Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Few Snapshots from my Christmas Holidays

I'm going to let the pictures show how wonderful my Christmas holidays were! The joy of children always make the season brighter...

One, two, three - Dig In!

We hid the bike so The Little Prince wouldn't see it during dinner!

This was the best reaction I got where he wasn't jumping up and down!

Nine months old - don't care!

My niece and nephew bought their Mother's gift with their own money!

Never talked to us again after the dollhouse was unveiled!

My oldest daughter and my favorite grandchild!
I have to add that this is the daughter that almost died in July.
I'm so thrilled that she's well, thriving and living her life 4 months later.
The best Christmas gift ever!

I'm in the sewing cave for the next couple of days...hopefully I will have something more to share soon! always more later!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reflections on 2015 and Goals for 2016

I lost my job in February of this year. I was home for three months prior to starting a new job on June 1st. My old job was in a very corporate financial firm. I now work for a more casual firm in a different sector.  This was a huge change and the biggest sewing challenge for me this year.

Reflections regarding 2015 ~
1. I use to work 50-60 hours a week before adding in the commuting time of 4 hours every day. It meant I was constantly tired ~ especially at the end ~ and spent a lot of my commuting time reading blogs, perusing fabric sites and looking at (which is now Vogue Runway). By the time I got to my sewing machine on Saturday afternoons, I'd pretty much worked out the sewing plan for a garment and only needed to cut and sew.

2. This affected my ability to sew greatly when I was home for three months. Besides not knowing where I was going next, I lost my planning time and I had to adjust to that. It had been over a decade since I'd planned and sewed at the same time...can we just say too much pressure! So I sewed for my granddaughters instead.

3. Then I got a new job and thought that it was business casual.  Spent the week prior to starting the job sewing business casual only to get there and realize that only the Lissette top and maxiskirt worked in my new job's environment.

4. This caused much hand-wringing. Honestly I paused wondering if I'd still be able to sew at all or as much as I previously had because I no longer knew who I was.  I had a closet full of clothing that no longer fit due to my weight loss and was no longer relevant in my day-to-day since I'd changed industries. I was adrift sewing-wise for awhile this year.

5. While determining who I wanted to be & what I wanted to wear and whining about it constantly, I also had to re-evaluate what sewing meant to me. I'd been walking my previous path so long that I no longer knew who I was creatively and that was a huge thing.

6.  I slowly pulled myself out the fog. I knew that I loved maxidresses (lived in them on the weekends in prior summers) and now I could wear them daily so that's where I started sewing...and moved on from there.

7.  At various points, I felt like I knew where I was creatively and sewing wise then a little bit of time would go by and I would be floundering again. So it's been a year of growth and a lot of changes related to both my weight loss and my job change.

So I'm now wearing more RTW than me-made. The most RTW I've worn in almost two decades. I wear more pants now than dresses and my pants of choice are leggings. I know, I know that there is an entire discussion that leggings aren't pants, but I have a much lived in body so there's only longer cardigans and tunics going over my leggings.

My conservative look has been kicked to the curb along with my stockings, heels and pearl jewelry - I'm still trying to work the pearls back into my everyday life! I've also found that I'm still not a jeans girl! It's the one change I can't adjust too. I'm not on autopilot when getting dressed in the mornings - that's going to take a minute but what I wear is totally tied to how I feel that day - rather than what event is taking place at work.

My sewing is a work in progress...

Goals for 2016 ~
1. Develop a new pants pattern with a slim leg that can be made up in pontes and blends.

2. Work more designer interpretations into my sewing. I need the challenge.

3. Use more of the patterns I have on hand. To that effect I've missed the last 3 Club BMV pattern sales because I honestly believe I have so much in the cave that I can use that it will have to be a really special pattern to make me purchase it.

4. I'm going to continue to primarily sew from the fabric collection. There is so much there than can be interpreted in different ways from the original ideas I had when I purchased it. This will help me grow creatively and add some spice to my sewing.  Some much needed spice.

