Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wedding Attire

update: the owner of the pfaff 130 below has agreed to sell it to me. - can you see the vibration of excitement emanating from your screen. A boat machine.

Anonymous asked for suggestions for Mother of the Bride (anon, help me out and let me know who you are - email me if you don't want to id yourself in the comments, ok? mlweaving at yahoo dot com).

Every one of the next 4 dresses have a place in my line of consideration for Mother of the Groom. I'm looking for a dress for Late October in northern Michigan, for a late Saturday afternoon wedding and then an evening reception. The attire is formal, the weather may be a balmy 60 but is more likely to be in the 30's-40's. So I'm also needing a coat or wrap.

All the following designs are suited to my figure type - so they may or may not work for you. I'm tall, curvy with more curve on the bottom, with a defined waist. And I carry about 30 more lbs than I'd like to.

OOP Vogue 2786, still available on Vogue Patterns Website

Discontinued Vogue 2513. No longer avail on the website however I've seen it frequently on the Vintage pattern websites and Ebay

Vintage Vogue design from the 1940's available at Eva Dress patterns

There are actually quite a few fabulous dresses on Eva Dress Pattern site. And Alexandra is very good and available to help and answer questions if you have them.

I'd love to hear your ideas on these, but then, this topic is going to be closed again for months. I'll let you know when I'm ready to talk wedding attire.

A Vintage Machine - The Pfaff 130

front view

Isn't this beautiful?
This, (well, not this exact one, but one Just Like This One)is the machine that I learned to stitch my first stitches on.
In those days, we didn't have "family rooms" and craft rooms and all the other rooms you find in houses now. What we did have was a "back bedroom". Except, it wasn't used as a bedroom. It was the room we used as if it were a family room. The television was back there, and my mom's sewing machine was back there. I would sit at my mom's feet (probably getting in the way), picking up her scraps and sewing with them.
The first garments I made weren't doll clothes in the traditional sense, they were clothes for trolls. Click on the link or the pic to read a great website by a woman who's roughly my age who still has a thing for trolls.

When my mom felt I was old enough, and probably when she had patience and time enough (I'm the eldest of 5 kids), she taught me to sew on her machine. I couldn't have been any older than 8.
At 10, when she wanted her own machine back again because I was spending too much time at it, my parents got me my own first machine - I believe it was a Kenmore.

I've done a little bit of research on these machines. It seems that there is now a hand crank available for this machine, for times when electricity isn't available. It's also rated appropriate for sails and sailcloth (dacron). And the great thing: One is listed on Craiglist in my area. I've emailed the seller to see if the machine is still available. Haven't gotten a response yet. I'll keep you posted.
If I can get my hands on one, this baby may just go to sea.

For all of you who're

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Vogue Patterns are UP

I KNOW that everyone is just waiting to see some finished SWAP garments, and I KNOW that I'm keeping you hanging.
Well kidlets, hang on a little longer, ok?

Meanwhile, I'm going to treat you to some of my favorites from the new Vogue selections.
They got the Chado Ralph Rucci line to license two patterns. I love them both, and will be buying them.

This tailored shirtdress is so typical of Rucci - the detailing and the styling are so chic. It's going to the top of my "for Me" list.

I even like this big shirt. I'm seeing it in white linen.

I also have already put this number from Marfy in my shpping cart, and am mulling it over. I love the yoke into sleeve treatment on this shirtdress.

And then there is this easy wear dress for knits that will be a summer must-have.

I have some more bids in on a couple of vintage patterns at Ebay. If I don't win the one that looks JUST LIKE THIS, I'll be picking it up too.

There is also a new Adri pattern that looks very similar to the OOP pattern that I used for part of my Caribbean Sailing wardrobe - Adri has a look and a style that is simple, easy, casual, and all her own. I'd recommend it if you don't have one of her old patterns.
There's a new Issey Miyake, which is a fabulous pattern, for someone who needs more of that loose/casual suit style clothing. It's great, I'm just rapidly coming up on a time where I'll have no use at all for that look, so I'm refraining...(for now)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter Sunday

Wishing a happy Easter Sunday to all who celebrate Easter.
The weather is crazy for Easter...71 degrees here two days ago and this morning it's snowing.

