born.  Their marraige that lasted 57 years, produced 9 kids, 16 grandkids, and 9 great grandkids.  It's a little like having 8 sets of parents sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

2.  My husband planned the world's greatest engagement.  I was surprised with a hot air balloon ride and a beautiful diamond ring 4 years to the day we had our first kiss.  I am very lucky to have such a romantic husband, and I am thankful for him and our life together every single day.  Awww.....

3.  My most embarrassing moment happened when I was a teenager, shopping at the mall with my sister and her husband.  I wasn't paying very close attention apparently, and as I was walking through the racks looking down, saw him holding a bag.  I pulled it open, looked inside, and said, "I thought you didn't buy anything?"  Much to my surprise (and his), I was staring at a total stranger wearing a very similar denim jacket to my brother-in-law's.  Oops.  I looked around, and saw my sister looking at me like, "What the hell are you doing???".  Thankfully the guy figured I was a harmless (and confused) teenager.

4.  My sewing helped win me some scholarship money for college.  In my application, I included pictures of the homecoming dresses and outfits I'd made as a "young entrepeneur" running a dressmaking business out of her bedroom, and I won $1500 towards college expenses.  Thank you, Rochester Area Jaycees!

5.  I love to dance, and love rap music.  Whether I'm sewing or cleaning my kitchen, you will find me dancing to Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas, the Beastie Boys, Eminem, Kid Rock, Missy Elliott, Sean Kingston, Madonna... you name it, I'll dance to it.  You know those freaky people at weddings that spend the whole night on the dance floor?  Yup, that's me.  I'm gonna be the old grandma at the party shakin' it with the grandkids!

6.  I have 2 addictions: chocolate and coffee.  Seems like I can't through a day without either.  Never smoked, never did drugs... (I'm letting you down about the wild and exciting stuff, aren't I? Darn it!), but I can't start a day without coffee, and if it's not going well, the chocolate had better be within reach!!!

7.  Phew, that was a close one.  Just deleted what I was going to divulge, but decided against it! You'd never come back to my blog again!  So I texted my friend for an idea and she said, "Tell them that you have such beautiful handwriting, I asked you to address all of my wedding invites."  It's true, she did.  I do get complimented on it quite frequently, and always tried to emulate my mother's handwriting.  12 years of Catholic school... now she had gorgeous handwriting!

8.  In the next year, I am considering either getting a tattoo or plastic surgery.  Ooh... just stepped it up a notch there, didn't I? So much for "ordinary Kristine", Kristine!  The tattoo would be on the top of my foot, and incorporate my family's initials.  And as for the plastic surgery... I'll just say that breastfeeding 2 kids wasn't kind to me.

9.  Here's another good one from the "texting friend".  She's said to tell you that I have flawless skin.  Flawless.  And I can say that because I'm just quoting someone, right?  (Note to self: get Cara a really great birthday gift this year.)  And most of you wouldn't know that "fact" about me, since I've only ever met Ann, Meg, Joanne, Alethia, and Beth! None of you need to verify this "fact".  Really.  No need.

10.  I went to a psychic/medium this year, and it was amazing. She relayed names of family members, conversations, and health issues that no one else could possible know.  She asked what I really wanted to be doing (apparently teaching math isn't my lifelong dream), and said she saw me in a big city like New York or Chicago, doing window displays or something similar.  She recommended I give consideration to combining my two skills, and look into teaching people how to sew. Food for thought...

