Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why do I sew?

Wow! Is this a loaded question or what? So what brought about this reflection? Georgene on Patternreview recently posed that question in a folder called "Pattern Expectations!" I had a great answer written and then it floated off into cyberspace so I decided that maybe I should just express myself here instead.

Mmmmmm, why do I sew?
Okay if I say fit, I will sound like a hypocrite since I just ranted about making muslins. But I think that is a laziness factor instead of not wanting a well fitted garment.

I would like to add to that garments in colors and fabrics that I love instead of what the "fashion designers" or "color experts" decide are the hot colors/fabrics for the season. I mean sometimes I look terrible in those colors! And I hate clothing made from all polyesters or mostly poly blends. I understand that manufacturers do this so that the average consumer can have an easy care garment but I like my drycleaners! They know me by name!

Also, I would like the same skirt or pants in more than one season! You know how you find the perfect pair of pants but they come in black, gray and navy only. So those are your choices. But when you have perfected the fit on say a perfect pair of pants, you can have them in any color, any print or plaid and in any season. Oh, and if you don't like pockets on your butt, or side seam pockets - your pants don't have to have them, just like they can be the length that you want them to be instead of the standard length and they can be lined. Don't get me started on unlined garments!!!!

And not all of us are losing money sewing! (Sorry Gigi, if you are out there!) I have a budget! I can only afford so much fabric, so many patterns, so many fabric swatch subscriptions, so many books and magazines, etc. I have to use my fabric dollars wisely! Sewing allows me to make the expensive garments that I crave without the expensive price. I have two teenage daughters getting ready for college. They need to be educated so that they can get good jobs! It will be the difference between whether I am in the low, run down nursing home or the one with all of the fancy shiny equipment and the good nurses and attendants who get paid a decent wage! Therefore, I am always looking for a good price on fabric. Why I stock necessary notions when they are on sale. And why I purchase patterns at the most inexpensive price I can afford! My goal is to get the best looking quality garment for the least amount of money!

Then there is that design/creative factor! I crave the time that I spend turning a piece of flat fabric into a well fitting, beautiful garment that makes everyone go oh and ah! Well, maybe that last part is another issue better debated later! *smile* Seriously, I am most at peace in front of my sewing machine making magic. I can see better, hear clearer, solve a multitude of problems when I am sewing. My soul is at rest. Does that make sense? Do you understand? Do you share those feelings?

So why do you sew?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Do you muslin?

Or as a subtitle: How many muslins can ya make?

I love to sew! I think about sewing all the time! In the dr's office, long bus rides, boring meetings at work ~ it is a way to escape from the pressures of my life. It also allows me to indulge in my creative side. When I am dreaming about sewing, I can make anything. When I am sitting in front of my sewing machine, anything can come forth. At times it is almost magical...until we get to fitting!

Fitting the bane of my sewing existence! I totally understand that if you have a well sewn garment but if it doesn't fit, you haven't quite accomplished your goal. But dang, do you have to jump through so many hoops to get something to fit right!!!!!

I mean c'mon people, why can't the shoulders just slide down a little? Why does that armhole have to land right on my shoulder bone - exactly 1/3 of an inch to the inch! Why does that dart have to be rotated 184 degrees south into the side seam so that the armhole lies flat? Oh and why, oh why do I have to lower my bust point! C'mon, work with me. I don't really want to know that my boobies have almost lowered to my waist! Does any woman really want to deal with that ?

Sigh, I know, I know. A well-fitted garment makes a woman look slimmer, taller, younger, whatever....but it's obtaining that fit that can sometimes be like having an infected tooth worked on at the dentist's office without novocaine.

I know that there are things you can learn...tricks of the trade. But sometimes I want to tear into a pattern and just make it up! A glorious outfit from a beautiful piece of fabric in the latest style that makes me look taller, younger, slimmer, glamourous! Yeah that's what I want! Does that happen....rarely! Instead, I have to open up the pattern, look at the pieces, flat measure the pattern, check to make sure the shoulders fit, find a red pen (that some teenager has invariably taken to put a red dot on her forehead! What for, we are black, children!) to mark that lowering bust point on my pattern (where did I put that advertisement for bust enhancing surgery?), add inches to my side seams or slash and spread the pattern so that they will fit over my ever enlarging abdomen and behind, fat pad adjustments, center back seams, maybe another seam so that it looks like I am skinner than I am!!!!! Do you get the picture?!

