Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blog Rolls

I know a lot of readers follow their favorite blogs on Bloglovin and Feedly reading them on their smartphones. But me, I'm old school.  Even though I have a Bloglovin account and even an app on my iPad, I still love blog rolls.

What?  What you say? See it's simple...I click over to one of my favorite bloggers from my own blog roll and I can end up down a rabbit hole...reading blogs that I've forgotten about (sorry bloggers) or didn't realize existed (yeah new sewists) or just haven't visited in awhile.

But I do this from my iPad or my computer where it's easy to follow the links. I have a smartphone (why can't they just be cellphones again like they use to?!) and I use it to look up things with my apps but I just can't get into reading blogs on it. I know this makes me old and fuddy duddy but I don't care! *LOL*

I love blogs and I love blog rolls.  So here are my top three blog rolls in no particular order and yes, these pics were taken on my iPad cause I'm rolling like that today!

Shams - Communing with Fabric

From Shams blog roll I get a lot of the arty sewists...people who invest time in their garments and create art.  Seriously, A-R-T! I love their creative point of view and what they have to say when they sew. When I'm needing some creative stimulation, I'm headed to Shams' blog!

Debbie - Stitches and Seams

We all know Debbie as the Coverstitch Queen. Some of the best tutorials out there...but have you taken a look at her blog roll?  It's international and deep (why is there a rap song now playing over and over in my head)! There are sewists blogs on there from everywhere! Don't know what to sew? Need some inspiration? Head on over to Debbie's blog and check out her blog roll!

Nakisha - Sew Crafty Chemist

For a woman who only started sewing a couple of years ago, my girl jumped in with both feet and immersed herself in the sewing blogosphere.  Her blog roll is deep and has some blogs that neither Debbie nor Shams has.  However, with Kisha's blog roll, I really end up blog hopping - one blog takes me here - another blog takes me there until hours later I've been baptized in sewing makes and my creative mind is on fire!

Now I know that reading blogs on your smartphones also makes it harder to comment but this is my one woman sewing crusade - seriously you know you need to stop and take a moment and say something to someone!  Not just be a thief in the night, sneaking in and out of blog windows with no trace that you were there but a blog stat.  Sewing conversation is what this blogging community was built on and I'd like for it to come back - not be a by-product of the "like it" and move on society...chile this ain't facebook. 

I'm thrilled, seriously this is how shallow I actually am, thrilled when someone I know reads my blog on their phone, stops and leaves a comment! I try and do the same for my fellow bloggers. I know the comments are down on everyone's blogs basically due to the smartphone phenomena but can we try to buck this trend...remember that sometimes our fellow sewists need a word of encouragement...a pat on the back...a thoughtful suggestion. Those comments make us all better!

Okay back to blog rolls...seriously if you have some time follow one of the sewists named above or your own favorite sewists blog roll...you'll be surprised at how wonderful it is and how inspired you'll be when you're done!

...as always more later!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The New Vogue Patterns for Fall 2015

Honestly I'm as excited as the next sewist when a new pattern offering appears from BMV - but especially for the new Vogue Patterns. I long ago stopped doing reviews of the new pattern selections. However, my life has changed so the patterns I would normally purchase have changed too.

Taking that into account, here are the patterns that I put into my shopping cart to await a sale.

I'm looking at buying more separates patterns instead of the dress patterns I normally flock to...but there was this one jumper pattern that I thought I could incorporate into my new "business casual" wardrobe so this one went into the shopping bag too.

front & back views

My reasoning ~
I really like the skirt pattern especially since it can be sewn with color blocking, pattern blocking or in a single color. This will be a great pattern for all three seasons (spring, summer, fall). Skirts will be a huge part of my business wardrobe going into the fall and I think this will make a wonderful addition to my closet.

The Donna Karan topper is the draw to the first pattern. It will be great as fall outerwear and during the winter as jacket over a turtleneck and jeans or slacks. A classy casual look that I can see in a sweatery/ponte fabric with pleather accents and/or sleeves.

I know the top is probably similar to a lot of the peplum-y tops that have been featured in pattern offerings in the past, but I wasn't buying top patterns then. This one is kinda different and I'm looking for separates that I can make my own with a lot of opportunities to play with colors, prints and fabrications.

There are also a few patterns from the last McCalls offering that are also in the shopping bag for the next sale. So what patterns did you like?  Or was there nothing in this offering for you?

...as always more later!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Random Thoughts when I should be sewing...

