Saturday, November 22, 2014

Progress

I was flipping through the blog looking for a post when I flipped into my posts from last November where I was discussing my new Canon and the frustrations of trying to learn how to use it.

Now one year later, I've mastered taking my own photos with the tripod and even my daughter has become comfortable taking pictures with the Rebel. Quite a few YouTube videos, a lot of begging for info on how to best take pictures, lots of visits to sites on the internet and the willingness to persevere, has resulted in better pictures...well at least I hope they are! *LOL*

One of the first pics on the new camera
Why did we think we could take them at night? 

During the winter, I primarily stuck to pictures in front of the fireplace in my living room.  In the spring and summer, my daughter and I have moved to outside the front door of my condo...finally venturing a little further from my front door by walking to the kiddie park to photograph my garments. 

One of my favorite pictures - loved the sun dappling
and how the focus is on my face versus the dress

I'm finally starting to see "pretty pictures" in my mind, which I think you need to be able to take great photographs. Not that I take great photographs, but my daughter and I are trying. I've learned a little about backgrounds, lighting, the best time to take photos and to take loads of pictures to end up with 3 or 4 good ones.  Seriously, we take about 50 photos (at least) to get a couple of good ones. It's amazing how many funny faces I make when we're taking pics...*LOL*

Loved the color of the foliage on this tree and just wanted a pic in front of it!
Love how the tree is framed in the background of the pic...

Originally I was using the camera's timer to take pictures, walking back and forth in 10 seconds, to take a shot.  I finally bought a Canon remote control, and figured out how to work it, which felt like a major breakthrough!  So I will be using the remote going forward and I'm pretty excited about that.

Here are a few pictures taken during the year - from worse to better! *LOL*

At the very beginning

Learning to crop and get what I need

Serious cropping

Getting better but still cropping

Learned to take better close-ups

Natural light is best!

It's cold here on the East Coast again, so I think the Muse Dress will probably be one of the last garments we shoot outside.  Also since I'm back inside I will probably be taking a lot of the shots myself.  I'm still "shy" about setting up the camera and using the remote outdoors but inside, well hey, it's just me!

Anyway, I thought it would be great to update my camera journey and share my daughter's and my own progress...

...as always more later!

Monday, November 17, 2014

McCalls 6844 - A Ponte Cardigan

I wanted to do something different this weekend and I've been wanting to try this pattern out for awhile...


I decided to make it up in some of the black ponte that arrived from Fabric Mart a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone and added a liquidy leather type fabric from the collection for the shawl collar and as part of the sleeves.

Here it is pictured on Lulu...



This is a simple sew...seriously simple.  The challenge is in getting the fit right, especially since in some of the 92 reviews of this cardigan on Patternreview, they state that the pattern runs big.

Pattern Construction ~

  • I cut version A in a size XXL which fit me through the body without any alterations. 
  • The sleeve bicep measurement is exactly what my bicep measurement is, so I decided to sew it as the pattern states instead of making alterations to the pattern first. 
  • The finished sleeve is snug, but not uncomfortable, so I will make a very slight alteration for the next version.
  • I did alter the shoulder seam to shorten it. However, I will shave another smidgen off for future versions.
  • The shawl collar was pressed flat. The pattern has it roll loosely but I wanted a more set collar.
  • I also tacked the collar down at the shoulder seam, at the hemline, and in the bust area so that the collar would stay flat all the time.

Of course there will be more versions, especially since I really want to make this in both views B and D. 

Design Details ~

  • I sewed the pattern just as the pattern instructions stated okay almost as they instructed because I made a few design changes.  
  • I used a liquidy pleather like fabric from "The Collection" for the top of the shawl collar.
  • The liquidy pleather was also used as part of the sleeve hems to carry it through the cardigan.
  • Finally I added four lines of straight stitching to the hem area of the sleeve just 'cause I thought it was cute.


A few more thoughts ~
I hate set in sleeves in knit garments.  I won't do that again. I think you get a better look when you insert the sleeves flat but I did want to sew the pattern at least once the way the instructions were written.

I love the curved hem on the back and how it's just a little longer than the front. This will work great over separates ~ a top and skirt or top and pants combo and of course it will work over quite a few of my dresses.

Other than that, it was an easy sew. I've already dreamed up my next project using this pattern which will show up here sooner or later!

