Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Look Back and a Look Forward

First - A Look Back!

Here is a list of what I think are my top 5 sewing accomplishments this year:

1.  Winning SWAP
Yes, this is definitely a highlight of my year - sewing or otherwise!  It was amazing to conceive of and sew a wardrobe that was thought worthy of your votes.  And I must give a special shoutout here to Gertie, who picked up on a comment I wrote on my blog and interviewed me on hers.  I really do believe that her interview changed the perspective of how we sewists look at things and directly or indirectly affected some of the votes.  Yes, yes, I know I had an awesome (if I must say so myself - *LOL*) wardrobe but sometimes we need someone to shake the looking glass and change our views.

2.  The Macy's Dress
I've knocked off designer gear before (The Chanel Dress, The Dior Dress) but I have never knocked something off and then had it pictured just a few days later on a celebrity.  Thanks again Erica for sending me the first pic!  This dress was actually fun to figure out and make...believe me it wasn't that hard at all!  But it had such a bang for the buck!

3.  The Birthday Gala Dress
Even though it's not one of my favorites, it does represent a lot of hard work and it was perfect for the occasion...and it's in the color I probably sewed the most this year...NAVY! 

4.  The Burda Dresses
Gosh, how many times have I complained about tracing?! *LOL*  Even though I probably have a Burda magazine collection that numbers in the hundreds, this year is the first time I've actually taken the time to trace, alter and make more than one Burda garment.  I love both of these dresses and will use this pattern again because the potential it provides is pretty awesome.

5.  The Architectural Dress
This is my biggest failure of the year and makes the list because there were lessons learned here.  How we handle failure especially in our craft determines how far we progress.  It breaks my heart when a new sewist picks up our craft and turns away beause it's too hard or the results don't work out or fill-in-the-blank.  I really need new sewists to see that even accomplished sewists sometimes have very bad results too.  So because of that The Architectural Dress makes the list.  Here's the thing, tho' I'm gonna try that dress again, using a pleater board from Clothide, and see if I can get the dress of my dreams!

My garment totals for 2010:

          Dresses:  24
          Cardigans/Jackets:  7
          Pants: 3
          Blouses/Tops:  3
          Skirts:  3
          Twinset:  1
          Vest: 1
          Doll Clothes:  8 pieces

Looking forward ~

The last few years I haven't made any sewing goals, except to say that I would try not to buy more fabric.  Okay that is a laughable goal so I'm not even going there.  It would be like asking me not to breathe! *LOL* 

However, in 2011 I really want to do some of the following:

1.  Use some of those Hot Patterns that I won from the SWAP contest.  
I have an amazing collection of Hot Patterns that I've won and purchased.  I would really like to make some of these garments.

2.  Complete the 12 Jackets per month sew-along.
I need jackets for work so 3 for each new season would be a good thing!

3.  Put a welt pocket in a garment
Let's just say that it's a technique I learned years ago and I should pull it out and use it again.

4.  Use a few more of those Burda Style magazine patterns
Ummm, more than a hundred issues means I have a passing like of this's time to use it more!

5.  Sew a little more from the fabric collection.

I want to thank everyone who I got to meet either in NYC or at the PR Philly Shopping Extravangza this year.  It was wonderful to put names with faces, share stories and touch some fabric together.  If I was unable to meet with you, please know that it wasn't from lack of desire but because sometimes my day job just gets in the way! *smile* 

Finally I want to thank a few sewing friends - who keep me laughing, tell me I'm not crazy, understand my love of fabric and whose friendship I truly value -Elizabeth, Meg, Renee, Gaylen, and Patti - thank you so much!

To everyone who has a son, daughter or family member serving in the military, my prayers are with them!  I'm so thankful that they have chosen to serve our country in this meaningful way and I pray that they will be home safe and sound with you soon.

May the New Year bring each and every one of you, peace, love, joy, happiness and good health. I also hope that all of your needs are met...whether they be for a new job, a new home, a baby, a mate...or just your own sewing space.

See you in 2011 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm Grateful!

Today's post is about something that I've wanted to talk about for several weeks now.  It is about women aging, getting heavier, going through menopause and accepting these changes.  Now if you are in your 20s and 30s and read my blog and decide it's time for you to tune out...I ask you to hold on a minute.  YOU will be my age before you know it ~ because time really does pass by quickly.  I remember being 25 and thinking I was a quarter of a century old and how OLD that was and being depressed!  Little did I know!  *LOL*  I remember having my children, being a working mother and a through my 30s and my 40s and I almost can't believe that I will be 52 in 2011.

I don't feel old.  My daughters and younger co-workers don't treat me like I'm old...but I can see that I'm aging just from the pictures that I've shared on this blog.  Each year I get a little heavier or something drops a little lower, my ankles have thickened and the dr. says it's just age & nuthin to do about it unless I lose xx amount of pounds and some days menopause kicks my behind all over the planet.