I don't like to fit. I would rather create. When I find that inspirational picture, see that rock, that leaf, that woman wearing that beautiful skirt that I would make just a little differently, I don't want to worry about FIT! I want to play! I want to drape beautiful fabrics together and get that amazing outfit without worrying about fit!

So here are the questions of the day....does worrying about fit stop you from sewing? If you muslin, how many do you make before you call it quits? Do you make a wearable muslin? And here is the big one, how important is fit to you? Or do you just wear it? I mean, RTW fits lousy and people routinely go out the house in it all the time! Can't you sneak out the house in something that doesn't fit exactly right? Would the masses really notice?

So, do you muslin?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Art of Creation


The other day I was thumbing through the latest copy of Vogue Magazine (which arrived in my mailbox shortly after it arrived on the newsstands in NYC ~ a rarity in itself!) and I found this great skirt. Bells and whistles went off in my head and I knew I had to create my own version of the skirt!

It led me to wonder...how do other people get ideas to create? Does a picture set off the creative bells? Does a piece of fabric? A trim or embellishment? A pattern? What drives you and me to want to turn a piece of fabric into a fantastic three dimensional garment?

In my case, it can be literally anything. One fall when my girls were small, I use to walk them to school everyday. That particular October the leaves turned dazzling colors of gold, orange, red and brown. Those leaves inspired me to create a beautiful dress and jacket out of a winter green wool crepe and a rayon challis with a leaf print that had the colors of the fall leaves that I had seen in it. I used the print for the bodice of the dress and accents on the matching jacket. It was one of my favorite garments for years. Other garments have been inspired by buttons, pictures, a garment seen on someone else that I just wanted to tweek a little, a color, whatever!

So what inspires you to create? What drives you into your sewing room/area/nook to make your latest and greatest? What sends you into a sewing frenzy?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Me at the computer


The author at work in my kitchen on the computer.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday Morning Shout Outs

I went to bed last night with sewing on my mind. Maybe it was because I had a new idea perculating in my brain, or maybe it was because I had seen some great inspirational pictures from my fellow sewing friends on the internet or maybe its just 'cause I am obsessed. I am of the mind to think that it is a combination of all three.

It lead me to want to pay homage to some who have inspired me! Today I am going to list three wonderful women because their garments have really been circling around and around in my head as I have gone about sewing. Two I would call friends and I would be honored if they considered me a friend! The third is someone whose work I have admired from afar and been amazed at the generosity of sewing information that she has shared.

This morning my three shout outs go to:

Kathryn (http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/fzxdoc/my_photos) who logs in on Sewing World as fzxdoc. Yesterday she posted the most amazing little black dress! This ain't your mama's little black dress and most designers would try to duplicate it. I can just see Allan B. Schwartz (you know the guy who knocks off the Golden Globe and Academy Award dresses) out there sketching his version of the dress for only $199. But it is not just the clothing she makes, it is how freely she shares her sewing knowledge, her ability to always be kind to everyone via cyberspace (harder to do than you think sometimes!), how she gets so excited and inspired over other's creations and she gets it! She understands the need to put fabric and thread together to come up with a delectable 3D creation! So Kathryn here is a shout out to you!

Liana (http://www.pbase.com/lianasews) logs into Sewing World as Liana. Liana knits, sews, gardens and has the coolest embellishing machine on the planet. Okay, I know others of you own the machine but Liana really works that thing! Just look at her photo albums and you can see how much she likes to play when she creates but it is all done with such quality! The other thing is that Liana is as obsessed as I am about fashion as evidenced by her fashion blog, aptly named Fashioned (http://fashioned.blogspot.com/). I know that in the middle of the night when I am up watching Fashiontrance on the Style network that somewhere in the west, Liana is up watching it with me! So Liana, I am shouting out to you a fellow fashionasta!

My final shout out for today goes to someone that everyone loves at Patternreview...Gigi! I can't call Gigi a friend but I would like to! Gigi's spot (http://www.gigisews.com/) is full of kewl clothes that women would wear everyday! I love how she takes a simple pattern and reinvents it four or five times using different materials and notions to get a different effect with each garment. Visit her site and see how she works a Loes Hinse pattern like nobody's business. Again someone who is kind and willing to share and has a love of what she does! Gigi, I am shouting out to you this morning!

These three women's garments have been circling round and round in my head! All are imaginative, innovative and love to sew. You can tell that they cherish, fit, good looks and love putting needle to thread. So to coin a phrase from one of the hosts on QVC - here are my "Saturday Morning Shout Outs!" And I would personally like to thank the three of you for providing many hours of inspiration, laughter and fun! Keep on doing what you do!