Here are more pics of the cardigan on Lulu...


Jacket worn with a version of the Sewing Workshop Mission Top

Sewing Workshop Mission Top with a bow tie blogged here



Back of the cardigan

The pinstripe and mesh dress still need to be completed. I was in the mood for simple.  So I sewed simple because there is always next weekend.

...as always more later!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Fabric Inspiration

Let me tell you how this latest fabric combination came to be...

First, I was browsing my favorite internet fabric site...say it with me, Fabric Mart! *LOL*  And I picked the navy blue (not so navy blue in the shot below) wool stretch suiting.  I'm tired of my black work suits and wanted something a little more "Creative Corporate" to replace one with so I put four yards into the cart...along with the other fabrics that came to visit.

Then the next day (because my day is not complete without a visit to Fabric Mart) I saw the blue mesh and thought, "Wow! That would really play nice with the navy blue pinstripe!"  I quickly called Fabric Mart and asked if they could include a yard in my package - that was already cut and sealed - though they didn't tell me that! Instead they said, of course (best customer service evah!) and added it to my package.

Seriously when the package arrived, it was taped to the outside of the package! But this combination is amazing and so pretty in real life! 



These pieces didn't even make it onto the fabric shelves...they were placed right on the cutting table. I'm using the empire waist/square neckline version of my TNT dress to make another version of the dress...



...last made here. The first version was also inspired by fabric, guess this dress silhouette is just determined by fabric choices for me. I will check the width on this version although I'm less worried about it since it already fit a little closer to my body than some of my other dresses.

Here's how far I've gotten with it...


So this is what I'll be working on this weekend!

...as always more later!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Can we talk about sewing for our lifestyles?

Many times someone leaves a comment or sends me an email with some semblance of this phrase in it..."you really know your style and sew for it." It is true but it's true because I have one rule that I abide by when I sew.

IT MUST WORK FOR MY LIFESTYLE!

So a few givens:
  • I love a dress. I'm happiest wearing one and feel most confident in some combination of a dress/cardigan and/or jacket.
  • I believe that a straight up and down look works best on my frame. The more it elongates me, the better I look.
  • Use as much color as I can manage for my workplace.
  • Add details - details set my garments apart from my co-workers since RTW tends to skimp on the details.
  • Stay just within the confines of what's acceptable for the conservative atmosphere of my workplace.
...finally make sure that I abide by my five rules above. However, when I'm surfing the sewing blogosphere and I see some of the amazing things my fellow sewists are making, my creative side comes bounding to the surface pleading with me to sew just one of those things.  


Truly I'm tempted. To take just one giant flight of fancy ~ plan some awesome artsy dress, coat, pair of pants or use a pattern that I normally wouldn't use and I think about fabric, color, embellishments. I'm pretty far down that creative road when I come to a screeching halt because I ask myself the question, "Where would I wear it?"

Seriously just like that I'm shut down...down...and out for the count! Because at this point in my life my sewing time is limited...therefore very precious to me. I don't want to spend weekends sewing something I won't wear. I'm not thrilled at the infrequent times it does happen. So while I'm sure that I'd enjoy the creative sewing journey but if I won't wear it in the end, what's the point? Why did I make it?  Why did I waste my valuable sewing time? 

These are the thoughts that go through my head...but what about you?  Do you sew for the life you lead or the one you want to lead? Are you influenced by the amazing garments you've seen on the internet?  Do you buy a pattern because of another's success with it, even though you know it won't work for your lifestyle? Or is it something different?  Is it because you haven't quite figured out your style so you emulate others? Trying on different hats/styles/patterns hoping to make them work for you?

Talk back to me because this is the "Question of the Day!"  BTW, I've listed a few of the amazingly, wonderful, creative garments that's been rocking my world lately!


...always more later!




Sunday, November 09, 2014

Muse - Final

I started making my Muse dress interpretation with Vogue 8805, which I've obsessed over since it was released in 2012. I've even blogged about it a couple of times here. I thought I'd have to make several alterations to the pattern but after I finally located it in the sewing cave, I saw that I'd already altered the front pattern pieces.

See even though I really wanted to make this pattern, I'd never found the "right" fabrics to emulate the Preen designer dress I admired. Since I'm never lacking for an idea to sew/create, after awhile I just moved on and totally forgot what work I'd done with the pattern.