5. Look for opportunities to manipulate, decorate and dye fabric - adding more creative challenges for me.

6.  Figure out how to use my dress patterns creatively as tunics.

7.  Relax, relate, release - I can still sew the majority of my wardrobe - I'm just on a different path now.

Finally my sewing is going to look totally different than in previous years. Since almost all patterns are new adventures, there will be more pattern alterations made and documented. My pattern choices won't just be limited to the new, I'm going to use some of my older unused patterns too.  Their time has come.

I'm looking forward to not only my Christmas Break - some serious sewing will be going on but I'm also looking forward to what I will sew in 2016.  Thanks to everyone for continuing to follow along on my sewing journeys.  This will be my last post before Christmas and I have no idea if I will post before the New Year since I really just want to sew!

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope that you and your families experience the love and joy of the season and that everyone gets wonderful presents or what their hearts desired! always more later!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top Five Misses of 2015

My Top 5 Misses for 2015 are more garments I just didn't wear versus the items not being well sewn. My life changed drastically in June and I made a couple of garments prior to starting my new job that just don't work for me now.

Number One ~
This interview suit...I slaved over this suit and never wore it.  Not once. You can read all about it's construction here.  It's still in the closet because who knows when or if I will need another one but as of right now...I don't see wearing it in the foreseeable future.

Number Two ~
I regret using my black embroidered border fabric for this outfit. I've never worn the two pieces together and only recently wore the top over a pair of jeans...and wasn't really happy with it that way. Also the pants fit so-so, my pants pattern still needs some adjustments made to it and I've just been too lazy to get it done.

Number Three ~
This yellow ponte skirt. Why? Well I know why I made it - to match the sweater it's pictured with but this outfit just doesn't work in my new job. I've worn the complete outfit just once - to church this summer.  The cardigan of course works with jeans and/or leggings so it's been worn a couple of times.

Number Four ~
The fruit fabric top and skirt.  I've never worn the two pieces together.  I've worn the skirt alone several times but the two pieces together just feel to dressed up for this job. Which is sad because I really like this outfit!

Number Five ~
Finishing McCalls 6506 - what a waste of time! I put that dress in the giveaway bag with a quickness because I hated how I looked in it. It was never worn besides the pics on the blog.  The only good thing is that I finished a UFO! And the lesson I learned - if I DON'T like a silhouette on me, don't listen to outside voices that tell me I would look good in it!  There will be no more dresses with waists and flared skirts appearing on this blog! *LOL*

The best part of this pic is that I can wear those white wedges again!

Conclusion ~
Most of these looks ended up on this list because I made them prior to starting my new job. If I had waited a minute and scoped out the lay of the land better, several of these pieces would still be in the collection waiting for their time to shine.

I know at the time I was discussing these changes that many people suggested that I "be me." However, one of the things that was said about me in a review recently was that I adapted to the culture of the company so quickly that it seemed like I fit in from day one.  That was huge! Because the relaxed dress code is a big part of the company's culture!

Can I share something else? I rarely wear my hair down now. It's either pulled back in a ponytail or up in an updo. Wearing my hair down adds to a dressed up feel in my clothing and when I say my office is casual I mean CASUAL! Another huge change for me because in my last job, I wore my hair down and styled 90% of the time!

All of those changes will be a huge part of my next post on Reflections of 2015 and Goals for 2016. It will also be my last post prior to Christmas. always more later!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Top 5 Sewing Hits & Misses-Highlights-Reflections & Goals

Every year Gillian of, Crafting A Rainbow, encourages us in the sewing world to reflect upon how our sewing has grown or changed during the year. I've willingly shared my ups and downs the last few years because I think it's a great chance to look back at what I've accomplished and to look forward to where I'd like to go.

Typically I've done two posts on this - one for my hits and one for my misses - but since I've experienced so many life changes this year, I'm going to add a third post on Reflections and Goals. 

So without further ado here are my hits for 2015 and you will be surprised to realize that two of them involve "unselfish sewing"!

Number One:

Dresses for Miss Sammy! Making these was such fun and I ended up making 10 in all. I didn't have to worry about fit and just went for it creatively.  The best part was when my daughter sent a picture of how she used the summer dresses for Miss Sammy at the start of school year! I will be sewing for Miss Sammy and Miss Lena more in the new year.

