Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'm a Winner! Also, Inspiration and Ruminations on Time Spent Sewing

I just won a giveaway! All right, not really "just," but I've been letting it simmer in my head for a couple of days. I almost never win things, and usually when I do, they're things like books about possible career options. So I'm obviously pretty excited about this one.

What is it, you ask? It's a half meter of the same gorgeous black guipure lace that Julia Bobbin used to make this gorgeous dress. Thank you so much, Julia!

If for some reason you don't yet follow Julia's blog, you really should. I want to live in her closet, or at least have her quickly-gained sewing skills. :) I only discovered her blog through BurdaStyle, and I'm glad I found her just a few months after she started blogging. I'm so excited to see what she does next!

I've also been pondering exactly what to do with this beautiful lace when it arrives on my doorstep. I'm not the kind of girl who likes to hold on to beautiful things because I'm afraid I'll screw them up. I firmly believe that beautiful, expensive fabrics are meant to be sewn up, worn, and appreciated. I'm actually working on a blouse right now that will use the most expensive, luxurious fabric (silk) in my tiny stash, which I just bought in December.

Most of my inspiration for this lace has been wedding inspired. Lace seems to be such a wedding-y kind of thing still, even though it's been breaking out of those confines. I've been thinking about using it to make a jacket/top, inspired by a company called Aire Barcelona, that makes just beautiful things.

This is the first one I found. It's a lovely bare-shoulder top that goes over a strapless dress. Exactly what I'm thinking. If it's just the top, I'll be able to wear it more frequently than if it were attached to a dress. It could dress up anything strapless and make it more modest. The only problem with this one is that it would need a stretch lace or some sort of back closure. If I did something like this, the sleeves would also be much smaller, like only the top quarter.

The second one I found has a front button closure and is extremely modest. I like the general idea, but high necklines don't look the greatest on me, so I was thinking I would lower/widen the neckline and possibly raise the hem.

And that's when I saw this last one. It's just beautiful, it would be more versatile, since it could be used over a spaghetti-strap dress as well, and it's fun because you can wear it with a dress that has a midriff detail like the gorgeous beading on the dress the model's wearing. Imagine this in that black lace over a black strapless dress, or over nude, white, pink... Pretty much anything. :) Love.

We'll see. Lots of inspiration. For now, I'm going to keep working on that silk blouse, which I'm hoping to be able to show you soon. My sewing is not getting any speedier, but I'm learning a whole lot about fitting and my body. I apparently have to make tiny forward and narrow shoulder adjustments in addition to the swayback and FBA adjustments.

Random question of the day: when you're adding up the time it took you to sew something, what do you count? Just the sewing of the final garment? The cutting of your fashion fabric? The muslin and/or fitting/altering? The tracing from the original pattern (if you do that)? I count everything except that original tracing, since I know so many people skip that part, and I'll never have to do it again for that particular pattern. It's the fitting that takes me the longest, though. What's the most time-intensive part of sewing for you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

133 Sewing Patterns - I Better Get On It!

I don't really have a problem with fabric. I could tell you exactly what my stash contains at the moment and what I intend to do with almost everything in it. Want proof? You can scroll all the way to the bottom of this post, where I've made a list, just to show that I can. :)

What I do have a problem with is patterns. I have an extensive stash. 133 patterns, all but one of which I took photos of over the weekend (I forgot the one...I'm working on it right now, so it was in a bag with the rest of the stuff for that dress). I uploaded all the photos to Flikr, inspired by Lauren at Lladybird to take stock of what I've got. It's insane. I bought most of these as a lot, which explains the mysterious presence of children's patterns in spite of the lack of children in my life. And also explains all the 70s patterns, which I will probably never, ever sew up. It's definitely time to sort and purge. Maybe Etsy?

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. These are all patterns I'm hoping to sew up this year, since I love them all so much. They do actually include a couple of tops that may or may not be 70s-ish (late 60s? early 80s? I'm terrible at dating patterns!).

This is what I'm working on right now. I'll be tracing tonight. Yay!

