Thursday, September 10, 2015

50th high school reunion

No, not husband's.   We will be traveling to Los Gatos and staying at the Los Gatos Lodge.  The event has a get together on one night, and then the main dinner the next.  

I am practicing smiling and nodding.  My DH and I have composed a list of what we won't discuss with others:

how we met (hitchhiking)
why we are childless (choice, then fate)
drug and alcohol use (yes, it was the 60s-70s for goodness sake)
family dynamics (everyone's family is screwy)
money (our retirement pensions were tradeoffs for good salaries while teaching)

Thanks for letting me tell the truth I can smile and nod, make socially acceptable jokes, and try not to yawn. 

We will also be in Santa Cruz visiting our friends, and maybe going to an event at UCSC.  Then, over to Willow Glen (San Jose area) for dinner with one of my brothers and his wife.   

What I am really excited about is my dress for the dinner.  I quickly pulled this one together using B5749OOP-

I love it, but I found it difficult to make using the jersey I chose.  A zipper is called for, and I needed it as I am curvy.  The dress looks really nice FROM THE OUTSIDE.  I will never show anyone the fact, I may make the dress again in a better fabric just to redeem myself.  Here is my dinner dress-I have some turquoise heels and some sparkley jewelry :-)

When I return, I will write up the details of this pattern.  There is lots to love about the dress, but it is not easy to sew well. 

Until later, Mary

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Those gams

I made some shorts.  

I began with my measurements, and then took an extra anti-depressant.  Using B 6061, a size 14+ and extra length on my waistband, I sewed View A exactly as drafted.  These shorts are semi-fitted and tapered...and cut rather long for shorts.  

I ended up with some shorts that were wearable, and some practice in a fly front and a waistband.  My track record for those skills is poor, so I was happy to use a pattern and fabric I was not invested in.  Using my measurements, I ended up with shorts which could be taken off without unzipping!  So, I altered the waistband, removed the button and sewed over the buttonhole, chopped off 2+ inches of the hem.

Now they stay on my hips!! (note for other frugalistas-the tee is an old LLBean turtleneck I remade.)
Feeling pretty sassy, I bought some other shorts patterns and planned a new attack.  This time I used some twill form Hancock's and M 7165 ViewA.  

Why did I cut sizes 14 and 16, except that is what the measurements indicate.  After basting, I saw that a 16 gives me enough room through my hips, but is too big near my waist.  Again, lots of alterations to make the waistband fit...and then adjust the pockets which got pulled off grain. 

This length is good for my height, and I like the fabric.  I did a much better job on the fly front and waistband, though I still need to be more precise with edge stitching and stitch in the ditch.  

It's fun to work on technique and have some samples which ae wearable. :-)
These 2 patterns fit me as well as can be expected without a muslin.  The crotch is good, the waistband doesn't cut into me and the overall shape is nice.  Tight clothes do not feel good in desert heat so while I could go a bit more fitted, I don't want to.

Here is something interesting-I don't know what to do about that dent in my right butt cheek (thanks Woodrow, for dumping me onto lava rock and then running back to camp).

Finally, here are the interior shots of the zipper etc.  

Take away knowledge: fly front mastered, waistbands better, love both pocket styles, both shorts hemmed at 13" outseam with 3 1/2" inseam on B6061 and 2 1/2" inseam on M7165.  

I highly recommend taking the time to PRACTICE. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gothic dreams

Inspiration comes when we are listening gently to ourselves and is sometimes a surprising companion.   We cannot see where we are going, or why something is important to us...but we follow anyway.

I found this fabric in a warehouse store, deep in a pile of cast off polyester remnants.  Peeking out of this unloved grouping was a bit of gorgeous color with lovely black outlining.
I pulled, thinking "What a beautiful scarf this would be".  I pulled some more and saw some odd splotches of pink, then some houses, trees, and perhaps a piano?  
An open doorway appeared, though it was tagged with some shocking red paint. I pulled some more, and my idea of a scarf was gone.  This was an unlovely but striking piece of art. Dark in places, and sweet in others.  Filled with the details of a neighborhood on the edges of a forbidding wood.

My mind said "WTH?" while my heart said "Buy this".  It has been with me for about a year, slithering its polyester way around the fabric closet.  This weekend I found the perfect pattern for it-this caftan by Butterick.  

Here it is on my dressform, still needing hemming. This caftan will be a workhorse in my loungewear wardrobe, especially now as we are suffering 110F.  

