Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Up All Night

I love blogging about my sewing sessions.  I actually laugh at myself (often) at the obsessiveness that often takes over my sewing self.  Here is yet another example of the land of Crah Crah, where I have assumed residency.  I completed this fantabulous moto jacket last week.   After finishing it on Wednesday, I decided that I needed something to wear to work for Friday. Now a normal person would probably not have made that kind of decision. But, if you knew me, you'd know I am so far removed from normal.  I grabbed this cute pinstripe earlier in the week and knew the moment I saw it that I wanted a sheath dress out of it.  I've seen a few versions on Pinterest so it was in the back of my mind for a while.

I really loved this pattern and thought it would be perfect.  But, the best laid girlfriend unexpectedly dropped by to drop off some paperwork. A full hour and a half later, she left and here I am.  Well, now I realize, after looking at my fabric and the pattern, that I don't have the mental or I thought, physical energy to make THIS dress with THIS fabric.  The pattern has a bodice and skirt and with this fabric (pinstripes) I need to pay attention to placement and how this is sewn together.  I just didn't want to think that hard. SOO, I looked in my pattern stash (and my DD had the nerve to challenge me about ALL my patterns!) and found another similar sillhouette. 
I liked this one, and better yet, two, maybe three pieces to place.  It was already 10:00 when I decided on the pattern, so I needed simplicity.  LOL.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I also started a phone conversation just as I started this dress.  The good thing was this helped to keep me awake while sewing (they were on speaker so I didn't have to hold the phone - LOL).  The bad thing was this kept me working longer than I probably would have!  But, my obsessive behavior needed little boosting.  I knew I was planning to wear this Friday and that was all there was to it. Besides, this was Project Runway night and I said I would always try to create something on the night of the show because I would be appropriately motivated. 

But I always need what I buy and wear what I make, so I think my process for choosing is perfect.  LOL. 

The other pattern had a matching fabric belt, and I liked that so I made that as well.  I loved this and was quite proud of my crazy inner sewists who decided to start this thing at 10:00pm on a Thursday and this photo was taken at 9:00am the next morning!
And although I wasn't smiling (again) I wasn't totally exhausted when my DD took this photo. 
 Now if I could just get her to pay attention to backgrounds so that random things like my neighbor's GARBAGE RECEPTACLE isn't photo bombing my pictures!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Moto Madness!!

One day, while minding my own business, I find this issue of Burda Magazine at my local bookstore.  Because it was a book about sewing, I naturally had to take it off the shelf to peruse its contents.  And there it was!

The most mahvelous jacket I had seen in quite a while!  To make it even more fantabulous, the pattern was included in the magazine!! Heavens to Betsy! How quickly can I make my way to the checkout counter to make this mag my very own!  This happened in the late summer.  I had designs on having this made for my birthday (November).  As I read every word about this wonderfully fabulous creature, they suggested Ponte Knit, Nappa Lamb Stretch Leather for the sleeves and trim and a 20 inch two-way separating zipper.  Sounds easy enough and I like the look.  Well, once would have thought they said, the rarest cashmere, silk and a zipper made from diamonds!  That's because I looked for weeks for the right weight Ponte.  I'm sure I went to Hancock's and JoAnns every weekend for two months.  They would have Ponte, but not the correct weight.  I looked at the store for EVER for a "two way separating 20 or 22 inch zipper. No luck.  And the leather!! OMG, Stretch Nappa Leather aint cheap.  I tried several times to go with the imitation, but I didn't like how any of it looked.  SO, finally, I found the Ponte, (just happened to be in Hancock's one day and they had it! GLORY!!, then I gave in and ordered the leather from New York Fashion Center Fabrics (I spent a lot of time with that piece in my shopping cart!) and after someone complimented my birthday coat and responded about my dire need for buttons, did I find the right zipper.

Here is what you should know about me; I'm cheap!  Cheap is what started me sewing when I was 10 years old.  My mother had no interest in buying me a lot of clothes.  But I loved clothes and wanted more and more.  Since I had no money, sewing made sense.  Back then, of course, I could get a lot more fabric for my money.  But, my baseline has continued to be, can this be made for less than buying it?  Of course, that has changed with time.  I do understand and appreciate quality, so I don't live in the bargain section of the fabric store (although I visit often). But I still want and need to find a deal whenever possible. However this jacket was so outstanding to me, that I decided I had to be a big girl and go for it.