Number Two:

I made dresses for my daughter to wear to work using McCalls 6886. I've made this dress quite a few times already for her and I get more adventurous with each iteration. They went over so well that I'm making a couple more this weekend as her Christmas present...the only Christmas present sewing that I'm doing this year.

Number Three:

The McCalls 6559 maxidresses. It was a simple sew but I think these dresses reflect my lifestyle changes the most. Why? Because they showcase my love of vivid, bright prints, my love of dresses and my new casual workplace. Plus they allowed me to be well dressed in a casual funkysexykewl kinda way but not overdressed for work.

I even shortened the pattern and made a couple of funky versions again using pattern and print to make them work for me. I had ideas for a few more but the season got away from me so expect more next summer! It was a great yet simple garment to wear during the summer.

Number Four:

I'm sewing a lot of tops now and this was my favorite top pattern this year.  I'm sure that it will be different next year since I have a lot of top patterns and fabric sitting on the cutting table and percolating in the back of my mind. However, the top I enjoyed sewing the most this year was McCalls 7095. I've made it three times for fall/winter and have a few ideas for a couple of spring/summer tops.

Why was it my favorite? Because it gave me enough coverage (abdomen, butt, thighs) and it was fashionable and comfortable. I don't look like I'm wearing a muu muu over my leggings which is very important to me. Definitely making more!

Number Five:

I don't really have a number five. My wardrobe needs have changed so much in the last year that I'm walking a new path, daily trying to figure how I want to look but yet fit in with my work environment. So alternately I'm thrilled with my new wardrobe or worried that I will never sew enough to either fulfill my wardrobe or be creatively stimulated.

So this is my top 5 for 2015 - not much of a list but it's a start since I'm on a new sewing journey... always more later!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Circle Vest for Me!

I'm heavily influenced by my sewing sistahs on Instagram!  I love what is shared with such devotion to our craft that I'm always liking and storing away others ideas for future use.  But when Melanie @itsmelaniedarling on Instagram posted this picture, I immediately left a message asking how to make my own. 

So she graciously sent me a link via email and I used the instructions to make this...

It's worn over a RTW cashmere/silk turtleneck and black denim leggings

Why did I want this vest so badly?  Because I've already made one from a pre-designed wool panel from Fabric Mart last year and I ALWAYS get compliments when I wear it.

Because it's a heavier wool it's still too warm to wear now...this is deep cold wearing material here! I really wanted a lighter one to wear now.

Construction ~ Using the instructions, which are so simple to follow, I used a double-sided wool blend purchased from Fabric Mart earlier this year...and I have a few suggestions on how to make sure this works for you.

  1. When I drew my circle, I used wax chalk that fades when you iron it. That was important because I wanted mine to be reversible - I can wear it on the black side or the gray side.
  2. When measuring the circle, I measured the distance out at five points ~ the bottom, then about 4" over on both sides and then 2" from either side on each end.  I made sure it was the exact same measurement (30") from all five points.
  3. Then I used my curved ruler to help me get a full circle ~ all the time wishing for a compass & protractor large enough to make the circle for me!
  4. I followed the instructions exactly for the armholes and back but next time will make my back a little wider (like my Fabric Mart version above) and my armholes a little smaller. Even in the original blog post her armholes are very large ~ I would probably make them 8" around.
  5. I added fold over black binding to my outer edges instead of serging the edges. This way no matter which side I wear it on it's got a finished edge. The armholes were serged and I went over them twice to make the serging dense. Now I know I could have adjusted my serger to do that but honestly it was faster just serging.

It was a quick sew taking just a couple of hours on a Sunday evening. The reason it wasn't faster is because I added the binding, then added two rows of stitching to keep it flat. I wore it to work the next day and got several compliments on it. 

Melanie, I have the same pin that you used on your photo on Instagram and if you look closely at my pictures, I used it on mine too!