My son and future daughter-in-law were here for an early Easter, since ds has to work this afternoon back in Iowa. (He's a paramedic, riding ambulance service). They invited me along to help them finish choosing household and kitchen items for the bridal registry. It was fun but also exhausting. We spent Friday and Saturday armed with a scanner trolling the aisles at Bed Bath and Beyond, and Macy's.

We also hit the paint aisle at Home Depot. did you know that you can take a fabric swatch into the Home Depot, place it in their paint color scanner, and come up with a paint swatch the exact color of your fabric swatch? How cool is that?
I now have a paint swatch the color of the wedding party so that I can get started on choosing colors for my mother-of-the-groom dress.

Now, for some fashion fun check this out
Paris street fashion - shoe style
and for some totally irreverent Easter humor, check out the Peep Show contest entries here

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mahi Mahi Piccata

Wednesday night is reality TV night in my house – mainly because the only reality TV shows I can stand to watch are on Bravo on Wed nights. (We won’t mention NBC’s Biggest Loser on Tuesday nights – too embarrassing to admit I watch that).

So now that Project Runway is over for the year – what to watch? Well, Top Chef, natch!

One of the things that makes Bravo networks reality shows great is that they get Real Talent. And the competitors must exhibit great facility with their talent, as well as creativity.

Watching Top Chef last week was really interesting. They brought in the requisite talent from all over the country, most of whom are working in the industry in restaurants, and many of whom have professional training. What was interesting was, the challenge required each contestant to prepare a classic dish – one from the Canon of recipes that are part of the foundation of a chef’s repertoire. There were dishes such as Eggs Benedict, Steak au Poivre, Shrimp Scampi, and soufflé.

Of those ending up in the bottom half eligible for elimination, some just made a dish that wasn’t as good as their counterpart, a few didn’t have much of a clue how to make their assigned dish (soufflé comes to mind) but…of those that ended up at the very bottom – the most surprising was the guy that had Chicken piccata. Tom Coliccio’s comment, at the judges table was, “I’m still not sure he knows what piccata is”. And another comment from the judges table was, (I’m paraphrasing) ‘in order to push the bounds you first have to understand the basics.” How True!

Same holds in sewing. I’m fond of telling students that I’ve taught, in order to break the rules you first need to know and understand them. Otherwise your results are sure to be unpredictable, not reproducible, and your success will be haphazard.

Anyway, I was inspired. I love to cook, but I’m no classically (or otherwise) trained chef. So I went looking at recipes.


I entered Piccata into the Epicurious search box, and came up with a list of recipes. I sat down and read them all.

Then I put away the computer and went to play in the kitchen. I didn’t have any chicken, what I had was Mahi-Mahi.

Dh declared my Mahi-Mahi piccata an unqualified success. (and because I’m not trained and was just winging it, I’m not sure my results will be reproducible)

First, I poached the 1 pound Mahi-Mahi filet in white wine…approx 8 mins. Then I removed the fish from the pan and covered it on a plate in a warm oven.

I drained the wine and dried the pan, then melted about 2 T butter, whisked less than 1 tbs flour into the butter, then slowly added less than ¼ cup (probably closer to 3 T) of white wine – I was using Pinot Grigio – and the juice of a whole lemon. I added some salt and a little bit of white pepper, then put the fish back in the pan and heated through again.

Meanwhile I boiled some fresh angel hair pasta and micro-cooked some new asparagus.

The whole thing took less than 20 minutes to make, and was unbelievably good.