I've been blogging for ten years and boy has it changed in that time. I have to admit that I miss the conversations that we sewing bloggers use to have...the ideas exchanged...the knowledge exchanged and that we shared so much more than just sewing.

Where is the nostalgia coming from? I had to rumble through blog postings to find something I posted three years ago. Not only has blogging changed but my own blog is different in tone and looks. I guess it's growth but it made me kind of sad to see some of the changes that have occurred in the sewing blogging community.

* * * * *

I've been sewing like crazy. Vacay starts nexts Saturday so I need to have things made and packed by Thursday evening. I'm so in love with McCalls 6559 I don't know what to do.  I've made 2 more, have 2 more cut out and have fabric for another 2. 

The only thing different about these dresses are the prints I've used and the color of the cardigan worn over them.  But talk about comfortable! OMG! And they are so easy to wear and pack. 

I may get to share some of the new ones with you before I leave on vacay and I may not. Gotta concentrate on making that pack date. If not I will try to get some pictures of them in "exotic vacation locations!" *LOL*

Here though is a picture of the haul I picked up from Metro Textiles this afternoon...

Yeah I've got maxidresses on the brain!

* * * * * 

Finally the air conditioning is blasting and it's hot outside so why can I only think of fall sewing!  All of those awesome pleather pieces I've been collecting are calling my name. I also really want to try my hand at making a couple of shirts using some of those shirt patterns and shirting fabric I've collected.

Now that the clothing shackles have been removed and I'm getting used to being free...I'm getting a better idea of what image I want to project to the world.  

I think I'm gonna have some fun now!

* * * * * 

This last thought is funny to put in a post where I show some fabric I just bought but since it was purchased with a gift certificate and will be sewn right away...

All of the sewing I've been doing lately has come from fabric from the collection. Most of the things I'm thinking of sewing for fall is from fabric from the collection. I'm so grateful for the collection, I don't know what to do! I know this is hard for non-stashers to understand but knowing the fabric is there waiting for me to create with it offers a sense of security that has been missing this year.

I probably won't start sewing fall when I return from vacation. There are a few other things that I want to make, that have nothing to do with maxi skirts or maxi dresses. But I'm sure that by the end of August, I will be sewing fall even if I can't wear it until later!  At least I will be ready...especially since I will need to do another closet cull at that time!

...as always more later! 

Friday, July 03, 2015

It's Simply a Skirt

I'm a sewing snob. I'm just going to admit it. In my own sewing I like a variety of techniques, I like garments lined with intricate pieces as part of the garment. Trying to interpret that for my new working reality has made my head hurt...seriously!

I recently bought a couple of cardigans from QVC ~ my kryptonite, right up there with Fabric Mart ~ and I wanted a simple skirt to go with them.  A simple yellow ponte skirt...where of course the fabric for said skirt resided in the fabric collection. But I've been rebelling against making this skirt because it's elementary and very basic.  I mean I've only been sewing these types of garments as palette cleansers.

But as we all know life changes...and in this instance...professionally for me it is for the better. I've arrived at a place where I've had a good pout about my changing wardrobe but I was so out of sorts because I wasn't sewing that I had to do something. Yes, painting the fabric is presenting a creative challenge but I've realized that it's baby steps to figuring this new work wardrobe out and I need to just sew!

With that said, I'm going to sew some skirts, probably a lot of skirts...and I'm going to make them from my new TNT patterns...which means that if you are here looking for new patterns or new techniques...they are lacking now.  Maybe they will come back...maybe they won't...who knows. 

After that long behind intro here is the first skirt made from a yellow ponte...

I stumbled onto this "Sew an Easy Skirt" tutorial from The Creating In The Gap blog. Summertime is a great time to make quick and easy skirts especially if you've got an active summer planned but need to have a little sewing in there to keep things in balance.

This is my "outfit" for work now although these pictures are a little spiffier than I normally look.  I've worn my hair down just twice.  It's usually in a french braid or a pony tail braided. I've worn heels twice - my first day and once last week. I miss heels! *LOL*  And I usually have lip gloss on ~ no bright red lips anymore ~ I've seriously stepped through the looking glass!

One more shot of my simple skirt + cardigan + tank top! 

I'm thinking about making a few maxi skirts with some shorter cardigans worn over them to take this "outfit" to the next level! But before that some more maxi dresses. Yes, I pulled three more pieces of fabric from the collection to make up a couple more maxi dresses!

...as always more later!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

One, Two, Three, Four Maxi Dresses in a Row...

I want to start the conversation about these dresses talking about my body, my perceptions of my body and how I choose to dress it.

