Sunday, February 26, 2006

I was inspired today

It's been a long week...haven't felt much like sewing...I feel like I am in this holding pattern waiting for something to happen.

And then today I was inspired. It was a simple thing really. Read two sewing reviews over on Patternreview and something clicked. I could feel it physically turn over in my soul. One review was of a pair of pants but it was the fabric that was used. It made me think I have something similar to that. I could make a pair of pants this afternoon from my TNT pants pattern. The first click.

But then in another post on Patternreview someone included a link in their post to a pattern and my mind did a "stand to attention." I thought I have some fabric like that! Went and looked in my fabric closet and there it was! I got off my behind and quickly serged the ends and threw it into the washing machine. I printed out a picture of the jacket thinking I know how I would make it and there it was I was inspired....

So I am off to sew....because finally I am inspired!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stop Me, Stop Me Now!!!!

Help! Help, Help, and more Help! I can feel it coming on. The black mists that start to enshroud me and then the clearing and the bright lights that say, "buy me, buy me!" I am in the throes of a fabric panic buying attack! Usually I can visit a website. Look at the offerings...maybe even click a few things into the cart but eventually I close the cart out before entering my credit card number and move away from my computer.

But I have reached that annual event - bonus time! And before I add more money to my 401K and put some in my savings account to pay for yet another child to go to college, and purchase some things for the house....there is the pull of the fabric purchase.

Do you remember in Ulysses and the Odyssey those sirens that sang and drove the sailors crazy...I can hear them! Really they are at Fabric Mart sweetly singing, "you know that silk will go great with that tweed you already own." They are at emmaonesock saying, "you could tie-dye that cotton fabric and make a really kewl cardigan." They are at fashion fabrics club singing a dang gon aria, about the wonderful embroidered linens.

I stood in my fabric closet yesterday. I petted my beautiful treasures already contained there. And then, I heard it again...a softly whispered chorus of we need more friends to come and join us! The singing, the whispering, the gentle voices calling to is sending me right over the fabric edge.

I know that I need to be strong. I know that my fabric closet doesn't have much space left. And why, oh why when I speak to the significant other does he smile and say, we can always get some of those pull out boxes for under the bed! What's wrong with him! Doesn't he know that I don't have much will power left! I need help.

Please someone, anyone stop me before I fabric shop again!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sewing Lists

Do you have a sewing list? I realize that I have all kinds of sewing lists. And that I am always compiling one or adding to one and I constantly have one in my purse. So what is on my lists....hmmmmm lets see.

First there is the pattern list:
This is a listing of all patterns that I have read about either on one of the sewing boards, in a review or just from visiting an internet site. Sometimes it is a pattern that I have searched for in the online catalogues to match a garment that I saw in a fashion magazine. This list is dated ~ so that I know I am always using the latest version and is separated by pattern company. I carry this list with me at all times. Never know when I am going to have a pattern sighting and need to check my list to see if it is one I am searching for! I started this list so that when I went to the pattern sales at Joann's, I would know exactly what patterns I was searching for without having to guess or purchase a twin of a pattern I already owned. And I am sure that we are guilty of that one!

Then there is my fabric list:
I tend to purchase fabric at certain times of the year in large groups. At Christmas time/early January from Christmas money. At bonus time ~ can't just spend my money on things I need, want definitely plays a part in this! *smile* In August ~ back to school shopping or planning my fall wardrobe. Those are the times that I make my largest purchases so I keep a running list of fabric types that I am looking for and specific colors that I want to add to my fabric collection. I am really hoping to semi-retire this list (refer to the "So much fabric, so little time!" post for an explanation).

My inspiration list:
Is not really a list but a compilation of pictures, sketches, magazine ads that are pasted into the inspiration book that I carry with me at all times. I think of it as a list because there are details there that I refer to when making garments, sometimes I have even worked out the sewing instructions for how to make a garment work. When I am bored, waiting for an appointment, sometimes even waiting in line, I can pull my inspiration list out and while away the time looking at things that make my creative juices flow.

