Friday, May 2, 2014

moving ahead!


It is time to take a break from blogging. Ever since the big move, I haven't gotten into a posting rhythm on this blog. You know how it is - seasons change, don't they?

Rather than shutting down completely, we'll call this a hiatus.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog. Your support has made it a most excellent experience.

with affection,


Saturday, April 19, 2014

um, I don't think so.

Oh dear, this pattern didn't work for me:

I didn't spend too much time on it, nor was it particularly beloved fabric. After spending the last couple weeks on my new draperies, I decided to sew a knit top today. The pattern is the Issy Knit Top by Style Arc:

The main problem is that draglines across the front that suggest to me that a full bust adjustment is needed. I would just feel way too self-conscious wearing it. The fabric is poly, so I decided to go for the sleeveless version and it would have been really nice for summer under jackets. But, no, no, no! I shan't be wearing this Issy Top!

Do you want to see the draperies I sewed?

I must say, I love them. They still need to be hemmed, but this helps me feel like I've turned a corner in settling into our new place. 

Howie just popped in and asked, "Are you bummed out about the blue top?" and my answer is nope. Without a failure now and then I wouldn't appreciate the successes. I'll just sew something else. As I look at that photo above, I think maybe we should unpack some books. Unpacking seems to be a never ending task!!

Hope you have a great Easter!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

little lace dress - road test

I wore my little lace dress to a celebratory brunch today. I turned 57 yesterday! As the years roll by, it can be hard to remember how old I am, but I should have an easy time with this. I was born in '57 and I can remember that.

I sewed this little lace dress a couple weeks ago, using the Robin Top pattern by Style Arc, my favorite reason to love Australia. It's on my bucket list of places to travel someday.

The pants are sewn from the Cassie pattern.

There is no zipper in the back - I am able to wiggle in and out of the dress without a zipper.

I like it because it is casual, but dressed up, too.
Next up - pillows and draperies. Not my favorite sewing but I appreciate saving on labor costs for decorating.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

my mother's daughter

After my father died, my mother started flipping houses, only we didn't know what to call it back then. She would buy a new house about once a year. The whole family, which consisted of me and 4 younger siblings, would participate in the complete overhaul of the new home after we moved in. As soon as it was perfect, we moved and did it again. My mother's real talent was, and still is, interior decorating.

This is my living room as it looks this morning. I am auditioning fabric for a window treatment.
Having a nicely decorated home is very important to me, but it sure does not come easily.
My sister inherited the skill, as did my daughter, but it skipped over me.

This is what I enjoy! And this is my sewing project for the weekend: it is an alteration for Howie's daughter who will participate in a very special wedding soon. When she sent me these cell phone pics, my initial reaction was, "Order a smaller size and come on over asap!"
 It is the Mirabelle dress from J. Crew.

When she arrived and slipped into the dress, I pulled it up enough to make it fit under the armpits, and attached binder clips to the shoulder seams. It fit perfectly! It will also be shortened by a couple inches. In the photo above, I have thread-traced the placement of the new shoulder seams. I will remove the cap sleeves first, alter and then assess whether the cap sleeves can go back on.

It is very possible I can have this finished by the end of the day so I can get my weekly little accomplishment boost. It makes my Monday mornings much happier to have a fresh little accomplishment under my belt.

Recently, I had the good fortune to get first hand knowledge about bigger projects:

Good old FaceBook - it's where you can get all the news!

Another peek at how I spent my Christmas vacation.
You can follow Claire Shaeffer on FaceBook if you'd like to stay in the loop on her projects.

Working on a big project helped me understand why we moved so much when I was growing up. Now I understand. My mother was decorating those houses to get her own accomplishment fix. Her creative process took about a year and she expressed herself in those houses. She never decorated them with beige-beige-beige in order to sell them. Oh no, my mother put her style and her creative frugality and her heart and soul into those houses. She knew how to make ugly look beautiful, without spending a lot of money. And she got validation when the houses sold fast. People raced to snap up her homes and they were simply clean and beautifully decorated. She never upgraded anything if it could be washed, painted or slipcovered. That was her full time job and she made good money doing it.