Now that I've bored you into a deep sleep (see, I really am not wild), it's your turn.  The 5 people (oops, 6... who's counting?)  I am tagging are...
  • Kristin at VeryPrairie because she takes the most beautiful pictures of the most fashionable garments, and has mad skills.  I would love to see her post more often because she is so inspiring, and I'm really looking forward to seeing her backstage at the Expo again this year!
  • Rebecca at UglyCute Designs because she's sweet enough to recognize every single new follower and she's new around the sewing blogosphere, so go check her out!
  • Robin at Yarn Crawl because she just got back from a day trip fabric shopping in NYC (a daytrip. Seriously. Who does that?) and knits the most gorgeous sweaters in no time flat.  I'm also gonna see her backstage in Novi again, yay!
  • Bunny at La Sewista! because she was the first person to ever comment on my blog, and has continued to offer me her support, advice, and friendship.  I desperately hope to meet her someday soon, as I feel like she is that funny aunt that always knows a dirty joke, but you're still ashamed to swear in front of.
  • Dawn at Two On, Two Off because I desperately miss her posts.  We both teach teenagers, have kids the same age at home, and love to sew the same types of garments and fabrics.  The quickness and quality of her sewing projects have always floored me and sometimes I find myself thinking, "Look at me! Got a whole dress made today, I'm pulling a "Dawn"!"
  • Michelle at Cheap and Picky because we really are friends that chat on a weekly basis.  I love her sense of humor and her attention to detail makes my head spin.  I know you're busy with your classes, but I really am looking forward to your 10 things...
  • If you feel like sharing, but didn't get tagged here, go ahead and do it anyway.  Like there's any governing body that's gonna stop you!? Looking forward to seeing all of your responses and getting to know you all better!
Thanks again, Kristine.  It might not have been entertaining, but it beat the hell out of retyping the syllabus I have to make 150 copies of this week! ;)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cotton Cutey

New Look 6959

Fabric: Coordinating cotton prints I bought last summer at a Ben Franklin store.  We were camping in East Tawas, Michigan, and the Ben Franklin had quite a few really cute cotton prints.  Little Miss Princess picked out the main flowered fabric, and I chose the others to match.  The pattern called for 1 5/8 yd for view A (60" wide), and I think I had 1 1/2 of it, along with 1/2 yd pieces of the pink and checked. For the record, I wouldn't typically make her a mostly black dress, but she picked it, and the pink/white/yellow help lighten it up.

Alterations:  No fitting alterations, I made her the size 6 according to the finished garment measurements on the pattern paper.  The "ribbon" treatment and sleeve ruffle were design changes to incorporate the other prints.  For the added sleeve ruffle, I just added an inch at the hem, and treated them as a single ruffle.  For the side bands, I made two sets of flat tubes, and stitched the smaller on the center of the larger.  I placed them inside the seams of the front and back bodice pieces.  I chose not to make them tie in the back because... 1) it would've been a hassle for her at school and 2) I didn't feel like making that length of the flat tube ribbon.  True story... I can be a lazy sewist.  Shocking, but true.
Notions:   14" zipper.  Tiny bit of interfacing for the neckline facings.
Skill Level: Beginner!  The front pleats were a little bit tedious, but that's what makes it look NOT homemade.  This was a stop and go project because of the vacation, but it could've easily been put together in a single day.
Warnings:  The skirt pleat markings on the pattern confused the daylights out of me (because of the multi-sized lines), so I made the box pleats like I usually do and it's perfect.

Future Plans:  This is a really sweet pattern, and she loves it.  If I make another, it won't be 'til next spring.  She'll almost be 8 by then, so if she still like the style, I'll do it again.  It's not too "little girl", and it's not "too grown up", so I really like it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

High Hopes and Good News!

My eyes are bigger than my free-time for sewing lately!  Within 24 hours of returning home from vacation, I had 15 shirts on my table for embroidery, 2 more for patches, and some pants to hem for my FIL.  Paying jobs get priority (since they pay for my fabric addiction), so the fun stuff will have to wait a little while...

Like the dress I started for Little Miss Princess...

The dress I really want to make for myself (Vogue 1183, Kay Unger dress) before school starts...

And the handbag pattern I picked up while on vacation!