My sewing list:
This is probably my most important list. At the beginning of each season I make a list of items I would like to sew. The items are not listed in any particular order ~ just ideas that I have culled from the fashion shows, fashion magazines, catalogues and ideas left over from my list from the previous season. I also add to this list my classic pieces that have either been worn out from use or that I now need in another color. So things like a classic lined straight skirt in black linen will be added if the previous one is past the point of wearability. During the season ideas are added or subtracted, refined and hopefully deleted from the list because they have been created. The sewing list always starts out on lined white pad and then after several revisions it is added to my sewing notebook. It has now become a permanent record!

My notions restocking list:
I keep this list because I usually restock notions twice a year - January and August. I like to have my supplies on hand so that when I am ready to sew I don't need to stop to go buy interfacing, thread, needles, etc. This is probably my most informal list. Thread is written down by color numbers since I mostly use Gutterman thread. Other things are just written down by type ~ for example...1" elastic from ND (Newark Dressmakers Supply). This list is dated and started fresh after each January or August. Again this list is stored in my sewing notebook and kept with me at all times.

I guess all of these lists make me sound anally organized but I am not really! *lol* Actually this frees me up to dream, create and make the clothing that I want. But the most important thing about the lists is that they all reside in one 5"x7" spiral notebook that stays in my purse. It is with me everywhere I go...even when we travel on vacation!

So do you keep sewing lists? If so, how? What do they contain? If not, why not? And if you don't, do you feel disorganized and without a road map for your sewing? Or are you just not as obsessed and compulsive about your sewing as I am?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday Morning Shout Outs - 3

It's time for my biweekly Saturday Morning Shout Outs again. This week's subtext is about inspiration. When I see the garments that these women create, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck! They cause my breathing to get shallow, my pulse rate to rise and me to find the nearest color printer so that I can have a picture available to go along with the notes I am taking. All of these women post to Patternreview (link on sidebar) and have a series of patterns they have tested. All have a sense of who they are and it shows in the works that they produce. I personally know none of these women but boy would I love to spend a Saturday in their sewing rooms talking to them about what makes them create!

So here are this week's Saturday Morning Shout Outs!

Debra H. is first...I noticed her reviews about a year ago on Patternreview. And the reason that I noticed them was that she used color! Lots of color and interesting fabrics! Wow! Those are two primary inspiration triggers for me! She sews out of North Carolina and makes the kewlest things.
Here is a link to her reviews on patternreview: There are 76 of them. Get a cup of coffee, get comfortable and be amazed at some of the wonderful garments she has produced. So Debra here is a Saturday Morning Shout Out to you for using the best colors and most interesting fabrics to create some awesome garments!

Ann Smith is next, I am totally amazed at what Ann can create in beautiful California. She sews from all the pattern companies, making things that I think look like garbage on the pattern envelope into total works of art. I know that she has exhibited some of her garments at the Quilt Show and I understand why she was asked because her clothing is like candy for the eyes! I love her sense of adventure in her sewing and always get excited when her name appears next to a review at Patternreview. All 118 of Ann's reviews can be found here:
And if you just want eye candy go to her Yahoo website: and just browse.
Ann also has pictures of her sewing room in her Yahoo album. I could see myself sitting with Ann there talking about what makes her sew and why. Ann, thank you for always bringing joy to me when I see your reviews! My second Saturday Morning Shout Out is to you!

My final Shout Out goes to Barbara Elfman Bell. When I first got internet access I was surfing and looking at all of the websites and picture galleries. Barbara's is called Cat Fur Studio ( What made me really take notice of Barbara's garments were two things. One she worked in a corporate type setting, same as me, so her garments really spoke to the way I dress daily. But most importantly, she shops at one of my all time favorite fabric warehouses ~ Jomars! I will not turn this into a breathy salute to Jomars but suffice it to say that I know Barbara has access to some very kewl fabrics. And anyone who can have that much fabric inspiration yet turn out such wonderful workwear deserves a shout out in my book. Barbara has 36 reviews at Patternreview:
and she sews a lot of Christine Jonson patterns. I love how Barbara uses CJ's patterns with their clean, simple lines to create amazing workwear. So Barbara you are my final Saturday Morning Shout Out!

I hope after perusing these women's works that you will be as inspired to create as I am each time I see something new of theirs.

Thank you ladies for bringing such sewing joy and inspiration to my life!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Do you count the cost?