If you're interested in seeing the rest of my extensive pattern collection, you can check it out here. :) I know I enjoyed drooling over Lauren's. I'm also thinking this will help immensely when I'm thinking about buying something new, so I don't come home with something similar (or identical).

Question of the day: Do you keep patterns you don't really like on the off-chance that maybe someone you  know will someday want to make them? What if your (hypothetical future) kid wants to be a hippie for Halloween one year, and you have the perfect dress/pants/tunic pattern? Or do you just get rid of them to make room for other things that you truly love?

And the (considerably shorter) list of fabrics in my stash:
  1. Navy polyester chiffon with blue dots - sheer collared shirt (Butterick 4042)
  2. Dusty rose crinkled polyester chiffon - sheer shirt (either Butterick 4042 or Simplicity 9559)
  3. Teal cotton with dark green pattern - sun dress (undecided on pattern, but it's mid winter, so I have time...Maybe Anne Adams 4543?)
  4. Gold poly satin - overskirt for Renaissance costume
  5. Pale lavendar linen - shirtdress
  6. Cream silk with pink and red flowers - blouse (Colette Jasmine)
  7. Multi-colored rayon - sundress (Simplicity 2145)
  8. Pink cotton - top based on Gertie's bombshell class
  9. Blue and tan check mystery fabric - winter something: coat, dress, skirt
  10. Lavender, pink, and gray plaid seersucker - sun dress
  11. Pink, gray, and white firework polyester - Simplicity 3562
  12. White embroidered cotton - Simplicity 3562
  13. Tan and brown twill from Grandma's stash - undecided

Friday, January 13, 2012

The "Goes with Everything" Skirt - Completed!

This is my first completed project of 2012, and my second item for my SWAP. I'm super excited!

Fabric: 1 1/2 yards dark denim from JoAnn and a bit of quilting cotton from my grandma's stash
Pattern: Burda Jenny pencil skirt
Year: Modern
Notions: navy zipper, fusible interfacing, hem tape from grandma's stash
Time to complete: 16 hours. What? I said I'm slow!
First worn: to work on January 13
Wear again? Yes! I'd wear this skirt every day if I could!
Make again? Absolutely! This pattern was a breeze to work with. The time it took was just me being the tortoise. :)
Total price: $14

The Sew Weekly theme this week was to use an accessory as your inspiration for a garment. The minute I saw the theme, I knew what I would be using as my inspiration. I bought this scarf from Urban Outfitters (a store that I paradoxically love but in which I've never been able to find an item I didn't hate). It was the first thing I've ever found there that I loved, and I loved it so much I had to have it immediately. It goes with everything I own, with its navy, off-white, dark red, pink, light blue, yellow, orange...I could wear anything with this scarf and it would match.

In the spirit of multi-use garments, I made a skirt that I could wear with anything in my closet (including that lovely scarf). In fact, I can wear this skirt with the blouse I bought months ago and then never wore because it doesn't go with anything else I have. I can wear it with the colored tights my mom bought me for Christmas (I'm wearing the maroon today).

I cut a size 36 (US 4) in the waist and graded to a size 42 (US 10) in the hip, then shaved off some of the width in the high hip because my width is lower. I also took a page out of Tilly's book and removed a lot of the width of the waistband, because I'm pretty short too. My finished waistband is 2" wide. I made a swayback adjustment and then did a similar adjustment to the front of the skirt. I think the ripples in the fabric that make that necessary might be created by my low, wide hips, but who knows? All I know is that adjustment works. :) I added 1 1/2" to the length of the skirt, so it would hit just above the knee. Finally, I used Sunni's tutorial over at A Fashionable Stitch to add a back vent to the skirt, and I put in a lapped zipper instead of a centered zipper.

Oh, and I looked at Lauren's post on hem tape over at Lladybird to get a visual on how to put this stuff in. It looks so pretty, doesn't it?

I love this super-dark denim and the perfect fit, but the thing that's really special about this skirt for me is the fact that I was able to use things that used to belong to my grandma. Every time I pull this skirt on, I'll see this pretty blue-flowered cotton that my grandma bought once and used for something small (there was a tiny bit of it cut out). That was also some of her lace hem tape (and it was already cut to exactly the length I needed...weird!).