So, with all my stuff finally in my possession, I decided to go in.  I almost never make a muslin for me when sewing, but I needed this to be right, so I decided I needed a practice dummy first.  And so, I made this Friday evening.

And the love I felt when I zipped this puppy up was greater than my Oliva Pope Coat a couple weeks ago.  I knew even from the muslin that this thing was going to be something fantabulous!  I really didn't want to go to bed, but it was after midnight and I had something to do Saturday morning.  So, I stopped and went to sleepy land to dream of my new hot accessory!

 When I could get back to the work, I felt the jacket was just a bit snug.  SO, I decided that a half inch adjustment would/should be sufficient.  I decided that I would just recut the front and back side front sections to included the additional space.  Now, I'm ready to rock and roll.  Now here comes the typical, "this only happens to me" moments.  First, sewing the muslin was much easier than sewing the fashion fabric.  But I muddled through.  
 The skirt is also out of the same Ponte knit.  This is one I made several months ago and was SO thrilled when I realized the jacket fabric was the same as my skirt that I love as well!  This was further confirmation that this would be a great wardrobe builder.

The other issue with my DD and her photo taking, she doesn't understand that the photo isn't really about me.  The point is to capture the garment.  So, none of these are as close as I would like them to be.  The trim on the jacket was particularly important to me.  One of the things that drew me to this jacket was the leather sleeves and trim.  This is a Burda pattern and their recommendation was for Nappa stretch leather.  Well, again, my city isn't the fashion mecca it likes to think it is. I did find this fabric at NY Fashion Center Fabrics ( After cutting the ponte, I laid out the pattern for the sleeves.  It was a two part sleeve.  No amount of placement and movement would get me four pieces out of that one skin!  Sheer Panic set in! This was supposed to be one of my birthday creations but I ran out of time before my birthday.  However, I didn't want to buy another skin (90.00!) because as I said above, I'm also still cheap.  To me, that was going to make this jacket as costly as a RTW item.  And I couldn't live with myself if that happened.  But, as any sewists knows, sometimes you have make it work moments.  I decided that this would work if I only had a one piece sleeve.  So I rooted around my pattern stash and found one that I thought would work. After averting that disaster, I then needed to get the trim on the jacket. Well, just let me say, this was definitely some work.  The trim has to be on both sides all the way around. I even purchased the accompanying Burda video (waste of time and money) to see how they affixed the trim.  The woman in the video used bias tape on the underside.  The problem with that is depending on how you wear the jacket both sides can show.  I didn't think that contrast was a good look.  When I say I was praying and piecing 3/4 pieces that I cut with my rotary cutter like a factory worker on a deadline! But, the sewing angels were looking down on me and smelled my desperation! I managed to eek out all the trim for both sides!

Not factory level perfection but I'm happy!

And since Teri asked, here is what it looks like unzipped.  I think it can totally be rocked up or down. As I said, I'm actually wearing it today and it has been a complete showstopper.  Every person in my office loved the jacket.  Those who didn't know I sewed now think I'm some sort of savant. LOL.  If they only saw all the "oops" undone projects in the big bag in my closet, they wouldn't entertain that thought at all.  But, it's all a labor of love!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Golden Girl

I am the proud mother of two girls.  They are AMAZING young women. Both are very smart and beautiful and funny.  I share this blog with one of them (although it would be difficult to tell because she hasn't posted in FOREVER!), as we share a love for creating.  The other one, well, she's smart too!  She doesn't sew, but she has mastered the art of the ask.  She will ask me to create something for her whenever there is an event.  Truthfully, I love it because as us sewists all know, we love a reason and excuse to create.  My daughter's ask is what brought this creation to life.  She loves a band called Mint Condition.  They were having a concert and her boyfriend got tickets and was taking her.  Of course, she needed something show stopping to wear.  One day, while I was minding my own business, working on yet another of my "I-don't-buy-RTW-so-I-need-to-sew-all-the-time outfits, I get this picture from my DD with the requests, "I HAVE to have a dress like this Ma".