I've been watching Bunny make the most beautiful handbags for the last few years, and have never worked up the courage to try one.  And you know me, I can't seem to ever find the "easy way" to do something!
I want to make it up in black lambskin, won't it be stunning?    If I go with the recommended yardage, I'll need about 9 sq. ft.  That's big for a single skin, so I'm probably gonna need 2 small skins.  I've been researching my options, and Ann recommended lambskin for the weight and softness for the ruffles.  Haberman's has none (shop local first, ya know?), Leather, Suede, and Skins had 2 skins for approx. $50 plus shipping, and was so nice on the phone! (I wish I lived closer to NYC!)  I found "The Leather Guy" in Minnesota, and the nice lady that answered the phone understood my plan and is currently searching their stock for black lambskin.  Price: $2.50/sq ft, which is pretty reasonable!  I'm waiting on a call back, keep your fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, I'd better get back to the work table so I can make some fun stuff!

I've also been cramming in the last 2 episodes of Project Runway that I missed on vacation! Thank goodness for "On Demand", I'm now ready for tonite's new episode! The party store challenge was fun, but I was really surprised by the judges comments on the hat episode.  My favorites so far are Andy (that black ribbon dress for the Party Store challenge! Wow!!!) and Valerie (consistently in the top 3, but still waiting for win!)Watching makes me miss NYC, and if I had decided to take the Sit & Sew class again, I'd be there right now.  Hope you ladies that are there enjoy your time, and learn a lot!

Good News!  My silk dress made it through Round 1 and I will be modeling it at the American Sewing Expo in September!!!  I'm very excited to make another trip down the runway for Kenneth King & Julianne Bramson.  If you haven't seen them at Pattern Review, there are some amazing entries, and you can see them all here.  I'm expecting some free time tomorrow, so I'll have some new stuff to share soon!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Costume Wish #1

I love when new catalogs come to the house, as it keeps both the kids busy with excited conversation and comments like, "Ooh, that's awesome!"  But, I also hear, "Moooooooommm, can I have that? How about that? I really like that!"

Little Miss Princess found this costume, and asked, "Mom, can you make me that for Halloween?"
Maid Marian Dress... $78

Maid Marian Cloak... $78

Maid Marian Headpiece... $20

The catalog is "Chasing Fireflies" and the website is http://www.chasing-fireflies.com/
They do carry very cute and unique childrens items, but I've never ordered from them. Just copied ;)
For $176 (plus shipping), I think I can find the time (I have more than 2 months) and energy to make my own version, for a fraction of the cost!

Have your kids started talking Halloween yet?

Monday, August 23, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation...

12 days.
1400 miles.
4 campgrounds.
2 peninsulas.
1 memorable trip!
Tahquamenon Falls, Upper Peninsula

Michigan has so many wonderful sights to see, I can't begin to tell you all the great things we did over the last 2 weeks.
Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City

We saw sand dunes, lighthouses, wineries, and waterfalls.
Old Mission Lighthouse, Traverse City

We played on rollercoasters, in swimming pools, on beaches, and on boats.
Michigan's Adventure Park, Muskegon

We rode horses, petted a black bear, and visited a butterfly house.
Oswald's Bear Ranch (Rescue)

We played cards and checkers, we rode bikes, and went on hayrides.
Lake Leelanau RV Park

We made a million memories and laughed everyday.

Oh, and I found the most perfect pair of shoes... made entirely of chocolate!
Sanders Chocolates, Mackinaw Island

It was the absolute best family vacation we've ever had, but there's no place like home!
Just 2 weeks of vacation left until I have to report back to work... (Boo!)
So, it's back to the sewing room for me, I've got embroidery jobs to do and back to school clothes to sew!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another RTW Copycat!

Pattern: Butterick 5350 (view A) for the bodice and waistband, Vogue 8494 (skirt A) for the simple a-line skirt.  I cut size 14 on both, and they very nearly matched perfectly.  For the waistband, I used the lining piece instead of the 2 intended pieces, since I did not want a seam between the strips of ribbon.  I already owned both patterns, so no shopping was necessary.  If you're interested, Butterick 5333 is a wardrobe pattern that was marketed and is available specifically to copy this Donna Ricco dress that Mrs. O wore on "The View". My skirt is more a-line than that pattern...