Picatta, sort of. no pics, we were busy eating.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

most recent ebay losses

I have this Fabiani pattern in my ebay search and notify file. Everytime one of these babies comes up for auction I'm notified. Usually, they go for over $30. This one, I lost by 50 cents. It ended at 2AM. Who puts up an auction to end at 2AM? The winning bid was 15.50. If I'd been awake, it would have been Mine. Darn!
I guess it's time to add this one to my saved searches, since I managed to lose it too.
Somehow I can't justify paying close to $50 for a pattern.

Todays links:
Have you Seen Laura Bennett's new collection set to go into stores? The Project Rungay guys have some of it up on their site. TDF.
And, where Is that little icon of the guy rolling on the floor kicking and screaming laughing when you need it? Threads magazine recent online article Fabric Shopping with a Pro inspired just such an initial reaction from me. The pro is Sarah Veblen, and there is some good information....but honestly, I'm guessing that almost everyone who reads this blog might be considered a pro when it comes to shopping for fabric or yarn.

Monday, March 10, 2008

All SWAP, all the time

This is the first installment in a series that will outline my entry for this years Timmel SWAP contest.

But before I get started - looky what I just got in the mail from my friend in NYC. (across the river really, but who's picky?) Many thank-you's m'dear.

It was wonderful to spend time with my sister. And, as always, there was way more on the slate than was feasible for two people who also require food and sleep. At least some of each in the space of 3.5 days.

The result in the sewing room is Chaos. I would say "organized chaos", but I'd be lying. I cannot, in good conscience, cover all that is in-process in one blog would be inviting you into the chaos, and no one needs to go there.

So let's go to the "I'm so pleased" part of the sewing first...and one of the more time consuming garments included in the wardrobe.

SWAP installment one: A Top.

This is a "top" for the purposes of the wardrobe plan. It can be worn alone, without a top underneath, yet can also be worn as a jacket IRL.
the pattern, Vogue 8369 is a Claire Schaeffer design

You may remember The muslin:

The fabric is a synthetic blend boucle, very lightweight. Lightweight enough to wear in Florida.
If I were using the traditional Chanel technique of quilting the boucle to a silk lining and then constructing as a cardigan no underlining would be necessary. However, I'm using more traditional construction techniques, which means this boucle needed support.

lightweight boucle with light shining through Boucle block fused
After some evaluation, I chose a fusible weft-insertion interfacing, and block fused the boucle. Notice that the grain of the fusible is in-line with the grain of the boucle.
After block fusing, I cut apart the muslin and used it as pattern to cut the fashion fabric. I cut with 1" seam allowances. Good thing, as we will see in a moment. Next, the body was basted together. I love the extra long basting stitch on my Bernina - it takes the 5mm long stitch and only forms stitches on every other feed forward, so in effect I end up with a 10mm basting stitch. LOVE IT!

first fitting: notice how the princess seam angles out to the shoulder. What you also can't tell here from the angle of the pics, and the fact that it's boucle - is that the shoulder seam actually angles off in the direction of the back. In the second picture you'll see that I moved the princess seam over 3/4" on the right side, (compare it to the left side and you'll really see why it needed moving) leaving 1/4" of seam allowance on the side front and 1 3/4" on the front panel above the bustline moving up toward the shoulder. I also released the shoulder seams (fancy word for ripping out), and changed the angle of the shoulder seam, moving it as far forward as possible at the armscye - which is still too far back but it is what it is.
Then I transferred all this information to the muslin.

from the side: if you click on the pic and make it larger you'll also see that all that excess fabric at the back waist is gone, due to the horizontal fisheye dart taken out of the muslin.

Next, it was time to make decisions about trim.
I'd found a ball of ribbon ladder yarn - there is a word for it that is escaping me right now - while in Chicago last December, and picked it up. It's a variegated yarn, and the colors are 100% right on for this fabric. I thought Maybe we could use it to make trim.
Denise spent a LOT of time playing with yarn and some other bits and pieces including beads, trying to come up with a way to use it. Nuh uh. Not happening. Below is the ribbon yarn, gathered onto a solid black narrow ribbon, then scrunched up, and placed on a piece of the boucle. We tried unscrunching it a little, and a lot, and it just didn't cut it. Various more tries are on the flickr album which you can access by clicking on the photo below.

fitting denise 014
So we went shopping. First, we found the buttons that, if you look closely, you'll see on the boucle. They are the ball buttons in black made of the knotted soutache braid. They are perfect.
Then we went trim shopping.

two braids, layered, and attached to each other by black beads got the nod of approval. The beads are coming from an 18" length of bead fringe trim that I had leftover from some long ago project.
The first attempt at bead spacing ended up looking a bit high and "flowery".