Now that I have worked on a book, which takes more than a weekend to finish, I understand. Now I get it. I always come back to this: creativity is a great comfort. It keeps a high-strung girl occupied. I never thought of my mother as high-strung, but I do think she got a lot of satisfaction from decorating all those many houses. It was a smart move.

That's my call.
Enjoy your weekend.
What are you working on?

updated: the alteration is finished. Hemmed by machine and  hand-sewn around neckline and armholes.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cardigan and Pants

More fast & easy sewing is happening here in my sewing room. I made this cardigan a little while back and I don't think I posted it on the blog. It is the Laura Cardigan pattern by Style Arc:

This takes about an hour to sew. As usual, the pattern alterations take the most time! I continue to use the same alterations with every Style Arc pattern. Consistency in pattern sizing is a wonderful thing.

I used a gray heathered striped wool jersey that originally hailed from Fabric Mart. Interesting, my pants are sewn from ponte knit also from Fabric Mart! I bought TEN YARDS of the ponte knit when it was on sale for $2.99/yard. They mailed it on the bolt, and I can tell you that it will raise a husband's eyebrows when you start bringing bolts of fabric into the house.

I guess he doesn't mind, because he still takes photos for me :)

I can't say I am really happy with the pants. They just seem a little stiff and wrinkly. I had more illustrative pictures of those wrinkles (under-the-butt wrinkles) but I chose not to post unflattering pictures of my butt on the internet. You will have to see me in person for the full effect. At least they are in the back, where I don't have to see them!

The pants were too big, and I made a few alterations but overall, I remain puzzled by them. More accurately, I am puzzled by my body. If I had not gotten so immersed in sewing, I doubt if I'd have noticed how much my body changes. It seems like it doesn't stay consistent for more than a year or so. Sometimes I gain and sometimes I lose weight. I am alway exercising, although I get bored and change it up from time to time. I was really into Zumba for a while, but there is a barre studio in my new neighborhood, so I recently started taking barre classes. It really isn't like ballet at all - I admit to a little disappointment that we don't dance around. It is really hard work, one muscle group at a time! But it is great for my knee, so I like it.

I have other pants patterns to try, so maybe they will fit better. I know one thing, my home-sewing is a heck of a lot better than store-bought!

Enjoy what is left of the weekend!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

a new dress, this time with sleeves

I finished the brown lace dress and I'm really happy with it - but it is too cold to wear a lace dress over a measley little slip! That will get worn when the weather is a little more temperate. So I sewed another dress, out of wool jersey and with long sleeves. This is Style Arc's Marita dress:

It is a very fast and easy dress. I actually sewed it last weekend in a very inexpensive ITY knit I had purchased from Fabric Mart in a what-was-I-thinking moment. The fabric was so loud and obnoxious I could never picture myself wearing it (a purple and black leopard print) so I was a little relieved that it was too tight and I could proclaim it a muslin and toss it into the recycling bin.

The folds in the cowl come out much drapier in a lighter knit, but I really loved it in this wool jersey, too. When I wear ITY knits at this time of year, static cling is a real problem so a high quality (to me that means a non-itchy fabric) jersey is the better choice.

Once again, I think I sewed the entire thing on the serger, although I did sew the sleeve and bottom hems by hand, using a catch stitch.

This is a Spanx dress for sure. But you know, I don't mind wearing Spanx at all, especially in cooler weather. Now in the summer, no - I will stick with loose linen, thank you very much.

It was a beautiful day and I wish I had photos but my Samsung doesn't take good pictures in low light. We went to a celebration party for Miss Celie and her charming new husband. I really enjoyed seeing the Slapdash Sewist and La Cubanita Cose, because we were all wearing self-sewn creations.

I already said this, but I will say it again - it was a lovely day. Miss Celie found herself a keeper and I couldn't be happier for them!

edited to add this photo from the party:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

how about a little lace dress? I'll take one, please

 How many times have I thought, "oh I will just whip up a *fill in the blank*!" or "Come on! With all this fabric and all these patterns, are you telling me I have to go shopping?"