Fabric:  Navy/White Cotton Print (with a teensy bit of stretch) from Haberman's in Royal Oak, MI.  I used 2 yds of 45", which left me enough to cut the waistband facing too, but I used batiste to line the bodice (which also finishes the armholes).  I didn't line the skirt, since the fabric isn't sheer and I can always throw on a slip.  It was on sale for $6/yd, so this lovely (with the ribbon and zipper), cost less than $20.  The real thing was $99.
Alterations: None for fit, none for design.  The neckline is a tiny bit gappy, so I may adjust a pleat to get it a little more snug.
Notions:  1" wide navy blue grosgrain ribbon, 1 roll.  I placed it at the edge of the waistband seam and topstitched with 2 spools of white thread.  I waffled on the topstitching, not sure if it gave it too much of a "juniors" look, but I really like the contrast.  Invisible zipper for the center back seam.  If I had more fabric, I would've placed the zipper at the side seam, but I matched up the seam well, so no worries.

Skill Level:  The bodice of the pattern would be "advanced beginner", just because they have it lined and you turn it through the shoulder seams before closing them up.  A little wacky, but it works.  Everything else was easy!
Warnings: If you are modest, you may want to raise the neckline an inch, or use twill tape to stabilize that seam line immediately after cutting it.
Future Plans:  I would definitely "franken-pattern" this duo again, it's a lovely dress, and would work with any pretty print or solid, cotton or shantung...  I will wear this to work (or to a lunch/shopping date with a friend), and would love to make a white short sleeve jacket to wear with it.  I have a pair of red Mary Jane pumps coming from Target, since I plan on wearing this to work (with a cardi) when school starts!

And, a big "Thank You!" for all your positive comments on my awesome grey belted dress.  If it wasn't a wool/lycra blend, I would've entered it in the Natural Fibers Contest. This one, too... it's a cotton/lycra blend.  I like wearing fabric with a little bit of give, but sometimes it's a pain to press or work with! Anyhow, thanks a million, your 40+ comments left me very, very flattered!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ripped from the Pages...

I can't tell you when or where I found the picture of this dress, but I fell in love with it enough to store away for a later day.  I don't have an "inspiration board", but I do have a "Little Red Notebook" where I tuck away these types of thoughts.  After I came home with my Fabric Warehouse goodies, it occured to me that the grey stretch suiting was perfect for this sheath dress.  I had even purchased the perfect black stretch cotton to trim the belt, on the same day (from Haberman's though).  Obviously, this dress was just meant to be! (But for $425? Nope... mine was about $10!)