This is quite beautiful.  Definitely a showstopping piece.  And a challenge! If you know me, you know I love a challenge.  So, I started the business of looking for the fabric.  In this photo, the fabric looks as if it has some body, maybe a satin or tafetta even.  We looked (and by we, I mean me) but didn't find the right look at the time.  After a while, I talked my daughter and convinced her to go fabric shopping with me.  And then we started looking at patterns.  She decided she liked this pattern. I thought this was a pretty good pattern for the inspiration look.

 My DD picked this fabric.  Honestly, when I first saw it, I thought throw pillows for my sofa!  But she loved it and I was just the creator, so I had to make it work.  Once I started putting it together, I must admit, I thought it was beautiful fabric.  It looked rich and the dress was a little sexy, but very classy.  Unlike so many of the young girls out here and their clothing selections,  I have to admit, my daughter is pretty conservative.  In fact, we tease her all that time that she is the oldest person in the family.  She's a throwback to about 1982.  She was born in 1991.

This wasn't a bad dress.  The challenge of course were the panels and matching seams.  My DD has a fabulous physique, in my opinion because it's pretty easy to sew for her.  With one exception; she has an ample butt and accompanying hips to go with.  Now, that's a benefit for the most part.  But often a challenge in patterns and clothes because they aren't really designed for the Kim Kardashian look.  So, I had to work to make this work.  I made a muslin (something I rarely do for myself) to make sure I made the necessary adjustments.

And here she is! I didn't make a lot of alterations.  In fact, the only real change was lowering the "V" to show a little more (ahem) cleavage.  We tease my DD, because her sister and I are the more "well-endowed" so it's always a chuckle when you mention her name and cleavage in the same sentence.

I thought the dress was beautiful and the girl was amazing.  I'm biased, but I'm right.  LOL.

This event has already happened and the reports back said it was a complete success!  Her boyfriend was blown away and all her friends wanted to know where she scored such a fabulous frock.  That of course makes me smile even more!
She even had women at the venue asking her about the dress!

I think she wore it well!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Scandalishly Delicious!

SO, unless you are residing under a rock, you have heard the buzz about Scandal, the tv show with Kerry Washington.  Even if you haven't become obsessed with watching the "scandalous" behavior each episode, those of us who love clothes, love watching each week just to see the sartorial splendor donned by the character Olivia Pope.  All I ever need is a reason to sew something and so, I found it squarely rooted in the wardrobe of Ms. Pope.  As I noted in my last post, several years ago, I decided to tackle the coat making world.  I don't know why, other than "why not" for my rationale back then. And since it was around my birthday, I was certain this was a "sign" for me!  I mean, why wouldn't it be perfectly appropriate to celebrate my birthday with a new coat?  Funny thing about this new revelation; before a couple years ago, I wasn't even a big coat wearer.  It gets cold enough in Tennessee for them, but I never wear one when driving and for many years my job afforded me a parking garage so I didn't have to be terribly exposed to the elements.  So much for the practical aspects of outer garment wearing! I've never allowed practicality to stop me before.  :-)

So, back to my current situation.  Here is the inspiration:
And here is my take on the inspiration! (My face suggests that I'm very mean! I'm not and when my DD took this photo, I was just waiting for her to tell me she was ready! She didn't! Now I have to work on my "mean mug face!)

I just LOVED this thing from the moment I saw her wearing it.  It was classy, commanding (I mean who can get away with wearing a WHITE trench coat) and just a bit scandalous!  So, I saw this and knew this was the 2014 Barbara Birthday coat.  I also knew I already had a pattern in my stash and would probably not need to "frankenstein" several patterns to make it work.  And I thank you McCalls for that! I had no idea this pattern was a best pattern winner at from 2009! Wow, didn't know I'd been stashing for so long. ;-)
View E (the beige trench far left) was perfect.  Practically identical actually!.  Sew, the next step was fabric.  In my mind, I initially thought of the outerwear choices I see at Hancock's around this time of year.  They are these coated fabrics that I guess one would make rain slickers from (??).  They feel more like those plastic tablecloths that you can toss out when the picnic ends.  I wasn't feeling motivated.  Then, one day, lightening struck - well common sense I guess (which is rarely common) . I thought, a polished cotton or brushed cotton would be the perfect choice.  So, I set about to find such treasure.  I love online fabric options, but I try local first.  You can touch the fabric and know that it's right and if you want it right away, there you go.  Sadly, in Memphis, the fabric stores believe that the "World of Fleece" is the only world worth living in.  Thank goodness for online fabric and online fabric sales.  I checked and not only did they have a polished cotton, but it was a stretch (added bonus) and it was on sale for 5.99 a yard!!!  The fabric angels were shining down on me.