See the thing about sewing for yourself and then posting your pictures on the internet is that you've opened yourself up to criticism as well as praise from others. But here's the thing...the criticism, whether about your weight, your shape, or how you choose to dress your body, is just someone else's opinion.  

They haven't walked in your shoes. They don't know your experiences and how it affects how you see yourself. They can't even participate in your day to day life experiences, to see whether the dress or garment will work for you. So in actuality it's just an opinion or as dictionary.com defines it - "a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty."

I say this because I truly believe that I look better in long, straight garments. Yes, I'm learning that a closer fit works well for me but I will never IN MY OPINION look good in a dress with a bodice and a gathered waistline. To me, it emphasizes my bottom half and not in a flattering way.  My bottom half is the part I want to de-emphasize. But that's me...and my opinion and the opinion that counts the most since I'm sewing for myself.

A little about the construction of these dresses~
So with that said, these last three dresses are made using McCalls 6559. The ITY knit maxi dresses fit completely different than the ponte version did.  For one they are lighter and the fabric was a little more challenging to cut. Two, it's gonna take me a little to wear them alone...they will probably be worn with a sweater or topper over them for waist definition and to cover some of that arse I'm rocking! Because that sure didn't seem to have gone anywhere when I dropped a few pounds!

Otherwise the construction is exactly the same as the black ponte one except I did not serge the seams.  Why? They are knits and won't ravel. The distinguishing thing about these maxi dresses is solely the fabric.  I made three of them out of distinctive prints so that the prints speak loudly enough that most people will probably ignore the similarity of each dress.

Red/brown/black polka dot version ~
Somehow the neckline stretched out a little with this one.  I could have tamed it but I liked how it forms a slight v so I let it be. The neckline and armholes are finished with a line of stitching as is the hemline. This one does not have the bias fusible stay tape added to it.

One more thing...this is an ITY knit from my fabric collection purchased from Fabric Mart. I bought 3 yards at $5.99 per yard so total cost to make was $18. It is the lightest of the three maxi dresses.

Bold printed version ~
The challenge of this dress was cutting out the border print so that it wrapped around my body. I wanted the print on the same side on the front and back...and remarkably it worked. I've had it go epically wrong in the past, so I'm really thrilled this one is fine! To me that's the interesting factor of this maxi dress. 

More fabric from the collection from Fabric Mart (it's hard to beat their sales!) was used to make the dress. This one cost $5.99 per yard and again I bought 3 yards so total cost to make was $18.

The border print version ~
I cut this one using the border print at the bottom of the dress.  A simple use of a great border print...but again making the print the central feature of the maxi dress. This dress is a little shorter than the other two because of the distinct border print.  It had large 2" white bands at the top and the bottom of the print so I lost inches at the bottom of the dress but gained some interesting details at the top in the front and back.

This ITY knit is a little heavier than the red/brown/black dotted one, which is really light, and the bold printed fabric which was a medium weight ITY. The fabric is also from Fabric Mart and cost $4.49 a yard, and I purchased 3 yards so total cost for this one is $13.50.

Conclusion ~
All of these will work well for my upcoming vacation and were cheaper to make than purchasing them from retail.  They were also fast to sew, seriously fast! I made all three of these and the ponte one that was in the last post in two days! They will even wear well to my day job with a topper.  

I want to make a couple of linen or cotton voile high/low maxi dresses next. I even have a pattern picked out. I just have to rumble through the fabric collection to find some interesting prints. I may be a little late to climb on board this fashion trend but I'm here now and I'm going for it! 

...as always more later!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Finally a maxidress...

For the last couple of years my solution to a cool summer knit dress was Vogue 1250.  Well lose a few pounds and all of those amazing dresses have been added to the donation pile...and what is a woman to do now?

With much prodding and poking from my girl, Gaylen, I pulled out McCalls 6559. You know the maxi dress that everyone has made (110 reviews on Patternreview at last count) and I horribly failed at three years ago.  But body changes and an acceptance that maybe just maybe this should fit closer rather looser and I have this...

Okay let's back up a minute.  I really wasn't sold on McCalls 6559 until I went on the Avenue's site and saw maxi dress after maxi dress in this style. The only thing distinguishing each dress was the print used on the fabric or a binding added to the neckline and the armholes. I guess I could have just bought a few but all the elements to make them exist in the cave, so I thought I would try again.