So some stats:
Fabric ~
Black pleather originally purchased from Sawyer Brook
Blue cotton ponte purchased from Mood NYC
Black 'n white cotton from the collection - I honestly don't remember where this came from.

Notions ~
18" gold zipper from Pacific Trimmings
bias binding
stitch witchery

Pattern Alterations:
  • Originally I used my TNT dress pattern to alter the pattern pieces.
  • To get the look of the original dress, there was one additional alteration to make to the pattern front. It was for the blue color band on the front of the dress.  I made the center of the band 3" with a 5/8" seamline on the top and bottom of the pieces. (see pics below)  
  • I also added 2" to the hemline of the sleeve.
  • I added a 5/8" seamline to the center back pattern piece - to change it from a cut on fold back piece.
  • The middle and bottom pieces were taped together to form one pattern piece.

Pattern Alteration Pics:
Dress front with width added 
and line drawn to cut off the band

Band cut off and 5/8" seam allowances added to both pieces

Connecting the middle and lower bands together
 to form one dress front piece


Construction Techniques:
  • I changed the back of the dress from a loop and button closing to a zippered closure. 
  • That meant adding a center back seam to the dress' back pattern pieces.
  • My zipper choice was a gold plated one that I'd picked up from Pacific Trimmings. I don't really like the exposed zippers with the zipper tape on the outside of a garment. So I only exposed the teeth from the zipper.
  • Because of the pleather used in the top of the garment, I installed the zipper by hand...exposing the amount of zipper teeth that I wanted...yet not having to worry about machine stitching through the pleather.
  • I've lost 30 lbs in the last year and that means that my TNT dress is a little large on me. So the original pattern alterations I made were for a dress a lot looser than I wanted. I ended up sewing one inch side seams, trying the dress on, and then taking in another 1/2 inch.
  • The dress' shape is still boxy but it doesn't look like I'm wearing the wrong size.
  • The dress is unlined.  The pattern doesn't call for a lining and for once I followed the pattern. I will wear a slip with the dress.
  • The neckline is finished with a bias tape finish. After some internal debate I went with some stitch witchery to hold it flat and then I hand stitched the bias binding down.
  • Since the yoke forms the sleeves and I've made it in pleather, I've opted to leave the sleeve hems unfinished. There's no need to do anything to them since the pleather won't fray.
  • The dress hem has stitch witchery in it but I also added a line of machine stitching to the hem.

Construction Pics:
Dress front sewn together

Gold zipper pinned into the dress back

Dress back and yoke assembled


Inserting the binding around the neckline 
...with the handstitching to hold it flat

A few more pics of the dress:






Conclusion:
I like the finished dress. It's a little edgy ~ hey anything with pleather on the top and the sleeves ain't exactly corporate ~ the black and white ponte bottom though gives it the corporate finish...so "Creative Corporate."

It's an easy dress to sew. It just took me so long to complete for a variety of reasons. However, I'm glad that it's finally done and hanging in the closet, waiting to wear.

Parting Shots:
The shots above were taken on our way to the kiddie playground in my complex. My daughter shot pics all along the route including some of the grandkids. I've included these two as parting shots...



...as always more later!




Friday, November 07, 2014

There and back again...

I am powering through my days and nights without much thought of sewing, so even though Erin told me that she'd posted an interview I did with her a couple of weeks ago...I actually forgot about it. You can see it here:




I have, however, been participating in #bpSewvember on Instagram. Amanda who blogs at Bimble and Pimble is hosting a sewing photo a day for the month of November...



30 days of sewing related photos...yeah I can do that!  Actually it's the only sewing that I've thought of for the last week...

Obviously I never got out of my funk last week to actually sew...so no promises for this weekend. Everything at work should settle down by Thanksgiving, hopefully I can find my way home by then! Keep your fingers crossed for me! *LOL* 

...as always more later!


Saturday, November 01, 2014

So this happened...

I will let the pictures speak...


All of the fabrics are from Fabric Mart:
top to bottom ~ 5 yards of black tricot knit, 3 yards of a gray embossed ponte
houndstooth border print ITY knit, emerald/yellow/black/white lg box plaid,
light blue/black print mesh, navy & lt. blue pinstripe stretch wool

How I'm going to use the mesh and pinstripe fabrics together

A full shot of the ITY knit - love this pattern and it's still available on the site

I've been working a lot lately...over six weeks at a crazy pace.  I was able to get into the sewing cave during some of this time but not in the last two weeks...so that's how the above happened.  And wait, I broke my "no ponte until January" rule.