By spacing the beads closer together, they sink down into the lighter pink braid, and look more like an integral part of the design, rather than something stuck on the top. This is the trim choice that got the final nod of approval.
trim and buttons on boucle

The left side princess seam has been moved now too, the back princess seams moved to match the front, and the shoulder angles changed.
I've toyed with the idea of supporting the neckline and front band of this jacket with extra interfacing. I've still got to sample some more, but right now, in the interest of Not adding too much structure, I'm leaning towards Not using any.
The lining is a silk twill from Fabric Mart - that famous tie lining they were selling in December for a ridiculous low price. There was a burgundy/black crossweave that is Perfect.
I'm thinking that the silk twill and the boucle supported by the fused weft insertion interfacing is going to be plenty of jacket without adding more structure.
Stay tuned.
Next comes setting in the sleeves

oh and pssst: Cidell and Trena are podcasting. Click here
(after you leave a comment you can click there ;)

Computer issues

I'm trying to get a blog post written about the weekend, however, I'm having computer issues. Can't upload pics to flickr or to blogger, and without pics the story is oh-so-incomplete.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Competitive Nature, Sewing Contests, and Motivation

A friend recently wrote an email and posed the question "Where does your motivation come from?"
I have a competitive personality. It's what helped make me successful as an outside sales rep. It's what drove me to become racing crew on a sailboat instead of kicking back cruising with rum drinks in hand (not that there's anything wrong with that) :)

It's what prompted me to take up racing x-country skiing and take 2nd in the North American VASA race (womens division) at the age of 39. It's part of what motivated me to become a soccer coach when, as a single mom I clearly did not have a lot of extra time.

And, It's what prompts me to interest in all the Contests on Pattern Review and the mondo of Amateur contests - the Timmel SWAP. I'm not in Summerset's league sewing contest-wise, but I do enjoy having the contest format to sort-of organize my sewing.
I love to sew. I love to pass along the knowledge and enthusiasm I have for sewing, which is why I love teaching it. And, I would sew anyway. The contests just give me that extra little oomph of a push.
The contests that cause me to push outside my comfort zone and expand my repertoire, those are the ones that interest me most.
The Ready-to-Wear challenge was one. And dang if I didn't just put off getting started on something for it long enough that I didn't get an entry made. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew (Ya think?) and time/wise I was so committed to the Timmel SWAP and the UFO challenge and getting clothes made for the Carib sailing vacay that the RTW contest just got back-burnered. Still. The garments that I ended up planning for it have hit my sewing queue for 2008.
The other contests coming up that are on my radar:
April - One Fabric Silk. Oh Yeah Baby! The requirement will be that the fabric be 100% silk, so no lace, but that shouldn't be a problem. Only problem will be deciding what to make.
May - the month of graduations, travel to get kids home from college - oh boy- is the month that I'd like to jam-pack with contest sewing. I'm so very excited about the MyPattern contest. It's really going to make me stretch and use skills I've only used sporadically recently. And I can see working that with the mini-wardrobe contest (which rules just got established - thank you's to Cindy-Lou, Pterion, the rest of the mod's and Deepika). I know exactly which grouping of stash fabrics I want to use for it/them.
May also hosts the Vintage sewing contest. I'm just not going to have Time to do all 3, although.... (it's that overachiever coming out again)
June - Stash! Wooohooo. I have stash that goes back to the 70's, and one piece of my mom's that I believe dates to the 60's. May be 50's, but more likely 60's. I'll have to ask - mom, that double woven pink wool crepe skirt length - 50's or 60's?? Most of the older pieces are ones not sewn because they're in the "too special" category. Isn't my goal in these next couple of years to USE those pieces? This will be the chance. I'm going to devote June and July to just only sewing with stash fabric.