And yes, with all this fabric and all these patterns, I have found myself dashing over to A Fabric Place on my lunch hour, anxiously pawing through the goods, hoping to find the makings for the perfect make. May I now present a different experience - a quick dress using a TNT pattern and fabric from deep stash! These exclamation marks tell you that it is an unusual occurrence!
Almost finished, this is an unlined lace dress to be worn over a black slip.

I used a favorite simple top pattern, the Robin Top by Style Arc, and I just lengthened it to knee length, and cut the neckline sorta free-form to make it easier to work with the lace trim.

I have learned I don't need the zipper in the back, so I skip that. If I chose to fit the pattern more closely, I would need it, but I like being able to pull it on over my head and skip taking time to insert the zip.

When I say this was easy, it was shockingly easy! I hope I am not jinxing myself before I finish sewing it today. I hope I have enough lace edging to trim the sleeves with it. If not, I will come up with a simple hem on the sleeves.

I sewed all the seams using a long basting stitch on the sewing machine. Then I carefully tried on the dress to check the fit. Thanks to using a TNT pattern, it was perfect. Then I cut long strips of silk selvedge from a brown twill silk in the stash and basted them by hand to the narrow seam allowances of the side seams and the shoulder seams.

Then I turned to the serger and yes, I serged lace. Having attended couture sewing workshops, watched Claire Shaeffer's Hand Sewing DVD and read every technique on the internet, I cannot recall anyone recommending use of a serger for $50/yard lace. It worked for me!

So yeah the expensive lace, gulp, let me tell you about that. I bought it on a day trip to the Garment District in Manhattan a couple years ago. I was shopping for project supplies for a sewing workshop. I was really having trouble finding something casual enough for my vision. And, I bought more than one piece of lace because, honestly none of them were perfect, but I needed a project and it was good enough. I ended up using a different guipure lace to make a jacket. So, this fabric had a little guilt built in, and I am ever so delighted the shoo away that feeling, as the dress is turning out better than I expected.

almost finished!

I am still far from having a very efficient sewing space, and that includes adequate lighting, so I apologize for the fuzzy photos. But, rather than organize or clean, I have decided to sew this weekend. I will be glad I did when I have something nice to wear next weekend to celebrate the marriage of a wonderful couple. 

I have some black suede booties but they make me well over six feet tall, so I may shop for new shoes if I have time. I always feel like a giraffe when I wear stylish shoes, but sometimes a person has to suck it up and gangle forward.

Better get moving so I can use the best light of the day to do my hand sewing ... thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

woot woot woot

I sewed something!
This is my new exercise T shirt.
For a few months, I have been going through a big fat transition and today I finally sat down and sewed a garment. That sorely missed sweet sense of satisfaction came over me as I slipped on my new Riva Raglan Tee for the first time. Thank you Mother Nature for a SNOW DAY!

Sewing for the first time in months wasn't the only bright spot of my day. I went for a nice long walk for the first time since before Christmas when I fell and sprained my knee. My knee is finally feeling right again.

Getting organized in our new place has been so much slower than I would like. The main reason is because we really downsized and it has been tricky to find room for my sewing stuff.

I love to sew. And I know you do, too. But when we shopped for a new home, I didn't make a sewing room a very high priority. It was way more important to find the right location, with the right amenities and whatever we got, I knew I'd make it work. As it turns out, my sewing is now split into two spaces.

In the master bedroom, there is a sitting area, and I have a wall of storage:
It's almost organized, almost. This is the IKEA Besta system and I am waiting for drawers to come in. I will add several drawers and doors. When it is finished, storage will be completely concealed.
I also have a small closet for fabric and a nice roomy desk for my sewing machine and serger. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't make room for a cutting table. I cannot live without a cutting table, so it will go in the den. That will work fine.

Still to do:

  1. Buy and hang at least one full length mirror. I can't sew anything tricky until I can see myself in a mirror!
  2. Hang the super-bright full spectrum fluorescent lights I brought from the old place. They aren't pretty but I don't care - I need bright light. Call an electrician.
  3. Buy a smaller cutting mat. My old one is too big and does not fit.
  4. Install drawers and doors on the Wall of Storage.
I think that's it. 