This is what happened yesterday ~

Guess I'm not the only one who thought that was a good deal because it's all sold out now. I am the lucky purchaser of 10 yards.  Not only is this good for the collection but it's also good for my daughter.  My intent is to add some long sleeves to McCalls 6886 and make a couple dresses for my daughter to wear to work for fall/winter.

A shimmery ponte also landed in the cart. No picture of that until it arrives because it's sold out too. Guess it has something to do with the fact that everything at Fabric Mart is 40% off right now.

I've been doing so well with the "no fabric accumulation" and it was stress at work that encouraged me to hit the buy button...that and the fact that I'm a fabricaholic with a ponte problem. *sigh*

This is what it looks like outside right now...



So I'm in the sewing cave finally starting to work on my Muse dress. The pattern alterations are done and it's on to cutting out the fabric.  Hopefully I'll have a new dress to wear to work this week.

BTW, has anyone seen the new program on Lifetime, Project Runway Threads, with teenagers as the designers? It's an interesting take on the Project Runway theme. I've watched an episode. Not sure that I will be an avid follower but it's a nice riff on the concept. Here's a YouTube video with a sneak peek of the season:




...as always more later!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best Sewing Blogs of 2015

Earlier this year, Madalynne published a list of The Best Bloggers of 2014. There was much discussion about that list.  Hey I even weighed in and it's my most viewed post evah.  So Madalynne is back at it, this time looking for the Best Sewing Blogs of 2015.  

Picture courtesy of: www.madalynne.com

Here are the categories:
  • Most Inspirational
  • Sew Jo Boosting
  • Best Tutorials
  • Best Knitting
  • Up and Coming
  • Vintage Inspired
  • Best Basics
  • Funniest
  • Fastest
  • Best Mom Blog
  • Best Guy Blog
  • Blogger You'd Most Like to Meet
  • Best Indie Pattern Company
  • Best International Blog
  • Best New Blogger
  • Best Curvy or Plus Size Blogger
  • Best Pattern Making Blog
  • Best Couture Blog
  • Best Textile Arts
  • Best Bra Maker
  • Best over 30 Blogger 
  • Makes You Want to be a Better Sewer
  • Sewing As An Art

A really wide range is represented here. Madalynne has opened the voting up to anyone who wants to participate. The information on how to cast your vote(s) and when the vote(s) are due are here. 

I think Madalynne has really made an effort to reach out and encompass the entire sewing community ~ so vote! If we all vote, then the list will be reflective of how the sewing community feels about our sewing brothers and sisters.

This sewist is heading over to vote!

...as always more later!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Blog Hopping

Well I guess it's my turn since I've been nominated not once but twice...first by Leisa from A Challenging Sew and then by Debbie Cook from Stitches & Seams.

First the four questions ~

Why do I write?

I've been blogging for 9 years. In January it will be 10 years and some days I can't believe that I'm still doing it. Especially since quite a few bloggers that I started out with no longer blog which saddens me. I'm not sure if they lost interest or if they just moved on...however, I am hoping that they are still sewing.  So why am I still writing? Probably because I haven't run out of things to say or sewing adventures to share. When I started out I was one of the few plus size sewists sewing and that was my thing.  The plus size chick who wasn't afraid or ashamed to show her fat arms, her large abdomen and her bodacious booty in my own creations. Now there is a group of plus size women sewing and blogging and I'm thrilled to be in their company!

What am I working on now?
On another site, they called my dresses & posts, "Another Boring Sheath Dress" so what am I working on ~ another boring sheath dress! *LOL* Well actually I've decided to embrace my boringness and I'm doing a series of boring sheath dresses.  The series will include three new patterns, a designer knock off or two and a TNT dress project.  I love dresses and I'm quickly running out of time to wear them cause winter is coming...so I'm gonna sew them until it gets too cold again to wear them out and about!

How does my writing process work?
From the inception of a new project, I'm writing blog posts. Personally I like writing about a garment in three separate posts ~ the inspiration post, the pattern alterations post and then the reveal post where I incorporate everything and show pictures of me wearing the garment. I keep my camera handy to take pictures of each step of the process and when I write the posts, I pick and choose from the photos to add to it.