I have noticed that when we sewers find a great bargain on patterns, fabric, etc. we immediately compare it to ready to wear. For example, I got the fabric and pattern for $15.95 but the jacket I was knocking off sold for $155.95. Didn't I get a great bargain? Isn't it great that I sew?

See I use to be that way...comparing apples to oranges ~ when a friend told me that I wasn't doing a fair or comprehensive comparision. At first I was really annoyed, thinking who does she think she is? And I sew way more than she does, so I know what I am talking about! But you know how truth always manages to stick with you and then worm its way back to the forefront of your thoughts reminding you that it is truth!

What she told me was that all costs or everything purchased to make the garment should be counted ~ even the thread that you may already own should be counted towards the cost of your garment. That is the true worth of your garment.

So my question today you count the cost of your garment? I mean some sewers don't. Some sewers don't care. But others of us do wonder where our sewing pennies are going. So if you count the cost, what do you count? Do you count thread costs? Do you include the costs of interfacing, buttons, snaps, etc. Do you make a list of all of the supplies that you used to make that absolutely amazing garment? Y'know the one that everyone ohhhs and ahhhs over when you wear it. Or do you gloss over the cost? Or does it even matter to you?

So why am I bringing this up? Because I believe if you carefully detail the expenses that you incur in making your wonderful custom made garments, you will realize that you put not just your heart and soul into construction but your hard earned dollars. That this brings value to your garment and emphasizes it's worth!

So if you haven't been counting the cost ~ will you do so now? Is it important to you to know the true worth of your garment?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Singing my SWAP Song

"Or how to wrestle 6 yards of fabric into three fantastic wardrobe pieces!"

I have alluded to the fact that I was going to show some of what I was working on. I mean I may be a sewing commentator by day but I am truly an obsessed garment sewer by evening and weekends! So listed below are the garment pieces which have invaded my mind and won't let go!

Take 3 yards of a tie-dyed rust colored knit found for $1.99 per yard during the summer at H&M Fabrics in NYC (pictured above). Add to it the paprika rayon knit (to the left) from Timmel Fabrics. Then use Burda OOP #8869 as your jump off point. And what you get is magic!

This journey began because I needed additional tops to finish my SWAP pieces, which I mentioned in my very first post. The plan is finally coming together like a good hook in a top 10 R&B tune. You know that chorus that you just can't stop humming all day long...well that's what's happening with the three new pieces I am creating. They just keep playing over and over and over in my mind.

The two fabrics shown above are very important to my SWAP but after coming up with the twinset pieces I still had fabric remaining so I decided to add one more piece. I am going to make a version of the red v-neck wrap top in the center of the pattern pictured below. One sleeve and part of the front wrap will be from the tie-dyed fabric and the other side of the wrap, the second sleeve and the back will be from the rust fabric. I am hoping to find at my favorite trim store, Daytona Trimmings in NYC, a stretch velvet or velour fold over trim in rust. I will use that on the neckline and sleeve hems for the final detail!

Butterick 3344

So here is the first almost finished piece of the three (the beginning of the hook). It is a dress length version of the cardigan pictured above. It will have bands of the rust knit at the sleeves, down the front and as the hem.

The last piece will be the t-shirt featured in the Burda pattern but instead of one neckband, it will have two. One in the rust and one in the tie-dyed fabric. These garments added to the bottom pieces and the cardigan jacket that I have already completed will bring me to 15 items. 4 more than I need for the SWAP.

So let's recap...first my SWAP collection was called "Pinstripe Magic." I have renamed it. It is now "Pinstripe Magic Falling into Spring." I renamed it because it now has some great transitional pieces that can be worn during early Spring but the entire collection is still based upon the linen/wool blend pinstripe that I originally purchased from Fabric Mart.

I now have 15 pieces in various stages of completion and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know almost all the words to the first verse of the song, definitely got the hook down and am working on learning the words to the second verse. As soon as that second verse is completed I will be able to sing the entire song....and maybe get that darned song out of my mind. So I can sing another one!

To be continued.....

Monday, February 13, 2006


By the weekend, I normally have so much that I want to say about my sewing. But this weekend, my mind was full of stuff. It was fashion week in New York City and I have been avidly following the collections, reading newspaper articles, watching the shows on television and reading blogs about the fashion shows.