Now before you start posting how to lose weight tips etc. I am going to tell you upfront that I will delete them.  Because I'm not complaining about getting heavier, growing older or going through menopause ~ I'm celebrating these things.  I will be 52 years old.  I have three awesome daughters who sometimes don't even realize yet how amazing they are going to be.  I am the grandmother to two young men - who could possibly change the world some day.  I have known love and been loved by my family, by men and by my friends.  My legacy is not large and humogenous but there it is.

I want to argue the pros of acceptance and being the best you that you can be...acceptance for who you are now and for who you can become.  I've read several blogs where women my age are struggling with the fact that menopause is thickening our waists or changing our dress sizes or that our skin isn't as supple as it use to be.  I'm experiencing all of those things too - and some days it depresses me.  But I shake it off and remember to be thankful that I can experience this...because isn't life just a series of changes?

You are not the same person you were when you made your entrance into this world.  You are not the same person you were as a 10 year old girl, a 17 year old teenager, a 22 year old college graduate, a first time mother, or 35 or 45 even.  Life is a series of changes and it's how we embrace those changes, that allow us to live our best lives!  (Yes, I stole that one from Oprah!)  Now if you want to rage against the changes with exercise and diet - go for it with your whole heart.  If you want to accept the fact that you can grow old gracefully, I say go for that too!  But be the best you possible!

I want to encourage us all to embrace our changes...learn to live with them and accept them.  Realize that the size of your thighs does not define who you are inside.  That menopause is just another stage of life and that there are hopefully more to go through.  That your life is a book with blank pages that only you can write upon, so don't let anyone else define what should be on the pages of your book.  And be grateful to be alive ~ there are so many wonderful sewing women that have left us this year ~ that it's AMAZING that we are still here, going strong, facing the challenges the world throws at us and LIVING this life!  Oh yeah, and lest I forget, creating amazing garments, accessories, home dec articles and children's clothing.

So my prayer for you as this year closes and another one begins is to realize that you are amazing.  That you have a gift and a talent imparted to you.  That you are wonderful and that aging, menopause and thickening ankles are just God's gifts to you to show you that you are living life in the body he's blessed you with!

Yes, my biceps are a little bigger.  Yes, my ankles are a little thicker.  Yes, some days I cry at the drop of a hat and others I rage at the world...never mind that my internal thermometer is seriously on the fritz! *LOL*  But I'm alive...and I get to buy one more piece of fabric...construct one more garment...and encourage one more person to sew.

I am grateful and I hope that you are too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little Pattern Organization

As you know I've made over 40 variations of my TNT dress pattern.  I've done this by copying the master pattern pieces and then cutting up the copies to achieve the look I wanted.  Then when I was finished with the pieces I would stuff them all back into the original pattern's file folder:

But lately this has really started to get on my nerves, looking through all of those pieces and trying to remember which pieces went with which dress.  So I got the bright idea to make separate folders for each version of the dress as I pulled the pattern pieces out and used them.  I now have 4 folders for four different versions of my TNT dress pattern.

However, today when I went to look for a folder, I found that my description wasn't adequate enough for me to remember which v-neck version of the dress I've made.  So I went to my flickr account and printed out pictures of the dresses and taped them inside the folder.

I had already placed a copy of the Macy's ad
inside the pattern pieces for the Macy Dress.

Now when I need to make another one of my TNT dress variations, I can easily flip open the folder and see not only the pattern pieces but a picture of the completed dress.

And yes, I'm sewing...even though the super has cleaned out all of the parking lots he still hasn't managed to snow blow out all the sidewalks I'm stuck in the house!  'Cause there was no leaving the state of NJ this morning since all bus service was suspended.  Hopefully everything will be back up and running this evening.

As an aside, I was reading an article in the January 2011 issue of Bazaar, "The Untold Jackie O" by John Loring.  He wrote a book with the same title that was recently published and the article is an excerpt from his book.  What struck me was when he talked about the designers that Jackie loved to wear..."obsessed" was the word he used to describe how she felt about Carolina Herrara (and I can understand since she is one of my favorites too!) and that she was wearing a dress designed by Sybil Connolly (another one of my favorites!) for her official White House Portrait.

courtesy of  The Huffington Post

I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to read the book yet but I was just tickled to learn that fact!

I'm headed back to my sewing machine.  I will have pictures of the finished dress soon.

...more later!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After... a time to reflect...a time to be grateful for family and friends...and a time to be glad Christmas is over for this year!  *LOL*

I did manage to get 7 AG doll clothes made for the niece.  It was an all day flurry of sewing in which I forgot to take pictures of said doll clothes.  In the midst of the present opening on Christmas Eve (we have a 2 day celebration ~ don't ask the story is too long and drawn out!), the grown-ups were more excited by the clothes than the niece.  *sigh*  Oh well!