Patent Leather pumps, Silver Sarah Coventry pin purchased from 
eBay years ago, Judith Ripka diamonque earrings from QVC.

BTW, the other day I saw someone on the street wearing one with sleeves. Now if I could get that going on I would be in hog heaven!  There will be another one of these because this version gives you the high low hem I'm loving right now, good butt coverage and a classy way to dress up casual wear.

A few more pics ~

Conclusion ~
I know there are several (as in alot) of patterns out now featuring the waterfall front because I own a couple of them. However, I liked the challenge of making this on my own and I especially love the way the collar drapes.

There is one other change I want to make when I make another one. I need to figure out a way to attach the side front inside so that I don't have to fiddle with it during the day. Otherwise, this is so easy to wear and adds the sophistication I'm looking for in my casual wardrobe.

Lastly, I took these pictures myself, wearing the outfit as I wore it out to dinner with friends instead of how I wore it to work. It's been awhile since I've taken my own pics and this time I used the walking back and forth...which I don't mind doing when I'm taking pictures inside but I think looks a little silly when I'm outside. My condo community has a lot of walkers (baby and dogs) and joggers using the pathways so I'm a little self-conscious about walking back and forth.

I'm pretty thrilled that I got quite a few usable pictures and hopefully will get better at taking them as the winter progresses.  My daughter and the troops don't come over as much in the winter (it's a little much for some of the younger ones) so you'll see more of my fledgling photography skills in the upcoming months. The good thing is that pieces will show up on the blog faster than before. The bad thing, I haven't yet perfected taking back shots without looking like I'm doing a series of contortions!

A Parting Shot ~ always more later!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It's been a minute since I bought fabric...

...and I probably wouldn't have but a combination of Black Friday sales and the need for a few more casual pieces influenced these purchases.  Specifically I want to try out some t-shirt patterns and I really need a denim dress and skirt added to my wardrobe.

However, I really didn't want some thin, cheapish, knit material and remembered that both Lauren and Lori made beautiful t-shirts from Organic Cotton.  So I headed over to their website.  They were having a 15% off sale for Black Friday, so I picked up white, black and gray cotton interlock.

When it arrived I was thrilled at how beefy and soft the fabric much so that I'm going to buy more yardage because I love how my current t-shirt pattern fits and I want to make several more.

Trying out the SBCC Tonic Tee is next on my list because I'm finding that these long sleeve tees make great layering pieces under cardigans and jackets. So good t-shirt fabric is a MUST!

Of course there was also a Fabric Mart purchase.  They were running a 50% off the entire website with an additional 10% discount for Premium Members. I wanted some denim to make me a dress and a skirt. I have some denim in the collection but it's so little girl oriented and I really wanted plain darker weave denim.  So I bought two different cuts.

Which of course don't look so dark here!
*sigh* too much light when I took the pics...

I want to make the skirt using Vogue 1247 - but as a pencil skirt the way that Diana who blogs at SewPassionista by Diana made it.

I think this would look amazing in denim and I've seriously been jonesing on Diana's wardrobe. I love how casual but sophisticated it is. Plus isn't that skirt just awesome!?!

So 13 more yards were added to the collection...but I don't think they will last long. These were purchases to be used now not to become tenants in the collection.

Finally, I don't enter many fabric contests on blogs, Instagram or other social media sites...I mean I own a lot and those awesome pieces should go to homes where they're really needed.  However, over Thanksgiving Weekend, Elliott Berman ran a giveaway on Instagram and I couldn't help it...I played along. It's Elliott Berman people! Their fabric store is so well curated with amazing pieces of fabric and I've loved anything I've ever purchased from I entered...and I WON! *Doing my happy dance*

Here's what showed up this week ~

From left to right: 2 yards of a viscose knit from Italy
2 yds of scuba knit from France & 3 yds of brocade from France

I have plans for 2 of the 3 pieces so I'm not even putting them on the shelf. The brocade will need to marinate but I'm over the moon that I won!  I nevah win! BTW, there's a Christmas giveaway coming up and it will be featured on Facebook and Instagram, so look for it! always more later!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Really Another Top?