*Oh! And the first three photos were taken by my awesome and supportive coworker Monique.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm the Tortoise, and a Puppy Picture

I  haven't posted because I've been sewing. And fitting. And sewing. And ripping seams. And sewing some more. And contemplating exactly how a lining goes into a pencil skirt vent. And looking up tutorials. And sewing even more. And trying on what I'd worked on only to find that in spite of hours and hours of fitting and ten muslins, the darts were still in the wrong places and the bodice was too tight. Sad day.

I set down my ages-long project to pick up something a little easier. Right now, I'm working on a denim pencil skirt inspired by the first photo in this post and a new scarf I bought in early December. I'm hoping to finish it tonight and post it tomorrow. *crosses fingers* Even this project has taken me longer than expected. I think I'm just a slow stitcher, and I vastly underestimate the time it takes me to do things. I think I may have to take a more realistic look at my resolutions and modify them into something that's more inspirational than aspirational.

Ah, well. Such is life. Since I haven't provided you with anything fun lately, here's a super cute photo of my babies. Onyx (the black one. And yes, I have had someone ask me why we named him Onyx) is the male and is 2 1/2 years old, and Siri is the female and will be 2 in February, and before you ask, no, I'm not really sure what breeds they are. They're both rescues, and all I can say for sure is that Onyx's mother was a pure bred German shepherd, his father was probably a black lab mix, and they told us that Siri is a chocolate lab mix. Everyone has theories about what she's mixed with. Border collie? Rodesian ridgeback? Who knows? I honestly believe that they are the cutest dogs in the entire world. Ever. I thought I'd post evidence that I am, in fact, a seamstress with dogs and no cats. I feel like I'm a true anomaly in the community. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Post-holiday Reflection and Gifted Additions to the Stash

My Christmas was wonderful. I got up early in the morning and walked the dogs in that magical time just when kids are starting to wake up and shake their parents awake. When we were little, my sister and I used to jump on my parents' bed, then sit impatiently at the top of the stairs until Dad had decided it was a decent hour to get out of bed. :) While I walked the dogs, I imagined similar things were going on in the houses I passed by. There is nothing quite so magical as Christmas morning for a child (especially when it was pretty much guaranteed to include a box full of books! my favorite gift every year...).

I went to my parents' early, and we opened gifts, ate breakfast (I brought over oranges and squeezed fresh juice), watched a movie from someone's stocking, and basically hung out until my dad's side of the family got there. Then, we had dinner. Yum.

I am incredibly lucky, and I received several really great gifts, including a Pier 1 chair (for A and me) and tickets to see Lady Antebellum. One of the little things I got was an ornament my mom made me, and I thought I'd share that here. She always gives my sister and I an ornament that symbolizes something important from the last year. Sometimes they require explanation, but this one definitely didn't. :)

The other thing I got that you all reading this will be interested in was a box from my grandpa. My grandma died quite a few years ago now, but he's been holding on to her stuff, probably hoping to find someone who would appreciate it. He gave me her sewing machine a while ago (my dad is fixing the cord on it, so I have yet to actually see the machine, but I have the table in my sewing room), and on Christmas, he brought me a box. I didn't really know what to expect from it, and I was pretty surprised. My grandma was a quilter, but I guess I didn't realize just how much non-quilting sewing she did. She had three unfinished projects in the box. The first was an apron with an eyelet skirt and floral bib.

The second was the expected quilted pieces. I'm not a quilter or even an aspiring quilter, nor am I a big fan of brown, so I'm not sure what to do with this.

The third was an A-line skirt with those cool diagonal pockets set into the side seams that I don't know how to do. :) It's pretty wrinkly, but you get the idea. I wouldn't have chosen the fabric, but it's all cut out and ready, and it looks like it'll fit me, so I might stitch it up and wear it in honor of her.

There was also a fat quarter of blue flowers on ivory and a couple yards of a heavy tan and brown fabric I can't identify.

And then there was the box within the box.