My darling daughters did manage to shop from my prepared list very well...I got all the DVDs and sewing books that I wanted and yes, I will do reviews on the sewing books in the upcoming weeks.  I ate a lot of good food (makes me wonder how the cooking gene skipped me since my sister and cousin are such awesome cooks!), laughed alot at family stories that were trotted out, was so thankful that my mother is in good health and here to share Christmas with me and generally made me thankful that I am surrounded by family and loved ones.

I had to guard my iPad with a ferociousness! *LOL*  My sister carried it with us everywhere and ALMOST forgot that it was mine!  But it was really handy for games and directions...we got to my cousin's house faster than we ever have!

Which brings me to two other!  Y'all know I hate snow with a fierceness...and we here in the tri-state area (NJ, NY & CT) are predicted to get blizzard like conditions later today into tomorrow with amounts of snow being bandied about like 8" to 20".  This probably means that even though I am scheduled to work tomorrow I probably will be unable to get there.  So much snow is being discussed that my SO is NOT working today, so you know it's serious 'cause that man ALWAYS works! *LOL*  So I'm hunkered down trying to figure out if I want to veg or sew for myself.

After perusing the pictures of Diane Von Furstenberg's Pre-Fall 2010 Collection...I really want to sew for me!  Erica, made an awesome skirt that highlights the clean, pure lines of this collection and there are a few pieces in it that I want to incorporate into my winter sewing.  These are my top three favorites:

collared vest and skirt combo
(I am in love with collared
vests this season!)

cowl neck knit dress
(doesn't this remind you of B5247
- just closer fitting)

a great throw on knit dress

So as I sit and wait for the snow to descend upon us and wreck havoc on the outside world, I will thumb through my fabric collection and come up with an outfit to work on. always, more later!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Fabric Purchase of 2010

Yes, I succumbed.  I purchased fabric from the Pyramid of Savings Sale at Fabric Mart.  But see it was like this...I was given Christmas money by my coworker this week with the instructions to buy fabric with it.  Now I couldn't NOT do what they asked, right?  So I succumbed.  I bought 10 yards of fabric.  But I was good, I didn't spend ALL of the gift there...probably because the fabric closet is groaning from the amount of fabric that is in it and even I can't really justify buying more...*sigh*

So you wanna see what I got...says the fabricaholic!

Black Faux Leather Patchwork look is polyurethane with a soft thin nylon knit backing. It is a light medium weight, with a textured soft hand, and medium cone drape. It could be used for skirts, dresses, skinny pants, light jackets, vests, and even headbands and purses.

It is 54" wide and I got 3 yards of it. Have an idea of what I want to use it for but I'm not sure...

This orange rust 60% wool 40% rayon is a boucle. It is medium weight, has a textured hand, and a medium cone drape. It would be great for coats, blazers, and vests. It would also make a fabulous dress/jumper and jacket combination set.
I was very impressed with this out of the box and wished I had bought more colors...until I opened the fabric closet door!  *LOL*
This magenta 100% worsted wool suiting is sectioned by thin black lines forming a windowpane look. It is lightweight, has a smooth hand, and gentle medium cone drape. Use this fabric to make a suit, skirt, vest, jacket, or dress.   It is 58" wide and I bought 5 yards of it to make sure that I had enough to match the plaid.
This piece will be used for a dress/jacket combo...a new jacket pattern that will be one of my 12 jackets for 2011.
That is the only sewing related thing that I've done this week.  I've worked late every night because my boss is on vacation next week and we had to get sooooo much done.  Hopefully tomorrow I will spend most of my day making a couple of AG doll clothes ~ I never made it to the store.  And I have to get them made, otherwise my niece won't have a Christmas present, and that just won't do!  *LOL*
I will be making a trip into the garment district next week to pick up some supplies (piping/buttons, etc.) because I will have a brief 5 day break and of course, I want to sew!  The year end review will show up next stay tuned...
...and as always, more later!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Ramblings...

As you can tell by the lack of posts here...I haven't been sewing.  I just haven't felt like I haven't pushed it.  I dug through my closet last weekend and found four pairs of pants to wear to work and worked outfits around them.  So that solved my immediate clothing issue...

However, I did get a pair of pants repaired and since there were a few questions asked about the type of elastic that I used for my waistbands, I thought I would share that with you.  Now I fully understand that most people prefer a fly front waistline but I'm personally more comfortable with elastic.  I don't use regular elastic in a casing for my pants, I use this elastic that Nancy Zieman promoted heavily about a decade or so ago.

*You press down a 1/2" of fabric to clean finish the waistline of the pants.
*Then you pin down the elastic.
*Next you stitch the elastic down following the blue lines of thread woven into the elastic.
*Finally you pull the elastic evenly around the waistline. 