As you can see from above, it worked. 
  • I started with the same pattern pieces adding 5/8" to the front and back side seams.
  • I added a 1/2" at the center front seam by placing the pattern piece 1/2" away from the fold. 
  • I also added a center back seam instead of placing the back piece on the fold.
  • The neckline was raised an inch and then an inch was removed from the shoulder straps to raise up the armholes. 
  • For the next version I added another 5/8" at the neckline on the pattern to raise it up. I think the black one is a little low.
  • I topstitched the neckline and armholes in white thread to give the top a little sumthin' sumthin'. 
  • The shoulder seams were stabilized with "Design Plus" bias fusible stay tape.
  • Finally the side seams were sewn with a 1/2" seam allowance and then serged finished.
  • The hem was pressed up 1.5" and I added some stitch witchery. Then I topstitched the hemline with black thread.
  • After finishing the dress, I had some gap in the front armhole, so I improvised side armhole darts.
  • Altered the front pattern piece by slicing and folding over at the armhole and did a similar alteration at the back armhole.
My first try is from some of the black cotton/lycra ponte from my 10 yard stock. I figured if it didn't work, I would still get a maxi skirt from the leftover. I realize that this is a firmer fit than an ITY knit will provide, which are my next choices. 

Here are my fabric choices ~

An ITY navy & black border print, a red/brown/black polka dot ITY knit
a cotton/spandex vanilla dot print & a bold border print ITY knit

...a few more pictures of this maxi dress in action.

I will show pics of the other dresses in another post because I ended up making four of them, enough for vacation and as Gaylen reminded me on Instagram, enough for a week's worth of work outfits. 

Finally, I really like the tie top that accompanies this pattern and I think it will give me some much needed waist definition.  Now to find that linen knit fabric I bought from Fabric Mart years ago to make a couple!

...as always more later!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Onward and Upward

Well I've been at my job for four weeks now and I'm starting to feel settled in. I've developed a few routines and figured out what I'm comfortable wearing. I'm still a little more dressed than some of the other office peeps but this is it...this is as casual as I can get! *LOL*  Even though I did wear jeans to work one day...but it was pouring rain and I really appreciated the ability to wear them to work THAT day!

I think my sewing mojo is attempting to raise it's little head. I might have to force it to come back because I go on vacation July 17th and I need a vacay wardrobe...well a few pieces anyway.

The painted skirt back has been hanging for a week and I've decided to just add a little more paint to it...mostly to the edges so that the repeats are balanced out...that will take about 10 minutes...

...so I'm onto the fronts which should prove a little trickier cause I'm going to need to match the fronts.  I'm also thinking that I'm going to use a solid color for the waistband...just have to figure out what color since every color in the rainbow is in this!

Well it's Thursday night and since my office celebrates "Summer Fridays" I have a three day weekend and I want to make it count this weekend!  Hopefully I will have some sewing to show for it!

...as always more later!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Closet Cull - Summer Edition

After spending most of the weekend working on painting the skirt, I still had no sewing mojo.  So after cooking dinner, I decided to try a few things on for work this week. Now to be perfectly honest, I've been dreading this...heading into my closet and looking closely at what's residing there. I've definitely been putting it off because of the weight loss and the job change.

However, it wasn't as bad as I thought.  Yes, I did end up with a huge carpenter size garbage bag full of things to be donated, but I also found my old business casual wardrobe stuffed way in the back of the closet.  Things I shared here years ago!

Things like this:

This skirt was blogged about here.

This skirt was in the same post above.

...and this skirt was in this blog post.

All of these skirts were made in 2006, back when I worked in a large financial institution and the dress code was business casual. I wore a skirt and a twinset or a skirt, tank top and cardigan in the summertime...occasionally I wore a dress but not often. My picture taking skills left much to be desired...hahahaha!

After finding these pieces and adding some cardigans from the collection to them, I felt like I'd found myself again. First off they all fit again, thank goodness! Why I held onto them so long I have no idea, since I'm usually cleaning things out with a quickness, but I'm glad I did! 

Second, they will work in my new environment without making me stand out. Even though I received great advice that it's okay to stand out...I'd rather look like I'm part of the team.  As it is I'm still going to be a little more "dressed" than some of my fellow employees, but I won't be "overdressed."

The title of this post is "Closet Cull" so to keep it on track, I tried on every summer dress that was left in the closet.  Then I set up three piles ~ keep, donate, will be fixed. I ended up with about 25 more dresses being added to the donate pile. A few have been designated fixable...some lay on my cutting table and some are in the closet waiting their turn.