Yup. That's the box I put my gift for my grandma in when I was in 3rd grade. I had a little trouble with spelling, but at least I got our names right! :) And just in case she couldn't tell what the object I'd given her was, I labeled the inside of the box lid:

Now, you should know that I have a terrible memory. Like, notoriously bad. My first memory is of walking down the hall toward my bedroom and realizing halfway there that I'd forgotten what I was going there for. Yes. You read that right. My first memory is of forgetting something. But I remember those hot pads. When I was in 3rd grade, my dad made 36 little hot pad-sized looms for my class. Mrs. Roy taught us how to weave on them with yarn, and I remember thinking that this was the coolest thing ever. The 3rd grade class made a little woven quilt out of them, and it hung on the wall in the school library. I loved making those squares. So much that I'm pretty sure I made a "hot pad" for everyone I could think of. It makes me want to take up weaving!

Because this is already quite the long post, I'll just finish with a photo of what my grandma kept in the box. At some point, I'll share some photos of the other things of hers I've gotten from my grandpa, and the details of what's in this box. It's nice to use the things she left behind, to be able to connect with her in this way.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I'm back in the blogosphere! I'm feeling refreshed and ready for 2012. This year, I'm going to really focus on living life as I want to live it. I want to be a more peaceful, patient, and happy woman. I definitely want to be more productive. So, my 2012 resolutions:

  1. Meditate every day, even if it's just five minutes spent listening to myself breathing.
  2. Create (finish) two things every week, one of which I'd like to be a book and the other of which will probably be something sewn or knitted for myself.
  3. Start an Etsy shop (to sell those hand-bound books!).
  4. Focus more on my relationships with my family and friends - be present, not thinking about the next project or the book I'm reading.
  5. Participate in Sew Weekly after finishing my SWAP (and possibly during, if anything coincides).
  6. Stop eating dairy! I'm severely allergic, and I really can't just pop a Benadryl every time I want to have a cookie or creamy soup. Besides, most of that stuff is bad for me anyway!
  7. Exercise every day, even if it's just 15 minutes of HIIT. Or an extra walk, yoga, hula hooping, whatever. I need to get moving when I'm not trapped at my desk in the office. It'll definitely boost my mood in the dark days of January. :)
  8. Take a page out of Leah Dieterich's book and write a thank-you note to someone or something every day. If you haven't seen her website, check out thxthxthx and prepare to enjoy yourself immensely.
  9. Organize my creative space. It's a disaster. Maybe I'll show you sometime, or maybe I'll just continue to hide it in my complete and utter shame. It's not a creative space. It's a dumping ground for things that inspire me, but which I am unable to find in the disaster that is that room. I have got to get that room together. It's getting difficult for me to find my rotary cutter and seam ripper in the clutter!
  10. Go on a spending fast for a year. This is going to be the hardest one, but it's really necessary at this point in my debt. :( Here are my rules: I can spend money on needs (gas, groceries, phone, bills, etc), things I've already committed to (SWAP and Stagecoach), and a certain weekly amount ($40 I think) on trips to see A, dates when I do see her, and outings with friends. Anything more I want to spend, I'll have to earn in addition to my income (like selling those books in my Etsy shop that doesn't yet exist!).

Other things I want to do/try this year:

  • Complete SWAP 2012
  • Make a coat
  • Participate in Me-Made June
  • Knit something that's not a rectangle
  • Learn how to sew with knit fabric
  • Make a little black dress
  • Learn how to draft my own patterns
  • Make an inspiration board for my sewing room
  • Make at least three items inspired by Pinterest
  • Plan and make handmade Christmas gifts for everyone for Christmas 2012
  • Make a petticoat
  • Make a pencil skirt
  • Fix, replace, or dump all the clothes in my closet that I don't wear or that are stained or ripped
  • Do fabric printing or painting
  • Dye fabric
  • Make a full slip
  • Use at least 10 of the patterns already in my stash

So, what about you? Do you share any of my resolutions? Do you think making resolutions on an arbitrary day is just a silly practice? Are you excited for 2012?!