I am also a huge fan of Project Runway and since the final four contestants showed at Fashion Week, I have invested quite a bit of time into reading blogs about their collections and reviewing pictures. And finally, the spring catalogs have been hitting my mailbox with loads of inspirational pictures of spring garments.

Until Saturday evening it had been so mild in the Northeast that I was starting to catch a little spring fever. Not anymore...24 inches of snow has a way of changing your mind about that! *LOL*

My original intent had been to write something about inspiration and to include a few pictures of garments that were really appealing to my creative juices and a few shots of items I was working on and then including some links to women's sewing that inspired me. But I think I have a case of inspiration overload! My mind has seen so much fashion this week, that my inspiration circuits have been short circuited! Okay, say that three times fast! *smile*

So does this happen to anyone else? Do you ingest so much that you have a hard time putting it out? Or does your sewing reflect a need for wearable clothing rather than a need to create beautiful garments? See, this just goes back to why do you sew? But I know that isn't the question here! It is more like, when do the things you see, touch, hear, affect you so much that it stymies your creative ability? And how do you turn those things off, so that you can get in touch with your inner voice and hear the things that you need to create? Also, how many of us hear our inner voice? How many of us follow it when sewing? Or are we sewing journeymen? Just putting together the techniques and never letting our creative senses take the lead to make fantastic, magical garments? Tell me, are you a sewing journeyman or a sewing artist creating dreams and magic with your sewing machine?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

So much fabric, so little time!

As a prologue to today's topic, I started this blog to talk sewing and to show off some of my sewing photos. I find that I talk more than I share! *smile* But hopefully in the future I will post more photos of things that I am working on, inspirational shots and some sewn garments that have already been incorporated into my wardrobe.

My topic for today is a typical sewer's lament: "So much fabric, so little time!" We usually say it or think it as we are purchasing yet another fabulous, must-have piece for our collections!

I have decided that I am not going to call my precious fabric collection a stash anymore! - defines stash as: To hide or store away in a secret place or
A secret place where something is hidden or stored or Something, such as money or an illegal drug, that has been hidden or stored.

and collection is defined as:
1. The act or process of collecting.
2. A group of objects or works to be seen, studied, or kept together.
3. A line of products produced for one season, as those developed by a designer:
4. An accumulation; a deposit

See, I am not hiding or storing my fabric away in a secret place! My fabric has been gathered as a part of willful act and/or process. It is an accumulation of pieces that I felt worthy of coming to my home and becoming a part of my wardrobe.

But I digress, I am suppose to be speaking to the topic of so much fabric, so little time! And since it is still very early in 2006, and I have set no other sewing goals, I want to make my main sewing goal for 2006 to be that I primarily sew from my collection.

Okay, I am not saying that I am not going to purchase another yard of fabric in 2006! It is just not feasible. Fabric calls to me. I need to own it to complete some "hunting/acquiring" gene! But it also feeds my creative soul. Sometimes a new piece can send my mind reeling into a totally different creative direction or it can give me comfort in moments of stress and/or despair. I am sure that it fulfills the same kind of need that someone else has for a drink, or a laugh, or the high that athletes get from competing. So I will continue to acquire. My goal is to acquire less and sew more of what I already own!

I understand that some people just acquire fabric by what sings to them. I tend to acquire fabric in color families. A few years ago it was grays. I have two very full shelves of gray fabrics in all kinds of fabrications in my fabric closet. This year my eye has turned to browns. But since I already own two shelves full of various shades and hues of brown in different fabrications, I really want to make some of these up.

It would be fair to say that if I just sewed from my collection that I could probably sew for 2 or 3 years, at least. That's probably an underestimation but since I have never sewn just from what I own, I am guessing. I really wonder what amazing garments I could come up with if I sewed up what I owned?!