I can slip into this after a shower and pad around the house in comfort.  

More than a caftan though...while working with this fabric I was lost in memories.   I heard the slow cadences of southern speech, and smelled the wet decay under the azaelas.  I had vivid flashbacks of visiting my stepmom's family in the south-knowing the "wrongness" of some people, even while they were showing gracious courtesy.  The titles below came to mind...the McCarthy novel is one I have not read and was written before he moved west. Sanctuary is a must read, as is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  Southern gothic fiction is mysterious, gritty, dark, and almost always set against a backdrop of decaying Southern manners.  Happy sewing and reading~Mary

Sunday, July 26, 2015

a "simple" tee shirt

Hi Readers, 

I have been camping...unplugged, horseless, and no sewing machine.  How did our ancestors cope?

We spent a week in the White Mountains, north of Tucson and camped at Hoyer Campground in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.  It was wonderful to get out of the heat, and to enjoy the forest through hiking and photography.   I was really interested in checking out the area as I am trailering big Nick up there in August for a weekend trip organized by my boarding barn.  Elevation is 8500-9000ft in the area where we camped...and hiking proved that as I wheezed going uphill.

traveling down toward the bottom of the Salt River canyon

near Big Lake

a lucky sighting of elk
little Nick and I explored Bunch resevoir area

I brought a few tee shirts made a week before we left-I used a Marcy Tilton pattern-V 9057 and mixed A and C for a loose, sleeveless tank.  After wearing the tunics/tees camping, I knew they needed adjustments.  The sizing seemed too large in my  shoulders, so I altered to bring it in a bit.  The length was far too long using A and I removed 1.5" in the second round of alterations.  I'll need to add an FBA in the next tee IF I use a stable knit.   
The outfit below
is the tee (hate to sew cotton interlock) in its highly altered state.  It is acceptable for a 1st version and I will use the pattern again, but add sleeves.  As an aside, here are some pictures of my samples for the hem.  Did I mention I hate sewing with this fabric? 

The tunic had a serged hem, but I cut all of that off.  I used stitch witchery to stabilize the hem and then ZZ'ed.  It's okay for a Saturday/barn shirt.  

The skirt is from a Sandra Betzina pattern V 2911 OOP - a great bias skirt pattern.   I love my new bias skirt in turquoise, blue and brown.  

New sewers may think a tee shirt is an easy make...but I can prove that wrong.  This tee has been altered twice, and is still in need of work.  I didn't even discuss the neckline and armhole binding methods, which need to be chosen dependant upon the fabric and the style of the garment.  I rarely follow the pattern instructions there.  We sometimes forget how many skills we have picked up along the way as we merrily cut, sew, slice and re-sew.  Sewing is a skill worthy of pride.

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Vogues

I don't normally do a collection review but I am very inspired by the Fall collection at Vogue Patterns.   The overall vibe is ladylike, chic and elegant. There is a lot of seaming detail on the body, shoulders, and collars; necklines seem higher in general; lapels and sleeves are extravagant.  I noted that collars are smaller, and come in a variety of shapes.  This collection is less for the urban fashionista and more attuned to the woman who needs a stylish and subtle look for work, meetings and events.  
Donna Karan V1465
Donna Karan V1466

There are 2 sweet patterns for girls, and 2 patterns for dolls.  

Many of the edgier designers have lovely patterns, including one from Koos van den Akker.  I like to do applique and have been successful sometimes with the technique.  It is very easy to make a wrong turn and end up looking as though you are wearing a table I collect van den Akker patterns to study the arrangements.  


Marcy Tilton has 2 winners-the coat might overwhelm me but I LOVE it.  Petite people beware!  Her fabric choices are phenomenal-make sure to go look at the models.  
Marcy's newest tee shirt is super, with an organic look to the seaming and a softness which looks comfortable but sophisticated.  

In keeping with the above beautiful "art teacher chic" patterns, here is an interesting jacket from Sandra Betzina.

Kathryn Brenne has a lovely jacket which I would like to make for the holidays...

What did I hate?  Not much-one dress with bust seaming which looks awkward and a pattern for a traditional dress from the Southwest and Mexico.  The traditional dress would be very hard to wear outside of a village or a resort.

Overall, this collection is a winner for me.  30s and 40s vibe, feminine details, artistic design, easy wearing clothing, a nod to modesty and sophistication (not an easy combo!).