After much trial and error, I've found that I need to add two lines of closely stitched zig zag stitching to the ends and then I stitch the side seam closed.  I also add a tag or a piece of ribbon to the back so that I know the back from the front of the pants in a glance:

Here's the thing though...I don't think the elastic is available anymore.  I will need to double check with my suppliers to see if it is.  I was purchasing this on 50 yard rolls and have about 20 yards or so left.  Enough to make quite a few more pairs of pants but I will probably be looking into another form of elastic or waistband type for future pants.  I'm thinking flat fronts with elastic sides and/or backs...but I'll see.

Anyway ~ these pants are made from a menswear pinstripe suiting purchased from Paron's Annex (when it had it's own separate store on 40th Street) were in great shape except for the elastic. 

(well except for the wrinkles!!! *LOL*)

So I replaced it and had a new pair of pants to wear last week.  But that is the most sewing I've done in weeks.

I have been crocheting a scarf for my sister for Christmas:

and completely enthralled with my new iPad:

I did manage to get another pair of pants cut out from this grey/poly blend wool pinstripe that hopefully will get worked on later this evening.

My Christmas shopping is done except for a trip to the AG Doll store and as a parting shot here is a picture of the Little Prince standing next to the lit Christmas tree.  We opted to use the smaller one this year so that he wouldn't pull it over on himself...that doesn't mean he hasn't gifted me with some of the balls from it...a few times! *LOL*

...more later!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A New Challenge for 2011

I've been wanting to add more jackets to my wardrobe.  I watched in envy and awe and even admiration as Gigi made 12 amazing jackets this year.  Now I've stumbled upon a folder at Stitcher's Guild where they are doing a sew-along - Make 12 Jackets in a year!  I am so up for this challenge!

This challenge even goes along with the Pinstripe Follies collection I want to sew because there are two jackets in that grouping so I can make one in January and one in February and still meet my monthly quota!  Yes, yes and more yes!

This will also give me a place to go to discuss things, like when I make a silly mistake and don't think out my lining insertions ahead of time and then have to rig them to get them to work!  Jackets are the one thing that I don't believe I construct well so it will be nice to have others sewing along and providing assistance when I get lost.

The rules are pretty loose and are really just beginning to be discussed...and they are being very flexible about what qualifies as a jacket and whether it needs to be lined or not.  I'm just happy that I will have some fellow sewists to share my jacket challenges with and get guidance from!

So these are the first couple of jackets I'm thinking about making:

Vogue 1308 (OOP)
This one is in the Pinstripe Follies Collection

Vogue 7617 (OOP)
This one is also in the Pinstripe Follies Collection

The LaFred Maia Jacket

Hot Patterns Riviera Boulevard Jacket

Another Vogue 8623

One more Simplicity 2598

The rest will be decided upon as the year progresses...but I'm excited!  And this will be the one New Year's sewing resolution I construct 12 jackets during the year of 2011.

...more later!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Annual Dress Round Up

Since this has become a kind of tradition...I reviewed the dresses I made during 2008 in this post, "Dress-Polozza!" and in 2009 in this post, "19 Dresses and Counting" seemed only fitting to do another end of the year round up of my sewing obsession ~ Dresses!

If you are a long time reader, you know that I love a dress for many reasons.  It makes me feel feminine and pretty.  It is easy to wear and allows me to look professional yet pretty in an industry where females look pretty bland when dressed in all black or all navy suits.  I love the fact that I can get pretty creative with a basic pattern and make it my own but I especially love the fact that I can make ANY dress I want regardless of my size...because I can sew it myself!  Which is a pretty awesome thing for a plus size chick!

As of today, I have made 24 dresses this year.  This includes my greatest disappointment, The Architectural Dress and my greatest success, The Macy's Dress.  I've used 8 patterns ~ Butterick 5415, Vogue 7542 (OOP), McCalls 5576 (OOP), Butterick 6082 (OOP), Vogue 9220 (OOP), Butterick 5147 (twice), Burda Style 09-2005-115 (twice) and Vogue 8666 and I've also used my TNT dress pattern 14 times.  I've cut that pattern up...I've rearranged the parts...I've done whatever I could imagine to it and it hasn't let me down.

Starting in January 2010 - here is the dress parade:

The Architectural Dress - I just can't bare
to share another picture of it...*sigh*

Butterick 6082

from TNT pattern

from TNT pattern

from TNT pattern

in a cotton jacquard

in a cotton/lycra blend border print

from TNT pattern

from TNT pattern

from TNT pattern

(back view)

Since it's the middle of December and I have a real pants thing going on now I'm probably done making dresses this year!  But never say never...I may yet sneak another one in!

...more later! 



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