Now I am sure there are some of you out there who don't collect. I am sure that there are some of you out there who don't even understand why I collect. But then again, you also probably don't get the thrill that I get when I go and sit in my fabric closet and just gaze at my pieces, imagining the wonderful garments they can become, remembering when I purchased the piece, who I was with and the great times that we shared as we pawed through bolts and bolts of fabric to find the "perfect" piece! Or how I was just surfing along and found a piece that called to me so loudly, through cyberspace, begging to come to my house! Do you even understand the anticipation of knowing that the UPS man will bring one more box to my front door? And the feeling of expectancy that flows through me right before I carefully slice the box open?

Fabric gets my creative juices going! Patterns are my paint, but fabric is my canvas. This art of creation could be seen as shallow, I guess. But since this is the gift that God has given me, I am going to use it to the best of my ability. I don't want to bury it in the ground or neglect it. I want to use it up. Sometimes just for me, sometimes for others and sometimes just because!

I have said all of this because I want to declare that 2006 will be the year that I will sew from my fabric closet. That from my fabric collection will come well-thought out, imaginative and well created garments. That I will strive to hear the song of the fabrics I already own and to listen closely to make them up into what they want to be!

So who will join me on my quest? Will you let your fabrics sing to you? Will you finally let them be shared with others who will enjoy seeing you look beautiful in them? And if not, what are your sewing goals for 2006? Do you have any? If not, why not?

I truly do not want to enter 2007 saying, "So much fabric, so little time!"

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturday Morning Shout Outs - Part 2

I am going to go old school with my Saturday Morning Shout Outs today! I would like to pay homage to three women who were with me through some difficult personal times and encouraged me to sew through them! All three of these women I call friend and because of them I have the fabric collection that I do, an increased sewing knowledge and most importantly the bond of friendship!

My first Saturday morning shout out goes to Colleen Jones! Many of you that have been members of Patternreview for several years will remember Colleen since she and her partner Lisa Tarunto taught the first internet sewing classes there. Colleen is a wonderful sewing teacher. She is patient and kind and has a true love of sewing that she wants to impart to everyone! She encourages you to continue sewing no matter what your sewing level, knowing that you will learn the techniques and get better and she just emanates joy when you are discussing sewing! Colleen was doing full bust adjustments with her pie example long before they became the rage. But mostly Collen encouraged me to collect beautiful fabrics! She shared unselfishly of her own fabric, pattern and sewing book collections with me at a time when my fabric stash had been taken from me. But mostly she was there for me ~ sewing and otherwise. So to the Goddess of Fit ~ Ms. Colleen Jones ~ here is a well deserved Saturday Morning Shout Out!

My second shout out goes to Lynn Cope Conroy. Lynn dyes, quilts and sews from a beautiful sewing room on the West Coast. Lynn exposed me to my first Sewing Workshop patterns, to felting wool jersey and to Christine Jonson patterns. She makes beautiful quilts that have been displayed in coffee shops in her local neighborhood. She was the first woman I met that collected fabric in a specific color and yardage to turn out wonderful wearable garments that were made just for her! She encouraged me to sew when my personal life was in great upheavel. She listened to me and loved my long rambling email posts about what I wanted to make and she encouraged me to capsule sew. Lynn, you are my second Saturday morning shout out for showing me other pattern designers instead of just the Big 4! Give Hobee a hug for me!

My final shout out is reserved for my best friend, Lisa Kennedy! I met her on an internet sewing list and we became road dogs! Lisa will drive anywhere for fabric! Many of my excursions to Fabric Mart, Jomars in Philadelphia and GStreet in Maryland were done by Lisa's side! Her enthusiasm for sewing things, fabric and patterns knows no bounds. And she is the most generous person...when the Joann's near her closed down and all the patterns were 50 cents apiece she bought an entire cabinet worth of patterns and shared them with her friends! Bags and boxes of patterns were left in her living and dining rooms and you were allowed to go through and just pick what you wanted. It was one of my kewlest sewing experiences ever!!!! Even to this day if you mention road trip, Lisa's eyes light up with a sparkle, she gets out her blackberry to put in the date and she starts to wax poetic about what we could possibly find! I have had some of the best times in the company of my best friend sorting through fabrics, patterns and making sewing dreams come true!

Since I am on a roll here, I would like to add just a few more names! Sandra Coleman, Christine Adams, Julie McFann, Dawn Earl and all the women of the Sewing Circle - here is a Saturday Morning Shout Out to you too!


Related Posts with Thumbnails