Ok, so the fabric arrives and I'm ready to go. Whoa nelly, what about lining?  Again, back to the COMPLETE LACK OF VARIETY AT THE LOCAL FABRIC STORES (that means I can't line this coat with fleece Hancock's FABRIC stores (you do know what the name means in your business name dontcha?  Of course the pattern called for China Silk for the lining and that is not going to be at my local store.  Usually, I just ignore the pattern recommendations and get what I like from what's available locally.  I must admit however, that has worked against me in the past. I have several dresses that I LOVE but hate the lining because it's either too heavy or too "polyestery" for the garment and thus, feels hot and/or cheap!  So, again to the online options I go.  Now I'm ready! I cut my fabric pieces. My lining hasn't yet arrived but no worries, I will get started.  Because my life is set up for simplicity, there MUST be a glitch.  SO on Sunday, a week ago, as I'm putting pieces together, I realize that the front of the coat has to be cut out FOUR times!!  I go back and barely manage to cut the front facings out! Whew! Crisis averted! Back to work. I know you think the drama and trauma should be over at this point but NOOOOOO! Not so much.  It seems, because I'm not that smart, not only did I miss cutting the front facing pieces out, I also missed cutting the side front pieces out!!  But unlike the "just barely" enough fabric save for the fronts, there is nothing left but cylindrical pieces left.  No way I can get anything more than a sweatband out of the remnants!  How could this happen?  Well, I'm notoriously bad about looking at fabric layout guides and especially so when I think I have LOTS of fabric so no issue.  This is a much bigger issue than I can properly convey in words.  Why you ask? Because, as I mentioned above, I was delightfully happy to have found this fabric on line!  At this point, that means I can't readily (like right now) go get more fabric. I pull my computer out and go back to the website to order more fabric because, this coat is solid white and matching whites (even if I found the exact fabric) is more difficult than matching colors.  Suffice it to say, I didn't find this fabric again online.  In tears now, I endeavor out to my local fabric stores (remember the ones I groused about above?) hoping against hope that I can find something that will work.  (Insert the thank you JoAnn's Speech here). After two Hancock's, I finally find two pieces that I think will work at JoAnn's!

Not only did I have a problem with the fabric, but also with the lining AND the buttons! Story below! But, after all of that, here is the finished product!  I must say, I'm in love with the final product.  It really wasn't difficult to sew at all!  It was all the other things that came into the process that aged me another year!

Like the buttons?  The buttons HAD to be silver, and they really needed to be shank type buttons.  And they needed to be 1 inch diameter.  Well, guess what I could not find? Yep, 1 inch, silver, shank buttons!  So, what are these you may ask? Well, they are covered buttons. Covered with what you may ask? Isn't it obvious? Duct Tape! Silver electrical duct tape! Honestly, it's cute and worked for my obsessive need to complete this coat and wear it today, but I will need to change them. I just have to find 1 inch silver shank buttons.  I looked at every fabric store in Memphis and looked on line.  I used the advertisements in Threads and looked for them.  Nothing.  So, hopefully someone will give me a lead on these most elusive closures! 

The cuff tabs.  I will need to alter the tab carriers.  They are too long, but I love the look!


So, I finally finished my coat! I did it an actual week before my real birthday on the 30th.  That's amazing for me.  I have a few things that still need to be changed, but it's done and I love it! Now on to the next crazy obsessive item to create! Hint:  it's not a coat but it's totally cool and I can't wait to share!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Easy Breezy Blue

So, November is my birthday month!!  Yay!!  And my tradition over the past several years has been to "be creative" for my birthday. For me, that has meant creating clothes.  And not just "a birthday dress" but usually a birthday "ensemble".  That has yielded this coat.
And the next year, this coat.
And last year, my DD gave me a "sartorial birthday party" and that resulted in these.