Yeah by the time I got to this one, I was thinking really another top?  So if you feel like that too, I understand.  Without further ado, here's another version of McCalls 7095.

Materials ~
Maroon printed velvet from Fabric Mart
White velvet
White burn out velvet

Background & Construction Info. ~
All of the materials are from deep within the collection. I actually had to hunt through several bins to find the velvet stash to coordinate the white velvet with the maroon velvet.

There are no new construction techniques in this top.  However, I did cut 2" off each side for a total of 8" deleted from the side seams. My first two versions are a little fuller and it was okay because they were made from rayon challis. For the velvet one, I just wanted to omit that extra fullness.

As I said before, this was the last top of the sewing vacay. I needed to finish the week with a tried and true top and not another involved fitting session. While it's interesting/challenging/necessary to sew new patterns, the fitting requirements for each one can be taxing if you do four of them in one week. I miss tried and true patterns...*sigh*

Anyway, the velvet did require special handling. The pieces had to be cut all in the same direction to insure the nap would run the same on all of the pieces. The seams were pressed open using my needle board which I ended up wrapping around my sleeve board to get a good press. 

For this version I went with the bell sleeves again. To me the bell sleeves really give the top a boho feel. I used the same lace used on the yoke pieces to lengthen the sleeves...and while the yokes are lined, the sleeve bands are not. It really was the perfect top to end my sewing vacay with...

A few photos ~

This is my third version of this top and not my last. I love the coverage of this top and how comfortable it is to wear. Also it works well with leggings and my ponte jean leggings so perfect for my new lifestyle. And who doesn't love a velvet top?!  So luxurious feeling, right?! always more later!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Yet Another "Thoughts While Sewing" Post...

I love the space I occupy when I'm knee deep into a sewing vacay.  I love how my mind starts to clear out the driftwood of life - those concerns that overburden us - and makes way for the soul cleansing that spending time being creative brings me.

  • The way I feel about sewing and who I want to be when sewing has changed now that I work a job that I love. While sewing has always been a creative haven, it's no longer a refuge from a cruel work space but a totally uplifting and healing space.
  • I worry that I won't be as creative now that I don't have dresses to sew. I'm thinking that I will turn my dress ideas into tunics to wear over leggings and slim legged pants while I wait out the winter...cause dresses and skirts are worn all the time in the spring & summer in the office.
  • This fitting each and every pattern is a new thing to me.  There are sooooo many steps to make before I can get to the good part - the sewing!
  • My sewing is not perfect. Honestly, I'm not even striving for perfect. I'm striving to be the best I can be...and of course that changes from year to year. As I learn more, gain more experience, and figure out what I'm really good, at my goals change. However, perfect is not one of those goals.
  • When I get into the zone, I don't want to leave the sewing cave. I know I'm in the zone when the fabric tells me something different than I imagined when I decided to make the garment.  That's when magic happens - hahahahaha! Seriously though that's when the unique details get added to garments.
  • I use to make notes while sewing a garment. Now I start a blog post and drop my info right into the post. I don't have to remember everything I did later and I have a more complete record in one place when I want to make the garment again.
  • Sometimes I wonder if it's wrong to be so thrilled to spend all of my vacay in the sewing cave? To have had dinner plans with someone and they cancelled and be thrilled because it means another uninterrupted day in the cave. More time doing what I love...
  • It's amazing to me that non-sewing friends and family members think you should go into your sewing space and create a wonderful new garment in an hour or two. Really?  
It was a good sewing week. I did end up getting a lot accomplished - more than I realized. I do tend to lose perspective when I'm in the midst of the week grinding out garments.

There's only one more post of a new top to be shared ~ posting next. I will be sewing this weekend because I think I've found my way creatively. My sewing mojo is in full effect. So much so that I bought a couple of pieces of fabric during Black Friday weekend.  Not a lot of yardage but things that are lacking in the fabric collection. Hard to believe right?! *LOL* I will more than likely do a post on them because I'm pretty excited about these purchases.

I want to leave you with a collage of  the garments I made during my sewing vacay... always more later!


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