Finally, these won't be my last Saturday morning shout-outs....I can think of about 10 other women right now that I could add to my list but then it wouldn't be special y'know. So look for more Saturday morning shout outs in the future! And know that if you love to take a needle and thread and create a garment or a quilt, you are someone who I admire sooooooo much! And lastly, sorry about the links. I am a much better writer than I am a computer geek!!!!!! Can we say technology challenged! *smile*

Friday, January 20, 2006

Stalking Fabric Mart

Okay, I am admitting this up front and at the beginning. I have huge (pause), gigantic (pause)...okay, massive problems with acquiring fabric. Since November 4th, I have placed five orders with Fabric Mart.

Now, it is not like I don't have a beautiful, well-organized and well-lit fabric closet. With shelves and shelves of fabric...each shelf color coordinated...each piece measured and labeled...and each piece lovingly placed on its respective shelf. And it's not like I don't have enough fabric to sew until I am a doddering little old lady who couldn't see straight to sew (no offense to any little old ladies out there!)

So what have I been doing all week....pause ~ wait for it...stalking Fabric Mart. That's right! I have kept a window open to Fabric Mart's site at work all day, every day for the past week! What could I possibly need from them? Why do I need more fabric? Well let me show you what is making my blood rush a little quicker through my veins....

This silk wool blend tweed suiting for $5.99 per yard:

or this 100% sueded silk for $9.99 a yard:


Or how about just going to the new arrivals section and going eeny, meeny, mighty, mo. I will take most of it! *LOL* I am in an acquiring kind of mood! So every day, I peruse the new arrivals, put things in my cart, figure out the cost and let it sit there until the cart expires. Okay fess up! I know I am not the only one out there doing this! Then I will slide by some other sites - emmaonesock, timmel fabrics, vogue fashion fabrics, fashion fabrics, candlelight valley fabrics and tell myself that see I am being good because I am not purchasing! Yeah, right! I am just fanning the flames to my addiction!

But Fabric Mart really has me drooling lately! How do they do it? How do they continue to add quality fabrics at such inexpensive prices?! Why must they tempt me? Don't they know that at least one half of my fabric closet bears their stickers, outlining the amount purchased and the type of fabric? And even now as I type, the window is open to Fabric Mart's site and I am watching my favorite pieces of fabric. Checking the in-stock numbers, hoping that others don't have the imaginings that I have about some of the fabrics, praying that they won't disappear, hoping that the fabric fever will pass me by....knowing that sooner rather than later I will succumb!

I was going to put links to my favorite sites and to Fabric Mart, but who knows you might go running over there and buy up my treasures. So you are on your own! Find your way there, or don't find your way there and stay away from my treasures! I haven't hit submit on my cart yet!!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

When is enough, enough?

It's a three day weekend and the weather outside is frightful - to coin a phrase, so I am sewing! Now who would have guessed that right?! *smile* I am finishing up the pieces I started last week. But as I was sitting at my cutting table trying to decide on whether to make another skirt or a top it really hit me. When is enough clothing, enough?

There use to be this fabric store not far from my house when I was in my early thirties and my children were very young. It was the closest quality fabric store that I could go to and still be home in a short period of time. I was there one Saturday afternoon when I ran into a co-worker who was purchasing fabric for a blouse. Now at work she always had on the best blouse/skirt combinations and I admit I was a little envious of her extensive wardrobe. So I was surprised to see her at the fabric store. She told me that since her kids were grown, she spent a lot of time in her sewing room making those wonderful combinations that I was so jealous of! And she posed a question about how many blouse/skirt combinations could she make. As the mother of three young children who had so many other things to spend my money on, I didn't understand what she was saying! I would have given my right or left arm for her wardrobe. But today as I sat deciding on what piece to make, I really gained an understanding of what she was saying. When is enough clothing, enough!

Am I sewing for the challenge of making a new garment? Or to highlight a new technique? Am I sewing just to have another new outfit to wear? Am I sewing to use up some of the fabric in my extensive fabric collection? Or am I just sewing for sewing's sake?

I thought that by using the techniques of SWAP sewing that I would be training myself to produce garments that worked well together and applying new principles to my sewing. But am I just making more clothing that will add to my already overflowing closet?