PatternNew Look 6643, which is a variety of sleeveless sheath dresses with different necklines.  I already owned it, and had it cut for a previous project (but hadn't used it yet).  I used view A (with a small cap sleeve to produce fewer bra strap issues), and made the belt separately to be worn with or without (get more use out of the dress).
Fabric:  1 5/8 yds of 60" wide grey stretch suiting from Fabric Warehouse in Warren, MI for $4/yd.  If you live in the area and have some time to kill, wear your comfy shoes and dig in.  It really is a warehouse, and everything is below $8/yd.
Alterations:  Rather than use bias tape (as the pattern recommends) for the armholes, I drafted facings from the pattern front and back pieces.  2" wide, I used my tracing wheel and carbon paper to make facing pieces, and they fit perfectly.  Beautiful, professional finish!  Of course, you could always skip the facings, and line the whole thing, but I didn't want to make it any heavier.  If you use a wool (itchy), you may want to fully line it.  Zipper weirdness happened, too.  I got a "humpback between my shoulder blades, where the zipper was curling and the fabric was loose enough to let it.  I removed the stitches there, placed the zipper further in (taking it in along the center back there), and the problem was solved.  I've only ever had that problem on a bias cut, center back zipper, so I was really surprised to see it, but very happy that I fixed it!
Notions:  Invisible Zipper at center back.  Seriously... that's it.
Skill Level:  For the dress alone, anyone can make it! There is a kick pleat in the back, but the pattern instructions are great.   For the belt... while not difficult, it was time consuming, and I owe a special thanks to Bunny for giving me some great direction to achieve this look!  I cut a 4" wide strip of the grey (60" across), and started at one end with a 1/4" wide stitched pleat.  Then I marked 1/2" away from that line, made a fold, and stitched another 1/4" wide pleat.  I repeated this process (for a long time) until I used up the entire width of the fabric (which was just a little bit more than I needed for my front waistband).  I cut a 6" wide piece of black, placed it right sides together with the pleated belt, and stitched 1/2" seam allowance along the top and bottom, leaving the sides open. **Make sure you stitch all the pleats down in the same direction at top and bottom!** I turned it right sides out and pressed it, which left a band of black along the top and bottom.  **Here's where the magic happens: Push the pleats in the opposite direction now, and stitch along the center.  Voila! Isn't that so cool???**  At this point, I decided to make the back waistband plain, solid black (phew, that was a lot of work!), so I cut a 6" wide band (60" wide) of black, and interfaced it.  I roll hemmed the edges, and joined front to back at the right side seam.  I used hooks and eyes for closures at the left side seam.  Sorry, I didn't take any pictures while it was coming together, I was just too excited to see that it was working!
Warnings:  None on the dress, but with the pleated belt... all those pleats produce a little bit of bulk, so make sure you've got a good fit.
Future Plans:  Leaving the black off at the neckline and armholes made this dress is a wardrobe staple, and I love how I look in it. Think of all the jackets, belts, and cardigans that I can top this with!  I want more in navy, in black, in ivory, in red...
And, thanks again, Bunny.  I couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Silk Dress - Finale

Here it is, finished and I'm so much happier with it!

Side and Back views...

 Like I said, I am really happy with the final product and will never place gathers above my waist again! I'm not sure if it's worthy of a win for the Natural Fibers Contest at the Expo this year, but it's always fun to walk the runway in your own garment, so I'll enter it anyway.  First prize for each category (cotton, silk, wool, and linen) is $500 gift certificate, yowza!

Here are a couple pics showing the new pattern piece for the skirt on the old skirt piece.

I kept the skirt whole, and folded it along the center front/back.  You can see how the new waistline compares to the old.  At the bottom, where the pattern hangs off the fabric, I just stitched a straight line from the existing seam to the top of the new skirt at the new waist.
Above, you can see my white chalk lines where I adjusted for the raised waistline on the bodice, and also accounted for keeping the border straight at the hem.

Deadline for entering is Tuesday, August 10, so if you're interested, get over to PatternReview and enter!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lots Done, Nothing to Show!

1.  I fixed the silk dress, it's much better.  I even found the perfect cami and jewelry, but I'm not sure if I'll enter it in the contest.  As much as I like it and am excited to model it for you, I don't know if it's a "winner"...

2.  I made my own version of the Michelle Obama/Donna Ricco dress with a navy and white cotton print.  It turned out wonderfully, and was so super fast to make! 
3.  Lastly, I whipped up a grey sheath to copy this dress I saw in a magazine.  I don't remember what magazine or when I saw it, I just know the original is made by Pink Tartan, and I did a pretty decent job of replicating the belt!  This is my favorite of the three, I love it!
But, you'll have to wait to see my versions.  My photographer has had a very busy week, and now that I got my haircut today, I'm feeling ready to be photographed!  I'll talk some poor soul into taking my picture (or I'll dig out the tripod), but just know... there is some great stuff coming, and it'll be worth the wait! Promise!!! (Sorry for the teaser!)