Now that I can walk normally, everything is going to feel easier.
I think I will find an electrician and call tomorrow. 
Yep. I am tired of being in limbo!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

getting back in the groove

Despite having unpacked 98% of the boxes, I still have not freed my camera from its wrongful incarceration; I should have left the darn thing out, right?
This is the last time I sewed.
Since the move earlier this month, there have been little inconveniences along the way, but in retrospect, it was not that bad.

Fortunately, I am hosting the family Christmas celebration this year! It is nice to have a deadline, isn't it! and yes, I found the Christmas decorations, so whew! I am ready on that front!

I am sure my family will understand that things are a little understated this year. 
In my free time, I jazzed up my sewing area with a little DIY project. Now my sewing supplies fit tidily into a glamorous little corner:
read how I did it here
The machine is inside, my fabrics fit into the drawer on the left and patterns are in the drawer on the right. I don't how why those 97 boxes of fabric intimidated me!

And I've done a little sewing - if only I had a camera to show the garments on me! Here is what I completed in the 2 weeks since we moved into our new condo:

I'll try to model some of them soon.

Well, I guess I better get busy. I need to file my nails. We have company coming.

(the weather in my neck of the woods is a little chilly)

The main purpose of my post today it to say HI! I survived moving! I am working on a VERY FUN freelance editing assignment (YAY!) and I will certainly share more when the time is right.

I do hope to unpack my camera soon. And I do hope to stitch something soon. Getting settled in just takes a little while.

May your days be merry and bright and I hope to get back to my little corner of the sewing blogosphere soon.

Warm Wishes to You ALL!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Endorphins a-plenty: a nice easy knit top

Since my last post, there were a few more nail-biting situations, but that's why everyone tells you it is stressful to sell and buy and move your home. Everything seems to have smoothed out and we are in our final days of living in this home where so many memories were made. I've had moments of real sadness at leaving it behind, but now we are ready and happy to be moving on to the next installment of Fun Times with Howie and Robin. You know, that is the essence of the sadness - it is the fact that this stage of life is over. We don't need to be in a particular school district, or have enough bedrooms for kids or a basement for them to paint lime green. What a ride it has been!

Speaking of fun times, I found myself crawling around on the floor, pinning my pattern to my fabric and cutting it with shears. Considering I usually have a cutting table, pattern weights and rotary cutters, that was a throwback to my early sewing days. I sewed this Style Arc knit top:

It would have been so great to sew this top from a stripe knit fabric, but they didn't have any for sale at my local fabric store so I went box diving in our storage unit. I was pretty happy to find this animal print (would you call that leopard or cheetah?) because it has silvery metallic shine and it's a very soft sweater-ish knit. I got it a while back during one of Fabric Mart's amazing sales. It is hard to beat Fabric Mart on great deals, isn't it? And for some reason I seem to sew up my Fabric Mart purchases faster than any other store, except for maybe Elliott Berman up in Manhattan.

Here are the pattern details:

Yes, the animal print completely obscures the interesting lines, but this pattern had just arrived in the mail and all of my other patterns are packed away.

A few interesting tidbits:
  • the neckline came out a little higher than I expected (bonus - I like it higher)
  • the front is constructed first, and then the back is constructed and then you sew them together at the shoulder seams.
  • That means the binding for the neckline isn't continuous, which is always my preference.
  • It worked out fine because I just sewed the shoulder seams together, pressed them open and sewed a couple stitches by hand to keep the edges out of sight.
  • The seams are only a quarter inch, so it's a good thing this fabric doesn't ravel!
  • I sewed everything with a zig-zag: hems, top-stitching, seams, everything except the shoulder seams because I wanted to press them open. My serger is packed away! And the busy fabric hides the zig-zag.
  • I could stand to do a cheater FBA on this (add to the side seams at the bustline) so I'll do that next time. There WILL be a next time, I LOVE this pattern!
  • I was able to make my pattern adjustments by referencing my past blog posts about Style Arc patterns. I love how consistent the drafting is. 
Have you ever noticed what a sense of accomplishment you get from sewing? That is something I have been really missing lately and sewing this top last weekend gave me genuine endorphins.

Anyone else planning to sew the Tootsie? I am going to be on the lookout for cute striped knits.