When is enough clothing, enough?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Quality Sewing

I have just come in from my day job - you know the time I spend away from my sewing machine so that I can support the upkeep of my machine, my fabric collection, notions stash, etc! And for the last few days I have been musing on something my daughter kept saying to me ~ quality sewing. Now, how did the daughter I taught to sew say "quality sewing" back to me.....well, I was working on my Pinstripe Magic Collection (otherwise known as SWAP sewing) and I was debating whether or not to add rayon seam binding to the bottom of a hem on my skirt. Now in my head I knew that this would give the garment a more finished look but I wanted to wear the skirt the next day. It was getting late in the evening and every extra step meant more time that I didn't necessarily have. Having my daughter say "quality sewing" became like a mantra in my head. Of course, I added the rayon seam binding to the bottom hem, not just sewn on and hemmed down but folded in half, ironed, sewn by machine and then hand stitched. Lots of extra time but definitely worth it when I wore the skirt.

But the term quality sewing hasn't left my head since. So like Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex in the City" I want to ask a question. How long can you keep sewing without wanting to do quality sewing? And exactly what is quality sewing? Well, to me, it is the fine little details that insure that your garment has the finest construction. You know all of those details that cause a garment's completion date to be pushed back!!!! *LOL* Underlining, putting more than one row of stitching in a hem, Hong Kong finishing seams and not just serger finishing them, hand stitching a lining instead of bagging it. Anything that takes time and shows a respect for the construction of the garment ~ quality sewing.

Now how many of us engage in quality sewing? How many of us take the time to enjoy the process? How many of us enjoy knowing that the garments we are wearing have those quality details in them that others can't sew or begin to guess at? And is it truly worth our time and effort? I remember this article that was written in Threads. It showed a dress made straight out of the pattern following the pattern instructions and another version made that added all of those extra details (quality sewing). You could definitely tell that there was a difference in those two dresses. One just looked finer than the other. So I guess that is what I am going for....the finer looking garment and why I will continue to succumb to the mantra of "quality sewing!"

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My first post


I have wanted a blog where I could just ramble on and on about my favorite topic ~ sewing. The day has finally come and here I am....in blogland!

Maybe I should introduce myself first ~ sewing fanatic, sewing obsessed, fashion crazy would all be terms that my daughters would use to describe me. I have been sewing since I was 11 started by my grandmother (whom I adored!) making Barbie doll clothes. I have sewn everything from my wedding suit, to maternity clothes, to my children's clothing. I think about sewing all the time. It adds color to my world and I am most at peace when I am in front of my sewing machine creating a new garment!

I started 2006 just like I wanted...sewing. A week from work, spending quality time in front of my sewing machine. I took a few days off to rest and then bright and early last Monday morning I got up and cleaned all of the fabric that has managed to find its way to my home off my cutting/sewing table. I was going to work on my SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) items but got waylaid by the call of a brown pinstripe linen/wool blend and some coordinating pieces that I had so nicely placed together.

It is now Sunday evening and I am preparing to go back to my day job and I have the following pieces constructed. Notice that I have said constructed not finished:

One cardigan from OOP Burda 8869 made from a sweater knit with a toile print in shades of brown/beige/rust from EOS (emmaonesock) (waiting for buttons/buttonholes)

One pair of lined pants in the brown pinstripe from my TNT pants pattern (completely finished)

One lined jacket from the brown pinstripe from Kwik Sew 3334 (needs buttons/buttonholes & hems)


Another cardigan from the Burda pattern using this cashmere blend from Fabric Mart.

A dress out of the same cashmere morphed from the short sleeved sweater in the Burda pattern and a Sewing Workshop Mission Tank Top also from this fabric. Only the tank is finished. The cardigan needs buttons/buttonholes and the dress needs an embellishing detail down the front and hems. Do you sense a theme here?

Another tank top from a pretty soft beige silk that I bought from Paron's Annex Store in NYC about 5 years ago. I used this fabric to line the cashmere blend cardigan, which is a technique that I have wanted to do since seeing Steel Magnolias. Y'know the movie with Julia Roberts.

A short flared skirt out of the brown pinstripe cut from my TNT skirt pattern - finished! This was an all day project because I wanted a chevron pattern in the front and back of the skirt so I had to recut my skirt pattern pieces (shortening the skirt and creating a front and back pattern piece)

And one pair of brown herringbone polyester/wool blend pants - needing hems.

It has been a great sewing week! Now all I have to do is figure out how to get pictures in my photo album and I can share my new creations with everyone else!!!!!

A link to my pictures:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/cnorman_98/my_photos

Check out the folder: "Pinstripe Magic Collection to see some of the finished garments!



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