I have to admit that if I had to write just one post I would inevitably forget something. Also by using this three step process, when I go back later to review a garment or a pattern, I know exactly why I did what I did. I understand that this is unusual and seems like blog filler but it is part of my process and what helps me stay excited about a project.

There are also the Question of the Day posts that usually come to me when I'm deep into the process of making something. They really are written free form and then refined before I schedule them. BTW, I schedule most of my posts. If I didn't schedule them, I don't think I would post as often because of my day job. During a good sewing weekend, I could write 2 or 3 posts which are then scheduled over the course of a week. If something new comes up that makes me want to write, then I just reschedule the posts in the queue. So that's why there always seems to be something new on the blog.

Now when there are days when there's nothing new, I'm probably either in a creative funk or too busy with my day job to sew & write. This will probably be the last post for this week since I haven't sewn in two weeks and have nothing to say. Hopefully I will be sewing next weekend and will have more to share then.

Who Shall I Nominate?
The first person I'd like to nominate is Sheila of SheilaCTK. We both work in corporate environments and I love what she makes to wear to work, as well as, how she refashions an already sewn garment. Also she loves fabric as much as I do and I love seeing what's come home with her lately!

My second person would be Diana of SewPassionista by DIANA.  Diana is retired but she sews such interesting pieces. I love the details that she puts into her garments and she always inspires me.

And I'm going to totally break the rules and also nominate Claudine from Rolling In Cloth. I want to be Claudine when I grow up. She sews the most amazing things from the most interesting fabrics.  She dyes fabric, hand embroiders pieces and just makes jaw dropping garments.  Yeah, I want to sew like her when I grow up.

Hope you learned something new about me and if not, hope I didn't bore you! However, I really hope that you hop on over to the blogs mentioned above. There are some amazing sewing bloggers out there that are still sewing up some awesome garments, even though they are no longer shiny and new!

Finally thanks Debbie and Leisa for nominating me...

...as always more later!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Muse

I've been a fan of the dresses from this company for years. I subscribed to their emails and have an entire folder of luscious dresses.  Though it doesn't look as if the site has been updated since last spring...which is sad because they made a great, trendy dress that could be worn for young and upcoming women in the workplace. (Just received an email from www.MaggyLondon.com showing their dresses and Muse dresses.  The sites have been combined!  Mystery solved! So go on over and check them out!)

Sad about that but so glad that I've saved so many images of their amazing dresses.  I stumbled upon this picture on my work computer and I realized that I own these fabrics.  Yes, every piece of fabric in the dress to the left (to the left, to the left - yeah totally had a Beyonce moment there! LOL!) is in my fabric collection.  

I don't know if I bought them to make the dress because normally I don't copy a RTW or designer garment fabric for fabric, I interpret it as I see it.  I usually "see" it with a twist...but this time...I want to make it EXACTLY as Muse created it.

First a pattern...I'm thinking of starting with Vogue 8805.



I believe the pattern alterations will be easy to make to this pattern since the pattern is already in sections. I will be adding slightly longer sleeves, just because. It will be the only deviation from the Muse dress. I'm also adding a center back seam and an invisible zipper...just don't like the button and loop closure on the dress back. Is it just me that always feels a little undressed when wearing a dress or top with the closing?

Here are my fabric choices ~



A black 'n white graphic print from "The Ponte Collection."  I think it's from Mood but I'm not sure because this piece no longer has a label. It has been prewashed and a piece cut from it.  So I'm wondering if my daughter used a piece of it for something.

The royal navy (although it looks purple in the pic) is also a cotton ponte from Mood. I know because this piece is marked. I love their ponte aisle and had a hard time staying out of it when I was a Mood blogger. There were always so many amazing treasures to find there!

Finally the black faux leather is from Sawyer Brook Fabrics. I bought many yards of the faux leather in black and brown and have used it for accents on several pieces in my wardrobe.  This won't be the last time this winter that you see faux leather in a garment.

Next up will be pattern alterations. I will leave the boxiness in this pattern because the original dress is slightly boxy also.  BTW, I made a list of garments that I wanted to sew back in early September. This is item number four on the list. I've skipped the wool/lace version of McCalls 6988 to make later.  However, there are only three more items on the list (one is another new pattern) and I'm kinda thrilled that I'm working my way through the list.

...as always more later!







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