Originally I thought I would list all of the dresses that are going away but it's just too much!  Suffice it to say that almost every summer dress that I've made in the last 3-4 years, no longer resides in my closet. I've also decided that the yellow dress featured in my last Closet Cull post is not worth saving. It was donated as was this one ~ which is one of my favorite makes:

As I fix dresses, I will share them with you since this is a much smaller list. 

It was interesting that as I touched each one of the dresses to be given away, I could remember the inspiration, buying the fabric, and the hours spent constructing each garment. To say that this is a milestone in my life both creatively and professionally is an understatement.

I wrote this blog post in May 2013 about my wardrobe. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for pics for this post. So much of what I wrote is still true regarding my feelings on my wardrobe...so much so that I wonder how interesting my blog posts are going to be now.  I guess we'll see...

...as always more later!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fabric Painting - Part 2

Well this is a flight of fancy that's completely taken over my sewing time! *smile* However, it's creatively stimulating and stretching me in new directions.  Also it gives me time to figure out exactly what I want to sew next...

First, I bought more paint brushes...  
I found that I needed a thick one to generally apply the dye to the fabric and a thinner one to fill in the borders and smaller spaces ~ basically two paintbrushes per color.  So I've ended up with a collection of new brushes...

I also bought more paint...
Not more shades (well one more pot of green) but a large pot of white paint to mix colors. I also bought a couple fabric markers. Though when I tried one on the fabric I didn't like how it worked. I just liked how the paint using the paintbrush applies to the fabric much better so I won't be using the fabric markers going forward. 

A few things that I've learned/relearned along the way...
Add white to any color and it makes it lighter or more pastel colored. I messed up at the beginning by trying to mix the white into the darker color. Didn't work so well and it takes some trial and error to get the lighter shades I see in my minds eye. So I've ended up with some interesting shades by doing this process.

White with a little blue mixed in

Adding a little more blue to get 
a darker shade of blue

I had to figure out a color "design" for the fabric and make sure that I paint it that way every time...especially since the fabric has a repeat pattern in it.

Mostly this just takes time...alot of time! I'm almost finished painting JUST the back piece, still have the two front pieces and the waistband to paint before I can assemble the skirt. Remarkably enough the dye hasn't changed the hand of the fabric which is good.

A few pictures of the skirt's progress...

Just starting to paint the skirt back

Adding more color...

It's almost finished.  Just need to add a little more 
color so that there aren't quite as many white spaces.

I put a lot of paint on the skirt yesterday. Now it's hanging for 24 hours to dry so that I can see where I want to add the last of the color...plus I need a break. The painting is very detailed and I have to really pay attention to what I'm doing. 

Just wanted to give an update on the fabric painting progress.

...as always more later!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Things Change and Nothing Remains the Same...

Intriguing title right?  Well it's nothing earth shattering.  See I'm still painting the fabric and my second idea had to be shelved because the fabric wouldn't work with the pattern I had in mind.  

So I've been thinking about who I want to represent to the world now that my clothing restraints have been removed.  I've spent the last two weeks walking around my new job's neighborhood looking at what normal people wear to work. Because even though the restrictions are gone and I can wear anything, I am flailing a bit. It's like letting a woman out of jail who's been incarcerated for 20-30 years, there are now so many choices to make that it's a bit overwhelming. Definitely how I'm feeling lately.

If I don't wear a dress - who am I?  A dress and a cardigan have been my outfit, my go to pieces for years.  But that outfit doesn't fit in my new environment...so what do I do now?

This thought has been circling round and round while I've tried to redefine myself. I've finally decided to just sew some separates and incorporate them into my wardrobe.  I haven't been a separates kind of woman for years like back before I started my last gig.

To that end, I went digging around in the pattern collection to see what lurked there to inspire me...and I pulled quite a few patterns...

I know I won't get most of these sewn.  Some are for inspiration, some I may sew and some are to help me adjust existing TNT patterns. There are a couple of vintage patterns for maxi dresses, an older Khaliah Ali pattern and some top patterns.

I also paired two with fabric...

I've since changed my mind about this one. I want to make the dress. I just want to use a solid blue linen from the collection. 

I got the idea to pair the pattern above with the black 'n white seersucker after it came out of the dryer and the sections were puckering. The dress idea I was thinking of wouldn't work with the fabric, so I went looking for this pattern instead. I think it will make a cute full knee length skirt for the hot and humid days that are ahead.

That's where I am right now...standing here trying to figure out the next chapter of my sewing life and painting fabric...still painting fabric. 

...always more later!


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