By August I'm going to be ready to knit. And Sept and Oct will undoubtedly be devoted to weddings. my BIL Kevin is getting married in Sept and my son in October.

I would like to take a moment though, just a moment, to address what has become (as I see it) an increasingly distressing issue on Pattern Review. The pre-contest discussions. This is where the whole membership has the opportunity to weigh in on the rules prior to them being set. These discussions have become contentious, argumentative and fraught with tension. What a horrible thing for a volunteer moderator to have to navigate through. What a distressing thing this must be for Deepika, who started PR. I, for one, would be pleased to see PR just go to a format where the contests are set, Rules are stated, and if you like them, play along, if you don't, then don't play. I could live with that, and I'm sure pretty much everyone else could, AND it might alleviate some of the arguments emerging there on the message boards.

So, in addition to the overall, I'll try to bring to the table my motivation for every particular project I post about, but this is, in the overall sense, where I am right now.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
How do you decide what to make next?
if you decide to write a blog post about your inspiration, motivations, will you leave me a link in the comments? Thanks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I'm excited

My sister is coming this week.
Yeah, we're going to spend quite a bit of time sewing, but we are also going to have a girls night at home on Thursday (dh has a business function to attend), and we'll be going out to dinner Saturday night. We may even hit happy hour at one of dh's and my favorite watering holes on Friday.
This will be fun.

In preparation I've been trying to clean up the explosive mess that I left in my sewing room, and I've acquired a new passion for reading old college texts.
I've been reading Draping for Fashion Design by Hilde Jaffe and Nurie Relis. Title page indicates it comes from Fashion Insitute Technology, NYC.
I see it's still in print, and is indeed in its fourth edition. I think mine is the first edition, since no mention is made of 'editions'. ;) oh, and the bookstore stamp on the inside cover indicates I paid a whopping $12.50 for mine.

It is a very good text. I do highly recommend it if you are considering designing by draping.

I intend to drape a fitting shell at the end of this week. I'm doing all the prep work now - cutting off and marking the various different sizes of muslin squares I'll need.
I will document the process and post pics.
You will either find it fascinating, or the biggest yawn imaginable. Either way, stay tuned.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Stash enhancement!

Yeah, you read that title right. ;)
Like Carolyn and Shannon, I haven't gotten much sewing finished in February. I left only 8 days into the month, and since we came home, I just haven't had any sewing mojo. None. I've stitched exactly one seam since we returned. (This will change in March, fear not.)
So, obviously I didn't come home and whip up that lovely Dior jacket. Fear not friends, I will get it made, and I'll share the process. It just won't get entered into any contest.
Meanwhile, yesterday I succumbed to Ann's sale. I'm definitely feeling the Spring sewing fabric vibe. The big floral batiste is destined to be a dress, as is the Cruzan jersey.

I have to say that the photo of the pink/grey cotton didn't do much for me, until I saw the fabric draped on Gigi's blog (Gigi is posting again - YES!). This stuff looks absolutely Gawgeous, as Ann would say, in that photo, and so, I bought a piece. I'm thinking blouse.

I also have a basket full, but haven't clicked the buy button at Farmhouse Fabrics.
And there is a piece, (just one...yeah right!) that I want at Sawyer Brook.

think I need to spend some time wallowing in my stash again, to curb the buy impulse?

And I have to comment here - who knew that a blog post about cleaning out a closet would stir so much interest and flutter so many feathers? Whew! Thanks for your emails and comments.
My closet is so bereft of clothes to wear at this moment I really really need to just sew something fast, down and dirty-easy to wear right now. While the weather hovers between lows of 30 and highs in the mid 50's. I don't have that wardrobe. Who does?

Have a great weekend everyone, and a productive March.