So, here we are this year!  And the plan is for a "Scandal-like" trench coat and a fabulous black dress that I saw on a runway last year.  And you would now expect me to import those photos right?  Nah, that's not how I operate.  I prefer to wait until the last minute and stress myself completely out in order to get the garments finished.  That makes sense right?  Yeah, I know. Completely nuts.  
So, the title of the post suggest something easy and stress free.  And that's exactly what I made Thursday night while watching Project Runway Allstars.  And just so you know, this is not one of the dresses (yes, more than one is the intent!) I plan to create in celebration of my birthday.  But, it was really easy and fun and I love the color. 
This fabric was in my stash.  I have had it for more than a year I'm certain.  I either got it from or  I can't remember why I originally selected it.  But once it arrived, I guess I didn't like it for the intended project.  Now I love it and so glad it was sitting there waiting for its moment.  This pattern has been in my stash for a while as well.  I love wrap dresses and should have far more than I actually have at this point.  I need to correct that error! :-)
This came together very quickly.  It fits well (need to force my daughter to take a photo of me in it!) I made it Thursday night while watching PR Allstars.  Hemmed it Friday morning and wore it to work Friday.  I got lots of compliments which confirmed this was a great combination.
So now, it's time to start that birthday collection.  LOL, I kill myself with the nuttiness that is my logic.  Well, my birthday is not until the last day of November, so I have time. Right?? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

All Work, No Play

When I decided I needed to upload this wonderfully delightful dress, I was shocked to see that it's been nearly a year since my last post! That certainly isn't indicative of my sewing time.  I still spend most of my free time working on something or thinking about working on something.  I'm still on the no RTW diet.  I think this is my 4th or 5th year!!  I have purchased sorority paraphernalia but if I could make it, trust me I would! LOL  Anyway, I will have to try to catch up a little with all the things I've made since October 2013!  And it's telling that my partner in crime, my daughter is also guilty of "failure to blog".  She too hasn't posted anything since October.  I happen to know she sews just about as much, if not more than me.  She just finished making a wedding dress!!  I will have to scold her as well!

So, about this dress.  It always seems that the item you put the least amount of thought, time or effort into turns out to be that great one! So, this fabric is a find from JoAnn's.  When I saw it I loved it and thought at that time that it would be a great dress.  After I got it home, I looked at it and really touched it and thought it might not be great as a dress after all.  JoAnn's labeled it "knit -jegging". Now I know what a jegging is - it's a combination jean and legging.  This didn't really look like the fabrics I've seen used to make RTW jeggings.  But, I had it and it would become something at some point.

Well, today (actually yesterday because it's 1:43 in the morning right now) I was watching football and thinking about the stress of work tomorrow (err, today). After my team won (Go Cowboys!!) I decided I needed something new.  I started out looking at this black ponte knit that I recently purchased.  So, as I "shopped" my pattern stash, I saw this
pattern.  I've had it forever and thought it would be perfect with this fabric.

I thought the fabric looked a little tie-died, a little graphic and just a nice departure from the typical knits.  So, within an hour or so (while still transfixed with football) I put this together.  Let me just say, I LOVE this fabric and this dress.  It is the most comfortable thing I own that I can wear outside the house! LOL.  Seriously, I'm going back to JoAnn's to see if there are any other patterns or solids that I can grab.  This dress could be my work uniform.  For nearly a year, I have been pretty consistently working out (about 5-6 days a week). I've lost some weight, although not even close to my goal.  But I've also lost a few inches and while I obsess with the scale, it's is nice to see that my clothes fit a bit better and that I am willing to make and wear things that I would never have made a year ago.  I'm not there yet, but this is taking me in the direction I want to go 

In terms of changes I made to the dress, this pattern calls for the dress to be lined.  I didn't want to line it.  I made a wonderful ponte knit dress from a Vogue pattern last year.  It was lined.  I have only worn that dress once or twice.  It was so daggone hot, I thought I was trapped in an iron lung when I wore it!  I'm always hot, so that should have been a clue that lining a knit probably wasn't going to work for me, while I still lived in the South!.  I wear sleeveless dresses and tops all year long and just add a jacket. So, I knew lining wasn't going to work for me.  Initially, I was going to use bias tape to finish the neck edge and the armholes.  But, because I was lazy and concerned that the bias tape might be too heavy for the neck edge and armholes and make them turn in, I decided against the bias tape.  So, after remembering that my twin needle hemming worked great on another knit dress I made some time back, I decided that would be good for this dress as well.

And so, that's how I finished it!  As I said, I love it, would make it 50 more times if I found interesting fabrics, so don't be surprised if you see another post or two espousing the wonderfulness of McCall's 6282!